We cannot reap what we did not plant. Our happiness doesn’t grow in someone else’s garden

Our happiness doesn't grow in someone else's garden. We cannot reap what we do not plant.

Painting by Belynda Wilson Thomas

A pessimist sees the difficulty in every opportunity; an optimist sees the opportunity in every difficulty. Winston Churchill

Spring is here and yesterday was a cold wet day. We need the rain to see the lush beauty of spring that is just starting to pop up out of the ground. On my walk the other day I was looking for spring flowers but I didn’t see one hardy blossom.  A little south of here near the lake flowers are springing up.

All winter the yards look the same, but in the spring we see who bothered to plant bulbs last year or sometimes twenty years ago. Last fall the bulbs didn’t get planted and so this spring they will not bloom. They sit where they have sat all winter in my garage. Our lives are sometimes like our winter gardens, there are things going on but no one can see it yet. Later in our lives, we see if something was planted or if we were fooling our self and others.

We may beat ourselves up as thistles grow bigger than what we planted. We need to weed our gardens, we need to edit our life, we need to water and fertilize. Plants like people have companions they prefer. If we learn what plants do well together we will have a better garden than if we think it doesn’t matter.

Gardens are a great metaphor for life. We get what we grow, and we reap what we sow. If we don’t watch it the weeds will take over, if we don’t tend it we won’t get much to harvest and if we didn’t bother we won’t have anything at all. We can plant crops that we can harvest this fall or we can plant crops that will take years to come to fruition but once they do they give us a crop every year for years to come.

A society grows great when old men plant trees whose shade they know they shalt never sit in. Greek proverb

We get to choose the type of garden we grow and the life we build. Every garden is different because the microclimate, the soil, the light, the moisture and the plants that thrive will be different. Some year’s one kind of crop may thrive more than another. In life it is the same, some talents, interests, and skills are more appreciated. If we chose the right avenue of study or business we can look like stars.

If we are growing our crop commercially we must decide in the spring what we will plant. We might not know until fall what the most profitable crop will be. Once we’ve bought the seed and planted the crop we are dependent on nature and the economy whether this was a good crop to grow or not. We may get a poor crop but the prices are high, we may get a bumper crop but the prices are low. We may get wiped out by hail, drought, or pestilence.

We need to deal with life as it comes, when we look at our lives we can see if we sowed the seeds of harmony or discord. Did we keep the weeds at bay or were some of our best plants (ideas) choked out. Did we water and fertilize or did we depend on nature? Did we plant something well suited to our soil and climate or are we trying to grow something unlikely to thrive?

What we get out of life we get from what we do, and everything we do comes from what we think. When we think better, we do better. Life is a garden our thoughts are the seeds, we can plant flowers or we can plant weeds. Unknown

We can be very hurt if someone tells us our life is a mess because of our thoughts and actions. But, you don’t know what we’ve been through, the disadvantages, the hardships, the unfairness, the injustice we say. It is true life isn’t fair, it isn’t fair when someone wins the lottery, or someone is in an accident why did one get something good, and one get something bad? The only thing we get to do is deal with the reality of our life, make the best of it. We admire the people who make the best of their life.

Often we would never want to be the people who make the best of things. Who would want to be Helen Keller? She didn’t look at what she couldn’t do because of what she didn’t have. She made the best of her life. We admire her for it. We use her quotes often. I have never heard anyone say they wish they were like Helen Keller.

We more often want to be like the people who made a mess of the gifts they had. They had a voice like an angel but ruined their life with drugs. We think we would love to be blessed with that voice. It isn’t what we get; it’s what we do with it. We always think we would do better with more, we never think we would do better with less. Yet the people we really admire in life often did better with less. What do we need to change in our garden of life?

Action is the blossom of thought, and joy and suffering are its fruits. James Allen

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Food is the stuff of life. Who are we depending on for our next meal?

Who are we depending on for our next meal? Food is the stuff of life.

Give a man a fish and you feed him for a day, teach a man to fish and you feed him for a lifetime. Maimonides

If you ate today, thank a farmer. If you are able to accomplish anything in life you need sustenance and our food comes from land or sea.

Only a few countries in the world produce enough food to feed their population. 16 percent of the world’s population today depends on food produced somewhere other than in their own country. In 2050 that number is expected to jump to 50 percent.

Canada is one of the countries listed as being food self-sufficient. We should be very careful to keep it this way. If we can’t grow enough food for our own people, we are no longer in control of our own destiny.

