Self-expression through painting. When we find our voice, we find our self.

When we find our voice, we find our self. Self -expression through painting.

Painting by Belynda Wilson Thomas

I can’t think of anything more rewarding than being able to express yourself to others through painting. Exercising the imagination, experimenting with talents, being creative; these things, to me, are truly the windows of your soul. Bob Ross

Last night I painted with a certified Bob Ross instructor. I didn’t know certified Bob Ross painting instructors existed. Bob Ross is a personality many people are familiar with who wanted everyone to believe they could be an artist. There was another artist William Alexander who taught this technique of wet-on-wet oil painting on television long before Bob Ross.

The story goes that when Bob began his own show William Alexander made a promotional commercial where he handed off a paintbrush to Bob as a symbolic nod to Bob as his painterly heir apparent.

According to PBS, fewer than 10 percent of the viewers painted along with Bob. Although the show was about teaching painting techniques they tuned in for Bob’s soothing tones, the quiet place of happy trees, happy clouds, and in general creating your happy place.

Bob’s curly hair we are told is because when he wasn’t making much money he permed his hair so he’d require fewer haircuts. The story goes he came to hate his hair but because this was his trademark and on all his products, he kept it. He even wore a wig when he lost his own hair to cancer.

Bob Ross’s TV show ran from January 11, 1983, until May 17, 1994. These shows are now available on YouTube as well as others by certified Bob Ross instructors.

I first encountered this wet-on-wet technique when I came to Toronto in 1976. At the exhibition, there was an artist named Varga who quickly painted one painting after another. I was enthralled watching him paint so quickly and beautifully.

I type Varga into the computer and up comes “Fall Forest Scene” antique oil on canvas by Varga 4ft x 6ft selling for $4000.00. The Painting was recently obtained from an estate sale. Original receipt in possession from almost thirty years ago and the price it sold for then was $5000.00. The date this work was painted is unknown. Obviously, this was not art to invest in. It looks to me like it is probably done by the artist who enthralled me at the exhibition.

My husband called me downstairs last night. He had YouTube on and a Bob Ross certified instructor came up. I have a Bob Ross book and I found the painting they were painting in it. Then my husband put the show on a computer tablet so I could watch it in my studio and paint to it. It was the same show we thought but I soon realized it wasn’t, but I painted along anyway. It was a fun night of painting. I didn’t know what I was going to paint, and by painting along I actually painted something, instead of spending the night thinking about painting. I’ve dabbled with Bob Ross techniques but never painted along with him or one of his certified instructors.

I don’t paint in oil, instead, I use acrylic but the techniques translate, although acrylic dries much quicker. I don’t have the palette knives so maybe a trip to the art store is warranted. Not a hardship since art stores are one of my favorite places to visit.

All you need to paint is a few tools, a little instruction, and a vision in your mind. Bob Ross

The certified instructor was good at explaining the techniques but he lacks Bob’s personality.  They had a class set up they were filming, and it was interesting that everyone was painting along but every painting was different. The colors were subtly different, the placement was different, the trees were different, and the intensity of lights and darks were different. The mood created by each artist was different.

This is the thing we sometimes don’t realize, even when we paint along, we are creating our own art. We are expressing our own feelings, desires, and viewpoint. Do we paint “Happy little clouds?” Art is expressing our self, the subject doesn’t matter. Every artist painting along created a unique painting. No one had an exact replica of the instructors, and that was the idea.

Bob Ross wanted each person to be an artist, to express their own ideas, to tease out their own clouds out of their own skies. He was teaching techniques so everyone could create their own art. His instruction was a starting point.

Finding a way to express our self is important. We can write, sing, sew, draw, make pottery, wood carvings, garden, cook, or any other form of self-expression. Neuroscience is teaching us that “self-expression” might be one of the most important ways people connect, navigate, and grow. It might be important that our voice is heard and acknowledged, but maybe it is more important that we acknowledge our own voice and our own creativity.

We have something inside us that longs to be expressed. We often feel shy that our expression won’t be enough. This is the beauty of painting along with anyone, or singing or writing with prompts. We are still expressing ourselves, but we are not as alone. Many times we sit and look at a blank page and don’t know what to write. We stare at our blank canvas and don’t know what to paint. We need a starting point, once we start, we are on our way.

The fact that so few of Bob’s viewers painted along with him is a testament to how we hold ourselves back. How many wanted to paint with him but thought someone would think they were stupid for thinking they could paint? We hold ourselves back all the time. We censor ourselves, we let others censor us. If we aren’t letting those feelings and thoughts out, what happens to them? How are we making our life smaller than it needs to be by not finding a way to express ourselves through some form of creativity? It isn’t about singing because we are great singers, or painting because we are great painters. It is expressing ourselves and getting what is inside of us out.

Maya Angelou told us in I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings that it sings because it has a song. We have things inside of us that long to be expressed. As we find a form of self-expression we find ourselves. Will our form of self-expression make us money? Who knows, we’ll never know unless we put ourselves out there. If it does, the money is not likely our biggest payoff. Sometimes when money comes into play we are no longer expressing ourselves, we begin to express what we think we should, must, and what is expected.

Maybe even if we make money with one form of self-expression, we should have another that we do only for ourselves.

Believe that you can do it cause you can do it. Bob Ross

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Best of the Joy of Painting Paperback – Sep 20 1995

by Robert H Ross (Author) 4.2 out of 5 stars 10 customer reviews

Is gratitude the key to happiness, abundance, and joy? Does gratitude shift our perception so that it changes the world we see? Does gratitude come before joy?

Does gratitude shift our perception so that it changes the world we see? Does gratitude come before joy? Is gratitude the key to happiness, abundance, and joy?

