Random acts of kindness. Good will to all.

Random Acts Of Kindness - photo of tree by Belynda Wilson Thomas

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No act of kindness, no matter how small, is ever wasted. Aesop

Last night the theme of Toastmasters was “Good Will To All.” As the Chair, I talked about how a woman went out of her way for my family.

Twenty-seven years in ago in September, we were blessed with our second baby a healthy, beautiful baby girl. My husband took the obligatory photos. When we went to pick up our pictures (remember that). They gave us a package with a strip of empty film and said there were no photos on the roll.

It was disappointing, to say the least, but we had our healthy baby girl. A couple days before Christmas I got a phone call. Did we have a new baby? “Yes,” I said. “I was given your pictures,” the lady said. She had taken back the wrong photos she was given and made the attendant call the names before and after her name to find the rightful owners. If she hadn’t done that I’m sure the photos would have gone in the garbage. After all, the mistake was already dealt with. We didn’t think we had any photos.

I picked up my photos, wrapped them and put them under the tree for my husband. That lady, I never got her name made a special Christmas even more special because she went out of her way for strangers. I am forever grateful to her. She and people like her make this a better world. What special pictures was she looking for but didn’t get?

We can make life better for someone with a smile, compliment, opening the door for them, letting them go ahead of us when they only have a couple of items.

Some people are very complimentary, others find it more difficult. Compliments don’t jump out of my mouth. I appreciate them, but I am not at the ready with a compliment for everyone. I could do better and will endeavor to give at least one compliment per day. I don’t always think about what experience someone wants or expects and what I can do to help them have it.

A tree is known by its fruit; a man by his deeds. A good deed is never lost; he who sows courtesy reaps friendship, and he who plants kindness gathers love. Saint Basil

A good way to compliment people is with a note. Many people don’t hear how special they are often enough. Last night a thoughtful member of Toastmasters left a note and chocolates for the staff that cleans the room we were in. She is a delightful person that knows how to win friends and influence people. It was a small thing, but I bet it made a big impact on the two young men who may feel not that appreciated as they put away chairs and straighten tables in the community center. Young men always seem to be hungry so a little snack was sure to hit the spot.

As my mother says, “it’s the little things.” Small things become big things. Little hurtful acts grow and small thoughtful acts multiply. Our choice, would we like to be known as thoughtful, kind, compassionate, or callous, hurtful, mean, and thoughtless?

Beginning today, treat everyone we meet as if they are going to be dead by midnight. Extend to them the care, kindness, and understanding we can muster, and do it with no thought of reward. Our life will never be the same again. Og Mandino said this, what if we lived it?

A little thought and a little kindness are often worth more than a great deal of money. John Ruskin

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Your habits can make you a star!

Your Habits Can Make You A Star - Starfish photo by Belynda Wilson Thomas

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Habits are important. Up to 90 percent of our everyday behavior is based on a habit. Nearly all of what we do each day, every day, is simply habit. Jack D. Hodge

We build our life through our habits. We usually don’t think when we go to bed, what time am I getting up? It’s a habit. We don’t wonder if we’ll brush our teeth tonight or this morning, it’s a habit.

Many parts of our life we put on autopilot through habits. Good habits build a good life, bad habits create chaos. We only have a few times in the day when we have to make decisions. When it comes to going to the gym if my husband doesn’t go right after work he usually doesn’t go. If I don’t go right after dinner before 7:00 I usually don’t go. There is a window of about one-half hour when we decide if we are going.

The more we systemize our lives the more likely things will be put in their proper place and get done. Years ago I found a book The Sidetracked Home Executives. Two sisters needed to get their lives and homes in order and they created a system. Flexibility is built into the system. They had systems and schedules for everything. If you didn’t get the kitchen stove cleaned in this round you left it for the next scheduled cleaning. They divided cleaning and household maintenance into daily, weekly, monthly and yearly chores. The Fly Lady Marla Cilley wrote Sink Reflections and credits the Sidetracked Sisters for the system. It’s a system worth checking out. The Fly Lady has a website at www.flylady.net

This isn’t new. My mother told me laundry on Monday, ironing on Tuesday was the way to keep your laundry under control. On a farm there was a lot of laundry. Mom always washed clothes on Monday. It wasn’t how it is now, just throw a load in the washer and then throw it in the dryer.

