We are Family. All my sisters, brothers and me.

Photo of cleome and bee by Belynda Wilson Thomas

Click on picture to bring up comment section. Please leave a comment.

Other things may change us, but we start and end with the family. Anthony Brandt

I come from a large family. A blessing few of younger generations will experience. We are spread over Canada but remain close. My sister and her daughter are visiting right now. “More family,” my niece says.

She is in love with the idea of family. It is lovely getting a few days with a nine year old. To see things through her eyes is to glimpse the world as if looking at it anew. We walk around not seeing all the amazing beauty around us. Kids help us look at the world again, seeing what they see.

I read a blog post about a friend who said she was losing her friend who had gotten married and was now a mother. They promised each other they would stay the same. It is an impossible dream and the friend knew it. She seemed unwilling to become embroiled in the friend’s new life baby and all. She doesn’t know what she is missing. I hope she finds out kids are worth it.

Children are the most entertaining people in the world. When you stay home with your family sometimes people think you are missing out. Often it is time away from our families that we miss out on. They grow up so fast. We know it, we promise ourselves we’ll remember everything, we’ll savor the sweetness. We do, but it’s still gone in a blink of an eye. You wake up one morning and your baby is all grown up.

I live across from a school yard and listening to children laugh and play is music to my ears. I hear it isn’t music to everyone’s ears and I wonder why? The joy coming from playing children is palpable; how can you not get caught up in their joy?

My little dog has a playmate for a week. She is going to miss my niece; it was love at first sight for both of them.

My daughter works with little kids in a facility adjoining a senior’s home. The older people love watching the kids. She takes her troop to visit the seniors and they are always welcome.

We make our lives about money at our peril. Accomplishing something is a worthy goal. Building a family is one of the worthiest. It is also one of the most important. We wonder why women who seemed success driven don’t reach for the top jobs. Somewhere along the way they realize what is important and it isn’t the next promotion. If we are lucky enough to have a life that isn’t hand to mouth, and the next promotion doesn’t make life better. Then the next promotion isn’t important to the family. Once you reach a certain standard of living, more doesn’t do all that much.

We are told that on their death bed, no one talks about the meeting they didn’t get to, the promotion they didn’t get. Bronnie Ware an Australian nurse who spent several years working in palliative care has observed the top five regrets of the dying.

I wish I’d had the courage to live a life true to myself, not the life others expected of me. At the end it was easy for them to see the dreams that didn’t get fulfilled. Most of the people had not honored even half of their dreams and had to die knowing it was due to choices they made or did not make.

I wish I hadn’t worked so hard. This came from every patient she nursed. They missed their children’s youth and their partner’s companionship. The women hadn’t spent their lives as breadwinners but the men regretted spending so much time on the treadmill of work.

I wish I’d had the courage to express my feelings. Many people suppressed their feelings to keep “the peace.” Many developed illnesses relating to bitterness and resentment because of it.

I wish I had stayed in touch with friends. Everyone misses their friends when they are dying.

I wish I’d let myself be happier. Many did not realize until the end that happiness is a choice.

We all have choice until we don’t. We never know when that will be. If we can make the best of what we have, where we are, and with who we are with and choose to bring our dreams into existence even in small ways then we have a life well lived.

If you sing, sing, if you paint, paint, if your write, write. Don’t wait for the right time, the right work shop, retirement. We should have our hobbies well in hand before retirement. The reward of being creative is the journey it takes us on. Wanting to be a famous writer is not the same as wanting to write. Writing is one of the best ways to express yourself. Keeping the peace is not a bad thing, but silencing ourselves when talking about things would be better for everyone is not the answer.

We need to talk so people will listen and listen so people will talk. It is a skill we can all learn. One of the gifts we can give people is to listen to them and really hear what they are saying. So many of us feel unheard, silenced, not listened to. If we only learn one skill let it be cFamilies are the tie that reminds us of yesterday, provide strength and support today, and give us hope for tomorrow.

The soul is healed by being with children. Fyodor Dostoevsky

The greatest love. Mother love is the greatest love of all.

Vulnerability Is Strength - Photo of pink daylilly by Belynda Wilson Thomas

Click on the picture to bring the comment section up at the end of this post. Please leave a comment.

 “Encourage and support your kids because children are apt to live up to what you believe of them.” — Lady Bird Johnson, former First Lady of the United States

The greatest love of all is a mother’s love. Mom always said, ” the greatest gift you can give your children is to love their father.”

Is there an ideal amount of time to wait before having a baby? I’m sure there is, I don’t know what it is. Our son was born after three years. It seemed perfect. He was an easy baby. One little baby you can take anywhere. If you need a sitter it’s easy for only one baby.