One of the things growing up on a farm teaches us is the carrying load of land. There is a limit to how many cattle, horses, goats, sheep, pigs, or chickens that can be raised on a finite piece of land. It isn’t different for people or countries.

We haven’t done that well with famines in the past; will we do better with a much larger population?

Just like they tell us in an airplane we must put our own oxygen mask on first. When it comes to food self-sufficiency every country should be figuring out how they can feed their people if no other country has a surplus to sell to them.

The glory of gardening: hands in the dirt, head in the sun, heart with nature. To nurture a garden is to feed not just the body, but the soul. Alfred Austin

A victory garden is a vegetable garden, especially a home garden, planted to increase food production during a war. These victory gardens were started in World War 1. In 1917 Charles Lathrap Pack created the National War Garden Commission to encourage women at home to grow and preserve their own food. Crops in commercial production would then be available for troops and allies overseas.

Posters with sayings such as “Sow the Seeds of Victory” promoted this idea. Instructions were given on how to garden, from sowing seeds to harvesting and preserving crops, as well as saving seed for the following year.

There is a resurgence of victory gardens based on self-reliance, sustainability, healthy eating, and ecosystem support. It gives families food security. It also protects against the effects of multinational seed conglomerates gobbling up small seed companies in an attempt to control the world’s food supply. The “Victory” in modern victory gardens is freedom from the conventional food system. It is taking charge even to a small degree of what we eat. It is about making a difference in our own lives, being the change we want to see in the world, and giving up feelings of helplessness by doing something meaningful, something positive, something productive, and something important.

We can wring our hands and worry, or we can be proactive and make a difference. Is it possible that everywhere in the world people can do some small thing to make life better? Does better everywhere start with plants? Can every country improve its potential for food self-sufficiency?

The single greatest lesson the garden teaches is that our relationship to the planet need not be zero-sum and that as long as the sun still shines and people still can plan and plant, think and do, we can if we bother to try, find ways to provide for ourselves without diminishing the world. Michael Pollen

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Getting out of our comfort zone. Facing the fear. Being the change we want to see in our life.

Being the change we want to see in our life. Facing the fear. Getting out of our comfort zone.

Painting by Belynda Wilson Thomas

If you want something you’ve never had, then you’ve got to do something you’ve never done. Unknown

Getting out of our comfort zone what does that even mean? It happens at Toastmaster’s every week. We pay to have the opportunity to get out of our comfort zone and see other people getting out of theirs. It is as encouraging, perhaps even more encouraging when we see the progress other people make as they get out of their comfort zone again and again. We watch people who never thought they would win an award as best speaker, evaluator of impromptu speaking, proudly having their picture taken.

These small steps out of comfort zones can have big effects on lives. We never know where getting out of our comfort zone will take us.

The night we moved into our house a man put his fist through our sidelight trying to get to a phone because he and his friends got out of their comfort zone and decided to do off-road driving in the undeveloped site across from us.

We need to think about the comfort zone we are leaving. Is it safe, is it wise, is it dangerous? Some of us are too cautious, and some of us are too brave. Putting everything on red might be out of our comfort zone, it will usually for sure be out of our partner’s comfort zone.

Sometimes I buy a lottery ticket, often I see people who don’t look like they should be spending the amount of money they are on lottery tickets trying to get out of their comfort zone. They aren’t going about it in the best way. That amount of money saved and invested would build them a future, buying lottery tickets is unlikely to pay off.

Last week we watched a video on YouTube telling us that a high percentage of people without high incomes spend a high percentage of their income on luxury goods. Frugality is not being embraced by those who need it most. When we want to look successful before we are successful chances are we will never become really successful.

You can only grow if you are willing to feel awkward and uncomfortable when you try something new. Brian Tracy

Habits of the rich:

Eat right. 70 percent of wealthy people eat less than 300 calories in junk-food. 97 percent of poor people eat more than 300 calories in junk-food.

Keep fit. 76 percent of wealthy people exercise at least four days per week, and only 23 percent of poor people do.

Set goals for themselves. A goal is a dream with a plan to reach it. 80 percent of the wealthy focus on a goal. Only 12 percent of poor people have a goal written down.

The wealthy don’t share all their ideas. Only 11.6 percent of the wealthy blurt out what’s on their mind compared to 69 percent of the poor.

Keep a To-Do list. 81 percent of the wealthy keep a To-Do list compared to 19 percent of the poor. 84 percent of the wealthy believe good habits create opportunity and luck versus 4 percent of the poor according to Dave Ramsey.

