Miracles and reason. Questions and faith.

Miracles painted by Belynda Wilson Thomas

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Food and medicine. We are what we eat.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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The Blue Zones, Second Edition: 9 Lessons for Living Longer From the People Who’ve Lived the LongestPaperback – Nov 6 2012

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


How Christianity changed the world.

Christianity Made the Modern World - photo of pink rose taken by Belynda Wilson Thomas

The Christian gospel is a two-way road. On the one hand, it seeks to change the soul of men, and thereby unite them with God; on the other hand, it seeks to change the environmental conditions of men so the soul will have a chance after it is changed. Martin Luther King Jr.

As our friends left last night one of them said. I expect this to be in your blog tomorrow. We talked until 4:30 am, about everything but much of it revolved around, Jordan Peterson’s 12 Rules for Life.

We somehow got on the Industrial Revolution and my son said, “we believe the Romans had the knowledge to build steam engines but didn’t. Some believe the rationale for not building steam engines was they were a nation powered by slaves. What was their impetus to change?

The impetus for change according to my son was Christianity and the belief we are created in the image of God. This brought about the push to abolish slavery and to get rid of the Divine Right of Kings.

Our friend loved Jordan Peterson in the beginning but no longer feels the same way. We were trying to understand why and it has to do with atheism. Jordan Peterson asserts “atheists really believe in a God, and act as if they do.” What my son believes this means is, you are allowed to not believe in God and live in Christian countries, because of Christianity.  Christianity has created so much of what we value.  Jordan Peterson asserts that even if you don’t believe in God it is useful to act like you do. What this means to me is everything you need to live a good life is found in the Bible. If you follow those rules, you live a good life, if you live a good life you are more likely to be happy, if you don’t follow the rules you are more likely to fall into a life that seems like hell.

Should we not press it home upon our consciences that the sole object of our conversion was not the salvation of our soul, but that we might become co-workers with our Lord and Master in the conversion of the world? Lottie Moon, Baptist missionary to China (1840-1912)

Christianity brought us the enlightenment of all people being equal – even though it has taken a long time to implement. Slavery is gone from the Western World because of Christianity. Christians became the abolitionists. It was non-conformist Christians that brought us the Magna Carta, and the right to vote. It was Christianity that promoted mass education, democracy, and human rights. It is Christianity that brought us laws to protect the common man.

Christianity has shaped every area of our lives, its influence is so huge we take its heritage for granted and forget that Christianity was the source of this civilization.

It is Christianity that created Alcoholics Anonymous and the 12 Step Program. Believing in a higher power is useful, believing there is more strength to lean on than just our self, allows us to believe we can do things we don’t believe we can do alone. If thinking makes it so, then believing in God even if you can’t prove there is one, is useful. So many people turn their life around when they find God. This falls right into Jordan Peterson’s belief it is useful to believe in God because how can you not feel empowered if you believe “all things are possible through God who strengthens me”?

If we become a secular world and lose our belief in God, what else would we lose?

“Where there is Love and Wisdom, there is neither Fear nor Ignorance.
Where there is Patience and Humility, there is neither Anger nor Annoyance.
Where there is Poverty and Joy, there is neither Cupidity nor Avarice.
Where there is Peace and Contemplation, there is neither Care nor Restlessness.
Where there is the Fear of God to guard the dwelling, there no enemy can enter.
Where there is Mercy and Prudence, there is neither Excess nor Harshness.”
—Francis of Assisi (1181-1226)

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How Christianity Made The Modern World - The Legacy of Christian Liberty: How the Bible Inspired Freedom, Shaped Western Civilization, Revolutionized Human ... Transformed Democracy and...Heritage by [Backholer, Paul]
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How Christianity Made The Modern World – The Legacy of Christian Liberty: How the Bible Inspired Freedom, Shaped Western Civilization, Revolutionized Human … Transformed Democracy and…Heritage Kindle Edition

Be easy to love. Attitude is a choice.

