Have we ever considered traveling alone?

Have we considered traveling alone, is it out of the question?

Painting by Belynda Wilson Thomas

As you move outside of your comfort zone, what was once the unknown and frightening becomes your new normal. Robin S. Sharma

Yesterday I came across a blog called the Hole in the Donut Cultural Travel by Barbara Weibel. She has been traveling alone and blogging about it for years.

There is a solo travel society on Facebook with 230,000 fans and 63% of them are women. A booking.com survey found 65% of US women are taking vacations without their partners.

When asked why they travel solo women answered.

46% said, freedom, independence and the chance to do what they want.

22% said they weren’t willing to wait around for others.

15% said to challenge themselves and gain confidence. Solo travel lets you travel your way.

The nature of confidence is that it only comes after you take the risk. Joanne

I wish I’d had the confidence to take the trip to Europe I wanted to take in my late teens and early twenties. I never thought of going solo, when travel plans with others fell apart I just didn’t go. There’s a commercial out that shows a mother going off on her European solo trip with her daughter seeing her off at the airport.

We need to take our life in our hands. If for whatever reason we don’t have a partner to travel with we don’t have to not travel. Many women are blazing the trail of solo travel. Men are also traveling solo, but then they always have. We don’t have to wait for someone else to tell us what we can do with the rest of our life.

If we are lucky and have a partner we can make plans. If we don’t have a partner we don’t have to find one before we can start living the life of our dreams.

The man who goes alone can start today, but he who travels with another must wait till the other is ready. Henry David Thoreau

Solo Traveler has their top ten tips for women who travel by themselves:

Choose your destination with intent.

Understand what you want to get out of your trip. Your inspiration may come from anywhere, a book, a movie, a story, somewhere you’ve always wanted to see. If you understand what’s drawing you to your destination you can have a more enriching experience. You may want to read Best Budget Destinations for Solo Travelers: The 2019 Shortlist

Plan your first night well.

At the very minimum have somewhere to spend the first night of every destination and plan to arrive by mid-afternoon. It’s important to find your hotel or hostel by daylight and have time to change your accommodations if the place does not seem safe. Read Solo Travel: 50+ Tips For Those Who Travel Alone.

Visualize the necessities but no more.

Traveling solo requires attention to details. Be open to opportunities as they arise. Read Solo Travel. Mindful Travel.

Pack light.

You’ll save money and be more mobile if you pack light. You need a wardrobe that stretches from hiking boots to high heels. Choose a base color (black, brown, beige, navy) a contrast color (white, beige…) and a color or two to accessorize and pull it all together. Read Bare Minimum Packing: Here’s Your Packing List.

Keep your accommodations to yourself.

Your accommodation is your safe haven. Don’t tell people where you’re staying. If they ask, be vague. Read Solo Travel Safety: Safe Answers to Common Questions.

You do not have to eat alone.

From cooking classes to day-tours, to themed dinners, there are so many ways to have company over dinner if that’s what you want. Read Solo travel: You Don’t Have to Eat Alone.

Protect your documents, cards, and cash.

Keep your passport and other important documents secure. Have backup copies on you and at home with a trusted contact. Read Protect Yourself from Pickpockets: Keep Cards & Cash Safe.

Meet other women travelers.

You can build friendships with women around the world. Read Sleeping with Strangers: The Hostel Experience and Women Welcoming Women: A Gateway to International Friendships.

Take a break from technology.

To really relax you may want to back off of social media for a while. Or I think you may want to embrace technology as that is how your friends and family can stay in touch, know you are safe, and enjoy your experiences. Read Transformed on The Ghan.

Stay local, buy local, and meet locals.

Plan well and have an understanding of how to support the local economy. Buy local crafts, eat local food, and stay in locally-owned accommodation so that the profits don’t leave the country. As you do this you will connect with locals. Read Travel Deeper: How to Connect with Locals and 7 Ways to Find a Free Tour Guide When You Travel.

Why do women travel alone more than men? Part of it may be life, divorce, death of a spouse or partner and still wanting to live our life, doing, and seeing new things. Maybe a trip will heal a broken heart. Travel may open our life to new opportunities, new ways of looking at things, and seeing life through different lenses. We may end up feeling strong, adventurous, and that we are experiencing all the joy we can out of life.

It may be one way of making lemonade out of the lemons life has thrown at us. Seeing the sights with someone we love may be our first choice. If that is not possible, we don’t have to settle for not seeing them.

Travel brings power and love back into your life. Rumi

Thank you for reading this post. I hope you enjoyed it. I hope you will come back and read some more. Have a blessed day filled with gratitude, passion, and love.

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How to Travel the World on $50 a Day: Third Edition: Travel Cheaper, Longer, Smarter by [Kepnes, Matt]
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How to Travel the World on $50 a Day: Third Edition: Travel Cheaper, Longer, Smarter Kindle Edition

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Happiness is not a flower picked in someone else’s garden. Happiness is a state of being.

Happiness is a state of being. Happiness is not a flower picked in someone else's garden.

Painting by Belynda Wilson Thomas

Folks are usually about as happy as they make their mind up to be. Abraham Lincoln

I just want to be happy seems like an innocent statement. In Augusten Burroughs book This Is How. He says he can’t think of another phrase capable of causing more misery and permanent unhappiness. With the possible exception of “Honey, I’m in love with your younger sister, and she’s agreed to marry me so I want a divorce.”