Wealthy people never quit educating themselves. Wealthy people read at least thirty minutes per day compared to 2 percent of the poor.

Stay in touch with people. Wealthy people show their love by keeping in touch.

Rich people watch less TV. Poor people have a big TV. Rich people have a big library. Jim Rohn

Wealthy people are not big gamblers. Only 23 percent of wealthy people gamble compared to 52 percent of the poor.

The wealthy make daily positive choices. 74% of wealthy people teach good daily success habits to their children versus 1% of the poor. Dave Ramsey

We are building our life by the choices we make every single day. More of our life is up to our behavior, attitude, and habits than a lot of us want to believe.

Are there choices we could make that would move us out of our comfort zone and make our lives better? If we only do what we’ve always done, we’ll only get what we’ve always gotten. If we want change, we have to change. Who but us can be the change we want to see in our life?

I was born poor, raised in poverty and watched my parents die that way. I worked hard, eliminated my bad habits, started doing what the wealthy did. Mostly I stopped blaming others for my lack of wealth. Now I am wealthy, and I help others who want to be helped. Dave Ramsey

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We have to risk failure to risk success.

We have to risk failure to risk success.

Don’t think about what can happen in a month. Don’t think about what can happen in a year. Just focus on the 24 hours in front of you and do what you can to get closer to where you want to be. Unknown

In Noah St. John’s book Afformations; he says the most basic human fear is the fear of rejection. Why is this the most basic fear? He says, centuries ago we lived in tribes. If we did something bad it was considered a crime against the tribe. The worst punishment was not death, but banishment, because there was virtually no way we could make it on our own.

How can we develop the habit of taking action in the face of fear? We need to understand almost everyone has the same fear. One of the best things to do is imagine we are rejected for what we want to do. Really feel what it would be like.  Guess what, when we accept that we may be rejected we can deal with it.

Everyone is not going to love the painting we spent three months completing. Many times we aren’t as happy with it ourselves as we hoped. Noah St. John doesn’t tell us to tell ourselves we are great, we are powerful, we are going to become rich and famous. He teaches us to ask why. Why are we great, why are we powerful, why will we become rich and famous. Then we have to come up with the how.

Nothing happens until we do something. The problem with positive self-talk is it often doesn’t lead anywhere. We leave out “the how”. If you want to build a house, first you have “a why”. You need a place to live, or you know other people need a place to live and if you build it, they will buy it. Once you have “your why”, you figure out “the how”. First, you will hire an architect or draw up the plans yourself. Get all the paperwork done to submit for your building permit. You don’t buy the windows before you have your plan.

Failing to plan is planning to fail. Do I have a plan? I’m promoting an unpublished novel. Am I putting the cart before the horse? I don’t know and as we go forward in life we never know where something will take us. If we waited until we knew where it would take us we would never do anything. I know more than one person has read my blog. I know most people will never read my blog or my book. I’m okay with that.

When I wrote my first novel; the one that’s in a binder behind my desk, I became a writer. The novel no one has seen but me. It is still one of my proudest achievements? It is writing that convoluted mess of 311 pages that made me believe; I could be a writer because I wrote. By any standard of literature, it is a failure. We have to be willing to fail bigger, fail better if we want success.

If we want to write, paint, quilt, publish a cookbook, record our song, build our house. What’s stopping us? There are a lot of dreams that never reach fruition. It’s a risk we take. Would we rather be the dreamer with a dream that fails or doesn’t reach its potential than die with our dream inside us?

Patience is not simply the ability to wait – it’s how we behave while we are waiting. Joyce Meyer

We don’t and often can’t know where something will lead. We start, and starting is half done. Take the step, and hope the bridge will be there. What’s the alternative? Don’t take the step and spend our lives wondering what if? What if we tried to get that song published? What if we published that book? What if we started that business? What if we asked that guy or girl for a date?

What if we say yes to life? What’s the worst that can happen? He or she rejects us, we’ve been rejected before. What if no one reads our book? What if they do? If we don’t write it we know for sure no one will read it, not even us. We don’t know what we can do until we do it. We have to get out of our own way and let what is in us come out, so we can see it.

Very few of us have original thoughts or will do original things. There is nothing new under the sun. We won’t paint an original painting, our painting is original, but the subject won’t be. The words aren’t original, if they were, we wouldn’t understand each other. Everything has been said before, it doesn’t mean we shouldn’t write. Words resonate with us because they are a truth we already know. That is part of their power.

