Sensitivity and strength. Building strength in the broken places.

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

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I think that I have a sensitivity toward people, and that is a strength. Joe Torre

Family get-togethers are fun. I feel blessed we don’t end up in fights, crying, and hurt feelings with no further communication. We have had these, which family hasn’t? We need to accept our families how they are, quirks, foibles, talents, and achievements. Christmas and holidays can be times of unmet expectations. This will be the year… Why do we put expectations on things? Why can’t we just enjoy a simple dinner, a glass of wine, a joke, a laugh, a funny story about their lives, our lives, and our childhood?

We aren’t perfect, we’ve never been perfect but we are still loved and accepted. We have to be able to accept ourselves with our imperfections. Sometimes accepting ourselves when we missed the mark is the hardest.

Sometimes we forgive ourselves, but others can’t forgive us. We get sensitive to everything they say. We have to be careful not to hear blame and disappointment every time they speak.

We start to second guess why they don’t think they can do something we were looking forward to. Are they trying to get back at us? Are they really too busy?

We become overly sensitive at our peril. If we can try to always find a reason why someone else is acting how they are without putting it on our self we are better off. The crazy driver is going through something we don’t understand, but that’s on them, not on us. Everyone is responsible for their own mood including us. Sometimes we can’t help it, we are overwhelmed by what we feel, and we pollute everyone’s space we come in contact with. If they can know it’s us and not them we are all better off.

Wallow too much in sensitivity and you can’t deal with life or the truth. Neal Boortz

It’s not all about you, my husband says. I’m trying to remember that as I go through life. Other people’s problems, the driver’s problems, and the cashier’s problems are not my problems.

We need to control our nagging inner critic. The critic that pops up when we hear how well others are doing and start comparing the worst of ourselves to the best of someone else. We have our gifts, but they pale in the light of someone else’s achievements. We need to treat ourselves with love and compassion, we are doing the best we can, or we are trying to figure out how to do the best we can. We are a work in progress. Sometimes that work is on the iceberg level, not the apparent level. It is still growth, it is still progress.

We need to take care of ourselves in fundamental ways so we can take care of others and be kind, caring, encouraging, loving, empathetic, compassionate.

We need to give up trying to control everything.  We need to let the process of life unfold and live in joy, creativity, finding our passion and purpose, and letting others do the same.

We can focus on the positive while being realistic about life can’t we?

Anybody who wears their feelings on their sleeve and has a harder, crusty shell – like I do – is definitely protecting an inner sensitivity. Fred Durst

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Mastering Adulthood: Go Beyond Adulting to Become an Emotional Grown-Up Paperback – Jan 2 2019

Persistance and passion. Building our lives one baby step at a time.

Self Confidence - photo by Belynda Wilson Thomas

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Growing up in a group home, and with an undiagnosed learning disability to boot, the odds of success were not on my side. But when I joined the high school football team, I learned the value of discipline, focus, persistence, and teamwork – all the skills that have proven vital to my career as C.E.O. and social entrepreneur. Darell Hammond

Last night my husband and I watched I Feel Pretty with Amy Schumer a body image satire. A young woman struggling with insecurities hits her head and wakes up believing she is the most beautiful and capable woman in the world. This empowers her to live fearlessly and go after her dreams. She hits her head again and the magic is gone. She doesn’t see herself as beautiful anymore. In the end, she sees the picture of her regular self and her beautiful self and realizes it was all in her head. She has an ah-ha moment when she hears one of the beautiful girls crying and finds out she’s been dumped. She didn’t think that happened to the beautiful.

How many of us hold our self back because we are not pretty enough, thin enough, or confident enough? We need to realize it is the confidence, not the pretty that will get us somewhere.

A young man came as a guest to Toastmasters on Thursday. He’s an accountant; he has a slight stutter and is hoping toastmasters will help him become a better speaker. He was asked to give a one to two-minute impromptu speech and won the best speaker for that section. He’s facing his fears; he’s becoming his best self.

We all struggle, or do we? Are there people out there who don’t struggle, who don’t second-guess themselves?

