New beginnings. Using our gifts. Taking up our responsibilities. Comparisons are odious.

Chrysanthemum photo by Belynda Wilson Thomas

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The art of contentment is the recognition that the most satisfying and the most dependably refreshing experiences of life lie not in great things but in little.  The rarity of happiness among those who achieved much is evidence that achievement is not in itself the assurance of a happy life.  The great, like the humble, may have to find their satisfaction in the same plain things.

Edgar A. Collard

The gift of time is over, how will we pack all this stuff? We look at each other and know by the time we leave order will be restored to our home. The craft shop in the dining room will be dismantled.

After all this chaos and planning, we are all looking forward to relaxing in Jamaica. People get married every day and for most of us it is the centre of our life. I was listening to Jordan Peterson yesterday and he thinks we are encouraging our daughters to focus on careers too much.

Most of us will never have a career; we will have a job that pays the bills and keeps the wolf from our door, helping us to make the important parts of our life work. I am trying to come up with a definition of career, let’s go with, “a person’s metaphorical journey through learning and work.” In many ways saying one has a career instead of a job is like having a title instead of better pay.

I’ve always thought the most important jobs are not the ones with cache. We can live without Doctor’s and Lawyer’s but not plumbers and farmers. Good nutrition, hygiene and sanitation has done more for society than anything else. Jordan Peterson says one of the reason women do not rise to the heights in the Professional world is those with education and choice realize what is important at about age thirty-five. They realize it is not the next promotion taking them away from home and family that is important. They do not want to be married to a Corporation.

At some point we realize family is the important thing. Everything else is just to keep the family housed, fed, educated. In one of the American States they are cutting down to a four day school week. They are doing this for economic reasons, but what if we find out schooling our children so much is not better. We are schooling the fun of learning out of them, as they are heaped with greater loads of homework.

Some people embrace the four day work week. Maybe we will embrace the four day school week. What if we realize what is important and put work, careers, corporations and progress in its proper place. Money is a better servant than master, so I believe is work.

It is so easy to be pessimistic about our future. Over population is one of the things I worry about. Some people believe we will peak at about nine billion people and then our population will decline. Can we learn to live in harmony with nature?

We learned to live in harmony, to build societies of peace and plenty. Progress can be made if we work together. If we believe what is good for you is good for me. Jordan Peterson talks about the Mathew principle which is about unequal distribution. We have unequal distribution in our world. We need to be okay with the fact that in a forest a few trees are the biggest. A few song writers have written most of our songs. A few authors have written most of our books.

Through we will probably learn in the past a few men fathered most of the children. A few companies sell most of the products. A few trees populate most of our forests. A few people make most of our scientific discoveries. A few people make most of the money.

If this is a principle that is universal in our world then we will not change it, if even nature is built upon it.

To whom much is given, much will be required’ (Luke 12:48)”

If we take envy out of the equation and try to live our lives using the gifts we were given then we can have a great life. How many of us use things for purposes they weren’t intended. We make life hard for our self when we could use the proper tool. Is a hammer better than a screw driver, a cherry better than a potato, a chicken better than a cow? Comparisons are odious and we compare ourselves to others to our detriment.

We are here, why? That I believe is what we are to find out. I don’t bring biblical quotes in to turn this into a religious blog. I do it because that is where my mind goes as I ask questions about life and how to make things better. Timeless truths are here for our understanding. We are here, for better or worse. Let’s make it better.

We have different gifts, according to the grace given to each of us. If your gift is prophesying, then prophesy in accordance with your faith; if it is serving, then serve; if it is teaching, then teach; if it is to encourage, then give encouragement; if it is giving, then give generously; if it is to lead, do it diligently; if it is to show mercy, do it cheerfully” (Romans 12:6–8

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12 Rules for Life: An Antidote to Chaos

Jan 23, 2018


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Self sabotage why we do it, what we can do about it. Making life better. It’s the little things.

Building Our Future painting by Belynda Wilson Thomas

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“Self-sabotage is when we say we want something and then go about making sure it doesn’t happen.” ~ Alyce P. Cornyn-Selby

Why do I constantly feel behind the eight ball? Hurrying and scurrying to get ready for an appointment.

My husband is dropping our daughter off to work on his way to an appointment, because her car is in the garage. I printed off the information for the appointment when we gave them the quote. We looked at it the other day, now it is nowhere to be found. They need to leave by 6:15 to get her to work on time. The information needs to be printed before they can leave. We are out of the size of paper it should be printed on.

