Inspired by Oprah and Jordan B. Peterson. It’s never too late to learn something.

It's never too late to learn something. Inspired by Oprah and Jordan B. Peterson.

Painting by Belynda Wilson Thomas

You don’t inspire others by being perfect. You inspire them by how you deal with imperfections. Unknown

Last night I listened to a Podcast by Oprah she talked about her early life. How one day at four years old her Grandmother was hanging clothes on the line and her Grandmother said. “You need to watch and learn you’ll be doing this someday.”

Oprah said it was like there was a voice in her head that said, “No Grandma, I won’t.” When I listen to Oprah’s story it seems like she is a child of destiny.  When her baby died she was fourteen and her father said, “You got a second chance; I don’t know why you got a second chance but make the best of it.”

She says she doesn’t believe in luck, she believes in preparation for the opportunity. When we are prepared and the opportunity arises, if we take the opportunity presented, and we find our passion and purpose we are off to doing and becoming what we are meant to do and become.

I’ve always felt a kinship with Oprah. She was starting the Oprah show and I was starting my marriage. This is the magic of Oprah, she made a lot of us feel she understood the challenges, questions, and insecurities we have. She talked about the things we wanted to talk about. She has faith and she’s willing to talk about it, but not too much, she doesn’t hammer it over our heads.

But a role model in the flesh provides more than inspiration; his or her very existence is confirmation of possibilities one may have every reason to doubt, saying, “Yes, someone like me can do this.” Sonia Sotomayor

It seems to me she’s never allowed anyone to hold anything over on her. When people pried into her life and found things she might not be proud of she owned them and we loved her for it. We too have things we aren’t proud of, maybe we wouldn’t own them as she did, but she gave us the courage to think we might.

I picked up a book called The Speed of Trust and this is what Oprah has. We trust her to be her best and to help us be our best. Has Oprah ever whined about anything? I can’t remember once. She broke through so many stereotypes to be who she is. Many of us have probably wondered how do we become an Oprah? The answer of course is we can’t. She realized early on she couldn’t be a copycat Barbara Walters even though Barbara inspired her greatly. She could be the best Oprah she could be.

It seems Oprah took all the good advice given to her and built her life around it. The Podcast last night ended I think when she was twenty-two. I will continue listening. Podcasts are great because unlike TV we can do something else while we listen and learn.

I listened to Jordan B. Peterson’s 12 Rules for Life as I gardened last year. There are many great podcasts we can listen to while we do some of the things we need to in our life. If we watch TV there goes our night of exercise, pulling weeds, creating art, or any number of valuable pursuits.

Our life is what we make it. Each day we have twenty-four hours. Over forty years we see what we’ve done with those days. More days spread before us, what will we do with them? What will the next five, ten, twenty, or forty years look like?

It seems Oprah has never stopped learning; she isn’t just rehashing what she has always done. Her journey continues and that might be what inspires us the most.

If your actions inspire others to dream more, learn more, do more and become more. You are a leader. John Quincy Adams

True leadership must be for the benefit of the followers, not to enrich the leader. John C. Maxwell

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Inspiration: Your Ultimate Calling by [Dyer, Wayne W.]
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Inspiration: Your Ultimate Calling Kindle Edition

by Wayne W. Dyer (Author)

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Perseverance, challenges, and choices shape our lives. Perseverance is not one long straight race; it is getting through the peaks and valley of life.

Perseverance is not one long straight race; it is getting through the peaks and valleys of life. Perseverance, challenges, and choices shape our lives.

Painting by Belynda Wilson Thomas

When the world says “Give up,” Hope whispers, “Try it one more time.” Unknown

The mornings are getting cooler. A jacket or sweater in the morning is no longer optional for me. Some hardy souls I’m sure are still wearing short sleeves. My husband is already out on appointments it isn’t 7:00 am yet.

One of the things true of life is the importance of perseverance.  It doesn’t matter what we undertake there will be a point when persevering is what is most important. We have a morning routine we don’t feel like doing, but if we persevere we will feel glad we did.

How many people look back on relationships they wish they’d persevered with? There is always stuff to deal with, and things rarely go in straight lines. The path to success can be so slow that sometimes we aren’t sure if we are going down or up, but if we persevere it becomes clear.

Perseverance is required to achieve any degree of success. We don’t need to be perfect but we do need to persevere. There are perks to persevering. If we’ve persevered at one thing we have confidence we can persevere at another. We can trust ourselves, and others can trust us. When we persevere through the valleys of life we can enjoy the peaks. No one gets to hop from peak to peak. Some people handle the valleys so well we don’t realize what they are going through, that doesn’t mean they don’t get their share of challenges and questioning if it’s worth it.