When our daughter came along she was just as good of a baby, but two children are a lot more than one. I never wanted an only child. I love having brothers and sisters, so I at least wanted one sibling for them to go through life with. I’ve always thought an ideal family would be two boys and two girls. Everyone has a sister and a brother.

Life is both hard and easy when they are babies. Communication is pretty easy if they cry they are hungry, wet, uncomfortable or tired. It gets more complicated from there. Some lives get so complicated that communication breaks down completely. I don’t know what one has to do to keep the lines of communication open. It is a two way street, but if we always keep our end open – there’s unconditional love again.

If unconditional love does exist I think it would be between parent and child. In Jordan Peterson’s book 12 Rules For Life he tells us don’t let your children do anything that makes you dislike them. I think this is really good advice. It is the best feeling in the world when you get a compliment on your children’s behavior.

People love to be around well behaved, smiling, happy children. The magic is gone when they cry, roll on the floor, and thrash about. I was in a grocery store a while ago a young boy was telling his sister what to do and steering her away from things. In a big brother, kind of bossy but not too much kind of way. I had to smile they reminded me of my two kids.

Some people lament about the young people of today but mostly I think they are a great lot. Some of them are finding it hard to find their slot. They are the square pegs in round holes. Many in each generation go through this. Finding our way has never been easy.

When we look at people’s lives we don’t know the angst, frustration, and missteps along the way. We see what looks like overnight success which for many is fifteen years of tough slogging.

When the kids were young most of us were so busy we didn’t have time for hobbies, even reading might be a dream other than nightly bedtime stories and we couldn’t always manage that.

There are so many ways to feel a failure as a parent. When they were babies “the good mothers,” breastfed then made their own baby food. It is easy to feel you don’t measure up. We are good at that, tearing ourselves down, sometimes to the point that we know we could do better but why bother, it won’t be good enough. Good enough for whom? The child, to whom we are the centre of their whole world?

We compare ourselves to others at our peril. We always come up short. If we do the best we can it will be good enough. When I hear children talk proudly about their parents, it is when they knew their parents had struggles, but the child knows they did the best they could for the children and the family.

It is great when we are proud of our children, it might be greater still when our children are proud of us. We set the example for the next generation. How do we expect them to know things we didn’t teach them? No one teaches you about parenthood except by example. Maya Angelou said, “she became the parent her mother was.” If we drop the ball, who picks it up?

Parenthood is a blessing, and a responsibility because we are building the future with our decisions and actions today. No one’s perfect and thankfully perfection is not required. I think we don’t see the result of our parenting until we become grandparents. I look forward to that happy occasion – no pressure kids!

“You’re going to live with this person for the next 18 years. Make sure you raise someone you like.” (grandmother’s saying)

 

Marriage is falling in love – hopefully with the same person – over and over again.

The Loving Touch Photo of Peach Day Lillies by Belynda Wilson Thomas

Click on the picture to leave a comment. Comment section will appear at the end of the post.

A successful marriage requires falling in love many times, always with the same person. Mignon McLaughlin

The secret of a happy marriage is not feeling blissfully in love every day. “And they lived happily ever after” is not a real thing. You go through the ups and downs of life. We run through the five stages of marriage over and over again.

Stage one – we all love this one. Falling in love, we’ve found out prince. Our beloved can do no wrong. They have quirks we love.

Stage two – those quirks become annoyances. We discover even more faults and foibles about them, and they annoy us even more.

Stage three – we decide what to do now that we realize we married a person not a prince.

Stage four – this is the hard slogging of getting through our no longer romanticized life. We’ve taken off our rose colored glasses; our Prince is now a frog.

Stage five – the reward for getting through all that hard stuff is somehow at some time we get a glimpse again of why we thought he was a prince. We fall in love all over again at a new level of intensity and commitment.

We are each one of us in one of these stages now. The secret to a long marriage is going through the stages over and over again.

Wouldn’t it be boring if it really was happily ever after? What if a day at the beach lasted for thirty years? No new adventures, no new discoveries, nothing learned, no personal growth. It is hard getting through tough times, it is nice looking back knowing you  got through them together.

You can live with them and love it, you can live with them and hate it, or you can leave. What we all want to do, but can’t do is change them. It might be a good thing we can’t change people, we would change them to suit our whim instead of changing ourselves to become better people. There would be no growth for either of us.

Love is patient, love is kind, love is never giving up. Love is easy, love is hard, love makes the hard things better and the good things sweet.

If you are lucky enough in this life to find someone to love, love them, cherish them and be willing to go through the stages of life with them over and over again. How many people look back on a past relationship knowing they could have done more? If you are going to be in a marriage don’t think you get to skip the stages by getting out of one marriage and into another. If you always get out at stage three are you really getting anywhere?

