Duplessis Orphans a story everyone should know. Money was the root of this evil.

Money was the root of this evil. Duplessis Orphans a story everyone should know.

Painting by Belynda Wilson Thomas

God see’s all, so we don’t have to be the ones to judge. Sister Augustine

I finished reading the book club pick early this month. What a choice, “The Home for Unwanted Girls” by Joanna Goodman. This is a story about a little known dark part of Canadian history. In 1955 when it was more profitable to look after children with mental challenges, orphanages had a “Change of Vocation” and became mental institutions.

Truth is stranger than fiction and fiction is the lie that tells a truth. I have found out disturbing truths about what has gone on in the world through fiction that I didn’t glean out of history books, newspapers, and magazine articles.

I found a magazine article by Conrad Black written for The National Post on June 30, 2016, about this dark period. “The chief characteristic of this era has been the same personnel teaching the same curriculum and caring for the hospitalized in the same edifices at 10 and then 20 times the cost to the taxpayers.”

Forgiveness is not easy. By design, it’s not meant to be easy. If it were, it would have little meaning. Yet, it’s one of the greatest gifts in this world that we can give to one another, and ourselves. Sister Augustine

Everything he says in that excerpt is true from what I can ascertain, but just like fiction is the lie that tells a truth, sometimes it seems we can use the truth to tell a lie. It isn’t even a lie of omission. It minimizes it to only a financial misdemeanor. This is how history is whitewashed so we don’t know what, “The same personnel teaching the same curriculum and caring for the hospitalized” means. It is such an innocuous sentence that doesn’t tell the story at all how children cared for as orphans on March 17, 1955, were cared for as idiots, mentally deficient, and retarded children on March 18, 1955. Mental patients were moved into what were formally orphanages, and orphans were moved into mental institutions. The biggest thing it doesn’t say is that they didn’t teach orphans and look after mental patients in the same facility. Everyone was now a mental patient.

How many innocuous sentences do we read in history books that don’t tell the whole story? To be fair it is not possible to tell the whole story, every person’s side of the story, and have everyone happy with what was said. This story however from what I can glean is so horrific it was easier to believe they were just taking extra money to care for orphans, but the orphans were still cared for, educated, and given the best life afforded by the circumstances, and the reason for it was because the Federal Government paid more for the care of mentally challenged children in asylums than orphans in orphanages.

The horror comes when we realize they deliberately misdiagnosed normal children as profoundly mentally deficient to do this.

If we were put in a mental facility and our medical diagnosis said we needed to be there, how could we prove we didn’t?

Man’s inhumanity to man is not the last word. The truth lies deeper. It is economic slavery, the savage struggle for a crumb, that has converted mankind into wolves and sheep. Alexander Berkman

Man’s inhumanity to man makes countless thousands mourn? Robert Burns

Only two things are infinite, the universe and human stupidity, and I’m not sure about the former. Albert Einstein

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The Home for Unwanted Girls: The heart-wrenching, gripping story of a mother-daughter bond that could not be broken – inspired by true events Paperback – April 17 2018

by Joanna Goodman (Author)4.7 out of 5 stars 714 ratings

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Secrets and Silence: What if your biggest secret became public? Paperback – Large Print, Aug. 29 2020

by Belynda Wilson Thomas (Author)5.0 out of 5 stars 2 ratings

Books change us. They change us when we read them and they change us when we write them.

They change us when we read them and they change us when we write them. Books help us grow.

Painting by Belynda Wilson Thomas

Outside of a dog, a book is a man’s best friend. Inside of a dog, it’s too dark to read. Groucho Marx

Yesterday when I got in from lunch I listened to my messages and there was one from Mom saying she got my book. When I called her she said, “You forgot to sign it.” I thought about that but I had to have it delivered to me and then ship it to her so opted instead to ship directly to her. We cannot get the author’s copies right now in Canada. Normally we would buy the author’s copies, sign them, and then send them to people. Any copies we buy right now in Canada are full price from Amazon but with Amazon prime, it’s a good deal and we can have them shipped directly to who we want to receive them.

I am very grateful to be able to publish on Amazon. I am holding my book in my hand and Mom is holding it in her hand. It has been great getting feedback from Mom, she was my first reader, and as she looks at the book now thinks she wouldn’t recognize it.  Part of that is because I had five or so scenes per chapter but a famous author, James Patterson, uses very short chapters and I decided to try it myself. I like the result. My oldest brother read an early version and I can’t wait for feedback when he reads this one.

