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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Family is forever. Life is what we make it. Opportunity and choice at every age.

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Family is not an important thing. It’s everything. Michael J. Fox

Family day is tomorrow. Every day should be family day and for most of us, it is. Those who are still in the trenches, where everything they do, think, spend, and work for is their children. Here’s to you! Raising children is the most rewarding, energy-sapping, resource-driven enterprise most of us will take on in this lifetime. We get as much as we give and there are no words for the joy we get from our children.

Sometimes it seems like getting from here to there, no matter where here seems is long and hard. Other times that same journey seems short and sweet. If you are past the heavy lifting of child rearing and now enjoy adult children, you know what I mean.

If you are now Grandpa or Grandma you’ve gotten your earned reward. I’m waiting for this one.

If we are lucky we get old. My mom tells me we don’t have to feel old. If we can stay away from a mirror, or at least don’t put our glasses on when we look in it, we can tell our self we’ve hardly changed.  We think certain things come with aging, but is it true? We need to question the ideas we allow to lodge in our brain. Do we feel old because we act and think old?

If we stay fit, active, and engaged, we can enjoy life at every age. The older I get the younger each age I’m at seems to me. I’ve watched my mom and her attitude. She’s never had a weight issue, so that has never taxed knees, hips, etc. She is a naturally happy person and she is engaged with people. Nieces who have lost their mothers enjoy talking to mine.

When we talk to some people they’re problems weigh us down. Mom is uplifting, she laughs at what she cannot change, she talks about the worst that could happen, and in doing so finds peace. Mom isn’t a worrier, she’s already dealt with some of the worst things that can happen. She survived.

Mom was widowed with two kids and a brand new baby, left destitute because the insurance company wouldn’t pay the insurance her husband had taken out to ensure she would be financially okay if something happened to him.

She survived, kept body and soul together, married my dad, had five more kids and built a life. Many of us worry how would we survive if X happens? We’ll do what we need to do. It will be what it is. We will make the best of it. Most of us won’t even worry about the things that will blindside us. It will come out of the blue, and there we are.

We will handle it well, or badly, whatever we are capable of. It will become our new normal. We will carry on. We can’t possibly know how we’ll react if X happens. We don’t know who will be there for us. We don’t know who will be there with us. We don’t need to know. What we need to know is we have the strength and courage to handle whatever comes our way.

This is family; this is what it stands for. Once we become mothers, fathers, aunts, uncles, grandmas, and grandpa’s we can never, not be them again. We can be good ones, bad ones, hands-on, hands-off, distant, close, engaged or unengaged. This is our choice, we can’t change what is, but we can be a negative or positive force in our families lives.

I was hearing on the radio that children without father’s in their lives in higher socioeconomic areas, don’t do better than children in lower socio-economic areas with fathers. I’m not sure I like everything being judged by money. There is an amount of money we need to keep body and soul together.

Neither man nor woman is perfect, or complete without the other. Thus, no marriage or family, no ward or stake is likely to reach its full potential until husbands and wives, mothers and fathers, men and women work together in unity of purpose, respecting and relying upon each other’s strengths. Sheri L. Dew

That amount of money depends on where we live, the cost of housing, etc. They give the amount most of us need to be happy at about $75,000.00 per year. Above that our happiness doesn’t really increase. Does the outcome for our children increase?

Getting on the treadmill of more, more, more, may actually only work for those who profit from us working harder. It may hardly profit our selves. As we work harder we have less time to enjoy the fruits of our labor and our families. When people drop out of the labor market and live on what they’ve accumulated or investments they’ve made, they may live more simply but more richly in the things that matter to them.

Life is about choice, we want more choice; does more choice make us happy? Does accepting our lot in life and making the best of it give us the most happiness?

There are always challenges; we can only make the best decision with the choices presented to us. Are we looking at all our choices? Are there choices we need to excavate and examine? There is only so much we can do in this life, but often it is more than we think.

