Finding meaning and purpose. Embracing the heavy lifting of life. Masculine and feminine – embracing our differences.

Masculine and feminine - embracing our differences. Finding meaning and purpose. Embracing the heavy lifting of life.

Painting by Belynda Wilson Thomas

I always thought that humanity has two wings. The male and the female, and these wings need to be equivalent in strength in order to fly. Justin Baldoni

It’s dark, cold, and raining this morning. Yesterday was beautiful and hot, with a hard rain in the afternoon. Our weather is changing, or is it us that must change with the weather? Sundresses in the rain aren’t much better than rain boots on the beach.

In a four-season climate, we have clothes for every occasion. If variety is the spice of life, then those of us who live in four-season climates have it the best. We get to experience weather in all its glory, and fury.

Women have been likened to the weather. We bring sunshine and rain into the lives of those we touch. Feminine energy is a thing and I’ve always noticed the difference when I’ve entered homes where women live and where they do not live.

The difference between a female dog and a male dog is quite different. I noticed the difference between my children even as babies.

We are free to embrace whatever energy we want. Do we feel different if we wear slacks or a skirt?

Women are marketed to endlessly to become more by buying this cream, that product, this whatever… We are who we are, we may feel better with a new hairstyle and lipstick but we are who we are regardless of our hair, makeup, power suits or dresses.

Both spouses are equal, yet different. One of the most beautiful things about a relationship is that the feminine energy can feed a masculine man’s heart. And, the masculine energy can totally light up the feminine energy. Renee Wade

Jordan Peterson refers to women as nature, nature equals creation and chaos. He refers to the masculine as order. Too much order or too much chaos is not good. This is why if we can balance the feminine and masculine our society is likely to be better.

Have we balanced the feminine and masculine in Western societies, or have we negated the feminine to some degree?

What do we think more feminine energy would look like? Some may think we would have fewer wars? Why would we have fewer wars? Men live in hierarchies more than women do. Women have been the queen of their castle more than men have been king of theirs. Men went to work and in their workplace hierarchies were present. Women who stayed home were the queen of their domain.

The more things change the more they remain the same, this may be true of our search for equality, meaning, and purpose. Is there more meaning to be had in this world than to birth a child, and raise it to take its place? Is there a job on this planet that actually competes with that?

What we think in our twenties, thirties, and forties may be quite different than what we think in our fifties, sixties, seventies, and eighties.

I often say to my husband, I thought achieving goals would look different, and feel different than it does. It feels good to achieve goals; it also feels like next… If we are to find fulfillment in our life we are forever moving forward, but toward what?

The family seems to be where meaning is. We do what we need to do to feed, clothe, provide a home, nurture, educate, and help our children take their place in the world so they can do the same. The circle of life continues and being part of that circle is the power and privilege of being a man or woman.

No matter what else we may achieve in the world giving life to the next generation will likely bring us the greatest joy, meaning, and purpose. If we are lucky enough to have brought forth the next generation it came at a price most of us have gladly paid. If we have not paid this price we need to find meaning and purpose elsewhere.

Have we found meaning and purpose, or are we still looking for it?

Yin and yang, male and female, strong and weak, rigid and tender, heaven and earth, light and darkness, thunder and lightning, cold and warmth, good and evil… the interplay of opposite principles constitutes the universe. Confucius

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The Tao of Womanhood: Ten Lessons for Power and Peace Paperback – Mar 17 1999

by Diane Dreher (Author) 5.0 out of 5 stars 1 rating

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Love at first sight. We build our lives one moment, one thought, and one deed at a time.

We build our lives one moment, one thought, and one deed at a time. Love at first sight.

Painting by Belynda Wilson Thomas

I believe in love at first sight because I am a mother. Unknown

Yesterday the sunrise was beautiful. I could see it peeking above the houses and trees. When I got to a spot to take a picture my camera wasn’t capturing what was left of the fleeting sunrise. Today there was no beautiful sunrise on my walk. Sunrises are like life, when we see them we need to enjoy them. We need to put ourselves in the place to enjoy them but they are not on our schedule.