I’ve spent the last couple of days reading “Of Human Bondage” by W. Somerset Maugham and it is definitely worth the read. It was supposed to be completed by Tuesday which was our book club meeting held in a member’s back yard. We kept our distance in the fresh night air and had a lovely meeting but only one member completed the book. We discussed it anyway as the themes are universal and we gave ourselves an extra month to get through it. Two of us had watched a video of a review on YouTube and the impact it had on the reviewer’s life.

We’re all in the end-of-our-life book club, whether we acknowledge it or not; each book we read may well be the last, each conversation the final one. Will Schwalbe

One of the big themes is money and the importance it plays in our lives, not being rich but about how poverty crushes the spirit, and being a poor artist is not likely to seem worth it in the end. In the book, a nurse mentions that suicide is more often because of the reversal of fortune than anything else.

I laughed with Mom as I told her a bit about “Of Human Bondage” and how I am happy to be publishing my book now. I can write and if it makes money great, but if it doesn’t oh well, it’s not the end of the world. We’ve built a life, we’ve raised our kids and we will be okay if writing is a pastime and hobby instead of a gainful enterprise. It is freeing to know I can write what I want and people can read it or not, instead of trying to write for a market. Most writers probably can’t and shouldn’t give up their day job. Even authors we think are quite well known might not make enough to live off from year to year.

I’m with W. Somerset Maugham on the importance of money in our lives. It was never attractive to me to be a starving artist. This book stands the test of time and seems just as relevant now. This is the testament to a great book. He addresses themes that are part of the human condition for all time. It seems he wrote about his struggle to understand the meaning of life, how to make a living and building a life, love, relationships, passion and purpose, God, and living a moral life.

In the video “Of Human Bondage”, Larry Elder tells us that W. Somerset Maugham said he wasn’t that creative because he took from real life more than his imagination. He said we should never make little of our achievements because this was later used against him in reviews.

Today I hope to be able to go on Good reads and mark this book as read. Soon I will get an email telling me what our next book club pick is. Each book is a new experience and meeting with the Bookclub to discuss it is the icing on the cake.

If you’ve ever wondered if you should join a book club, I highly recommend it. Over the last twenty years of being in this book club it has added to my life in ways I can’t even count. We have discussed the importance of the book club in our lives. We all agree we get something from the book club we get nowhere else.

Are you ready to join a book club or start your own with a few people?

Reading is essential for those who seek to rise above the ordinary. Jim Rohn

In the case of good books, the point is not to see how many of them you can get through, but rather how many can get through to you. Mortimer J. Adler

Of course, anyone who truly loves books buys more of them than he or she can hope to read in one fleeting lifetime. A good book, resting unopened in its slot on a shelf, full of majestic potentiality, is the most comforting sort of intellectual wallpaper. David Quammen

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Of Human Bondage Paperback – March 2 1999

by W. Somerset Maugham (Author), Gore Vidal (Introduction)4.3 out of 5 stars 539 ratings


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Secrets and Silence: What if your biggest secret became public? Paperback – Large Print, Aug. 29 2020

by Belynda Wilson Thomas (Author)


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A good evaluation (comment) tells us what was done right, what can be improved upon, and what they loved.

A good comment (evaluation) tells us what was done right, what can be improved upon, and what they loved.

Painting by Belynda Wilson Thomas

Criticism is something we can avoid easily by saying nothing, doing nothing, and being nothing. Aristotle

Goodreads which is now owned by Amazon was started by a couple who are now husband and wife, Otis Chandler and Elizabeth Khuri. It was launched in January 2007. It was founded as a way to see what is on other reader’s bookshelves.

I’ve been a member of Goodreads as a reader and now as an author. Some people aren’t happy with the rating system. I read a comment the other day a Goodreads member was complaining too many books have five stars.

I might be one of the guilty people. A five-star rating to me isn’t the best book I’ve ever read. If a book holds my attention and I finish it, spoke to me in some way, I remember it as a book worth reading, and I would recommend it, that’s a five-star book. The woman complaining was saying she thinks three stars is a really great book and reserves five stars for rare gems.

This is one of the things that happen in rating systems. We might consistently rate books but each reader has a different rating system. Some may focus on technique, others on story, pacing, imagery, emotion, or world-building.

We are in a very judgmental time and this is moving into every area of our lives. If someone reads my book, thank you very much. If they comment, thank you even more. I will try very hard not to take the comments personally. Good, on the nose criticism may help us improve way more than flowery praise even when it is hard to hear.

