Confidence and courage build great lives.

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You just have to be yourself and go full with confidence and be courageous. Gabby Douglas

Confidence is feeling you can get another job if you leave the one you hate. It is believing you can head off to parts unknown to build a life. Believing you can build a life wherever you are, that you can bloom where you are planted.

There is not one recipe for happy productive lives. If we stay in the area we were born we can build happy, productive lives. We may try our hand at many things or become an expert at one. Our lives are up to us, we make our choices but sometimes after we make certain choices we begin to feel stuck.

Some choices we are happy with, but outside circumstances are changing, and we must change with them. We may love our job and the life we’ve built but the company is moving away, shutting-down, downsizing, or closing. Retirement looms and another set of choices must be made.

We need confidence and courage to deal with life. We can make all the seemingly right decisions and still find our self in uncomfortable situations we never thought we would be in.

My son recently introduced me to a blog called Mr. Money Mustache. It’s a money blog about retiring early, he started it in 2011 and has with his wife and child been living on $25,000.00 a year. This does not include business expenses. When I looked up the blog, the first post I saw was he and his wife are now divorced. My son was shocked.

One of the reasons given for the early retirement was so they could raise their son together. How hard it must be when the decisions made bring you to the one decision you thought you would never make. It takes courage to leave a marriage; it takes courage to make a bad marriage better, a cold marriage warm.

Decision is a risk rooted in the courage of being free. Paul Tillich

One of the problems with writing a blog is we may seem like hypocrites because we can’t possibly follow all the good advice we write about. Everyone who is married is in one of the four seasons of marriage, spring, summer, fall, or winter. It might be very hard to discern if a winter marriage is dead or just dormant. Is it beyond repair or a little tender loving care would revive it? It takes courage to leave, and it takes courage to stay and make it better.

All of our decisions may be second-guessed by our self and others. Its part of life knowing when we turned left, it might have been better if we turned right. Not making the decision is when we don’t live with courage and confidence.

We may have to live with the knowledge we didn’t make the best decision. Making a decision is better than being stuck.

I look at the television show where couples are shown three houses and they have to pick one to make their home. Did they really only look at three homes? Probably not, but we are told more choice does not make us happier; it makes it harder for us to choose. Sometimes the choice is so hard we don’t make a choice, by not making a choice we don’t move forward in our life.

Mr. Money Mustache was told to get an education and he did, he became a software engineer. He retired from that at age thirty-one and now does carpentry which he loves. Because he lives frugally he wouldn’t need to work, but he has given himself the freedom to do something he loves.

Frugality to him equals freedom. To some people being that frugal would be oppressive. Last night I listened to my son, his girlfriend and my daughter discussing how much money could be saved over ten years if going out for coffee was given up.

Going for coffee may be one of the ways we spend our fifteen hours of uninterrupted couple time. It might make sense on paper, but it might be the worst decision, and very expensive if giving up a little out every day makes life much less enjoyable.

Coloring our hair is also expensive but not something many women especially, are willing to give up. Some of us embrace our gray hair, and if you do, I applaud you. If you don’t and a little box of hair color, or a trip to the hair salon, makes you feel like you, and not a little old lady when you look in the mirror. Then, by all means, color your hair.

Frugality has its place but we need to make decisions that make us feel good. This is our life, it is easy to look at other peoples choices and question them. When we look at our own lives and question our choices, this is where we find benefit. Building our life with courage and confidence is the way to build a good life. My choices are not your choices, and if we are to have a happy life we have to be confident in making unpopular choices sometimes.

It may be leaving a stable job, career or business to take a chance on a dream. We regret the things we don’t do more than the things we do. We can always pick ourselves up and dust ourselves off if things don’t work out. The saddest words are what if, but when faced with a fork in the road we can only choose one of them. We may think we can go back and choose the other path, sometimes we can, often we can’t.

It is with confidence and courage we must make our choices. Not choosing is still a choice. Is there a choice looming in your life?

Everything you want is on the other side of fear. Jack Canfield

Big Magic: Creative Living Beyond Fear by [Gilbert, Elizabeth]
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Bell Let’s Talk Day.

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I lie about being sick sometimes because people understand if you have a cold, but not if you have depression. Unknown

Today is Bell Let’s Talk Day and we have a lot to talk about. I just read an article written by Philip Moscovitch that was published in The Globe And Mail January 29, 2019.  He frequently writes about mental health and mental illness and is working on a book about life with psychosis – for those experiencing it and those around them.