The problem with “I just want to be happy,” is the implication that we are not happy. We want lots of things in our life we don’t have. We might want to be rich, thin, popular, and wise. We might want world peace, unpolluted lakes, rivers, and oceans, to be able to reverse species extinction, and global warming,

What we “want” is something we don’t have. We need to define what it is that we are searching for because we can spend a lifetime of getting and doing things we thought would be the “one thing” that would make us happy. We’ll be happy when we are finished school, get a fabulous job, start a business, get married, buy a house, have a baby, the kids are in college, university or out of the house, and we retire.

If we are still waiting to be happy, instead of “being happy,” maybe we don’t know what happiness is. Happiness is a state of well-being characterized by emotions ranging from contentment to intense joy.

Maybe our problem with finding happiness is we are looking for “intense joy” and not contentment. We’ve all had times in our lives when we were looking forward to something that didn’t quite hit our happiness button. It fell short of our expectations. The joy wasn’t intense enough, the sunrise wasn’t breathtaking enough, the scene that spread before us wasn’t grand enough. Somehow we didn’t get awestruck like other people, and we were left thinking “is this all there is?” This is it; this is what the big hoopla is about?

After Oscar Wilde visited Niagara Falls in 1882, he declared the waterfall must be the second greatest disappointment in American married life. The relationship between the Falls and honeymooning had been well established since the 1830s.

In This Is How Augusten Burroughs says “Happiness is a worthy goal for those who are inclined on a genetic level toward the emotional end of the spectrum. But, happiness is a treadmill of a goal for those who are not happy by nature.

He says if we are not “happy” by nature perhaps we are other things by nature, fascinated, interested, driven, goal-oriented, or something else that doesn’t quite meet our definition of being “happy.”

Happiness is when what you think, what you say, and what you do are in harmony. Mahatma Gandhi

Happy should not be our goal. Our goals should be defined, doable, and as we attain them we at least have a sense of accomplishment. In our minds, we may have elevated “happy” to something no one experiences.

If we focus on gratitude, we can do that, we can be grateful. When we focus on happy, how do we do happy? If we think happy people laugh a lot, we can put ourselves in situations where we laugh a lot, go out with friends, read funny books, watch funny movies, sing funny songs, rhymes, poems, etc.

If we think being “happy” is helping other people, we can do that. If we think being “happy” would be traveling the world, we can do that. If we think being “happy” is raising a family, we can probably do that even if our family is not “traditional.” Do we think belonging to a group is part of being happy? There are many groups to join and belong to.

They say regardless of our circumstances we have a “set point” of happiness. When our circumstances change such as winning the lottery, or less desirable circumstances we still in about six months are at our “set point” of happiness.

What if that is true, we are as happy as we will ever be? Maybe, happiness should not be our goal. Maybe we should figure out what we want out of life, maybe we should look for meaning, purpose, find a way to make a difference, grow, develop, and challenge ourselves to be better.

What if the goal of being happy is like the goal of being thin. Being thin isn’t a worthwhile goal; dying people are often “thin.” We say we want to be thin but don’t we really want to be fit, strong, svelte, healthy, and fit into beautiful clothes that fit a certain way?

Happiness may be exactly the same; we need to define what it means to us. Then we have to go after what our definition is. So we can say, oh, this is what happiness is. When we are our healthiest, fittest self, we don’t look like anyone else in the world. Our happiest self, won’t look like anyone else’s happiest self either.

We may need to accept our set point of happiness, just like we have to accept our nose, and other features. We need to be okay with being who we are. When we compare ourselves to others we will always fall short of being them, and they will fall short of being us. If the oak tree looks at the crab apple tree it will find itself wanting. I’m okay, and you’re okay. You be you, and I’ll be me. If on some days we are the best us, that has to be good enough.

They say a person needs just three things to be truly happy in this world: someone to love, something to do, and something to hope for. Tom Bodett

Thank you for reading this post. I hope you enjoyed it. I hope you will come back and read some more. Have a blessed day filled with gratitude, happiness, and love.

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This Is How: Surviving What You Think You Can’t Paperback – Apr 23 2013

by Augusten Burroughs (Author) 3.8 out of 5 stars 16 customer reviews

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Small changes, big effects. Can we make changes in our life that would have a big impact?

Can we make changes in our life that would have a big impact? Small changes, big effects.

Painting by Belynda Wilson Thomas

Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed, citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has. Margaret Mead

When we hear stories from friends, acquaintances or family about what people they know have lived through, survived, endured or suffered we question if we could be as brave, enduring, long-suffering, or courageous.

When I listen to my mom and how she dealt with being widowed with three children at twenty-five it is about dealing with what is, and getting through it one day at a time.

What if all of life is the same? Instead of sighing, and wringing our hands over what we can do about the environment we need to just get in there and do it.

We had friends over last night and the topic of plastic in oceans came up. Tampon plastic waste is one of the worst contributors; some people are calling them “beach whistles.” We don’t need plastic in our tampons. Women, we can do this, we can buy the tampons without plastic. Do we really need everything individually wrapped? If they need to be wrapped can’t they be wrapped in paper?

We women do most of the household purchasing, we can effect change by how we shop. Plastic straws are now out, paper straws are now in. Plastic tampons can be out as well. We need to be careful about what we flush down the toilet. It seems the plastic tampon products are being flushed, and ending up in our oceans because of it.

