Books change us. They change us when we read them and they change us when we write them.

Books change us. They change us when we write them and they change us when we read them.

Painting by Belynda Wilson Thomas

Books don’t change the world, people change the world, books only change people. Mario Quintana

How many blog posts do people want to read is a question I’ve asked myself? Finding a balance between blogging, editing, work, family, and Toastmasters is a fine balance I haven’t quite mastered.

This blog takes up time and so does editing. Sometimes we have to make choices because putting our energy into one thing takes energy from something else. When I started this blog I put a lot of time and energy into it. I’ve been busily editing and that takes time away from the blog.

When I look at the people who really accomplish a lot in their lives I wonder how they do it. Are they really able to keep all their balls in the air or at some point do they crash and burn?

If I am ever to get my novel published it will take time to edit and make as good as I am capable of making it. Time only gets to be spent once and it is the morning hours that work best for me for writing. By the end of the day, there isn’t much left to put into writing.

My goal is to find balance, but balance is a very elusive thing. Sitting down to write a blog post every morning is easier than trying to write one sporadically. When I got up every morning and wrote a post they flowed quite easily. Today I struggle to put words together.

Writing is so many things and one of the most important things we can do if we write is to try and see things from someone else’s point of view. So much of our lives would be better if we found a way to walk in someone else’s shoes.

My husband, daughter and I were sitting outside the other night. My daughter asked if I would write a memoir. I told her probably not because in fiction I can tell the truth that would offend people in a memoir. We can take fifteen people’s lives and distill it all into one more interesting life. We can try and understand people’s motives and thoughts in fiction we can never do in real life.

We might not get it right but we can try and think how we would feel in situations, what would make us do things out of character, how our life could become derailed, and how we might react to the unthinkable.

Books can truly change our lives: the lives of those who read them, the lives of those who write them. Readers and writers alike discover things they never knew about the world and about themselves. Lloyd Alexander

Works of fiction have changed the thinking of readers by letting them see into the lives of people they can never know, situations they will never experience, and injustices they may overlook.

In fiction, we can see the truth of life in a way that a biography or memoir can’t show. Don’t we all ask, “What were they thinking?” In a novel the author tells us what they were thinking, we understand what motivated them, we see complex characters making the best and worst decisions, and the same character may be both heroic and villainous.

When we listen to the news we think that bad people only do bad things, and good people should only do good things but no one is all good or all bad. In our minds we tend to think if they’ve done one bad thing then they must be a horrible person.

Good writers create characters we know better than our own family. Now is a time we should try to figure out how situations escalate and get out of hand. How things we thought would make things better make things worse. How the civilization we have built up although not perfect is better than it was. We can explore through books what makes a good society and what destroys one.

There are stories to tell and some of the people who want us to understand their point of view should put it in a novel so we can understand from the character’s point of view the challenges and triumphs in life.

Think of the books that have impacted our lives. Maybe what we really need is more writers and more readers to understand each other better. It is even better when we have a group to discuss the book with.

They say there is a book in all of us. What if one of the big contributions we can make is to put our thoughts out into the world?  Can we do it in a way that can be understood? Creating characters will make us look at all sides of issues because no matter how much we don’t understand what makes someone else tick, why they made that decision, or took that action, in their own mind at least for that moment it all made sense.

I don’t think books can change the world, but when the world begins to change, it searches for different books. Shlomo Sand

Books can be dangerous. The best ones should be labeled “This could change your life.” Helen Exley

Maybe this is why we read, and why in moments of darkness we return to books: to find words for what we already know. Alberto Manguel

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Are we focusing on what is wrong or what is right? Are we asking for what we want or focusing on what we don’t want?

Are we asking for what we want or focusing on what we don't want? Focusing on what is wrong or what is right?

Painting by Belynda Wilson Thomas

Our focus is our future and what we focus on will multiply in our life. David Denotaris

This week a funny thing happened. The Eforce (old exercise machine) I started using when the gym closed started making a noise that was more than creaks, squeaks, and squawks it had been making. It sounded like it was coming from the bottom where it glides along a track. One side did not feel right and when my husband looked at it he brought out a part of the bearing. It’s an old machine that is not sold anymore and we couldn’t figure out how to install new bearings.

Kijiji to the rescue. My husband found another Eforce on sale for fifteen dollars within driving distance. We picked it up and I am able to do my morning workout. A little can of lubricant (not WD40) seems to be helping with the squeaks and squawks and the bearings seem to be in good shape.

When we focus on what we want do we often get it? Is this part of our problem in life, we don’t know what we want. Do we focus on what we don’t want instead of deciding what we do want and going after it? When we focus on what we don’t want do we often get more of it? It is easy to think we don’t have enough, things aren’t working out, and we aren’t being treated right. What if what we need is an attitude adjustment? What if we need to focus on the good, the beautiful, the positive, and be grateful for what we have in our life.