Dare to dream, dare to do. Fail bigger, fail better. We have to risk failure to risk success. Is there something we’ve been putting off doing? Is now the time, is it now or never?

If you spend too much time thinking about a thing. You’ll never get it done. Bruce Lee

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Afformations: The Miracle of Positive Self-Talk

Aug 19, 2014

by Noah St. John and John Assaraf



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We all have gifts. Can we recognize them and use them to build a better life for all?

Can we recognize and use our gifts to create a better life for all? We all have gifts.

The art of contentment is the recognition that the most satisfying and the most dependably refreshing experiences of life lie not in great things but in little.  The rarity of happiness among those who achieved much is evidence that achievement is not in itself the assurance of a happy life.  The great, like the humble, may have to find their satisfaction in the same plain things.

Edgar A. Collard

Most of us will never have the career of our dreams; we will have a job or business that pays the bills and keeps the wolf from our door, helping us to make the important parts of our life work. I am trying to come up with a definition of career, let’s go with, “a person’s metaphorical journey through learning and work.” In many ways saying one has a career instead of a job is like having a title instead of better pay.

I’ve always thought the most important jobs are not the ones with the cache. We can live without Doctor’s and Lawyer’s but not plumbers and farmers. Good nutrition, hygiene, and sanitation have done more for society than anything else. Jordan Peterson says one of the reasons women do not rise to the heights in the Professional world is those with education and choice realize what is important at about age thirty-five. They realize it is not the next promotion taking them away from home and family that is important. They do not want to be married to a Corporation. When they have a choice they often choose family.

At some point, we realize family is the important thing. Everything we do is to keep the family housed, fed, and educated. In one of the American States, they are cutting down to a four day school week. They are doing this for economic reasons, but what if we find out schooling our children so much is not better. Are we schooling the fun of learning out of them, as they are heaped with greater loads of homework?

Some people embrace the four day work week. Maybe we will embrace the four day school week. What if we realize what is important and put work, careers, corporations, and progress in its proper place. Money is a better servant than a master, so I believe is work.

It is so easy to be pessimistic about our future. Overpopulation is one of the things many of us worry about. Some people believe we will peak at about nine billion people and then our population will decline. Can we learn to live in harmony with nature?

We have built societies of peace and plenty. Progress can continue to be made if we work together. If we believe what is good for you is good for me. We have unequal distribution in our world. We need to be okay with the fact that in a forest a few trees are the biggest. A few songwriters have written most of our songs. A few authors have written most of our books.

Through Ancestory.com we will probably learn in the past a few men fathered most of the children. A few companies sell most of the products. Most of our forests are populated by a few trees. A few people make most of our scientific discoveries. A few people make most of the money. We can probably not have the type of equality we dream of if you could only do as well as someone else, would you really be happy? When we hear that we could all live under our own fig tree does that really sound that great? What if you want apple trees, grape vines, potato fields, rice paddies, to live in the city, or the country, sailing the world? Opportunity is not the same as outcome? Can we have opportunity and choice for everyone?

To whom much is given, much will be required’ (Luke 12:48)”

If we take envy out of the equation and try to live our lives using the gifts we were given then we can have a great life. How many of us use things for purposes they weren’t intended. We make life hard for our self when we could use the proper tool. Is a hammer better than a screwdriver, a cherry better than a potato, a chicken better than a cow? Comparisons are odious and we compare ourselves to others to our detriment.

We are here, why? That I believe is what we are to find out. Timeless truths are here for our understanding. We are here, for better or worse. Can we make it better?

We have different gifts, according to the grace given to each of us. If your gift is prophesying, then prophesy in accordance with your faith; if it is serving, then serve; if it is teaching, then teach; if it is to encourage, then give encouragement; if it is giving, then give generously; if it is to lead, do it diligently; if it is to show mercy, do it cheerfully” Romans 12:6–8

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Stewardship of the Earth. What are we leaving our children?

What are we leaving our children? Stewardship of the earth.

Climate change is not the concern of just one or two nations. It is an issue that affects the whole of humanity and every living being on the earth. Dalai Lama

Last night we watched Madame Secretary and it haunted me all night. A small island was erased from the earth because the coral bed it was built on could not withstand two typhoons. Climate change, what do we do about it? Everyone wants someone to do something about it, but what do we ourselves want and need to do?

When I joined Toastmasters in 1986 one of the speeches was on overpopulation, the world population in December 1986 was 4.93 billion. 1968 looks like it was the peak growth percentage but we only had 3.5 billion growing. We were also moving from rural populations to urban, rural populations have more children, but urban populations use more resources. There’s a catch twenty-two.