I could have made sure we had everything ready last night. This is a recurring theme. Why do I make things harder for myself when I could make them easier? Self sabotage, many of us do it to one degree or another, but why? Self sabotage can be anything we do that gets in the way of our intent to live a better life.

There are six big reasons we self sabotage.

We have a problem with our self worth. In an ironic twist some of us feel the need to strive to work hard and aim high because we are trying to make up for feelings of inadequacy. When the fruits of our labour lead to good things, success, progress, we make the situation worse for our self. The concept of cognitive dissonance sheds some light – we strive to be consistant – we want our actions and our beliefs to be in sync. When we line up the victories but still see ourselves as flawed we self sabotage to bring our view of self into line. Sounds crazy but is it true? It feels bad to fail but worse to succeed.

We feel more in control as we steer our ship into failure than being blindsided and taken by surprise.

We feel like a fraud, at some point everyone will see us as the Emperor with no clothes. We aren’t as good, competent, clever, educated, disciplined, or in control as we present to others.

We are our own scapegoat. We are unlovable that is why she left. We didn’t work hard enough that is why we were fired. We can blame the action instead of ourselves. The thing is we created the action that lead to the outcome we say we didn’t want, but deep down maybe we did want, because that is what fits with how we view our self. We tell our self we can’t change bad habits.

We are familiar with being who we are. It is scary to change. We choose consistency over contentment. If we are used to being overlooked, mistreated and exploited it’s strangely reassuring to put our self back in that position. We choose what we know instead of what could be.

Sabotaging our self create familiar feelings of instability and chaos. We may find stability and order boring. We pick a fight to liven things up. Self sabotage at its root is fear of failure, which often manifests as fear of success. If we tried our very best and didn’t succeed, we think somehow it is better not to try. This is the ultimate act of self sabotage.

Another crazy thing is when we can’t control ourselves we try to control other people.

“There is only our own perspective of ourselves. If we jade that perspective with fear, with doubt, or worse, with hate, we are committing an outright act of self-sabotage. We must look at ourselves with love; with a gentle and loving perspective. We must adopt a perspective of deep appreciation for ourselves. We must become grateful and thankful for all that we are.” Akiroq Brost

The antidote:

Observe yourself. Ask yourself what did I do there? What was driving my actions? Is it fear, spite, the need to be in control, the need for excitement through conflict, or the desire for attention through sympathy?

Imagine what success would be, it won’t be all sunshine and roses. Really look at what other successful people go through, how they act, what they do. If you imagine what it would be like to be successful, it won’t feel so strange when it happens.

Give up the idea of perfection. We sometimes think if it can’t be perfect what’s the point? The point is this is our life, it won’t be perfect but it can be great. The detours in life are sometimes the best parts of the journey.

We need to realize that self sabotage is often selfish. We don’t just ruin things for ourselves; we ruin things for others as well. Once we acknowledge the needs of others not just our own interests, it becomes harder to sabotage situations when we know others depend on us.

We need to be willing to see where life will take us. Be open to the challenges and experiences; be willing to be uncomfortable in unfamiliar territory. Learn to roll with the punches. You don’t know and can’t know where something will take you. We need to give up control and enjoy the journey, get out of our own way so the good things in life can happen. We need to be grateful and comfortable with what is and go forward doing what we can to build the life we desire.

“Stop the self-sabotage. Don’t live in regret. Let the past go. Forgive. Forgive yourself. Forgive others. Come to the present where life happens. Live with love.” Akiroq Brost

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Get Out of Your Own Way: Overcoming Self-Defeating Behavior Paperback – February 1, 1996

The kindness of strangers. Bonding over towing and toblerone.

Sailing on smooth water Photo of pond by Belynda Wilson Thomas

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I have always depended on the kindness of strangers, a line from Tennessee Williams’ A Streetcar Named Desire (1947)

Yesterday, my daughter and I were picking up hair accessories. As soon as she got home from work we drove to the little shop we’d seen the hair accessories in. We were worried the store closed at 5:00. They didn’t close at 5:00, they closed at 4:30. We walked in the door, “we’re closed,” the lady said.

“We know what we want,” I said.