Painting by Belynda Wilson Thomas

Let us rise up and be thankful, for if we didn’t learn a lot at least we learned a little, and if we didn’t learn a little, at least we didn’t get sick, and if we got sick, at least we didn’t die; so let’s all be thankful. Buddha

As I sit here sunshine floods my den. The birds were singing on my walk, the flowers were blooming, everything is lush and green. The hustle and bustle of the day hasn’t started yet.

My morning reading from Never Get Angry Again by David J. Lieberman talks of the magnitude of gratitude. Don’t we feel better when we count our blessings instead of our angst, troubles, worries, shortcomings, fears, hurts, slights, where we’ve been wronged, how we’ve been misjudged, short-changed, or mistreated?

The more we think about what we have to be grateful for the more we can see we have even more to be grateful for. If we are grateful not only for the good things in our life but for the absence of bad things, our gratitude list grows even longer. Even when things are not as good as we may want, it usually isn’t as bad as it could be.

There are people in this world going through the absolute worst we can imagine, but if it isn’t us we should be grateful. If we have the wherewithal to get through the worst we should be grateful. If we can learn to be thankful for what we already have while we pursue all that we want life can be beautiful, and joyful in every moment. To walk through life on autopilot not noticing the blessings of the day, and the moments that will not come again we miss our life.

We don’t know when our life can be changed forever. Did we enjoy everything, or were we too busy looking down the road for what is coming to enjoy what is here today?

Last night instead of going to Toastmasters my husband and I went for an ice-cream cone. I got the dreamsicle dip instead of chocolate. Ice-cream, what a lovely summer treat on a summer’s eve. We watched young families, older couples in convertibles, a young man and his dog, old friends, and young friends all out enjoying a beautiful summer evening.

This is our life, minutes, hours, days, weeks, months, and years go by in a flash. If we live our life with gratitude and savor all that there is we can live with love, grace, and gratitude.

If we live as if everything is a miracle our viewpoint will be one way, and if we live as if nothing is a miracle we will see things differently. It is our choice how we view our life, “Same old, same old,” or “This is a wonderful day I’ve never seen before.”

The real gift of gratitude is that the more grateful you are, the more present you become. Robert Holden

Oprah Winfrey tells us if we are thankful for what we have; we’ll end up having more. If we concentrate on what we don’t have, we’ll never have enough.

It is easier to write about always being grateful than to live a life always being grateful, for everything. Are we grateful for the challenges that come our way? They help us grow and every step forward helps us move toward our goals making something bigger and better than our current situation.

When things are going wrong should we take a moment and be thankful for what is going right?

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

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Never Get Angry Again: The Foolproof Way to Stay Calm and in Control in Any Conversation or SituationHardcover – Jan 9 2018

by Dr. David J. Lieberman Ph.D. (Author) 5.0 out of 5 stars 1 customer review

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In praise of book clubs. Joining a group of like-minded people to discuss ideas. Have you read a good book lately?

Have you read a good book lately? Joining a group of like minded people to discuss ideas. In praise of book clubs.

I do believe something very magical can happen when you read a good book. J.K. Rowling

Last night we had a new member come out to our book club. Our club hasn’t met since February. We need to meet more regularly, but book clubs need to fit into our lives not take over our lives. We all love the book club; not only because of the books, but also the camaraderie, conversation, and closeness we’ve developed. It is a place to be real, and honest. We don’t pretend our families, lives, or anything else is perfect. Everything is up for discussion. We have diverse backgrounds, ages, and viewpoints. This isn’t a book club made up of close friends. We’ve become close by being part of the book club. Most of us didn’t know each other’s spouses or families when we joined.

Books give us a starting point. We ask questions and we reflect on how things in books resonate in our own life. When a book is followed with a discussion it makes it more powerful. We have more to think about. More questions to ask. We even had an author come out to discuss her book one evening. She enjoyed speaking with readers and we enjoyed meeting the author.

Having a reason to meet is a good reason to belong to a book club. It will expand our minds is another good reason. We will read books we wouldn’t otherwise read. We will hear points of view that challenge us. We will ask and answer questions and go deeper than if we read a book on our own with no discussion.

Every book club will be different. Some book clubs may meet over wine and cheese. Some will meet in member’s homes, coffee shops, or over dinner. We may go see the movie of a book they’ve read. Some may be very literary and serious. Some may be casual but connect over the challenges life presents and be there to bolster us when we need it.

Our book club has gone through many changes. We started when some of us had young children; babies have been born along the way. Children have gone onto University and out into the world. Relationships have broken up. Parents have passed on. Pets have passed on. What we haven’t had yet is a wedding of one of our members. That too could become a reality.

A little reading is all the therapy a person needs sometimes. Unknown

We can look through the list of books we’ve read and the members that have come and gone. We have one original member left, I was asked to join when the book club was fairly new. When the book club no longer works for someone they leave and other members are brought in.

Members have moved on for various reasons. For one member we aren’t a literary enough book club. If we don’t get the book read, if we can’t make it to a meeting, and if we don’t discuss the book at all it isn’t a problem. Life is too short to have our book club be another obligation. It should be a pleasure, a supportive group of people who can share opinions, ideas on life or whatever is relevant at the moment.

We have chosen some fabulous books and some duds. Some books we could discuss, again and again, some are never mentioned again. Being part of the book club is one of the great pleasures of my life.

Last night we went to a coffee shop. Our next meeting we will be going to a desert place owned by the aunt of one of our members. In the beginning, minutes were kept and it was much more formal. It morphs and grows as each member comes. There is a limit to the number of people that can meet comfortably in a coffee shop. Too many and it won’t work, too few and everyone is obligated to show up or there is no meeting. We are now a group of seven. Our club is small enough to be able to meet anywhere and large enough that everyone doesn’t need to attend if their life doesn’t allow it.