It is easy to pick ourselves and other people apart because of imperfections, but what about what is good about other people and ourselves? Things happen every day that can make us unhappy if we focus on them, but things also happen every day that can bring us joy. We can be upset with our partners because of something insensitive they said, a look that spoke volumes or what we thought was inconsiderate. Can we instead think about all the things they do to make our lives better?

We can always choose to perceive things differently. You can focus on what’s wrong in your life, or you can focus on what’s right. Marianne Williamson

My husband found my new Eforce machine on Kijiji. He messaged the owner and set up the appointment to pick it up. Yesterday we drove to a few stores to find a spray lubricant that is supposed to help with the creaks, squeaks, and squawks.

It may seem like we are not trying to make things better when we say we focus on the positive like we are ignoring problems that need to be fixed and dealt with. I am not saying we don’t have to fix situations in our lives, organizations, or the world. What I am saying is if we focus only on what is wrong, we may miss what is right and may get so caught up in trying to fix what is wrong that we dismantle what is good in our lives.

This happens in marriages when people get disillusioned and give up on relationships that were actually working and go looking for more perfect relationships that might not exist.

What if the only thing that really bothers us about our partner is they have ideas about life and what would fix things we don’t agree with. Some people think the state can fix things, and other people think we as individuals need to take more responsibility for our lives. Who is right? These differences of opinion can ruin relationships but do we need to agree to disagree? In a democracy, the majority will decide which direction is taken.

We are living in a time when we are focusing on what people do that is wrong and people will do things that are wrong sometimes even with the best of intentions. There are also many things they do that are right. People are flawed individuals and someone may do the most heroic thing and save lives but also hurt someone because of misjudging them and making wrong assumptions.

My mother always said there is so much bad in the best of us, and so much good in the worst of us, that who are we to judge? Can we look for the best in ourselves and others but also deal with the worst when it shows up?

What we see depends mainly on what we look for. John Lubbock

Make the decision to talk about your blessings more than your problems. Whatever you focus on expands! Unknown

Remember you never have to apologize for feeling however you feel, but words and actions have consequences. Choose them carefully. Lisa Prosen

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Crucial Conversations: Tools for Talking When Stakes Are High, Second Edition

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Crucial Conversations: Tools for Talking When Stakes Are High, Second Edition  Audible Audiobook – Unabridged

Kerry Patterson (Author), Joseph Grenny (Narrator), McGraw-Hill Education (Publisher)4.6 out of 5 stars 2,183 ratings

 See all 15 formats and editions

Celebrating fathers on this father’s day. A day to remember and celebrate our fathers.

A day to remember and celebrate our fathers. Celebrating fathers on this fathers day.

Painting by Belynda Wilson Thomas

Dads are most ordinary men turned by love into heroes, adventurers, story-tellers, and singers of song. Dan Brown

Father’s day is a bittersweet day for many of us. We’ve lost our Dad’s or worse yet they were never in our lives, or the relationship wasn’t good.

We all have a father; we couldn’t be here without one. He occupies a place in our heart or leaves a hole in it. We can’t ignore our father’s impact on our lives. This year if we are lucky enough to have our father in our lives we may gather around the barbecue, laugh, tell stories, and bask in the warmth of our family circle still unbroken.

For those of us whose family circle is broken through death or other reasons, a tear may come to our eye. It comes to mine, as I write this. If we were blessed with a father who was there for us when we did well and when we made mistakes. If our father encouraged us, warned us of dangers, and let us know he believed in our ability to make good decisions we were given a foundation to build our lives on. We take what he taught us and in turn teach that to our children.

If we didn’t have the blessing of a good father it is still our blessing and burden to be a good parent to our children and be or provide a good father to them if at all possible.  Even good and great fathers aren’t perfect. They will make mistakes. We might not see what they were trying to teach us until later.

We might not see eye to eye on politics or changes we would like to see in the world. Conversations may get heated as polar opposite opinions are voiced. We need to try and see both sides, even if we never come to the same conclusions there are points to be taken into consideration. Can we try and understand where each other comes from?

By moving so far away I deprived my children of knowing their grandparents well. They could have learned so much from Mom and Dad. We visited but that isn’t the same. Mom and Dad had already left the farm before my children were born. It is a side of life I wish they would have had a chance to experience, even as visitors.

Having a dad who is there for us, a constant fixture, guiding and encouraging us is a blessing. We were given examples of how to deal with life and we went into the world and built a life. Often fathers are a moral compass in our lives.

Mom always told me the best gift you can give your children is to love their father. Now as I see my children taking their place in life. One married and the other planning a wedding it truly is the best advice. If we can be happy from the moment we find out we are to be a mother or father that we feel it truly is the best gift we can be given, what a blessing. It is a blessing to us, our partner, our children, and our society.

A father should be his son’s first hero and his daughter’s first love. Unknown

Being a father is a lot more than just being a sperm donor. It comes with a lot of responsibility but also a lot of gifts and blessings. Jordan Peterson tells young men to take up a load, do the heavy lifting in life by getting married, having a family, and providing for that family.