The white clothes were washed then the less dirty, then the dirtiest. She had ringer washers and an old spin dryer at the time. All the laundry was hung on the line until she got a dryer when I was a teenager. Laundry was a big deal, an all-day affair. On cold winter days the sheets came in the house frozen stiff. Laundry smelled fresh because of fresh air and the Sun.

You’ll never change your life until you change something you do daily. The secret of your success is found in your daily routine. John C. Maxwell

The secret to creating habits is to start small and forgive our self when we fail, falter, and procrastinate. It isn’t doing things perfectly that builds a good life, it’s doing them consistently not all the time but enough of the time that life is good, orderly, and fun.

The Fly Lady has monthly habits to concentrate on.

January – Shining your sink.

February – Decluttering for 15 minutes a day.

March – Getting dressed to shoes

April – Making the bed

May – Moving

June- Drinking water

July – Swish and swipe

August – Laundry

September – Before bed routine

October – Paper Clutter

November – Menu planning

December – Pampering

I didn’t look at this site for a long time until today. Menu planning, I’ve worked on it but it is always a challenge. When we ate meat with every dinner I had a rotation of dinners. I menu planned with plant-based meals when we first went plant-based. Now it‘s mostly my husband and I eating dinner together, and I don’t have a plan. Often Saturday soups and Sunday dinners lead to enough leftovers for the week.

Life changes and what worked for years no longer works. We have to change the way we do things. We have to adapt. New habits need to be created. We can give up habits that don’t serve us. How we live our life is our choice. Not making a choice is a choice.  I don’t know what we’ll have for dinner tonight because I don’t have a plan. Having a plan simplifies our life. It is easier to eat healthily and economically. There is less food wasted, less money spent, and less time wondering, what will I make for dinner. I need to get back to menu planning, it is so easy when you know what’s for dinner and you have all the ingredients.

There are always improvements we can make in our life. Start small, baby steps is the way forward. Do you have something in your life you want to change? Can you turn it into a habit?

Consciously create habits because habits unconsciously dictate your life. Anonymous

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Negative framing. Is the glass half empty?

The Power of Negative Framing - Photo of Pink Geranium by Belynda Wilson Thomas

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Anything that annoys you is teaching you patience. Anyone who abandons you is teaching you how to stand on your own two feet. Anything that angers you is teaching you forgiveness and compassion. Anything that has power over you is teaching you how to take your power back. Anything you hate is teaching you, unconditional love. Anything you fear is teaching you courage to overcome your fear. Anything you can’t control is teaching you how to let go. Unknown

Is it easier to be negative than positive? Is it easier to see the glass as half empty instead of half full? I watched a You tube video. Social Psychologist Alison Ledgerwood was saying in a study they told one group they had a forty percent chance of failure and another group they had a sixty percent chance of success. The group with the sixty percent chance of success was happy, but the group with the forty percent failure rate was not. When it was explained to the side with the forty percent failure rate it’s really a sixty percent success rate it made no difference. When it was explained to the sixty percent success rate it’s really a forty percent failure rate they weren’t happy either. Once the loss frame gets in our mind we can’t go back to the positive frame.

She showed a graph of how the consumer confidence fell along with the economy in 2008. It did not, however, rise with the economy. This shows it may be easier to fix the economy than consumer confidence.

This may be why when something good happens we feel really good for a short period of time. When something bad happens we feel bad for a longer period of time and if something good happens we enjoy it but we can’t quit thinking about the bad thing that happened.

We have a fundamental tilt towards the negative. It seems our brains are wired to be more sensitive to the negative bias. Our very survival depended on keeping out of harm’s way, our brain developed a system that makes it unavoidable to notice danger, and hopefully respond to it.

This was a light bulb moment for me. It makes sense we are affected more by a negative situation than a positive one. Telling someone to just get over it, doesn’t work and isn’t helpful. It is probably why we are told that it is easy to lose trust but hard to rebuild it. A negative situation has more power than positive situations and for good reason. Maya Angelou told us, “when someone shows you who they are, believe them.” Things were whispered in our ear that put someone in a bad light. Miscommunication, misunderstandings, and unmet expectations converge to create a negative image. Even if the negative image is not warranted, it is there. It needs to be dealt with, it will take time. Pretending it isn’t there and doesn’t need to be dealt with is not helpful. Trust, love, and security, in that trust and love, will need to be rebuilt. It will take time, it will take commitment.

