The strength of an apology. To apologize and make amends on our own terms.

To apologize and make amends on our own terms. The strength of an apology.

Painting by Belynda Wilson Thomas

Never ruin an apology with an excuse. Unknown

We probably all believe we should be strong enough to admit we are wrong and make amends. What if we don’t think the other person or people should be offended? Do we apologize just for appeasement?

An apology is a show of strength. It’s an act of true honesty, being that we admit we did something wrong. It’s an act of generosity because it restores the self-concept of those we offended. It offers hope for a renewed relationship and strengthens our connection with the people we hurt.

We can hurt other people when we have insulted others intentionally or unintentionally. When we hurt others unintentionally we often feel they are too sensitive. “You know what I meant, even if that isn’t what I said.”

There are four basic motives for apologizing taken from Psychology Today Go Ahead, Say You’re Sorry.

The first is to salvage or restore the relationship. Whether you’ve hurt someone you love, enjoy, or just plain need as your ally in an office situation, an apology may well rekindle the troubled relationship.

 You may have purely empathic reasons for apologizing. You regret that you have caused someone to suffer and you apologize to diminish or end their pain.

 Some people apologize simply to escape punishment, such as the criminal who apologizes to his victim in exchange for a lesser plea.

Others apologize simply to relieve themselves of a guilty conscience. They feel so ashamed of what they did that, even though it may not have bothered you that much, they apologize profusely. A long letter explaining why the offender was a half-hour late to dinner would be such an occasion. And in so doing, they are trying to maintain some self-respect, because they are nurturing an image of themselves in which the offense, lack of promptness, violates some basic self-concept.

Arguments drag out because one is too stubborn to forgive and the other is too proud to apologize. Unknown

The largest stumbling block to apologizing is our belief that doing so is a sign of weakness and an admission of guilt. Many of us have the misguided belief that we are better ignoring or denying and become defensive instead of just saying I’m sorry.

Here’s the rub and what I think gets us in trouble, what are we saying we are sorry for? Sometimes we are sorry because someone took something the wrong way, or believes we did something we believe we did not do. We didn’t mean what they think we meant. Should it hurt us to apologize when our speech filter isn’t working one hundred percent? Or do we get our back up because although we do know our speech filter wasn’t working one hundred percent, we are now offended that our awkwardness with words is interpreted how it is?

We feel as offended as the people we have offended.  Sometimes we get our back up and we are more offended than those we offended. Sometimes the people who could be offended aren’t as offended as those that are offended on their behalf.

What of the botched apology; the apology which is intended but not delivered perhaps by ineptness and awkwardness, or delivered but not accepted. Failed apologies can have serious social consequences and strain a relationship beyond repair, or worse, create life-long grudges and bitter vengeance.

The most compelling and common reason to apologize is over a personal offense. Whether we’ve ignored, belittled, betrayed, or publicly humiliated someone or groups of someone’s, the common denominator of any personal offense is that we’ve diminished or injured someone’s view of themselves. How we view ourselves is how we feel about who we are, how we would like to be, and how we want to be perceived by others.

ANATOMY OF AN APOLOGY – taken from Psychology Today – Go Ahead, Say You’re Sorry

But in practice, it’s not as easy as it sounds. There’s a right way and a wrong way to apologize. There are several integral elements of any apology and unless they are accounted for, an apology is likely to fail.

First, you have to acknowledge that a moral norm or an understanding of a relationship was violated, and you have to accept responsibility for it. You must name the offense–no glossing over in generalities like, “I’m sorry for what I have done.” To be a success, the apology has to be specific–“I betrayed you by talking behind your back” or “I missed your daughter’s wedding.”

You also have to show you understand the nature of your wrongdoing and the impact it had on the person–“I know I hurt you and I am so very sorry.”

This is one of the most unifying elements of the apology. By acknowledging that a moral norm was violated, both parties affirm a similar set of values. The apology reestablishes a common moral ground.

The second ingredient to a successful apology is an explanation for why you committed the offense in the first place. An effective explanation makes the point that what you did isn’t representative of who you are. You may offer that you were tired, sick, drunk, distracted, or in love–and that it will not happen again. Such an explanation protects your self-concept.

Ultimately, the success of an apology rests on the dynamics between the two parties, not on a pat recipe. The apology is an interactive negotiation process in which a deal has to be struck that is emotionally satisfactory to both involved parties.

But apologies are useful only if done right. There are in the public arena ample examples of what not to do–stunning portraits of failed apologies. They typically take the form of what I call “the pseudo apology”–the offender fails to admit or take responsibility for what he has done.

The most common cause of failure in an apology–or an apology altogether avoided–is the offender’s pride. It’s a fear of shame. To apologize, you have to acknowledge that you made a mistake. You have to admit that you failed to live up to values like sensitivity, thoughtfulness, faithfulness, fairness, and honesty. This is an admission that our own self-concept, our story about our self, is flawed. To honestly admit what you did and show regret may stir a profound experience of shame, a public exposure of weakness. Such an admission is especially difficult to bear when there was some degree of intention behind the wrongdoing.

Egocentricity also factors into failed or avoided apologies. The egocentric is unable to appreciate the suffering of another person; his regret is that he is no longer liked by the person he offended, not that he inflicted harm. That sort of apology takes the form of “I am sorry that you are upset with me” rather than “I am sorry I hurt you.” This offender simply says he is bereft–not guilty, ashamed, or empathic.