Faith and reason must come together enabling us to make positive choices in our lifestyles, in how our economies are run, and in building a true global solidarity necessary to avert this climate crisis. Pope Francis

It is unpopular to point our finger at population growth as our main problem. We don’t want to stop the growth of our countries, cities, companies. We don’t want to stop consuming, nor do companies or governments want us to. How do we continue as we are and stop or slow climate change and create a sustainable world? The only thing we understand is more, more, more.

The United States has the largest population in the developed world and is the only developed nation experiencing significant population growth. Predictions are its population could double by the end of the century. We think we have a problem now?

We can’t talk about population growth without isms rearing their ugly head. One of the most effective population control methods appears to be educating girls. When women are given the resources and the choice they opt for smaller families.

The answer to our predicament may not be in pointing fingers but in education and empowerment of women throughout the world. Are we doing enough? Maybe we can focus on something that benefits all of us, and instead of pointing fingers we can offer a helping hand?

What we may need to talk about is who is creating the problem. It isn’t the poor. This is what strikes us in the West at our heart. When we get to income inequality the ball comes back to our court, exactly where we don’t want it.

The world today is very fragile and it’s our duty to do everything to unite people and nations to remind them that we don’t have a planet B. Viacheslav Fetisov, UN Environment Patron for Polar Regions

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This Changes Everything: Capitalism vs. the Climate Hardcover – Sep 16 2014

Life is change. Only death is stagnant. We are changing if we are living.

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For a seed to achieve its greatest expression, it must come completely undone. The shell cracks, its insides come out and everything changes. To someone who doesn’t understand growth, it would look like complete destruction. Cynthia Ocee

Life is filled with change. Growth is messy, chaotic and rips everything apart. If we want to live smooth lives we don’t grow in ways that create upheaval and chaos. Many times when life changes it isn’t smooth.

Marriage brings together two disparate human beings. Starting a business is not often an easy seamless process. Moving to a new house is a huge undertaking. Yet people move houses, cities, countries all the time. They take what they can, what is most important and they leave the rest.

I look around at all we’ve gathered while we’ve lived in this house. Some serious editing will have to be done if we move. Life is a series of changes some we don’t acknowledge, some we worry and fret over.

Nature is growth and growth is messy. We are growing into the fullness of life or we are like ripened fruit on the tree. There is no point mourning where we are on the circle of life. It is best to acknowledge where we are, take stock and plan what we want for the next twenty, thirty, or forty years.

No matter what our choice it won’t necessarily be easy as we move from here to there. When we plant seeds in the ground have we ever wondered at the process they must go through to become the shoot that pushes through the ground?

Renewing of life is all around us. Even as the snow covers the ground things are happening down there. Life is getting ready to burst forth. We may think our growth is done, but until we die there is more to learn, do, accomplish and accept.

We may be in a gathering stage, growth stage, or letting go stage. It may seem so slow it is as if it isn’t happening at all.

Life is a process of becoming, a combination of states we have to go through. Where people fail, is they wish to elect a state and remain in it. This is a kind of death. Anais Nin

Lessons on handling change.

Reduce our expectations. Unmet expectations are one of the biggest challenges we have in life. Pretty good relationships aren’t good enough. Great jobs aren’t what we thought they’d be. Parenthood isn’t that feeling of love and fulfillment we thought. We long for what we’ve read about, and we think moments should last longer. If we are lucky to have great moments, we are disappointed when they don’t encompass the whole of our life.

Our children and our spouse can’t meet these expectations. Where is a relationship to go when it is filled with so much disappointment? When we lower our expectations we can enjoy what is.

Acknowledge change. We may not want the change that is coming, but it doesn’t ask our permission. We will have to deal with what is. We can actively look for ways to bring change to our life. We can bring new people into our life by joining groups. We can learn new things, try new activities. Travel to see another side of life.

Accept change. When circumstances don’t turn out how we want or how we expected it can be disappointing. Change can be our greatest teacher if we will learn from it.

Learn from the experience. There are gifts in all areas of life if we recognize them. Is life trying to teach us something we can’t quite grasp? Do we need bigger, harder lessons, when we could have learned from small quiet lessons?

Recognize we are growing stronger. We can accept, learn from, and embrace change. We will grow stronger, it is inevitable.