Do we not offer our help because we don’t think others would like out help? It might be better if we think, what help would I offer to others if I felt more self-assured?

Does our low confidence result in a lot of worries, self-absorption and a short fuse?

When we have low self-confidence we can feel like an imposter about our achievements. We may feel our flaws will be revealed. An example I’m thinking of is our Toastmasters Christmas party, everyone is bringing a dish. What should I bring? My repertoire seems so meager compared to people bringing their international dishes. Our insecurities rise at these moments. It’s just a dish, last year I bought something and I knew when I did, it was to avoid putting my dish out there. We can be so busy protecting our fragile self-esteem we miss opportunities to make a good impression. When we accept the challenge to rise to the occasion we often feel better about our self.

We can be so focused on our own thoughts during a conversation we miss the cue the other person is giving us to join in and be part of the group.

The more self-focused we are the more people will see us as self-focused and the more self-focused we become. If we don’t reach out to other people to offer help, encouragement, or conversation other people will quit reaching out to us. When this happens the cycle continues as our low confidence makes us feel we are inherently a horrible selfish person which makes us self-conscious and shame-prone.

A little more persistence, a little more effort, and what seemed hopeless failure may turn to glorious success. Elbert Hubbard

To one degree or another, we all probably feel less self-confident and self-assured than we would like. If we reach out to other people, and they reach out to us we create a network of support and encouragement that encourages personal growth. We all have strengths and weaknesses. When we are feeling at our most vulnerable and insecure it is easy to think we have only weaknesses and other people have only strengths, but this is never true.

Life is a growth experience for each of us. If we put the accent on the positive and push ourselves out of our comfort zone we might surprise our self as we become the person we always wanted to be. Small steps, baby steps, build a life of passion and purpose. We can do almost anything if we take baby steps and persist.

Persistence is more important than talent. We can’t control the amount of talent we were born with, but with persistence, we can develop that talent and make something out of it. We can even do things we don’t have a talent for and with persistence at least become competent. Many people who do public speaking had speech problems. I’m thinking of Steve Harvey whose teacher ridiculed him for saying he wanted to be on TV when he could not speak up in class. He sends her a TV every year so she can watch him.

Is there something we want to do but haven’t done yet? What is holding us back?

Nothing in this world can take the place of persistence. Talent will not: nothing is more common than unsuccessful men with talent. Genius will not; unrewarded genius is almost a proverb. Education will not: the world is full of educated derelicts. Persistence and determination alone are omnipotent. Calvin Coolidge

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Clear your clutter. Clear your mind. Your home reflects you. Do you like what it says?

Clear Your Clutter Clear Your Mind - Photo of clematis by Belynda Wilson Thomas

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Clutter is anything that doesn’t belong in a space – whether it belongs elsewhere in your home, or doesn’t belong in your home any longer. Unknown

Our house is a reflection of us. When people look at our house what do they think?

This question can be a two-edged sword. We want clean, orderly, livable, welcoming. We don’t want to set our standards so high we can’t meet them because this moves into perfectionism and perfectionism is enemy of the good. I watched a hoarder on TV, her house was filled top to bottom with stuff. The declutter team cleaned out her house, which underneath all that stuff was a really nice well-furnished house. She could only keep her house clean by not really living in it. The skills to make a mess and clean it up she hadn’t redeveloped. She lived alone and all of the clutter came after divorce or death of a spouse. We see on the show Hoarders there is always a story behind the hoarding.

Just getting it cleaned is not the answer unless you can afford a cleaning person to keep it that way. Does it say anything about us if we live in an orderly house but cannot keep it that way our self?

We now have blogs and websites that focus on organization porn. A term I found on the internet this morning. Being organized and clean is good for us. Perfectionism is not.

A study led by Nicole R. Keith PH.D. found people with clean houses are healthier than people with messy houses. Women who describe their living spaces as cluttered or full of unfinished projects were more likely to be depressed and fatigued than women who describe their homes as restful and restorative.  The research found women with cluttered homes had higher levels of the stress hormone cortisol. We become overwhelmed by clutter making it harder to focus and complete tasks efficiently.