Timing can also doom an apology. For a minor offense such as interrupting someone during a presentation or accidentally spilling a drink all over a friend’s suit, if you don’t apologize right away, the offense becomes personal and grows in magnitude. For a serious offense, such as a betrayal of trust or public humiliation, an immediate apology misses the mark. It demeans the event. Hours, days, weeks, or even months may go by before both parties can integrate the meaning of the event and its impact on the relationship. The care and thought that goes into such apologies dignifies the exchange

Far and away the biggest stumbling block to apologizing is our belief that apologizing is a sign of weakness and an admission of guilt. We have the misguided notion we are better off ignoring or denying our offenses and hope that no one notices.

All dimensions of the apology require strength of character, including the conviction that, while we expose vulnerable parts of ourselves, we are still good people.

Is too glib an apology worse than no apology?

I never knew how strong I was until I had to forgive someone who wasn’t sorry and accept an apology I never received. Unknown

Sorry, I’m not perfect, but definitely not fake. Unknown

Apologizing does not always mean that you’re wrong and the other person is right. It just means that you value your relationship more than your ego. Unknown

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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When Sorry Isn’t Enough Paperback – May 1 2013

by Gary Chapman (Author), Jennifer Thomas (Author) 4.8 out of 5 stars 5 ratings

 See all 8 formats and editions

Cries for help. What if when we ask for strength, courage, fortitude, we get it even if we aren’t sure God exists?

What if when we ask for strength, courage, fortitude, we get it even if we aren't sure God exists? Cries for help.

Painting by Belynda Wilson Thomas

Courage isn’t having the strength to go on – it is going on when you don’t have strength. Napoleon Bonaparte

A very strange thing happened this morning. It was time to get up, but I lay in bed for half an hour. I got up, had a shower, took my sheets off the bed and went downstairs, put the dog out, and looked at the clock. It was 2:20 Am. I went back to bed.

I was sure I was up at the right time, even later than I had planned. I’m not one that does well without my sleep. I could have used the early hours, but the rest of the day would probably be a write-off.

What makes us so sure we are right about something that we are wrong about? It can be about anything. Other people can even point out to us we are wrong, but it doesn’t resonate with us.

It seems we are at war with ourselves sometimes. We want something, and yet we sabotage ourselves on our way to achieving it. We succumb to temptation, but sometimes it is temptation we agreed to. Last Monday, I fasted until dinner, went to the gym and the chocolate bar I love was on sale at a store close by, but I had to drive to get to it. I told myself that because I fasted it would be okay to buy the chocolate bars. I bought them and ate them.

Sugar is one of the things I stay away from, so if I’m going to do the good thing by fasting but then sabotage myself by eating chocolate bars, I wouldn’t eat if I didn’t fast, am I accomplishing anything?

If we’ve ever felt God spoke to us, do we also feel spoken to by someone who doesn’t have our best interests at heart? Who wants to lead us into temptation, lies, and deceit? In Wild at Heart John Eldredge tells us we must be warriors, to be honest, he’s talking to men, but women have their own battles to fight.

Anyone can give up, it’s the easiest thing in the world to do. But to hold it together when everyone else would understand if you fell apart, that’s true strength. Unknown

I looked at a book yesterday called Jezebel and the author was saying he performs exorcisms and who is exorcised the most is Jezebel. She and her husband are mentioned in the bible. According to what I read people influenced by the Jezebel spirit have fear issues, and use control and manipulation to ease their fear issues, and fear of rejection. They need to be in control because then they feel they can’t be hurt or wounded.

One of the things we have to be careful of according to John Eldredge is after we have resisted deception and intimidation; we are encouraged to simply cut a deal. John Eldredge says many of us fall when we feel we have accomplished something. We begin to kick back, relax. Do we really think when we hear of politicians and ministers being taken down by an affair that they decided to torpedo the whole thing they’ve spent their life achieving? That this was their aim? They had a moment of weakness, maybe the battle seems won, and they relax their discipline. It doesn’t take much for whatever our weakness is, the siren call gets louder and louder, we drive to the store with chocolate bars, a bar, strip club, or where hookers hang out. We put our diet, sobriety, marriage, livelihood, or life in jeopardy.

The bible tells us to say, “Get thee behind me, Satan.”

Some of us may not have deep faith. Jordan Peterson says he lives as if there is a God. What if we do that? We can ask for strength even if we aren’t sure there is one. We can act as if there is someone who will help us deal with our demons, someone who will help us with our choices, and someone who will give us strength in our times of adversity.

What if we don’t need to be sure, what if we ask for help even if we aren’t sure? What if we get help, and still don’t know where it came from? What if we act as if we believe, and live by the principles that seem to produce better lives?

It takes more courage to reveal insecurities than to hide them, more strength to relate to people than to dominate them, more ‘manhood’ to abide by thought-out principles rather than blind reflexes. Toughness is in the soul and spirit, not in muscles and an immature mind. Alex Karras

Most great people have attained their greatest success one step beyond their greatest failure. Napoleon Hill

What lies behind us and what lies before us are tiny matters compared to what lies within us. Ralph Waldo Emerson

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Wild at Heart Revised and Updated: Discovering the Secret of a Man’s Soul Paperback – Apr 17 2011

by John Eldredge (Author) 4.2 out of 5 stars 299 ratings

 See all 31 formats and editions

If they can do it, so can we. Inspired by people we meet on the journey.