“Okay.” We grabbed the hair ornaments, cashed out and on our way home the car overheated. My daughter called her dad, “pull over,” he said. We pulled into a closed restaurant. I’m not used to the car, I couldn’t get the hood open. We walked to a Tim Horton’s. My daughter called her fiancé, he came, bringing coolant. When he opened the hood the coolant level seemed fine, the hoses seemed fine. The car was cooler so we continued home.

We got about five minutes down the road, the car was overheating again. We pulled into a small residential street. The lady whose house we were in front of, gave us water bottles, lawn chairs and offered us dinner as we waited for CAA to come and tow the car to the mechanic.

We were assured CAA would be there between 7:30 and 9:00 but it was around 10:00 before they showed up. We bonded over garlic toast, chips and a Toblerone chocolate bar as we waited for our tow.

While my daughter’s fiancé went to pick up the CAA cards, a gentleman stopped and gave us a diagnostic on the car. “I’m not a mechanic, “ he said as he checked the radiator, oil, looked for leaks, etc. “The fan isn’t working,” he stated. We’ll find out today if his diagnosis is correct.

I have heard of people making their way across the world relying on the kindness of strangers. I’m not sure what I feel about that.

The Kindness Diaries is a movie telling the story of a man with a mission. He counts solely on strangers for food, shelter and fuel as he travels around the world on a vintage motorcycle.

Warren Buffet, “we never want to count on the kindness of strangers in order to meet tomorrow’s obligations.

It is great to know that strangers are kind, but to count on them to make our way through life seems exploitive. We are using them and their generosity, which should not be exploited. It should be appreciated and passed on.

Am I alone in this thinking? I doubt it. If it gets too expensive for strangers to be kind, they will no longer be able to be kind. If more people go to places in the world and live off the kindness of strangers it will give tourists a bad rap.

People are generous and kind until too many people rely on that kindness and generosity. We live in a tit for tat world. When we encounter the users of the world I think it turns off our generous nature. We feel being generous becomes part of the problem as the users don’t do for themselves what they believe someone else will do for them.

It’s one of the reasons I don’t usually give to people who beg for money. I was brought up with, “teach a man to fish and you feed him for a lifetime, give a man a fish and you feed him for a day.” I appreciate the kindness and generosity we encountered yesterday. I hope I will be as kind and generous. I don’t like it when I meet people who are living off of other people’s kindness and generosity. We need balance, too much of a good think can become negative.

Some people think, it’s all good and well to say you will teach us to fish, but where’s the fish? Some people always seem to be able to see the opportunity and choices before them, others only see want and need. How do we change this? Some people wouldn’t see opportunity if it hit them in the face.

One of the ways I think we could help young people spot and look for opportunities is to find a way to link them with a mentor. A mentor that has achieved what they want to achieve can show them how to achieve it too.

Too often we give up before we start. We don’t make the effort because we become convinced it is no use, we will never achieve what we want. Where do we get the resilience that allows some people to grab hold of a dream and suffer setback after setback and forge on?

Is it only attitude and aptitude? Do we need to start moving in a positive direction to build on our successes? We all need to ask questions such as: Why? Why is it this way? Does it have to be this way? What if it were different?

If we ask questions will we be guaranteed we get the right answers? No! If we don’t ask the questions, we are guaranteed we won’t get the answers. Be willing to ask the questions.

Judge a man by his questions rather than his answers.” – Voltaire

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The Power of Kindness: Why Empathy Is Essential in Everyday Life Hardcover – Apr 24 2018


Jack Ryan

Be bold, be courageous, follow your heart. When faced with a choice, know you’ll regret what you don’t do, more than what you do.

Be Bold painting by Belynda Wilson Thomas

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Avoiding danger is no safer in the long run than outright exposure. The fearful are caught as often as the bold.

Helen Keller

My daughter tells me she is finding it hard to concentrate at work, the last week of work before her wedding. It is always stressful when leaving for vacation. As a small business we have to tell our clients we’ll be off and when we’ll be back. There’s no vacation pay and there is no one to do the work until we get back. We have to shut down.

It’s one of the reasons we don’t take many holidays. We always find its okay. At this time in our life we need to wind down more often, stop and smell the roses and go and do the things we want to go and do.

A friend of mine is in Europe with her daughter. She and I talked about going to Europe years ago but never went. I’m following her on face book, it sounds like an amazing trip. Another friend has gone to Scotland with her family, another amazing trip.