When we can look ourselves in the eye, our partner in the eye, our children in the eye, and society in the eye because we’ve done the heavy lifting in life, we’ve carried our responsibilities to the best of our ability we can be proud of ourselves, our children, and our contribution.

I’ve been blessed with a father that I can be proud of and that counts for a lot, it helps us be proud of ourselves if we can be proud of our parents. It gives us a jumping point in life. We have more to offer a partner if we don’t have a gaping hole we can never fill, left by a father who was never there. Sometimes things happen and that father is not there through no choice of his or the mothers. That gaping hole will still be there and a burden to carry.

To all the fathers, without your contribution, we couldn’t exist.  Much of the advancements made in our society have been made by men trying to make things better for women they loved, for their families, and the betterment of society.

Happy father’s day. Dad, you played such a role in my life, you’ve impacted it in ways I can’t even express. I am so grateful for having a strong, loving, steadfast father who was there for all of us, and whose presence and, impact we feel still.

What you teach your children, you also teach their children. Unknown

The heart of a father is the masterpiece of nature. Antoine-Francois Prevost

My father gave me the greatest gift anyone could give another person. He believed in me. Jim Valvano

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12 Rules for Life: An Antidote to Chaos

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12 Rules for Life: An Antidote to Chaos  Audible Audiobook – Unabridged

Jordan B. Peterson (Author, Narrator), Norman Doidge MD – foreword (Author), Random House Canada (Publisher)4.7 out of 5 stars 10,775 ratingsAmazon Charts #9 this week

The Golden Rule is the best way to live. Is it also what will heal our society?

The Golden Rule is the best way to live. Is it also what will heal our society?

Painting by Belynda Wilson Thomas

Do unto others as you would have others do unto you. Golden  Rule

We don’t want everyone to look at everything we do in the worst way, and yet don’t we do that to other people? What if we tried to put ourselves in someone else’s shoes? What were they thinking that made them act in that way?

One of the things we all know is if we are going to change our lives for the better, no one else is going to do it for us. No one will fix our problems but ourselves. Psychologists are paid to try to help people take charge of their lives and to change in big and small ways.

One of the problems with blaming others for our problems is that we give them our power. We are waiting for them to change so we don’t have the problem anymore.

If we learn to treat other people the way we want to be treated can we defuse situations? Some people believe it is the only thing that can. Aristotle said if everyone treated everyone as friends we would have no need of government. When instead of turning others into friends we turn them into enemies we have a bigger problem than we started out with.

Haven’t we all heard stories of friends who become friends because of a fight they had when they first met? Could that even happen today with our bullying rules? One of the things we need to do if we are going to live by the golden rule is refuse to get angry. When we allow people to make us angry they win. Sometimes they enjoy seeing us go crazy time and time again as they push our buttons. The antidote is to not react when they push our buttons and then it isn’t any fun for them and we win.

I found The Golden Rule Solution to Racism (as applied to Anti-Semitism) by Izzy Kalman Nationally Certified School Psychologist on the internet. He teaches the Bullies2Buddies system which he created. His aim is to teach individuals to stop being victimized in their personal and work relationships without having to resort to help from the government or lawyers. At his seminars, he demonstrates through role-playing how these same Bullies to Buddies principles can be used to handle prejudice.

We have committed the Gold Rule to memory; let’s commit it to life. Edwin Markham

Except: Bullies to Buddies The Golden Rule Solution to Racism (as applied to Anti-Semitism) by Izzy Kalman

Law Versus Psychology  

What is the main reason for the inadequate progress in reducing prejudice? It’s that we’re trying to solve a psychological problem with a legal approach. The predominant belief in the social sciences is that prejudice exists because the majority population uses its power to create a political system that supports them and keeps weaker groups suppressed. The weaker groups are therefore victims – “the good guys” – and the powerful are the perpetrators – “the bad guys”. A legal solution corrects this unfair situation by passing laws protecting the weaker groups and forcing the stronger to compensate them for having made them suffer. The responsibility is put solely on the powerful side – the perpetrator. No requirements are made of the weaker side since they are the innocent victims.

This legal process is essential for society. However, it is not sufficient. Laws can prevent people from acting badly, but it cannot legislate what people feel and think. Law cannot make people respect each other and want to be friends. Interpersonal relationships is a psychological function, not a legal one. There is a fundamental difference between the legal profession and the psychological profession. In the legal view, when a crime has been committed, one side is the victim and the other side is the perpetrator. But psychology is supposed to be scientific. Science is not about who is the good guy and who is the bad guy. Science is about understanding objective reality, figuring out how things work, and making changes if possible.

If I am a psychotherapist and you are my client, my job is to help you figure out how you are causing or contributing to your problems and to lead you to a solution. If I am holding someone else responsible for your problems, how can I help you? I have to work with the other person and make them change. On the other hand, if I am a lawyer and you are my client, my job is to hold someone else responsible for your problem and sue them and make them pay. If I am holding you responsible for your problem, I am not helping you. I am working against you. You should fire me and get yourself a good lawyer.