Inspired by people we meet on the journey. If they can do it, so can we.

Painting by Belynda Wilson Thomas

Those we meet can change us, sometimes so profoundly we are not the same afterwards. Life of Pi

Yesterday I went to The Writers Group after being away for a few months, our fearless leader is ill but the meeting was handled well. I had the good fortune of sitting beside a published author who attended the meeting for the first time. We had some time to talk so I asked about his publishing process. He’s published on Kobo and if anyone wants to check out Paul Stegweit’s books you can find a link to purchase them through his website

One of the things that struck me when I went to Paul Stegweit’s website is his covers. His granddaughter produces his latest covers and even though we know we can’t judge a book by its cover we are drawn first to the cover.

It is great meeting people who are ahead of us on the journey. The editing stage is taking me forever, partly because I don’t want to pay someone until I think I’ve made it as good as I can.

Paul Stegweit uses Grammarly for editing and so do I, although I’m still using the free version. Yesterday, I found a new editing tool I’m trying out. I have a free fourteen-day trial of ProWritingAidPremium. It looks amazing. I was able to print out a report showing sentence length, something called sticky sentences (sticky sentences contain too many common words, they slow the reader down). One of the comments I’ve gotten from readers is they found it slow getting into my novel. I have 961 sticky sentences the goal is zero. I need to pick up the pace of my novel by looking at verb tenses. There are many other reports generated and I printed it out so I could compare where I am after editing compared to where I started. On my spelling, I got 97 out of 100.

I find it’s hard to edit when I look at the pages I’ve written. If a word is misspelled that is easy to correct but little inconsistencies in our writing are one of the hardest things to catch. This program helps with this. They even have a report you can run on your manuscript for that.

At the end of this edit, a human editor is still advised. After all, it is not computers that will read our work, but when we give an editor something better to work with they can help elevate our novel to a higher level instead of finding the mistakes we should have found ourselves.

How far we travel in life matters far less than those we meet along the way. Robert Louis Stevenson

The journey of becoming a writer is a long one; at least it is for me. Writing fits in the periphery of my life, perhaps that is why I enjoy it so much. Writing doesn’t have to pay the bills. No one tells me what to write about, or what not to write about, or how often I need to write.

I hope my writing is an interest that carries me into my later years with passion and purpose. It is in speaking to writers whose journey is for the love of doing not just money that makes me believe it is possible.

It is the journey, not the destination that is important. It isn’t just about publishing a novel, but it is also about that. We can spend time fixing, and tweaking, because we don’t want to put our work into the world. It is time to put in the work to make it as good as I can and then release it. Then write something else. Paul Stegweit has ten books on his website, he started writing after he retired. That is a big accomplishment.

One of the questions we need to ask ourselves is what do we want to do when we retire? What will a great retirement look like? Is there something we can do in retirement we never had time for that brings passion and purpose into our lives?

And then there is the most dangerous risk of all – the risk of spending your life not doing what you want on the bet you can buy yourself the freedom to do it later. Randy Komisar

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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Notebook and Pen

The Writing of Paul Stegweit




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In a posh neighborhood of Chicago, 11-year-old Michael is kidnapped.  A colossal ransom of $5,000,000 has been requested for the safe return of the boy. The FBI has been unsuccessful in finding the boy or in locating clues that might assist them.

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Otis Cage is a highly respected private investigator. He is also noted as a one man war

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Otis Cage is a highly respected Private Investigator. He is however, a no nonsense private eye that on occasion will use illegal justice if necessary. This attitude no doubt stems from his years spent in today’s Okinawa’s US Marine Jungle Warfare training facility.

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For Comment

The family circle, we all have a contribution to make. Family. Where life begins, and love never ends.

Family. Where life begins, and love never ends. The family circle, we all have a contribution to make.

Painting by Belynda Wilson Thomas

The chances you take, the people you meet, the people you love, the faith that you have. That’s what’s going to define you. Denzel Washington

Having somewhere to go is home. Having someone to love is family. Having both is a blessing. Unknown

A good father is a source of inspiration and self-restraint. A good mother is the root of kindness and humbleness.  Dr. T.P. Chia

Last night we had a simple dinner for my son’s birthday. He went to the Raptor’s game for his birthday. The cake didn’t seem any worse for wear for spending an extra day in the fridge. A simple dinner, we are so blessed when we can have a simple dinner with those we love.

So many people can’t have that simple dinner because a member of the family is no longer here, because of death, distance, or estrangement. To be able to hold hands and our circle be unbroken is a bigger blessing than we realize until one day our circle, is also broken.

When our circle is broken because of death we must accept it, when it is because of distance we may have choices to make, but when it is because of estrangement that seems the saddest reason of all. It seems like it should be as easy as saying, just get over it. Maybe it should, but it isn’t. The estrangement may have nothing to do with us, and we may have no power to fix it.

It is sad when we have opportunities to be with family and the chance to share a meal, laugh, and enjoy each other’s company is marred by drama. Is there drama that has never been addressed? It might be misunderstandings and hurt feelings over what was perceived as preferential treatment from parents, it can be anything but it can ruin special moments and hurt people we didn’t want to hurt.