Experiences with our families, are worth more than money in the bank. I went to get travel insurance; my husband and I are on the cusp of when it becomes time to fill out the “health questionnaire.” At some point it may be too dangerous or expensive to travel. I was in a store the other day and an older lady was saying she would never take the chance of “leaving Canada,” to go on a trip. Is that fear or being responsible?

Aging is our reality. If I’m lucky like my mom, I have a lot of good healthy years ahead of me. Even a lot of good years ahead of me, is still less than I have behind me. A sobering thought because they have gone so fast my head spins. They were full, wonderful years.

When we are blessed with good genes from our parents, the rest is up to us. What makes happy, resilient, optimistic yet realistic people? What combination of genes, upbringing, circumstance and luck makes us resilient, strong, and able to deal with the slings and arrows of life?

Listening to CNN last night I wonder if finding offense in everything being said, is positive? I know a lot of us say things that may be hurtful depending on how the listener takes them. It would be better if we didn’t say them. If we edit our speech too much we will feel stifled, feeling stifled may breed more rage and outrage as we struggle to say what needs to be said without “offending” anyone.

Has my blog offended anyone? I got some feedback letting me know everyone does not see things how I see them. Of course they don’t, that is what discourse is for. My worldview is shaped by where I was born and raised, what my parents went through, growing up in the safety and security of Canada. I have had the freedom to make my own choices about where I wanted to live, with whom, and what I wanted to do.

Some of those were scary choices. They were mine and for better or worse I live with the consequences. Mostly good, are there things I would change, of course! I would be bolder, I would have taken more chances. My husband and I were bolder before we had children. We felt the weight of providing a secure future for them. We quit taking chances we would have taken without them.

That is not something I regret. It is time for us to become bold and adventurous again. It’s why I started this blog. It’s why I’m going to publish my novel. I read my journal entry when I was sixteen or seventeen. I’d just watched “The Walton’s” John boy was a writer. I wrote that I wanted to write, I thought after forty when I would have something to say. I would have other ways to support myself in case writing was not enough.

Here I am, over forty, writing, supporting myself doing something else. My writing is mine; I do it for the love of it. They say when you make your living doing what you love you never work a day in your life. I don’t know if I believe it. If I was being paid per word, it would put a price on this I might not like. We will do for free what we may have a hard time doing once money gets involved.

Not that I don’t want to make any money from my writing. I do worry money may somehow taint it. I don’t worry about it so much that I won’t put a price on my novel, but if monetizing takes the joy out of it, I can let go of the money, to keep the joy.

Stop being self-conscious when you write. You are the expert about the world you are creating, no one else. So be bold and write on.

Nirav Sanchaniya

Getting married is a bold choice. I applaud my daughter and her fiance as they take this step. Having children is a bold choice, not one we  often think about until after the fact. If we thought about it much, the world population would be a lot smaller.

Trust yourself. Create the kind of self that you will be happy to live with all your life. Make the most of yourself by fanning the tiny, inner sparks of possibility into flames of achievement.     Golda Meir

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Curbing my controlling ways. Giving up controI is harder than you’d think. Become a role model instead of an advice giver.

Phot at Ripley's Aquarium taken by Belynda Wilson Thomas

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God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, courage to change the things I can, and the wisdom to know the difference. Serenity prayer

The message behind this prayer adopted by alcoholics anonymous in the 1940’s is:

Acceptance is not laziness.

We must have the courage to change ourselves. The only power we have and the only person we can change is our self.

Hardship can be good for us. This is where we grow. Where we find out who we are and what we can accomplish. When we view our obstacles not just as frustrations and failures but as opportunities for growth and learning, we can transcend our circumstances.

Surrendering requires courage.

Happiness is attainable. If we live one moment and one day at a time appreciating the beauty, grace and bounty in our lives, our perspective can change. We can come to realize we are one of the blessed. A life of joy can be ours.

This sounds easy and for some it probably is. For the people who never had a control problem. The control problem is instead of controlling our self, we want to control others.

We think life would be perfect if someone else would change. We can only change ourselves and accept other people how they are. The dynamic between people gives you the opposite of what you want, when you try and control someone else. Only by letting them live their life, make their mistakes, do things on their own time and set their own goals while living our own life, do we see progress being made.

I had an epiphany a few years ago when I went to an alanon meeting while supporting a friend. I was a controlling mother. The thing with being a controlling mother is you’d think if you were the controlling mother then things would be just the way you like them. It doesn’t work that way.

