Does gratitude remove fear and increase abundance? Are we grateful for the abundance in our lives?

Are we grateful for the abundance in our lives? Does gratitude remove fear and increase abundance?

Painting by Belynda Wilson Thomas

We all live with the objective of being happy, our lives are all different and yet the same. Anne Frank

Last night at Toastmasters my impromptu question was what would I like to teach? I thought for a moment and gratitude is what came to mind. If we are grateful for what we have we are told we will get more. Gratitude isn’t just about getting more it is with gratitude we appreciate the richness in our lives.

Gratitude adds a dimension to our lives that isn’t about getting more; it isn’t a slot machine where we put in gratitude to get out more to be grateful for. Gratitude is a sense of peace, joy, wonderment, and realization of how lucky we are to be. Our chance to not be was so much greater than our chance to be.

Isn’t having a chance to experience life, whatever is in our lives at this moment something? We can watch a sunrise and feel the majesty and miracle of life. When we look at a baby don’t we marvel at their perfection? We can stretch and feel the pull of our muscles. Don’t we enjoy using our senses? Touching, feeling, thinking, moving, responding to stimuli, eating, and drinking?

There is so much to celebrate in just being alive in the moment. We may have a conversation with a loved one, a telephone call to someone far away. Some form of connection to others is likely to be part of our day. The day brings with it sunshine, rain, snow, wind, but no matter what it brings it will be a day like no other. It is our day to enjoy, we may enjoy each moment, or live through the worst life can offer.

No matter what today brings it is ours to find joy in what ways we can. Will we find something to laugh about today? Will we smile as we watch a young family enjoying lunch? Yesterday my husband and I were in McDonald’s hearing the exuberance of a young child excited to get to the play area. We smiled, remembering when our children were excited at the prospect of a visit to McDonald’s.

Life is all around us. We can go into our backyard or a park and realize this is the whole world to creatures, and insects that make their home there. I have a birdbath and do my best to keep it full of water, watching the birds enjoy the water brings a smile to my face every time I watch them preen and flutter in the water. A couple of cardinals make their home in my backyard. Black, grey, and little red squirrels run up and down my fence, sometimes they put on an acrobatic show reaching for something enticing. Rabbits are a common sight, as are raccoons and even skunks.

In ordinary life we hardly realize that we receive a great deal more than we give, and that it is only with gratitude that life becomes rich. Dietrich Bonhoeffer

Life is rich whether we acknowledge the abundance in our lives or not. We can be so focused on the task at hand, the getting from here to there, fitting everything in that we don’t notice the moments that are awe-worthy in our lives. We may miss the rainbow, sunrise, sunset, or a conversation with someone we were too busy to have. This is our life, we have our twenty-four hours to spend, and enjoy.

We can find ways to order our days to bring the most enjoyment possible, but it isn’t just about finding joy and happiness but about creating meaning and purpose. We may find that by creating a life of meaning and purpose we passed up some of the things that brought us fleeting happiness.

We can’t skim the surface of life and find passion and purpose. If we have love we will have losses. When we risk success, we will risk failure. If we are willing to look at all of life as a gift, grateful for all of it, the ups the downs, the joys the sorrows, the easy and the hard, when life is going our way and when it isn’t. Can we embrace all of life, and be grateful for everything? If we embrace our lives with gratitude, humor, grace, and accept the gifts hidden within some of our most painful moments we will have lived, really lived while we are alive.

This is it, this is our life, twenty-four golden hours spread before us. Does it feel different if we are grateful for the abundance in our lives?

When you are grateful, fear disappears and abundance appears. Anthony Robbins

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Simple Abundance: A Daybook of Comfort of Joy Hardcover – Sep 9 2009

by Sarah Ban Breathnach (Author) 4.5 out of 5 stars 98 ratings


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Are we enjoying fall splendor? Can we be glad and enjoy what is here before us? If we enjoy the seasons, isn’t that enjoying our lives?

Can we be glad and enjoy what is here before us? If we enjoy the seasons, isn't that enjoying our lives? Are we enjoying fall splendor?

Painting by Belynda Wilson Thomas

Don’t be concerned about being disloyal to your pain by being joyous. Pir Vilayat Imayat Khan

Fall has arrived in all it’s splendor. Another season to enjoy and be grateful for. If we enjoy the gifts each season brings we can live grateful and happy lives. We have seasons in the year and seasons in our life we need to embrace.

Today my role at Toastmasters is to give the thought of the day. Our theme is Fall Fun. When we get over the idea that summer is over we can embrace fall with its harvest of bounty, colorful leaves, crisp mornings, and the sense of gratitude that permeates fall. The harvest is over or nearly over, nature is ready for rest.