Do we see slights where there are none? Are we somehow being disrespectful when we aren’t thinking about someone else? Is it possible to be thoughtful and respectful enough if people are looking to be offended? We might be accused of looking at someone the wrong way. We may wonder what was the right way, or if we should have looked at them at all?

Middle children are often the peacemakers, the make peace between their older and younger siblings and sometimes between their siblings and parents. There are many roles we may have had as children and theses roles don’t go away as we move into adulthood.

Life is a balance between what we can control and what we cannot. I am learning to live between effort and surrender. Danielle Orner

Families are often a minefield we have to navigate, and we bring the roles we played in our birth family into our marriages and relationships. If we were the peacemaker there are strengths to the role but also weaknesses, we may not want to deal with things that need to be dealt with, we want peace at any cost.

This is the role I think I have in a blended family with four older sisters from my parent’s first marriages, and four younger siblings from theirs. I am also the oldest of their children.

We are different people with everyone we meet. We are different children, with different parents. We are the type of spouse we are to the spouse we have, but with a different partner, we would also be different.

We are told the oldest child is programmed for excellence and achievement, the middle child is raised to be understanding and conciliatory and the baby seeks attention. As a result, birth order is a powerful variable that affects our personality not just in our original family but throughout our lives.

Can we enjoy the moments we get to spend with each other and not take our time together for granted, because something can happen that changes things forever? If the last words we said to someone were in anger, we may regret those words the rest of our life. When we are offended by the simplest things people may learn to not bother with us, we aren’t worth the effort.

It’s sad that many families don’t enjoy the time they could have together. It makes it difficult for everyone when some members can’t let bygones be bygones. If we aren’t warm and fuzzy can’t we at least be civil so others can enjoy the family circle? The family circle will be broken. Sometimes we can mend it, sometimes we cannot.

Sometimes we need to ask ourselves what is really going on, why are we so offended by something or someone? Is forgiveness what is needed to bring the family circle back together, before it is finally broken for good?

I know that no two children have the same set of parents, even though they live in the same family. Why? Because parents are different with each of their children, and no two children every take the same role. Dr. Gail Cross

All happy families are alike: each unhappy family is unhappy in its own way. Leo Tolstoy

When you assume negative intent, you’re angry. If you take away that anger and assume positive intent, you will be amazed. Indra Nooyi

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.

To subscribe, comment, see archives or categories of posts click on the picture and scroll to the end. Please subscribe, comment, and share.

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The 5 Love Languages Of Your Family (2-In1) Paperback – Mar 13 2015

by Gary Chapman (Author) 4.7 out of 5 stars 16 ratings

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Finding our purpose. Being the person we know we are to be, courageous, strong, and facing our fears.

Being the person we know we are to be, courageous, strong, and facing our fears. Finding our purpose.

Painting by Belynda Wilson Thomas

The tragedy of life is what dies inside a man while he lives. Albert Schweitzer

The other day I picked up a book Wild at Heart Discovering the Secret of a Man’s Soul by John Eldredge. In it, he quotes Robert Bly from Iron John. “Some women want a passive man if they want a man at all, the church wants a tamed man – they are called priests, the university wants a domesticated man they are called tenure track people, the corporation wants a …… sanitized man, hairless, shallow man.”

Is the heart of men driven out of them by our society? John Eldredge says in the heart of every man there are three deep desires that when disregarded cause men to lose their souls. These three desires are a battle to fight, an adventure to live, and a beauty to rescue.

My brothers got toy guns and loved them. My son never received a toy gun, but he made them out of lego and other things. One of the questions in this book is if Jesus was so dangerous he needed to be crucified, was he the kind of man portrayed to us?

Jordan Peterson talks about meek not being what we think. He tells us meek is something like, those who have power but have sheathed their swords. I think of people who are ready to defend themselves and stand up for what is right. This is one of the problems we have in our society. The meek, who are ready to do their duty, defend their families, and build a society, are the law-abiding citizens until they feel the laws they are asked to abide and defend are unfair and unjust.

When asked what was the most important virtue Maya Angelou replied, courage because without courage we won’t be strong enough to live any of the other virtues. It takes courage to take a stand in life and many of us find it admirable when people stand up for what they believe.

It is one of the reasons getting guns out of the hands of some people is a cause they will die for. They believe in holstering their gun, sheathing their sword, but they do not agree to be disarmed.

Freedom is useless if we don’t exercise it as character making choices… We are free to change the stories by which we live. Because we are genuine characters, and not mere puppets, we can choose our defining stories.  We can do so because we actively participate in the creation of our stories. We are co-authors as well as characters. Few things are as encouraging as the realization that things can be different and that we have a role in making them so. Daniel Taylor

One of the problems is trusting those with sheathed swords or holstered guns to have discernment when to unholster, and unsheathe. We aren’t good at trusting others, and the news programs show us many incidences where unnecessary force and violence is used. If everyone has sheathed swords, and holstered guns have we made it a safer society or a more unsafe one?

It makes sense it is more unsafe. If you have a gun, I need a gun mentality will develop. If you don’t have a gun, I don’t need a gun is a far safer society.