We will need the patience to persevere, we will need to make sacrifices to persevere, but most of all we need to realize when we want to give up we must dig deep to keep going. As we get over our hurdles we will know we can handle the next one as well.

Perseverance is the hard work you do after you get tired of doing the hard work you already did. Newt Gingrich

If we listen to anyone’s story of achievement it always seems they had many times when they could have given up.  They kept going and they achieved success. Many of us achieve success in one area but perhaps we gave up in another. Maybe we had to choose between two goods, a good marriage, or a good career. The time given to one would take from the other. We made a choice. These choices shape our lives.

Maybe we gave up a career to stay at home and raise our children. There are moments when we may think we made a mistake. When we look at happy, well-adjusted adults we feel we made the right choice. When we look at our retirement plan we might think we should have made a different choice.

Life is full of choices. My daughter wonders when having a baby fits into her schedule. I tell her a baby will fit into her life. There will be new choices to make, new challenges to face, and new paths to persevere with. Everything we want in life means something else may go by the wayside. Some choices we make consciously some not so consciously. Other choices we make not knowing everything that comes with it.

Having a baby is like that, we choose to become a family but often we are only seeing the tip of that iceberg. There is so much more that comes with it, so much of our life becomes dedicated to this most important facet of our lives. It becomes the only facet we can manage. That too passes and we have time for a more balanced life.

We will make mistakes; we will not always make the right choice. We may have to pick up balls we have dropped. We may have to try and repair balls that have cracked; we may have to move on from balls that are broken beyond repair.

Knowing when to hold and when to fold in life is a skill we hope we have. We may think we know what the best choice is and overtime may wish we’d made a different choice. Sometimes no matter how well one thing turns out, we still think of the other choice. Sometimes we can go forward and pick up that ball we left behind, sometimes we can’t.

To get through life with “no regrets” sounds like an impossibility, but can we aspire to have few regrets? Are there choices we have to make that we’ve been putting off? Is there something we need to persevere with? Is there a challenge we need to face?

Challenges are what make life interesting and overcoming them is what makes life meaningful. Joshua J. Marine

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Grit Hardcover – May 3 2016

by Angela Duckworth (Author, Contributor) 4.5 out of 5 stars 68 customer reviews#1 Best Sellerin Geology


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Is courage the most important virtue? Is our comfort zone killing us?

Is our comfort zone killing us? Is courage the most important virtue?

Painting by Belynda Wilson Thomas

Can a man still be brave if he’s afraid? That is the only time a man can be brave his father told him. Game of Thrones

It takes courage to live a good life. It takes courage to stand up to injustice. It takes courage to question bad laws and the status quo. It takes courage to raise a family. It takes courage to stand in front of a group and pledge our troth. It takes courage to leave marriages that aren’t working. It takes courage to stay and try to rebuild a troubled marriage. It takes courage to change anything in our lives.

Courage is needed in every part of our lives. Maya Angelou said courage is the most important virtue because without courage we won’t be strong enough to embrace any of the other virtues.

Courage is hard because it can’t exist without fear. To understand courage we first have to understand fear. Courage is facing our fears and doing something anyway. Courageous people never stop feeling scared, and we have to be okay with this. Courage only feels good when the scary thing is over. There is always another fear to face and overcome. This is the cycle of life.

Do we need to step out of our comfort zone if we are to discover our passion, accomplish our goals, and find happiness? We can get set in our ways, we keep doing what we’ve always done, and we keep getting what we’ve always gotten. How can anything change if nothing changes?

In life, they say we are either growing or dying. Growth is about progress. Progress is about movement. Movement is about stepping outside our comfort zone and pushing our self to the next level.

Every ceiling when reached becomes a floor upon which one walks. Every fearful opportunity that seems completely out of our grasp will eventually feel more comfortable as you face the fear. You will then be amazed at how much anxiety the thought of it used to give you. Aldous Huxley

Do we always read the same books, think the same thoughts, go to the same type of places, eat at the same restaurants.  One of my book club buddies goes with her family on a trip every year. They were going on cruises and down to the Caribbean. They got out of their comfort zone and went to Morocco or Turkey and were blown away by the experience. Now they want to see the world and for their anniversary are going to Tuscany.   

We hear about bucket lists, maybe we have one. That is a way of getting out of our comfort zone. Meeting new people and joining new groups can get us out of our comfort zone.

I keep writing about Toastmasters because public speaking for most people is out of their comfort zone. It is a powerful way to push our self and we see growth in ourselves and other people who get up and tell their stories haltingly, emotionally, and hesitantly become bolder, confident, and pursue other goals.

Stress is fear in disguise. If we call it fear we know we should face it. If we call it stress it seems like something we can’t do anything about. We feel quite comfortable saying “I’m so stressed”, who among us would be so comfortable saying “I’m so scared?”