All married couples should learn the art of battle as they should learn the art of making love. Good battle is objective and honest – never vicious or cruel. Good battle is healthy and constructive, and brings to a marriage the principles of equal partnership. Ann Landers

Ann Landers is onto something here. We have to be able to talk things out. A silent marriage is a dying marriage. We need to be able to talk about the small things so they don’t become so big we can’t talk about them. Tiptoeing around the elephant, cleaning up its dodo and pretending it isn’t there is not healthy. Sometimes just like ripping off a band aid, we just need to say what needs to be said. Then we can start anew. Not acknowledging a problem is a problem, you can fix it, you can live with it, you can laugh about it, but you can’t pretend it isn’t there and think it won’t affect your relationship.

I was one of the girls who read in a magazine, “a woman without a man is like a fish without a bicycle.” I wasn’t one who was dying to get married. I’ve loved being married; I think my husband is the anchor to my balloon. We are more together than we are apart.

Someone asked me if I would want to renew my vows. I said, ”no, we meant them when we said them.” Renewing vows to me would be if something happened and we separated. Coming together again and renewing our vows would have meaning. To renew vows just to have a party. I’m good with the party. I’m not the starry eyed bride, and unless we were to do something really stupid what we said then and meant, stands today. As a matter of fact when my husband and I see couples renewing their vows over and over again we look at each other expecting a divorce in the future. We aren’t often wrong.

Some people have floated the idea of renewing commitments every five years. I’m horrified at the thought. How could anyone have any security in the marriage? How many marriages would be at one of the hard spots? Get married to the right person, and be the right person. Say what you mean and mean what you say, and say it with as much love and compassion as you can manage.

Marriage is a journey, not a destination. Saying “I do,” is just the beginning.

 

The Good Life – We all want it – What makes a good life?

Understanding - Photo of African Violet taken by Belynda Wilson Thomas

To leave a comment, click on the picture to bring the comment section up at the end of this post>

Not how long, but how well you have lived is the main thing. Seneca

What makes “The Good Life”? I believe family is first. We were born into a family and we create a family and most of our great moments are shared with family. I read about an author getting a big award. She left the event alone in a taxi. The taxi driver was perceptive and talkative and realizing the situation, the taxi driver celebrated the author’s big achievement. How awful would it be, on the night of one of the pinnacles of your life, you were alone in a hotel room?

Relationships can be hard, some find them easy. I can’t remember the author who said we get a “free square” in life. Something, that comes particularly easy to us other people find difficult. Some people’s free square might be relationships, money, fame, athletic ability, or intelligence. I think looks might be a free square. You beautiful people know who you are.

The thing it seems to me with the “free square” is this is where we often get accolades but not where we have a feeling of accomplishment. I read about complimenting people. Don’t compliment them on the obvious that is what everyone compliments them on. This sounds a bit manipulative but it works because it’s true. The smart girl would love to be thought beautiful; the beautiful girl would love to be thought smart.

One of Judge Judy’s favorite sayings, beauty fades but stupid lasts forever. A good life is not built because you made the absolute best choice every time. I’ve read that if one decision out of three is good we can have a great life. This gives us a lot of wiggle room. Don’t do the “thing” that will destroy your life. I heard a young man went to a “safe injection site” in Vancouver to take his first hit of heroin. I don’t know if he did it, if it was a stunt, he was calling attention to something, or he wanted fifteen seconds of fame? It doesn’t sound like a good decision likely to lead to a good life.

In the book A Guide To The Good Life (the ancient art of stoic joy) by William B. Irvine. The author states that one of the great fears many of us have is that despite our best efforts we will discover at the end we wasted our life. It is very popular to tell people, just be happy, think positive – then why are we such a depressed society?

There seems to be some controversy over whether Jordan B. Peterson author of 12 Rules For Life is a Stoic. I think from what I’ve read on both that his ideas and stoicism resonate deeply.

A few stoic quotes:

“You don’t have to turn this into something. It doesn’t have to upset you.”
– Marcus Aurelius

“First say to yourself what you would be, and then do what you have to do.”
– Epictetus

“A gem cannot be polished without friction, nor a man perfected without trials.”
– Seneca

“When you arise in the morning, think of what a precious privilege it is to be alive.”
– Marcus Aurelius

“Expecting is the greatest impediment to living. In anticipation of tomorrow, it loses today.”
– Seneca

I think most of us living in Canada now, especially those under a certain age who never used outdoor toilets, brought water into their house in pails, heated it on wood cook stoves, washed clothes by hand, plowed fields by hand, put firewood up for winter, and traveled without motorized vehicles, have any idea what a hard life looks like.