It is during this rebuilding stage we need to be more loving, bring more positives into the relationship to balance the negative we are overcoming. Negativity can easily build on itself like a snowball. Someone feels judged, someone feels hurt. This is not the time to develop a hard shell and be invulnerable. If things are to work out we have to get our feelings out into the open and love each other through the pain, shame, hurt, and regret. We can’t prove what our intentions were after the fact. If actions are misinterpreted we have to deal with the misinterpretation. Just because something didn’t happen doesn’t change how someone feels about what they think happened.

A diamond is a chunk of coal that did well under pressure. Henry Kissinger

Numerous researchers have found there is an ideal balance between positivity and negativity in our intimate relationships. Even couples who argue a lot and are volatile balance their frequent arguments with demonstrations of love and passion. The ratio in positive relationships seems to be about five to one positive to negative reactions. Couples who were heading for divorce were doing too few positive things to compensate for the growing negativity between them.

The same ratio is important in all areas of our life. It is the frequency of small positive acts in a ratio of about five to one that matters the most. We can use this knowledge in our workplace, groups we belong to, relationships with our children, friends and other family members. Negativity spirals out of control we need to bring in positives to counteract it.

This means when we hit a rough spot we need to make an effort to have more fun, laugh, eat out, go out with friends, and celebrate the highs to compensate for the negatives we are going through. Find ways to fill the love tanks and bring fun and frivolity into our lives.

This may explain why during good economic times the music is more depressing and during tough economic times, the music is happier, uplifting and positive. Do people dance more during tough economic times than in happy times? Perhaps this is why we perceive the poor having more fun than the rich, and why people look fondly on the tougher times in their lives when they made more of an effort to socialize and have fun.

Tough times never last, but tough people do.  Robert H. Schuller

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Loving Deeply. Living fully. Enjoying life.

Living Fully Painting by Belynda Wilson Thomas

But that’s the whole aim of civilization: to make everything a source of enjoyment. Leo Tolstoy

This morning my husband was watching Dr. Oz. I caught the last part about two women who had out of body experiences and came back to life. They weren’t afraid, they were enveloped in more love than they’d ever experienced. They didn’t want to come back but were told they had to. Their message is there is nothing to fear in death. One was asked if she’d ever loved like the love she was receiving? She said no. She was told she could love better than that. She woke up to her husband crying beside her.

If we accept we don’t have to fear death as true, then let’s get on with living. Let’s live with broad strokes and bold colors. We build our lives with the choices we make. Taking a chance on love is a risk; we take a chance when we go after our dreams. We take a chance when we form new friendships. We take a chance when we bring children into the world.

My husband and I had a chance to play board games and enjoy a potluck yesterday. We didn’t go, we missed out on the fun, frivolity, and togetherness we could have had. As we sat watching Netflix my phone was going off.

“Why’s your phone so busy,” he asked.

It was the fun committee texting how great the evening was how much they enjoyed it and thanking the hosts. We missed out on a great night because we aren’t that into board games, but of course, it wasn’t about the board games. It’s about getting together and having fun. We turn down fun invitations, for what reason? Do we have so much fun in our life we don’t need more?

Enjoyment is an incredible energizer to the human spirit. John C. Maxwell

I was reading about people with low sex drives not feeling in the mood until they are in the middle of having sex. If they never accept the invitation they will never be in the middle, thus they will never be in the mood. Couples who have sex once a week are the happiest. More than once a week doesn’t register on the happiness scale.

There is so much in life to enjoy. Are we enjoying life as much as we can, or are we passing up opportunities? If we decline too many activities we quit getting asked as the answer is assumed. We may find our self with an empty social calendar and an empty life devoid of fun, closeness, and friendship. If we decline our partner’s tentative invitation for closeness that may get closed off too.

No one likes to offer invitation after invitation and get refused. My son said to me a couple years ago. “If dad asks you out for coffee then go.” Maybe I thought I should finish something instead of going for coffee. He’s right when we get asked out for coffee, go.

We only have one life. We should fill it with as much laughter, fun, closeness, and love as we can fit in. If we give our kids more hugs and fewer spankings we’ll have better kids. When we turn toward our partner instead of away we’ll have better marriages. If we keep seeing friends throughout the busy years we’ll have them when we have time again in the later years.

Life is about doing, bothering, making the phone call, accepting the invitation, responding to our partner. What if one of the sins in life is not enjoying it as much as we can?

Life is a onetime offer, use it well. Unknown

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Choices. Beginning is half done. Make a decision.