Do we need to face our fears and be comfortable with being uncomfortable? Isn’t it also important to create balance in our lives? Our comfort zone may be killing us if we don’t get out of it enough. Watching TV is comfortable but it isn’t good for us if we do it too much. Is it bad to enjoy a TV show with a snack and our family around us? No, we should create a balance between being in our comfort zone and stepping out of it. Are we challenging ourselves enough? Are we relaxing enough? Can we embrace courage the most important virtue?

You have brains in your head, you have feet in your shoes. You can steer yourself any direction you choose. You’re on your own and you know what you know, and you are the guy who will decide where to go. Dr. Seus

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Your comfort zone is killing you: Finding the courage to be you Paperback – Oct 20 2014

by Billy Anderson (Author) 4.6 out of 5 stars 10 customer reviews


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Good habits create a good life. What are the habits that would give us the life we dream of?

What are the habits that would give us the life we dream of? Good habits create a good life.

Painting by Belynda Wilson Thomas

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

Where will my mind go today I wonder as I sit down and start to write? August the final month of “real” summer has started. A year ago we were in the throes of wedding planning. This year we are relaxing. On Sunday we’ll attend an eightieth birthday party for my Mother-in-law. There are fifteen years between my mother and my mother-in-law. My husband and I are actually from two different generations. His mother is just a couple of years older than my oldest sister.

When I look up generations I find that people born between 1925 and 1942 are considered the silent generation. They are between the greatest generation, my parents, and the baby boomers. They came too late to be war heroes and too early to be free spirits.

Do we really fit into the generations our birth year slots us into? Many of the baby boomers were still early marrying, rule-following people. In my family, my oldest sister is a “silent generation” then a few of us are baby boomers, then my youngest siblings are generation X.

Is the biggest impact on us the generation our parents grew up in?

The British Birth Cohorts study was started after World War ll when women who gave birth to children in 1946 were surveyed over a one week period. This resulted in 14,000 detailed questionnaires about every aspect of birth in Britain at that time.

A generation later they did it again, and again, and again, surveying around 70,000 kids as they moved through their lives over a 70 year time period to see how they were doing in terms of health, education, and overall thriving. Author Helen Pearson shared her powerful conclusions in a Ted talk and wrote a book called The Life Project.

What do 70 years of data say about being a good parent?

Helen Pearson’s first deduction is if at all possible try not to be born poor. Kids born to disadvantaged families grow up on average to do less well by every measure.

Since we can’t choose our parent’s and our parents couldn’t always choose the economic times or circumstances under which they became parents we have to hope it is enough to be a good enough parent.

The law of harvest is to reap more than you sow. Sow an act, and you reap a habit. Sow a habit and you reap a character. Sow a character and you reap a destiny. James Allen

What are the parental behaviors that the studies associated with better outcomes?

Talking and listening to your kids.

Making it clear we have ambitions for their future.

Being emotionally warm.

Teaching them letters and numbers.

Taking them on excursions.

Reading to them daily, and encouraging them to read for pleasure.

Maintaining a regular bedtime.

What does this show us? Little things matter and they matter a lot.

We often think we need to be able to do “big” things. The more I read and look around at what makes people successful, and who becomes successful it seems to be the little things. Those little things add up and become the big things that make a life.

Every book or quote on success tells us the same thing. We’d like to find a secret, but there is no secret, we create our life by the choices we make every day. The oldest books available tell us the same things. We hear old thoughts packaged as new ideas, but they are not new.

We all have been told what we should do to create a good life, to prosper, to be happy, to have a happy marriage, and to raise happy and productive children.

No generation has access to knowledge another generation doesn’t have. The more things change the more they stay the same.

Every day we have a choice, are we making life better for ourselves, our children, the future? Are our habits creating the life we want? Does someone have better habits we should emulate?

No matter who we’d like to be, or what we’d like to do, there are people who have gone before that can show us the way.

Is there some change we could make today that would improve something in our lives? Could we improve our relationships, finances, career, physical, spiritual or emotional health by creating a new habit or getting rid of one that doesn’t serve us?

Is it a lack of knowledge; or a lack of implementation of the knowledge available to us?

Moral excellence comes about as a result of habit. We become just by doing just acts. Temperate by doing temperate acts, brave by doing brave acts. Aristotle

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The Life Project: The Extraordinary Story of 70,000 Ordinary Lives Paperback – May 20 2016

by Helen Pearson (Author) 5.0 out of 5 stars 2 customer reviews


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Mentoring: sometimes someone else has to see the potential inside us before we see it in ourselves. What a gift if we can do that for someone. What a blessing if someone did it for us.