The legal and the psychological roles are therefore diametrically opposed. The legal profession needs clients to see themselves as victims so that someone else can be held responsible; that is how lawyers make their money. Psychology is supposed to get clients to stop seeing themselves as victims and to solve their own problems. But the legal profession has gotten increasingly involved in the mental health professions – and at our own request. For decades we have been actively lobbying for laws to protect victims from abusers and bullies. We have been fighting for laws against inequality. In essence, we have been acting as though the goals of the legal profession and the mental health professions are identical. In reality, they are opposites.

When we combine law with science, science becomes less objective. It becomes less about understanding what is really going on and more about who is the victim and who is the abuser or perpetrator or bully. And victims, of course, are blameless. They have no responsibility to do anything about their situation since it isn’t their fault. Furthermore, when law is combined with science, law takes over. The legal system decides what we are allowed to do and how we’re supposed to do it. If you have to make a decision between doing what you believe to be scientifically correct and doing what’s legal, you had better do the legal thing or you are going to get into trouble. And that is what is limiting the modern approach to discrimination. We are treating the problem like a legal one, in which the victimized minority is encouraged to complain to the courts and the evil majority has to reform itself and make restitution.

Unfortunately, the legal approach doesn’t make people love each other. If I take you to court for being mean to me, is that going to make you like and respect me? Of course not! You will hate me even more and completely lose respect for me. You will also hate the legal system as well. So you will want to get back at me and the system. The only way to get past this brick wall is by realizing that the legal approach that puts all the responsibility on the powerful side and makes no requirement of the weaker is not going to work. If we have to wait for society to get rid of “power differentials” in order for us to be happy, we are going to be miserable forever. Only when we understand that we have something to do with our situation is there any chance of meaningfully achieving good relationships among people.

Izzy Kalman has a few rules we should follow to turn Bullies into Buddies.

Rule 1: Refuse to get angry.

Rule 2: Treat criticism as the words of your best friend.

Rule 3: Don’t be afraid. Fear is felt toward enemies so when we fear someone we have turned them into an enemy.

Rule 4: Don’t defend yourself. Instead of defending yourself make the other person feel heard.

Rule 5: Don’t attack. When we attack we have turned someone into an enemy because we do not attack friends.

Rule 6: Show you are hurt, not angry. When someone hurts us we want them to feel sorry and to apologize to us. Anger brings out anger. Once the other person gets angry they feel we should feel sorry and apologize.

Rule 7: Don’t tell on bullies. It is unlikely we will turn a bully into a buddy after we get them into trouble with the authorities.

Rule #8: Don’t be a sore loser. Life is like a game. No one wins all the time. But if we go into a rage, stay bitter, and try to get back when we lose. We lose triply. Once – when we lost the game. Twice – we lose respect by getting angry and looking like an idiot. Triple – our loss becomes perpetuated as we continue suffering once the game is over. No one likes a sore loser and no one will want to play with us again. Except perhaps to get us into another rage and have us look like a bigger idiot again.

Is living by the Golden Rule an experiment we should try?

Practicing the Golden Rule is not a sacrifice, it’s an investment. Byllye Avery

Treat people the way you want to be treated. Talk to people the way you want to be talked to. Respect is earned, not given. Unknown

I have something that I call my Golden rule. It goes something like this: ‘Do unto others twenty-five percent better than you expect them to do unto you.’ The twenty-five percent is for error. Linus Pauling

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The Golden Key and Twenty-Two Additional Essays Paperback – Oct. 27 2015

by Emmet Fox (Author)4.8 out of 5 stars 68 ratings

We think we know, but we don’t know what we don’t know.

We think we know, but we don't know what we don't know.

Painting by Belynda Wilson Thomas

Before you assume, learn the facts. Before you judge, understand why. Before you hurt someone, feel. Before you speak, think. Unknown

Last night I watched a TV program, W5. A trial thirty years ago where a woman was accused of leaving her baby in the snow and was charged with murder was being revisited. She went to the bank with her older son and left the sleeping baby in the car. When she got back he was gone. She called the police.

That night she had a dream her baby was in the snow in the woods. Her sister in law encouraged her to call the police and tell them her dream. It seems the police officer concluded at that moment she would now show them where she put the baby. The police officer drove around and she told him to drive down a street where they got out of the car and after walking a short way she thought she saw something blue through the trees. Her son’s snowsuit was blue. There he was about four meters into the woods.

The baby was assumed dead. The police officer said he knows what a dead body looks like. A renowned pathologist said the baby had been dead about 27 hours which put him in the snow an hour before he was reported missing. This pathologist’s testimony was discredited because he had two stories that didn’t match. (This pathologist was later discredited in many other cases and parents who went to prison because of his testimony have been exonerated.) Another renowned pathologist is brought in, she says the baby was not likely dead at the time he was found, he did not have the tissue damage that would have occurred if he was in the snow for 27 hours. In cases of hypothermia, it is not evident when someone is dead until the body is warm.