It is easier to have a set meeting date like the third Wednesday of the month and whoever can make it, makes it. We’ve tried to accommodate by finding a date that works for everyone but that is very hard. Life gets in the way.

I highly recommend being part of or starting a book club. We get a lot more out of it than just books read. It seems many people have had bad experiences with book clubs. This is the first one I’ve joined and it’s close to twenty years we’ve been going. Too high of expectations may be why some clubs fail or members are unhappy. Some members only want to discuss the book and nothing else. That would make a drier, stuffy book club.

Meeting in member’s homes can seem like too much work and an inconvenience for the member’s families. Coffee shops work the best for us, no muss, no fuss, no array of goodies we need to consume, very little expense or preparation.

Sometimes meeting in someone’s home is the only way they can be part of the meeting. Flexibility is in order. Our book club isn’t disbanded if we don’t meet every month. We don’t ask people to leave because their life is too hectic to get the book finished, or sometimes even started.

Book clubs like everything else in life will be what we make it. Having a supportive, stimulating, and engaging book club is the goal. Like everything else in life, we bring ourselves to the mix. If we join a book club that doesn’t quite fit, we can join or start another.

If you’ve ever thought you should be part of a book club, what is holding you back?

Books don’t just go with you, they take you where you’ve never been. Anonymous

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Belong: Find Your People, Create Community, and Live a More Connected Life Hardcover – Sep 4 2018

by Radha Agrawal (Author) 3.5 out of 5 stars 2 customer reviews

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We are what we eat. Do our choices create our health? Are there changes we should make?

Do our choices create our health? Are there changes we should make? We are what we eat.

Let food be thy medicine, thy medicine shall be thy food. Hippocrates

I’ve been pulling up posts from last year now that I’ve passed my one year anniversary of blogging. It’s interesting to see what was on my mind a year ago. There is no corresponding post for today from last year. Maybe we were too busy getting ready for a wedding. Watching what we were eating so our bathing suits would look as good as they could.

We worked hard to get a few pounds off for the wedding but they have crept back on. The weight I lost when I cut out the cream in my coffee and moved to a more plant-based diet has stayed off.

I’ve been bringing eggs, cheese and meat back into my diet. I picked up The Plant Paradox by Dr. Steven Gundry, and then his earlier book Dr. Gundry’s Diet Revolution. I never embraced veganism but I did embrace plant-based. Deprivation doesn’t work for me. I choose what I eat, and I don’t pass up something I really want. If every day was a buffet it would be hard, too many choices means too much food.

Dr. Gundry tells us “Meat is bad for us because it is good for us, and plants are good for us because they are bad for us.” This is the food paradox. He tells us we can outwit our genes, which kill us off once we’ve outlived our usefulness. This phenomenon is genetic pleiotrophy, meaning genes that activate one sequence of events during part of our life cycle activate the opposite events when called upon to change direction. He says, “The foods of developed nations are so “good” for our genes that they are “bad” for us and our entire society.

He tells us we should:

Fool our genes into thinking that we are not fat enough to kill yet.

Convince them we’re not working overtime, struggling to survive.

Get them to reverse their effect so they undo the damage they – with our help – have already done to our body.

He tells us our diet allows us to grow faster, become stronger, and females can produce babies at younger ages and have more of them. But, all this high-calorie food has a price, because of the “calorie counter” for each species on earth. Within our master computer is a program that monitors the number of calories we consume and compares it to a standard that allows each human (like all other animals studied) to grow, reproduce and raise young, and then get out of the way in order to conserve precious food resources.

Take care of your body. It’s the only place you have to live. Jim Rohn

Dr. Steven Gundry is a heart surgeon who realized that bypasses and stints aren’t the answer to heart disease, diet is. He said even though he ran twenty miles a week, and put in an hour per day at the gym he still weighed 228 pounds. He was still plagued with high cholesterol, high blood pressure, high blood sugar, and frequent colds. He says his activity level, food consumption, and “pain” all conspired to inform his genes that he wasn’t a very successful animal, which he says activates killer genes, as does taking more than our fair share of food.

I’ve believed we are what we eat for a long time. Dr. Gundry puts a new spin on it. When he turned fifty he realized that the people he was operating on looked a lot like him, they were all part of the “Big Boy Club,” men who weigh over 220 lbs.

Where we carry our fat is important. Dr. Gundry says, “Fat on your ass, you are built to last. Fat in your gut, you are out of luck.”

He says we miss the point in the controversy over meat versus plant-based. The anti-nutrients in plants, when taken in the correct dose activate the hormesis response which prolongs our life with low doses of poisons that effectively tell our genes to protect us.

Marmoset monkeys which eat nothing but fruits are unable to reproduce in zoos unless their diet is fortified with 6 percent animal protein. It turns out the perfect zoo fruit was missing the worms and bugs naturally present in fruit in the wild. So it would appear some animal protein is a good thing.

Dr. Gundry’s diet is a balance between high protein and plant-based. He tells us the ratio of omega 6 fats to omega 3 fats is critical in balancing inflammation and anti-inflammation hormones. Ground squirrels won’t go into hibernation if the ratio is disrupted in the laboratory.

He says there is a contest between individuals and their genes, in earlier periods individuals were the winners, and species were the losers. Our modern way of eating is the perfect diet to increase our species but to cut down individuals sooner.

For years diet has been an experiment for me. Dr. Gundry’s Diet Evolution and Plant Paradox is just a continuation. Does he have all the answers? If we tweak our diet and lives resulting in progress isn’t that what we are looking for?

We are what we eat so let’s not be fast, cheap, easy, or fake.