“I’m just trying to help,” we say. You can choose intimacy or you can choose control, you can’t have both.

Why would any of us want to meddle, fix, worry, obsess, advise when it makes everyone including our self miserable? We do it to keep our anxiety/fear at bay thinking we can’t be at peace with what is. No one plans to do this for life. Maybe being the oldest of five siblings helped me feel I need to be in control. If we have a tendency toward anxiety, worry and perfectionism it gets worse.

It is hard to develop a “no advice” policy. I love to give advice; I even think I give good advice. Nobody wants my advice. I try and check myself when the urge to give advice arises, sometimes I can’t help myself as I offer a book title, or helpful hint.  The best way to love someone is to let them live their own life, be their own person, make their own decisions. Do we really want to deprive those we love from learning from their own decisions, successes, and mistakes?

When worry has been our hobby we need to find something else to focus on. How about learning to focus on our life, our dreams, our goals. Perhaps we focused on what others should be doing instead of focusing on what we should be doing because it was easier. When we focus on what we should be doing, we might fail. We might learn something. We might grow and develop into who we should be. Then we might have the impact we tried to have being an advice giver, but can only have as a role model.

“You can’t change others. You Can Only Change Yourself. But That Will Change How Others Respond To You.” Springwolf

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More romance, what does that mean? How do we get it?

Keep Love Tanks Full Hibiscus photo taken by Belynda Wilson Thomas

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The curse of the romantic is a greed for dreams, an intensity of expectation that, in the end, diminishes the reality. Marya Mannes

If I can give you one strong piece of advice, when you go away for that romantic weekend, whatever you do, do not accept or take the upgrade to the honeymoon suite. Gordon Ramsay

Some things cannot meet our expectations. Contrived romance is one of those things.

Romance we all want it, what is it? Romance is a feeling of excitement and mystery associated with love. A quality or feeling of mystery, excitement, and remoteness from everyday life. Synonyms are mystery, glamour, excitement, exoticism, mystique, appeal, allure, charm.

We romanticize the past, we romanticize our partners until we don’t. Why do we stop, what does it mean?

One definition of romance is when a man goes out of his way to make sure his woman knows he was thinking of her when she wasn’t around, and on no special occasion. It reminds her of why he made her swoon when she first fell in love.

When women ask men to be more romantic, men often think, “how much will this cost?”

As women, do we acknowledge and notice the gestures our men make? Do we appreciate the gestures large and small? Most men I know agree, “happy wife, happy life.”

For busy women with kids, romance often begins in the kitchen. If you get help doing what you need to do, you get a warmer feeling than when your husband is watching TV with his feet up. Drying the dishes can be the most romantic gesture that can be made at that time.

Talking is romantic, long walks, long drives, long lunches, talking about anything and everything.

My husband asked me if he could have one of my paintings for his man cave. I framed it and gave it to him. Every time I walk in that room I look at my painting. It wasn’t a big thing, it meant a lot to me. Acknowledging each other, especially in the areas we feel vulnerable. Am I good enough, the question we all ask our self, sometimes not even admitting to our self how vulnerable we feel. Romance is sharing our vulnerabilities and knowing the other person won’t exploit them. We can be ourselves, not just the face we put out to the world.

Vulnerability is the essence of romance. It’s the art of being uncalculated, the willingness to look foolish, the courage to say, ‘This is me, and I’m interested in you enough to show you my flaws with the hope that you may embrace me for all that I am but, more important, all that I am not.’ Ashton Kutcher

Elaine Haffield studied romantic relationships for forty years. She pioneered the theory that there exists two types of romantic love, passionate and compassionate and both have an impact on relationship satisfaction and longevity. She designed the passionate love scale.

Dr. Ruth Westheimer – better known as Dr. Ruth having counseled thousands of people about their relationships has concluded most people have unreasonably high expectations for romance. Hollywood movies tell us the stars have to be twinkling “every night.”

Lower expectations, some believe is the key to a happy life. When we have too high of expectations nothing is ever good enough. When we have lower expectations life can dish happy surprises everywhere.

If we expect life to be hard, we can relax when it is easy. Expecting a big part of life to be work and kids, hurrying, scurrying and getting it all done, means we are okay with “real life.” We can relax and enjoy the magical moments. If we expect to live a life filled with adventure and romance it isn’t hard to believe we will be let down, most of the time. My daughter tells me of someone she knows who got a $10,000.00 engagement ring and it, “wasn’t enough.” When I heard this I thought, “run, buddy run.” If you can’t make her happy at the start you’re setting yourself up for nothing but problems.