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It is in your moments of decision that your destiny is shaped. Tony Robbins

Making the decision to go forward is hard. Should we, is it a mistake, will we be happier, will we be successful, will we lose money? Will it just be a waste of time, money etc. We sit with whatever the decision is we have to make, unable to choose.

Sometimes we want to jump into a business, buy a house, start a family. We worry is this the right time? Should we ask the person we love to marry us, ask the person out we like, or ask someone to take a chance on us again?

We worry and think, think and worry, our indecision drives us crazy. Sometimes we stay undecided until the opportunity we were considering is gone. She couldn’t wait. He now has a girlfriend or she now has a boyfriend. The second chance opportunity is gone, everyone is now to bitter to consider it. We are down a road we don’t want to be on because we couldn’t decide to go forward.

It is usually worth going forward. We need to be willing to take the step and know we are strong enough to deal with what lies ahead. We want our life to progress, we don’t want regrets.

What lies ahead is not happily ever after, nor only good stuff regardless of our choice. When we make a choice we can unfreeze our self we can commit to a goal, a path, a life, a partner, a business, a career, a house, a family. Without the commitment we have none of it. We stay in the job we do not like. We stay living alone, we don’t build the family, business, life, we don’t start the painting, novel, song, exercise program, or join the group.

We have a decision to make because something needs to change. We are stuck, our life calls out for action. That action can’t happen until a decision is made. We know what we want, but we are afraid. If we listen to the fear we get what we have or sometimes we lose what we have. Life can’t stand still, we need to move forward.

Some of our important choices have a time line. If we delay a decision, the opportunity is gone forever. Sometimes our doubts keep us from making a choice that involves change. Thus an opportunity may be missed. James E. Faust

We all have decisions to make every day. What to eat, what to wear, who to spend time with, how to earn our daily bread. Most of these decisions we make almost automatically. We have hamburger in the fridge so that’s dinner. When there’s nothing in the fridge we might pop out for a hamburger or order in. Most of us have figured it out by nine o’clock.

How do we know what the right decision is? What if there isn’t a right decision? When my husband wanted to start his own business. He was offered a good job with the City. He went with the business. There are perks to having your own business there are perks to working where you have a pension and peers. What wasn’t okay was if he’d stayed where he was. Had he been unable to make a decision that would be the outcome.

Some of us have been stuck for years. Things we want to do are still waiting. Talents are unused, friends are unmet, families are not created, and businesses are not started. How many of us have seen something come to life, fruition, reality that we thought of? We didn’t do anything with it, someone else did and they reap the reward.

We can’t do something with everything that crosses our mind. We need to do something with enough of the opportunities that present themselves to build a good life. Life is one decision after another. When we can’t make a decision, we’ve still made a decision. If it isn’t yes, it’s no, there is no maybe in life.

There are no guarantees. We live it one step at a time. We don’t know going forward that this decision will never be regretted. We do know we regret more of what we don’t do than what we do.

It takes courage to give someone another chance you feel has hurt you in a way you never expected, and it hurts more than you can comprehend. It takes courage to buy a house and put every cent you have and will have for the foreseeable future into it and put down roots. It takes courage to say this is the man or woman for me. It takes courage to say goodbye to a secure pay cheque and go it on your own. It takes courage to start a family.

One decision starts us down a path, gets us off a path, detours from a path, creates a new path, or continues on a path. That decision determines our life going forward. We need to make the decision that gives us the best chance of living our best life. If we take the chance we will likely look back at this cross roads with a thankful heart, a fuller life, a grateful spirit.

We need to feel the fear, look at the consequences and be willing to face whatever must be faced to build the life we want. If we want a happy, fulfilling life we’ll have to take a few chances along the way. We need to trust it will be worth it in the end.

Take a chance on life. Make a decision. Go forward in hope and promise, trust we can deal with whatever is out there. Choose!

In any moment of decision, the best thing you can do is the right things, the next best thing is the wrong thing, and the worst you can do is nothing. Theodore Roosevelt

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Finding love. Love them imperfections and all.

Choose love - Photo of five coral roses photo by Belynda Wilson Thomas

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We come to love not by finding a perfect person, but by learning to see an imperfect person perfectly. Sam Keen

I’ve been watching too much YouTube and have learned about a group of men called Men Going Their Own Way. These MGTOW men dislike feminism so much they are staying away from serious relationships with women especially marriage.

