Friends and laughter. Laughter is the best medicine.

Friends - photo of garden by Errol Thomas

Walking with a friend in the dark is better than walking alone in the light. Helen Keller

Last night we had our book club meeting. We usually meet at a coffee shop. We started doing that years ago because no one has to spend the day cleaning, no family members have to find something to do while we laugh and giggle, and it is so much easier to watch what we eat.

One of our members broke her ankle this summer, she just got the plate and screws taken out yesterday and thought it would be easier if she didn’t have to take herself to the coffee shop. We laughed over pumpkin pie, German cookies and English tea. She had wine but we all drove so we did the responsible thing and declined. We didn’t need wine, only togetherness.

We read books we would never read if we weren’t in a book club. The book pick is a birthday gift from a daughter who works in a book store and loves books as much as her Mom.

Another members is going through family stuff and said she can’t read, can’t concentrate maybe we should do a movie night. We are all up for that. When she heard the book recommendation she thought she might be able to read it. Erotic Stories for Punjabi Widows by Balli Kaur Jaswal. We are all intrigued by the title; after all we enjoyed Fifty Shades of Grey.

We are able to talk about everything in our book club. If we can’t make sense of nonsense at least we get a few perspectives on it. Life is complicated, everyone is going through something. We help each other by being the listening ear; we see things from different views. Because we aren’t knee deep in each other’s lives it is easier to talk about some stuff.

There is nothing on this earth more to be prized than true friendship. Thomas Aquinas

I was listening to a talk on YouTube and the commentator was saying we used to get from a village what we now expect from our spouse. It is too much to expect our spouse to meet all our needs. Widening our circle of friends is especially important as we age, when our circle could easily be shrinking instead of expanding.

It seems that after age sixty five friends make a bigger difference in our lives than when we were younger. Strong family ties are linked to happiness, but their importance stayed about the same over our life time.

Valuing our immediate family is good for our health and happiness at any age. The older we become the more important it is to have strong friendships. We are happier and healthier when our friends are happy, and we are more likely to be sick when we don’t value friendships or our friendships are in trouble. Friendship quality, often predicts health more than any of our other relationships.

Joining groups is a good place to meet likeminded people who become friends. Investing in friendships that inspire us to stay healthy gives us a better chance of being healthy. We often have the same habits our friends have. Healthy friends, with healthy habits mean we are more likely to be healthy with healthy habits.

I see this in my mother and her friends. She walks with a friend almost every morning. They met when they bought houses side by side. Mom at ninety three would not be as healthy without the walks or the friendship. If the last new friend we made was years ago maybe we should rethink. We can widen our circle at any age, as we get older it is more important than ever.

In the sweetness of friendship let there be laughter, and sharing of pleasures. For in the dew of little things the heart finds its morning and is refreshed. Khalil Girbran

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Books are our window on the world.

The Magic of Books photo of bookshelf by Belynda Wilson Thomas

A reader lives a thousand lives before he dies, said Jojen. The man who never reads lives only one. George R.R. Martin

This is my 100th post. It seems today I should say something profound. This is one of the problems with what we think are big events, milestones. The magnitude of the situation makes us not be our self.

We over think, we worry, we can’t be our self, we have to be better than our self. This is our first mistake, we are who we are, we can only be who we are. We can be our best self, or our worst self, or somewhere in between but we are always our self. We are enough.

I’m happy in July with my son’s help this blog was created. There are many things I don’t know how to do on my website yet. It’s a learn as I go process. Waiting until things are perfect is how we don’t get done what we want to do. It made sense to wait to start the blog until after my daughter’s wedding. I’m glad I started it before; it was fun to write about the preparations.

What do we get out of the things we do? We feed our soul. Writing for me is how I understand the world, relationships, things that happen. Reading is where we find new worlds, experiences, relationships and answers. Questions we can’t articulate find resolution in books. We experience situations similar to our own through reading giving us an understanding of things we feel, want, or have worried about. We find we aren’t alone in our questions, longings, dreams, fears, and weakness.

Books have been my window into the world. As a child I walked to the town Library at lunch with my arm full of books to exchange for more books. Going to the Library was the highlight of my week. I love libraries, bookstores, and second hand stores that carry books. I love to look at what others have read. There are gems in used book stores we would never find anywhere else. Looking at someone’s bookshelf is like lifting the veil on their inner self. Every book on that shelf is there for a reason. What would people think if they looked at mine?