A National Sleep Foundation study found people who make their bed in the morning are 19 percent more likely to report getting a good night’s sleep, 75 percent report getting a better night’s sleep when their sheets are freshly laundered.

A study in the Journal of Obesity found people who carefully plan their exercise program, set goals and regularly report their progress are more likely to keep an exercise program than people who show up at the gym without a clear plan in mind.

There is a theory we crave organization in our homes because of the organization within our bodies. Neatness and order support our health – and oppose chaos.

Keeping baggage from the past will leave no room for happiness in the future. Wayne I. Misner

If we feel better when we keep our homes clean, organized and clutter free,  which makes us feel better about ourselves, more productive and physically fit, then why is it so easy for it to get out of control again and again?

Once that first dish goes in the sink, more are sure to follow. A Cornell University study found women with one box of breakfast cereal on the kitchen counter weighed an average of 20 pounds more than those who didn’t have any cereal in plain view. Women with soda sitting out (even diet kinds) weighed an average of 24 to 26 pounds more. People with a bowl of fruit out in the kitchen weigh an average of 13 pounds less than those who don’t.

A British survey found the color of our sheets reflects our intimacy level. If you have purple bedding, you have nearly double the intimacy of gray bedding, walls or furniture. Reds and pinks spice things up while beige and white inhibit intimacy. Wow, could purple sheets be as good as Viagra?

We think we are in control of what we think and what we do. It is obvious our surroundings affect us to a great extent. We can use this to our advantage. Cleaning systems to help us clean up the clutter and get organized are numerous. Color theory explains what the color of our front door means. A red door means we are not afraid to say what we think. A blue door says we are naturally at ease in most situations. Green doors broadcast traditional values, and black means we are consistent and reserved. The only door color I haven’t had in this house is a blue door.

The Feng Shui  Connection to a Healthy Life by Mary Jane Kasliner connects clutter to health problems depending on what part of the house our clutter is in.

The Feng Suit Connection to A Healthy Life by Mary Jane Kasliner

How Clutter Affects Your Aspirations and Health

When superimposing the ba-gua over the entire house or an individual room via door entry or compass points, we can determine the life aspiration groups and body systems. Clutter in any gua can impact our health and livelihood negatively. Below is an overview of the type of impact clutter will have on our life.

  1. Family Sector: Clutter in this sector can cause discord between family members and potential ailments with the liver, gallbladder, and feet.
  2. Wealth Sector: Stagnation of our finances and resources can occur when clutter is in this section. It may also affect our thighs, waist area, liver, hips or gallbladder.
  3. Fame: Clutter in this sector can affect how we are recognized socially and how enthusiastic we are in life. The body systems that may be affected are the eyes, heart, circulatory system, and small intestines.
  4. Relationship Sector: Clutter in this sector can stagnate our personal and social relationships. It may cause ailments in the abdominal region or cause digestive problems.
  5. Creativity & Children Sector: Clutter in this area can inhibit our creative juices and our ability to connect with our children or younger people. It may cause dental problems, skin irritations, or intestinal ailments.
  6. Helpful People Sector: Clutter here can interfere with our ability to attract others into our lives for guidance. It can also hinder our desires to travel and experience the world. Headaches or chest colds can potentially occur.
  7. Career: Clutter here tends to stagnate your career or make your job feel challenging at every turn. The urinary system and ears are the body systems that can be vulnerable to ailments.
  8. Knowledge & Self-Cultivation: Learning may be challenging when clutter is in this sector. You may also find it difficult to grow spiritually and make clear decisions. The hands and fingers are the body parts that may experience difficulties due to stagnant ch’i from clutter build up.
  9. Center: Clutter in the center of a room or the entire structure can cause a number of health challenges and overall feelings of confusion and instability.

Nothing is what it seems. Whenever I look at any self-improvement book, system or ideology cleaning the clutter comes up as necessary for personal growth. Are you thinking new bedding with purple or red sheets should be on your wish list for Christmas? Is painting your front door a spring project?