Do we have dreams we haven’t achieved yet, that are still achievable if we have guts, determination, and luck on our side? Is it time to go after a new or old dream? Is it time to stay the course until the children are raised and then pursue something else? Is it time to start smelling the roses, or planting them?

To enjoy good health, to bring true happiness to one’s family, to bring peace to all, one must first discipline and control one’s own mind. If a man can control his mind he can find the way to Enlightenment, and all wisdom and virtue will naturally come to him. Buddha

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Building love that lasts by giving them undivided attention.

Photo of black eyed susan by Belynda Wilson Thomas

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No amount of money or success can take the place of time spent with your family. Unknown

Spending time with the people we love makes them feel loved. When we are parents of young children the more time we spend with them the more positive the relationship. If we don’t have time to spend with our children as they are growing up we end up like Harry Chapin’s Cats in the Cradle. We didn’t have time for our kids when they were young and they don’t have time for us when they are grown up. “We’ll get together “then”, but “then” never comes.

Spending time with our family nurtures bonds, positive behaviors, creates memories, relieves stress, and we often have a healthier lifestyle. It takes an effort to sit down to family dinners, but the family conversations over those dinners are priceless.

We need to be careful that we aren’t trying so hard to have family time that we don’t schedule couple time. Willard F. Harley from the blog Marriage Builders tells us we need fifteen hours of undivided attention to spend with our spouse per week.

Fifteen hours per week of undivided time with our spouse sounds daunting. If we are retired it’s completely doable, but if we are working at different jobs with young children it sounds like a distant dream.

Working with our spouse has its own downfalls. Research shows women tend to earn and advance their careers less when they co-found a business with their romantic partners. The data also suggests women who go into business with their husbands may be less independent and assertive than those who pursue a separate career. The case for working with our spouse is more stress resistance, lower chance of burnout, higher engagement at work, even sharing an occupation or profession can reduce stress and burnout while increasing engagement levels.

As with everything there are pros and cons. We build our lives, and we deal with our choices. It can be hard to separate work from home when we work together.

When we go into business with our spouse we will develop stronger communication skills because communication is the pillar of a strong marriage and a strong business partnership. We may try harder at both because we’ve doubled our risk. If the marriage doesn’t succeed, the business will be affected, if the business doesn’t succeed the marriage will be affected.

Love your family. Spend time, be kind and serve one another. Make no room for regrets. Tomorrow is not promised and today is short. Unknown

Just being in the same house or room with someone is not part of our fifteen hours of undivided attention. I realized this the other day when my husband and I were home together for a good part of the day but we were both busy doing different things. Instead of going for coffee as we usually do, I went shopping and he went to visit his mother. At the end of the day I reflected we spent no undivided attention with each other, we watched TV but that doesn’t count as undivided attention.

That was a day and not a usual day, but what if it became a usual day? We revolve around each other instead of interacting with each other. What if we take each other for granted?  What if we don’t plan how we want to spend our free time? It is easy to let all the urgent things every day get in the way of building our best relationships.

Nobody plans for their relationship to become cold, to end up sitting at a dinner table with nothing to say. We’ve seen couples, even young couples out for a night out with friends, they were the first ones to arrive and they didn’t interact at all until their friends arrived. If we don’t plan to spend time together that time gets eaten up by urgent things we end up doing.

Willard F. Harley tells us we need to plan for intimacy, plan for fifteen hours of undivided attention, and make our partners our favorite recreational partner. We need to fill each other’s love tanks and keep them full.

My mother always said, “The best gift you can give your kids is to love their father.” When we model a happy marriage we provide security for our children, and we show them they can have a happy marriage. When our children see us get through life together regardless of the bumps in the road, they can see themselves getting through the bumps. A resilient marriage builds resilience in our children.

Are we building a happy, resilient relationship? Would we be happy if our children followed our example? Can we make our relationship better by spending more undivided attention with each other, finding recreational activities to share, and planning for intimacy?