The defense lawyers came up with a likely scenario of what happened and the jury found the mother not guilty and stayed and hugged her after the trial and some have kept in contact with her. There was no follow up on the defense lawyer’s theory of what happened. The case is being looked into again now after thirty years.

The moral of this horrible story is we think we know more than we know. The police officer thought for sure the baby was dead but had he been taken to the hospital immediately may have survived.

People will question all good things they hear about you but believe all the bad without a second thought. Unknown

We assume we know things we don’t know. We assume motive and once we have made our assumptions we don’t seem to look for other answers. We have many situations that happen where we need to ask questions. Why are certain things happening when some people encounter police? What are the behaviors that make each side afraid of the other leading to bad outcomes? Sometimes the simple answer that we jump to is not the right answer even though in our own mind it ticks off all the boxes.

For the police officer, the mother’s dream made her guilty. It seemed he questioned nothing further than that and because he knew when the child was reported missing the child had to be in the snow about 27 hours and after that amount of time would for sure be dead. Had he not thought he knew how long the baby was in the snow, the baby may still be alive.

What do we know for sure that we need to question further? What questions do we need to ask? Why do seemingly insignificant situations end so badly for some? Why do worse situations not end badly for others? Are we asking questions or are we jumping to conclusions because we assume bad intentions because of bad outcomes?

Mind is a machine for jumping to conclusions. Daniel Kahneman

You jump to conclusion, what an illusion to assume you know without the facts, even a coin has two sides to the equation. Wam Zed

In the absence of information, we jump to the worst conclusions. Myra Kassin

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Thinking, Fast and Slow Paperback – April 2 2013

by Daniel Kahneman (Author)4.5 out of 5 stars 6,835 ratings

Developing character, virtue, and competence is this the way to build a better society?

Developing virtue, competence, and character is this the way to build a better society?

Painting by Belynda Wilson Thomas

A lie doesn’t become truth, wrong doesn’t become right and evil doesn’t become good just because it’s accepted by a majority. Booker T. Washington

It is easy to become cynical, believing that people are motivated by self-interest; distrustful of human sincerity or integrity. That people are concerned only with their own interests.

Carey Nieuwhof author of Didn’t See It Coming says we are often blindsided by cynicism in our lives. Our dreams come true and we feel empty instead of blessed and fulfilled. We didn’t see burnout coming. We didn’t see our marriage becoming distant and disconnected. We didn’t see compromises we’ve made and bad judgments affecting our character and lives. No one sees the real us anymore because we put on a show for others instead of letting them see who we really are warts and all.

Carey Nieuwhof is a pastor and he says as we get older we don’t move between optimism and pessimism anymore we stay stuck on one side or the other. What he noticed was the older people that were optimistic and full of joy were curious. They ask questions about why and why not? They keep learning and developing themselves, their talents, interests, and character. They continued growing and becoming better people, overcoming the character flaws they had in youth and middle age. They might be better grandparents than they were parents. Their marriages might get better in the later years as they cherish and appreciate each other.

He said he thought if he dedicated himself to becoming the most competent person he could be, that would lead to success. We have many people who become super successful that are brought down by character flaws that take them down at the pinnacle of their success.   

I believe that any man’s life will be filled with constant and unexpected encouragement if he makes up his mind to do his level best each day, and as nearly as possible reaching the high water mark of pure and useful living. Booker T. Washington     

Is character everything and is that what we should be developing? If we develop our character as well as our competence we become more well-rounded individuals. Even if we spend our lifetime trying to live up to the ideals of character we will never master all of it. We may still gossip sometimes, a lie of omission or commission may escape our lips. We may still try to make things look better than they are. We might not be able to love everyone. We will probably still be challenged by bias, greed, envy, and lust.

He tells us he has presided over funerals where it was a struggle for people to find something nice to say about the person that passed because they weren’t that good to people.

The good news is we can build our character and our competence. We can do that even if success in life eludes us. We can do it if success happens to us that we didn’t earn. We can do it if circumstances in life have always seemed to work against us.

We can leave behind a legacy of character and competence generations after us can build on. We might not leave the kind of legacy Booker T. Washington or other great people left. Being a man and a woman of virtue and character as a parent and a spouse is a good place to start.

On average non-married families are five times more likely to be poor. This is across all groups. If we want to break the cycle of poverty, marginalization, and crime, building stronger families is at the root. Is there anything we can do that will be as important as the family we bring our children into?

Families are the cornerstone of society. Weak, fragmented, broken families will create the same in society. If we want to heal society we will need to heal the family. If we want to heal the family we will need to heal ourselves and be men and women of character, virtue, and competence.

 Is becoming people of character, virtue, and competence what our families and society need to go forward better?