Photo of sweet pea by Belynda Wilson Thomas

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Attitude is a Choice Paperback – Nov 23 2017

Toastmasters. Entering speaking contests, getting proficient.

Photo of Lulu by Belynda Wilson Thomas

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Choose the right person. Respect your husband and make yourself happy.

Stock photo of bananas and avocadoes

The secret to a happy marriage is finding the right person. You know they’re right if you love to be with them all the time. Julia Child

Yesterday my husband played me a Youtube video. It was a man making fun of a woman who is a relationship coach. He was tearing down her ideas but I think they are brilliant.

She says women are moaning to her, “where are all the good men?” She says women say they like good men but go after the not so good men. Good men, she compares to avocados and players to bananas. We go to the store and the banana display is overwhelming. We forget we even wanted an avocado.

We can’t make guacamole with a banana. If we want guacamole we have to choose the avocado, and that means we have to cast our eyes, heart, and everything else away from the banana. We are only fooling ourselves when we choose bananas and say we want to make the best guacamole ever!

We end up having both the bananas and the avocadoes laugh at us. If we want an avocado then pick an avocado. Why is this so hard the avocado says? The avocado has a chip on his shoulder because he’s what women say they want, but they keep picking bananas. The bananas laugh because they know they aren’t capable of making guacamole. They know the women want guacamole but the women can’t stay away from the banana, even though she wants guacamole she can only make with an avocado.

Those bananas are working hard to make themselves irresistible, they work out at the gym. They drive the fast, look at me cars. They have fancy clothes and fancy haircuts and a don’t give a damn attitude. We feel so good when they look our way, we tell our self he’s offering more than what he offered the last fifteen girls he was with.

So I think you have to marry for the right reasons, and marry the right person. Anne Bancroft

We are in “groundhog day” again. Many women who picked the avocado and made guacamole can still get caught up in the siren call of the banana. He has nothing to offer you. Your avocado isn’t driving the fancy car, or wearing the fancy duds, or getting the expensive haircuts because he’s making guacamole with you and spending his resources on you and little avocados.

When we choose the avocado, in the beginning, he may not look flashy next to the banana. Over time the avocado can be the one who grows and develops into the man some other woman wants to make guacamole with.  She’s overlooking both the bananas and the avocados to go for your guacamole. After all, he’s a proven entity. He’s proven he can make really, really good guacamole. Why choose your own avocado when you can jump right into someone else’s guacamole.

We as women need to appreciate the man we have. Husbands need love and respect, we are stingy with our love and respect at our peril. All the marriage coaches, councilors and therapists say what men really; really want is to make their wife happy. When they have a happy wife they feel they have accomplished their job of being a good husband.

This is why one of the coaches Laura Doyle says our job is to make our self happy. We do this by doing three things for our self daily. If we can make our self happier, we can improve the mood of the home. Everyone is happier when the woman is happy. I hear it from my husband, “I want to see that smile back on your face.” It seems like a huge responsibility if I’m in a mood, but when I’m not it seems like the best deal ever. My job, my big responsibility is to make myself happy, so I can spread happiness to the rest of the family.

My husband supports this, encourages it even. By knowing we can be happy our husbands feel they can be more effective husbands. Rejoice and be happy, smile and your husband smiles with you. Hug your avocado and enjoy your guacamole.

If we are still single leave the bananas alone. We need to completely cut our self off from bananas so we can look at the avocados and pick the best one. If we’ve picked an avocado then love and respect him. Quit comparing avocados to bananas.

It sounds like a cliché but I also learnt that you’re not going to fall for the right person until you really love yourself and feel good about how you are. Emma Watson

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Surrendered Wives Empowered Women: The Inspiring, True Stories of Real Women who Revitalized the Intimacy, Passion and Peace in Their Relationships Paperback – Sep 17 2015

3.9 out of 5 stars   20 reviews from Amazon.com |

Reconnecting with people. Loving what is.