The problem is there are so many examples in history where people needed to take up arms to deal with the tyranny they were subjected to. People worry tyranny may return and more likely to return to an unarmed populace than an armed one.

I grew up with parents ready to deal with whoever came to our door. Force was never required. We can overreact. The first night we moved into our house a young man put his hand through our sidelight. His friends were joyriding and overturned their jeep. He was looking for a phone in the middle of the night and only three homes were occupied in our neighborhood. We probably didn’t hear the doorbell, because we were dead beat. We woke up to the sound of shattering glass. What if the first thing we did when we heard shattering glass was shoot?

Are we courageous, and finding our purpose, or living lives of quiet desperation? Do we need to become more powerful in our own lives?

She was right that reality can be harsh and that you shut your eyes to it only at your peril because if you do not face up to the enemy in all his dark power, then the enemy will come up from behind some dark day and destroy you while you are facing the other way. Frederick Buechner

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Wild at Heart Revised and Updated: Discovering the Secret of a Man’s Soul Paperback – Apr 17 2011

by John Eldredge (Author) 4.2 out of 5 stars 299 ratings

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Quit waiting and start living. What are we waiting for? We need to seize the opportunities at hand.

We need to seize the opportunities at hand. Quit waiting and start living. What are we waiting for?

Painting by Belynda Wilson Thomas

My most brilliant achievement was my ability to be able to persuade my love to marry me. Sir Winston Churchill

Thirty years ago today I became a mother. The other day on the radio the announcer was saying he never understood why when women get together after the birth of their babies they talk about it as if it was a war story. Birth, is our war story. Having a baby is a much bigger thing to women than to men and men of course realize and appreciate this. Having a husband when going through pregnancy and childbirth makes everything much easier.

When someone else can look after the logistics and we can just be, it is such a blessing. We can look after the baby and someone looks after everything else. Our circle of love grows as our family grows.

Not long ago a young healthy woman died in childbirth with her third child. A relative on my husband’s side came very close to dying giving birth. Having children is not without risk and if it wasn’t for safe cesareans how would my two have fared?

Natural birth was what I wanted. I saw a woman in the hospital who had a natural birth. She was euphoric and only stayed in my room for about an hour before she took her “newborn” home only hours old. It was not her first baby.

We are blessed to have safe childbirth. Some people think it is so safe they have home births and most of the time it works out well. Birth is not a medical procedure but one can quickly become necessary.

When I think of my husband’s and my families we don’t have any war heroes even though some have served in the military. On both sides, we have women who died in childbirth, on his side one grandmother died in childbirth, and the other one died of complications after childbirth. A cousin’s wife died in childbirth.

We mostly put the risks out of our mind as we contemplate starting a family, or think of the joy we’ll feel when our children start one. We do the same when we put our key into the ignition of our car, or when we do anything else in life. If we thought of everything that could happen, we would be paralyzed and do nothing.

Marriage is about becoming a team. You’re going to spend the rest of your life learning about each other, and every now and then, things blow up. But the beauty of marriage is that if you picked the right person and you both love each other, you’ll always figure out a way to get through it. Unknown

Life is an adventure, and on an adventure, you never know what is around the next corner. If we knew what life had in store for us would it be an adventure? It is a blessing for most of us when we become mothers and fathers. We are lucky when we find out we are pregnant and that is the best news we could possibly get. It isn’t easy for everyone to have a family. It doesn’t always happen at opportune times, pregnancy is not always convenient, maybe it’s never convenient but it can happen at good times in our life when it is the best thing that can happen in our lives.

Yesterday a minister was on YouTube talking about how “The Church” is failing young people.  Telling them to wait to get married, wait until they have their education, a great job, etc. He said he has many newly married women who tell him their husbands don’t want to have sex. They spent their twenties not having sex because they were busy going to school, working hard to get ahead so they could get married. Now they are married but they aren’t that interested in sex.

I was one who thought getting married young wasn’t the best thing. I’m revisiting that thought. Why, if we’ve found the right person would we want to wait to start building a life? When is a better time? There is no better time. There won’t be a better time. Waiting for a better time is what makes many afraid to take the step. Now, it isn’t as good as the last time they didn’t do it, so they don’t take the step.

Wanting our children to not struggle is part of the problem. Life is about struggle, and if we aren’t willing to struggle, we aren’t willing to live. It is getting through the struggle, stronger together that builds marriages and families. We give up the things that have worked in our society at our peril.

We’ve been worshipping at the altar of education, job satisfaction, and worldly success, instead of family and life satisfaction. It seems to me the longer we wait to get married the less special it will be. What happened to the optimism of youth and going on an adventure together?

If I had to do it over again I would get married younger (to the same person). Waiting to afford a wedding is the worst decision a couple makes. Get married, in the Church, back yard, or park, but quit waiting and start living.

We are being told that buying a home is not the best financial decision. So many feel they need to buy a home before they can get married or start a family. If buying a home is important to us it can happen at any time in our lives, marriage and family is not the same. We need to quit waiting, waiting for better finances, stability, and success. Get married and start building stability, family, and success. That’s what marriage is for.

Are there decisions in our life that we need to make, would it be better if we quit waiting and made them today?