The last tomatoes will get picked this week in preparation for the frost. Drives in the country to experience the splendor of the fall colors may be on our to-do list. We are thankful for the bounty and beauty of nature.

There are so many fun things to do in the fall. We can go apple picking, visit a pumpkin patch, get lost in a corn maze, go for a hayride, take a hike, collect colorful fall leaves, visit a fall fair, take a drive in the country, take a balloon ride to see the colors from above.

Enjoy the little things, for one day you may look back and realize they were the big things. Robert Brault

We can try our hand at preserving food or baking a pumpkin or apple pies. There are festivals to attend like Ontario’s  Butter Tart Tour, Soupfest, cranberry harvest, grape and wine festivals, Oktoberfest which is Canada’s greatest Bavarian festival. There are festivals for the meat-eaters and vegans, writers and readers, hikers and dancers.

Fall is a time of celebration and gratitude for the beauty and bounty in our lives. We wake up to cool mornings thankful for the comfort of our homes. Summer clothes are giving way to fall sweaters, jackets and boots are coming out of the closet. For many, fall is a more comfortable season. Shopping is a fun activity as we add to our fall wardrobe. People watching is fun as we sit and enjoy the day.

When we make the best of what our seasons offer, we make the best of our lives. We can lament that summer is over, or we can embrace fall. Isn’t enjoying what is before us always better than complaining about what is past?

Can we enjoy what fall has to offer, have fun, celebrate the bounty and beauty of nature, and be grateful and thankful for all we have in our lives?

There are only two ways to live your life. One is as though nothing is a miracle. The other is as though everything is a miracle. Albert Einstein

Thankfulness is the beginning of gratitude. Gratitude is the completion of thankfulness. Thankfulness may consist merely of words. Gratitude is shown in acts. Henri Frederic Amiel

Reflect upon your present blessings, of which every man has plenty; not upon your past misfortunes, of which all men have some. Charles Dickens

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Living Life as a Thank You: The Transformative Power of Daily Gratitude Paperback – Oct 1 2009

by Nina Lesowitz (Author), Mary Beth Sammons (Author) 4.5 out of 5 stars 51 ratings


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Finding meaning and purpose. Embracing the heavy lifting of life. Masculine and feminine – embracing our differences.

Masculine and feminine - embracing our differences. Finding meaning and purpose. Embracing the heavy lifting of life.

Painting by Belynda Wilson Thomas

I always thought that humanity has two wings. The male and the female, and these wings need to be equivalent in strength in order to fly. Justin Baldoni

It’s dark, cold, and raining this morning. Yesterday was beautiful and hot, with a hard rain in the afternoon. Our weather is changing, or is it us that must change with the weather? Sundresses in the rain aren’t much better than rain boots on the beach.

In a four-season climate, we have clothes for every occasion. If variety is the spice of life, then those of us who live in four-season climates have it the best. We get to experience weather in all its glory, and fury.

Women have been likened to the weather. We bring sunshine and rain into the lives of those we touch. Feminine energy is a thing and I’ve always noticed the difference when I’ve entered homes where women live and where they do not live.

The difference between a female dog and a male dog is quite different. I noticed the difference between my children even as babies.

We are free to embrace whatever energy we want. Do we feel different if we wear slacks or a skirt?

Women are marketed to endlessly to become more by buying this cream, that product, this whatever… We are who we are, we may feel better with a new hairstyle and lipstick but we are who we are regardless of our hair, makeup, power suits or dresses.

Both spouses are equal, yet different. One of the most beautiful things about a relationship is that the feminine energy can feed a masculine man’s heart. And, the masculine energy can totally light up the feminine energy. Renee Wade

Jordan Peterson refers to women as nature, nature equals creation and chaos. He refers to the masculine as order. Too much order or too much chaos is not good. This is why if we can balance the feminine and masculine our society is likely to be better.

Have we balanced the feminine and masculine in Western societies, or have we negated the feminine to some degree?

What do we think more feminine energy would look like? Some may think we would have fewer wars? Why would we have fewer wars? Men live in hierarchies more than women do. Women have been the queen of their castle more than men have been king of theirs. Men went to work and in their workplace hierarchies were present. Women who stayed home were the queen of their domain.

The more things change the more they remain the same, this may be true of our search for equality, meaning, and purpose. Is there more meaning to be had in this world than to birth a child, and raise it to take its place? Is there a job on this planet that actually competes with that?

What we think in our twenties, thirties, and forties may be quite different than what we think in our fifties, sixties, seventies, and eighties.

I often say to my husband, I thought achieving goals would look different, and feel different than it does. It feels good to achieve goals; it also feels like next… If we are to find fulfillment in our life we are forever moving forward, but toward what?