Putting expectations on other people is a sure recipe to unhappiness. When we love ourselves more we do not need or demand others to look after our needs. We become easier to love.

It is the loving, not the loved, woman who feels lovable. Jessamyn West



Learning to salsa, meeting old friends, meeting new friends, laughs and remembrances.

Happiness In The Moment - Rose of Sharan photo by Belynda Wilson Thomas

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Life shrinks or expands in proportion to our courage. Anais Nin

Yesterday was a fun day for me. In the morning I went to the writers group I joined last month. They talked about getting published, getting an agent, self publishing and the current trend of self publishing to get noticed by traditional publishers. I gave my first reading from my novel. Feedback would have been nice (if it was positive) this group doesn’t give feedback, precisely because it can’t always be positive and even though we think we can take the critique, we often can’t.

I’m enjoying being part of a writers group, some are published, and some aren’t. We are on various parts of the journey. I wonder to myself why I didn’t join years ago. I do love joining with a written novel I am polishing. Perhaps everything is happening in the right order.

Then we drove out to friends of my husband’s and mine, from before we were married. They met while in high school through my husband’s friend’s cousin. The couple were high school sweethearts and now their almost twenty year old daughter has a high school sweetheart too. Do we see our children repeat our path, or does it just seem that way. I love seeing children grown up, lovely, positive children who shine with personality and promise.

We have a great bunch of kids out there taking their place. I hope they are up to the challenges and opportunities before them. Life has never been easy for most, and it certainly is not easy for them as they tackle global warming, population growth, diminished populations of wild life, ocean life and growing desertification. We may not agree how we got here, if we can agree we are here and figure out how to manage it, would be a place to start. Pointing fingers isn’t helpful. Greater minds will figure it out and we’ll have to figure out if we lead, follow or get out of the way.

When you’ve known people long enough and watched enough lives unfold it is amazing how much some people have accomplished in the same amount of time. Forty years went by in the blink of an eye, some people built amazing lives, with amazing accomplishments. Was it a choice, a calling, chance, luck, or seizing the opportunities in front of them so many of us only see looking back?

Part of the entertainment for the evening was a professional salsa dance pair who gave us a lesson after a spectacular performance. Watching them dance was poetry in motion. The dance lesson was not so poetic. I joined in on the lesson because when you get a chance to dance, “dance.”

Say yes and you’ll figure it out afterwards. Tina Fey

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Change, challenge, finding life’s balance

Lulu the little dog that shares my life.

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A planned life can only be endured. Chinese proverb

I’m wondering what my little dog Lulu thinks as she sees the house being rearranged. My daughter’s furniture is moved to the basement. Lulu peed in the basement as if in protest. I call Lulu my stress-o-meter. As I become more stressed so does she. I notice it in her but not in myself. If I didn’t have her I wonder where my stress level would be right now.

She is laying on the floor a few feet away as I write. We can plan our lives expecting to be in our career by a certain age. Planning to meet milestones both big and small. We may plan to be married and parents by a certain age, but all our plans often go awry. Many movies are made about people who have everything they wanted but feel unfulfilled. In the movie they have an epiphany that rearranges their life and creates a life filled with meaning instead of the life they thought they wanted. Life isn’t a movie, we have to do the hard work our self.

We don’t know what is coming. This may be one of the biggest blessings in our life. The fact that we don’t know exactly what life holds for the next ten years is exciting. I remember while I was still living on the farm my mom would say, “I’m going to be buried under that spruce tree.” She never planned at that time to leave the farm. Years later she said, “if I was on the farm I’d still be milking cows at ninety.” I have the feeling mom would be happy either way. For a while when I called she answered the phone, “what do you know that’s good?” If we are lucky our parents are our inspiration. It is our job to pass it on to the next generation.

Every ending is a new beginning. We are all called to be the hero of our own story. There are no bit parts in life. We aren’t the sidekick to the hero, in our story someone is the sidekick to us.

This is true whether we know and acknowledge it or not. This is our life, our twenty four hours, our three score and ten, this is it. Nothing has to change on the outside but when we acknowledge this truth everything changes as we start to live with purpose and meaning. We can fix relationships if we choose to. Sometimes you have to cut your losses and move on. This is a choice. Some people feel this sounds incredibly self centered and selfish.