Get rid of clutter and you may just find it was blocking the door you’ve been looking for. Katrina Mayer

The Feng Shui Connection to a Healthy Life: A Guide to Healthy Living & High Vitality by [Kasliner, Mary Jane]
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The Feng Shui Connection to a Healthy Life: A Guide to Healthy Living & High Vitality Kindle Edition

The truth will set you free, but what is truth?

The Truth Will Set You Free photo by Belynda Wilson Thomas

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A lie can travel halfway around the world while the truth is putting on its shoes. Charles Spurgeon

I have been thinking for quite a while feminism and I parted ways. I heard about some men’s rights groups and thought really? I’ve known men haven’t been treated fairly in custody cases, been made to pay child support for children they didn’t father, pay alimony to women and end up living in basements themselves.

My son told me about The Red Pill Movie a Cassie Jaye documentary. A feminist woman sat down and talked with men in the men’s rights movement and came away realizing they have a point. This is so controversial the movie is not carried on Netflix and has divided University campuses. Are not Universities supposed to be bastions of free speech? Her movie was so controversial she lost her funding. Who do you think came to her rescue and funded the movie?  People who believe in free speech, not necessarily her subject matter.

Brene Brown author of Braving The Wilderness tells of being assumed to be pro-NRA because she grew up with guns, and knows how to use them. You can’t be pro-hunting rifle and not pro-NRA, who says?

The truth is incontrovertible. Malice may attack it, ignorance may deride it, but in the end, there it is. Winston Churchill

It seems to me some people believe they are on such high moral ground we have no right to not believe what they do. Isn’t this dangerous? I got a message from MADD, how did they get my number? They are jumping on the cannabis bandwagon. Did I support them yes or no? I told him I used to support MADD when they were reasonable. It is not lowering the drinking limit that will prevent accidents, but they aren’t effective about the people who drink way, way, way too much and drive. Do they want to criminalize all of us?

People will not always agree with our views, and that needs to be okay in a free society. If everyone has to agree with our view how is that freedom? If we can’t look at problems from another view how will anything get better?

I don’t want your truths rammed down my throat, and I don’t want to ram mine down yours. I do want to hear them, I do want to think about them, and if they make more sense than what I’ve been thinking I want to implement them to the degree that makes sense to me.

It was heresy at one time to say the world was round. Is it much better what is considered heresy is different subjects? We need to be strong enough to discuss some really big, deep, hurtful subjects. Don’t we need to expect people to take personal responsibility for their lives and not have it considered hate speech?

Shouldn’t we be able to at least put forward family culture is part of the social problems of our time? Shouldn’t we be able to say Christian values shaped the Western World and not apologize for it? Shouldn’t we be able to be proud of the culture we come from without that being taken as hate against someone else?

Don’t we need more dialogue, not less? Don’t we need to look at more sides of issues, consider other people’s views?

The great enemy of the truth is very often not the lie, deliberate, contrived and dishonest, but the myth, persistent, persuasive and unrealistic. John F. Kennedy

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Love tanks, full or empty?

Keep Love Tanks Full Hibiscus photo taken by Belynda Wilson Thomas

A mother who radiates self love and self acceptance actually vaccinates her daughter against low self-esteem. Naomi Wolf

I bought the book The 5 Love Languages The Secret To Love That Lasts by Gary Chapman. It was on sale at 30% off a one day sale. How could I resist. A friend recommended the book.

As I sat down to write this morning I was thinking about the Love Tank theory I read about first in one of John Gray’s books How to Get What You Want and Want What You Have.

The Ten Love Tanks                                                                                        

Spirituality – Love and support from God.                                               

Love and support from parents.                                                              

Love and support from family, friends and having fun.                             

Peer support from others like us with similar goals.

Self-love, love and support from ourselves. Be true to yourself, say no to things that don’t make you happy. Know who you are.       

Relationships, partnerships, and romance. Love and support from intimate relationships.                                                                               

Loving and supporting someone, or something depending on us. Raising children or pets fill this love tank.                                                     

Giving to the community, volunteer work, we need to make sure we don’t neglect our family while we do this.                                               

Giving back to the world, broaden our horizons, volunteer to help a political candidate, run for office.                                                                 

Serving God. Finding the ultimate purpose for our life.