Today my daughter turns twenty-eight. What a wonderful twenty-eight years it has been. Even when I was in the hospital and had a cesarean, and she developed jaundice because I’m an O- blood type, we were doing better than lots of the other mother/baby couples. She had no trouble breastfeeding, it was a real challenge for some and one baby got dehydrated. Easy, happy babies are so easy to look after, and when they turn into happy children. and then happy adults we are blessed.

There are challenges in life for those too easy to get along with and also for the disagreeable types who expect too much. We have to learn to deal with who we are. Whether we are an agreeable or unagreeable type there are advantages. When we learn to harness the advantages we were born with instead of trying to work against them, life usually goes better for us.  

We still have a loving close relationship. The mother/daughter angst we’ve muddled through in large part because she is more like her father than she is like me. If she was more like me maybe we would have a harder time.

Father’s are so important in daughter’s lives. They say mothers teach daughters how to love, and fathers teach daughters who to love. Why we are lucky enough to have easy relationships and what turns them sour we may have a problem putting our finger on. When they sour, turning them back to sweet is a challenge, giving up on relationships is what I think we should never do.

If we are blessed to have children, each one is different, special, with their own talents, challenges, insecurities, gifts, personalities, strengths, and weaknesses. We have to accept our self and them how they are. Why can’t you be like… Is like throwing acid on their spirit. They will never be like anyone else. We can have aspirations for our children, but it is best if we help them develop aspirations for themselves.

It’s the little details that are vital. The little things cause the big things to happen. John Wooden

We build our families and our lives one small moment at a time. Each thing we do, say, and make important will impact our lives. Over a lifetime we have the sum total of what we’ve done, said, and thought.

If for any reason our relationships are not as good as we think they can be, we can change our thoughts, deeds, and words. Can we soften our tone, ask more questions instead of giving advice, offer encouragement, and do it all with kindness. They say respect is love in plain clothes.

Can we be respectful of others? Can we look after the small things that irritate so we can enjoy better relationships? Can we listen more to understand, instead of worrying if we are understood?

Take care of the little things and the big things take care of themselves. Unknown

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Strong Fathers, Strong Daughters: 10 Secrets Every Father Should Know Paperback – Aug 28 2007

by Meg Meeker (Author) 4.1 out of 5 stars 25 customer reviews

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Family and community. They don’t just happen we have to build them.

Family and community don't just happen, we have to build them.

Painting by Belynda Wilson Thomas

Without a sense of caring, there can be no sense of community. Anthony J. D’Angelo

On Saturday we went to a friend’s house close to the Toronto Jazz Festival and walked up and down the street enjoying the music. A night spent with friends, music, and laughter. We spent part of the evening in a backyard created for entertaining right out of a Better Homes and Gardens design book. When it rained we huddled together in the covered bar.

The rain dampened the evening and everyone left early except four of us and our hosts who sat at the kitchen table and laughed till our sides hurt. Today I will pay the parking ticket we received. I guess that’s the price of admission.

People must spend enormous amounts of time on their front gardens. Our friend’s garden was as beautiful as everyone else’s. If you aren’t a gardener you must not fit in very well. A profusion of blooms and mature trees line the streets. What a beautiful area to live in. A walk to the beach is as easy as a walk to the coffee shop up the street. Quaint shops and restaurants are all within easy walking distance. The fitness level is probably higher because of such a walkable area.

The building block of every community is family. Paul Singer

How do we create that sense of community? Why does it exist in some areas and not in others? Is it because the garages are in the back creating a more inviting path to the front door? Whatever it is, it’s something and a wonderful community has been created. Maybe part of it is being quaint, and old, every house has character. Maybe part of it is money. Maybe part of it is everyone taking pride in their community, and everyone doing their part to keep up their little space resulting in a cohesive whole that shows us what a community can be.

It makes me realize we need to get out more, walk around in various communities and appreciate the special flavor of individual communities. It also shows me I need to get out in the garden and pull the weeds. It takes time to tend to our gardens but without tending we can’t have a beautiful garden. It takes time to build character, gardens, and to grow mature trees.

It is like being around someone’s family that is warm, welcoming, and close. That warmth and closeness didn’t just happen. We have to build our communities and our families. We can’t pick our flowers in someone else’s garden. If we want flowers to pick we’ll have to grow and tend our own garden. If we want a happy family, we have to grow and tend to that too.