Embrace wisdom. The more we change and grow as people the more wisdom we amass and have to share. If we can develop a sense of inner peace and accept change with calmness, peace, and courage, we will look back and see how much we have grown. When change is no longer our enemy, it becomes our teacher.

If change is going to happen anyway, why not embrace it? If we go back over our life we can graph the changes in our life. How would we feel if we had not had those changes? Sometimes one door has to close for another one to open. Change allows us to grow. As we embark on new challenges we are opening our self up to change.

We may feel something negative is happening in our life that is the chaotic unfolding of change. Nothing can change, until something changes. We may long for change, but when we are in the midst of it the mess, the chaos, the destruction seems too much. We must push forward to see what will become of the change we are going through.

We can’t stop something in the midst of change without killing it. The butterfly must struggle to get out of its cocoon. The baby must struggle to get out of the womb. The bud struggles to burst forth in flower. Life is struggle, life is change. Would we really want it to be different?

Life is a series of natural and spontaneous changes. Don’t resist them; that only creates sorrow. Let reality be reality. Let things flow naturally forward in whatever way they like. Lao Tzu

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Change: Learn to Love It, Learn to Lead It Paperback – Jan 2 2080

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We may be alone but is it loneliness or solitude, is this our choice?

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Loneliness expresses the pain of being alone and solitude expresses the glory of being alone. Paul Tillich

Last night I watched identical twins marry identical twins on TV. This was their dream, to all live in one house and have their twin-ship be understood and supported. The two women are both lawyers and the only time they say they understood loneliness was when they went to separate Law Schools.

Loneliness is a problem for many people, it makes us irritable, depressed, self-centered, and is associated with a 26% risk of premature mortality. In industrialized countries, one-third of people are affected by this condition, with one in 12 affected severely by it.

There are many types of loneliness caused by different situations.

We can be lonely because we’ve moved to a new city, country, job, or school.

We can be lonely because we don’t fit in. We don’t share the same faith, background, are socially awkward, or have different interests.

We can be lonely because we have no love interest in our life. We are single at the family wedding. We are newly divorced, separated, or widowed.

We may be lonely because we don’t have an animal in our life and without one we feel deep loneliness.

We may be surrounded by people who don’t have time for us. They are friendly “enough” for them, but not for us. We want a deeper connection. Maybe their life situation has changed and we wish it could be how it was when they had lots of time for us. Maybe our best friend just got married or had a baby and her life revolves around her new life, we feel stuck in the old one.

Sometimes we are hurt by those we trusted the most. A friend may have hurt us deeply. We have not replaced that friendship yet. Sometimes we never do.

We can feel lonely because our family has grown up and we miss the boisterousness that used to be our home as children go off to build their own life.

We are all born alone and die alone. The loneliness is definitely part of the journey of life. Jenova Chen

It is important to understand why we are lonely. If we can name it, we can change it. We go through stages in our life that when they are over, they are over. Sometimes parts of our life we didn’t know how we’d get through we miss when the busyness of that time is gone.  Are we are adrift with time we don’t know what to do with?

Can we be in a relationship and still be lonely if we don’t spend time with each other and create intimacy? Do we need to make the effort to connect with people, our spouse, grown children, friends, groups of people with similar interests, or would a cat or dog fit into our life and mitigate a degree of loneliness?

Maybe having roommates is a better fit for some people than living on their own? It was for me. I’ve never lived on my own. I never even thought of getting an apartment on my own. I went for shared accommodation and I stayed with shared accommodation. I’ve even thought for widowed and single women that shared accommodation may be the answer in later years.

Is living in an apartment building or Condo’s more social than living in a single family home, alone?

Many people will say they are alone, but not lonely. Others will say they are lonely but not alone. This is an issue we will have to deal with for our self. It won’t be something others can do for us. We need to learn to make new friends, fit into groups, or find groups we fit into. We need to make the effort.

All the lonely people need to get together. The lonely hearts club should become a real thing. It takes courage to reach out to people. They may break our heart. If we don’t reach out we live lonely lives. We never know what could have been if we’d made the first move toward friendship, or love.

Is there someone we’d like to reach out to or get to know on a deeper level? What is holding us back? Are we lonely, or enjoying solitude?

Loneliness and the feeling of being unwanted is the most terrible poverty. Mother Teresa

Too much self-centered attitude, you see, brings, you see, isolation. Result: loneliness, fear, anger. The extreme self-centered attitude is the source of suffering. Dalai Lama

Dealing with Loneliness: Learn How to Deal With and Overcome Loneliness to Never Feel Alone Again by [Perruso, Mary Jane]
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Planning productive lives. Our choices make our life.