I’ve thought of putting a contest together to see who finds the most errors in my book. Then I can fix them. We don’t improve without seeing what is wrong and fixing it. When other people try to point us in the right direction we need to humbly realize we are not perfect and adjust accordingly.

One of the reasons many of us hesitate to put our work out into the world is because of the criticism we may get. We can’t help anyone through their struggle if we don’t share our own. One of the strengths of Toastmasters is our speeches are evaluated publicly. We are told what we did right and what we could improve upon. Everyone struggles with evaluations, giving and receiving them, but they help us improve and different evaluators give us different perspectives.

You can’t let praise or criticism get to you. It’s a weakness to get caught up in either one. John Wooden

I have never experienced it myself but I have heard that some Toastmasters did not come back after an evaluation. Was it particularly brutal or were they particularly sensitive?

One of the things I would love to do is attend book club sessions with members who have read my book. My book club did this with a local author, we loved it, and I believe so did she. Now over zoom, we don’t have to only have these sessions with local authors.

Writing and living is a growth opportunity. We learn by doing and getting feedback about what we’ve done. More is gained when an evaluator tells us we need more eye contact, effective gestures, use our voice to emphasize points, and write a better-organized speech than if they say that was lovely I don’t have any points you can improve on. We can all improve. As an evaluator, it can be hard to come up with something, but when we come up with what the speaker can work on, often the next speech is better.

If you read my novel please post a comment and tell me what was done right, what can be improved upon, and what you loved the most. I will try and make the next one better. Isn’t this what we all want, to see progress in our lives by doing something, and when we do it again, we do it better?

Remember: when people tell you something’s wrong or doesn’t work for them, they are almost always right. When they tell you exactly what they think is wrong and how to fix it, they are almost always wrong. Neil Gaiman

The trouble with most of us is that we’d rather be ruined by praise than saved by criticism. Norman Vincent Peale

The artist doesn’t have time to listen to the critics. The ones who want to be writers read the reviews, the ones who want to write don’t have the time to read the reviews. William Faulkner

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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Secrets and Silence: What if your biggest secret became public? by [Belynda Wilson Thomas]

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Secrets and Silence: What if your biggest secret became public? Kindle Edition

by Belynda Wilson Thomas (Author)  Format: Kindle Edition


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Writing and the truth. Fiction is the lie that tells a truth.

Fiction is a lie that tells a truth. Writing and the truth.

Painting by Belynda Wilson Thomas

Good writing is about telling the truth. Anne Lamott

I borrowed my book club pick from the library – an eBook, “Of Human Bondage” by W. Somerset Maugham. When I went to continue reading it, it was gone and I need to wait four weeks to get it back. This is one of the perils of borrowing eBooks from the library. On Tuesday I will show up for our book club meeting without the book being read and it is my pick.

It is hard to fit everything into our lives and reading a book club pick is one of them. I’m frantically combing my novel for errors and finding ones I can’t believe I’ve missed or did I create them when I was trying to have the chapters not have less than four lines on the last page of the chapter.

I picked up a book at Indigo the other day. “A Book About Love” by Jonah Lehrer he has an author’s note where he confesses a book he wrote in 2012 was pulled from the shelves because he included fabricated quotes by Bob Dylan and he relied on secondary sources that were not cited.

When there is so much information out there and quotes are attributed to people who did not say them it is very hard to know who said something. I know I find quotes that are attributed to different people and I have thought no one realized they weren’t original. As time goes on it will get harder and harder to know who said what, and when. These sound like easy mistakes to make. I love the book I picked up and I am happy that he didn’t curl up in a ball and never put his writing out into the world again.

All writing, all art, is an act of faith. Truman Capote

Writers for the most part are not putting out original ideas into the world. We are amalgamating ideas into something. When we listen to preachers preach they are not presenting new ideas, they find fresh and interesting ways to present old ideas and to show us how those old ideas impact our lives. There is nothing new under the sun. We often aren’t looking for new ideas when we read books. What are we looking for?

I think we want to look at things in new ways and to see old things from a new angle. We want to be entertained, we want to laugh, be touched, and a tear or two is welcome as well. We want to learn things we didn’t know, be reminded of things we’ve forgotten, and think of things we haven’t thought about for a long time. We want to see the truth of life. We want to be helped to make sense of the world, we want to be challenged to be better people, and become more than we are.