Tampons have been a great invention for women. We need to be responsible that our bodily functions aren’t such a big part of the world’s pollution problem.

How much plastic can we get rid of that is not recyclable? What are the changes we can make in our purchasing that will have an impact?

Here’s to the crazy ones. The misfits. The rebels. The troublemakers. The round pegs in square holes. The ones who see things differently. They’re not fond of rules. And they have no respect for the status quo. You can quote them, disagree with them, glorify or vilify them. About the only thing you can’t do is ignore them. Because they change things. They push the human race forward. And while some may see them as the crazy ones, we see genius. Because the people who are crazy enough to think they can change the world, are the ones that do. Rob Siltanen

I have to admit I’m not as good about taking reusable bags to the supermarket as I should be. One of the things I am proud of is I used cloth diapers. It wasn’t a big deal, and I didn’t have to cringe at the store every week buying more diapers. I’ve never figured out what the cost would have been for two children in disposable diapers but it would have been quite a lot.

We know but don’t seem to really think about the fact that everything we throw away has to go somewhere, has to be dealt with in some way.

Disposable diaper companies are setting their sights on the poorer countries I’m reading. It might not be possible to get rid of many disposable products. Can we have them manufactured so they can be disposed of with the least environmental impact? Can we make products that have less environmental impact attractive to consumers?

Have you used the new paper straws? They seem okay to me.  Could it be even better if we don’t use so many straws?

An article by David Roberts states “We could shift to sustainability and save 26 trillion. Why aren’t we doing it?” According to him, we could save $26 trillion by 2030. That’s real money. The costs of the status quo keep rising: and the cost of the sustainable alternatives keeps declining.

Maybe we have to take a look at our practices and habits, what do we purchase that could be more sustainable, and less polluting? Purchasing tampons with cardboard instead of plastic or no applicator at all isn’t a huge inconvenience. Taking my reusable bags to the grocery store instead of buying bags is doable; I just have to do it.

Planting trees, and other plants and not using pesticides and herbicides is doable in our own gardens.

If we each start looking around will we see what we can do, what we can purchase that is better than another choice? Can we recycle and reuse more? Can we waste less? If we look after the little things will some of the big things take care of themselves?

We are all in this together. Our choices collectively will leave the planet better or worse. If we each do our part, can we be part of the change that makes things better?

Be the change that you wish to see in the world. Mahatma Gandhi

Thank you for reading this post. I hope you enjoyed it. I hope you will come back and read some more. Have a blessed, environmentally friendly day filled with gratitude, sustainability, and love.

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Deceit and Denial: The Deadly Politics of Industrial Pollution Paperback – Oct 10 2002

by Gerald Markowitz (Author), David Rosner (Author) 5.0 out of 5 stars 2 customer reviews

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Fun and frivolity, laughter and karaoke. Do we have enough fun?

Do we have enough fun? Fun and frivolity, laughter and karaoke.

Painting by Belynda Wilson Thomas

If you are always trying to be normal, you will never know how amazing your life can be. Maya Angelou

Last night we went to Karaoke and potluck night at a Toastmaster buddies house. Her husband is a musician/singer and most of us are not singers, karaoke or otherwise.

“I’m not singing, are you singing,” we all asked? No one was going to sing and yet we had a great time laughing and singing. Most of us got up and did our rendition of something. The music and the words on the laptop were not always in sync. Sometimes singing was in the song we thought was instrumental. We laughed our way through songs, we were good sports, we got up as groups and sang loudly, and exuberantly.

If we were all practiced karaoke people we might have been put off by the music and words not being quite in sync, or someone singing in what we thought was an instrumental version. We might have taken our performance too seriously; we might have let trying to be perfect interfere with having fun.

The karaoke part of the evening turned out much better than I expected. We were better sports than I thought we’d be. We got out of our comfort zone, we had fun. So much of our entertainment these days is watching someone else, play a sport, sing a song, dance, act, etc. We forget how much fun it is to participate and create our own fun.

Being part of a group means we can participate in fun activities, we can be light-hearted, we can play, we can get out of our comfort zone, and we can laugh.

Laughter is the best medicine. Karaoke is available to all of us who have access to YouTube and a laptop.

Game nights are ways to get people together to have fun being participants instead of viewers. Another Toastmasters group is putting on a comedy night at a local bar. The organizer would like four members of our Toastmasters group to step up and perform.  I’ve never done comedy, this may be an opportunity. When an opportunity presents itself, do we grab it, or do we spend the rest of our life thinking we wish we’d done that?

Stop dreaming about your bucket list and start living it. Annette White

It won’t change our life. We are unlikely to be discovered as the next singer or comedian if we step up, but we can say we did it. We got out of our comfort zone; we took a walk on the wilder side.  We had fun; if no one is willing to participate it is hard to put on events. If we participate when someone else puts something on and they participate when we do, events go well, everyone has fun, and people are willing to host, plan, and put on events.

Are our lives about wringing as much fun as we can out of our life? When we show up with our party face on, ready to participate and have fun we are doing our part.

Are we having as much fun as we can? Do we laugh enough, with others, and at our selves, or do we take ourselves too seriously? Do we only want to participate when we can shine, and be the star? If we want more fun in our lives, we have to get out and participate. Sometimes we have to be the catalyst for the fun, and sometimes we have to join in.