Last night I watched a video of a young man experiencing psychosis and how hard it was for his mother and mental health professionals to get him to agree to treatment.

Philip Moscovitch’s article is asking “do we really need more talk?” His son who is open about his recovery from psychosis knows the flip side of fighting the stigma and how appearances are inherently built into how people respond to someone else’s mental illness.  His son says, “Even as a privileged person you are marginalized when you have a mental illness. There were nights when people I thought were my friends wouldn’t let me sleep at their place, I thought I was alienated from my family, it was minus-15, and I was just walking down the streets of Halifax with jeans that were frozen to the bone, unable to go anywhere and sleeping in underground parking lots.”

We want to help, we want to make a difference but when we are faced with helping someone whose behavior scares us, what are we to do? Once we know someone has had an episode or more than one episode how do we pretend we aren’t looking for signs of another one?

It may be true that Bell Talk Day won’t help those with serious mental illness. We may have to live with the fact that someone we know suffered through mental illness and we wish we’d done better. We wish we’d found a way to help.

It’s so common, it could be anyone. The trouble is, nobody wants to talk about it, and that makes everything worse. Ruby Wax

This disease comes with a package: shame. When any other part of your body gets sick you get sympathy. Ruby Wax

One of the criticisms of Bell Talk Day is although raising awareness and funding worthwhile programs and services is worthwhile. They don’t emphasize the kinds of fundamental change we need.

No matter how good we get as a society we will never meet everyone’s needs to their satisfaction, all of the time. We may not know what the fundamental changes are some people believe we need. What works for one person may not work best for others.

We are trying and that is worth something. Are mental illnesses simply physical diseases that happen to strike the brain? There is so much we don’t know. It would be easy if one has a family member suffering from mental illness to feel not enough is being done. Someone who lives with a person with mental illness may even feel they know things about mental illness that aren’t being recognized.

We have a long way to go; we have a lot to learn. Raising money for research is one way to make a difference. It might not make much difference to someone in the throes of mental illness right now. Research on any other disease also might not help the current sufferers, research being done helps future patients, and it leads to future understanding.

It is easy to get discouraged; it is easy to feel not enough is being done. Bell Let’s Talk Day is trying to be part of the solution. It won’t happen overnight, it might not help the one we love. Isn’t it still worth doing if who it helps is not yet born?

The strongest people are not those who show strength in front of the world but those who fight and win battles that others do not know about. Johnathon Harnisch


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Surviving Mental Illness Through Humor Kindle Edition

Don’t be ashamed of your story. It will inspire others. Unknown


Winter wonderland, can spring be far behind?

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The first fall of snow is not only an event, but it is also a magical event. You go to bed in one kind of world and wake up in another quite different, and if this is not enchantment then where is it to be found. J.B. Priestley

Mother Nature has given us a lot to deal with this morning. Some dreams of a snow day have come true. My husband has already shoveled the driveway and my son in law has braved the snow to go to work. My daughter is reveling in a snow day.

I’m thankful to be snug and warm with nowhere to go today. Our little dog was surfing in the snow this morning when I let her out. She loves the snow for a little while, comes in, dries off, and then wants to go out again.

My husband jokes we should move to warmer climes. Would we miss the seasons if we lived in perpetual summer? The joy we feel each spring as chartreuse buds appear on trees would be one of the things we’d miss. In a book I have on color, chartreuse is called “dog barking green”. In some places, even the dogs are glad to see the first green of spring. Driving in spring and spying the first flowers blooming warms my heart.

How is it for those of you who have left four seasons? Do you miss the seasons? Is the joy we feel in spring worth it, or overrated?

Winter is a blessing and a curse, but more of a blessing in my opinion. It is my belief that society progressed because of the challenges we had to face in harsh climates. We don’t do things just to do them, we look for ways to deal with the challenges we face.

When I no longer thrill to the first snow of the season, I’ll know I’m growing old. Lady Bird Johnson

Spring is coming soon and I have learned in my Horticultural society that some harsh climates have some of the most beautiful gardens. Overwintering container plants is popular in harsher climates. This allows the pots to be full and lush in a short growing season.

Spring is my favorite season. It is filled with promise, anything can happen in spring. We can only enjoy spring because we have winter. Would the days blur into each other even more where the climate doesn’t change?