If diet is wrong medicine is of no use. If diet is correct medicine is of no need. Ancient Ayurvedic proverb

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Dr. Gundry’s Diet Evolution: Turn Off the Genes That Are Killing You and Your Waistline Paperback – Mar 3 2009

by Dr. Steven R. Gundry (Author) 4.1 out of 5 stars 141 customer reviews

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Is better communication the balm needed to fix relationships? Can we listen and ask questions and hear what someone else is saying instead of just reacting?

Can we listen and ask questions and hear what someone else is saying instead of just reacting? Is better communication the balm needed to fix relationships?

One of the most sincere forms of respect is actually listening to what another has to say. Bryant H. McGill

Do we let anger rule our lives? How many bad relationships are created out of anger that no one knows how to fix? Once we’ve said words we can’t take them back. We can apologize and heal, but many of us don’t know how to do that. What if we don’t believe we are totally in the wrong? We don’t believe we said what someone thinks we said. How could they take that innocuous comment as something so hurtful?

We thought we healed a breach, we were on the mend and now they aren’t talking to us again, and we don’t know why, “what happened?” If we have siblings there are probably some contentious issues, sensitivities, and angst. If we are alive we have sensitivities. Something gets said and we wonder, “What did they mean by that?” We feel our actions, our words, our attitude, and our whole being can be misunderstood and viewed in a negative light.

We can read something posted on Face book and wonder, “What do they mean by that? Is there some hidden message?

Can we try and look at others with empathy and compassion, and try and understand what they are going through? How things might look from their point of view? But, how could they think that of us? We ask ourselves, why don’t we get the benefit of the doubt? What if how they deal with things is by thinking “What is the worst that can happen? But, by doing that they almost treat us as if we’ve actually done the worst, or at least that is how we feel.

We may take offense where none was meant, and they may interpret offense where none was meant. How do we fix this? Hurt feelings on both sides. How do we apologize for things we don’t think we did or didn’t mean in the way they were interpreted?

Last night talking to friends our host recounted going to a wedding where what the groom said to the father of the bride in his speech left everyone with their mouths hanging open. The groom and father of the bride appeared to have the kind of relationship where the groom could call him a name most of us cringe at and they would laugh about it, instead of taking offense. How did that marriage work out we wondered, our host didn’t know.

I’ve heard of this, friends saying all the mean hurtful things to their friends so when someone else says these words to them, the sting has been taken out. Does it work? It might be better than being so sensitive to every tone of voice, inflection, and off the cuff remark we hear.

If you make listening and observation your occupation, you will gain much more than you can by talk. Robert Baden-Powell

We sometimes don’t see things as they really are. We think we are one thing, but we find out we are something else. It happened to me; I thought I was “the good” mother. It was a bitter pill to swallow when I realized I fell into “The controlling mother camp.” When I quit telling my kids what they should think, how they should feel, what they should do, and instead started asking questions and listening to them things got better. By changing my attitude, other attitudes seemed to change. I began to have the impact I’d hoped for not by telling, but by listening. Not by trying to control other people but by giving them space to feel their own feelings, think their own thoughts, and choose their own path. By asking questions they thought about what they wanted instead of being told what to want.

People need to be heard, for some people, this is the greatest gift we can give them. To listen to them, to really hear, and understand what they have to say. They say we should first seek to understand before seeking to be understood. Sometimes we have to get over “how things are said,” and start listening to what is underneath the words.

Can we get over our own sensitivities to understand someone else’s? Can we step into their shoes and see things from their point of view? Is there another side of the story we aren’t seeing? Is our need to be right, worth the price we are paying?

Listening is a magnetic and strange thing, a creative force. The friends who listen to us are the ones we move toward. When we are listened to, it creates us, makes us unfold and expand. Karl A. Menninger     

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, listening, and love.

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How to Listen So People Will Talk: Build Stronger Communication and Deeper Connections by [Harling, Becky]
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How to Listen So People Will Talk: Build Stronger Communication and Deeper Connections Kindle Edition

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The pursuit of happiness. Finding meaning, passion, purpose, and joy.

Finding meaning, passion, purpose, and joy. The pursuit of happiness

There is not one big cosmic meaning for all; There is only the meaning we give to our life, an individual meaning, an individual plot, like an individual novel, a book for each person. Anais Nin

Yesterday I was listening to a video on YouTube. I don’t know the name of the Harvard professor talking.  He was talking about happiness, marriage, money, and children.

He tells us marriage makes us happier, and happier people are married. A Divorce he tells us also makes us happier. Is the answer to get married, divorced, married, divorced and ride the wave of happiness each of these gives us? He tells us happy marriages are better than good divorces for happiness.

Is the best advice then to improve our marriage but if that is impossible then get a divorce? Doing something to improve our lives feels better than doing nothing. Is it progress that we seek?

People tell us that money does not buy us happiness, but he tells us it does. Money in all their studies does not contribute negatively to happiness. It does not bring more happiness on a continuous rising scale. The amount of money at which most people are happy seems to be about forty to seventy-five thousand, then moving up the scale doesn’t buy much more happiness. Once our basic needs are met, most of our wants are satisfied and we have a little spending money the amount of happiness we may get from more money may be negligible, but never negative. More money does not detract from our happiness it just doesn’t add that much once we have “enough”.   

The path to happiness may lie in turning what we have into enough. So many of us look for ways to spend what money we get and turn it into an obligation. If more money buys us more debt, we have less security and more stress. If more money buys us more security, more opportunity for travel and experiences then we may be happier.

The man who is born with a talent which he is meant to use finds his greatest happiness in using it. Johann Wolfgang Von Goethe

Children are surely what is needed, and one of our greatest sources of joy? According to his study having children and looking after children does not increase our happiness. But, we value what we invest a lot of time and effort into, and children require a lot of sacrifices, investment, time, and attention. We value them, and amidst the drudgery of looking after them, we have moments of immense joy that take our breath away and eclipse all other moments in our life.