Is it finding the best place to live, or is it creating the best place where we are? A happy home filled with love, laughter, belonging, acceptance, and joy is our choice. We can bloom where we are planted. We can plant flowers or weeds. We can tend our gardens, marriages, and relationships or we can let them fall into disrepair and wonder what happened. We happened; we make our choices every day to make things better or to make things worse.  

Home should be an anchor, a port in a storm, a refuge, a happy place in which to dwell, a place where we are loved and where we can love. Marvin J. Ashton

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Love Makes a Family Board book – Dec 24 2018

by Sophie Beer (Author) 5.0 out of 5 stars 2 customer reviews

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Focus on the family. The pillar of our communities, the hope of the world.

The pillar of our communities, the hope of the world. Focus on the family.

Painting by Belynda Wilson Thomas

The only rock I know that stays steady, the only institution I know that works, is the family. Lee Iacocca

As I walked with my dog this morning I contemplated what to write about. The importance of family popped into my mind. We were having a conversation about family and the importance of it, and how a people who can be manipulated by the Government need weak family units. How a fundamental principle of communism is the abolition of the family unit. This would leave the state in charge of the children. Children brought up by “the system” leads to such good outcomes surely we should embrace it.

My son mentioned how the term toxic masculinity is being thrown around, but that “toxic masculinity” has created a society where women are very free to conduct our affairs in safety.  We don’t live in a society where we can’t be out in the evening. I cringe at the term toxic masculinity.

I don’t believe pitting women against men is helpful; it gives power to groups that want to destroy the cohesiveness we have through the family. By expecting families to always be perfect, are our expectations destroying families that may be struggling? Isn’t a struggling family better for most children than no family?

By creating a society where only perfection is okay, we will create chaos. No one is perfect all the time, says the right things, acts the right way or is always in 100% control of their thoughts and feelings. Expecting mothers and fathers to never get flustered or at their wit’s end when they are dealing with children is not reasonable.

Over vigilance is not better than under vigilance. Making people living good lives, if not perfect ones, feel persecuted does not do anything for our society. Calling reasonable men who only want to create a family and raise their children toxic masculine men is not helpful. Making it seem that throughout history the average man was the rich and powerful man is not correct.

We have always had a few powerful men who were tyrants but their tyranny was visited on both the men and women in their control. We have had women who wielded that power as well. Men and women need to build a society. We don’t have good strong families when only one parent is present. That does not mean single parents don’t do a good job of raising their children. It is not considered optimum, and it is not what most people dream of, and hope for.

Family gives you the roots to stand tall and strong. Unknown

The family is the first essential cell of human society. Pope John XXIII

We have a lot of people fighting in the margins for beliefs that don’t line up with history. Militant feminism is in this camp I believe. We want to feel we have had it bad, and we have, but a lot of it was not because we were treated so badly in our families. Our families were trying to protect us and create the best possible future for us, and make sure we didn’t ruin our lives by poor choices. They were not trying to keep us down. Even if they were misguided they did it out of love, concern, and because of societal norms.

Biology has not been women’s friend. Our monthly cycles, needing protection during pregnancy, rape used as a tactic of war, all of this contributed to how our society was created to protect us. Being protected does not allow the freedom that the protectors enjoy. We were not expected to fight and die for our country. Men fought for the freedom and safety of women and children and still do to this day. Some women throughout history have also fought, but it was not their duty, it was their choice.

It is with gratitude I think of the strong men in my life, my father, husband, son and all the other men that make this a good society. If we really lived in a toxic masculine world, women would be prey all the time. We would have a cat and mouse society not the equal, egalitarian, and working together society we have created.

It is a very good time to be a woman. We probably have as much freedom as we’ve ever had. We need to not just enjoy the freedoms; we also have to take on the responsibilities to build a good society.

The breakdown of the family puts many children in precarious situations and makes them vulnerable to being targeted by nefarious groups and individuals who want to use them, manipulate, and exploit them.

The family is the test of freedom; because the family is the only thing that the free man makes for himself and by himself. Gilbert K. Chesterton

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, family, and love.

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Amber Alerts. The reports say they are working.