I might be crazy but I think marriage benefits men even more than it benefits women. Married men are healthier, more successful, and live longer than unmarried men. I really think marriage benefits women but we can still have our children and a family without a man. Men may hate this about us; we only need them for a short time in the procreation process.

Now we can make our own money so we can financially support our family. It would be harder alone. It would be lonelier alone. How lonely are these men going to be later on? Society has always managed without some of our men. How could we have had World War 1 and World War 11 and not suffered much as far as population growth. Because the women still had children.

I grew up in an area where we had (or so it seemed to me) a lot of bachelors. They were to me sad, lonely men, who sat on a plot of land and didn’t do much with it, while beside them married men built a life with their wives, had children and prospered.

In Jamaica we were surrounded by a group of happy young people. Most of them coupled in serious relationships. You hurt yourself when you are too picky to find a real person and build a life with them.

Love is not just about finding a good partner. It is also about being a good one. Unknown

I’ve heard of women who wouldn’t go on a date with someone because she didn’t like the shoes he wore. Really, you couldn’t take him shoe shopping? I remember being picked up at the airport by my husband wearing a short sleeved brown shirt. I hated that shirt. It wasn’t a deal breaker. He had it before we got together; he never bought another one like it.

We mostly buy clothes the other likes. If I had met him with that shirt on I don’t think it would have been a big enough thing to not go out with him. We women are overlooking diamonds in the rough because someone hasn’t gotten them the perfect haircut yet, or the best cut of clothes for their frame, or into a fitness routine.

They might need to get their teeth fixed. George Clooney needed to get his teeth fixed. We need to look past the imperfections to the real person and the possibilities in a potential relationship. I think both men and women like what they see when men and women are in happy relationships. They don’t want to take the chance and build that happy relationship out of the person in front of them who isn’t in one yet.

We have to see the potential in people. Many women who are married to successful men didn’t get him when he was successful. They married or at least started dating the guy with potential.

It seems to me if by the time we are thirty we haven’t found a good potential mate then what are we looking for? From sixteen to thirty and I think twenty five more like it, we meet a lot of people. How could one of them not be a good potential partner?

I understand people who haven’t been married by a certain age have less chance of marrying than a divorced or widow/widower has of remarrying.

According to a National Health and Social Life Survey, 51 percent of married men were extremely satisfied with their sex lives, while only 39 percent of cohabitating men and 36 percent of single men could say the same. Research shows that men are more sexually satisfied when they are in lasting relationships because both spouses are making a long-term investment in intimacy.

I understand that six men to one woman want non committed sexual relationships. Six women to one man want committed relationships leading to marriage. We have a serious conflict here. Women need to make sure they are getting into relationships where both partners want the same thing.

Perhaps women have to quit having sex with uncommitted men to screen out the potential marriage partners from just sexual partners. There are numerous books advising women how to do this.

Men and women need to go after what they want. When I was young I thought men and women mostly were after the same thing. Finding a partner to build a life with. A lot of young people still feel this way at least this is what I hear from my two kids. The problem arises I think when they don’t find the partner before thirty and are now jaded, wounded, and disillusioned.

When I was growing up my mom used to say “don’t get married too young.” She doesn’t say that any more as she sees some young people not bothering to get married at all. I don’t say it anymore either. Young people don’t need to get married so young as find the partner when they are young. When they decide this is the person, plan a wedding, don’t  just move in together.

I think both men and women thought when we got the risk of pregnancy out of the equation we could play with relationships. The bitter harvest of broken, hurt, disillusioned men and women shows me we are more fragile in this department than we thought.

You don’t need someone to complete you. You only need someone to accept you completely. Unknown

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Commitment and choice. Loving what is.

Good Enough - Photo by Belynda Wilson Thomas of Two Day Lilies

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You must love in a way that makes the other person feel free. Thich Nhat Hanh

Marriage gives us the freedom to explore a deeper commitment than any other relationship. We get to know our partner warts and all. They know our weaknesses and we know theirs. In a good relationship our strengths and weaknesses build something better than either of us could apart. We are stronger together.

When he wins, she wins. Children don’t see a perfect marriage they see two people working things out. They see the peaks and valleys that come in life. Their mother is there for their dad in his grief and he is there for her in hers.

Two people navigate careers, each others families, holidays. This is going to be a challenge for my daughter and her husband this year. Christmas a time of togetherness can pull people in two directions, trying to satisfy everybody they satisfy no one. Not even themselves.