The only thing that you absolutely have to know is the location of the library. Albert Einstein

When I have had questions about relationships, life, health, creativity, I’ve turned to books. Sometimes there are no answers only other people’s questions but they are helpful too. It is comforting to know others have struggled with what we struggle with. Knowing they muddled through can be comfort enough.

At the book store I sometimes look at people and watch what books they pick up, what isle they are in. What brought them to the books on health, relationships, or tarot cards?

We understand people and their struggles in books. We know them more intimately than real people. In books we learn their thoughts. In real life we only think we know what someone is thinking. Part of miscommunication is the distance between what we think they are thinking and what they are really thinking. Books are simplified, only the important is included and we finally see things we have been unable to understand or verbalize. The author simplifies what we find too subtle, complex, or vague to understand. Simplification renders life in a way we can understand it and apply it to our own life and relationships.

Authors cut through the common core of experiences and we have ah ha moments. We come away with more understanding of the struggles, cruelty, injustice and magic of the world. We can reach the highs and lows of emotions as we read, helping us look at the real world with more empathy, hope, and understanding.

Not all books will resonate with us. Even books that everyone else reads and love may not be the book for us. When we find the book that speaks to us our minds become less clouded, our hearts become more open.

If we read widely, deeply, often, we will find books that resonate with us. They speak to us, they change us, they help us feel and understand the human experience. We are truly immersed in another world, time, and experience. We become richer, deeper, and thoughtful as we are able to understand what others experience. The more we read the more we are able to process what we are experiencing. We become more compassionate, empathetic human beings, we can see more than our point of view.

Things we could not experience we can experience in a book. We can understand oppression; we can even understand the oppressor. How one thing led to somewhere no one wanted it to go becomes apparent. We can use what we read as a cautionary tale and apply it to our own lives.

We can recommend or give a book to someone we think will help them when we don’t have words. Books change lives. If we have nothing else to offer someone, sometimes a book is the best thing. We can’t make them read it, but we never know when they will pull it off their shelf or pick it up off their night table and open it to a passage that speaks right to the heart of their problem. Maybe it will never help them, maybe picking it out spoke to the heart of our problem.

Reading makes immigrants of us all. It takes us away from home, but more important, it finds homes for us everywhere. Jean Rhys

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You’ve GOT to Read This Book!: 55 People Tell the Story of the Book That Changed Their LifePaperback – September 4, 2007








Empathy and Reading. Reading changes lives, we understand other’s struggles through reading.

Your Habits Can Make You A Star - Starfish photo by Belynda Wilson Thomas

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When children read stories, they are given the opportunity to understand the story from the perspective of the characters. Think of reading as a game of role playing, where children can practice seeing the world through someone else’s eyes that allows them to develop an understanding and respect for the experiences of others. Dr. Borba

Developing empathy is being able to see things from another’s point of view. Last night my husband put on a movie from netflicks. Sometimes we get a hit, sometimes a miss. Last night “Same Kind of Different as Me” was a hit. Would this book be more powerful than the movie? I rarely read a book after I’ve seen the movie, but I often see the movie after I’ve read the book.

This is a profound story about volunteering and an unlikely friendship that changes lives. This morning I looked at a critical review it says, “This profound story reminds us that no matter how deep the differences that separate us, just a bit of love may help us to see others dignity. The second review says “Heartfelt and well-made, this meant to be inspiring movie has positive messages and likable characters but little in the way of originality or depth.

This is a true story based on a man’s memories after his wife’s death by cancer. If it was fiction the author would have made the characters more flawed. One of the reasons I believe in fiction, the lie that tells the truth, is precisely because we get to know the flawed inner character. However, a true story where the power of love makes a difference and shows us how to live a better life is more powerful than make believe characters. When we see someone else do something seemingly small that has an impact. We see how we too can have an impact.

The power of books and movies for me is learning about people, places and things I don’t have time in this world to learn from experience. We can go back in time, we can go forward to what someone thinks the future might be, should be or could be. It might be uplifting or a cautionary tale to make us think about choices we should or should not make.

We feel we understand struggles by people completely different from ourselves. That may be hubris on our part that we think we understand what others lived. As a child I lived the building of the American frontier through Laura Ingalls books. People lived through the industrial revolution with Oliver Twist by Charles Dickens.