You measure the size of the accomplishment by the obstacles you had to overcome to reach your goals. Booker T. Washington

If you want to lift yourself up, lift someone else. Booker T. Washington

Excellence is to do a common thing in an uncommon way. Booker T. Washington

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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Didn't See It Coming: Overcoming the Seven Greatest Challenges That No One Expects and Everyone Experiences

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Didn’t See It Coming: Overcoming the Seven Greatest Challenges That No One Expects and Everyone Experiences  Audible Audiobook – Unabridged

Carey Nieuwhof (Author, Narrator), Random House Audio (Publisher)4.8 out of 5 stars 172 ratings

Healing the hurts, is forgiveness and gratitude the way to go forward to peace and plenty for all?

Is forgiveness and gratitude the way to go forward to peace and plenty for all? Healing the hurts.

Painting by Belynda Wilson Thomas

To forgive is to set a prisoner free, and realize the prisoner was you. Unknown

Yesterday I watched a beautiful tribute to George Floyd put out by President Donald Trump. Because of some copyright infringement, it was taken down from twitter. I didn’t know it existed until my son brought it to my attention. Yesterday I wasn’t listening to the news so perhaps I missed it. I’m glad it was brought to my attention and I hope it is brought to everyone’s attention because it might move us toward healing.

We need to heal the rifts between us. No matter if the rifts are in our societies because of unequal finances or unequal opportunities, perceived opportunity, and favoritism, or injustice, and inhumanity. We all have bias and we all look after ourselves first. Indeed we need to look after ourselves or we can’t help look after anyone else.

For all its failings we’ve built pretty good societies. Most people can build good lives in America and Canada. We are such similar societies problems in one are also problems in the other.

One of the things we don’t seem very good at is seeing opportunity in front of us. This is why people who come from somewhere else often do better than native-born citizens. They are looking for opportunity and they find it, embrace it, and develop it. We might wonder how they came here and so quickly built something we didn’t even know could be built.

We need to be careful of envy, fear, hate, and greed. If we let them rule our life we will not be happy and we will feel unjustly treated and that we are not getting enough. Can we develop an attitude of gratitude and turn what we have into enough and see what we can do to create more?

If we are to go on in a great society we will have to decide to forgive. We need to forgive ourselves and others for not being perfect, for missing the mark, and for being human.

“Decide to forgive
For resentment is negative
Resentment is poisonous
Resentment diminishes
and devours the self.
Be the first to forgive
To smile and take the first step
And you will see happiness bloom
On the face of your human
brother or sister
Be always the first
Do not wait for others to forgive
For by forgiving
You become the master of fate
The fashioner of life
A doer of miracles
To forgive is the highest
most beautiful form of love
In return, you will receive
untold peace and happiness.

Here is the recipe for achieving a truly forgiving heart:

Sunday: Forgive yourself.

Monday: Forgive your family.

Tuesday: Forgive your friends and associates.

Wednesday: Forgive across economic lines within your own nation.

Thursday: Forgive across cultural lines within your own nation.

Friday: Forgive across political lines within your own nation.

Saturday: Forgive other nations:”

Robert Muller, United Nations Assistant Secretary-General

Only the brave know how to forgive. A coward cannot forgive. It is not in their nature.  Mahatma Gandhi

If we can make the wise choice to forgive we can live our lives without anger. We need to forgive the wrongs so that we don’t ruin the things that are right in our lives. Do we need to get rid of the excuses we use to hold onto anger, bitterness, and resentment so we don’t end up with a nightmare life instead of the joyous, wonderful life it can be?

Staying angry at someone who has hurt you is like taking poison and hoping your enemy will die. Our un-forgiveness hurts us more than it does anyone else.  Joyce Meyer

When you forgive, you must cancel the debt. Do not spend your life paying and collecting debts. Joyce Meyer

Your power to choose the direction of your life allows you to reinvent yourself, to change your future, and to powerfully influence the rest of creation. Stephen Covey

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The Healing Reawakening: Reclaiming Our Lost Inheritance Paperback – Sept. 1 2006

by Francis MacNutt (Author)4.6 out of 5 stars 44 ratings

Seeking to understand and be understood. Are we willing to have difficult conversations over dinner?

Are we willing to have difficult conversations over dinner? Seeking to understand and be understood.

Painting by Belynda Wilson Thomas

Be brave enough to start a conversation that matters. Unknown

Last night I should have been editing but I was scrolling through article after article and I came across one article on Race to Dinner. For $2500.00 white women are paying two women activists of color to come into their home and discuss race with a small group over dinner.

It sounds crazy on the face of it but many people don’t know who to talk to about these things. Talking about things is one of the ways we create understanding. We need more talking. We need to talk to all kinds of people about all kinds of things.

I said to my husband I’d like to talk to police officers about how easy it is for things to escalate. How many of them have come close to situations taking a turn for the worse that somehow, miraculously did not?

One of the reasons we like YouTube talks is we can listen to people talk about things. How much more would we like it if we could have a conversation with people where we could understand how they feel and they could understand our side of things?