It is not happiness children bring to us, they bring work and sacrifice. That work and sacrifice bring meaning. Meaning brings joy and purpose.  A life filled with the aimless pursuit of happiness would not have meaning, purpose, passion, and probably not much lasting joy.

He tells us that heroin brings us happiness. It makes us feel so good, that we no longer pursue any other sources of happiness. We no longer work, take care of ourselves, brush our teeth, etc. We will sit in a corner destroying our lives clinging to this one source of happiness.

A baseball game he gives as an analogy of happiness. We may sit inning after boring inning, no score, in the ninth inning our team hits a home run. Wow, what an amazing game, we are so happy. Eight boring innings are forgotten as we concentrate on the amazing win. We go home and when asked how was the game? We say it was amazing. One of the best games we’ve seen.

This is an analogy to our life with our children, during all the humdrum, sacrifice, crying, cajoling, and struggle. They look up at us with a smile and say, “you’re the bestest.” Our heart melts; it’s been the best day ever. During the heavy lifting years of child-rearing, we may not have a lot of time for other sources of happiness. Like heroin, we may give up almost everything else for our children. Unlike heroin, it doesn’t destroy us, it builds us, it creates the life we are proud of, giving us passion, purpose, meaning, and a legacy to be proud of.

The heart of human excellence often begins to beat when you discover a pursuit that absorbs you, frees you, challenges you, or gives you a sense of meaning, joy, or passion. Terry Orlick

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The Power Of Meaning: Finding Fulfillment in a World Obsessed with Happiness Paperback – Dec 26 2017

by Emily Esfahani-Smith (Author) 3.9 out of 5 stars 8 customer reviews

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Leaders and followers. Can leaders only lead when followers agree to follow? Is the actual power with the followers?

Leaders and Followers. Is the actual power with the followers? Can leaders only lead when followers agree to follow?

Comparison is the thief of joy. Theordore Roosevelt

Everyone has a story. Yesterday my daughter and her husband got home from a friend’s destination wedding. They are full of stories comparing the Dominican Republic wedding to their Jamaican wedding.

It is hard not to compare things, vacations, cars, homes, friends, bosses, jobs, children, lives, accomplishments, and ourselves.

We hear comparisons are odious, and I believe they are, but we do it or at least I do all the time. I compare my lovely Lulu who barks too much who is a submissive dog, to my late dominant dog. Having a dominant and a submissive dog puts a whole new spin on dominance and submission. They both want their own way, they just go about it differently. One way isn’t necessarily more effective than the other.

It reminds me of the joke in My Big Fat Greek Wedding the mother of the bride says “the husband is the head of the home, and the wife is the neck, and the neck can make the head do anything it wants.” She was submission in action.

My husband tells me women are not straight forward. I watch my Lulu basically give a bow by stretching out in front of you paws out, belly on the ground looking up. “I want what you want”, she seems to say. As she proceeds to do exactly what she wants. She is harder to train than our dominant dog was. This could also be because we took him and ourselves to puppy school, and we had the hubris to think we could train her without puppy school.

I’ve been reading about submission and marriage. I’m beginning to believe it isn’t what I thought. Good leaders lead because followers agree to their leadership.

I was listening to John Cleese yesterday on W5 and he was saying Democracy is overtaken by Dictators because Dictators in the short run get things done.

I was listening to some speeches on authoritarian leadership styles and the speakers seemed surprised that they came up as authoritarian. They were both very funny guys, with seemingly easy personalities, who in their own words have been put in challenging positions where they got things done. They bring energy; they motivate, inspire, and turn things around.

If your actions inspire others to dream more, learn more, do more and become more, you are a leader. John Quincy Adams

The problem with authoritarian leadership over time is that it can seem the leader is no longer part of the team. The other members of the team or family may begin to fear the leader. A benevolent autocratic leader manages the needs of the team so it is better for all. This type of leadership allows information to go both up and down the chain of command.

Autocratic leaders are who we look to in a disaster, they take charge, they get things done, and they get us through the challenges.

I am reading a blog: Tim’s Blog – Just One Train Wreck after Another. He says there is a common way marriages work: In marriage, the husband and wife both have a say in family decisions but the one with the veto power is the husband.

He says marriage should not be a lopsided democracy. It should actually be “the two became one.” We shouldn’t be a leader and a follower. We should be a unit that works together and discusses, endlessly even, to arrive at a decision. When we talk and talk, and talk, and still cannot agree, maybe the decision isn’t ready to be made yet.

It’s easier to give one person veto power. Is it better?

The pessimist complains about the wind. The optimist expects it to change. The leader adjusts the sails. John Maxwell

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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Leading With Emotional Courage: How to Have Hard Conversations, Create Accountability, And Inspire Action On Your Most Important Work Hardcover – Jul 11 2018

by Peter Bregman (Author) 5.0 out of 5 stars 2 customer reviews

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Keeping all our balls in the air. Some balls are rubber and some are glass. Finding balance. Knowing the important from the urgent.

Finding balance. Knowing the important from the urgent. Keeping all our balls in the air. Some are rubber and some are glass.

Never get so busy making a living that you forget to make a life. Dolly Parton

Yesterday my computer hadn’t finished updating. When it did, it wouldn’t restart. My husband worked his magic and got it going. The night before at Toastmasters the topics were bucket lists, the dream of owning a home and the pursuit of happiness.

What is on my bucket list? Seeing Europe is on my list. One person said she’d like to see the seven wonders of the world.

The 7 natural wonders of the world.