The reports say Amber Alerts are working.

The Amber Alert came into being when the community of Arlington, Texas got together to create the Amber (America’s Missing Broadcast Emergency Response) program following the 1996 kidnapping and murder of nine-year-old Amber Hagerman. Citizens wanted to prevent future abductions and increase children’s safety in their community.

An amber alert woke me at five o’clock. Our hearts go out to the family dealing with abduction. We hope it ends well.

We wonder or maybe some of us know how relationships get so bad, so hurtful that all we want to do is hurt the other person. Seventy-five percent of child abductions are by family members.

Sometimes the parent is accused by the other parent of abducting a child they didn’t abduct. Are they just trying to cause trouble or did they really believe their child was in danger?

Amber alerts are not issued lightly. There are specific guidelines in place in each province that determines when police issue an Amber Alert.

When is an amber alert activated?

The law enforcement agency believes a child under 18 years of age has been abducted.

The law enforcement agency believes the child is in danger.

There is enough descriptive information about one or more of the following – the child, the abductor, and/or the vehicle, which is sufficient to allow the law enforcement agency to believe that an immediate broadcast alert will help in locating the child.

Why do parents abduct their own children? The Polly Klaas Foundation gives four reasons:

To force a reconciliation or continued interaction with the left-behind parent.

To spite or punish the other parent.

Fear of losing custody or visitation rights.

In rare cases to protect the child from a parent who is perceived to molest, abuse, or neglect the child.

These reasons are given when parental child abduction might be a risk.

The other parent has threatened abduction or has actually abducted the child in the past.

Is suspected of abuse, and these suspicions are supported by family and friends.

Is paranoid delusional or severely sociopathic.

Is a citizen of another country and is ending a mixed-culture marriage.

Feels alienated from the legal system, and has family/social support in another community.

Have no strong ties to the child’s home locale.

Has no job, is able to work anywhere, and is not financially tied to the area.

Is planning to quit a job, sell a home, closing bank accounts, applying for passports, obtaining school or medical records.

We wish we could help.

It must be so hard for parents going through these kinds of relationship breakdowns. Every time the child visits the other parent do they worry? How do we not let worry take over our lives?

Most families navigate their separations trying to do the best they can for their children. They continue to make sacrifices for their children and try to keep a good relationship with the other parent. Even though the parent’s relationship with each other is broken they try not to make their children suffer more than they need to.

Did we all felt this morning “What can we do?” at least until we are up and out of our house? They are trying to reach the one person that may be able to make a difference. They are hoping someone recognizes the fleeing pair. Maybe someone will, we all hope this situation ends well. That everyone ends up safe.

If we were in this situation we would want help. We hope the Amber Alert reaches someone who can.

I pray as I write this good news about this abduction is coming soon.

The Amber alert had a good ending. When the mother realised the police were looking for her she turned herself in. There is a story there but we don’t know what it is. The little boy is safe, that’s what matters.

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, joy, and love.

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Approach, avoid, or attack. What mode are we in?

Which mode are we in? Approach, avoid, or attack?

Painting by Belynda Wilson Thomas

We are afraid to care too much; for fear that the other person does not care at all. Eleanor Roosevelt

Approach, avoid, attack, which mode are we living our life in? We may think we are living in one mode, but the way people react to us may show us we are actually living in a different mode.

We may think we are approachable, our partner may feel otherwise. Is it the tone of our voice, the words we say, or our actions? It may take a bit of detective work on our part to figure things out. It is worth figuring out.

We may feel they are being “way” too sensitive. This may even be true. Have we taught them to be this way? We can’t change other people, but we can change our self. When we change our self other people react to us differently.

Becoming defensive is not good for relationships, being in avoid mode, or attack mode damages our relationships. We need to be vulnerable and approachable if we want good relationships.

When relationships become cold, we may be harboring resentment which makes us act in avoid or attack mode. We may not realize how it happened. We used to be so close. We used to see each other often, laugh, joke and enjoy each other’s company. Now the phone calls are less often, more polite, less intimate, as time goes by that’s just the way it is, we tell our self.

Maybe we need to search our soul to find out if we have hidden resentments. We need to make an effort to rekindle the relationship. Often life carries on, and we don’t even realize how our relationships cool until they are cold.