When we sit back in the corner, sometimes the party is over before we get up the courage to take our turn. All of a sudden everyone puts their coats on and the party is over. We missed our chance to bring more fun into our life, step out of our comfort zone, grow, be silly, or do something we secretly long to do. We never know when we’ll get another opportunity. If we grab hold of every opportunity when it presents itself, don’t we live a life with fewer regrets?

The things that matter most in our lives are not fantastic or grand. They are moments when we touch one another. Jack Kornfield

Thank you for reading this post. I hope you enjoyed it. I hope you will come back and read some more. Have a blessed day filled with gratitude, fun, and love.

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Daring Greatly: How the Courage to Be Vulnerable Transforms the Way We Live, Love, Parent, and LeadPaperback – Apr 7 2015

by Brené Brown (Author) 4.7 out of 5 stars 184 customer reviewsAmazon Charts#6 this week

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Owning the greatness within. Becoming the best we can be.

Becoming the best we can be. Owning the greatness within.

Painting by Belynda Wilson Thomas

There is vitality, a life force, an energy, a quickening that is translated through you into action, and because there is only one of you in all time, this expression is unique. And if you try and block it, it will never exist through any other medium and will be lost. Martha Graham

It isn’t becoming famous or rich that makes someone great. Becoming rich or famous doesn’t mean they are using their gifts, nor does it mean they are not. Sometimes it seems that people who don’t have much in worldly goods are the most creative. Designers watch what the poor wear to get inspiration. When we can afford to purchase a designers line and where it how they meant it to be worn, where is the creativity in that?

When people go to Value Village or thrift shops, Salvation Army, or other used clothing shops and with a little artistic flare put clothes together worthy of being on runways, now that’s artistic flare. I watched my mother sew clothes when I was growing up. She could take remnants and turn them into something nice for us kids. I remember when she was going to one of my sister’s weddings, she sewed what we now call a capsule wardrobe for herself.

Quilting has evolved, but it had its start in using up every last scrap of material, nothing was wasted. If you’ve ever watched a documentary on Victorian times one of the things we see is how everything was used, reused, and used again. Thrift was a virtue.

It bothers Mom to take whole bolts of cloth and cut it up into bits and pieces for quilting. The greatest art of quilting may be that it was making something from almost nothing. True creativity was finding a way to put scraps together in an artistic way.

Necessity is the mother of invention. We don’t have as much necessity so maybe we aren’t as inventive. We have so much entertainment we don’t have to make our own fun. It is great to get together as a group and entertain ourselves. To throw a potluck where each person’s offering makes a feast.

No man has the right to dictate what other men should perceive, create or produce, but all should be encouraged to reveal themselves, their perceptions and emotions, and to build confidence in the creative spirit. Ansel Adams

Creativity is all around us. We see creative gardens where someone didn’t go to the garden center and pay to have everything put in at once. Many of their plants are not only beautiful but have a story. These are Sandra’s poppies. That peony came from Uncle Fred’s. This is a shoot off of Mom’s rose. This cherry tree was given to me by a neighbor. This rose garden is all the Mother’s day roses my children have given me.

We are all creative, but unless we make creativity part of our life it is an unused and unappreciated gift. When you watch little children play you know it’s true. They exuberantly play with paint, building blocks and any medium put before them. We give up our creativity at our peril. When we let creativity move through us we give life to things we didn’t know were in us. Perhaps they aren’t in us, but only come through us, if we are not the conduit through which life expresses itself does it find a more willing conduit?

We tell our self it doesn’t matter if we broaden our self by using our gifts. We tell our self our gifts aren’t great enough. People will laugh at us if we try and present our gifts to the world. The joy that springs up within us as we express ourselves is a joy we get no other way. The joy of writing a novel is not in putting it out in the world. The joy is in the doing. Even if it never gets out into the world if you are a writer, write. If you are a painter, paint. If you are a singer, sing. If you are a quilter, quilt. Creativity is expressing life’s joy.

When we learn to express our self through our gifts we find our self. We say through our art what calls to be said. We find the truth, expressing what we cannot express any other way. It thrills us to hear a song well sung, a painting well painted, a carving well carved. Viewing art expands us, invoking feelings we too long to express.

It does matter if you use your gifts. It matters to you. We make ourselves small and insignificant when we don’t express ourselves. Self-expression is a gift, use it, develop it, and own it.

We don’t serve our self or anyone else by keeping ourselves small. We do our part when we do the thing that calls out to be done and express what calls out to be expressed.

Are we owning the greatness within us?

Don’t let your special character and values, the secret that you know and no one else does, the truth – don’t let that get swallowed up by the great chewing complacency. Aesop

Thank you for reading this post. I hope you enjoyed it. I hope you will come back and read some more. Have a blessed day filled with gratitude, creativity, and love.

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The Creative Habit: Learn It and Use It for Life Paperback – Jan 6 2006

by Twyla Tharp (Author)

4.4 out of 5 stars 34 customer reviews

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As we nurture nature, nature nurtures us. We live without nature at our peril.

We live without nature at our peril. As we nurture nature, nature nurtures us.

Painting by Belynda Wilson Thomas

If you have a garden and a library, you have everything you need. Cicero

As the May long weekend approaches, many of us are in full gardening mode. The garden beckoned last evening but after a hard rain the soil was wet and it would have been a messier endeavor than I wanted to deal with. Off to the gym, I went instead.

The garden centers with their array of blooms may not help us make the best choices for our gardens. Horticulture societies plant sales are also springing up, and you can be sure their offerings grow easily in your area. Sometimes they are such noxious growers they almost count as weeds.