Love according to John Gray is the key to appreciating what we have be it our job, money, relationships. Each type of love is a tank that is between full and empty but can only be filled by the corresponding type of love.

I think of women with too many cats and I wonder what “love tank” are all those cats trying to fill?

Our needs for love vary according to our unique deficiencies. John Gray

Are we putting too much emphasis on the romantic love aspect of our life? Do we expect our relationship to fill more tanks than it is possible for it to fill?

Laura Doyle in The Surrendered Wife tells us to do three things daily to make ourselves happy. I’m trying; it’s harder than you’d think. It’s so easy to get to the end of the day and not have three things to reflect on that did that made me happy. Am I alone in this?

If I can’t think of three things I did to make myself happy, are there things I did to make anyone else happy? It is so easy to walk through our life on autopilot. Being mindful of the steps we are taking is part of the journey.

I need to do some soul searching to see what levels my love tanks are at. If spirituality plays a bigger part in our life than we want to believe, we may be trying to fill a love tank we won’t acknowledge with other things. As I look online it seems even atheists grapple with spirituality. The Little Book of Atheist Spirituality by Andre Compte-Sponville is one of many. Many books have been written on the subject. One of the classics is Dr. Norman Vincent Peale’s The Power of Positive Thinking.

This is our life, whatever we want to do with we best get doing. A life of no regrets has been my motto for a long time. If it’s just a motto, it isn’t worth much.

By wanting more but appreciating everything they had, many have unlimited success in life. John Gray

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Miracles and reason. Questions and faith.

Miracles painted by Belynda Wilson Thomas

Miracles do not, in fact, break the laws of nature. C.S. Lewis

My cousin posted on Facebook his mother’s miraculous recovery from cancer 41 years ago. I remember hearing about it when it happened. My dad and his three brothers flew down to Los Angeles to see her; she was on her deathbed.

She lived another thirty years. She went with her son on his families missionary trips to China. I never had the chance to meet her as an adult. I would love to have heard her version.

Another of my cousin’s husbands commented on facebook he’s told the story often and wonders what an atheist would make of it. I wondered that too.

They say you can’t “unsee” some things. They mostly refer to things you don’t want to see or wish you’d never see but a miracle falls into that category for me.

Spontaneous remission of cancer happens, conservative estimates say in fewer than 25 cancer patients per year. A man at Toastmasters spoke of his mother getting ten more years. Instead of dying when he was fifteen she died when he was twenty-five.

Even after a misdiagnosis and other reasons are weeded out, people whose cancers regress or disappear without treatment or after treatment can do no more for them are documented throughout history.

How are we helped, comforted, or encouraged by saying there is nothing inside or outside this world that can help us? It may be only the label that many people who call themselves atheists disagree with.

Who of us does not need assurance in times of uncertainty and testing? Who is so self-confident there is never the desire for a stabilizing influence in our life? Who when they need to act with courage and decisiveness couldn’t use some faith they’ll have the strength, fortitude, and courage to carry out what must be done?

There is a rise in “atheist churches” which cater to people who have lost faith in supernatural deities but still crave community, enjoy singing with others, and want to think deeply about morality. It’s religion minus the God stuff.

We need to understand who people are and what they believe, not decide for ourselves who they are and what they believe. My atheist friend has never articulated exactly what he believes or doesn’t believe. I can’t articulate exactly what I believe. If we respectfully ask questions of each other and listen for the answers we create communication. Perhaps we can get away from taking sides and begin to understand the nuances in the middle.

If someone sees a miracle and explains it in a religious sense or sees it as something scientific we don’t understand yet. Do we have to choose between faith and reason?

Augustine wrote “Is not the universe itself a miracle, yet visible and of God’s making? Nay, all the miracles done in this world are less than the world itself, the heaven and earth and all therein; yet God made them all, and after a manner that man cannot conceive or comprehend.”