I think even if you live a life you think is for others, it is for yourself. You feel good putting others first. That is a choice, it may be the best choice. Life is a journey and  if we are lucky it is a long journey. We don’t know, if we have five years or forty years ahead of us. We need to make the best of what we have now.

Change the way you look at things and the things you look at change. Wayne Dyor

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Priorities,time management, to do lists, and living the good life.

Decision - Choose a Path - Photo of stream by Errol Thomas

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What is important is seldom urgent and what is urgent is seldom important. President Eisenhower

Last night I went to Toastmaster’s. I missed last week because of my sister and niece visiting. One of the visitor’s gave a recap of a speech he heard the week before on time management. We hear some profound speeches at Toastmaster’s. It is hard to explain to someone why members of Toastmasters love it so much. If you get a chance to attend a meeting, go. I think you’ll enjoy it. The time management strategy was based on using President Eisenhower’s urgent/important principle. Everything fits into these four categories.

That sounds easy but what fits into each category? The best strategy I understand is to set our to/do list with four categories always leaving some time in it for the urgent crisis which may occur.

Important and urgent:

  • Certain emails (could be a job offer, an email for a new business opportunity that requires immediate action, etc.)
  • Term paper deadline
  • Tax deadline
  • Wife in emergency room
  • Car engine goes out
  • Household chores
  • You have a heart attack and end up in the hospital
  • You get a call from your kid’s principal saying you need to come in for a meeting about his behavior.

Some of this we can’t change. There will always be a crisis. The tax deadline shouldn’t be one of them as we had enough time to do it before it became a crisis.

Important but not urgent:

  • Weekly planning
  • Long-term planning
  • Exercising
  • Family time
  • Reading life enriching books
  • Journaling
  • Taking a class to improve a skill
  • Spending time with a rewarding hobby
  • Studying
  • Meditating
  • Service
  • Car and home maintenance
  • Date night
  • Creating a budget and savings plan

This is the quadrant we should spend our time on. This is where we find lasting happiness, fulfillment and success. The challenge is to know what is truly important to us. Too often we latch onto whatever stimuli and to-dos are most urgent. We have a bias to focus on what is most pressing at the moment. We find it hard to get motivated when the deadline isn’t looming above us. Changing this takes willpower and discipline. Our someday will never come if we don’t look after the important stuff. Our life doesn’t get better if we are still running from crisis to crisis wondering where our best life is.

These are the tasks that help us achieve our personal, professional, spiritual goals. We need to make enough time for these so they do not become urgent. Toastmasters is important but not urgent, one night a week for personal growth. I gave up a gym night for this and I think it’s a good trade off.

Urgent and not important:

  • Phone calls
  • Text messages
  • Most emails (some emails could be urgent and important)
  • Co-worker who comes by your desk during your prime working time to ask a favor
  • Request from a former employee to write a letter of recommendation on his behalf (it’s probably important to him, but let’s face it, it’s probably not that important to you)
  • Mom drops in unannounced and wants your help with a chore

This is where we spend a lot of time. We need to become more assertive and say no firmly (but politely) to most requests. We can spend most of our life responding to other peoples agendas instead of our own.

Not urgent and not important:

  • Watching TV
  • Mindlessly surfing the web
  • Playing video games
  • Scrolling through Facebook , Twitter, Instagram
  • Gambling
  • Shopping sprees

We can spend a lot of time here. This is often what steals our time from what we know we should be doing. We can go for that walk, or watch TV. I used to get the urge to paint or write and instead of painting or writing I would go buy a book on painting or writing. This was wasting time and money. I do have a great art and writing library. It is useful, I enjoy having it, but it was a way of procrastinating. Not doing what I should have done.

Life is all about the choices we make. Hourly, daily, weekly, monthly, yearly, it’s our life, we only have one, we need to make it count.

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Celebrate dreams, wishes and real life. Flowers and hope. Bonding over bouquets and corsages.

Bouquets and corsages photo by Belynda Wilson Thomas

Be the right person and marry the right person. Unknown

Last night was fun, we’ve figured out how to create the bouquets we are taking to Jamaica. A little “do it our self project”. It is fun to make things, and weddings are all about “gilding the lily.”