Looking out the window at newly fallen snow is a sight to behold. It doesn’t take long for crisp white to turn to ugly gray and for me to get my fill of winter. I think I would miss it if I lived somewhere with endless summers? Maybe once we retire we’ll live without winter for a year and see what we think about it.

It could be we look on the bright side and enjoy winter to the degree we do because it’s our reality and we may as well enjoy it instead of curse it. After all isn’t life better when we learn to love what is?

There is nothing in the world more beautiful than the forest clothed to its very hollows in snow. It is the still ecstasy of nature, wherein every spray, every blade of grass, every spire of reed, every intricacy of twig, is clad with radiance. William Sharp

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The Winter Survival Handbook: 157 Winter Tips and Tricks Paperback – Oct 27 2015

Listening to understand.

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The biggest communication problem is we do not listen to understand. We listen to reply. Unknown

Talk and listen, listen and talk. Isn’t this the recipe for good communication and a happy life? We try to listen and we try to talk but sometimes talking makes things worse and not talking about things makes it better. How could this be true and when do we know if we should be talking about issues or not?

The answer according to John Gray lies with whom the issue is with. Women tend to assume that men will calm down through talking. According to John Gray this is only true if she agrees with what the husband says. In most cases when a man is upset the more we get him to talk the worse things become. If the husband has an issue where the wife does not agree with his version of the story, then talking makes it worse. If she agrees with his version of the story then talking can be okay.

According to John Gray of Men Are From Mars, Women Are From Venus men have more of a need to be right when they are feeling hurt, disrespected, etc. If we can’t agree with their version of events, especially if it is a problem between husband and wife then we should try to acknowledge their feelings without talking about it. Talking seems to make it worse. There is nothing the wife can say that will make it better unless she agrees with his side of the story. She is likely to get defensive if the conversation goes on for very long, she will not change his mind, and more hurt feelings will come out of long conversations. John Gray advises even though it may seem a little rude, do our best to cut the conversation short.

According to relationship expert, John Gray women figure things out through talking. Men often need to go into their cave to figure things out. When they are alone, they cool down and things begin to fall into perspective.

Before you speak, think: Is it necessary? It is true? Is it kind? Will, it hurt anyone? Will it improve on the silence?  Sai Baba

This may be why relationship coach Laura Doyle recommends we just say “ouch” when something critical is said. By saying “ouch” we acknowledge it is hurtful. Marriage therapists all seem to agree we should never let hurtful things be said without acknowledging they are hurtful. We should also not engage in an argument or get dragged into a fight where more mean and hurtful things are said.

The advice seems to be: try to let them know, you know the person you fell in love with is still in there even as “the mean alter ego” has taken over. One word of advice is to “see criticism as a sign of others belief in our abilities.” We have to be a saint for this one. We need to cultivate a “growth” mindset.

Experts say we are less likely to get defensive or hurt over something when we know for sure it’s not true. When we are secure with our self, and we don’t feel the need for outside validation. If we have a healthy amount of narcissism it is actually good for us. It allows us to handle harsh criticisms, broken promises, or miscommunications with others. We can resolve issues when we are criticized by talking calmly without being defensive because we know who we are, and we are good enough.

If we really listen and stop our self from retaliating, we will understand the issue. We could come up with a mantra we say to our self instead of getting defensive.  “We could say to our self “this is about you, this isn’t about me.” When we do respond we should use “I” statements. If we find we are getting defensive we should end the discussion before it escalates

We should think long term. We do not want to win this argument but the damage done to the relationship is irreparable. There is a way to have a positive outlook while still protecting our identity. We need to really think before we respond. Once more we are getting into “saint” territory, but if we can do it we will be better off.

We need to learn how to receive harsh criticism. There are benefits to getting feedback even when we don’t want it. We can learn and grow from every situation, it’s hard but it can be done. If we keep that in our mind it will help.

We need to give ourselves permission to be wrong. We also have to give other people permission to be wrong. We need to understand why our partner is feeling the way they are. Even when we don’t believe their view of the situation is correct, it is their view, and they have a right to how it makes them feel. We can take a moment, acknowledge what they are saying, we can be considerate, straight forward in acknowledging their feelings and point of view.

We don’t have to agree with it, we don’t have to get defensive. After we’ve acknowledged their point of view we can get on with doing what we need to do. We should act as if what we are doing is normal, and everything is fine. Disengaging allows him to save face, and cool off. If he is trying to leave without saying anymore we should not follow him and try to continue the conversation. He knows he needs to cool off, let him.