When we get into a conflict with someone we can ask this question.

If this person pushed my button, which one of their buttons might I (however inadvertently) have pushed?

If we want things to change we will have to change them. We will need to forgive and give up our resentments, and our hurt feelings, holding onto them is hurting our self and others. Even if we decide to no longer have a relationship we still should forgive, so we can go forward in peace.

Many families are fractured over little things, offence was taken, and amends were never made. Sometimes we didn’t realize there was an offence until much later. We perceive things differently, we misread the situation, and our feelings are hurt.

We think someone did something to us, they don’t think they did. It is easy to take offence; it is easy to take things personally when no one meant to hurt us. It wasn’t deliberate; they were living their life, worried about what they were worried about. They were concentrating on themselves and their concerns. We may think we should be the centre of their world, but they are. Everyone is self involved. How else can we build a life if we aren’t looking after our own concerns, our own goals, and our own responsibilities? Should we be more kind and considerate? Yes, but people will not live up to our expectations, all the time. We will not live up to our own expectations all the time. We may not even know what someone else’s expectations are.

We can do the best we can, most of the time. We will not be perfect. We will hurt people’s feelings inadvertently. We need to forgive our self and others. We need to be willing to make the first move when things get awkward. We need to live with people’s imperfections; they might not be what we wish they were. We may want things from them they don’t have or know how to give. We may want a closer relationship than they want with us.

We need to negotiate our relationships; we need to be honest, upfront, approachable, understanding, kind, and forgiving. If we expect too much from people we will be disappointed, we need to deal with that. They aren’t responsible for the expectations they didn’t know about. They aren’t responsible when they are too busy to have time for us.

We are all imperfect; we are all struggling at one thing or another. We need to have some compassion for ourselves and others. We need to meet people where they are and have the relationship they are capable of, not the one of our dreams. If we deal with the relationship we can have, we can do what we can to make them better. If we believe they are deliberately not giving us what we want, how does that serve us? We build up resentments, we don’t heal our relationship.

Dr. Phil says we teach others how to treat us. If we aren’t being treated in the way we think we should be, we need to look at the real issues, theirs and ours. Our relationships with people are what they are, right now, can we make it better, probably, but something will have to change, and it probably starts with us.

Do we need to make the changes we want to see in our relationships? Can we be okay with better, not perfect?

Doctor’s won’t make you healthy. Nutritionists won’t make you slim. Teachers won’t make you smart. Gurus won’t make you calm. Mentors won’t make you rich. Trainers won’t make you fit. Ultimately you have to take responsibility to save yourself. Naval Ravikant

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The Seven Principles for Making Marriage Work: A Practical Guide from the Country’s Foremost Relationship Expert Paperback – May 16 2000
by John Gottman Ph.D. (Author)

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We are enough. Marriage is worth it. Build a life you love.

Build a life you love. Marriage is worth it. We are enough.

Painting by Belynda Wilson Thomas

A healthy relationship with yourself sets the standard for a relationship with someone else. Renee Slansky

Yesterday I saw a post on Facebook by a woman I grew up with. Her post is about self-love, we make mistakes, we don’t always say, nor do the right things. We trust the wrong people; we give people chances and second chances they don’t deserve. All our failures, missteps, disappointments, joys, missed opportunities, and chances we’ve taken have made us into who we are. We are good enough, we are worthy of love, from our self and others.

If we are lucky enough to have a partner who is great but not perfect we need to love them and appreciate them.

I’m hearing some young men say they don’t know why they should get married. My advice is, get married if you want to experience the depth and breadth of life. Get married if you want someone to share a life with who has your back, shares your dreams, and wants to build a life with you. Get married if you’d like to create a family and have the joy of bringing a new baby home, seeing them walk for the first time, say their first words which are usually Dada. If you want to feel you’ve done something really special create a new person with someone you love.

There is nothing in life that will give you more joy than your family. You will never feel as vulnerable as knowing everything you love could be taken away in an instant by death, or divorce. We are stronger than our fears; many of the things we fear never come to pass. We must go after what we want and face failure in all areas of our lives to achieve success. We can get through the tough times whatever they may be with strength and perseverance. Sometimes we have to just keep putting one foot in front of the other.