It’s too early to talk of Christmas. First they need to get the thank you cards out. My husband and I had free tickets to a youth choir Christmas Concerto. We couldn’t bring ourselves to go to a Christmas event this early. We went to a movie instead.

Personal freedom is something we foster; it is not something handed to us. It is our emotional work that heals the binds that tie us; we also have to let our partner heal the binds that tie them. This only happens from a place of emotional maturity that owns and accepts, but does not blame.

A strong relationship requires choosing to love each other even in those moments when you struggle to like each other. Unknown

We create confining feelings within relationships to give us a feeling of control. Being “right” often makes us overly controlling. We begin to create prickly borders around our hearts. We put this controlling mechanism in place to protect ourselves from being hurt. That barbed wire fence around our heart hurts ourselves as it hurts others. It’s as hard for us to get out as it is for someone else to get in.

We yearn for connection and freedom. Commitment is that freedom, if we do it right. Through connection to someone we can explore honest, genuine and authentic love.

When we are in denial of our deepest pain we lash out, build walls and blame the world. Our lives and relationships suffer. We need to shift our energy, unlock our heart, give our self the gift of compassion, grace and forgiveness and heal the wounded parts of our self.

We need to deal with our feelings of insecurity,  being unlovable, pain, and shame.  Life has let us down. We have let ourselves down. The people we love have been let down. We are human. We are not perfect.  Still, we are worthy of love from our self and others. Often before we can accept forgiveness from someone else we need to accept it from our self.

We are enough. We are not perfect; we don’t need to be perfect. We need to be accepting, warm, compassionate and vulnerable. We may get hurt if we love. We hurt our self when we don’t open up to the love being offered. If we rebuff the other person often enough they no longer offer.

They start to pull into themselves, protecting their heart. Soon you have two lonely, isolated, hardened, unfeeling people sharing a space. Some couples live their lives together two broken souls, hardened, bitter, unloving. Other couples are still two broken souls but they help each other mend the broken pieces, they are open, loving, vulnerable. They become strong in the broken places. They don’t expect each other to be perfect. They love what is. They find it’s enough.

Love is a decision.  We need to honor our commitment. When someone does something wrong we need to be careful we don’t forget about everything they’ve done right.

A true relationship is two imperfect people refusing to give up on each other. Unknown

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The road not taken. The road less travelled. Living with the choices we have made.

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The Road Not Taken

BY ROBERT FROST

Two roads diverged in a yellow wood,

And sorry I could not travel both

And be one traveler, long I stood

And looked down one as far as I could

To where it bent in the undergrowth;

 

Then took the other, as just as fair,

And having perhaps the better claim,

Because it was grassy and wanted wear;

Though as for that the passing there

Had worn them really about the same,

 

And both that morning equally lay

In leaves no step had trodden black.

Oh, I kept the first for another day!

Yet knowing how way leads on to way,

I doubted if I should ever come back.

 

I shall be telling this with a sigh

Somewhere ages and ages hence:

Two roads diverged in a wood, and I—

I took the one less traveled by,

And that has made all the difference.

This is the most famous poem in American literature. Most of us can quote the last two lines thinking this is a poem praising individuality for not following the pack.

We comfort our self by assuming our current position is the product of our own choice not chosen for us and not by mere chance.

David Orr in his new book The Road Not Taken says we all get the meaning wrong. The poem he says is a commentary on the self deception we practice when constructing the story of our own lives.

This poem is often wrongly referred to as The Road Less Travelled.

We have all at one time or another chosen which road to take. This choice colored the life we live; the life we live is not the life we would have lived had we taken another choice. We don’t always see the life changing events as they present themselves.

I didn’t know when I took a bus to Toronto after high school that I would live the rest of my life here. I don’t actually know I will live the rest of my life here although from this vantage point it looks likely. What choice might we make in retirement?

Chance, serendipity, grace, luck, good fortune, accidents, misfortune, running into the right people, run ins with the wrong people, the financial fortune of our country at the time we are making our decisions all play a part in our life and how it unfolds.

Whatever road we chose it is the road we are on. Is it the better road? We won’t know, we can’t compare the two we can only deal with the reality before us.

A woman I have known for years that was never my husband’s girl friend, but I always got the idea she would have liked to be. Said to him one day when I wasn’t around, “I should have married you.”