Are we getting defensive? Are we rehashing the same thing over and over again? Does it get worse by talking about it?

The most important thing in communication is hearing what isn’t being said. The art of reading between the lines is a lifelong quest of the wise. Shannon L. Adler

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Friends, laughter, games and food.

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Everyone desires relationship and community. Most people want to belong to a cohesive, like-minded group. It staves off loneliness. It promotes identity. These are natural and very human instincts. Joshua Ferris

Last night was games night with Toastmasters, our spouses, and children. Everyone brought a dish and many brought games. The hostess has a beautiful basement perfect for entertaining and a pool table as the main attraction.

Everyone came with their dish and a smile. My daughter recommended we take Taboo as an ice breaker game. It was the perfect game to start the night off, other games were going on as well. As people came in or finished a game we just added them to the sides in Taboo, more people, more laughter.

We ate the fabulous potluck dinner everyone brought. Then we finished off the night with a game of Pictionary. When my team won you’d think we won something big. A lot of us were on the same team that lost when we played Taboo. We left a few hardier souls who were going to play one more game, Cranium.

It doesn’t matter why we get together, it matters that we do. In times of hardship and want, people know this. They get together, laugh, dance, sing, and play games. If food is scarce they know putting together what they have can make a banquet.

Being part of a group of like-minded individuals opens up new dimensions in our life. When we see other people taking chances in their life we feel freer to take chances in ours.

Man is a competitive creature, and the seeds of conflict are built deep into our genes. We fought each other on the savannah and only survived against great odds by organizing ourselves into groups which would have had a common purpose, giving morale and fortitude. Robert Winston

Part of me wishes I’d joined Toastmasters ten years ago instead of two. The other part realizes that everything is working out how it should. Life is a process and accomplishing our goals takes longer than we think. Often overnight success is fifteen years of hard slogging. Ideas take time to germinate, become fledgling seedlings, and finally grow into what they are to become.

We often want to rush the process; we sometimes forget the joy is in the journey. Who we’ve met, who we’ve touched, who we’ve encouraged, and who encouraged us along the way is what’s important.

Getting together is part of being encouraged and encouraging others. We can be part of many different and diverse groups; each of them may serve a different purpose, and benefit us in different ways. We talk about different things with different people. Other people’s ideas and life experience help us expand our view of what we want our life to be. We may find answers to questions we didn’t even know we were asking.

Being part of groups adds so much to my life. Every group I’m a member of adds to my life in immeasurable ways. I enjoy including my husband in some of the Toastmasters events and I think he enjoys it too. We don’t participate in all of the events because we need time to do things together. When we are part of groups our partner is not part of, we have to be careful not to give too much to the groups and not enough to our partner.

A good life is walking fine lines, finding the balance so we give our energy to our spouse, family and outside interests. It is easy to go overboard and if we let anything in our life become more important than our spouse, or our spouse feels is more important, even if it’s not. We have a problem that will grow. We need our fifteen hours of uninterrupted time with our spouse per week, and if something has to give it should never be time with our spouse if we still want a spouse when we’ve met those fantastic goals.

When we look at our life, do we need to belong to more groups, spend more time with our spouse, develop new interests, or find someone to share our lives with? What do we need to add to our life to make it more fulfilling, and happier?

Most great learning happens in groups. Collaboration is the stuff of growth. Ken Robinson

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Friendship Matters: memoir, life lessons, laughter Paperback – Jan 27 2017

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Gratitude and happiness, loving what is.

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

Last night a really stupid thing happened. I was roasting my sauce for lasagna I’m taking to a games night. After taking the pot out of the oven I grabbed the hot handle with my bare hand. This is what happens when we aren’t mindful of what we are doing. Doing things automatically isn’t always okay.

I remembered hearing butter was good for burns. We were in the middle of a movie so I put butter on my burn. When I got ready for bed I washed the butter off and my burn started to hurt again. I went downstairs and put more butter on my burn. This morning I have one small blister on my middle finger and a slight red line on my index finger.

I was able to do my sun salutations without pain. I am grateful it isn’t worse. When I Googled butter and burns this morning they say it’s an old home remedy that’s a bad idea. My burn looks better this morning than it did last night, does that mean butter works?

I’m grateful my burn is better. I’m a big believer in home remedies. Yesterday my daughter had a sinus headache. I told her when my sinuses bother me I drink 2 tablespoons of apple cider vinegar with a heaping quarter teaspoon of cayenne pepper in warm water.