All the truth in the world is held in stories. Patrick Rothfuss

There are times when I myself no longer know whether I said and did the things I report or whether I dreamed them up. Anyway, I always dream true. If I lie a bit now and then it is mainly in the interest of truth. Henry Miller

Truth is often better seized and louder in the silence of the written word. Ina Catrinescu

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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Secrets and Silence: What if your biggest secret became public? by [Belynda Wilson Thomas]

Secrets and Silence: What if your biggest secret became public? Kindle Edition

by Belynda Wilson Thomas (Author)  Format: Kindle Edition

Secrets and Silence is now a book. The end of one journey is the beginning of a new one.

The end of one journey is the beginning of a new one. Secrets and Silence is now a book.

Cover of Secrets and Silence by Belynda Wilson Thomas

When you say yes, the universe helps you. Dan Brule

Last night I committed to publishing my eBook Secrets and Silence on Amazon September 5, 2020. It isn’t a small commitment if I don’t follow through I’ll be banned for one year from pre-releasing on Amazon. Secrets and Silence should be listed on Amazon as a pre-release in the next few days. It seemed like it would never get to this point but here we are.

At some point, we have to call something finished. When I took two words out of a sentence and on the next pass added them back in I thought it must be pretty close to finished. The weekend was spent reformatting for Kindle Publishing and when I uploaded it, voila, it was like I knew what I was doing. Then I uploaded my cover and it worked as well.

It was very intimidating thinking I could format myself, but we don’t know what we can do unless we try. There are people out there we can hire but I thought at least try and see what happens. As they say, nothing ventured, nothing gained.

The print book cover is a little trickier but my son says he can fix my issues in Illustrator. My goal is to have both the eBook and print book of Secrets and Silence available on Amazon by September 5, 2020.

I’m not sure how long it will take for my eBook to show up for sale now that I pressed pre-publish last night. Sometime this week, I expect I will be able to go to Amazon and find my eBook, Secrets and Silence with a release date of September 5, 2020, ready for pre-ordering.

On September 1, 2020, the final version has to be uploaded to Amazon. I kick myself for taking so long to get to the finish line. The next book shouldn’t take this long. I won’t have as much to learn. I’m learning to set goals and getting okay with putting my work out there.

This is the biggest hurdle for some of us. We are so afraid of failure, of looking bad, of falling short, that we don’t fulfill our dreams. It would be really nice if someone reads my book and likes it. It would be great if this becomes an income stream for me. Even if none of that happens it is a goal reached, a milestone in my life.

Great things never come from comfort zones. Unknown

Last night I was thinking there was a time when I was not married. There was a time when I did not have children. There was a time when my husband and I worked for someone else instead of for ourselves. There was a time when I didn’t have a blog. There was a time when I only dreamed of writing but didn’t do it. I couldn’t even tell anyone I wanted to write because if I wanted to write and wasn’t writing that must mean I didn’t really want to write.

One of the things I’ve noticed in my writing group is people from all walks of life are becoming writers when the hard slogging of life is over. They are not starving artists. They raised their family, they held full-time jobs and now like me have more time for artistic pursuits and they are pursuing them.

Many things in life are not only for the young. Even if we think we should have done something else instead of what we did. Often we can find ways to bring this into our lives. We can join a band; my aunt took up figure skating in her older years. My oldest sister ran her first marathon in France a few years ago. There are websites of older women traveling the world – some of them are divorced or widowed and they always wanted to travel and so they are.

It isn’t that many years ago we had to wait for someone to agree to publish our book or pay to publish our own and have boxes and boxes of books in our basement. We can now take control and publish with Amazon where we are given an Author’s platform which we must figure out what to do with. They say most books don’t sell more than five hundred copies but we can publish and hold our book in our hand. We can purchase copies and sell them our self if we want. Vanity publishing has always been available but Indie authors are embracing it and making it work for them. Some Indie authors will move into traditional publishing.

For many writers, one book is not the secret, but one book will get a certain amount of sales, two books will get a few more sales, and each year if we build on our platform we will have a catalog of books and cultivate a niche audience. A book club, writing group, or library may ask us to speak about writing or an organization might even offer to pay us to speak.

Who knows where it will go but it all started by deciding we would write. We would sit down each day, week, or month and write. We put it out into the world. As each opportunity presents itself we say yes. Where it leads nobody knows? Are we saying yes to the opportunities in life?