In her own mind she may think that was an option she had but didn’t take. He said, “in my wildest nightmare I would never have married her.” Just because in our own mind we think we could have or should have taken other roads doesn’t mean those roads were there to be taken.

The road less traveled is hard to walk It takes a soldier Who knows his orders– To love like I’m not scared Give when it’s not fair Live life for another Take time for a brother Fight for the weak ones Speak out for freedom Find faith in the battle Stand tall but above it all Fix my eyes on You”

– For King and Country

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Challenges, one step at a time. Can we be the change we want to see in the world. Can we make things better?

Annoyance - Photo of Rose of Sharon by Belynda Wilson Thomas

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You gain strength, courage and confidence by every experience in which you really stop to look fear in the face. You are able to say to yourself, ‘I have lived through this horror. I can take the next thing that comes along.’ You must do the thing you think you cannot do.

Eleanor Roosevelt

Three years ago today I took the three week vegan challenge my son challenged me too. I didn’t think I could do it. Give up my cream with a little coffee. Somehow I drank my coffee half hot water, half coffee and the rest is history. I am not vegan, I have never called myself vegan even though I was pretty strict in the beginning of this whole food plant based starch solution eating plan.

I was strict because I thought it was easy to revert back to old ways of eating. The first three weeks of the vegan challenge I felt good so I extended it to six months. Still feeling good and losing some weight while eating as much rice, potatoes, beans, etc as I wanted I kept it up. I already knew from my days of food combining that starch and fat are a recipe for putting on weight. Starch without fat seems to be the recipe for a svelte healthy body.

I follow The Starch Solution by Dr. John McDougall. He has tons of information on the internet on how his eating plan has helped numerous people with various diseases.

Most activism is brought about by us ordinary people. Patricia Hill Collins

I believe we are what we eat – how can we be anything else. My mother always encouraged me not to diet. She was right. In my early twenties I quit dieting and by doing so maintained a good weight. As I hit my forties weight started to creep on and I looked for ways of eating to look after that. Suzanne Somers food combining worked for me but I ate more meat and fat than carbs and no fat so I don’t think I was as healthy as I could be. She didn’t like some of the healthiest carbs not embracing bananas and potatoes.

The Starch Solution is a lot like food combining except he doesn’t embrace eating meat and fat. An all or nothing diet doesn’t work for me. I can be really strict but I can’t live the rest of my life thinking I can’t eat whatever. I watched my son and his girlfriend struggle to find things to eat at the hotel in Jamaica because it was an omnivore’s paradise.  They compromised by eating dairy.

I’ve found that dairy seems to be something I should stay away from and I find many vegetarians eat a lot of dairy.

We grew up on balanced meals. We didn’t gorge ourselves on cheese and ice-cream as kids. Ice cream was a treat. Our meat was grass fed, our pigs and chickens free range part of the year and grain fed. There were no hormones in our meat and few antibiotics or inoculations. My mother still eats this way and is healthy at 93.

We have to find ways to preserve our soil, our health, our planet. I think mixed farms do that by enriching the soil through animal droppings. Land cannot be continuously cultivated.

It can take 500 years to create an inch of soil. The management of our soil is one of our greatest concerns. Big business has their ideas, small farmers have theirs. Does anyone know the truth? Some small farmers are taking their depleted soil and enriching it. These are the people we should be listening to.

We need the people who have done it. Who know what they are doing who have made things better to be heard. We need to hear from the people who increase their water table with trees. We need to hear from the farmers who enrich their poor soil. We need to hear from people who have stopped desertification in their location. We need to hear from people who have become healthier by changing their diet. We need to hear from the people who have remained healthy by eating their ancestral diet.

We need to hear from the people who know how to do things. Monocropping isn’t good for the soil or our health.

There are statistics giving the number of harvests that can be expected from our soils if we keep to the current method of cultivation. Destroying our soil is one of the crises looming ahead of us.

National Geographic has steps they think we should take to ensure we can feed the world in 2050.

Step One: Freeze Agriculture’s footprint.

Step Two: Grow more on the farms we’ve got.

Step Three: Use resources more efficiently – they suggest embracing both commercial farming and organic farming.

Step Four: Shift our diets to less meat. Curtail using food crops for biofuel.

Step Five: Reduce waste.

I believe every country should be able to feed it’s own population. If you can’t feed your own people what will happen in a crisis?

Food self sufficiency comes down to whether a country could feel its people with its own production, not whether it actually is. Canada is one of the few countries listed as food sufficient. You might not have the varied diet you love but you’ll have food.