Reconnecting photo of hydrangeas by Belynda Wilson Thomas

But friendship is precious, not only in the shade, but in the sunshine of life, and thanks to a benevolent arrangement the greater part of life is sunshine. Thomas Jefferson

I’ve reconnected with people from my past this year. A lot of it has been on Facebook. Everyone makes Facebook out to be this nefarious entity. They tell us how it is ruining marriages. They don’t tell us how it is reconnecting people.

It’s a loose connection, but it gives us a window into other people’s lives. We put a comment on their post. We like a picture. It is a form of connection. It shouldn’t be the only connection with people but for those of us who live far from where we grew up it widens our circle.

We lose people along the way we didn’t mean to lose contact with. It takes an effort to stay in touch. This year of big changes has made me reach out to people. If not now, when? I want to live my life with few regrets. Relationships end or fizzle because of time and circumstance but they can end on a good note.

Many times they don’t end, we just get busy. We’ll call them a little later. When we call the phone number is no longer in service, the Christmas card (who does this anymore) came back. We go on with our life. We think about them but more time goes by.

A friendship can weather most things and thrive in thin soil; but it needs a little mulch of letters and phone calls and small, silly presents every so often – just to save it from drying out completely. Pam Brown

Mom came up with a phone number for someone I shouldn’t have lost contact with. I called last night. We had a great chat. She’s far away but if we try we may be able to be in the same place at the same time to see each other. We can stay in touch by phone and Facebook.

I have someone else I’m going to try and locate. I haven’t seen her since I was six. She’s estranged from her father. Am I meddling if I try to reconnect them?

My circle is widening. The time of my life being all about work and home is over. I’m stepping out to develop the side of me I set aside when the responsibilities of mothering took all the extra time I had. It may not be true I didn’t have time to widen my circle then. We tell our selves things that aren’t true. We don’t have time, we don’t have resources.

In my writer’s group, the majority of the members are older. We’ve built our lives doing and being what society told us we should be and do. It may be the best thing that we are coming to writing later. It is a pursuit suited to older people. We’ve seen more, we’ve lived more, and we have something to say. Fortunately, we don’t need to live off our writing. We don’t have to worry if we are a commercial success.

We don’t have to write for an audience.  Instead, we hope an audience likes what we write. There is a big difference. We can be honest, authentic, and put our words out to the world. We understand writing is the joy. Once we put it out there we need to write something else.

I saw Maya Angelou recounting what she got from every decade. We need to look at life like that. Every decade brings gifts. We need to be open to what can be, not mourn too much what is over.

I was reading what some very unwell elderly people were saying about their life. They were still thinking when it gets worse. They were still seeing the beauty in their days even though many of the things they’d enjoyed were not able to be enjoyed any longer. They were enjoying what they still had.

If we go forward with humor and optimism we have no idea the gifts ahead for us. The people we’ll meet, the friends we’ll make, and the ones we’ll reconnect with. Life is about going forward, meeting the challenges of the day and enjoying the rewards. We may think we enjoyed our twenties more than we’ll enjoy our nineties (if we are lucky enough to get there) it might not be true. The truth is probably we need to enjoy each day, living fully in the moment. I think I’ll pose this question to my mom, is she enjoying her nineties as much as she enjoyed her twenties? Happiness is a state of mind, we can choose to be happy at every age.

Let us be grateful to people who make us happy, they are the charming gardeners who make our souls blossom. Marcel Proust

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Ageless Women, Timeless Wisdom: Witty, Wicked, and Wise Reflections on Well-Lived Lives Paperback – Apr 4 2017

Approach, avoid, attack. More talking isn’t always the answer.

Be Approachable photo by Belynda Wilson Thomas

Gracious words are a honeycomb, sweet to the soul and healing to the bones. Proverbs 16:23-25

We talk, and talk, rehash, go over the same old stuff. It’s often things we cannot change. Someone is hurt, someone is defensive, going over it makes more hurt and more defensiveness. We heard something they say they didn’t say. They think we meant something we say we didn’t mean. They can’t believe they said it, we can’t believe we heard wrong. We are in “groundhog day” mode. We can’t seem to get past something.