He who asks a question is a fool for a minute; he who does not remains a fool forever. Chinese Proberb

For some people a supreme being explains everything, for others, it explains nothing. If the universe couldn’t happen spontaneously because it needed God to create it. Then didn’t God need to be created? We go on forever. If one thing can’t just exist, how can the creator just exist? Some may say “who are you to question God”. Who indeed, pursuing understanding is in no way a waste. Our questions lead us only to more questions. When faith still stands after the questions is the kind of faith many of us want. We don’t trust dogmatism.

We have different religions because we can’t agree on what was being preached, expected, explained.  If we ask questions honestly and get answers. Who are we to be sure the answers someone else gets are wrong?

If we see a miracle and interpret it differently, seeing it is the commonality. Finding the commonality between us no matter what label we put on our self is the way forward. If we have a true belief, questions from someone else will not diminish it. Ask more questions, seek more truth, embrace each other.

Teaching is 10% asking kids questions. It’s 90% inspiring kids to ask questions that you can’t even answer. Unknown

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SoulPancake: Chew on Life’s Big Questions Paperback – Oct 26 2010

Food and medicine. We are what we eat.

We Are What We Eat - Stock photo of fruit and vegetables.

One cannot think well, love well, sleep well, if one has not dined well. Virginia Woolf

Too much festivities. Too little sleep, too much fat, too much sugar. We overindulge at our peril.

A study in the European Journal of Clinical Nutrition tells us we consume more calories when we are tired and weary. Obesity and type 2 diabetes is linked to a lack a sleep. In a study, the sleep deprived consumed an average of 385 extra calories per day.

If we want to be happier we have to make some hard choices. There are things I shouldn’t eat. I’ve eaten them and now I’m suffering the consequences.  Cheesecake seems to be a problem. I got away with the first piece, but not the second. I enjoyed it, but not as much as I’m regretting it now. Ginger is helping.

Dairy and I don’t get along anymore, maybe we never did. I’ve been indulging grilled cheese sandwich, cream sauce crepe, mousse birthday cake, cheesecake. It takes less and less to overindulge these days.

Eat food. Not too much. Mostly plants. Michael Pollan

It is worth it to figure out what bothers us and stay away from it. A life without pain, stiffness, and other undesirable consequences makes it easier to be happy. If we can be at ease in our body because we are comfortable because the food we eat and the activities we do agree with us it is easier to be happy and active.

One of the problems I find with eating foods that don’t agree with me is I want more of them. The more I eat them the more I want them even though I know they aren’t good for me. This is I think how food can be addictive.

We need to take control of all parts of our life. When I indulge too much in the foods I need to stay away from I pay a price. I didn’t need to be paying this price I could have just said no.

Let food by thy medicine and medicine be thy food. Hippocrates


Be easy to love. Attitude is a choice.

Attitude Is A Choice - Photo of sweet pea by Belynda Wilson Thomas

Be easy to love, hard to break and impossible to forget. JM Storm

Are we easy to love, easy to help, easy to compliment? Or is it like petting a porcupine trying to get close to us?

A very attractive person who radiates negativity, sadness, misery, resistance, antagonism may initially attract people because of their outer beauty. We are attracted to their surface, as soon as we get to know them better we don’t want to be around them.

We may not be as attracted to less attractive people at first, but if they are open and radiate happiness, acceptance, positivity we get drawn to their inner radiance. As we age we will naturally lose that outer beauty we may have had, if we’ve cultivated a happy, optimistic, accepting, helpful, loving attitude people will be drawn to us at any age.

I had a Mary Kay consultant say to me once. “At sixty we have the face we deserve”. She was meaning how well we’ve taken care of our skin. It goes much deeper than that. How well have we taken care of our attitude? Have we let the slings and arrows of life defeat our spirit? Do we still see the glass as half full? Do we still see the best in people? Are we still easy to love, easy to get to know, easy to befriend, easy to ask out for coffee or lunch? Do people feel good being around us or are we energy vampires?

My dad had a friend he said you could never do anything for. My dad didn’t mean this as a compliment. His friend always had to turn it around so he’d paid you back for your help. You couldn’t just help. You couldn’t be the giver. He could give, but couldn’t receive.