I’m a big believer in trying things; I’ve had the after-effects of antibiotics so they are the last resort for me. I took them for strep throat and since it can be pretty serious taking the antibiotics was probably worth it. The after effects of the antibiotics were a lot to deal with.

It is with gratitude I surf the web finding home remedies and remember Mom’s home remedies . Too often we mask symptoms instead of healing them. Pain is our body’s way of letting us know we have a problem. What if I couldn’t feel pain when I touched the hot handle of the pot? How bad would the burn be?

I watched a video about a girl that didn’t feel pain. It was not good. She hurt herself in big and small ways because she didn’t feel pain.

I am happy because I’m grateful. That gratitude allows me to be happy. Will Arnett

There may be instances where we can do nothing but mask the pain so we can function. The underlying cause may not be fixable. It is not true that we all have to feel a lot of pain when we get old, healthy eating and exercise will keep many people pain free even in old age. It works for my mother.

We can’t agree on what good eating is, but we can all agree that junk food, sweet drinks, processed foods and empty calories are not the answer. If we start there we can quibble over whether we should only eat plants or mostly eat meat and greens. I’ve read about people doing equally well on both of these extreme ways of eating.

The middle road is more the road I want to be on. Eat healthy, mostly plants and not too much is my motto. An indulgence like I’ll have tonight  I don’t sweat. I enjoy and then get back to plainer fare.

This week I talked myself out of going to the gym because of the cold. Telling myself, that is when I get a cold, coming out of the gym into the cold. It’s okay to skip a week, but next week, back to the gym.

I miss the feeling of ease when I don’t go to the gym. I felt a strange pain in my side this week. Keeping limber by doing sun salutations, keeping strong by doing weights, and walking makes me feel at ease. Without exercise I begin to feel pain, it usually starts in my back or like this week in my side. If we don’t use it we lose it. We lose it quicker than we think.

I remember watching a documentary about two over 100 year old women. They exercised every day and their motto was if they could do today what they could do yesterday they were good.

Ageing well with humour, grace, strength, and courage is my goal. I am blessed with a fabulous role model. When I go to the park in the summer a group of older adults mostly Chinese are doing Tai Chi. They look fit, happy, and flexible. Role models are all around us.

People overcome diabetes with food and exercise. Other diseases are overcome or mitigated with diet and exercise. There is a rub; we have to be careful not to be judgemental. Just because my elderly mother lives without pain does not mean every older person who does what she does won’t have pain.

Everybody with type 2 diabetes may not be able to eliminate it with food and exercise. We may do what worked for everyone else and it doesn’t work for us. That’s life; we have to deal with what is. It isn’t always nice, or fair.

No matter the circumstance we find our self in I think gratitude for what is good in our life is positive. We may feel this situation we are in is unending, and unchanging, but that is rarely true. No matter how grave our circumstances may be, our attitude is important.

Can we live with an attitude of gratitude every day, knowing that no matter how dark what before us seems, finding something to be grateful for will make it better in some small way? Are we the example we would like to see? Is being happy a kind of gratitude? Does gratitude lead to happiness?

At times our own light goes out and is rekindled by a spark from another person. Each of us has cause to think with deep gratitude of those who have lighted the flame within us. Albert Schweitzer

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Real life more inspirational than movies.

Photo of hibiscus flower by Belynda Wilson Thomas

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The ultimate measure of a man is not where he stands in moments of comfort and convenience, but where he stands at times of challenge and controversy. Martin Luther King Jr.

Last night Toastmasters didn’t disappoint. It is a warm group of people on a cold winter’s night. We had three speakers last night, I was one of them. One of the ladies spoke about how it isn’t our wins but our challenges that make us strong. She gave a story about a man watching a butterfly struggle to emerge from its cocoon. After watching the butterfly struggle, and struggle some more. He decided to help the butterfly out. When the butterfly emerged its wings were small and it could not fly. The butterfly needs the struggle to force fluid into its wings so they can stretch and open.

Is this a metaphor, not only for those of us who are encouraged in our struggle but also for those of us who want to take the struggle others have away from them? This is a tough one as we struggle with giving and receiving. When is our giving not letting someone become the butterfly?

The third speech was from a woman who is on her way to becoming a DTM (Distinguished Toastmaster).  She organized a group to run for the CIBC run for the cure last year. Her father died of cancer, one of our other member’s wife died of cancer, and most of us have been touched by cancer in some way. Her father is the light beneath her wings. He lived for thirty years with cancer.