The future belongs to those who believe in the beauty of their dreams. Eleanor Roosevelt

Doing work you love is the dizzying path of saying yes to yourself and yes to a brilliant, hidden self you do not yet know. Tama J. Kieves

The pessimist sees difficulty in every opportunity. The optimist sees the opportunity in every difficulty. Winston Churchill

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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by Dr. Andy Williams (Author)4.2 out of 5 stars 37 ratings


Books change us. They change us when we read them and they change us when we write them.

Books change us. They change us when we write them and they change us when we read them.

Painting by Belynda Wilson Thomas

Books don’t change the world, people change the world, books only change people. Mario Quintana

How many blog posts do people want to read is a question I’ve asked myself? Finding a balance between blogging, editing, work, family, and Toastmasters is a fine balance I haven’t quite mastered.

This blog takes up time and so does editing. Sometimes we have to make choices because putting our energy into one thing takes energy from something else. When I started this blog I put a lot of time and energy into it. I’ve been busily editing and that takes time away from the blog.

When I look at the people who really accomplish a lot in their lives I wonder how they do it. Are they really able to keep all their balls in the air or at some point do they crash and burn?

If I am ever to get my novel published it will take time to edit and make as good as I am capable of making it. Time only gets to be spent once and it is the morning hours that work best for me for writing. By the end of the day, there isn’t much left to put into writing.

My goal is to find balance, but balance is a very elusive thing. Sitting down to write a blog post every morning is easier than trying to write one sporadically. When I got up every morning and wrote a post they flowed quite easily. Today I struggle to put words together.

Writing is so many things and one of the most important things we can do if we write is to try and see things from someone else’s point of view. So much of our lives would be better if we found a way to walk in someone else’s shoes.

My husband, daughter and I were sitting outside the other night. My daughter asked if I would write a memoir. I told her probably not because in fiction I can tell the truth that would offend people in a memoir. We can take fifteen people’s lives and distill it all into one more interesting life. We can try and understand people’s motives and thoughts in fiction we can never do in real life.

We might not get it right but we can try and think how we would feel in situations, what would make us do things out of character, how our life could become derailed, and how we might react to the unthinkable.

Books can truly change our lives: the lives of those who read them, the lives of those who write them. Readers and writers alike discover things they never knew about the world and about themselves. Lloyd Alexander

Works of fiction have changed the thinking of readers by letting them see into the lives of people they can never know, situations they will never experience, and injustices they may overlook.

In fiction, we can see the truth of life in a way that a biography or memoir can’t show. Don’t we all ask, “What were they thinking?” In a novel the author tells us what they were thinking, we understand what motivated them, we see complex characters making the best and worst decisions, and the same character may be both heroic and villainous.

When we listen to the news we think that bad people only do bad things, and good people should only do good things but no one is all good or all bad. In our minds we tend to think if they’ve done one bad thing then they must be a horrible person.

Good writers create characters we know better than our own family. Now is a time we should try to figure out how situations escalate and get out of hand. How things we thought would make things better make things worse. How the civilization we have built up although not perfect is better than it was. We can explore through books what makes a good society and what destroys one.

There are stories to tell and some of the people who want us to understand their point of view should put it in a novel so we can understand from the character’s point of view the challenges and triumphs in life.

Think of the books that have impacted our lives. Maybe what we really need is more writers and more readers to understand each other better. It is even better when we have a group to discuss the book with.

They say there is a book in all of us. What if one of the big contributions we can make is to put our thoughts out into the world?  Can we do it in a way that can be understood? Creating characters will make us look at all sides of issues because no matter how much we don’t understand what makes someone else tick, why they made that decision, or took that action, in their own mind at least for that moment it all made sense.

I don’t think books can change the world, but when the world begins to change, it searches for different books. Shlomo Sand

Books can be dangerous. The best ones should be labeled “This could change your life.” Helen Exley

Maybe this is why we read, and why in moments of darkness we return to books: to find words for what we already know. Alberto Manguel

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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The joy of reading books. What are you reading?

What are you reading? The joy of reading books.

Painting by Belynda Wilson Thomas

The more you read the more things you will know. The more that you learn, the more places you will go. Dr. Seuss Giesel

Reading books is one of life’s joys. Now more people have time to read than ever. Are we reading deep books, are we reading quick reads for enjoyment, or are we reading books that help us think and develop ourselves? Are we reading books on prophecy? Books on health, wellness, herbal, and folk remedies?  Do books with lots of action and adventure pique our interest now as we have none in our days? Are we reading about the wonders of the world we long to see? Are we reading about past pandemics to see how they managed?