We often steer clear of divisive conversations. One Christmas we ended up with two guests leaving because something was said about religion that I missed because I was busy cooking in the kitchen. Conversations may get heated if we talk about things we need to talk about. They may get so uncomfortable we need to leave and cool off. We may need to keep talking about them so we understand each other’s point of view. We may never completely agree but maybe through talking, we can understand their point of view and they can understand ours.

It is unlikely we will ever get over our bias of one kind or another. Being so polarized that we can’t talk about things is not good. We need to talk, we need to understand each other, and we need to heal.

You’re not learning anything unless you’re having the difficult conversations. Gwyneth Paltrow

Also last night an article about Syrian refugees in Germany came up. A small town in East Germany was about to lose their school. The Syrian refugees were coming into Germany and one of the people from the small town thought inviting some Syrian families to live in their small town would be the answer to the problem each group faced. Not everyone on both sides thought it was a good idea but they took the chance.

The East Germans in the village had felt disenfranchised in Germany during the reunification. They felt their experiences in East Germany didn’t seem to count. The elders had lived through a war. They had a lot in common with the Syrians as they got to know them. Each group taught the other what they knew and in a few years, they were a cohesive community. The people coming from Syria contributed to the community and together they made it better for everyone.

It may be easier to accomplish this in small communities. Part of our problem may be in big cities we don’t get to know people. We don’t get to see what they have to offer. Instead of getting to know them, we fear them and they fear us.

What if instead of steering clear of difficult conversations we discussed them over dinner with people who are different from ourselves? We seek to understand and be understood. We face up to the realities of life, we don’t expect it to be perfect, but we each work to make things better one conversation at a time. It isn’t about changing someone’s point of view so much as understanding it.

One way to have some of these conversations is through a book club. We read books on every subject and we can discuss issues through the lens of characters and it brings up experiences we have had. Some of the best conversations have been book club conversations.

Are we willing to have difficult, awkward, and disturbing conversations?

Be open to every uncomfortable, awkward, difficult conversation you will engage. Disturb the ground to grow. Then adjust the margin of grace. Dr. Octavious Bishop

Being taught to avoid talking about politics and religion has led to a lack of understanding of politics and religion. What we should have been taught was how to have a civil conversation about a difficult topic. Unknown

I never considered a difference of opinion in politics, in religion, in philosophy, as cause for withdrawing from a friend. Thomas Jefferson

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Dare to Lead: Brave Work. Tough Conversations. Whole Hearts.

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Dare to Lead: Brave Work. Tough Conversations. Whole Hearts.  Audible Audiobook – Unabridged

Brené Brown (Author, Narrator), Random House Audio (Publisher)4.7 out of 5 stars 1,853 ratings

Confidence in our resilience. Does that which does not kill us make us stronger?

Does that which does not kill us make us stronger? Confidence in our resilience.

Painting by Belynda Wilson Thomas

Life doesn’t get easier or more forgiving, we get stronger and more resilient. Steve Maraboli

Last night my cousin called to tell me a tornado ripped the roof off her house and she and her husband were in it when it started to happen. They ran to a building with cement walls they thought would be safer. How terrifying would that be?

Last night sheet lightning lit up the sky and thunder rolled. When I got up this morning only one plant on the patio was overturned. The hanging basket was still hanging and the plant pots on the front step were still standing. The weather sounded ferocious but did no damage that we know of. We have had shingles blown off our roof a few times but to have the roof of your house taken off while you are inside it. I  can’t imagine what that would be like.

The good news is my cousin and her husband are both safe. The insurance company has put tarps over the top of the house. I should have gotten more details. My son asked me was it only their roof or were neighbors properties damaged as well. I didn’t think to ask. We had a long conversation but lots of questions that should have been asked didn’t get asked. She liked the quote I gave her, “My barn is gone, now I can see the moon.” She is one who has taken lemons and made lemonade.

She is resilient. She makes the best of things. This is how we need to be in life. We don’t always know what the best is. There are unintended consequences of going for what we think is the best which can turn into the worst. The wheel of fortune works in our life. Things we think will work out good sometimes don’t, and some of the things we think will work out bad work out for good.

The oak fought the wind and was broken, the willow bent when it must and survived. Robert Jordan

Through all that, my cousin has dealt with in her life she has never become bitter. I admire her a lot. She said, “I’m giving myself today to feel bad, but tomorrow I’m going to wake up happy.” When I look at people who go through things they seem to be about as happy after something happens as they were before. We might do some crazy things to make ourselves happier, but it doesn’t seem to work. She told me about someone close to her who has done something drastic to feel better. When asked, “You did this to feel happy. Why aren’t you happy?” There is no answer because it isn’t outside things that make us happy.

We may perfect something on our outer physical body that bothers us, but even if we love the result. We will find something else that bothers us that also needs fixing and we can be on an endless cycle of repairing ourselves and still never feel good enough.

