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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Loving nature loving ourselves.

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For most of history, man has had to fight nature to survive; in this century he is beginning to realize that, in order to survive, he must protect it. Yves Cousteau

Nature is our mother. Latin proverb

Last night we had our first Horticultural meeting for 2019. The speaker was Elizabeth Schleicher and she is a member of a Rose Society. Last year she attended the World Federation of Rose Societies conference in Copenhagen the capital city of Denmark. She showed us a slide show of what she saw and learned in Copenhagen. She was a very entertaining speaker and told us she is looking forward to attending the next WFRS world conference in Australia in 2021.

Roses are one of my favorite flowers she has about ninety in her garden, I used to have about fifty in mine. Winter kill has cut back my numbers I’ll have to see where I am in the spring.

Joining a Horticultural society is meeting a likeminded group of people beautifying their corner of the world. We have plant sales; adopt public gardens, garden tours, speakers who enhance our knowledge, and flower and photo shows. Many of our speakers travel the world and bring back what they’ve seen in talks and slideshows.

We have speakers whose passion is composting with worms, all aspects of gardening and beautifying the world. Guerrilla gardening which is gardening on land you do not have a legal right to cultivate. This was done in a big way in New York City in the 1970s. Large sections of New York City were abandoned by landlords and city officials. This movement started on a vacant lot at the northeast corner of Bowery and East Houston where in the winter of 1973 two homeless men froze to death in a cardboard box. An artist Liz Christy had already been tossing “seed grenades” into vacant lots, these are water balloons packed with seeds, compost and water which scattered their contents as they burst.

Man’s heart away from nature becomes hard. Standing Bear

Love the world as your own self; then you can truly care for all things. Lao Tzu

Liz Christy saw a young boy playing in the garbage that littered the lot. He was about to climb into an abandoned refrigerator. When Liz Christy took the child to his mother and reprimanded her for letting him play in a dangerous place the mother said “she had a house full of kids to watch. If Liz Christy was so worried about the refrigerator why didn’t she get rid of it?”

Liz Christy organized a group of friends and started beautifying the lot. After the story exploded in the Daily News the city leased the lot to them for a dollar a year. The group dubbed themselves the Green Guerrillas. More than 800 gardens revitalized neighborhoods, reclaimed decay on vacant lots and created city gardens. Neighborhoods were tipped from crime to community action.

Studies show gardens and green space help lower crime rates. When we live without green space and gardens we lose more than we think we do. We think we are maximizing our cities by building on every lot. By getting taxes from every square foot we are able to provide more services. Hostility increases where there is less green space, cooperation increases where there is more.

When we get back in touch with the earth through planting, a tree, flowers, and vegetables we ground ourselves.  According to Richard Louv if we want to be better, more creative, healthy humans we need to get out in nature. When we tap into the restorative powers of nature we can boost mental acuity, creativity, promote health and wellness. When we build smarter, sustainable green communities and economies we ultimately strengthen our human bonds.

He believes the future will belong to the nature-smart – those individuals, families, business, and political leaders who develop a deeper understanding of the transformative power of the natural world and who balance the virtual with the real. He believes the more high-tech we become, the more nature we need.

We can create beautiful green livable cities where we encourage walking and a connection to nature. Horticultural societies, green guerillas, city planners, volunteers and everyone who lives in a city needs to do their part. We are creating the future; can we make it a future we love? Can we by loving nature, love ourselves? Can we by loving ourselves, love nature?

If you lose touch with nature you lose touch with humanity.If there’s no relationship with nature then you become a killer;then you kill baby seals, whales, dolphins, and man eitherfor gain, for “sport,” for food, or for knowledge.Then nature is frightened of you, withdrawing its beauty.You may take long walks in the woods or camp in lovely places but you are a killer and so lose their friendship.You probably are not related to anything to your wife or your husband. Jiddu Krishnamurti

Nature is not our enemy, to be raped and conquered. Nature is ourselves, to be cherished and explored. Terence Mckenna

The Nature Principle: Reconnecting with Life in a Virtual Age by [Louv, Richard]
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Good choices make a good life.

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It is our choices… that show what we truly are, far more than our abilities. J.K. Rowling

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

A 75 year Harvard study tracked 724 men through their adult lives to determine what contributes most to a happy and healthy life. The conclusion was clear, good relationships keep us happier and healthier.