Mentoring: what a gift if we can do it for someone else, what a blessing if someone did it for us. Sometimes someone else has to see the potential inside us, before we see it in ourselves.

Painting by Belynda Wilson Thomas

A mentor is someone who allows you to see the hope inside yourself. Oprah Winfrey

Yesterday the writer’s group did readings at an Indigo store. The store was close to me and I decided to join them. I took my little book of readings with me, just in case they had an opening. It is good practice to get used to reading in public.

One of the people who came out I hadn’t met before. She hasn’t been to any meetings since I joined the writer’s group, she’s teaching parents parenting-skills on Saturday mornings. She’s written and published three books and as a retired nurse is giving back to the community by volunteering with troubled youth, and teaching parents how to more effectively parent.  She speaks at schools and seems to have a heart the size of Canada. Working as a nurse in the Youth Justice system she realized none of the kids there, needed to be there if their problems had been addressed in a positive manner. They only really needed one or two good mentors in their life to help them.

She realizes how we are failing our children. She is doing something about it, and she has written a book to help the rest of us. Young Lives on the Line: You Can Make a Difference by Norma Nicholson.

Meeting people who are making a difference is inspiring. How many of us have benefitted from someone taking an interest in us, encouraging us, and believing in us? We hear stories all the time, but what of those that no one bothered with, they were left on their own, sometimes their attitude makes us believe they don’t want help. I believe that “Don’t give a damn attitude” we see is the sign of a hurting soul. They ache to belong, to be part of something, to make something of themselves, but since no one seems to care, they pretend not to as well.  

This Thursday my speech at Toastmasters is on mentoring. I haven’t written it yet, but the lady I met yesterday is an example of a great mentor.

Many of the things we read about mentoring are about career development. We benefit from mentors, teachers, and coaches long before we get into the workforce.

The greatest good you do for another is not just to share your riches but to reveal to him his own. Benjamin Disraeli

We are told if we want a mentor we need to find someone we want to emulate.

We need to understand the person, their strengths and weaknesses. We need to set our expectations realistically.

At some point, if we want them to be our mentor we will have to make a move. Some organizations do this for us. Other times it is all up to us.

After a meeting with the potential mentor, we need to evaluate what we think the potential benefits are. Does this mentee relationship seem like a good fit? Is there a connection?

We will need to follow up.

The relationship will evolve over time.

If our mentor challenges us we need to not check out. If we want to grow, we will need to step up, not out when we are challenged. We won’t always do our best and our mentor should call us on it when they see it. This is what we wanted a mentor for, to help us grow.

Our mentee/mentor relationship will grow. If a mentor does not become a friend then this is probably not a real mentor relationship.

We will need to ask our mentor for feedback. It may feel weird asking for feedback but eventually, it will become second nature. A good mentor will be sensitive and caring.

Many mentorships last years, not months.

I have a mentee and a mentor at Toastmasters. It is a growth opportunity to be a mentee and a mentor. We can look for people we would like to emulate, we can initiate a relationship, and we can take the chance of asking them if they would mentor us?

Many people reach more goals by having a mentor. Many of these relationships last years, many of them fizzle out, and some never take off at all. As I sit here I am thinking of a mentee/mentor relationship I think might be a good one.

Joining organizations like Toastmasters is a good place to find potential mentors. As I see the people who move on to become “Distinguished Toastmasters” they’ve often found mentors who helped, and encouraged them along the way. The mentorships can be formal or informal. We may find mentors and coaches for the different areas we want to grow. Coaches are usually much shorter-term relationships than mentors.

I’m an Area Director with Toastmaster because of the encouragement I received to put my name forward. We can and should encourage people, we never know when our encouragement tips them towards growth.

Getting the most out of life isn’t about how much you keep for yourself, but how much you pour into others. David Stoddard

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Young Lives on the Line: You Can Make a Difference by [Nicholson, Norma]
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Awkward conversations. Is it better to try and start a conversation awkwardly, than not at all?

Is it better to try and start a conversation awkwardly, than not at all.

Painting by Belynda Wilson Thomas

The happiest conversation is that of which nothing is distinctly remembered, but a general effect of pleasing impression. Samuel Jackson

Today is our neighbors to the South big day of celebration.  I could easily have been American. Three of my four grandparents were American, only my Dad’s mother was born in Canada.

I am hearing that people get sick of being asked where are you from? Where I grew up many of the people were first-generation Canadians. Many of them moved to Canada after World War II. Did they mind being asked where they were from and what their story was?

I’ve been at Tim Horton’s and heard some well-meaning person strike up a conversation with the person at the cash asking them where are you from? It seems innocent enough until you think about that question being asked every hour, every day, for as long as they work there. Is there nothing else to use as a conversation starter? Is it better to not try and start a conversation?