I planted one such plant which I absolutely love. Catmint (Nepeta faassenii) is in the mint family and very easy to grow. It spreads but that is part of its charm. If you plant it where you want it to spread it can be a wonderful addition to the garden. It is planted in the front of my house and fills in my border plantings. It blooms from spring to fall with beautiful purple flowers. This weekend I will plant more of it along the side of my house. It grows low and quite dense so it is a great background plant for bulbs, roses, lilies, and shrubs. It is long blooming, heat tolerant, resistant to pests, one foot tall and beautiful.

If you are looking for a background plant about one foot high, that spreads, looks good all season and will fill in your bare spots. This may be the plant for you.

One of the plants in my garden I love is the Fern leaf peony (Paeonia tenuifolia. It has large red flowers and is a long-lived perennial that is hardy to zone 2. When I first learned of this plant I wanted one. It was for sale for fifty dollars. Even though it was an addition I wanted that seemed too steep. A year later it was for sale for fifteen dollars and I snapped it up.

Another year I added a Tree Peony to my garden and although it is still alive the single pink peony it was grafted to has almost taken over. I can’t bring myself to cut off the single Tree Peony stalk that sticks out of the herbaceous peony.

When we first moved to this house I was in love with Rhododendrons and Azaleas, I bought a couple but they didn’t live long. They don’t do well in my garden and after a few years, I quit planting plants I know don’t do well.

In our garden as well as other areas of our life we can accept the limitations of our soil and climate or we can work hard to grow what needs extra care. Some people plant fig trees they bury each fall. It is worth it to them and that is what makes looking at other peoples gardens interesting. The choices they’ve made, the plants they’ve planted together, do they have an explosion of color or a muted palette? Do they stick to a garden type, English, Japanese, or vegetable? Do they have plants we’ve never seen? Are they able to grow things we cannot?

A garden is a grant teacher. It teaches patience and careful watchfulness; it teaches industry and thrift; above all it teaches entire trust. Gertrude Jekyll

Every garden is as individual as the person who plants it. Our garden says something about us; do we like what it says? Does it reflect our life; even reflect the lack of time we have to spend on it. What do the plants we choose say about us? Our garden may say more about us than we think, leisure time, disposable income, friendships (plants passed along) as divisions, and gifts, neat and tidy, or growth with wild abandon, a vibrant or muted palette, or a collectors garden.

Our garden like ourselves will evolve over time, some seasons of our life we hardly have time to garden. Other times we can spend most of our day out there. Our garden will reflect this. Gardening is good for our mental health, physical and emotional health. Our garden can be our sanctuary, our work of art, a healing space, or where we entertain. Whatever we get out of our garden it is likely more than we put into it.

Gardening enhances emotional, physical, and mental well-being. It is used in hospitals, nursing homes, rehabilitative and mental health centers. Creating more green space in our cities fights crime. When we get involved in taking responsibility for caring for something, creating an environment that produces growth such as a garden it builds self-esteem. Lack of self-esteem is one of the reasons people gravitate to crime. To build up our society, we need to build up individuals to see the worth in themselves and others.

When we look upon nature we are healed. If we bring more nature into our world we are a conduit for good. Our gardens may do more good for ourselves and others than we think. What if planting something is part of the change we need to see in the world? Is it true that the greener our world is, the better our society is? Can we all make a difference in some small way by planting something this spring?

The garden suggests there might be a place where we can meet nature halfway. Michael Pollan

Thank you for reading this post. I hope you enjoyed it. I hope you will come back and read some more. Have a blessed day filled with gratitude, nature, and love.

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Hope’s Edge: The Next Diet for a Small Planet Paperback – Apr 28 2003

by Frances Moore Lappe (Author), Anna Lappe (Author) 5.0 out of 5 stars 9 customer reviews

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Finding faith by asking questions. Be courageous, ask questions.

Be courageous, ask questions. Finding faith by asking questions.

Painting by Belynda Wilson Thomas

Faith isn’t about having everything figured out ahead of time; faith is about following the quiet voice of God without having everything figured out ahead of time. Rachel Held Evans

Some of you may have read Rachel Held Evans book A Year of Biblical Womanhood. Sadly she passed away at the age of thirty-seven.

What an idea for an author to come up with. What an experiment to live for a year. Camping in the front yard on one’s period would be difficult especially here in Canada from October to April. Do we get extra credits for the climate?

Rachel pursued a different virtue each month. She grew out her hair, made her own clothes, covered her head, obeyed her husband, rose before dawn, abstained from gossip, and remained silent in church.

Rachel was a strong-willed and independent woman who couldn’t sew a button on her blouse before embarking on this radical life experiment.

Whatever subculture you are/have been a part of, think of the person who spoke truth to power about the more messed up elements of it. That’s who Rachel was. Anne Helen Peterson said on Twitter.

Living life with humor and passion is how we should live our life. Looking at photos of her as she pursued her year of biblical womanhood it is evident she was full of life and was looking for all the humor in the situation she could find.

It was a brilliant idea; I wished I’d thought of it. Ideas are all around us, we need to grab hold of them and bring them to fruition. Some people say an idea may visit you but if you don’t do something with it, it will move onto someone else.

This may be why we notice certain movies are made and they are similar although they are written by different authors, and directed by different people. The idea for certain stories come into our brain but not only our brain.