At the end of your life, you will never regret not having passed one more test, nor winning one more verdict, or not closing one more deal. You will regret time not spent with a husband, a friend, a child, a parent.  Barbara Bush

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Grit: Choose a goal and work toward it.

Sensitivity and Strength - Bug on pale pink flower - photo by Belynda Wilson Thomas

The most difficult thing is the decision to act, the rest is tenacity. The fears are paper tigers. You can do anything you decide to do. You can act to change and control your life; and the procedure, the process is its own reward. Robyn Davidson

Grit is being able to keep going when you’d rather quit. Choose your goal, starting is half done. I was in Indigo my favorite haunt the other day and I saw a book on Grit: The Power of Passion and Perseverance by Angela Duckworth. The author states her father always said “you’re no genius.” To her surprise she won an award for genius. Upon reflection she realized she didn’t think she was a genius, the secret to outstanding success was not talent, but a special blend of passion and persistence she calls grit. Her book is inspiration for non geniuses everywhere.

We need to make a decision of where to focus our energies. We need to have a hierarchy of goals that support each other. Some of us have big lofty goals, but we don’t have anything underneath to make those goals happen. Some of us are working hard but we don’t have a goal we are working toward.

We need to connect the dots so we have the goal we are working toward and also the small and intermediate goals that lead to that achievement. At the writers group last week the speaker said she knows an author who couldn’t wait to put her book on Amazon. Wow, what an accomplishment she was finally a published author.  She waited for the sales to come rolling in, but none came.

She had the goal and the perseverance to write, edit and publish the novel on Amazon. She had no way to let readers know she had written a book or what it was about. Her book was lost in the millions of self published books on Amazon.

Her book may yet be found by someone who realizes how great it is. Being published on Amazon may be better than not being published at all. The speaker at the Writers Group was letting us know not to be too impatient about getting our first book out there. After all the unknown author like the unknown song writer, band, artist could be the next great thing if found by those who will make them great.

True grit is making a decision and standing by it, doing what must be done. No moral man can have peace of mind if he leaves undone what he knows he should have done. John Wayne

Every great artist, band, writer was unknown at one point. There are people whose sole goal is to find the next great or near great song, band, artist, and writer. Fame is not necessarily something to be desired, or so it seems from all the cautionary tales we hear. A modicum of recognition for our work may be where the magic lies.

It might be almost as much of a boost to win best speaker at Toastmasters as big awards. After all when you get up in the morning you have to keep going forward with your life. Big awards may be a letdown as you realize you are unlikely to reach that pinnacle again.

Cultivating tenacity, persistence, goal setting and taking the next step, and having the determination to get up when we fall determines our life. In every area of our life we are tested, we fail, we wish we’d made a different decision we feel we aren’t good enough as parents, spouses, workers, bosses, artists.

We will never be perfect. The speech will never be perfect. The song will never be perfect. The painting will never be perfect.  We will never be perfect parents raising perfect kids. We need to live with imperfection in our self and others, embrace the gifts we and others have, with grit and determination build the best life we can for our children and the future.

The most important job we’ll ever have is raising the next generation. It is a job that takes so much time and energy other goals get put aside. If we can only do one big thing well, raising our children well is the one to choose.

Angela Duckworth’s book is not a parenting book, but she talks about parenting and being an effective parent, how to raise children with grit and determination.

When you feel like quitting think about why you started. Unknown

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Understanding each other. Understanding our self.

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There would be no society if living together depended upon understanding each other. Eric Hoffer

Understanding each other sometimes seems in short supply. It doesn’t shock me that we don’t understand each other. I think most of us don’t understand our self. We are made up of many layers and understanding our selves is a lifelong project.

It’s hard to fit that in while doing the laundry, feeding kids, helping with homework, taking children to activities, being a loving and supportive wife or husband and each working full time at gainful employment.

Gainful employment, that’s loaded isn’t it. Any of you who have stayed home and raised children have been made to feel less because what you did was not paid work. Raising your own children we’ve somehow made less than doing something else. When you are looking after other people’s children it becomes worthwhile again, because of the pay.