At Toastmasters we are a very diverse group and people talk about where they are from, the challenges they’ve faced, the opportunities they’ve chased, and the difficulties they’ve overcome. If people don’t mind telling their story of where they’ve been or what they’ve seen, what is it that they do mind?

One of the things it seems to me is they feel they are made to feel they are an outsider. Which one of these things doesn’t belong, always seems to be them. I believe many of the people who ask people where they are from, are doing it with the best of intentions. They are trying. Many of us who don’t say anything don’t make the effort to have a connection at all, of any kind. We are willing to live in a less personal world where we let people do their job without any interaction. People who try to create interaction may do it awkwardly, but they do it.

One good conversation can shift the direction of change forever. Linda Lambert

On the weekend I did it myself. My husband and I were sitting having a coffee and across from us were three obviously British young men. I spoke to the one closest to me. They are here on assignment for two years. Do they have this same conversation everywhere they go? Are they getting sick of it? They’ve only been here two months.

As I look up conversation starters there are lists, lists, and more lists. How would we feel if someone started a conversation with “What do you think about tattoos? Do you have any? What’s your favorite number? Why? What is something you are obsessed with? What’s your favorite way to waste time? When was the last time you worked incredibly hard? What is your guilty pleasure?

Starting conversations with people we do not know is awkward. It is more awkward with some people than with others. Is it better to not bother? Are we trying too hard if we try and make conversation with everyone we meet? Are we not trying hard enough if we don’t?

Maybe some of these conversations start out awkwardly but over time if we go to the same coffee shop we actually develop a relationship with a little chit chat both people enjoy. Are there others who go to the same restaurants and because they never had the awkward first conversation, they’ve never developed any relationship at all?

A conversation is so much more than words: a conversation is eyes, smiles, and the silence between words.  Annika Thor

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How to Talk to Anyone, Anytime, Anywhere: The Secrets of Good Communication Paperback – Oct 24 1995

by Larry King (Author), Bill Gilbert (Author) 3.5 out of 5 stars 20 customer reviews


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Be the hero in our own life. Teach our children to be heroes in theirs. Make a choice and stand behind it. Support our children in their choices.

Make a choice and stand behind it. Support our children in their choices. Be the hero in our own life. Teach our children to be heroes in theirs.

Painting by Belynda Wilson Thomas

Sometimes it’s the smallest decisions that can change your life forever. Keri Russell

We are the heroes of our own life. We should not be the bit player, the sidekick, the odd but quirky character, nor the unfortunate woman with the heart of gold, the maiden in distress, or the sage and the wise fool. Even if parts of us are all of these characters we are the hero of our story. If we are the hero of our story, why don’t we feel heroic?

Are we looking around and comparing the worst of ourselves to the best of someone else? Are we looking down at our own accomplishments and magnifying someone else’s? Are we sitting on the sidelines of our own life, wishing, hoping, dreaming, but not doing?

This morning I was not the smart hero. It’s nice enough to not have to wear a jacket and without pockets where is one to put keys? “It’ll be okay”, I tell myself as I take Lulu out for a walk leaving the door open and my keys at home. We are rounding the last corner before home when I see my son in law go off to work.  When I reach the door I realize he locked it. Why wouldn’t he lock the door? He’s a responsible young man. I looked through the blinds and finally, my daughter walked by, I rang the doorbell and she opened the door.

All I needed to do was get my fanny pack and put my keys and phone into it and I was master of my own fate. We can count on people in ways we shouldn’t. We should be in control of most of our own life. We live with our spouse or family but it’s our life. No one is going to live if for us but us. If we don’t step up and build a life we love, who do we think will do it for us? There is no magic fairy, and there is no magic wand. If we don’t make things good for us, who do we think will? If we don’t treat ourselves like we are someone we are responsible for helping, why do we think other people should help us?

My dog Lulu does not expect us to watch her feet. She is very protective of herself and we should also be like that. We need to take care of ourselves; we are worth our time and attention it shouldn’t just be lavished on the others in our life.

If we allow ourselves to be taken advantage of, isn’t it at least part of our responsibility. We need to protect our self from the users and abusers in life. We put ourselves in vulnerable situations we shouldn’t when we drink too much especially when we are young and likely to be prey to trolling men looking for easy pickings. It isn’t women bashing to tell young women they need to be their own control board. Trusting people who haven’t yet proven they can be trusted is not smart.