Yes, I’m getting married at 20 years old. No, I’m not pregnant. No, I’m not young and stupid. Go ahead and judge me while I’m here getting ready to marry the many of my dreams. Unknown

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Attached: The New Science of Adult Attachment and How It Can Help You Find–and Keep– Love Paperback – Jan 5 2012

by Amir Levine (Author), Rachel Heller (Author) 4.5 out of 5 stars 112 ratings

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Ambivalence is not a good thing. Don’t we need to know where we are going, where we’ve been, and what we want to accomplish next? Can we make a decision and stand behind it?

Don't we need to know where we are going, where we've been, and what we want to accomplish next? Can we make a decision and stand behind it? Ambivalence is not a good thing.

Painting by Belynda Wilson Thomas

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

Looking at books at Value Village on the weekend I saw a book Too Good to Leave, Too Bad to Stay by Mira Kirshenbaum. I didn’t buy it, but I’ve been thinking about what it says. My husband and I even had a conversation about it. We all know people who have left marriages we thought good enough to stay in and stayed in bad marriages we thought they should have left.

We need to do soul searching to know which kind of marriage we are in. The soul searching should have been done before the marriage, but often people do things trying to make a bad relationship better. They get married when they should break up, they have a child when they should break up, and they buy a house when they should break up. For whatever reason, they keep doing things to make it better, but if it was never good, it is not likely to ever get good.

This is a hard truth and we should look at hard truths during our lives. In Toastmaster’s we have something called “Moments of Truth.” In “Moments of Truth” we are to take a good look at our clubs and see what needs to be changed and improved. We need to do the same with our relationships.

In the book, the author talks about a man who is not happy, and when he sees his friend get a divorce he gets one too. He is still not happy; the girls he’d like to date aren’t interested in him. The visits with his kids he thought would be fun are boring, the kids miss their friends, their stuff, and constant fun isn’t as much fun as he thought and a lot more expensive. He realizes he made a big mistake, but it’s done.

A strong marriage requires two people who choose to love each other even on the days when they struggle to like each other. Unknown

Another woman was in a relationship where they were carefree and her partner starts a business and becomes a businesswoman with all that entails. The relationship isn’t good and hasn’t been good, but because the businesswoman makes a lot of money and the partner doesn’t, she stays. Until one day while helping a woman find a place to live she realizes she too could afford her own place with a little better job.

If we stay for the wrong reasons or leave for the wrong reasons we haven’t made things better. We need to be able to figure out when to hold on and when to fold. We need to do this in other areas of our life as well. Why are we so hesitant to take a good look at what we like about our lives, and what we don’t. As Dr. Phil says we can’t change what we don’t acknowledge. Even after taking a good hard look at our life we may not see how to change it. There are things we can do even if it is only an attitude adjustment.

I keep telling my friends that the men looking our way are in their seventies and eighties. A couple I know of just got divorced. She was fifty and he had to be at least seventy-five when they got married. I don’t know her; I liked him as a grandfatherly person in my kid’s lives. Husband material for a fifty-year-old, I don’t think so.

Ambivalence in life isn’t good. We can stay stuck forever if we aren’t courageous enough to make a decision. One of the questions the author asks is: In spite of your problems, do you and your partner have even one positively pleasurable activity or interest (besides children) that you currently share and look forward to sharing in the future, something you do together that you both like that gives both of you a feeling of closeness for awhile? Would you say that to you, your partner is basically nice, reasonably intelligent, not too neurotic, okay to look at, and most of the time smells alright?

In the book The New I Do Reshaping Marriage for Sceptics, Realists, and Rebels by Susan Pease Gadoua co-written with Vicki Larson the authors talk about other marriage models than the “Love” marriage. Starter marriage, companionship marriage, parenting marriage, living alone together, safety marriage, covenant marriage and open marriage.  The author’s belief is that many people need to tailor their marriage to their own needs. If marriage is going to survive it needs to meet the two members’ needs, or at least most of those needs. What if one of the things we have to decide in our marriage is what our needs are? What if those needs change over time?

Marriage was at one time based on survival, procreation, property, and wealth. Now that we’ve made it all about “Love” we often find it can’t deliver as promised. Are we making the mistake of thinking marriage is only about love, and not realizing a good marriage is about so much more than just “Feeling in Love”. Dr. John Gottman talks about the Good Enough Marriage, this is what we should be after even though it wasn’t what most of us aspired to when we said: “I Do”. If after many, many years we have a “Good Enough” marriage we have achieved something worthwhile. A “Good Enough” marriage is not a bad marriage, if we have a “Good Enough” marriage, looking for a better partner is unlikely to get us what we might want a “Perfect Marriage” because they don’t exist.

Can we create a “Good Enough” marriage out of the one we have?

If you want to have a great marriage. You need to be humble enough to ask yourself, what changes do I need to make. Unknown

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Too Good to Leave, Too Bad to Stay: A Step-by-Step Guide to Help You Decide Whether to Stay In or Get Out of Your Relationship Paperback – Jul 1 1997

by Mira Kirshenbaum (Author) 4.5 out of 5 stars 62 ratings

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Making plans and setting goals. This is our life, what do we want to do, achieve, experience?

This is our life, what do we want to do, achieve, experience? Making plans and setting goals.

Painting by Belynda Wilson Thomas

It is not enough to be busy. The question is: what are you busy about? Henry David Thoreau

This morning the extra hour made it easier to get up at five o’clock. It is still too dark to go for a walk at six. In my morning reading, Brendon Burchard says in The Motivation Manifesto we should write our goals down in the morning before everyone starts to push and pull us toward their ends.