The Grand Canyon (North America)

The Great Barrier Reef (Off the coast of Queensland in Northeast Australia)

Harbor of Rio de Janeiro (South America)

Mount Everest

Aurora Borealis (Northern Lights)

Paricutin Volcano (Mexico)

Victoria Falls (Africa) roughly three times the height of Niagara Falls

Seven wonders of the ancient world

The great pyramid of Giza

Hanging gardens of Babylon

Colossus of Rhodes

Lighthouse of Alexandria

Temple of Artemis

Statue of Zeus at Olympia

Mausoleum at Halicarnassus

The seven wonders of the world

The great wall of China

Petra – Jordan

Christ the Redeemer statue – Brazil

Machu Picchu – Peru

Chicken Itza – Mexico

Colosseum – Italy

Taj Mahal – India

The seven wonders of the medieval world

Leaning Tower of Pisa – Italy

Hagia Sophia – Turkey

Porcelain Tower of Nanjing – China

The Great Wall of China

Catacombs of Kom el Shoqafa – Egypt


Stonehenge – England

How do we get everything done, see the wonders of the world, work, raise our families, exercise, and read for fun and personal growth? Some people seem to be better at juggling all of their activities than others.

The limit jugglers can juggle seems to be 14 balls. For the rest of us who are juggling life and not balls, how many can we keep in the air?

We are being asked to juggle more, and we are also trying to juggle more on our own accord as we want to fit everything in, and live life to the max. We don’t just want to be fit enough, we want six pack abs. We don’t just want a job, we need to be rising in the organization. Even our children are over scheduled with activities as we shuttle them from martial arts, dance, piano, hockey, soccer, and many also have a tutor.

Create a life that feels good on the inside, not just one that looks good on the outside. Unknown

An executive coach Scott Eblin tells us we need to recognize what kind of balls we are juggling? Are they rubber, or glass? Some balls will bounce, and some will shatter. We need to know the difference so we can handle them accordingly.

What’s the long-term impact of this ball? Author Suzy Welch tells us to look at things like this – will this matter a week from now, a month from now, a year from now, ten years from now? We aren’t just looking at career balls but all our balls, including family, and our other interests.

Who else cares about this ball? It might not be a ball of particular interest to us, but it’s really important to someone else? Our decisions should not be solely driven by other people, but we should consider them.

What’s the upside of this ball?

If we dropped this ball, could we recover? Some setbacks in life are minor and we can bounce back, others are more significant. Most of our balls are rubber, and if this is a rubber ball, it can bounce. If it is a glass ball it will shatter. Marriages are glass balls. Health is a glass ball. Family is a glass ball and friends are a glass ball. Some of these glass balls we can put down and pick up. Some like marriage and health we need to keep in the air at all times. Children take a lot of time until they don’t. Friends are balls we can put down and pick up.

Should we even be juggling this ball? Maybe someone else should be juggling this ball, or no one needs to juggle it, maybe it shouldn’t be part of the mix at all, or maybe it is a ball we can pick up at a less busy time in our lives.

Are we battling between our “must do’s” and “should do’s”? Do we know the difference between important and urgent? Many things that take up our time seem important because they are urgent, but if we ignore them they didn’t impact our lives in any way.  Many urgent things won’t matter even in a week, let alone ten years.

Some of the important things don’t seem urgent. It doesn’t seem urgent to spend time with family. If we don’t spend enough time with family it can be hard to get back into what should be easy, fun, spontaneous. We could talk about anything, but if we don’t talk that ease goes away, and it can be hard to get back.

Work is a ball that masquerades as crystal when really it is the rubber ball we need to keep from taking over our lives and making the important things feel unimportant to us.

Volunteer activities are another ball that can take over our lives. Often everything seems urgent, can we just take on one more thing? We need to be careful our spouse and children don’t get sidelined by these rubber balls that seem to grow, morph, and take over our lives.

I’m in this situation now with Toastmasters. It is taking up another Saturday in the summer. Summer Saturdays are precious, and this is the third one. I enjoy it, but I have a husband who isn’t enjoying it nearly as much.

Marriage is the fragile, precious ball we need to put first. This is the ball that is fragile, and the ball upon which the rest of our life is based. If we can keep this ball healthy, we will have a good foundation for everything else. If we have a strong marriage we actually have four hands to help with our juggling instead of two.

It is easy to think we’ve been married for so many years; surely it isn’t so fragile anymore. This is probably a mistake. Taking our spouse for granted while we pursue other things may make our spouse feel they no longer are first in our lives. What if they pursue something and we are no longer first in their life? Where will this leave us?

We should each pursue things in our lives, while we are also making sure to keep our spouse our first priority. We need to take a good look at the balls we are juggling and figure out what is important, and not just urgent. We can juggle what is important and concentrate on the glass balls and let the rubber one bounce if they need to.

Is the biggest mistake we make confusing the rubber balls with the glass ones?

Management is doing things right; leadership is doing the right things. Peter F. Drucker

Love is a verb. Marriage is a growth opportunity; we won’t get the growth if we give up when the going gets tough. Everything will be all right in the end, if it is not all right, it shouldn’t yet be the end.

Everything will be all right in the end, if it is not all right, it shouldn't yet be the end. Love is a verb. Marriage is a growth opportunity; we won't get the growth if we give up when the going gets tough.

Painting by Belynda Wilson Thomas

A happy man marries the woman he loves; a happier man loves the woman he married.  Susan Douglas                                     

 I sit here a day before my wedding anniversary thinking of the wonderful husband, and children I have been blessed with. No matter what else in life we accomplish bringing a life into the world at times seems like the smallest and biggest accomplishment.