A poet, writer, or songwriter wrote that she would see an idea coming like a whoosh, sometimes she could grab hold of it and write it down, and sometimes it eluded her grasp. Haven’t we all had that happen, we had a thought about what would make a great painting, song, story, invention, we know we had a thought, but we can’t remember the thought, but we know it was a good one. This is why people keep a pen and paper beside their bed to record their thoughts when they come to them, because they know if they don’t record them, the thought is gone.

I told them we’re tired of the culture wars, tired of Christianity getting entangled with party politics and power. Millennials want to be known by what we’re for, I said, not just what we’re against. We don’t want to choose between science and religion or between our intellectual integrity and our faith. Instead, we long for our churches to be safe places to doubt, to ask questions, and to tell the truth, even when it’s uncomfortable. We want to talk about the tough stuff – biblical interpretation, religious pluralism, sexuality, racial reconciliation, and social justice – but without predetermined conclusions or simplistic answers. We want to bring our whole selves through the church doors, without leaving our hearts and minds behind, without wearing a mask. Rachel Held Evans

If you like me haven’t read her books yet it might be time to get to know Rachel Held Evans. She sounds like someone I wish I’d known someone with courage, wit, humor, character, and substance. She made a difference, she left a legacy. She will continue to make a difference, many who haven’t discovered her books will discover them over the years. She looked at Christianity through fresh eyes, she asked questions, and she found by asking questions she was closer not further from God.

What if we find that questioning our faith, strengthens it, instead of weakening it? What if that is what we are supposed to do? Seek and ye shall find. What if we aren’t supposed to just swallow without contemplation? What if we are to meet people where they are, love them how they are, and become the best us we are to be. Instead of expecting others to be better, what if we are to become better by getting in the trenches with them? What if we are to understand their struggles without judgment? What if judgment truly is to be left to God?

What if our job is to question everything? If we start asking questions in every area of our life we may find answers, or maybe only more questions? What if what was meant by “a little child shall lead them” is the wisdom of asking questions is more important than thinking we have the answers? When we are with little children, everything is why, why, why? Maybe this is what we need to get back to?

Seek and ye shall find, knock and the door shall be opened. Are we doing enough seeking, knocking, questioning? Or do we know all the problems just need to be fixed by someone else behaving better?

I have come to regard with some suspicion those who claim that the Bible never troubles them. I can only assume this means they haven’t actually read it. Rachel Held Evans

Thank you for reading this post. I hope you enjoyed it. I hope you will come back and read some more. Have a blessed day filled with gratitude, questions, and love.

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A Year of Biblical Womanhood: How a Liberated Woman Found Herself Sitting on Her Roof, Covering Her Head, and Calling Her Husband ‘Master’ Paperback – Oct 29 2012

by Rachel Held Evans (Author) 4.1 out of 5 stars 16 customer reviews

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Amber Alerts. The reports say they are working.

The reports say Amber Alerts are working.

The Amber Alert came into being when the community of Arlington, Texas got together to create the Amber (America’s Missing Broadcast Emergency Response) program following the 1996 kidnapping and murder of nine-year-old Amber Hagerman. Citizens wanted to prevent future abductions and increase children’s safety in their community.

An amber alert woke me at five o’clock. Our hearts go out to the family dealing with abduction. We hope it ends well.

We wonder or maybe some of us know how relationships get so bad, so hurtful that all we want to do is hurt the other person. Seventy-five percent of child abductions are by family members.

Sometimes the parent is accused by the other parent of abducting a child they didn’t abduct. Are they just trying to cause trouble or did they really believe their child was in danger?

Amber alerts are not issued lightly. There are specific guidelines in place in each province that determines when police issue an Amber Alert.

When is an amber alert activated?

The law enforcement agency believes a child under 18 years of age has been abducted.

The law enforcement agency believes the child is in danger.

There is enough descriptive information about one or more of the following – the child, the abductor, and/or the vehicle, which is sufficient to allow the law enforcement agency to believe that an immediate broadcast alert will help in locating the child.

Why do parents abduct their own children? The Polly Klaas Foundation gives four reasons:

To force a reconciliation or continued interaction with the left-behind parent.

To spite or punish the other parent.

Fear of losing custody or visitation rights.

In rare cases to protect the child from a parent who is perceived to molest, abuse, or neglect the child.

These reasons are given when parental child abduction might be a risk.

The other parent has threatened abduction or has actually abducted the child in the past.

Is suspected of abuse, and these suspicions are supported by family and friends.

Is paranoid delusional or severely sociopathic.

Is a citizen of another country and is ending a mixed-culture marriage.

Feels alienated from the legal system, and has family/social support in another community.

Have no strong ties to the child’s home locale.

Has no job, is able to work anywhere, and is not financially tied to the area.

Is planning to quit a job, sell a home, closing bank accounts, applying for passports, obtaining school or medical records.

We wish we could help.

It must be so hard for parents going through these kinds of relationship breakdowns. Every time the child visits the other parent do they worry? How do we not let worry take over our lives?

Most families navigate their separations trying to do the best they can for their children. They continue to make sacrifices for their children and try to keep a good relationship with the other parent. Even though the parent’s relationship with each other is broken they try not to make their children suffer more than they need to.

Did we all felt this morning “What can we do?” at least until we are up and out of our house? They are trying to reach the one person that may be able to make a difference. They are hoping someone recognizes the fleeing pair. Maybe someone will, we all hope this situation ends well. That everyone ends up safe.