I wonder if part of our problems is over the centuries life was hard and we were good at getting through the tough times. The weight of life made us strong. Now life is relatively easy and the lack of weight in our life makes us weak. I doubt this is a popular thought. Jordan B. Peterson is exhorting young men to take on the weight of life through responsibility and build a life of meaning and purpose. This is his recipe for “the good life.” I think it’s a good one. It’s not like any of what Jordan B. Peterson says is new.

I’ve never read a self help book yet that had anything new in it.  I believe all the self help advice is old advice found in the Bible and other religious and ancient texts, found in all cultures. It isn’t finding new advice that will build a good life, it is following good advice.

If I have to have original thoughts then I have nothing to say. There is nothing new under the sun. We put existing things together in new ways, creating new things. The raw material was always there. It is the same with our life.

Gratitude and Happiness. Opportunity and Choice.

Stock photo of pain chips - Happiness Is Not Choice

If you want to leave a comment click on the picture to show comment section at the bottom.

“Happiness cannot be traveled to, owned, earned, worn or consumed. Happiness is the spiritual experience of living every minute with love, grace, and gratitude.” Denis Waitley

Every day dawns and a new set of choices emerge. An endless array of choices sounds great but in reality leads to less happiness. Researchers analyzed 70,000 independent bloggers that wrote about feelings and happiness. They found younger bloggers were more likely to describe happiness as excitement equals happiness. Older bloggers tended to have the point of view happiness equals peacefulness.

Our priorities change as we age. Our definition of happiness also changes. Why would our definition of happiness change? Six new studies answer this question. Our temporal focus changes – whether we focus on the here and now or on the future. Experts believe individuals view on happiness is more dependent upon their sense of time than their age.

Experts are beginning to believe our attitudes towards happiness are highly malleable and easily influenced, simply by changing the time frame being considered. Enter marketing and commercials trying to make us see how much happier we would be if we bought their new car, house, drug, or soft drink. One of the ways we are manipulated with advertising is to make us feel unhappy with what we have. That new thing is the answer even if we aren’t looking for one.

There is a happiness-choice paradox. The more choices we have, the unhappier we become. This was hard for me to digest at first. More choice makes me unhappy, when all my life I’ve wanted more choice. Having endless choices is paralyzing and exhausting Psychology professor Barry Schwartz argues. We set unrealistic expectations and blame ourselves for making the wrong choice. This is where uniforms might come in, many of us have used up a lot of choices getting dressed in the morning. Does this go with that, what shoes? We feel exhausted and we haven’t decided what to have for breakfast.

We live in a society with greater possibilities, yet people are experiencing higher rates of depression. There is a study involving jam in a supermarket. On day one there was a display table with 24 varieties of jam to sample. On day two there was six varieties of jam to sample. The larger display attracted more attention, the smaller display attracted more buyers. The principle of overwhelming choice leads to indecision. Results show the principle applied just as strongly to trivial matters as life decisions involving job satisfaction.

My understanding is we have a finite amount of energy. Each decision uses up some of that energy. When we minimize the trivial decisions we make on a daily basis we have energy to focus on the larger decisions. We need to be gentle with our self when we look back at our decisions. The choice we made was the best option available at the time.

Even if we could or would have chosen differently the alternatives would have had an entirely new set of consequences. No choice is perfect. Accepting this is a step towards satisfaction.

Are you frustrated by the choices you’ve made? There are things we can control and things we can’t. One way to increase happiness is to have zero expectations. That doesn’t sound positive does it? If we look deeper we see many situations that drive us crazy are when other people don’t do what we want or expect them to do. We do a nice thing for them, they don’t notice, don’t care, don’t reciprocate, it drives us crazy. We need to do the good thing, end of story. No strings attached. We feel good for what we did, and this makes us happy. Not expecting any thing from them, means that our happiness is not robbed by unmet expectations.

We need to look at our life with perspective. Life sucks sometimes, but there is always someone who has it worse. If we are truly unhappy we have some things to fix. We should get busy, take the energy we have to make better decisions, and move in a different direction. It takes time to build a life of purpose and meaning. Never compare the worst of yourself to the best of someone else. When we do  we  feel small and insignificant.

Perseverance is the secret to getting what you want. Denzel Washington says, “do what you need to do, to get to do what you want.” If you can’t make enough money doing what you want to do. Don’t let that stop you. Do what needs to be done to pay the bills and do what you want for pure love. If you keep doing what you love long enough it may even pay the bills. We should be grateful we woke up today. Being grateful makes us happier. Bloom where we are planted.