We have to be able to give and be able to receive. My husband and I ran into this problem years ago. We went out for dinner with someone who ran up and paid the bill unbeknownst to us. It was okay the first time. Soon it got so we didn’t feel comfortable asking them out for dinner. It was like we were asking them to buy us dinner. We have to make things comfortable.

We don’t have to be heavy on the negative side to not be accepting of compliments, gifts, or time. It’s not a good response if someone tells you they love what you’re wearing and you say, “oh, this old thing.” You aren’t accepting their compliment you are also making them feel they don’t have good taste.

Some people don’t give a compliment they give you an offhand insult. I got one once from a girl years ago, “oh, is that still in.” It was an outfit I had recently purchased which I never wore again. She was not easy to love.

An adult or child who is upset often needs to be empowered by being reminded that he controls his own thoughts, feelings and choices. Becky A, Bailey

Love Doctor Yangki Akiteng tells us the key to being easy to love is to let love flow through us. Stress, anger, negativity, selfishness, self-absorption, neediness, distrust, controlling habits etc. make it hard for love to flow through us. When love is blocked others feel it as selfishness, controlling, negativity, pushy, manipulative, angry, complaining, neediness, and antagonistic behavior, and they react by distancing themselves from us.

Even if we are generally in the easy to love category we have to watch our stress, attitude, controlling behavior, busyness, anger, etc. Some days I am much more approachable than others, not only by my husband but also my kids and probably the world.

We can have our happy, open face on, or our closed, don’t talk to me face on. We may even have a good reason why we are angry and unhappy, but pushing everyone away is not going to make us less angry or happier. If we do it for too long, no one bothers anymore.

When we see anger, hostility, and defensiveness written on people’s faces we don’t know why it is there. We don’t know what they went through. When we see openness, joy, and acceptance on other people’s faces it doesn’t mean they haven’t gone through tough stuff. We can’t choose what life throws at us, only how we react.

If we can remain open, loving, accepting, humble, kind and grateful it seems like the better choice. We may not even realize why we gravitate to some people and not others. If we would like people to gravitate towards us we need to be easy to love, good listeners, easy to compliment, easy to be around and make others feel good when they spend time with us. The choice is ours, do we want to attract or repel people.

It’s not always easy to let yourself be happy, it can be the hardest thing in the world to do, but you need to allow yourself to let go of the pain and what you cannot change and open up your heart again. Let the clouds lift and allow yourself to be loved. Karen Kostyla

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Attitude is a Choice Paperback – Nov 23 2017

Toastmasters. Entering speaking contests, getting proficient.

Too All the Pets I've Loved - photo of Lulu by Belynda Wilson Thomas

If you can’t communicate and talk to other people and get across your ideas, you’re giving up your potential. Warren Buffet

Last night was the International Speech Contest at my Toastmasters club. Seven of us entered the speech contest. My husband came to hear me speak for the first time. When I wrote the speech To All the Pets I’ve Loved I got emotional. By practicing it I thought I had everything under control.

The speeches were varied; living through The Arab Spring in Egypt, a daughter’s challenge with autism, the journey through defeat and failure, lessons learned from dance class, the importance of imagination, and dealing with grief after being widowed. My husband whispered to me the topics are all so heavy.

All these heavy topics and I was the one who almost couldn’t get through my speech because I was too emotional. I knew this speech was going to be a challenge for me to get through. When I wrote it, I had tears running down my face. What I thought is if I practiced it enough, I would have my emotions under control.

When I gave the speech at my daughter’s wedding I expected to cry but didn’t. I actually would have liked to be more emotional, it was expected, it seems normal for the mother of the bride to cry. I didn’t give the speech I’d prepared. Looking back I wish I’d written the emotional speech about what a wonderful daughter she is, how watching her grow up and take her place in the world has been one of my greatest joys. A missed opportunity to communicate fully on the momentous occasion it was.

There are always three speeches, for every one you actually gave. The one you practiced, the one you gave, and the one you wish you gave. Dale Carnegie

Emotion is important in public speaking, without emotion there is no memory. The great speeches combine a deep understanding of the situation with a real passion for the subject. Speakers giving vent to strong emotion can be electrifying and change the world. Think of Martin Luther King’s speech I have a dream, and President Obama’s speech about the school shooting in Connecticut.