There are no guarantees in this world. Loving someone is not a guarantee of never being sad, hurt, lonely, betrayed (or feeling betrayed even if the thought is only in our own mind).

If you want to feel empty, lonely like you don’t matter, that you don’t make a difference then stay single and don’t become a father. Because then you really don’t matter in the scheme of things. It is only through connection with others that we really matter.

You don’t marry because the partner you’ve found is so special you are guaranteed she will never leave you. Even in the bible Genesis 2:18 it says, “If a man is worthy, the woman will be a helper, if he is unworthy, she will be against him”.

This would put a man’s behavior and attitude squarely as being very important and if he wants a wife that loves and supports him, he has to be a man worthy of that love, respect, and support. As Dr. Phil says, “we don’t demand respect, we command respect.” When we command respect people respect us of their own volition, it is not forced, it is not, “You will respect me or else”?

The first to apologize is the bravest. The first to forgive is the strongest. The first to forget is the happiest. Unknown

My son said to me, “women are initiating most of the divorces”. It seems to be true, and when you look at that bible verse doesn’t it make sense?

If a young man or even an older man wants a wife. He has to step up and be worthy of his wife’s love and support. Maybe women are leaving men too quickly, but maybe men aren’t stepping up and being the husbands they are supposed to be. We can have no divorce when women have no choice. We have choices, and some people feel if women didn’t have so much choice, it would be better. I am not someone who believes it is better when women have no choice.

We need to make our marriages better, so both parties want to stay and build a life. We look at marriages from the outside and we can’t see how some marriages stay together that look like train wrecks, and other marriages that look so nice and seem to do so well end in divorce.

No one knows the intimate details of someone else’s marriage. One of the mistakes we probably make is thinking “Love is enough”. Love is just the starting point. Another mistake we make is thinking, “If he or she loves me they would know what I want, need, mean”. Good communication is one of the most important things in all relationships, especially marriage.

Who we marry is one of the most, if not the most important decision we make. Not making that decision may be the biggest mistake of our life. There comes a point when we have to take the chance on someone to build the life we want. We always have to risk failure to risk success.

In marriage do thou be wise: prefer the person before money, virtue before beauty, the mind before the body; then thou hast a wife, a friend, a companion, a second self. William Penn

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, joy, and love.

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Eating together. When we eat together we nourish our bodies and our souls.

When we eat together we nourish our bodies and our souls.

Painting by Belynda Wilson Thomas

After a good dinner, one can forgive anybody, even one’s own relations. Oscar Wilde

When family gets together and the laughs just keep coming we feel filled up with joy. A family dinner last night was one of those. When we can come together and feel the warmth and togetherness it is worth the bother of two days of preparation.

Getting together to share a meal is one of our most ancient traditions. Through food, we share ourselves, time and attention. Family stories are shared, memories are created, we relax in the warmth at the table and it is believed the family that eats together stays together.

Anytime families get together it usually involves food. It may be a family picnic in a park taking up several picnic tables and barbeques. It may be more formal in a restaurant, or in a home.

It doesn’t matter what is served, it doesn’t matter how large the family is. What matters is that someone bothers to bring the family together and they reconnect and bond.

Usually, someone is responsible for hosting, inviting, and setting things up. It may be a position they jealously hold, everyone feels they would be hurt if anyone else tried to host. The problem with relying on one person like Grandma, Mom, or Aunty is what happens when something happens to Grandma, Mom or Aunty?

Family dinners may be the glue that holds us together. As young families, we talk with our children about their day. It may be the only time we have together, where all we concentrate on is food and each other.

If we don’t create these times when we talk and laugh we may miss the closeness that develops through family dinners. Do we have anything that can take the place of the family dinner for bonding and closeness?

All great change begins at the dinner table. Ronald Reagan

A study from a team of South Korean researchers suggests that frequently eating meals alone may lead to poorer food choices and eating habits. The study found men who eat alone more than twice a week have a greater risk of developing high blood pressure, high cholesterol, and diabetes.