If we were in this situation we would want help. We hope the Amber Alert reaches someone who can.

I pray as I write this good news about this abduction is coming soon.

The Amber alert had a good ending. When the mother realised the police were looking for her she turned herself in. There is a story there but we don’t know what it is. The little boy is safe, that’s what matters.

Thank you for reading this post. I hope you enjoyed it. I hope you will come back and read some more. Have a blessed day filled with gratitude, joy, and love.

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We all contribute to the tapestry of life. What is our contribution?

What is our contribution? We all contribute to the tapestry of life.

Painting by Belynda Wilson Thomas

Destiny itself is like a wonderful wide tapestry in which every thread is guided by an unspeakable tender hand, placed beside another thread and held and carried by a hundred others. Rainer Maria Rilke

We become creative, remain creative, or kick start our creativity but however, we do it we end up with something. We end up with something we don’t know what to do with. Our creativity can seem like it has taken over our life. We love being crafty and creative but what do we do with all this stuff?

At the writer’s group this weekend our speaker was a gentleman who has written four books. He has spent the last fifteen years selling those books at fairs, Christmas Markets, and events where he can buy a table and set up shop. He is a four-time Canadian Best Seller (5000 books sold). His subject is local Canadian History.

His main message was, if we want to sell what we’ve created, we can get out and sell it. It is hard work, but it is doable. One of the ladies at the Writers Group makes bookmarks of her original artwork. She’s selling them at the group, she’s creating a market. She’s booked a table at a local event.

My daughter bought a lovely Barbie-like pose-able doll, the creator’s aim was to create multi-cultural realistic dolls. That it was for sale at the Dollar Store we hope is not the end result of a dream that won’t be realized. Perhaps she hoped for a larger market for her dolls than there is. Hopefully, this was just a lucky find and not the end of someone’s dream and financial enterprise.

We think if we get our book or product on Amazon or in a store or chain of stores we’ve made it. If we can’t create a reason why people are looking for our product we need to find the people who may want our product when they realize it exists. We need to be our own marketing board, our own publicity department.

One year visiting my home town I bought a handmade leather-covered journal, the artisan’s poems are sprinkled within it. It is a work of art. It is too nice to use. A problem I have buying really nice journals.

My son’s girlfriend’s sister makes hand-made greeting cards. They are beautiful. Is there a market for creations like hers? Probably.

It is without beginning or end. It is complex to a degree that humbles the mind. It is a work of such beauty that my soul wept… China Mieville

One year one of the founders of the Book club was part of a Christmas market. I was invited; I was painting at the time, and hesitant to put my work out there. When I went to the market, just a small event in someone’s house, I was impressed by everyone who stepped up and put something out, everyone but me. Why didn’t I bother? What was I afraid of? We were all busy young mothers. It was too soon for me, I wasn’t ready.

Do we ever feel ready? Or do we get to a point, like a bud on the cusp of blooming, or a woman about to give birth; there is nothing else to do? We’ve set things in motion.

At the writer’s group, we stand up and read our work, out loud, for many, it is the first time in front of an audience. Everyone claps, we did it! It won’t be that hard again. We are afraid of judgment, and ridicule.

Sometimes putting our self out there doesn’t go as planned. Sometimes we do bomb. Even when we do, we probably are better off for having done it. The what if, is worse than the reality. What if everyone isn’t blown away by that song you wrote and sang in front of friends? As clichéd at is it is, it’s better to have tried and failed than never to have tried at all. We learn from our failures. We learn from doing.

What if we put our novel on Amazon and it sells five copies? That doesn’t tell us the novel is not good. It tells us no one knows it exists. The best selling artists aren’t necessarily the best singers. The best-written books aren’t necessarily the best sellers. We are obsessed with “Stars”, you can set your goal to be a “star” or you can set your goal to get your work out into the world. Where it goes no one knows. It takes on a life of its own. The work may resonate with many or few. It may be a flash in the pan or have longevity.

Whatever it is we feel called to do, we must do. When we find that thing, use that gift in small or big ways, we feel a sense of peace or oneness or being part of something I can’t express. We’ve found the expression of our gift, whatever that may be. We are bestowing it to the world. It isn’t necessarily better if it is to a smaller or wider world. Only that, what we do in some way benefits others.

No one creates or does anything only for themselves that makes the world better. If what we give is a smile with a cup of coffee, it’s something that made the world better. Or we plant a tree in whose shade we will never sit, we’ve made a difference. Isn’t that what we all want, to have made a difference, to have been here, and left a mark, a legacy, a contribution to the tapestry of life?

It will be very interesting one day to follow the pattern of our life as it is spread out like a beautiful tapestry. As long as we live here we see only the reverse side of the weaving, and very often the pattern, with its threads running wildly, doesn’t make sense. Someday, however, we shall understand. In looking back over the years we can discover how a red thread goes through the pattern of our life: the Will of God. Maria Von Trapp

Thank you for reading this post. I hope you enjoyed it. I hope you will come back and read some more. Have a blessed day filled with gratitude, contribution, and love.

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The Creativity Challenge: Design, Experiment, Test, Innovate, Build, Create, Inspire, and Unleash Your GeniusPaperback – Aug 1 2015

by Tanner Christensen (Author) 3.6 out of 5 stars 4 customer reviews

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Our Mother gives us life, love, and prepare us for life. The debt we owe our Mother we pay forward to our children.