When we’ve decided what our goals for the day are, we can then work around other people’s demands. There is something about scheduling commitments to our self that is more of a commitment than when it is just in our head.

One of the problems we have in our lives is fitting in the things that need to be done, should be done, or could be done. We need to move some of the could’s and should’s into the schedule. We feel we don’t have enough time to fit everything in, but what if we figured out how to do things in less time.

Last night flicking through the channels my husband came upon a show about what we really have to do to be fitter. The answer is less than we think. Instead of ten thousand steps per day, three ten minute brisk walks are more effective because they raise our heart rate. Twenty seconds of high-intensity activity elevates our heart rate.

Two rounds of one minute of jumping jacks followed by one minute of squats is an effective workout we can do anywhere without gym equipment, or spending any money.

Writing every day doesn’t mean hours of writing, it does mean actually writing something and creating a habit of writing. We can do the same with fitness, some small form of exercise fits into our life, if we do it every day we will develop a fitness habit.

Goals. There’s no telling what you can do when you get inspired by them. There’s no telling what you can do when you believe in them, and there’s no telling what will happen when you act upon them. Jim Rohn

If I take a couple of minutes every morning to schedule my day it will become a habit, and being more organized makes achieving our goals easier. Sometimes if we don’t write down our goals they remain hazy and unformed in our minds. At the beginning of the year, I found some yearly journals and I bought a bunch in various colors. I haven’t used them nearly enough. The one I like the best has the week on one page and a blank page opposite for planning. The mistake I made was thinking I should have journals for different parts of my life instead of one very messy journal with everything in it. My goal until the end of the year is to use one journal to plan my days and weeks.

If we don’t make a plan it can be harder to meet our goals. Carving out a little time for ourselves for exercise, creative pursuits, reading, even important phone calls can seem daunting, but once we’ve written it down we are more likely to get it done.

Instead of starting out January 1st, today is the day to make whatever changes we want to make today, and tomorrow is the day to make whatever changes we want to make tomorrow. No one else will do for us what we need to do for ourselves.

If we write our goals down we have more of a chance of meeting them. They will, of course, need to be revised but at least we’ve set a goal to meet, revise, and maybe even change. Isn’t that better than having no goals and moving aimlessly towards what? Is it time for making plans and setting goals?

You have to set goals that are almost out of reach. If you set a goal that is attainable without much work or thought you are stuck with something below your true talent and potential. Steve Garvey

Setting goals is the first step in turning the invisible into the visible. Tony Robbins

Do not wait; the time will never be ‘just right’. Start where you stand, and work with whatever tools you may have at your command, and better tools will be found as you go along. Unknown

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High Performance Habits: How Extraordinary People Become That Way Hardcover – Sep 19 2017

by Brendon Burchard (Author) 4.6 out of 5 stars 59 ratings

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Missing the mark. Living with gratitude and forgiveness for ourselves and others.

Living with gratitude and forgiveness for ourselves and others. Missing the mark.

Painting by Belynda Wilson Thomas

Your time is limited, so don’t waste it living someone else’s life. Don’t be trapped by dogma – which is living with the results of other people’s thinking. Don’t let the noise of others’ opinions drown out your own inner voice. And most important, have the courage to follow your heart and intuition. Steve Jobs

I’ve finished reading The Having The Secret Art of Feeling and Growing Rich by Suh Yoon Lee and Jooyun Hong. In it she tells us one of the problems we have is fixed ideas. We think that certain things are always bad, but many people who succeeded greatly in life and had failures that pushed them to higher success.

I was told I was just like someone I don’t admire.  As I thought about some of the attributes the person has, I thought maybe we do share some of the same attributes. The person is thoughtful, kind, caring, and creative but never built a good life for themselves, never put their own self-interest to the forefront enough. Perhaps they weren’t narcissistic enough, selfish enough, or strong enough to stand up for themselves and those they were responsible for.

Perhaps there, but for the grace of God go I? If we aren’t lucky enough to get strong families who can protect us from people who take advantage of us, perhaps we learn to accept being taken advantage of, perhaps we are even drawn to those types of people? Or maybe the opposite is sometimes true, we decide no one will ever take advantage of us again, so we take advantage first and seek out those we can take advantage of. We decided if the only choice is to take advantage of someone or be taken advantage of by someone we knew which one we’d rather be. That may be why the bullied grow up to be bullies.

When we have a loving, supportive, strong family we take it for granted. We look at others thinking they should be strong, but without a strong foundation where is that strength to come from?

Often something sweet given at a critical time becomes poisonous later, or something typically considered a misfortune gives the person a chance to be reborn. Suh Yoon Lee

In the book, we are told to listen to our intuition, to that still voice within.  Are we being the best person we can be, are our actions aligned with our values? Are we authentic? Are we okay with who we are, are we comfortable in our own skin, are we strong enough to accept what is, and be grateful? Are we willing to find the hidden gifts? Do we realize that there are seasons in our life and we can’t be reaping during planting time? Do we recognize things are too good to be true but go after them anyway?

Are we willing to live with what we need, so we are free to go after what we want? There will be bitter and there will be sweet, no one only gets sweet. Do we appreciate and respect people in our lives, even if they are not perfect? They have their struggles and we have ours.