He said on his deathbed, “My candle is burning out.” His candle lit her candle and other’s candles, which are lighting candles. In this way, the impact of his candle may never burn out. Wouldn’t we like that to be said of us?

My niece was in a car accident over a year ago and not given much chance of walking again. She is going back to work, and she is walking. She is an example of grit and determination. Her husband says he couldn’t be prouder of his wife. Isn’t that something we love to hear? She was faced with a situation where her will and the encouragement of others had to be enough to keep her working at healing and becoming mobile.

Life’s challenges are not supposed to paralyze you, they’re supposed to help you discover who you are. Bernice Johnson Reagon

There are so many stories out there that encourage and uplift us. Heroes and sheroes walk among us. Sometimes we know what their struggles are, often we don’t. We need to keep making progress in our life, make the best of what is, and help others where we can. Can we teach others to fish, and give encouragement along the way? We never know when we may make a difference in someone else’s life. We don’t even always recognize who has made a difference in ours.

Yesterday a video about using stories and myth to help young urban men find their way was on YouTube. Stories and myths have always been used, that’s why every culture has their stories and myths. We learn to be tough, strong, loving and caring by hearing about others whose hearts were broken but not their spirits. Who suffered immense losses but didn’t lose their humanity.

When we hear about people who have turned their scars into stars it gives us hope. We learn about the things they’ve overcome or how they’ve lived with things that bring us to our knees.  People who fell down seven times but got up eight, help us when we are going down again. If they could do it, maybe we can do it too?

A psychiatrist said, “He was humbled hearing the stories of what his patients dealt with and overcame”. Stories of overcoming are all around us. January is mental wellness month. Mental wellness is not just the absence of mental illness; we can also improve our overall mental wellness for a better and healthier lifestyle.

Mental wellness is for all of us.

Interim Inc. gives us many factors that affect our mental health and well being including:

Our genes

Brain chemistry

Physical health


Coping skills

Life Experiences

There are many factors that can negatively affect our mental wellness including:

Poor diet

A high amount of stress

Excessive smoking or drinking

Avoiding problems

Trauma or abuse in our life

Negative coping skills

How can we improve our mental wellness?

Exercise and eat a healthy diet

Appreciate our self by learning to recognize our personal strengths and weaknesses

Build resilience to cope with and recover from negative events

Develop and maintain healthy friendships and relationships

Get enough sleep

Help others

Learn to be thankful for the good rather than focusing on the negative issues

Get professional help if needed

We can’t change what happens to us, we can only deal with what is. but how we deal with it shows other people how to deal with the things in their life. People we admire showed courage in the face of great adversity. Isn’t it true, although we never want to face the challenges they’ve faced, we hope we would have the courage they’ve had?

It is with gratitude we learn from others what we hope we never have to learn from experience. If what doesn’t kill us makes us strong, it is helpful to believe we too can face whatever comes. We learn from the heroes and sheroes in our life.

Success is due to our stretching to the challenges of life. Failure comes when we shrink from them. John C. Maxwell

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Considerate or manipulative? Straightforward or a jerk?

Swan photo taken by Errol Thomas

Photo taken by Errol Thomas.

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Everybody has the ability to be manipulative, to be hateful and deceitful. Neil LaBute

Yesterday I came across an article on what a healthy person is:

Don’t we love to read these and see if we qualify as a healthy person?

Here’s the list:

Open to feelings (meaning we’re able to experience and express emotions).

Warm (meaning we’re friendly, affectionate, and able to form close relationships).

High in positive emotions (meaning we experience a lot of happiness, love, and other good feelings regularly).

Straight forward (meaning we’re genuine and not likely to manipulate others).

Confident in ourselves.

Emotionally stable (meaning we’re generally not too depressed or anxious and aren’t particularly predisposed to getting angry or responding negatively to situations).

Fairly resistant to stress.

The one I question is straightforwardness.

So today I looked up straightforward and it says “Straightforward means direct in your approach.”  Then I read; sometimes straightforward people are misjudged as impolite or impatient. There’s the rub.

When I am not being straightforward for instance, is if I am going to Toastmasters and I don’t know if my husband wants to go to the gym. I will ask him if he plans to go to the gym instead of asking directly to use the vehicle. My thinking is if I take the vehicle, he can’t go to the gym, but if he drops me off at Toastmasters, and I can get a ride home we both win. If I can’t get a ride then he can pick me up. If he isn’t planning to go to the gym, I won’t ask my friend for a ride.