Gratitude unlocks the fullness of life. It turns what we have into enough, and more. It turns denial into acceptance, chaos to order, confusion to clarity. It can turn a meal into a feast, a house into a home, a stranger into a friend. Melody Beattie

 

 

Sensitivities: our own and other peoples – how to deal?

Painting "Embracing What Is" by Belynda Wilson Thomas

Click on the picture to see the comments section at the bottom of the post.

“Some of the most beautiful things worth having in your life come wrapped in a crown of thorns.”
― Shannon L. Alder

How do we deal with sensitive people in our lives?

I always say we are like eggs in my family. We are strong, but hit the right spot and our sensitivities show up. My daughter has said to me over the years, “that woman gave you cut-eye.” I didn’t notice. My husband says to me “those women were looking at your shoes.” I didn’t notice. I do look down to see if I’m wearing a pair that has passed its best before date.

I’ve been very lucky with my husband’s family, I never encountered a situation that damaged our relationship beyond repair. I’m sure on both sides we have held our tongue and let things slide. Some of my parenting decisions were not the same as my mother in laws. She would have liked it if we sent our children to Church as teenagers. We went to a Church where the Minister was asking the young people for a vow of chastity.

The Minister’s intentions were good. What was the end result? I didn’t think it would be good. I certainly didn’t think it should be public. How long does a vow of celibacy last? Well meaning people impacting my kids like the Church impacted me wasn’t what I wanted. I went to Church as a teenager. There I found judgment that wasn’t fair or right. I asked questions that couldn’t be answered, they assumed I got them from my Dad. I was told “Dad was possessed by the devil.”

Early bad religious experiences may impact us for life. There are moments in our life when there is nothing to do put pray. Even if we aren’t particularly religious, we hope for a miracle. Like the boys stuck in the cave in Thailand. In the end it was human ingenuity that got them out. Finding them was the miracle.

It seems to me that extremely sensitive people often lead hard lives. They pick up on nuances where others see merely discussion. They observe the deeper patterns that move human society and can be easily frustrated at the injustice they perceive. The slings and arrows we all encounter in life they take personally. We the not so sensitive seem callous and uncaring. Our attitude of “it is what it is” seems offensive.

We don’t live in a perfect world or society, some have unearned success, and some have unearned hardships. It seems we need to accept that sensitive people are made that way. They are not manipulative, they are not trying to make anyone else’s life more difficult and they are not broken. It is hard not to say “this isn’t that big of deal, enough already.” Even if we aren’t one of the “sensitive people” we all have our “sensitive areas.”

We need to watch what we say to sensitive people and be gentle. This seems hard as often they aren’t that careful about what they say to us. There are times when we feel why do I have to tiptoe around someone else’s feelings. Many times sensitive people are in our lives for the long haul. They are your sister in law, your mother in law, people you didn’t choose to bring into your life. They came with your spouse, best friend, the work place, groups we join, or the neighborhood.

I’m watching someone I love in this situation now. How will it play out? Should you ignore or confront? How do you deal with the situation when someone is upset about a situation the person involved seems okay with? “Look this isn’t your business,” doesn’t seem helpful. “Can we just deal with what impacts you and me?” Not likely, often the sensitive want to stand up for others they think aren’t standing up for themselves. Sometimes that is good. They have made society better by doing so.

It takes everyone to build a world. The sensitive have their gifts and place in society. They are often the moral conscience. That doesn’t make them easier to live with.

No life without stress. Be your own detective. Make it work for you.

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

To leave a comment click on the picture the comment section will be at the bottom of the page.

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

My life is full of stress right now. There is drama between my daughter and some of her bridesmaids. A flare up of food sensitivities in my life, and a huge learning curve on some new software we purchased for our business.

Stress is all around us. If we have relationships, jobs, family members, health problems, travel we have stress. Everything we do gives us stress. A certain amount of stress is good. Too much stress can leave us overwhelmed. Talking and writing come up again and again as ways to relieve stress.

I have always found once I put things on the page I can see them, and deal with them. Sometimes there are things we can do, other times we are bystanders watching.

This is when we need to learn to deal with what is. You can’t change everything. Aging is one of the things we cannot change. I’ve always taken the view we are lucky if we get to be old. So many people don’t get that opportunity.

I was talking to someone not long ago about not being happy in our own skin. Not feeling that how we are is how we should be. I said, “I’ve felt that way for twenty years.” When I see a photograph of myself, that isn’t how I’m supposed to look. Nora Ephron wrote a book entitled I Feel Bad About My Neck. I just watched the second My Big Fat Greek Wedding when the women were getting a picture taken they say to each other “pinch the back of my neck.”