When we love others, do we love them in a way they understand as love? Do we respect them in ways they understand as respect? Many of the problems in our relationships are caused by our inability to understand each other. In truth, it can be like men and women speak a different language, and what is most important to him, is not what is most important to her.

I was looking at a forum yesterday a young man said his long term girlfriend told him she got a text from an ex-boyfriend saying he achieved his big goal. She congratulated him over a text. The boyfriend looked at her phone and sure enough, he saw the text from the ex-boyfriend and his girlfriend’s congratulatory texts. They went back and forth about ten texts with nothing in it but congratulatory stuff. He broke up with her because it was more than one text. He felt she was lying. Some on the forum told him he did the right thing because anything less than perfection from a girlfriend is not acceptable.

We can’t get perfection from our partners. They will have flaws and they will make mistakes, and they will talk to people or text people we would rather they didn’t talk to or text. If we don’t love people enough to work through the challenges that will crop up in relationships we won’t have relationships. We may expect more from someone than they can give. We may think our lives together should have unfolded differently. Whatever the challenges we have in our life, they are our challenges; we must meet them, overcome them, or live with them.

When we believe the worst of people instead of the best in people. When we think their motives are bad instead of good, do we get more of what we fear? If we are afraid to take chances in life or love because we might fail, be hurt, or look ridiculous, where will this get us? The worst may happen and we need to be strong enough to deal with whatever life throws at us. Sometimes the worst can and does happen. If we are willing to deal with what is, the good, the bad, the happy, the sad, and ride the roller coaster of life, living each day with gratitude we can have a good life. This is our life, enjoy it, savor it, and be willing to give the people in our lives a chance to redeem themselves. Other people are neither their best nor their worst, and neither are we.

Do we need more forgiveness in our lives? Do we need to forgive ourselves and others for missing the mark?

Words are seeds they do more than blow around; they land in our hearts, and not on the ground. Be careful what you plant and be careful what you say. You might have to eat what you planted one day. Unknown

Never judge someone without knowing the whole story. You may think you understand but you don’t. Unknown

Why is it that we can be so quick to judge others and not so quick to take a look at ourselves? Unknown

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, forgiveness, and love.

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The Having: The Secret Art of Feeling and Growing Rich Hardcover – Feb 5 2019

by Suh Yoon Lee (Author), Jooyun Hong (Author) 4.0 out of 5 stars 1 rating

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Finding our voice, and using it. Are we willing to ask hard questions?

Are we willing to ask the hard questions? Finding our voice, and using it.

Painting by Belynda Wilson Thomas

I don’t pretend we have all the answers. But the questions are certainly worth thinking about. Arthur C. Clarke

Last night was another great night at Toastmasters. As part of our role introduction, we were asked why we renewed our Toastmaster’s membership. The answers can all be summed up with personal growth, camaraderie, friendship in meeting likeminded people, and a place to step out of our comfort zone with others doing the same.

Someone who joined a little after me says she is finding her voice, and using it. She will not be muzzled anymore. When we find our voice we find ourselves. We had several guests and one of them asked what topics might be off-limits.

That is a very good question. It is one I struggle with. I am hearing that someone is being accused of hate speech for saying “Women should not have to compete in sports with a transgender woman (biologically male.)

We are going to have to deal with some of these social justice issues. Whose rights trump someone else’s rights?

Self-awareness involves deep personal honesty. It comes from asking and answering hard questions. Stephen Covey

Beth Stelzer, a biologically female amateur powerlifter and founder of Save Women’s Sports, observes, “If biological men are allowed to compete in women’s sports, there will be men’s sports, there will be co-ed sports, but there will no longer be women’s sports.”

People struggling with their identity, and sexuality, should not be allowed to redefine what it means to be a girl or a woman, surely this should be self-evident, and not hate speech.

Transgender men (biological females) have no advantages in sport. Transgender women (biological males) however is a completely different story and transgender girls don’t even have to take any hormone treatment at all so they get all the benefits of being born male.

We have women’s sports because we know females cannot compete athletically against males. This is an issue where one group’s rights are negatively affecting another group’s rights, isn’t that the definition of inequality?

This is a much bigger issue than who uses what bathroom or is called by what pronoun. It will likely be a very contentious issue. Maybe we need another category for sports?

We need to ask ourselves questions as we go forward.  I hope women’s sports aren’t sacrificed for misplaced political correctness. We don’t know the unintended consequences of things; we have to deal with those consequences as they arise. Pretending there aren’t consequences isn’t the answer.

 Just because topics are messy, doesn’t mean they shouldn’t be discussed. Maybe they are the topics we should discuss the most. If we dance around what needs to be discussed aren’t we muzzling ourselves? If when we find our voice, we don’t use it, what was the point of finding it?

 Questioning is the ability to organize our thinking around what we don’t know. Unknown

The word ‘Why’ not only taught me to ask but also to think. And thinking has never hurt anyone. On the contrary, it does us all a world of good. Anne Frank

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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Gender: Your Guide: A Gender-Friendly Primer on What to Know, What to Say, and What to Do in the New Gender Culture Hardcover – Oct 16 2018

by Lee Airton PhD (Author) 5.0 out of 5 stars 2 ratings

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