I believe that we are solely responsible for our choices, and we have to accept the consequences of every deed, word, and thought throughout our lifetime. Elizabeth Kubler-Ross

My husband tells me someone has made a derogatory comment, “Thank you, fathers, for dropping off your virgin daughters at the university.” We may not like the fact that there are many users out there wanting to get their hands and other parts on our young daughters. Pretending it isn’t true isn’t helpful. Not letting our daughters grow up, get an education and take their place in the world doesn’t help. We need to teach our daughters to be smart, don’t let people ply them with drinks. Don’t over drink and become a victim. It can be hard to keep our head about us when we aren’t in a mind-altered state. It can be almost impossible to keep our wits about us when we are, and that is what the users and abusers count on. If we don’t teach our daughters to protect themselves and think about what they want and make the choices they want to make, who do we think is going to do this?

It isn’t that our daughters shouldn’t live fun lives, the fun should be on their terms. They should know the consequences of their actions, and they should choose those actions, not just deal with the consequences afterward.

If that rather ignorant but true comment makes some parents and their daughters think about what is in store for them as they go off to university then saying it was a good thing. Not everyone with a smile and a drink is a good guy. Girls just want to have fun is often true, they need to be smart about it, and take care of them self. It isn’t more fun because you are irresponsible or less fun when you are. Living a life of few regrets is worthwhile at every age.

We need to teach our girls and young men to think for themselves. We need to teach them to be able to say, no, that doesn’t work for me, that’s not what I want. We need to teach our children to choose, not just accept what is offered, expected, or coerced. If we taught our girls they could say “Yes” when they want to, maybe they would be better at saying “No” when they need to.

Are we asking our kids, “What do you want?” Not just what do you want to do? What do you want out of life, relationships, and this journey that is your life? What if they could tell us the truth, and we were okay with it? What if our girls didn’t have to pretend it was a mistake when they have sex? What if we made them believe they have the right to make choices, and they should make choices they can stand behind?

There are two primary choices in life: to accept conditions as they exist, or accept the responsibility for changing them. Denis Waitley

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I’d Listen to My Parents If They’d Just Shut Up: What to Say and Not Say When Parenting Teens Paperback – Nov 1 2011

by Anthony Wolf (Author) 5.0 out of 5 stars 6 customer reviews


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Every choice we make has consequences. Not choosing is still a choice. Choices create our destiny.

Choices create our destiny. Every choice we make has consequences. Not choosing is still a choice.

Painting by Belynda Wilson Thomas

Sometimes it’s the smallest decisions that can change your life forever. Keri Russell

An early morning walk with a canine friend is one of the great joys of the day.  I was missing out on this because I wasn’t bothering. I wasn’t bothering to get up, and I wasn’t bothering to take the time when I did get up to go for a little walk that starts my whole day better, and my dog’s day better.

We walk past lovely homes, with lovely trees and flowers. The display of lilacs is incredible. One homes Iris’s are so big and beautiful they can hardly stand up. Some homes have no plantings, some are profusely planted, and I wonder what will this look like in ten years?

I’m late this year getting my garden in. I don’t plant much, tomatoes, basil, and parsley. I may pick up some other plants. Roses caught my attention. I had a Bonica rose I loved that died a few years ago. There they were potted roses for $5.99 each. I bought two and then when I figured out where I would plant them I went back and bought the last two Bonica roses. A profusion of roses in my back yard is what I envision later on.

If we wonder if abundance is the expectation we should have for our lives, when we look at nature, it is exuberantly abundant. Nothing in nature grows for itself alone. Everything serves a greater purpose. We need to be careful in our own lives we don’t try and create things for ourselves alone. We all have something to give and when we give it freely someone will be helped, inspired, have something to purchase, eat, look at, read, listen to, or be transported somewhere. All of our gifts, talents, work, industry, ideas, build all that we have.

Money is how we exchange our ideas, goods, creations, and labor. Instead of having to find the farmer that needs our services we can pay him money so he can buy what services he wants. Would we want to have to search for a Doctor that needs the product we produce before we could enlist their services?

When we provide a lot of services to a lot of people we amass a lot of money. If we provide a service to a few people we will have less money. If we can’t figure out how to provide any service to anyone we will have no money.

Life is about choices. Some we regret some we’re proud of. Some will haunt us forever. The message: We are what we chose to be. Graham Brown

When we look at some of the people we think are overpaid like professional athletes. They provide something we are willing to pay for. They provide entertainment, and because that entertainment can be so widely viewed each person paying a little for the entertainment means it is highly remunerated.

Abundance is all around us, we all have the same abundant 24 hours to do with what we please, what is required, and necessary. In those 24 hours, there is some choice, and it is those choices where we develop our lives. Some choose to exercise their bodies, minds, creativity, problem-solving, some choose to be entertained, some choose to build relationships, some choose to have new and different experiences. Is there a right choice, probably not, it’s our life, our choice, but shouldn’t we be happy with the choices we make?