When children eat with their families it is not only about preventing bad outcomes – it is also about developing good ones. The Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development looked at data from nearly three-quarters of the world’s countries. Among its findings were children who shared a main meal with their families were less likely to skip school. Family dinners are strongly linked to children less likely to abuse drugs or alcohol. Teens that have frequent family dinners are more likely to say their parents know a lot about what is going on in their lives. When teens feel closer to their parents they are less likely to use drugs or alcohol.

A study from the University of Montreal found that children that eat with their families experience long-term physical and mental health benefits. These children were in better physical shape, drank fewer sugary drinks, had better social skills, and were less aggressive. Family meals may also help children with social interaction, discussion of social issues and better communications skills as they learn to discuss day-to-day concerns.

Staying connected is one of the big challenges of our time. It is easy to lose connection with our loved ones if we don’t make time to talk. Eating together is the easiest time to talk and laugh. It is worth it to try to eat more meals together. Getting together for celebrations with our extended family is a way to keep our bonds tight. We all have to eat, eating together may be one of the easiest things we can do to create connection, impart values, and bond.

I applaud everyone that has family dinners. Your family is probably reaping the rewards. If our families could do with more closeness, maybe we can fit in a family dinner here and there. If life is what we make it, making dinner and eating together may be the best thing we can do for our family. We all have to eat, why not eat together more often? Could it be the change to make the world better?

Taking time for each other is the key for harmony in the home and in marriage. Dieter F. Uchtdorf

Dinners are defined at the ultimate act of communion; men that can have communion in nothing else can sympathetically eat together, can still rise into some glow of brotherhood over food and wind. Thomas Carlyle

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This messy magnificent life is ours to live, savor, enjoy. Life goes by fast so live a life with few regrets.

Life goes by fast so live a life with few regrets. This messy magnificent life is ours to live, savor, enjoy.

The memories we make with our family is everything. Candace Cameron Bure

Today is the first post I’ve written in eleven days. I’ve been visiting Mom, family and a dear friend from long ago. When you see people you don’t see on a regular basis you see how fast time really flies.

We were dewy-faced young women on the cusp of our lives. Now we are talking about retirement, what our kids are doing, long term marriages, and the travel we want to fit in.

The last time we met neither of us was married, our lives were ahead of us, and now most of our life is behind. We are both looking back on our lives, we didn’t know then what would or could be. We’ve both lived happy, contented lives filled with work and family. A happy life never means it was all happy, constantly contented, or not filled with angst at times.

What makes a happy life? Is it being rich, or famous? I think it’s our relationships that bring us peace and contentment. No matter how much we have, we can only eat so much, live in so much, and see so much of the world, but who we do those things with is what matters.

Families are messy, relationships are easy to fracture, feelings get hurt, and angst gets magnified. We need to forgive our self and others for the frailties of being human. We won’t always think before we speak, consider others before we do something, or think of the consequences of every action. Things will have to be overlooked if we are to have good relationships. If we hold on to every slight, miscommunication and awkward moment we can feel slighted at every turn.

Family is a unique gift that needs to be appreciated and treasured, even when they’re driving you crazy. As much as they make you mad, interrupt you, annoy you, curse at you, try to control you, these are the people who know you the best and who love you. Jenna Morasca

Life is short and we never know if those angry words are the last ones someone will hear. We never know when the last time we can all get together will be. We need to make the most of our opportunities. A phone call can change everything.

We can’t go back and fix everything; we can go forward and deal with the reality of what is. Can we be willing to be uncomfortable until we become comfortable with each other again? Can we overlook some hurts we’ve carried for too long? If we can let go of the burden of expecting people to be more than who they are, and let go of our unmet expectations, can we live in peace and be grateful for the people in our lives with all their frailties, missteps, and foibles?

Often they didn’t know what we expected; we didn’t know all they were going through. We need to let it go. Even if we can’t be warm and fuzzy with everyone, can we be civil and let the past go? It was what it was; our relationships don’t have to be perfect to be worth preserving and developing. If we discard every relationship that isn’t perfect we won’t have any relationships at all.

Is there anyone in our lives including ourselves we need to forgive? Are we the change that needs to happen to bring a fractured family together? Can we make it better, or will we become or remain bitter? This is our messy magnificent life, can we live it, and enjoy it with as few regrets as we can manage?