Working women are pitted against stay at home mothers. Men are pitted against women, people of other backgrounds, ethnicities, religions, and pigmentations are pitted against each other.

If we could look into each other’s hearts and understand the unique challenges each of us faces, I think we would treat each other much more gently, with more love, patience, tolerance, and care. Marvin J. Ashton

Some writers are writing about the feminine and the role of women in our present time as if women are the answer to all our problems. Women are for sure part of the answer. We need to work together, all of us. The problems of the world are not a male problem, white problem, or any particular religions problem. The problems of this world are here for all of us to do our part to make it a little better.

One of the big problems I have with the religions I have a little knowledge of is they are waiting for the end, the rapture. It matters that scientists forecast that with our current agricultural methods the amount of harvests we can have is limited. It matters that sea life is declining.

Thinking that women just have to get enough power to fix it, is wrong thinking in my opinion. It isn’t because we are women that we might come up with an idea to make things better. We need everyone’s ideas, everyone’s contributions.

If we become a matriarchal society I don’t think that will be better than a patriarchal society. We work best together. We help each other best as partners, husbands and wives, same sex, or opposite sex. When we find a partner to share our lives with and go through all life has to offer, that is the meaning of a well lived life.

We need to quit fracturing ourselves into ever smaller groups. This is why I’m with Jordan Peterson 12 Rules For Life in his belief of equality of the individual. That is the smallest group and when we have equality of the individual we can get on with doing what needs to be done. As an individual with equal rights, where you live, who with, what religion you belong to, what political affiliations you have is your choice. Your rights stop where they infringe on someone else’s.

When we find the person we want to go through life with we have found something worthwhile, we shouldn’t give up on easily. It is this relationship that builds families, communities, fixes problems, and makes things better. It is the family that understands what is good for my kids is good for yours. If your kids don’t eat, mine won’t either. If it isn’t safe for your kids it won’t remain safe for mine.

Many couples get together and think, two of us against the world. How about thinking two of us for the world? What is the small thing we can do to use our talents, creativity, people power to influence our corner of the globe in a positive way? We need to think win/win.

How can we harvest crops and better the soil? How can we harvest from the sea and not deplete it but keep it ever healthy and in balance? What economic platform is good for growth and sustainability, people and corporations? There are questions to be asked and work to be done. We are better when we do it together.

The easiest thing in the world is to become bitter and disappointed because things haven’t gone as we hoped, planned, expected. We are here, in our relationships, our world problems, our local problems, our cross cultural divides, our religious schisms. We need to find a way to share our homes, our planet, our countries, our cities.

The world needs us to work together not pitted against each other. We are stronger together. We need to work through our problems and put our differences in perspective. It doesn’t matter if this relationship is between husband and wife, parents and children, employers and employees, native born and immigrants, different races, nationalities, religious affiliations, sexual orientations. We can and must learn to work together. If we are all equal as individuals, that is true equality. It is, I believe the only equality we can achieve. As individuals we can learn to understand each other, and make a difference in our corner of the world, our sphere of influence.

Life is the first gift, love is the second, and understanding the third. Marge Piercy

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Life choices. Honeymoon, coming home, settling in. Choosing when to have a family.

Posted to blog Sept 2, 2018 Yellow Day Lilly

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Deuteronomy 24 vs. 5 – When a man hath taken a new wife, he shall not go out to war, neither shall he be charged with any business: but he shall be free at home one year, and shall cheer up his wife which he hath taken.

Now that would be a honeymoon. A whole year to focus on each other. I think newly married couples should enjoy a few years before they have children. To create the bond that will carry them through life.

In the American census of 2010 The New York Times reported that married couples represented just 48 percent of American households in 2010. In 1950 the percentage of married households in America was78 percent.

Recent work by Brad Wilcox and Laurie DeRose, shows that the stability gap between married and cohabiting parents can be seen in every country (even if the overall levels of stability differ quite considerably). It seems as if the old phrase “tying the knot” remains an appropriate one.