The family seems to be where meaning is. We do what we need to do to feed, clothe, provide a home, nurture, educate, and help our children take their place in the world so they can do the same. The circle of life continues and being part of that circle is the power and privilege of being a man or woman.

No matter what else we may achieve in the world giving life to the next generation will likely bring us the greatest joy, meaning, and purpose. If we are lucky enough to have brought forth the next generation it came at a price most of us have gladly paid. If we have not paid this price we need to find meaning and purpose elsewhere.

Have we found meaning and purpose, or are we still looking for it?

Yin and yang, male and female, strong and weak, rigid and tender, heaven and earth, light and darkness, thunder and lightning, cold and warmth, good and evil… the interplay of opposite principles constitutes the universe. Confucius

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The Tao of Womanhood: Ten Lessons for Power and Peace Paperback – Mar 17 1999

by Diane Dreher (Author) 5.0 out of 5 stars 1 rating


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Creativity and self-expression. Should we find a way to bring creativity and self-expression into our lives?

Should we find a way to bring creativity and self-expression into our lives?

Painting by Belynda Wilson Thomas

“Some said, how’d you fly?” I said, from not being afraid of trying to fly.” Jay-Z

Wow, our life is moving right along. How can we slow it down? We can’t, but we have just as many hours in our day as those people who accomplish what we wish we could accomplish. How do they do it? One of the biggest things in life is perseverance; nothing can take the place of doing the next thing and not giving up.

Jay-Z says he knew the record company would be my bridge to those people I could connect with, but they didn’t give me that bridge, so it was a very important part of my career that we didn’t give up right there. That belief in myself, and belief that I had something to offer, so we built our own bridge, and I started my own record company. Jay-Z

There are enough Jay-Z quotes that my whole post could just be one great Jay-Z quote after another. He says most of the people who became successful where he was from never went back. So, there was no mentoring program, no going back to teach someone what they knew.

There are so many people we can learn lessons from. Somehow we have to find our own way, use our own gifts, and be moved by what inspires us. Even if someone doesn’t mentor us they can be an inspiration from afar. If they can do it, maybe we can too?

When we realize we don’t fit in, it may be the biggest gift we receive. “You don’t see things how other people do, there’s something wrong with your thinking,” we may be told. That’s just another way of being told: “You don’t think inside the box.” Don’t we want to think outside the box?  Isn’t that where the magic is?

If we want to be originals then we won’t fit into a group. By definition, an original is on the outside. Sometimes originals end up with a following. Sometimes they just end up going their own way, thinking their own thoughts, creating their own life. When we learn to embrace ourselves, idiosyncrasies and all and embrace all of ourselves we can make the best of what we have to give to the world.

The truth about talent is first, that it’s God-Given. When you want to unleash that talent, your mind lets it go. Because it’s there. You have to have that belief that when you draw from that well of talent that it’s going to be there. Jay-Z

One of the joys in life is surprising ourselves with our creativity. We didn’t know what we would write, how the painting would look, or how the garden would bloom and look in each season. What we had was an idea but sometimes the reality becomes so much more than the idea. We are surprised by what something has become.

Making room for creativity in our lives allows what is in us to be expressed. We never quite know what that will look like. Some people make their living with their expression of song, art, dance, or other creative endeavors. Many of us don’t, but allowing creative expression feeds our soul if not our family. Everything worth doing is not only worth doing if it brings in money.

Money is great, we need it, we use it, but creativity and self-expression are important and just as creative if no one sees it but our self. Some people’s gift to the world is their self expression, for others this is their gift to themselves. No matter what we do in life, we should find a way to allow creativity and self-expression to be part of our life.

Is there something in us calling out to be expressed? What is the medium our self-expression can best be expressed through?

“There are 2 possibilites: 1 is that there’s more to life than the physical life, that our souls ‘will find an even higher place to dwell’ when this life is over. If that’s true, there’s no reason to fear failure or death. The other possibility is that this life is all there is. And if that’s true, then we have to really live it – we have to take it for everything it has and ‘die enormous’ instead of ‘living dormant’, as I said way back on ‘can I live’. Either way, fear is a waste of time.” Jay-Z

The motivation for me, was them telling me what I could not be. Jay-Z

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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Decoded Hardcover – Nov 16 2010

by Jay-Z (Author) 4.8 out of 5 stars 12 ratings


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Are we encouragers or discouragers? If we encourage will we be encouraged, if we discourage will we be discouraged? Do we get what we give?

If we encourage will we be encouraged, if we discourage will we be discouraged? Do we get what we give? Are we encouragers or discouragers?

Painting by Belynda Wilson Thomas

Be an encourager the world has enough critics already. Unknown

Six o’clock is very dark these mornings. My husband cautions me about going out for a morning walk. Can I write earlier and walk later? Or will I take the extra time and write longer?