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A goal without a plan is just a wish. Antoine de Saint-Exupery

Yesterday was a productive day for me. I opened an Instagram account, but I couldn’t figure out how to post anything on it. I also opened a Pinterest account. Last night I finally made it down to my art studio.

The background is painted and the subject is chosen. I’ve decided to do two paintings simultaneously of the same subject using different techniques.

It’s always exciting to have a project on the go. Part of the anticipation is knowing they can become a success or a disaster. Sometimes they are one until they turn into the other. It goes both ways.

Did we get everything accomplished in January we wanted to? If not February is a reboot. As one of my book buddies says, “she likes monthly goals.” Monthly goals are more doable, we can do anything for a month. They are measurable, and we aren’t likely to forget them. We can focus on one or two goals instead of everything we want to change in our life.

I looked up Fly Lady.net she shows us how to get our house out of chaos. She breaks our cleaning and organizing into daily, weekly, monthly tasks.

Today is Renew our spirit day. Cleaning zone is zone 2 the kitchen. This month’s habit is decluttering for 15 minutes a day.

Each month she has a new habit of the month:

January – shining our sink.

February – decluttering for 15 minutes per day.

March – getting dressed to the shoes.

April – making our bed.

May – moving. I think this means our bodies.

June – drinking water.

July – swish and swipe.

August – laundry.

September –  before bed routine.

October – paper clutter.

November – menu planning.

December – pampering.

By failing to prepare, you are preparing to fail. Benjamin Franklin

It is easy to focus on one habit, but trying to do all twelve of them every month would be hard. Of course, the idea is to develop a new habit and keep doing it every month. She breaks everything into small doable projects. I remember my efforts early on of cleaning the pantry. I would empty the whole pantry onto the kitchen table and it would take a day and a half to sort everything, discard or find a home for things.

This happened to me not long ago. We have a cupboard over the fridge which is not convenient to use. Over the years that is where the school pictures, soccer pictures, appliance instruction manuals, report cards, and paint we got for touch up when we bought our house as well as other sundry items were stored.

My son asked if he could have the cupboard over the fridge for his food. He’s six-three so it’s useful to him. I said yes, and to my horror, I came home from a writer’s group meeting to find all the contents of that cupboard on the kitchen table. “I looked after what I could, Mom. You’ll have to do the rest.”

I don’t empty the complete contents of cupboards anymore. Now I do a shelf at a time. I’ve learned to break it down into doable tasks. It’s frightening to have all the contents of your kitchen out of the cupboards and hear a knock at the door.

I started meal planning and I keep track of our dinners in a monthly calendar. It makes it easy to look back when I don’t know what to cook or see what we haven’t eaten in a while.

One of the things I’ve done this year is purchased numerous planners for different projects so I can keep all my notes and thoughts about that subject in one place. I’m forever making little notes and wondering what happened to it when I want to find it a week or a month later. It might be overkill, I’ll see what I think as the year goes by.

Being organized is a skill we need to learn and even when we know what to do it is easy to let a little pile, become a big pile. My daughter’s wedding dress is still hanging in the spare room, waiting for something to be done with it. No matter how much storage we have, we can always have it full to overflowing.

I have an aunt who has air between her clothes in her closet. I can’t imagine emptying my clothes closet enough to have air between the items. They tell us less is more, but we have a hard time believing that.

Capsule wardrobes are a thing. I even pretend I’m building one. My closet is still overstuffed with items. Maybe March – getting dressed to your shoes is a good month to declutter, revamp, and plan a wardrobe.

It makes us feel we’ve accomplished something just scheduling when to look at the situation. The journal I didn’t buy, is for home care. Could a trip to the book store be on my agenda today?

What are our February goals? If we haven’t made any, a whole month awaits. What can we plan? What can we implement?

Without leaps of imagination or dreaming, we lose the excitement of possibilities. Dreaming, after all, is a form of planning. Gloria Steinem

The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up: The Japanese Art of Decluttering and Organizing (The Life Changing Magic of Tidying Up) by [Kondō, Marie]
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Goals, dreams, plans, build good habits.

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We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence then is not an act, but a habit. Aristotle

I watched a YouTube video the other day I think it was called “What no one tells you.”A recovering addict was in rehab about to leave. The counselor said, “See you when you come back.”

Not what you want or expect to hear as you embark on your newly sober life. The counselor told him not to concentrate on all his big dreams, but to take one day at a time and stay sober.