Women are often accused of being manipulative, but if we want to know if someone has plans to use what we were planning to ask to use, then we won’t ask, is not being manipulative it is being considerate.

Manipulation, fueled with good intent, can be a blessing. But when used wickedly, it is the beginning of a magician’s karmic calamity. T.F. Hodge

When I want to use any of the three vehicles in our household I ask first if they plan to use the vehicle before I ask to use it. If they have plans to use it then I don’t ask. If it is going to be sitting in the driveway during the time I want to use it, then I ask. This is not being manipulative, it is being considerate.

Manipulation would be if I wanted them to not do what they were planning to do, so I could use the vehicle to do what I am planning to do. When I had my own vehicle I didn’t ask, I just got in my vehicle and away I went. Now, I have so little need for a vehicle it isn’t worth paying for a second vehicle to sit in the driveway most of the time just so I am not considered manipulative when I ask to use someone else’s.

There’s a fine line between straightforward and manipulation. We can be manipulative when we use telling it like it is as an excuse for being mean and putting others down, and call it being straightforward. We can also be manipulative when we dance around the issue waiting for someone to give us what we want.

How do we know when we are being manipulative? The answer lies in whose best interest is it in. If it is in our best interest then we may be manipulative. If it is in the other person’s best interest then we are not being manipulative.

Living in truth and honesty means looking at how we interact with people. Not just what is said, but what is behind what is said. If we understand t the only improvement we have a right to expect is our own. That living in denial is not a good way to live. Everyone will not see things how we do, and we can’t expect them to. Is our goal to live our life to the best of our ability? Do we understand we won’t be perfect, we will make mistakes? Are we willing to accept responsibility and own our mistakes and our successes?

If we deal with others truthfully and honestly to the best of our ability and keep in mind what is best for them as we build a life that is best for us. Isn’t that’s as good as it gets?

Do we get accused of being manipulative when we have someone else’s best interest at heart? Is being called manipulative, manipulative?

The basic tool for the manipulation of reality is the manipulation of words. If you can control the meaning of words, you can control the people who must use the words. Philip K. Dick

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Issues from our childhood affects our present and future.

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A good marriage requires time. It requires effort. You have to work at it. You have to cultivate it. You have to forgive and forget. You have to be absolutely loyal. Gordon B. Hinckley

On this journey of self-discovery, it is easy to get preachy. It is easy to think we are farther along the journey than we are. Life has a way of giving us our comeuppance.

I was looking at financial blogs and quite a few of them admitted to getting back into debt after writing about how they got out of debt.

One of my favorite writers is Sarah Ban Breathnach who wrote Simple Abundance. I bought that book and gave it to numerous people. When I bought her next book she and her husband were split up. I was shocked. What if her success as a writer changed the dynamic of her marriage? As a writer, she was home, as a successful writer she was away promoting her book.

Marriages can be more fragile than we think. They can look strong but like an egg, they have the weak part that breaks easily. What if we are strong in the struggle but success is our weak point? We’re supportive of our husband’s attempts to be a musician but what if he became a star? What if he had groupies everywhere he went? Would it take a superman to not take up any of the offers he was presented with? What if he turned “most” of them down?

We think of our “real” lives as mundane and boring. The excitement of playing before thousands, being on a big talk show, going to award ceremonies call out to us.

How can we get our fifteen hours of undivided attention with our spouse if we are on the road? It gets really hard, and we see how hard it is in the public failed marriages of the famous.

Great relationships don’t happen because our eyes locked across a crowded room. That is only the invitation to start a great relationship. The rest is up to us. We don’t know if we will have our challenges, in the beginning, middle, or in the later stages of our relationship. We don’t know if we will find worldly success, financial success, familial success, or always be climbing toward success that seems just out of reach.

You can’t just give up on someone because the situation’s not ideal. Great relationships aren’t great because they have no problems. They’re great because both people care enough about the other person to find a way to make it work. Unknown

We don’t even know if it will be better if we get what we want, or if we are better if we never quite reach the pinnacle of success. Is always having one more mountain to climb, one more goal to set, one more hurdle to cross part of the “good life?” No matter what we accomplish do we need to feel there is something else out there to challenge us?

It is easy to look at couples who have been in long marriages and wonder why would they split up now? Why couldn’t they work it out after all they’ve been through together?

