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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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

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

Yellow Gardenias stock photo

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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.

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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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He Wins, She Wins Workbook: Practicing the Art of Marital Negotiation Paperback – Feb 3 2015

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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.

Understanding - Photo of African Violet taken by Belynda Wilson Thomas

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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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