Our life is our choice in many ways; after we do what we need to do to keep body and soul together we have choices in how we spend the rest of our day. Those choices add up, one choice upon another. This is our life, looking back it is the sum of the choices we made, going forward it will be the sum of the choices we make. If we think it doesn’t look exactly how we would like it to look, what different choices do we need to make?

What would we like our life to look like in ten years? We are going there anyway if we are lucky, we can put some time into designing it. If there are things we think, wouldn’t it be nice if we could? Whatever that is, chances are we can bring it into our lives in some way.

Can we become a professional athlete, probably not? Can we find sports to play, and enjoy being part of a team with the thrill of winning and losing, probably? Our life is what we make it; can we bring more of what we love into our lives? Can we live more, laugh more, experience more, dream more, create more, and enjoy more? The choice is ours, and we make these choices every day.

In the long run, we shape our lives, and we shape ourselves. The process never ends until we die. And the choices we make are ultimately our own responsibility. Eleanor Roosevelt

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Choice Theory: A New Psychology of Personal Freedom Paperback – Jan 6 1999

by William Glasser M.D. (Author) 4.3 out of 5 stars 28 customer reviews


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Do we have more power than we think we have? When we work within our circle of influence do we have the most impact?

When we work within our circle of influence do we have the most impact? Do we have more power than we think?

Painting by Belynda Wilson Thomas

Be a light, not a judge, be a model, not a critic. Little by little your circle of influence will explode and you will avoid the emotional metastasizing cancers of complaining, criticizing, competing, comparing and cynicism, all which reflect victimization, all of which are the opposite of being proactive. Stephen Covey

Why is it that we think we are so powerful we won’t change our seating when our team is in the playoffs? What if we jinx them? Why don’t we feel so powerful in other areas of our life? What if we put that kind of belief and focus into areas of our life where we want to excel, where we want to manifest abundance, health, prosperity?

Some of us feel we have built the lives we have, some of us feel circumstances we can’t overcome have given us the life we have. Who is right? Probably both, we can’t overcome all of our circumstances and we aren’t bound by all our circumstances. We have a degree of self-determination, and life can seem to work for us or against us.

We see people who succeed against all odds, and we also see people who fail against all odds. There are things at work in our life we don’t understand. It is why we shouldn’t be too full of hubris when we succeed, and we shouldn’t be too down on ourselves when we fail.

We see people who ride the crest of waves and prosper while those who were too early or too late don’t get such gains. Timing is a good part of life, and that seems like luck. If we are at the right place at the right time, with the right idea and the right amount of resources, acumen, skills, etc. we look brilliant.

Some people start something and in a few years, they are head of multimillion dollar companies. Others are owners of a small Mom & Pop operation, still, others have closed shop.

Wherever you are, that’s your stage, your circle of influence. That’s your talk show, that’s where your power lies… You have the power to change somebody’s life. Everyone has a calling, and your real job in life is to figure out what that is and get about the business of doing it. Oprah Winfrey

At my writing group Fifty Shades of Grey by E.L. James came up, no one thinks it is written particularly well. But, one person says the author is a multi-millionaire because she got the masses to buy her book. She offered them something they wanted. and brilliant writing wasn’t necessarily part of it. I’ve read the series, I enjoyed them. Do you think the author knew where her writing would take her, I don’t. Fifty Shades of Grey started out as stories on Fanfiction.net.

When she self-published her novel she had 30,000 copies sold in e-book downloads in one year. This is when literary agents started to take notice. Had she not self-published and built up a readership would literary agents and publishers be beating down her door? I doubt it, once she had done the work of proving she had an audience, they were happy to help her reach a larger audience.

I’m reading supporters of fan fiction have mixed feelings about E.L. James and her overwhelming success. Some feel that fan fiction is not supposed to be profitable and that E.L. James betrayed the community and its values by signing a book deal with such a major publisher. We can’t set out to become the kind of success E.L. James became; we can put our work out into the world. There are things we can do to promote it, we might even fear it could become a big success, but we can’t control where it goes once it is put out into the world.

Where will our journeys take us? We start something, we set something in motion, and it takes on a life of its own, or it does not. Our ideas may resonate with many, or few. We may become an influential voice, or not. We may not make much money, or we may make a lot of money but be considered fluff. Some people are nobodies in their own time, but legends after their death.

A lot of life we can’t control, we need to be okay with that. If we do the thing we feel called to do, then we’ve done our part. We don’t know how our life will touch someone else’s? How, who we encourage, motivate, raise, or teach, will impact the world. If we do the best we can to impact people positively, our ripple will spread out into the world.

We each have a circle of influence, when we work within that circle of influence we have an impact. Our circle of influence can grow. Do too many of us waste our energy worrying about what is beyond our circle of influence?