As mothers, we felt if we worked outside the home we neglected our children. If we stayed inside the home we sometimes felt we neglected our self. We let down the sisterhood who fought for emancipation and women’s rights. At my vantage point, I believe the fight was for choice. We need to find balance in our lives. Balancing our hopes and dreams with responsibilities isn’t always easy. There is a price for everything when we make one choice we eliminate another. Our children and families can’t be the most important thing in our lives if we don’t make time for them. We give our time to what we feel is important.

When my mother was widowed at twenty-five with two children and a new baby she was told to give up the baby and build a life. She said, “My children are my life.” This, the truest statement of motherhood is still true today.

Once our children are grown we may appreciate them even more. Seeing them take their place in the world, get married, and start their own families is bittersweet. We see them as we once were, the young couple with stars in our eyes, hope in our heart, and dreams to make come true. Now we know how a lot of that turned out, often keeping body and soul together, and raising children took up most of our lives, energy, and resources. We were busy, happy, seeing progress in ours and our children’s lives.

When our children get married it really punctuates we have moved into a new role. We don’t love our new role yet. We don’t have grandchildren to love, teach, and see the world through their eyes.  It will be an adventure being grandparents. No pressure kids, but can’t you please hurry up?

My daughter and her husband attended a wedding yesterday in The Dominican Republic. Another family is formed, the hopes and dreams of another couple going forth into the world to build a life, and maybe a family.

We rally around as another family is formed. I smile at the hope and joy shining from the faces of brides and grooms at their weddings.  I say a silent prayer hoping that love will still be shining in the years to come. It’s never about the day, no matter how extravagant and beautiful. It is always about the relationship. It is about bringing our best self to the marriage and bringing out the best in someone else.  The magic of marriage is it transforms two people into a couple. If it is a positive marriage all of society benefits, the chemistry and compatibility evident over the years.

Freud said, “It’s a cornerstone of our humanity; only love protects us enough to grow and change.” Love is a verb and if we think of it as something we do instead of something we find, or fall into it has a better chance of standing the test of time. Building a life together that has meaning, with an ability to laugh at life’s challenges and obstacles, and a willingness to get through the tough times and know this too shall pass is what is required. The highs will pass and the lows will pass, but there is another high coming and another low. We need to learn to surf the highs and lows to enjoy our marriage. It’s a wild ride and if we are in it for the long haul it is both beautiful and the biggest growth opportunity of our life.

Marriage is I believe the cornerstone of society. I can’t imagine how much harder it would have been bringing up our two children without my husband’s love and support. As a shared goal raising children is one of the best. Not a goal that will fix a marriage. Raising children is a stressful endeavor. The accomplishment like any difficult challenge is rewarding. We watch our children take their place in the world, and we know their accomplishments aren’t ours, but we feel pride.

Kalil Gibran said, “Your children are not your children. They are the sons and daughters of life’s longing for itself. They come through you but not from you, and though they are with you, yet they belong not to you.”

The advice I’ve written in wedding cards over the years is; marry the right person and be the right person. If we want our marriage to work we need to look for the best in each other. If we spend our time looking at our partner’s shortcomings, we will find them, if we look for their good points we will find them also. The lens we look through makes all the difference. It is as easy to recount our partner’s good points as their bad. Expecting better instead of worse often gives us better. We get what we expect.

Nobody knows what goes on in someone else’s marriage. Sometimes we don’t even know what is going on in our own. The reason is that we aren’t always straight forward in our communication. Kalil Gibran said, “Between what is said and not meant and what is meant and not said, all love is lost.” It is easy to fall into this trap, and it can be as hard to take back unsaid things as said things. But, if we truly want better communication sometimes we have to say it. “I don’t think you understand what I meant, or what I said. I apologize for not being a better communicator, I love you, I value you, I don’t understand you but I appreciate you and am happy that we are on this journey together. I’m in for the long haul, the ups, the downs, the good, the bad, the funny, and the sad.”

In our marriages, the two of us may not have the same dreams and aspirations but everything that is good for one of us should be good for both of us. Sometimes it may be time for the wife to shine; sometimes it may be time for the husband to shine. If we have each other’s backs and give each other enduring support and encouragement we can’t help but be in the world feeling lifted up. As Dr. Phil says “Marriage is a safe place to fall.” Relaxing in our husband’s or wife’s arms after a good or bad day feels better than being alone in our joy or sorrow. Some people talk about chemistry as though sex is the most important part of marriage. If we have good sex it’s five percent of the marriage and if we have bad or no sex it might become ninety percent of the marriage. So as Nike says, “just do it.” Then we can get on with building a marriage.

After thirty-three years of marriage, I believe it is not lack of love, but lack of friendship that makes an unhappy marriage. After all, we spend more time talking and being together than anything else. If we can’t ask our husband or wife out for coffee or ice cream and not spend all our time on our cell phone it might not bode well for our marriage. If we want a better marriage we should have more coffee, ice-cream, long walks or drives in the country. Too often we focus on the big things, but if we want a better life we should enjoy more of the little things. That’s where the magic is. I said to my husband the other day as we sat in Second Cup. Even if we travel the world it’s still just the two of us over coffee whether in Milan, Paris, Singapore, or the coffee shop down the street

Where ever we go there we are. If it isn’t good between us it doesn’t matter if it’s a place on our bucket list or Tim Horton’s down the street.

Sometimes I think we forget what marriage is. It’s just two people sharing a life. It’s better when it’s a happy life, but that is where the choice lies. We can be happy or we can be unhappy that is our decision. To make happiness our goal is a good way to be unhappy.  If we make meaning our choice it is much easier to pursue meaning than to pursue happiness.  We might not be happy putting our children’s needs ahead of our own but it’s meaningful and something we will be proud of over the years. Every day we can move forward in pleasure and purpose, there is a lot to savor, food, conversation, laughter, sex, and companionship.