If we have a library in our own homes we are lucky. Often, even when we do the book we want is not on our shelves. Through kindle and audible we can download books. Listening to a book while we garden is a great way to accomplish two things at once and we get vitamin D at the same time.

The more time we have to do things don’t always work for us. They say if you want something done give it to a busy person. Many of us are not busy in the ways we were before. We aimlessly sit in the kitchen, we may even have good intentions of doing something but we get pulled into articles on the internet, Facebook, TV, or videos. Before we know it, its four o’clock and we ask ourselves, “Where did the day go?”

It might be time to start a to-do list and tick things off as a sense of accomplishment. Keeping track of the books we read is a way to have a sense of accomplishment. Are there books we say we’ve always wanted to read? Is now a good time to put them on the list and then tick them off as read? Would it be a sense of accomplishment to be able to finally say, “I read…?”

Do we worry about what other people would think if they saw our reading list? Why do we do this? There are hidden gems in books. Shouldn’t we read wide and deep, for fun and pleasure as well as knowledge and inspiration?

We learn from those we would like to emulate but also from those we would never like to end up as. Cautionary tales can be as worthwhile as inspirational ones. We’ve never had so much access to knowledge. We’ve also never needed discernment more to sift through all that is out there.

If we encounter a man of rare intellect, we should ask him what books he reads. Ralph Waldo Emerson

We will be changed through the books we read, the thoughts we think, and the actions we take. These are all in our power to choose.

Reading is an active, not a passive pastime. We become changed by reading and some of the changes are:

We develop increased levels of concentration.

We increase our vocabulary and we learn about new things.

We become better writers because we have a better vocabulary and ability to put our thoughts into words.

We become better speakers and conversationalists because we have things to say that are interesting and well thought out.

We have access to solutions in books we would never come up with on our own.

Our imagination is enhanced through reading. Our ingenuity and creativity are enhanced as we don’t only create new things so much as give birth to them.

We learn new things and travel to new places in books. We see perspectives as we are immersed in lives we will never live, and see things through characters’ eyes that can seem more real than people we know.

In a blog post by Samuel Osho, he says the book that changed his life is the book his Dad gave him shortly after he graduated high school. That book is You Can Make a Difference by Tony Campolo.

Is there a book we have read that changed our life? I can’t think of a book that changed my life but many have impacted it. Jordan Peterson’s book 12 Rules for Life has been that book for many and it was introduced to me by my son who it had a big impact on.

Is there a book you would recommend to people that had a huge impact on you? If there is any subject we want to learn about we can find it in a book. What are you reading and what do you expect to get from it? Does reading a book bring joy to your life?

There is more treasure in books than in all the pirate’s loot on treasure island. Walt Disney

No two persons ever read the same book. Edmund Wilson

Reading gives us someplace to go when we have to stay where we are. Mason Cooley

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You Can Make A Difference Hardcover – March 15 2003

by Tony Campolo (Author) 5.0 out of 5 stars 2 ratings



Living a good life, finding meaning and purpose. Reading good books.

Reading good books. Living a good life, finding meaning and purpose.

Painting by Belynda Wilson Thomas

Reading is a basic tool in the living of a good life. Mortimer J. Adler

Another phone call with news we can’t believe. These calls will become more common. He was just fifty-seven, a heart attack, tall and slim. I don’t know him well; he wanted to write a book. Did he get it done?

We don’t know how long we will have in life. Will we be like mom turning ninety-five, or gone too soon? The first thing that comes to my mind when I hear news like this is, will the family be financially okay?

I read a book called Dr. Hudson’s Secret Journal by Lloyd C. Douglas. In it, Dr. Hudson says that the young women whose husbands die do better when they are not quite financially okay. If the woman is required to find some type of work to augment her income she does better than if she doesn’t need to.

By needing to build a life to support herself or her children, she builds a life. Many of us dream of a life of leisure but work is a gift. Work gives us financial sufficiency, opportunity, choice, camaraderie, skills, discipline, and pride in our abilities. Many of us don’t know what to do with ourselves if we don’t work. When we retire we often do unpaid work because we need something to do.

Jordan Peterson tells us one of the things young men especially need to do is pick up a load, carry it, make something of themselves so they have some self-respect, become good at something, so they have something to offer a potential spouse.

And it is a good thing to receive wealth from God and the good health to enjoy it. To enjoy your work and accept your lot in life – this is indeed a gift from God. Ecclesiates 5:19

In The Rational Bible author Dennis Prager tells us he wrote this book for people of every faith and no faith. He believes the Torah (the first five books of the bible) has something to say to everyone, or they have something to say to no one. He says thinking the bible is only for believers is like saying Shakespeare is only for the English, or Beethoven is only for Germans.