Flowers have long been part of wedding traditions. In ancient Greece brides carried ivy at their weddings as a symbol of their never ending love. Ancient Roman brides carried herbs to symbolize fidelity, fertility and to ward off evil spirits. The Victorians were fascinated by the meaning and symbolism of flowers and popularized the rose representing true love.

It was also in the Victorian age where tossing the bouquet became popular. Originally the bride tossed the bouquet to a friend to keep her safe, by warding off evil spirits and to offer luck. This came to mean that the single woman who caught the bouquet would marry next.

In Tudor England brides carried marigolds dipped in rosewater and ate them afterward, since they were thought to be an aphrodisiac. In the Middle East the bitter herb Artemisia is incorporated into the bridal bouquet to ensure that the marriage will survive bitterness as well as sweetness.

Swedish ad Danish grooms sew small pockets of strong smelling herbs like garlic, chives, and rosemary into their clothes for good luck.

In an article Barry W. McCarthy Ph D tells us.

What Makes a Happy, Successful Marriage?

Predictors for satisfying, stable, and sexual relationships


A healthy marriage is satisfying, stable, and sexual. The following factors are most predictive of a healthy marriage.

  1. Historical factors
  2. Growing up in an intact, functional family
  3. Parents were a good, not perfect, marital and sexual model
  4. Both parents functioned well psychologically
  5. Pre-disposing factors
  6. At least 21 at time of marriage and not pregnant
  7. Marry for positive reasons: to share your life with your spouse. Marriage not driven by negative motivations such as fear of loneliness, parental or peer pressure, rescue a floundering life
  8. Know partner for at least one year
  9. Commonalities in terms of socio-economic class, race, religion, education.
  10. Physical attraction with potential to develop an intimate sexual relationship
  11. Discuss important life organization issues: work, money, children, where to live
  12. Support of family and friends
  13. Prospective spouse as a respectful, trusting friend
  14. If cohabitating, treating the marital decision as a proactive choice, not sliding into marriage
  15. Sharing important information about self, no major secrets
  16. Process factors
  17. Marital bond of respect, trust, and intimacy grows stronger and more resilient in the first two years of marriage
  18. Develop a mutually agreed-on couple style for handling differences and conflicts
  19. Wait at least two years before the birth of a planned, wanted child
  20. Develop a comfortable, functional couple sexual style which integrates intimacy, pleasuring, and eroticism
  21. Accept that approximately 30% of problems are resolvable, 50-60% are modifiable, and that 10-20% need to be accepted and coped with
  22. Maintain positive, realistic personal and marital expectations
  23. Use the guideline of a 5 to 1 positive-negative set of thoughts, feelings, and behavior toward your spouse and marriage

I encourage each spouse (or partner) to honestly assess each factor on a five point scale:

I really like his plan and I think if couples follow it, it’s better than flowers for good luck. We all hope, dream, think, contemplate, and wish, but it is only by building a healthy strong marriage on shared values, goals and dreams that one is likely to create that strong marriage.

Luck is fickle and not a good basis for life. Romance is nice, but a solid plan going forward even if it doesn’t work out perfectly is better than a life with no direction.

The notion that one day we will find “the perfect one” and live happily ever after – is responsible for more mischief and misery than any other myth of modern life. We ought to know this. Yet our belief and preoccupation with romantic love leads to misery as our unrealistic romantic notions do not reconcile with real life.

Reality is great. Having a partner to share life with, even though they are not perfect (nor are we) should be our goal. Some of my fondest memories are not when we’ve looked our best, standing on a beach with windswept hair. It is after laying a hard wood floor, stopping for a burger to have the energy to finish the second half. Enjoying a burger at a rest point on an across Canada trip and looking at our car which looks like it’s been lived in for six months. Watching sleeping children who just hours ago were creating bedlam in the house.

Sharing the breathtaking view after a hike, knowing we are turning around and hiking back. It isn’t the glass of wine that makes life special, it is what happened before you poured the glass of wine. We could toast life every day, and if lifting a glass and saying “salute” meant anything by itself we could all do it. The family reunion photo is important because of all it took for everyone to be in that particular place at that particular time.

It isn’t romance that makes life good. It’s a good life that makes moments seem romantic. There’s a lot of work behind building a life that has great moments. There’s a lot of work that goes into creating a romantic wedding. Sometimes we forget that it is the everyday that builds a life and a marriage. We can’t just celebrate we have to build something to celebrate.

Love is a verb. Unknown

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