There comes a time when we have to agree to disagree. We need to get on with the parts of our lives that work. We need to start doing little things to bridge the gap because words are not doing it.

We may think how do we still talk and keep a wide birth when this thing we can’t resolve seems to encompass everything? Sometimes we think we are saying things in a reasonable non confrontational manner. It may not be taken that way.

We can use our “kind” voice and still be in attack mode. We can do things in avoid mode that are passive aggressive. Getting to and living in approach mode is our goal. Approach means going toward someone or something with positive energy. In approach mode we want to get more of something, experience more, discover more, learn more, and appreciate more. We are in approach mode as we watch a sunset, try to solve a problem or get interested in something. We can ask our self a question, do we want our partner to feel that way or do we want them to get defensive?

Avoid means giving no energy at all. In avoid we want to get away from something. Whether it is purposeful or not, avoiding our partner or shutting them out will have a negative effect. When we are avoiding or feel our partner is avoiding we could make some small gesture of connection, even if it is only to hold a positive thought about them in our mind.

Love one another and help others to rise to the higher levels, simply by pouring out love. Love is infectious and the greatest healing energy. Sai Baba

Attack means turning negative energy against someone. When we are in attack mode we want to devalue, harm, incapacitate and destroy. Attack mode includes coercion and manipulation. We are in attack mode when we have the impulse unconscious or not to “put someone in their place”, or show we are superior in knowledge, skill, talent, sensitivity, character, or morals. Attack mode lowers other people’s value by dismissing their perspective or undermining their confidence. We can be in attack mode even when we use our kind voice, we don’t even have to say anything we can exude the attitude of attack.

As a general rule approach reduces fear and shame. Avoid and attack increase fear and shame.

Motivation differs from goals and intentions in important ways. Our goal may be to get our partner to understand. If we are not in approach mode we will ignore or blow off our partner’s perspective. Feeling disregarded our partner becomes defensive. We are then likely to imply any intelligent person would see it our way.

We respond to our partner’s motivation and not to their goals and intentions. We respond to the emotional tone of the interaction. What does it feel like on the receiving end? Avoid and attack feel devaluing. Our effort to clarify our goals and intentions will always fail unless we change our motivation to approach, to want to understand and appreciate their perspective rather than influence, control or manipulate it.

In How To Improve Your Marriage Without Talking About It the author says. As a general rule, talking to a woman puts her in approach mode, but when a woman starts talking to a man, he can easily slip into avoid mode even if he wasn’t in it when she started. It seems this has to do with the man’s dread of failure and feeling he will hear what he has done wrong. Wow, this explains so much.

I think this is why another marriage coach I’ve been listening to says women should just say “ouch” when something hurtful is said. I’ve found the more I say the worse it gets. Defensiveness on both sides ramps up.

How do we switch into approach mode when we have negative feelings toward our partner? We do it by making a decision. We do it by deciding what is more important to us, ignoring or devaluing our partner or appreciating, connecting and being approachable. Punishment of our loved one may make us feel more powerful but not more valuable.

When we feel devalued we need to raise our self value, not indulge the revenge motivation of anger and punishment. Sometimes we want things from our partner but we make it difficult for them to give them to us. If we don’t hold an attitude of approach in our mind it is difficult even when we use our kind voice to get closer to each other.

It may be hard but we control our attitude. We can change it. We can be the change we want to see in our relationships. Too many of us know our partner needs to see things differently, act differently, and change. It is only when we change, adjust our attitude, become the person we are to be that progress is made. Our attitude is our choice, often a hard choice. It is the easiest thing to be judgmental, to avoid and attack.

Being open, approachable, vulnerable, loving, accepting, encouraging, and kind is hard. What is the alternative? Do we want more hostility, negativity, avoiding and attacking in our relationships?

I’m trying an experiment. I’ve written “approach mode” on an elastic I’m wearing on my wrist to remind me to consciously choose to be approachable. To consciously think loving thoughts, do loving things, and become healer of the breach.