The reasons given for greater stability among married parents is:

Most married parents planned the baby with their current partner.

More married parents have been to college, most cohabiting parents have not. There is a wide class gap in marriage in America. Is it the same in Canada? Married mothers and fathers are over four times more likely to hold a bachelor’s or advanced degree than cohabiting biological parents. The gap is wider among fathers than mothers: two in three fathers cohabiting with the mother of their biological child have a high school diploma or less. Some of this can be explained by age. Cohabiting parents tend to be younger so they may end up married and more educated over time. Education is an important, independent predictor of family stability.

Married parents earn more. Married parents are both older and more educated so it comes as no shock to learn they earn more. Mothers and fathers who are married earn substantially more than all other family structures, cohabiting biological parents earning the least. It is the earning gap of fathers that stands out the most. A higher family income predicts greater family stability, in part because of reduced financial stress.

Getting our daughters married seems old fashioned. People and cultures went to great lengths to insure that children did not come before marriage. Statistics show us this is still the best way to ensure our daughter’s future. Educate her and encourage her to choose to marry before having children, so she can plan her family with a man who has the same values and goals she has.

The more things change, the more they stay the same. The wisdom of the past was indeed wisdom. Who we marry impacts our life more than any other life decision we make. Women need to make decisions based on their self interest. Over half of unintended pregnancies result from women not using contraceptives at all.

When my daughter was in University she told me a lot of the girls were not using birth control. If you are smart enough to go to University why aren’t you smart enough to protect yourself from an unwanted pregnancy? If you don’t do it for yourself do it for the baby who deserves to come into the world, wanted and loved.

Women have rights and responsibilities. As the givers of life shouldn’t we be stepping up? Generally what is good for us is good for our babies. Isn’t a stable loving home good for everyone? There are very few things in life we get without taking steps to ensure the outcome we want.

Birth control gives us the freedom we thought men had, to have sex without consequence before marriage.  Why then do half the unplanned pregnancies happen without birth control? I was aghast when my son and daughter were going to high school and told me some girls were willing to “sin” by having sex, but they weren’t willing to “sin” by using birth control. What kind of twisted thinking is that?

“The most common way people give up their power is by thinking they don’t have any.”
Alice Walker

It isn’t marriage in itself that provides stability – I don’t think. It is thinking about the future and making better decisions. We need to foster in our children the need for self respect, self esteem and the expectation they can have a great life. To do this they need to take the steps most likely to bring about this outcome. Birth control is one of the first decisions any couple should make who are embarking on a sexual relationship. Our children will have sex, most of them before marriage, most of them before we think they are ready. Most of them will have sex with someone other than who they will eventually marry. Birth control can make this a better situation instead of a worse one.

Unexpected pregnancy in 2018 should not be the expected outcome of young people’s sexual exploration. Is birth control 100 percent effective? No, but most young people not using birth control will be pregnant within one year? This is not a surprise; it is magical thinking to think you can have sex without pregnancy. If our children think this, we have failed them.

We tell our children when they drive they must put gas in the car. Why aren’t we telling them if you are going to have sex, and most of them will earlier than we want, put a condom on it. Later we can expect them to put “a ring on it.”

Girls, the great liberation for women is birth control. Women should be taking responsibility for their sexuality by using birth control. Men should be taking responsibility as well, especially until they are in a stable relationship where they can trust the form of birth control being used.

This is your life. Make the decisions most likely to give you the outcome you want. Who chooses to live a life of poverty? Women who choose to get pregnant many of them before we even call them women. Part of this I think is a self esteem problem. No one else makes him wear a condom, how can I? No one else is getting an education who am I to think I can? My mother had a baby at 16, why shouldn’t I? So many young people repeat patterns of life they hated growing up in. Why? How do we change the cycle? What do we have to do? What do we have to say?