The debt we owe our Mother we pay forward to our children. Our Mother gives us life.

Painting by Belynda Wilson Thomas

A mother is she who can take the place of all others but whose place no one else can take. Cardinal Mermillod

“My children are my life,” my mother once said. She was in a difficult situation widowed with two children and a brand new baby.

Isn’t that the true statement of Mother Hood? “Our children are our life.” It is why when the worst happens and parents lose a child we feel a pain in our heart. They are going through what we can’t imagine we could get through.

We are connected to our Mothers with a connection we cannot have with any other. If we are lucky it is a strong, deep connection for a very long time. If all they gave us is life, it is a gift we could get no other way.

Many people wish and long for the kind of Mother I was blessed to have. Looking back on my childhood it seems idyllic, like a Rockwell painting. When we grow up feeling truly loved we are the blessed. We have been given a foundation to build our life on that is strong.

It is lovely to see older women with their children and grandchildren. There is a warmth that is palpable coming from them as they interact with sons, daughters, granddaughters, and grandsons. We don’t have to ask if they came from a loving home, it is evident. I don’t mean perfect. What is a perfect mother, a perfect parent?

Our Mother’s did the best they could, most of the time. They gave us the strength to go forward and build our lives. They gave us the courage to create our own families, bring forth another generation.

They say if we survived we got enough love, even if it doesn’t feel like it. We need love to thrive, and the fact we made it through childhood means there was enough to get us to adulthood.

There comes a time when we have to take responsibility for our own lives. Our parents, mothers, fathers, or whoever raised us, did the best they knew how to do, what they could manage. They didn’t mean to not be the best mother or parent they could be. We need to be grateful for what they could give us, and we need to fill our love tanks now, not worry about how full or empty they may have been at various points in our past.

I am amazed by how many individuals mess up every new day with yesterday. Gary Chapman

If childhood is looked on with fond remembrances of being immersed in a loving family we are truly blessed. We were given a gift that blesses our life every day we live. If we don’t have fond memories of a loving family we need to go forward in gratitude and forgiveness because they couldn’t give what they didn’t have to give, for whatever reason. Even if it doesn’t seem it could be true that they did the best they could. They probably did. Maya Angelou said, “When we know better, we do better.”

Even if the ball was dropped during our childhood, it is up to us to make the best of it. What else is there to do? So many people it seems can’t let go of their past, or forgive their mother’s and father’s for not being perfect, they carry this hurt, and instead of forgiving and becoming better, they hold onto their hurts and become bitter. In time they often repeat the patterns they so despised in their parents, and so despise in themselves. Could forgiveness and understanding break the cycle?

Hurt people, hurt people. How do we heal? Can we accept we had the Mother we did, she did the best she could, and she loved us as much as she was able? She wasn’t perfect, and maybe she tried to give us what she wished she’d gotten, but that isn’t what we needed.

The five love languages according to Gary Chapman author of The 5 Love Languages for Children are.

Words of affirmation, praise, and compliments. Giving a monetary reward to children that seek affirmation will leave them feeling empty.

Acts of service. Early in life, we do things for our children they can’t do for themselves. As they get older we teach them to be independent and do things for themselves. If an act of service is our child’s love language we need to know how to express this. Is it playing ball with them? Helping them with homework? Making their favorite cookies?

Gifts. Children whose love language is receiving gifts, treasure gifts as a tangible token of affection. They interpret a lack of gifts as a lack of love. Recognizing that our child would appreciate a piece of gum over a hug is an important step in building communication.

Quality time. Children whose love language is quality time seek undivided attention. When there are siblings this may be difficult as they want undivided attention. It may be difficult to get one-on-one time with Mom or Dad. They need to feel they are worthy of our undivided attention. Some children need to feel heard, and this may fit into having enough quality time. They have things they want to express and they need to feel understood, listened to, and heard at a level we may find hard. We listen to them endlessly, we think.

Physical touch. Infants who are held fare better than those who are not. As children get older, they still long for physical affection, maybe a pat on the back, a high five, a hug. These children want to literally “Feel our love.”

We may have different love languages than our parents or children. We may give what we wish to get. It may not fill their love tank. We don’t understand what they need that we aren’t giving them. Why don’t they understand and feel how much we love them? Maybe we need to try to fill their love tanks using the five love languages and see which ones seem to be “Their” love languages. Maybe if we think about it the answer is obvious, maybe it is not.

Could part of the answer to close relationships be if they speak the same love language as us it makes an easy relationship, and if we don’t speak the same love language it is harder to have the closeness we all long for?

Is it time to learn a new love language? Can it bring us closer to our mother’s, daughters, sons, and other family members?

Something in our nature cries out to be loved by another. Isolation is devastating to the human psyche. That is why solitary confinement is considered the cruelest of punishments. Gary Chapman

Inside every child is an “emotional rani’s” waiting to be filled with love. When a child really feels loved, he will develop normally but when the love tank is empty, the child will misbehave. Much of the misbehavior of children is motivated by the cravings of an empty “love tank.” Gary Chapman

Thank you for reading this post. I hope you enjoyed it. I hope you will come back and read some more. Have a blessed day filled with gratitude, closeness, and love.

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The 5 Love Languages Of Children Paperback – May 1 2016

by Gary Chapman (Author) 4.5 out of 5 stars 63 customer reviews

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