He was telling him to make sober his new habit. This is what we have to do if we want to make any changes in our life. When we cut out sugar we have to find a new way to “treat” our self. If we used to celebrate with chocolates and wine maybe we find sparkling water we like, and we indulge in nuts, chips, and cheese.

We want to dream big dreams and have these fantastic goals but life is lived in the moments of our days. The thoughts we think and the actions we take daily build our life. It doesn’t matter how big that dream on your vision board is, if you aren’t doing things to support it today, it is unlikely to happen.

I was listening to a podcast on relationships. We need fifteen hours of undivided attention with our spouse per week to build and maintain a loving relationship. He broke down how we spend our week and gave suggestions on how to make fifteen hours for our spouse. If we get that big dream and have no one to share it with, that isn’t part of the dream.

When the kids were little I wrote out plans trying to fit everything in. It worked better than not having a plan. When things work in our life it isn’t haphazard. We make time for the things we feel are important. If we have something we want to change, accomplish, or start we have to fit it into our lives. If we want to become better, healthier cooks, we have to purchase better, healthier food, we have to have recipes, and we have to be willing to change our palette over time.

I still think about how easy it was before we were a plant-based whole food. We had hamburger meat on Monday, pork on Tuesday, and chicken on Wednesday. It wasn’t that varied, many days I was thinking can’t we find something else to eat. It’s exactly the same with plant-based meals. We have soup on Saturday, curries on Sunday, pasta on Monday, and beans and lentils on Tuesday. Food can be as varied, colorful, and appetizing as we are willing to make it.

My daughter made one of the best lasagnas I’ve ever eaten and it was plant-based with no meat or cheese. It doesn’t matter what healthy eating plan we go with, we hit a wall where we think is this all we can eat? We need to put our thinking cap on, browse the book store or internet for new and interesting recipes.

Motivation is what gets you started. Habit is what keeps you going. Jim Rohn

My brother has a health problem and when I talk to him about food being part of the problem. He says, “If I have to cook, I’ll never get better.” Unfortunately, that is probably the truth, if we can’t figure out how to feed our body with what it needs how can it rebuild?

If we can’t fit exercise in, how will we become fit? If we can’t fit in time for our spouse, how will we rebuild, or maintain our relationship? Too often we get through the hard slogging of raising children and the relationship is gone. We were too busy doing everything that needed to be done to maintain a close, loving, and supportive relationship.

Whatever our goals, dreams, and aspirations are for this year they will have to become habits if they are to come to fruition. I am trying to build the habit of doing three things every day to make myself happy. Number one is this blog. One of the best habits my husband and I have is we go out for coffee almost every day. Working from home we need to get out. This is one of the ways we get our fifteen hours of undivided attention. It is surprising when I think about it how we can spend a whole day in the same house with no undivided attention. I can see how if we do this over a period of years when we sit face to face we have nothing to say. It is awkward and we don’t like awkward so we make sure that doesn’t happen too often.

The longer this goes on, the more a wall gets built that is harder and harder to climb over, breakthrough, or tunnel under. We have to be willing to be vulnerable and tentatively reach out, offer a hug, backrub, walk, or a drive somewhere. A visit to a hardware store may be part of the undivided time spent together.

Can we find an activity to share to bring fun back into our relationships? What do we both like to do, we can do together? Cooking together for our new healthy eating plan might work. Browsing new stores for hard to find ingredients can be fun. Go shopping together for the perfect chopping block so cutting up veggies is fun. Maybe looking for the perfect chef knife, frying pan or pot can be an adventure.

Walking is a good way to get healthy and share undivided attention with our spouse. When my husband reads my blog and discusses what I write, we connect, and I feel validated, encouraged, and understood.

It takes time to create new habits. The only things that will change in our life are where we take small steps continually. These steps can be hesitant, tentative, and hard, but if we continue to take them daily, weekly, monthly it gets easier. When I drink my morning coffee without cream I no longer miss the cream. Three years without cream in my coffee has shown me that cream was a detriment to my health. I’ve replaced going for coffee with tea. Now I love going places and trying out new delicious teas.

The changes we want to make may seem too hard, almost insurmountable, but when we make the decision to change we can break it down into daily steps. Small daily steps can take us anywhere we want to go.

Is there something we want to change, we’ve been hesitating to commit to? When we make a decision and make a commitment, we change our lives.

All human actions have one or more of these seven causes: chance, nature, compulsions, habit, reason, passion and desire. Aristotle


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