There is so much we can do to render service, to make a difference in the world – no matter how large or small our circle of influence. Stephen Covey

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The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People: Powerful Lessons in Personal Change Paperback – Special Edition, Nov 19 2013

by Stephen R. Covey (Author) 4.6 out of 5 stars 626 customer reviewsAmazon Charts#10 this week


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As we nurture nature, nature nurtures us. We live without nature at our peril.

We live without nature at our peril. As we nurture nature, nature nurtures us.

Painting by Belynda Wilson Thomas

If you have a garden and a library, you have everything you need. Cicero

As the May long weekend approaches, many of us are in full gardening mode. The garden beckoned last evening but after a hard rain the soil was wet and it would have been a messier endeavor than I wanted to deal with. Off to the gym, I went instead.

The garden centers with their array of blooms may not help us make the best choices for our gardens. Horticulture societies plant sales are also springing up, and you can be sure their offerings grow easily in your area. Sometimes they are such noxious growers they almost count as weeds.

I planted one such plant which I absolutely love. Catmint (Nepeta faassenii) is in the mint family and very easy to grow. It spreads but that is part of its charm. If you plant it where you want it to spread it can be a wonderful addition to the garden. It is planted in the front of my house and fills in my border plantings. It blooms from spring to fall with beautiful purple flowers. This weekend I will plant more of it along the side of my house. It grows low and quite dense so it is a great background plant for bulbs, roses, lilies, and shrubs. It is long blooming, heat tolerant, resistant to pests, one foot tall and beautiful.

If you are looking for a background plant about one foot high, that spreads, looks good all season and will fill in your bare spots. This may be the plant for you.

One of the plants in my garden I love is the Fern leaf peony (Paeonia tenuifolia. It has large red flowers and is a long-lived perennial that is hardy to zone 2. When I first learned of this plant I wanted one. It was for sale for fifty dollars. Even though it was an addition I wanted that seemed too steep. A year later it was for sale for fifteen dollars and I snapped it up.

Another year I added a Tree Peony to my garden and although it is still alive the single pink peony it was grafted to has almost taken over. I can’t bring myself to cut off the single Tree Peony stalk that sticks out of the herbaceous peony.

When we first moved to this house I was in love with Rhododendrons and Azaleas, I bought a couple but they didn’t live long. They don’t do well in my garden and after a few years, I quit planting plants I know don’t do well.

In our garden as well as other areas of our life we can accept the limitations of our soil and climate or we can work hard to grow what needs extra care. Some people plant fig trees they bury each fall. It is worth it to them and that is what makes looking at other peoples gardens interesting. The choices they’ve made, the plants they’ve planted together, do they have an explosion of color or a muted palette? Do they stick to a garden type, English, Japanese, or vegetable? Do they have plants we’ve never seen? Are they able to grow things we cannot?

A garden is a grant teacher. It teaches patience and careful watchfulness; it teaches industry and thrift; above all it teaches entire trust. Gertrude Jekyll

Every garden is as individual as the person who plants it. Our garden says something about us; do we like what it says? Does it reflect our life; even reflect the lack of time we have to spend on it. What do the plants we choose say about us? Our garden may say more about us than we think, leisure time, disposable income, friendships (plants passed along) as divisions, and gifts, neat and tidy, or growth with wild abandon, a vibrant or muted palette, or a collectors garden.

Our garden like ourselves will evolve over time, some seasons of our life we hardly have time to garden. Other times we can spend most of our day out there. Our garden will reflect this. Gardening is good for our mental health, physical and emotional health. Our garden can be our sanctuary, our work of art, a healing space, or where we entertain. Whatever we get out of our garden it is likely more than we put into it.

Gardening enhances emotional, physical, and mental well-being. It is used in hospitals, nursing homes, rehabilitative and mental health centers. Creating more green space in our cities fights crime. When we get involved in taking responsibility for caring for something, creating an environment that produces growth such as a garden it builds self-esteem. Lack of self-esteem is one of the reasons people gravitate to crime. To build up our society, we need to build up individuals to see the worth in themselves and others.

When we look upon nature we are healed. If we bring more nature into our world we are a conduit for good. Our gardens may do more good for ourselves and others than we think. What if planting something is part of the change we need to see in the world? Is it true that the greener our world is, the better our society is? Can we all make a difference in some small way by planting something this spring?

The garden suggests there might be a place where we can meet nature halfway. Michael Pollan

Thank you for reading this post. I hope you enjoyed it. I hope you will come back and read some more. Have a blessed day filled with gratitude, nature, and love.

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Hope’s Edge: The Next Diet for a Small Planet Paperback – Apr 28 2003

by Frances Moore Lappe (Author), Anna Lappe (Author) 5.0 out of 5 stars 9 customer reviews


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