If we aren’t happy wherever we are, we are unlikely to be happy even if we get what we think we want. A cold drink on a hot day should be enough to make us happy. Coming into a warm house after being out in the cold should feel like entering heaven. Opening the door to the smell of dinner is a fabulous experience every time. Looking at our children whatever their age is heart-warming. Holding our spouse’s hand while walking should bring us close and grateful to have a hand to hold.

My cousin says happiness is a choice. I believe her and many times she chose to be happy when she could have made another choice and no one would have faulted her. She carried on when many would have given up.

My own life has been one of relative ease and that might be to the detriment of my character. When we don’t go through hard things we don’t develop the resilience that others have had to develop. None of us want to face hard things but we must know in our innermost being that we can deal with whatever comes.

Do we have confidence in our resilience?

Resilience is accepting your new reality, even if it’s less good than the one you had before. You can fight it, you can do nothing but scream about what you’ve lost, or you can accept that and try to put together something that’s good. Elizabeth Edwards

Hold yourself responsible for a higher standard than anybody else expects of you. Never excuse yourself. Never pity yourself. Be a hard master to yourself and be lenient with everybody else. Henry Ward Beecher

A good half of the art of living is resilience. Alain de Botton

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The Resilience Factor: 7 Keys to  Finding Your Inner Strength and Overcoming Life's Hurdles by [Karen Reivich, Andrew Shatte]

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The Resilience Factor: 7 Keys to Finding Your Inner Strength and Overcoming Life’s Hurdles Kindle Edition

by Karen Reivich (Author), Andrew Shatte (Author)  Format: Kindle Edition

Showing up is a big part of life. One step in front of the other gets us where we want to go.

One step in front of the other gets us where we want to go. Showing up is a big part of life.

Painting by Belynda Wilson Thomas

Never underestimate the valuable and important difference you make in every life you touch.

Editing is the biggest part of writing a novel. It seems endless. I had a goal for publishing which I’ve already missed. Instead of publishing it on that date, I gave it to my family to read. They’ve been given copies in the past and many authors I’ve spoken to say their families don’t read their work.

What this says about families I don’t know. Over the weekend I’ve read it almost completely through, noting errors and shocked at finding more than expected. Errors end up in printed books that have been edited by professionals so why was I surprised?

I’ve been lucky enough to have two people go through it whose editing skills I applaud, and my book club has read it and given me feedback. It has also been put through ProWritingAid an editing program and still, errors are staring at me on the page. One of the things I’ve learned on this journey is everything takes longer than we think it will.

Too much time has been spent on this novel and yet I don’t regret any of it. What we get out of what we do is the reward, and once we put it out into the world that will be another journey.

No matter what we do in life we will have moments when we feel we are on the right track and moments when we feel far from it. When we listen to people whom we feel must be confident in their abilities we often find it isn’t necessarily so. They too question what they are doing, who they are, and how their life is unfolding.

Sometimes the little opportunities that fly at us each day can have the biggest impact. Danny Wallace

Serendipity plays a part in many of our lives. Listening to someone on a podcast he said a recording of a talk of his went viral years after he made it. For years it sat on the internet until someone found it and now he is one of the highest-paid motivational speakers. If you want to hear someone who will motivate you, listen to Eric Thomas.

Many people will tell us the secret is showing up. We need to actually do what we need to do to move our lives forward. Is it phone calls we need to make? Is it a way to produce better crops, is it marketing what we produce? Is it coming up with a plan to be self-employed instead of dependent on a job? Is it how to make our marriages and families stronger? Is it how to eat better and become fit? Is it how to bring creativity into our lives? Is it how to market that creativity once we’ve created it?

Do we need to enjoy what we have and be grateful for the bounty and beauty in our lives? Wherever we are in life there is room for growth. In fact, growth is mandatory in a good life. We go through the seasons of reaping and sowing. We may be comfortable in one season and wish we could spend our lives there but another season is coming we must prepare for.

Can we enjoy where we are and be grateful for everything in our lives while at the same time preparing for what is to come? Our accomplishments build upon themselves. We won’t know where something may lead us, but if we do what we need to do we may surprise ourselves. By showing up we may end up where we never thought we could be.

When we finally get to write The End at the end of a novel it is the beginning of a new process. Our lives are punctuated by beginnings and endings. The cycle of life continues and our job is showing up and doing our best, day in and day out.

We may wish our best was as good as someone else’s best. We may think because we’ve done it, how good can it be? We don’t know how our thread will be woven into the tapestry of life. Our job is to produce the thread making it vibrant, joyful, and as impactful as possible.

Are we showing up and creating the habits that support the life we want?

If you focus on results, you will never change. If you focus on change, you will get results. Unknown

You’ll never change your life until you change something you do daily. The secret of your success is found in your daily routine. Unknown

Inaction breeds doubt and fear. Action breeds confidence and courage. If you want to conquer fear, do not sit home and think about it. Go out and get busy. Dale Carnegie

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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The Secret to Success by [Eric Thomas]

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The Secret to Success Kindle Edition

by Eric Thomas (Author)  Format: Kindle Edition

4.7 out of 5 stars    474 ratings