How do we make young women believe they are worth making better choices? How do we make young men feel they can build a future they can be proud of? Taking care of a family may give them the biggest feeling of pride there is. Not raising their children is many men’s biggest feeling of failure. We can choose to be good parents even if we don’t live with the biological mother or father. Some situations can only be managed.  Just because the situation isn’t perfect doesn’t mean we can’t make it better. Wherever we are in life we can make the better choice. Children are for life.

My brother in law and sister did not stay together. He was a big part of bringing up my niece with self esteem. Father’s are very important in daughter’s lives.

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

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What a Difference a Daddy Makes: The Indelible Imprint a Dad Leaves on His Daughter’s Life

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Time waits for no one. It seems it will take so long for something to come until it sneaks up on us. Enjoy the moment.

Photo of sweet pea by Belynda Wilson Thomas

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“You’ve gotta dance like there’s nobody watching,
Love like you’ll never be hurt,
Sing like there’s nobody listening,
And live like it’s heaven on earth.”
― William W. Purkey

Time has flown by, our daughter’s wedding is almost upon us. We had so much time. In a week it will be a memory. I hope we savor these moments, they don’t rush by.

Twenty six years have flown by. Our little girl is getting married. We want to see them take these steps in life. They signal steps we are taking too.

There will now be another household to host dinners. A new family is formed; she is still part of ours but now creating her own. It doesn’t seem like thirty two years ago I did the same. Time flies and creeps. The years have flown by in a happy blur.

We wonder did we do enough with our children when they were young? Did we go enough places and see enough things. They never got to Disney World does that make them deprived children? They have two parents that stayed together, does that make them blessed?

There is a point in the confusion, planning, packing, organizing and buying when we think it will never all get done. Yet, here we are, if there are any loose ends they will stay loose. It is freeing to know this is it. We can relax because there is nothing more we can do.

We’ve been manicured and pedicured, dresses altered, we are done. All this planning has come down to today. We sigh a sigh of relief and look forward to rest and relaxation, fun and frivolity and the celebration of a love story.

Life moves on, today is a big day in our lives, tomorrow is a big day in someone else’s. We enjoy the big moments and the small, they are the sum of our life.

 “Don’t cry because it’s over, smile because it happened.”
― Dr. Seuss

Real life is great, and may seem boring in the light of the exciting. The exciting only shines because of the rest of our life it is set against. If we enjoy each moment for the gifts it brings, we enjoy our life. There is always something to smile about.

“May you live every day of your life.”
― Jonathan Swift

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New beginnings. Using our gifts. Taking up our responsibilities. Comparisons are odious.

Chrysanthemum photo by Belynda Wilson Thomas

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

Edgar A. Collard

The gift of time is over, how will we pack all this stuff? We look at each other and know by the time we leave order will be restored to our home. The craft shop in the dining room will be dismantled.

After all this chaos and planning, we are all looking forward to relaxing in Jamaica. People get married every day and for most of us it is the centre of our life. I was listening to Jordan Peterson yesterday and he thinks we are encouraging our daughters to focus on careers too much.

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

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

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

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

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

We learned to live in harmony, to build societies of peace and plenty. Progress can be made if we work together. If we believe what is good for you is good for me. Jordan Peterson talks about the Mathew principle which is about unequal distribution. We have unequal distribution in our world. We need to be okay with the fact that in a forest a few trees are the biggest. A few song writers have written most of our songs. A few authors have written most of our books.

Through we will probably learn in the past a few men fathered most of the children. A few companies sell most of the products. A few trees populate most of our forests. A few people make most of our scientific discoveries. A few people make most of the money.

If this is a principle that is universal in our world then we will not change it, if even nature is built upon it.

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

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

We are here, why? That I believe is what we are to find out. I don’t bring biblical quotes in to turn this into a religious blog. I do it because that is where my mind goes as I ask questions about life and how to make things better. Timeless truths are here for our understanding. We are here, for better or worse. Let’s make it better.

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

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12 Rules for Life: An Antidote to Chaos

Jan 23, 2018


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