We have to find ways of going forward with humor. I can’t go anywhere these days without reading glasses. Two weeks ago I went to a Writers Group for the first time and somehow the reading glasses I always keep in my purse weren’t there.

For my daughter’s wedding I’ve had to buy bags for every occasion so I can carry my reading glasses. I am thankful we have reading glasses. Years ago reading would be over for many of us. We are so blessed to live in a time when we have access to things which improve our lives and enable us to continue to live as we want.

We can’t stop aging but maybe we can stop some of the things that come with it through diet and exercise. Of course some people follow rigorous diets and exercise and are still cut down by disease. There are no guarantees in life. There are choices. Just because we don’t get a guarantee if we watch our diet doesn’t mean we shouldn’t do it.

What is the best diet? I don’t know. I’m reading about people having very good results with The Starch Solution and The Ketogenic Diet two completely opposing diets. Are they opposing though? The Starch Solution focuses on rice, potatoes, sweet potato, corn, grains, beans and legumes, vegetables and fruit with small amounts of olive oil.

The ketogenic diet I’ve heard good results with is beef and greens. The similarities of the two diets are no dairy, no processed foods, low sugar. I believe this is how we need to sort out diets. What are the similarities? Meat or no meat is probably not the question.  After hearing about the results Jordan Peterson and his daughter are having with the ketogenic diet of beef and greens, I’m evaluationg what I’ve been doing. I was eating very little meat. I’ve added back some beef.

For years I followed Suzanne Somers food combining eating plan. She divides meals into two types carbohydrate/low fat and protein/low carbohydrate. Fruit is eaten alone on an empty stomach. She allowed dairy and I think this is one of the things that doesn’t work for me.

Her plan loosely is a Ketogenic plan and the Starch Solution eaten at different meals. The recipe for weight gain (for me) is high fat/high carbohydrate. Everything is not figured out yet. I get flare ups when I eat something I am sensitive to. I can’t always figure out what that was. We all have to be detectives in finding what works for us. My mother ate only cream of wheat porridge while she figured out what bothered her. She found out it was fat. It is better than feeling we have no control, no choice.

If we aren’t dealing with stress we aren’t living. Who has the answers? We all have to find what works for us. If we learn what worked for other people we can take a short cut. There isn’t enough time to figure everything out for our self.

 

White privilege and writing. Write the best story you can, the one only you can tell.

Lulu Listens Photo of Lulu by Belynda Wilson Thomas

There are no laws for the novel. There never have been, nor can there ever be.”
—Doris Lessing

“The writing of a novel is taking life as it already exists, not to report it but to make an object, toward the end that the finished work might contain this life inside it and offer it to the reader. The essence will not be, of course, the same thing as the raw material; it is not even of the same family of things. The novel is something that never was before and will not be again.”
—Eudora Welty, WD

Yesterday I read an article about white writers writing about non white characters. The author believes people should tell their own stories. The author mentioned two bestselling books. The Help and Memories of a Geisha both written by white writers.

I think I understand where the author is coming from; she doesn’t like the protagonists of white writers to be people other than white. She doesn’t like using racially mixed people as a way of making our writing more diverse and more inclusive. For many white writers mixed people are in our families, our communities.

It is going to be limiting for writers if women can only write about female protagonists, men can only have male protagonists, and don’t have a gay protagonist if you aren’t gay. White authors should not include Aboriginal, black, Indian and Asian characters. Censorship is something writers have to fight. If writers don’t have free speech. No one has free speech.  Some question the need for limits  to free speech, because they feel not being able to talk about things doesn’t make it better, it makes it worse.  I’m on the fence and I see  where the lines blur.

As a writer, I’ve written a novel and I’m wondering if I have to write out the non white characters. What is the story I should tell as a white woman in multi cultural Canada? My characters set in multi cultural Canada are multi cultural. Each writer has a unique voice and point of view. To fence off certain stories to only be told by certain people I don’t think is the way to go.

Readers want a story, that resonates with them that tells them things they knew, but forgot and tells them things they don’t know. We all read for different reasons at different times. Some readers read a wide array of subjects, genres, authors, is one way better than another?

When white writers hint at stories that aren’t their stories in books. Sometimes that is the first a reader is exposed to that idea, history or practice and they search out an author who wrote that story in depth. I’ve learned many things in books because something was mentioned as a small nugget in a book. It can be an ah ha moment that leads us in a new direction in our reading.

To write about the confused young girl, do you have to have been as confused as your character? Crime fiction is not usually written by criminals. Are war stories only to be written by the warriors that were there? Historical fiction could not exist if this were true.