I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel. Maya Angelou

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Love Is A Verb: How To Stop Analyzing Your Relationship And Start Making It Great Hardcover – Feb 7 1995

Remembrance and aging. Embracing what is.

Painting "Embracing What Is" by Belynda Wilson Thomas

Painting by Belynda Wilson Thomas

They shall grow not old, as we that are left grow old: Age shall not weary them, nor the years condemn. At the going down of the sun and in the morning, we will remember them. Laurence Binyon

We went to the cenotaph yesterday for the Remembrance ceremony. One hundred years ago armistice was declared. My grandmother was eighteen. How did it impact her choice of husband when so many of the men she could have married were cut down in war? She married a man many years her senior.

She died of breast cancer at age fifty-three. I never had the privilege of knowing her. I wish I could have. She’s always sounded like such a fabulous person who had to deal with a lot with few resources. Mom and dad grew up in the depression. The lean years they called them. Dad said if you didn’t want potatoes for dinner, dinner was over.

All my life I’ve lived in peace and plenty. I think of the years growing up on the farm as happy golden years. It’s funny I loved it so much yet I didn’t want to spend my life on the farm. Mom was the same. She told her first husband she wouldn’t live on the farm. He sold the land he’d bought to her brother. Dad was farming when they got together. He’d done a stint in Vancouver but was back on the land. I think she loved her time on the farm. I remember her telling us she wanted to be buried under a specific tree.

I never thought mom and dad would leave the farm. After a farm accident where dad lost most of his right hand, they were ready to leave. They relocated in B.C. Dad didn’t like B.C. as much as mom did. He longed for the flat land of Saskatchewan, where he was strong and vital, B.C. was where he declined. Some people like the mountains. Some people feel hemmed in by them.

A lot of Saskatchewan farmers retired to B.C. they met every Friday at the Farmers Market. I was with Mom the day she told them Dad passed. I’m sure it was news they heard often.

Life goes by fast. My son turned twenty-nine – how did that happen? Where did all that time go? On Saturday I went out with friends I met through my husband. We’ve known each other for over thirty-five years, we had a lot to talk and laugh about. One of them I’m sure I met before her and her then-boyfriend broke up. She married and had children and reconnected with my husband’s friend her high school sweetheart.

I’ve heard of quite a few instances where people grow up build a life and later reconnect with their high school sweetheart and have a new romance. I have a widowed friend I’m going to ask her if she left one behind?

Life goes by, my mom tells me she doesn’t feel like she should be turning ninety-four. I don’t feel like I should be turning sixty. We need to embrace our age, what’s the alternative? It doesn’t make sense to me to pretend to be too much younger than I am. Who’s kidding who? Bette Davis said getting old is not for sissies.

We are all aware, I know I’m preaching to the choir. We all know we need to watch what we eat – wouldn’t it be nice to know exactly what the best way to eat is? Try the ketogenic diet, no the starch solution is better, no I heard about food combining? Enough already, I say as I staunchly recommended no dairy and the starch solution on Saturday. None of us are getting out of this alive.

The past: our cradle, not our prison; there is danger as well as appeal in its glamour. The past is for inspiration, not imitation, for continuation, not repetition. Israel Zangwill

Enjoy the moments, days, weeks, months, years we have. Even though I’ve embraced plant-based, very little sugar and no dairy to some degree. I had a chocolate molten lava cake with ice-cream on Saturday. It was so good, I can’t do 100% deprivation. I would quit doing eighty or seventy percent watching what I eat if I had to do one hundred percent. Some people can’t loosen up a little; they have to be strict all the time. Do whatever works for you.

We think when we’ve found something that works for us everyone should do it. What happened to individualism? Do we only pretend to embrace it? As we embrace the fact many of us have less time ahead of us than behind we should simplify our lives. We couldn’t fit everything in forty years ago, we can’t fit everything in now. What is important to us? Maybe we can do a couple things well; maybe we’ve been fragmenting our focus and energy.