Isn’t marriage worth the time and effort needed to keep it interesting, fun, and progressing?  Do some of us get out of a marriage to look for another one when we probably could have worked on the old one? Is it that different from moving from one house we’ve let run down to a new house, which will eventually run down if we don’t maintain it?

A happy marriage is about three things: memories of togetherness, forgiveness of mistakes, and a promise to never give up on each other. Surabhi Surendra

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, purpose, and love.

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Love Is A Verb – 30 Days To Improving Your Relationship Communication: Learn How To Nurture A Deeper Love By Mastering The Art of Heart-To-Heart Relationship Communication Paperback – Sep 28 2014

by Simeon Lindstrom (Author) 4.8 out of 5 stars 11 customer reviews

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A year of blogging. Still learning, developing, creating, and dreaming. What habits and rituals can be brought into our lives to create our best life?

What habits and rituals can be brought into our lives to create our best life? Still learning, developing, creating, and dreaming. A year of blogging.

Painting by Belynda Wilson Thomas

We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence then is not an act, but a habit. Aristotle

Today I celebrate one year of blogging. What has it meant? What have I learned? One of the things I’ve learned is there is so much to learn. There is so much to think about, ponder, read about, write about, explore, discover. I thought I would run out of topics. I thought I would be saying what will I write about? The more I write the more I seem to have to discover, and the more I discover the more I have to write about.

I was talking to my son and said to him, “I wonder if I should scale back my posts, I’ve got quite a few and maybe people feel overwhelmed.”

He said. “if people like what you create, you can’t create too much. You don’t know where this will take you, but if you like doing it, continue to do it.”

I do love doing it. A habit or routine has developed around it. It starts my day off right. Like making my bed, at least at the end of the day I can say, I put my post out. I wrote today.

Hopefully, along the way, someone reads something and gets an “I’ve thought that too” moment. I’ve stepped out of my comfort zone.  I am getting comfortable; it will be time to step out again. Small steps, consistently taken, lead somewhere.

All of you who have come on this journey with me, Thank you. Anyone who has read any of my posts, Thank you. The comments I’ve received I’m grateful for. The bots have taken over my comment section. I’m contemplating eliminating the comment section because most of my comments come by way of Facebook, or email. There is no shortcut to success; Bloggers want to fool people by using bots to manufacture an audience they do not have.

More bots have come to my blog via the comment section than real people reading my posts. Word Press keeps track of traffic and the bots don’t count as posts read, fortunately. Word Press analytics are pretty impressive. What country visitors come from, and how many posts each visitor reads are calculated. Which posts receive the most traffic and where referrals come from like Facebook, Google, Pinterest, etc.

Over time we will develop an audience or we will not. We can only put our art, writing, music, etc. out into the world, where it goes from there is not in our control. If we get enjoyment from creating it, and some people get enjoyment from reading, listening, seeing then we’ve done our part. If our only measurement is in how much money we make it will be a hollow victory, even if we get rich doing it. At least that is what the gurus tell us. I will admit to being open to riches. I’m not one of the people who decry commercial success.

Each choice starts a behavior that over time becomes a habit. Darren Hardy

Tony Robbins tells us it is not what we actually accomplish but continued progress that is important. He tells us it is the rituals we create that develop our life. Over and over we do things, and these things build our lives positively or negatively. We don’t have enough will power to will ourselves to change. We need to do it through rituals, and daily habits.

He tells us if we want to improve our lives in any area to write down how it really is. Ask ourselves what are the rituals that got us to where we are? Write down what we want to change, what we want to happen, and what we want to improve. Then we are to write down the rituals we can implement daily that will get us there.

When we look at our rituals, they either serve us or don’t serve us. We can choose to change them or not. We can ask ourselves, what is one thing we could add or get rid of that would make the biggest difference in our relationship, family life, health, fitness, finances, work, etc. How can we turn that into a ritual or habit?

Recently I turned walking my dog in the morning into a ritual. By changing my morning routine, walking my dog fits in just before I sit down to coffee and writing my blog. Before I changed my morning routine I was sure there was no way to fit dog walking in. I didn’t change my morning routine for dog walking that is a side benefit.

Before I started writing there was no way to fit writing in until I sat down after I put the kids to bed and wrote. I noted the time I started and the time I finished. The output was not important, the practice was. My husband had brought home an old laptop that when I first saw it, I thought, why did he buy that? That old laptop with floppy discs changed me into a writer. I could sit down at the kitchen table; I didn’t need to have a separate space. I couldn’t change my head space from work mode to writer mode if I tried to write in the office. This is one of the things with rituals and habits, our mind works for us in many ways but can also work against us. In the office, I am in work mode. In the den I use for writing I am in writer mode. In my art studio, I am in artist mode. At the gym, I am in workout mode.

Just like we wear the right shoes for what we want to do, we need the right head space for the activity we are going to do. We don’t wear high heels for jogging, we don’t go dancing in rain boots, and we don’t wear our sandals in the snow. Creating rituals around what we want to accomplish puts us in the right head space, and gives us time to accomplish things. We don’t have to prepare ourselves for working out if we change into work out gear. We are ready by the time we tie our shoes.

Are our habits and rituals working for us? Is there a new habit or ritual we could create that would make our relationship with our self or someone else better?

There is nothing more dreadful than the habit of doubt. Doubt separates people. It is a poison that disintegrates friendships and breaks up pleasant relations. It is a thorn that irritates and hurts; it is a sword that kills. The Buddha

If you do what you’ve always done, you’ll get what you’ve always gotten. Tony Robbins

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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Unlimited Power: The New Science Of Personal Achievement Paperback – Dec 22 1997

by Tony Robbins (Author) 4.3 out of 5 stars 124 customer reviews

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