“If we could change ourselves, the tendencies in the world would also change. As a man changes his own nature, so does the attitude of the world change towards him. … We need not wait to see what others do.” Gandhi

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The Starch Solution: Eat the Foods You Love, Regain Your Health, and Lose the Weight for Good!

Jun 4, 2013

by John McDougall and Mary McDougall

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The Omnivore’s Dilemma: A Natural History of Four Meals

Aug 28, 2007

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Be bold, be courageous, follow your heart. When faced with a choice, know you’ll regret what you don’t do, more than what you do.

Be Bold painting by Belynda Wilson Thomas

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Avoiding danger is no safer in the long run than outright exposure. The fearful are caught as often as the bold.

Helen Keller

My daughter tells me she is finding it hard to concentrate at work, the last week of work before her wedding. It is always stressful when leaving for vacation. As a small business we have to tell our clients we’ll be off and when we’ll be back. There’s no vacation pay and there is no one to do the work until we get back. We have to shut down.

It’s one of the reasons we don’t take many holidays. We always find its okay. At this time in our life we need to wind down more often, stop and smell the roses and go and do the things we want to go and do.

A friend of mine is in Europe with her daughter. She and I talked about going to Europe years ago but never went. I’m following her on face book, it sounds like an amazing trip. Another friend has gone to Scotland with her family, another amazing trip.

Experiences with our families, are worth more than money in the bank. I went to get travel insurance; my husband and I are on the cusp of when it becomes time to fill out the “health questionnaire.” At some point it may be too dangerous or expensive to travel. I was in a store the other day and an older lady was saying she would never take the chance of “leaving Canada,” to go on a trip. Is that fear or being responsible?

Aging is our reality. If I’m lucky like my mom, I have a lot of good healthy years ahead of me. Even a lot of good years ahead of me, is still less than I have behind me. A sobering thought because they have gone so fast my head spins. They were full, wonderful years.

When we are blessed with good genes from our parents, the rest is up to us. What makes happy, resilient, optimistic yet realistic people? What combination of genes, upbringing, circumstance and luck makes us resilient, strong, and able to deal with the slings and arrows of life?

Listening to CNN last night I wonder if finding offense in everything being said, is positive? I know a lot of us say things that may be hurtful depending on how the listener takes them. It would be better if we didn’t say them. If we edit our speech too much we will feel stifled, feeling stifled may breed more rage and outrage as we struggle to say what needs to be said without “offending” anyone.

Has my blog offended anyone? I got some feedback letting me know everyone does not see things how I see them. Of course they don’t, that is what discourse is for. My worldview is shaped by where I was born and raised, what my parents went through, growing up in the safety and security of Canada. I have had the freedom to make my own choices about where I wanted to live, with whom, and what I wanted to do.

Some of those were scary choices. They were mine and for better or worse I live with the consequences. Mostly good, are there things I would change, of course! I would be bolder, I would have taken more chances. My husband and I were bolder before we had children. We felt the weight of providing a secure future for them. We quit taking chances we would have taken without them.

That is not something I regret. It is time for us to become bold and adventurous again. It’s why I started this blog. It’s why I’m going to publish my novel. I read my journal entry when I was sixteen or seventeen. I’d just watched “The Walton’s” John boy was a writer. I wrote that I wanted to write, I thought after forty when I would have something to say. I would have other ways to support myself in case writing was not enough.

Here I am, over forty, writing, supporting myself doing something else. My writing is mine; I do it for the love of it. They say when you make your living doing what you love you never work a day in your life. I don’t know if I believe it. If I was being paid per word, it would put a price on this I might not like. We will do for free what we may have a hard time doing once money gets involved.

Not that I don’t want to make any money from my writing. I do worry money may somehow taint it. I don’t worry about it so much that I won’t put a price on my novel, but if monetizing takes the joy out of it, I can let go of the money, to keep the joy.

Stop being self-conscious when you write. You are the expert about the world you are creating, no one else. So be bold and write on.

Nirav Sanchaniya

Getting married is a bold choice. I applaud my daughter and her fiance as they take this step. Having children is a bold choice, not one we  often think about until after the fact. If we thought about it much, the world population would be a lot smaller.

Trust yourself. Create the kind of self that you will be happy to live with all your life. Make the most of yourself by fanning the tiny, inner sparks of possibility into flames of achievement.     Golda Meir

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