My book club recently read Indian Horse by Richard Wagamese. We also went to the movie, we enjoyed both. I had a black women in my home one day asking if I had any books by black writers she could read. I did, I gave her a book by Mya Angelou. How would it go over if I was in her house asking for a book by a white writer? What about asking do you have a good book I can read.

I thought back in the 80’s we would come together as a society and become individuals of different backgrounds and experiences. It seems we are fragmenting into smaller and smaller groups and subgroups. There is always another group you can divide people into. Until you get down to the smallest denominator, the individual. I’d like to start there.

I hear actors complain there are no parts for them if they aren’t white. Then I hear writers say those are our stories don’t you touch.  I understand in part how authors that aren’t white feel. They feel it’s all yours already, why are you trying to tell the story I have to tell. We aren’t telling the story any other author has to tell. We are telling the story that resonates with us, the story that compels us to put one word on top of another.

When authors looked at The Help written by a white author, they might think they could tell that story, but they didn’t. Is that harsh? Readers are our audience, and readers can read any book they want. It may seem we have it made being a white writer. The challenge all writers face is to write a good book, and get it out in the world into the hands of people who will read it. On the individual level as a writer we are all equal; we are all starting where we are. You can’t look at Danielle Steele and think she represents white female authors.

As writers we shouldn’t worry about what story someone else is writing. How can we make our story the best it can be? What do we need to do to get our story out there? Readers are looking for a good story. Write it, we’ll read it.

The peaceful warrior. Why do some people kill? Why do some dogs bite?

Belynda Wilson Thomas painting of "A Place At The Table"

“For us, warriors are not what you think of as warriors. The warrior is not someone who fights…The warrior is one who sacrifices himself for the good of others.” Sitting Bull

This morning I had a discussion with my husband. It started with the shooting in Toronto on the Danforth last night. Why are youngish men dressed in black looking to kill others and themselves?

I believe we have a degree of hopelessness in our society. Some people feel it can’t get better, we are doomed, people are the problem, the world would be better without us.

Other people feel they can’t make a point without violence. Perhaps they feel ignored, snubbed, unappreciated, overlooked, depressed. Lashing out at anything makes them more powerful.

In Ask and It is Given Abraham Hicks categorizes emotions into a scale. We move up the scale from revenge to anger, from hatred/rage to revenge, from jealousy to hatred/rage, from insecurity/guilt/unworthiness to jealousy, and from fear/grief/depression/despair/powerlessness to insecurity/guilt/unworthiness.  Could this be part of our problem?

The movement up the scale from depression might be fraught with danger, as being locked in powerlessness moves up to hatred/rage. How many of us had a moment in our lives when we were capable of doing something awful? Access to a gun when we are filled with hatred/rage or revenge might be the recipe for disaster. People who felt powerless in depression may feel empowered as they move up the emotional scale. Violence feels powerful. Ignore me now!

This is a dark subject. Most depressed people move up the scale without harming themselves or anyone else. In Jordan B. Peterson’s book 12 Rules For Life he doesn’t ask why bad things happen? He asks why more bad things don’t happen? Why we have peace in the world at all? Why we aren’t all at each other’s throats? Why anyone in the world can live in peace and plenty?

In Joe Rogan and Jordan B. Peterson’s podcast 1139, Joe Rogan says, “it is better to be a warrior in a garden, than a gardner in a war.” This is in answer to Jordan B. Peterson’s assertion that to create security and peace, warriors must learn to sheath their swords. Passivity is not the answer. The peaceful warrior is the answer. We used to call them gentlemen. It didn’t mean they couldn’t stand up for themselves and those they loved. They could, they did, living a life of purpose and meaning and putting their families first.

We can have equality between the sexes and have men be men. My son said to me one day, “don’t equate niceness, with weakness.” Women want the kind of men that can get things done, be effective and competent. In our war on bullying we have somehow taught some of our boys that passivity is better. I believe male passivity may lead to depression, becoming the warrior and learning to sheath their sword is what we want our sons to do. The passive man and the warrior with a sheathed sword may look the same in some instances. One of them feels powerful and in control, the other feels weak and powerless.

I don’t have any answers. I have questions, and observations. We all have questions. I believe writers ask questions. We ask questions there are no answers for. We ask questions that have been asked again and again over the centuries. There are still no answers to many of the questions. We live in a society of mostly peace and plenty, of live and let live, of tit for tat. It mostly works. Perfection is enemy of the good. Why do some dogs bite? Why do some people kill?

Leave a comment. Pass it on.