If we haven’t embraced our self, our imperfections, our challenges, our weaknesses, and our strengths, it’s time. If not now, when? If there is some burning desire we haven’t got to yet, it’s time.

If we have some tweaks we want to make in our life, it’s time. If there are some places we want to go, we need to start figuring out how we can get there and when.

Retirement looms ahead for my husband and I. We need to get a plan together. It will happen whether we have a plan in place or not. It will be better if we have a plan. There are people ahead of us that show us the way. They’ve written books, they give talks on Youtube and Ted talks. We have more information about making this last leg of our life better than ever before.

We can embrace the stage we are in, or we can moan, groan and deny. I’m embracing it, at least that’s what I tell myself.

All we have of freedom, all we use or know – This our fathers bought for us long and long age. Rudyard Kipling

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Mindful Aging: Embracing Your Life After 50 to Find Fulfillment, Purpose, and Joy Paperback – Sep 21 2017

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Remembrance Day. Heroes and Heroines.

Female ATA pilots World War11

Picture of ATA female pilots.

We were trained to fly not just one type of single engine plane – but any type of single engine plane. Jay Edwards, ATA pilot

Today I learned about war heroes I’ve never heard of.  During World War ll the Air Transport Auxiliary ATA had 1,320 pilots, 168 of them were women. The pilots flew aircraft from the factories and airports to military outposts.

Violet Milstead was one of the four female Canadian ATA pilots. She flew at least 47 types of aircraft during the war including Spitfires, de Havilland Mosquitos, Beaufighters, Hawker Tempests, and Grumman Hellcats. She had to learn the controls and system of each new aircraft rapidly. ATA pilots were not allowed to use radio contact during flights, due to the risk of being overheard. She logged over 600 hours of flight time and was the longest-serving female Canadian pilot with the ATA. She was paid 20 percent less than the male pilots.

Each year we have fewer war veterans. In 2010 John Babcock believed to be the last surviving veteran of the Canadian Military to have served in the First World War died.

We call them the Greatest Generation they grew up in the deprivation of the Great Depression and then went on to fight in World War ll. This was my parent’s generation. This year my mother’s sister a veteran of World War ll died. The numbers of World War ll veterans is declining. Soon the memories of World War ll will only be in history books and movies; there will be no one left to tell us about it who was really there. If we are close to a veteran we should learn their stories before it is too late.

Living in Canada we’ve focused on the two great wars. Ronald David of the Edmonton Millwoods Alberta Stake tells us there hasn’t been one day in over two hundred years without some kind of war on earth. Political, tribal, religious, territorial, civil, regional and global wars have continued unabated. He says the world has endured over two hundred and sixty wars since 1900. That sounds like a lot, I haven’t done the research myself but it doesn’t make humanity seem like we want to live in a peaceful world.

We’ve all heard the meek will inherit the earth. Jordan B Peterson tells us the meek are not the weak. The meek are those who know how to fight, have the weapons to fight but do not have to fight. This means to maintain peace we must have swords and know how to use them but keep them sheathed.

It is better to be a warrior in a garden than a gardener in a war. Chinese Proverb

This is a metaphor for a person wielding courageous compassion, benevolent bravery, fearless empathy, and dauntless altruism.

On Remembrance Day we acknowledge the courage and sacrifice of those who served, and who still serve. It is hard to find words to express what we owe. It is a debt we can never repay only honor.

In Flanders fields, the poppies blow
Between the crosses, row on row,
That mark our place; and in the sky
The larks, still bravely singing, fly
Scarce heard amid the guns below.

We are the Dead. Short days ago
We lived, felt dawn, saw sunset glow,
Loved and were loved, and now we lie
In Flanders fields.

Take up our quarrel with the foe:
To you from failing hands we throw
The torch; be yours to hold it high.
If ye break faith with us who die
We shall not sleep, though poppies grow
In Flanders fields.

By John McCrae, May 1915

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Everyday Heroes: Inspirational Stories from Men and Women in the Canadian Armed Forces Paperback – Oct 24 2017