Too much emotion can be a double-edged sword where we can be seen as a weak blubbering mess. It’s hard to find the right balance, enough emotion so we don’t seem cold and emotionless, and not so much that people wonder how we get through life.

Passion in our speaking is like spice in our cooking. Not enough, or too much, we need to find the balance.

Why do we enter speech contests? We enter to encourage other speakers to enter and create a fun event. It is another opportunity to speak and improve. To challenge our self, and get out of our comfort zone.

Speakers who talk about what life has taught them never fail to keep the attention of their listeners. Dale Carnegie

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Talking is therapy. Sharing is caring. The power of groups.

The Power of Groups painting by Belynda Wilson Thomas

Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed, citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has. Margaret Mead

Your mind is a garden, you can plant flowers or you can grow weeds. An attitude of gratitude will grow us flowers; wallowing in self-pity and complaining will grow weeds.

This was the thought of the day at Toastmasters last night. The speeches were thought-provoking as usual. We learned about Gold in Art and the paintings of Gustav Klimt. Turning away and turning towards our partner was the second speech, she didn’t use the terminology but the speech was an honest, open talk about how we are affected when we feel our partner turning away and how confronting them with the truth of how we feel can bring back the closeness and lead to the loving marriage we all dream of. The third speech was about the fun of getting together at the activities put on by the Fun Committee at Toastmasters.

I love it when what is going on in my head is exemplified in a speech. It happens often. It’s one of the reasons I love Toastmasters. Other people’s speeches resonate with our life. The thought of the day, toasts, joke, etc. each role gives us something to think about and reflect on. When we aren’t part of a group we can think that would be the biggest waste of two hours a week. Toastmasters is a support group we join because we want to become a better communicator. We become better communicators and better people as well.

My husband was playing a YouTube video the other day. The speaker was telling us she had a low sex drive and when she started looking into why she found she couldn’t get an appointment with a sex therapist because they weren’t taking new clients. She talked to a friend then a group of women decided to meet and talk. They met in the park wearing yoga pants because they didn’t feel they could tell their husbands the reason for the meeting was to discuss sex or the lack of it in their marriages.

As they met over time they found their sex lives were improving. They set a rule of no advice, only sharing experiences. We can feel lonely and inadequate, not realizing others are going through the exact same thing. When we compare experiences and realize we aren’t broken, we are normal we can relax and build a better relationship. Knowing others are going through the same things is freeing. We shouldn’t think everyone has a better relationship than us, but we often do.

Form a small group. Five or six people, of people who think the way you do and are willing to meet regularly every week, and you will be surprised at what imaginative, gutsy thought and action comes out of that synergy. Takes a while, but there’s something that every little group like that can do. Ray McGovern

There is a blog called Down To There by Pam Costa about creating a circle of women friends to talk about sex. Pam believes the ideal number is between four and eight members. Small enough to be intimate and big enough to be diverse. Reclaiming Female Sexual Desire is a Ted talk she gives on YouTube.

How to start a circle: Find four to eight friends and say “hey – I know talking about sex is taboo, but I’d like to do it anyway. Want to join me?

I have a circle; it’s called a book club. This subject has been skirted about but never delved into. In our book pick Erotic Stories for Punjabi Widows we will be delving into some of the issues as we discuss the book.

The four recommendations she gives for making the circle work is:

Sharing and feeling – encourage members to share their own stories and feelings.

100% confidential.

Timed sharing so no one person dominates the conversation.

0% judgment and advice. We need to listen without judgment and digest other people’s stories and use what is useful in our own lives. Sharing our experiences without judgment or advice is healing.

Why do we have a taboo on certain subjects when these subjects are so central in our lives? If we can be open and honest about what is going on in our lives, we can change things. Pretending everything is okay and believing nothing can change is part of the problem.

Transformation happens in small groups. Each person can speak and all listen. Gloria Steinem

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Group Genius: The Creative Power of Collaboration

Mar 4 2008

by Keith Sawyer


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