People living in supportive and loving relationships live longer and are more content than those in high-conflict relationships even when these are monogamous or long term. Those in supportive, reciprocal relationships are better able to handle emotional and physical pain.

People in supportive relationships experience less memory loss. When people feel they can count on their partners through life’s ups and downs, even if they argue, have clearer memories as they get older. Good relationships seem to buffer us from some of the effects of aging.

We should take time for those we love, reach out to those who have drifted from us, and realize that family feuds take a terrible toll on those who hold grudges. Can we quit holding grudges, can we forgive for our own sake?

In a recent survey of millennials (born between 1980 and 2000) 80% wanted to get rich, and 50% wanted to become famous. Neither of those goals means they don’t also want close loving relationships.

They want what we wanted and because many of us didn’t get it we begrudge them their dreams. After all, what does realizing our dream mean? Often it means “oh, is this all there is,” as we now look over at a higher mountain we didn’t choose to climb.

We make our choices, then our choices make us. Unknown

Make your choices reflect your hopes, not your fears. Nelson Mandela

If we went for success in one area what other areas of success did we give up? I notice this with successful women I know. They are single, their jobs sound prestigious, and their resumes are impressive.

How many of us if we were asked if we could do a do-over, would make exactly the same choices. Would we marry as early, as late or at all? Would we have more or less education? Would we have gone more or fewer places in the world? Would we still choose the same person to raise our family with? Would we have more or fewer children? Would we have steered our children in the same directions? Would we make the same things the primary focus of our lives?

Why are we so critical of a group who has all of that ahead of them? Don’t we remember what it was like to have our decisions second and third guessed? Millennials will not make all the right decisions, we didn’t. They will second-guess themselves, they will learn and grow as we have. They will put aside their dreams for their family in some cases and put aside family for their dreams. They too will look back on their life and think, what if?

This is the human condition, we insisted on the right to make our mistakes, decisions, choices, and now it is time to make theirs. What if there is no correct path for us or our children? Are there lessons regardless of the path taken? What if we learn more from the mistakes we make than our successes? What if not wanting our children to make mistakes is hampering their growth? Are we hampering them from their call to adventure by telling them it’s too hard, expensive, exploitive, etc out there?

We have so few children it is hard to let them go. Our parents had so many that when the oldest set out on their own path a younger one was there to ready for adulthood. We aren’t done parenting when our one or two children are ready to flee the nest. We encourage them to stay. Is it necessarily good or bad if they stay?

When I grew up there were people who left home early and some who stayed at home longer. Did it matter in the long run? It probably won’t matter for the millennials either. We each have to find our path. We make our choices where our path forks, and when we make one choice we leave another behind. Was it necessarily a better or worse choice left behind or just a different one? We have to be okay making choices and watching our children make theirs. Not making a choice leaves us at the fork, stuck. When we don’t actively make a choice it is still a choice. What we think, say, and do is a choice. Can we think, say and do better and let others make their own choices?

The 3C’s of life: Choices, chances, changes. You must make a choice to take a chance or your life will never change. Unknown

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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Making Choices: Practical Wisdom for Everyday Moral Decisions Paperback – Feb 1 1990


 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Simplifying life is an ongoing task

Snow covered bushes photo by Belynda Wilson Thomas

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The aspects of things that are most important to us are hidden because of their simplicity and familiarity.
Ludwig Wittgenstein

The newly fallen snow creates a winter wonderland this morning. No snow is falling now so it shouldn’t be too hazardous for driving. Another morning of blessings and gratitude.

My den is piled with the makings of the Christmas Party at Toastmasters tonight. Another night of laughter and frivolity.

I picked up shortbread cookies for my husband yesterday. We shared them and now my right eye is twitching. It hasn’t done this for a long time. Shortbread cookies and I don’t seem to get along. When my husband reads this he will laugh. He thinks my linking things to food is crazy. I think we are what we eat, food affects us, and when something in our body doesn’t feel right we should look at what we’ve eaten.

It’s those little things, that cause nagging little problems we can look after before they get to be big out of control things. If we look after the pennies the dollars look after themselves. What is true in finance is also true in our health, attitude, and every day well being.

The dishwasher broke this week and everyone has been making an effort to wash their dishes as they use them. My son said last night,  “when are you getting the dishwasher fixed?” No dishwasher seems to be working better than having a dishwasher. Do I really want to get it fixed? Let’s do a month of this and see if we develop better habits.