The principles to build a better life for ourselves don’t depend on our faith, they depend on our actions. We can use the principles in all religious texts even if we aren’t part of that religion.

Perhaps this is where we have gone wrong in religion. We’ve gotten away from the practical application of the truths contained in the bible and turned it into a religious experience, instead of the practice of living a good life according to good principles.

Goodness and wisdom are important in our lives, and the largest repository of goodness and wisdom is the Torah. It gave birth to the rest of the bible.

We don’t have to belong to the same church, or any church or religion to benefit from the wisdom contained in its texts. Following the principles of a good life, create a good life, regardless of what we believe the foundation of those principles is.

Are we reading enough good books?

The good life consists in deriving happiness by using your signature strengths every day in the main realms of living. The meaningful life adds one more component: using these same strengths to forward knowledge, power or goodness. Martin Seligman

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Doctor Hudson’s Secret Journal Paperback – Jul 3 2018

by Lloyd C. Douglas (Author) 2.8 out of 5 stars 3 ratings


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Reading books and interpreting our dreams. Is someone trying to tell us something?

Is someone trying to tell us something? Reading books and interpreting our dreams.

Painting by Belynda Wilson Thomas

I have had dreams, and I’ve had nightmares. I overcame the nightmares because of my dreams. Jonas Salk

Do our dreams tell us anything? I’ve been having really weird dreams and most of them are about not being ready to do the job I had years ago. Last night my horse was in my dream, we were in a race and we were one of three finalists. We were given two sheets of paper which I crumpled up and put in my pocket. My horse broke a rein but I had a back-up one on the bridal. My dream ended before the final competition. I never read the crumpled paper so I don’t know what it was telling me.

My dreams are about moving forward, worrying about being unprepared, facing the next challenge, resourcefulness, and trusting that life will unfold how it will and I will be able to handle it. At least this is my interpretation.

My cousin just received a copy of my unpublished novel. I sent her a hard copy by mail and she is reading a published novel by a cousin on her Mother’s side. She says she can hardly put it down. This is the debut memoir by author Jesse Thistle called From the Ashes My Story of Being Metis, Homeless and Finding My Way.

I didn’t have time to pick it up last night. It sounds like a good book club pick. We love the books we can discuss at length. This is what book clubs are for, we can look at different sides of a common story and the stories we love the most are ones where people overcome challenges and with perseverance build their lives. When the lives lived also resonate with something in our own lives it makes it all the more powerful.

My mother is reading a memoir about an English bride who came to Canada after World War 1 to see the golden wheat fields. She was planning to go back to England when the dirty thirties hit. She never got back to England. Mom lived through those days on the prairie in Saskatchewan as a child. Mom couldn’t remember the title or author when I spoke to her.

The more that you read, the more things you will know. The more that you learn, the more places you’ll go. Dr. Seuss

Books are a window into the world that no other medium quite achieves. We are immersed in the thoughts of the characters, we know what they know, we see what they see, and we understand what they understand. Movies are removed from that connection as we are only watching from afar.

My cousin and I were laughing about how grateful we are for reading glasses. On the weekend my husband and I ended up in a restaurant and I was fumbling for the reading glasses in my purse only to find they weren’t there. My husband had to read the menu to me. How terrible it would be if reading was over for us because reading glasses didn’t exist.

Reading glasses are a pain and they get in the way, giving a speech with reading glasses is hard. Of course, if we need notes it is impossible to give a speech without them. How many lives would be so much emptier if they didn’t have books to read? My mom spends a lot of time reading.

For people who cannot read or who prefer to listen, we have audiobooks. I’ve listened to an audiobook gardening. It was Jordan Peterson’s 12 Rules for Life and it made going out to the garden a dual win. This year I didn’t listen to a book while I gardened and I didn’t do as much gardening.

We need to ask ourselves have we read a good book lately. If not, why not? The other question is, are our dreams telling us something? Are we working out some of the questions in our lives, in our dreams? What if books and dreams are both trying to teach us something?

Live as if you were to die tomorrow. Learn as if you were to live forever. Mahatma Gandhi

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From the Ashes: My Story of Being Métis, Homeless, and Finding My Way Paperback – Aug 6 2019

by Jesse Thistle (Author) 4.9 out of 5 stars 11 ratings#1 Best Sellerin Education


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In praise of book clubs. Joining a group of like-minded people to discuss ideas. Have you read a good book lately?