You don’t choose your family. They are God’s gift to you, as you are to them. Desmond Tutu

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Marriage and family it doesn’t get more complicated than this.

It doesn't get more complicated than marriage and family.

Wanna hear the most beautiful, complicated, perfectly imperfect word I know, family. Oprah Winfrey

The family is everything Oprah said, and more. When you grow up in a family you think everyone else’s family is more or less like your own. We all think we live in an ordinary family. This is why bad things that happen in families are normalized, and so are extraordinary things.

Some people live in close proximity to their family members; that implies they are close, but it is not always true. Those of us who live far away from our families know there is distance, and then there is distant. We may be far away but very close, and we may be close but very distant.

We have close families where everything and everyone’s business is up for discussion. Other families are closed to talking about personal subjects. Important things may not get discussed. Are these the families where the elephants in the living room bump into each other?

The one thing we know is, no family is perfect. Our families are made up of imperfect people, so how can they be perfect? The worst thing to do is to pretend to be perfect, instead of embracing ourselves warts and all. We are what we are, mistakes were made, we tried to do our best, most of the time. Maybe we pretended to do our best and won’t acknowledge our shortcomings. Some people have a whole different side of themselves they never revealed to those they love. We hear about children learning their father was a serial killer. How do they square that with the loving father they knew?

It can be very hard if our parents cannot accept us for what we are. They wanted high achieving career oriented children. They wanted family-oriented children. Sometimes it seems we can’t please others. The truth is we can’t, we can be the best we can be, and we will fall short of our own expectations as well. We will make mistakes, sometimes the mistakes will be cheap, and sometimes they will be costly. What we learn from our mistakes are lessons we could probably learn no other way.

It might have been easier when families were large. Expectations of each child were smaller. Now we only have one or two children, and we pin all our hopes and dreams on them.

It’s a burden they might not be able to bear. Their idea of success and ours might be completely different. We may feel they need to stay close. They may feel the need to spread their wings and move to far-flung places.

Our children need to find their way, as we found ours, or didn’t in some cases. We made our missteps, and they will make theirs. The love we have for our family is not supposed to be conditional. When I think of some of the terrible choices made by people, how do the choices not affect the relationship?

Marriage, families, all relationships are more a process of learning the dance rather than finding the right dancer. Unknown

One of my nephews says “we love them cause their kin.” He’s right; we wish we could be proud of them. We often hear the expression, “every family has them.” They mean of course the person struggling with the “isms”. They might suffer from alcoholism, drug addiction, mental health, gambling, anger problems, criminality etc. We wish they would get help, overcome, make better choices, and maybe they will.

Really smart people misbehave in maladaptive ways that can’t lead to anything but a life of ruin, and dysfunction. We may hate the choices they make, but we need to try to love the sinner but not the sin so to speak. If we only love our family members when they are on the right track, what kind of love is that?

We create our families with rose-colored glasses, as we stand at the altar or move in with one another. It is the beginning of a new family, but we are tied to the family we were born into with all that entails. Life is messy, crazy, and stressful.

In the book The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F*ck the author Mark Manson says “The problems in our romantic relationships always eerily resemble the problems in our parent’s relationship.”

Wow, do we even know what was going on in our parent’s marriage thirty years ago? Are undercurrents somehow bubbling up in our relationships and we don’t recognise where they are coming from and that is the problem? These situations are generational. How are we to deal if this is indeed part of the problem?

Is this how the sins of the father are brought down the generations? Do we unknowingly recreate patterns we saw played out in our family of origin and bring them to the family we are building?  We may not even realise what the cause of the angst in our life is. We don’t understand why some things affect us the way they do. If things aren’t what they seem, could we be viewing them through a lens coloured by our parent’s relationship?

How is a spouse to deal with this? As the dysfunctions of each family of origin play out in our marriage, how could it be anything but messy, some of the time? Wherever we go, there we are, we can’t leave our families behind for good or ill. We take them with us and we work through the issues or we don’t. Life is so much more complicated than it seems.

Is creating lasting relationships both the challenge and the reward of a life well lived?

Family is like music, some high notes, some low notes, but always a beautiful song. Unknown

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