 25 Ways to Simplify Your Life

  1. Prioritize. Don’t treat everything as being equally important. First things first.
  2. Think ahead. Know where you’re going before you try to get there.
  3. Do it now. Do you procrastinate? Nothing happens until you start.
  4. Find a shortcut. Determine whether it’s been done or you’ll reinvent the wheel.
  5. Limit obligations. Free up your schedule. “No” should always be an option.
  6. Learn by mistakes. Lessons will be repeated until they are learned.
  7. Delegate. Get more done and buy more time for yourself as a bonus.
  8. Pick your battles. Don’t waste effort on things beyond your control.
  9. Ignore distractions. Stop letting other people hijack your day.
  10. Be your own person. Make yourself proud rather than seeking approval from others.
  11. Be a problem solver. Address small problems before they become big ones.
  12. Stop overthinking. Make a decision and don’t look back.
  13. Value relationships. Invest in relationships to avoid the time repairing them.
  14. Let it go. Leave the past behind.
  15. Plan for an emergency. Don’t wait for a fire to locate the exits.
  16. Ask for help. Know your limits. Never be too proud to learn.
  17. End the drama. Gossip is a disease spread from mouth to mouth.
  18. Add by subtracting. If something no longer serves a purpose, eliminate it.
  19. Give it up. Don’t impose your values on others. People change when change is their choice.
  20. Live within your means. Learn the meaning of “enough.”
  21. Keep everything in perspective. Moderation is the balance of life.
  22. Focus. Don’t try to be good at everything –– you’ll end up being mediocre at everything.
  23. Manage your expectations. Settle for excellence rather than perfection.
  24. Be grateful. Appreciate what you have or you’ll be forced to learn what it meant to you after you lose it.
  25. Follow your conscience. You have to live with yourself for the rest of your life.

Simple Isn’t Always Easy

Life is really simple, but we insist on making it complicated. Confucius

I got this list from Frank Sonnenberg’s blog.

I think people want very much to simplify their lives enough so that they can control the things that make it possible to sleep at night. Twyla Tharp

We can have a simple life by going in a straight line or we can have a complicated life filled with twists and turns. We don’t always think we have a choice and sometimes we don’t. Things happen we have to deal with, but sometimes we put things in place we knew we’d have to deal with. It’s a question I’m asking myself, do I make my life more complicated than it needs to be?  Many of us act before we think, overcommit ourselves, talk without thinking, fail to learn from our mistakes, procrastinate until the last second, don’t prioritize, and don’t make living within our means a priority.

What if instead of complaining about our complicated lives we did something about it? Where do we start? What does an uncomplicated life look like? Is our biggest fear an uncomplicated life would be boring?

We read books, magazine articles and blogs about people who have downsized, right-sized, gotten off the treadmill, changed their thinking and changed their life. Where are the people that have done it and regret it?

It is harder to do as a couple. There is more than one point of view to consider. It is easy to see someone else’s possessions as clutter but our own as necessary.

If our life is complicated, we can do something about it. What is a small thing we can do today?

As you simplify your life, the laws of the universe will be simpler; solitude will not be solitude, poverty will not be poverty, nor weakness weakness. Henry David Thoreau

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Rightsizing Your Life: Simplifying Your Surroundings While Keeping What Matters Most Paperback – Jan 4 2007


Random acts of kindness. Good will to all.

Living In The Present - photo of tree by Belynda Wilson Thomas

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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The Kindness Cure: How the Science of Compassion Can Heal Your Heart and Your World Paperback – Feb 2 2018

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Your habits can make you a star!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The Fly Lady has monthly habits to concentrate on.

January – Shining your sink.

February – Decluttering for 15 minutes a day.

March – Getting dressed to shoes

April – Making the bed

May – Moving

June- Drinking water

July – Swish and swipe

August – Laundry

September – Before bed routine

October – Paper Clutter

November – Menu planning

December – Pampering

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

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

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

Consciously create habits because habits unconsciously dictate your life. Anonymous

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Saving Dinner: The Menus, Recipes, and Shopping Lists to Bring Your Family Back to the Table Paperback – Aug 25 2009


Negative framing. Is the glass half empty?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Think and Make It Happen: The Breakthrough Program for Conquering Anxiety, Overcoming Negative Thoughts, and Discovering Your True Potential Hardcover – Dec 30 2008