Years ago I met a woman she said, “I lost 185 pounds.”

“Wow, how did you do that?”

“I got a divorce.”

Maybe some people feel they are carrying the dead weight of their partner. They feel the partner is holding them back from the great success they could of, should of, or would have had. I think about her sometimes, I wonder if she ended up happier. Or, did they just have stuff they needed to work on, stuff she’ll find popping up in every relationship she has.

Marriage therapists say we fight about the same issue over and over again. This issue has its root in “our” childhood, and until we understand what it is, and make peace with it, it keeps rearing its ugly head. We will have the same fight over, and over, and over again. The stated issue may seem different but the underlying one will be the same.

An example is a marriage counselor had a couple come into her office. They fought about how messy the house was. The husband was a neat freak and the wife was messy. The counselor told them instead of fighting this week to figure out what the issue was behind their fighting that was rooted in their childhood.

The wife thought about her single mother, and how when she saw her mother clean up the house, she knew “a man” was coming over.

The husband started thinking about his chaotic and alcoholic home and how the only time he felt safe and secure was when everything was tidy and in its place.

As they began to understand themselves and each other they began to change. He became more relaxed, and she became less messy.

Is there a childhood issue in our life we need to make peace with that keeps rearing its ugly head in our relationship? Are we having the same argument over and over again?

There is no challenge strong enough to destroy your marriage as long as both of you are willing to stop fighting against each other and start fighting for each other. Dave Willis

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Taming the debt monster. Becoming free.

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What can be added to the happiness of a man who is in health, out of debt, and has a clear conscience? Adam Smith

The headline reads Canadians are left with $200.00 after paying their monthly bills and debt. When you read a little further 44% of Canadians face this situation which is less than 52% who faced it in March of 2017 and 56% of Canadians who faced it in September 2016.

Why wasn’t the headline Canadians are digging themselves out of a financial hole they found themselves in? Couldn’t we all use some good news for a change? When things are getting better because people are managing their money better, taking charge of their spending, investing, and choices they make, isn’t that the news?

Is there something out there that wants us to swallow the fact that we can’t change our debt load? We can’t live the way we want, we can’t be debt free if we choose to be? We can’t choose over “good debt” and “bad debt”? What if we all became financially astute? What if we started buying what we needed, instead of impulse buying?

Are people becoming financially aware and looking after their own best interests scary for the government, credit card companies, and corporations? If we got off the treadmill, or never got on the treadmill would we be less easy to control?

A person, who can’t pay, gets another person who can’t pay, to guarantee that he can pay. Like a person with two wooden legs getting another person with two wooden legs, to guarantee that he has got two natural legs. It don’t make either of them able to do a walking match. Little Dorrit

Is this the fear, that the sheep will become less sheepish? AS Charles Dickens Mr. Micawber’s famous quote for happiness says, “Annual income twenty pounds, annual expenditure nineteen pounds, nineteen shillings and six pence, result happiness. Annual income twenty pounds, annual expenditure twenty pounds ought and six, result misery.”

Living within our means has always been the way to happiness. The bible warns us about debt. Debt is not new. Getting ahead in life without taking on any debt seems impossible. This is why debt is divided into two camps, “good debt” and “bad debt”.

People have been reading books on finance. “Rich Dad, Poor Dad” is being read by young people, and some of them are taking the advice to heart. There is hand wringing over their reluctance to take on car debt, what if they’ve learned from their parents what not to do, and are looking for a better way?

The hippies rebelled and perhaps young people are following in their footsteps. They want more out of life, not less. They want choice and when we are so deep in debt we lose our choice.

It was evident from the general tone of the whole party, that they had come to regard insolvency as the normal state of mankind, and the payment of debts as a disease that occasionally broke out. Little Dorrit

If Canadians are taming the debt monster this is a good thing. It may not be happening as fast as we’d like. The statistics look to me like we are moving in the right direction. We should be celebrating; we should be encouraging more to do the same. It can be done. If 56% had only $200.00 after paying their bills and debts in 2016 and now only 44% are in that situation in 2019 that is 12% of people taking charge, taking control and being better off financially. At least that’s the way the article reads to me.

Are we taking charge of our finances? It is scary to add up the numbers and not like what we see, but scarier still to hide our head in the sand. We can face the debt monster, and we can win. The first step is making a decision to deal with what is.

You can’t be in debt and win. It doesn’t work. Dave Ramsey

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