In a paper just published in the journal Psychology of Aesthetics, Creativity, and the Arts, the academics reveal that those who had recognized more literary fiction authors in the list were better at inferring others’ feelings, a faculty known as theory of mind. Genre fiction is defined in the paper “by its focus on a particular topic and reliance on relatively formulaic plots”, while literary fiction is defined “more by its aesthetic qualities and character development than its focus on plot or a particular set of topics and themes”

What we read changes us according to Castano and Kidd when we read about other people’s experiences, journeys, struggles we understand and have empathy. Not all fiction draws on the same psychological processes in the same way. Readers already know this. We understand some reading impacts us in ways that other reading does not. We never know when we pick up a book what nugget of gold is contained within. There are fewer nuggets in certain genres, but I have read some profound Harlequin Romances and some less profound works of literature.

Authors are categorized for marketing purposes. Many writers, I believe write what they feel compelled to write. The publishing company puts them in a category they may feel they belong in or not. It is not possible to find every nugget in every book. It is not possible to read every book. I try not to judge what other people read, I am happy to see them read. Read wide, read deep, just read!

In a diverse world it is more important than ever to read so we can understand people, situations, and ideologies from another point of view.


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Join my online book club. Some books need to be discussed

Stream photo by Errol Thomas

There is no frigate like a book. To take us lands a way. By Emily Dickenson

Today I am starting an online book club. With a forum (I have yet to create) to discuss the books in as much depth as people want. I even hope to get some interviews with the authors (if possible). We did have an authors evening last fall at my book club, it was fun and informative.

Joining a book club is one of the best things I’ve done in my life. We are a small book club; we’ve met in each other’s homes and coffee shops. I like coffee shops the best. No muss, no fuss and I don’t put on a couple of pounds because I can’t say no to the array of goodies in front of me.

Growing up on a farm, books were my go to for entertainment. They still are. Books are where I find information and understanding of life. Fiction is where I find the truth. Funny isn’t it, I thought nonfiction is where the truth would be.

As a writer I understand why we find the truth in fiction. We can put our deepest, darkest thoughts in a characters mind, we can recreate scenarios that help us understand the motivation behind others actions. Writers ask questions and ferreting out the answers becomes a novel. Novels are the lie that tells the truth, deep truths, uncomfortable truths, and disturbing truths. We know characters in a book better than we know our family members. We use that knowledge to understand our families better.

Novels are not the only books My book shelf is lined with self help books.

I love books. I love the look, the feel, the smell, the touch. Books resonate with us as individuals, what may touch one person deeply may not interest someone else at all. By joining a book club we read books we would not otherwise read. We discuss the book, and chat about the important things in life.

Will an online book club be as good as a book club in person? I don’t know? This is my first online book club. There is a physical limit to how many people can fit in a coffee shop. Online there is no limit, it can be open to anyone who wants to join. Come on this journey with me. We don’t have to live in the same City and be on the same schedule. The biggest problem we have with my book club is getting together.

The book I propose everyone read is 12 Rules For Life by Jordan B. Peterson. This is not a political book, even though the media makes it sound like it is. I don’t think it is controversial but if it is, the discussions will be more interesting. This is a book encouraging us to build a life with purpose and meaning.

12 Rules for Life: An Antidote to Chaos

Jan 23, 2018


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12 Rules For Life - Book

My first recommended book is by Jordan B. Peterson a University of Toronto Professor, his book 12 Rules For Life had a huge impact on me. My son highly recommended it. His first book Maps of Meaning as well as 12 Rules For Life I’ve provided links below. One of the goals of this blog is to recommend books that I have read that resonate with me. Books have been where I found the answers, sometimes to questions I didn’t know I was asking.

Jordan B. Peterson’s 12 Rules For Life is a hand book on how to live a better life filled with meaning and purpose.

If you are looking for a book to help your son or daughter navigate the world as they step out as young adults. This is the book.

With rules like:

Stand up straight with your shoulders back.

Treat yourself like someone you are responsible for helping.

Make friends with people who want the best for you.

Compare yourself to who you were yesterday, not to who someone is today.

Do not let your children do anything that makes you dislike them.

Set your house in perfect order before you criticize the world.

Pursue what is meaningful (not what is expedient.)

Tell the truth – or at least don’t lie.

Assume that the person you are listening to might know something you don’t.

Be precise in your speech.

Do not bother children when they are skateboarding.

Pet a cat when you encounter one on the street.

Read it, and pass it on. This is a book whose time has come. People will tell you to beware of this book. Read it for yourself and I believe you will find the wisdom within will enhance your life. Anyone who follows Jordan B. Peterson’s advice in my opinion cannot help but live a better life.

I listened to this book on audible and I loved it so much I bought the hard copy.

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12 Rules for Life: An Antidote to Chaos

Jan 16, 2018


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Maps of Meaning: The Architecture of Belief

Mar 26, 1999


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