Have you read a good book lately? Joining a group of like minded people to discuss ideas. In praise of book clubs.

I do believe something very magical can happen when you read a good book. J.K. Rowling

Last night we had a new member come out to our book club. Our club hasn’t met since February. We need to meet more regularly, but book clubs need to fit into our lives not take over our lives. We all love the book club; not only because of the books, but also the camaraderie, conversation, and closeness we’ve developed. It is a place to be real, and honest. We don’t pretend our families, lives, or anything else is perfect. Everything is up for discussion. We have diverse backgrounds, ages, and viewpoints. This isn’t a book club made up of close friends. We’ve become close by being part of the book club. Most of us didn’t know each other’s spouses or families when we joined.

Books give us a starting point. We ask questions and we reflect on how things in books resonate in our own life. When a book is followed with a discussion it makes it more powerful. We have more to think about. More questions to ask. We even had an author come out to discuss her book one evening. She enjoyed speaking with readers and we enjoyed meeting the author.

Having a reason to meet is a good reason to belong to a book club. It will expand our minds is another good reason. We will read books we wouldn’t otherwise read. We will hear points of view that challenge us. We will ask and answer questions and go deeper than if we read a book on our own with no discussion.

Every book club will be different. Some book clubs may meet over wine and cheese. Some will meet in member’s homes, coffee shops, or over dinner. We may go see the movie of a book they’ve read. Some may be very literary and serious. Some may be casual but connect over the challenges life presents and be there to bolster us when we need it.

Our book club has gone through many changes. We started when some of us had young children; babies have been born along the way. Children have gone onto University and out into the world. Relationships have broken up. Parents have passed on. Pets have passed on. What we haven’t had yet is a wedding of one of our members. That too could become a reality.

A little reading is all the therapy a person needs sometimes. Unknown

We can look through the list of books we’ve read and the members that have come and gone. We have one original member left, I was asked to join when the book club was fairly new. When the book club no longer works for someone they leave and other members are brought in.

Members have moved on for various reasons. For one member we aren’t a literary enough book club. If we don’t get the book read, if we can’t make it to a meeting, and if we don’t discuss the book at all it isn’t a problem. Life is too short to have our book club be another obligation. It should be a pleasure, a supportive group of people who can share opinions, ideas on life or whatever is relevant at the moment.

We have chosen some fabulous books and some duds. Some books we could discuss, again and again, some are never mentioned again. Being part of the book club is one of the great pleasures of my life.

Last night we went to a coffee shop. Our next meeting we will be going to a desert place owned by the aunt of one of our members. In the beginning, minutes were kept and it was much more formal. It morphs and grows as each member comes. There is a limit to the number of people that can meet comfortably in a coffee shop. Too many and it won’t work, too few and everyone is obligated to show up or there is no meeting. We are now a group of seven. Our club is small enough to be able to meet anywhere and large enough that everyone doesn’t need to attend if their life doesn’t allow it.

It is easier to have a set meeting date like the third Wednesday of the month and whoever can make it, makes it. We’ve tried to accommodate by finding a date that works for everyone but that is very hard. Life gets in the way.

I highly recommend being part of or starting a book club. We get a lot more out of it than just books read. It seems many people have had bad experiences with book clubs. This is the first one I’ve joined and it’s close to twenty years we’ve been going. Too high of expectations may be why some clubs fail or members are unhappy. Some members only want to discuss the book and nothing else. That would make a drier, stuffy book club.

Meeting in member’s homes can seem like too much work and an inconvenience for the member’s families. Coffee shops work the best for us, no muss, no fuss, no array of goodies we need to consume, very little expense or preparation.

Sometimes meeting in someone’s home is the only way they can be part of the meeting. Flexibility is in order. Our book club isn’t disbanded if we don’t meet every month. We don’t ask people to leave because their life is too hectic to get the book finished, or sometimes even started.

Book clubs like everything else in life will be what we make it. Having a supportive, stimulating, and engaging book club is the goal. Like everything else in life, we bring ourselves to the mix. If we join a book club that doesn’t quite fit, we can join or start another.

If you’ve ever thought you should be part of a book club, what is holding you back?

Books don’t just go with you, they take you where you’ve never been. Anonymous

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, reading, and love.

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Belong: Find Your People, Create Community, and Live a More Connected Life Hardcover – Sep 4 2018

by Radha Agrawal (Author) 3.5 out of 5 stars 2 customer reviews


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