The Emotional Guidance Scale

1. Joy / Appreciation / Empowered / Freedom / Love
2. Passion
3. Enthusiasm/Eagerness/Happiness
4. Positive Expectation/Belief
5. Optimism
6. Hopefulness
7. Contentment
8. Boredom
9. Pessimism
10. Frustration/Irritation/Impatience
11. Overwhelment
12. Disappointment
13. Doubt
14. Worry
15. Blame
16. Discouragement
17. Anger
18. Revenge
19. Hatred/Rage
20. Jealousy
21. Insecurity/Guilt/Unworthiness
22. Fear/Grief/Depression/Despair/Powerlessness

From the book “Ask and It is Given”, pg. 114

Ask and It Is Given: Learning to Manifest Your Desires

Jan 8, 2010

Paperback

Get it by Wednesday, Jul 25
FREE Shipping on orders over $25 shipped by Amazon
More Buying Choices

Kindle Edition

Get it TODAY, Jul 23

Other Formats:Hardcover

 Listen  

See all 2 images


Follow the Author

12 Rules for Life: An Antidote to Chaos Hardcover – January 23, 2018


 Report incorrect product information.


The Amazon Book Review

The Amazon Book Review
Author interviews, book reviews, editors picks, and more. Read it now

Relationships matter. When life hands you lemons, make lemonade. Live a life of few regrets.

Lake Ontario photo by Errol Thomas

“People are lonely because they build walls instead of bridges.”
— Joseph F. Newton Me

“Friendship is born at that moment when one person says to another, ‘What! You too? I thought I was the only one” — C.S. Lewis

Building relationships is an ongoing challenge in life. We quit at our peril. Bonding over books is a great place to start.

Yesterday I got a face book post telling me their  favorite author is Beverly Lewis. I’ve put a link to Amazon for her movie and book The Confession. You can find everything she’s written and the movies there.

I’ve never heard of her. This is what book clubs are good for. It’s hard to know when I walk into a book store, one of my favorite places to go, what book in that array would be the one that will resonate with me? Looking for books we know were loved by someone else helps. We want different books at different times. Sometimes we want encouragement, sometimes we want to know we aren’t alone in our situation, sometimes we want a quick good read, sometimes we want a kick in the pants. It’s all there we just have to find the one that speaks to us at that moment in time.

I am loving being on face book. Why did I resist for so long? People are posting such lovely pictures, sayings, truisms, inspiration, provoking thoughts. All the things I love. I thought I didn’t have time for face book. It’s such a good way to stay in touch with family and old friends. Everyone knew that but me it seems.

I have to admit part of this is selfish, I’m looking for an audience. I’m beginning to believe that getting an audience (if I get one,) won’t be the biggest gift. The gift is getting to know people again through their posts and pictures. One of the problems many of us have as we age is letting our circle get smaller instead of working to make it bigger. We lose relationships over time, we have to make the effort to replace them.

As a home business, my husband and I haven’t had the contact with coworkers we had early in our lives. We have clients, but that’s not the same as day to day contact. I went to dinner not long ago with someone I worked with before I got married. We’ve stayed in touch.

My mother has been very good about staying in touch with people; I hope to follow in her footsteps. I don’t think face book friends should take the place of friends you have over for dinner. President Carter said, “when you move your cook stove, you should change your church.” I think he’s right, it’s good to stay in touch with old friends, it’s also good to find new friends where you are.

I was so happy to see Mom make new friends when she moved after Dad died. A new chapter gets started whether you wanted one or not. Mom always took lemons and made lemonade. She is such an inspiration to me because life hasn’t always been easy for her, especially the early years before I was born.

When you hit the rough times in life she tells me, “you get through them by doing what needs to be done. Once you are on the other side, you don’t know how you got through it, but you did.”

One of the things I am grateful for is long talks with Mom. We’ve talked about everything. She is very wise and I’ve learnt a lot from her by listening. Every parent child relationship is different. I see that with my own children. In truth every relationship is different. That is why all our relationships are so important because you can’t interchange one relationship for another. Relationships end sometimes because of choice, circumstance, or death. I’ve tried to live a life with few regrets and tried to never leave important things unsaid.

When Dad died, Mom called me, I was home alone. When my husband came home, he said “what’s wrong.” I couldn’t say the words. Finally I choked out, “Dad died.” I was waiting to call him to wish him Happy Father’s Day. My only regret is I wish I hadn’t waited. There was nothing I had to say to Dad that wasn’t already said. I could have said it one more time. I’m pretty happy with that. He had a good death and a good life. You can’t ask for much more. I miss you Dad!

Beverly Lewis’ The Confession

2013

NR
CC
Starring:
Directed by:
Runtime:

1 hr 28 mins

The Heritage of Lancaster County (The Shunning, The Confession & The Reckoning)

Nov 1, 2006