Do we hold people back when we voice our concerns? We may caution them not just about going for walks in the dark, but about decisions they make we second guess. You know it’s really an expensive city you want to move to. The crime rate is high. What if you can’t get a job because you are too young, old, inexperienced, too experiences, too uneducated, too educated, too naive, or trusting?

The worry is not unwarranted, but it also holds people back. People don’t have to move far away to be taken advantage of. It takes a certain degree of boldness to build a life we want. The intersection where boldness and fantasy meet may be where magic or disaster happens. If we are worriers we will see disaster looming, if we are visionaries we may see the potential.

We don’t know where fortune will lead us when we take off with our bundle on our back forward on our hero’s journey. It is our journey and we are full of hope, optimism and ready for adventure. When it is someone else’s journey we may see the dangers, obstacles, and pitfalls ahead of them as they move toward what they want to do, and where they want to go. We may offer what we think is good advice.

Do you really want to give up your good job to take a chance on… We don’t mean to dash their dreams, but what if… We know they have to risk failure to risk success but what if they fail? We aren’t trying to hold them back just give them a reality check.

In The Motivation Manifesto, Brendon Burchard tells us there are three types of people who instill fear in us, the worriers, the weaklings, and the wicked. Could we ever be accused of being one of these to other people? Whose dreams have we unknowingly trampled on? Who have we made second-guess becoming whatever it is they see themselves becoming?

Today will never come again. Be a blessing. Be a friend. Encourage someone. Take time to care. Let your words heal and not wound. Unknown

What if we became a cheerleader to something unlikely to work out? Their plan is not thought out enough, they don’t have the kind of talent likely to succeed? What is the correct response? Perhaps if we encourage them to define what they want to do and how they will achieve their goal we will help them clarify their path. Perhaps we can encourage them to prioritize their actions. Maybe we can help them work out alternatives in case there are obstacles they cannot see or the path to success is longer than they anticipate. We can celebrate their achievements.

If we can encourage people’s dreams, ambitions, goals, and desires we can be a help and not a hindrance as they strive to do better, be better, and achieve more. When we help other people reach success are we being helped on our path toward success too?

No one becomes a success at anything without helping people in some way. The more people we help the more successful we become. If we can help others determine what their gift to the world is, what the purpose of their life is we can be a great help to them. We may have no clue what their gift is, we can still encourage them on their journey in some small way. We can all be mentors and coaches to someone.

We may find sometimes we are the worrier, we are afraid the path they’ve chosen is too hard and fraught with difficulty. We may be the weakling thinking we couldn’t do it, so they probably can’t too. We may even fall into the category of the wicked.  We are only telling it like it is. Sometimes it is being told they can’t do something that propels people forward. Proving someone wrong has more power than listening to the cheerleaders.

We won’t be perfect working toward our own dreams or encouraging others towards theirs. Accepting our imperfections as people, parents, siblings, sons, daughters, friends, acquaintances and co-workers are part of our journey. We can only do the best we can and know when we look back we may wish we’d said something, or done something different.

Are we encouragers, or discouragers most of the time?

A word of encouragement during failure is worth more than an hour of praise after success. 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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The Motivation Manifesto: 9 Declarations to Claim Your Personal Power by [Burchard, Brendon]
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Are we the South or North Pole to our partner’s South or North Pole? Do we embrace the differences between masculine and feminine? Like complementary colors, we need the contrast to bring out the vibrancy.

Do we embrace the differences between masculine and feminine? Like complementary colors we need the contrast to bring out the vibrancy. Are we the South or North Pole to our partner's South or North Pole?

Painting by Belynda Wilson Thomas

Do what you did in the beginning of a relationship and there won’t be an end. Unknown

Yesterday I went to one of my favorite haunts to look at used books. Five books for the price of four and I always seem to be able to find five books that speak to me. Yesterday was no different. Sometimes I’ve even left a book behind that I went back for, sometimes it’s still there, but often it’s gone.

Love is a many splendored thing, and those lucky enough to have love in our lives know how empty it would be without love. Some of us are better with the realities of love than others. We wanted a boyfriend or girlfriend that became our spouse but didn’t want all that came with it. Sparks were flying because we were like the South Pole meeting the North Pole. Their masculinity met our femininity and we couldn’t get enough.

Over the years if we want the sparks to still fly we need to keep our poles polarized. We all have feminine and masculine parts of ourselves, but we need to make sure we don’t become too much the same and become more friends, and buddies instead of husbands and wives where the polarity of masculine and feminine is still strong. This is the nature of attraction even in same-sex relationships.

It seems to me some people want someone else to change for them to be happy. The only people we can change are ourselves. We change things about ourselves for better or worse and then there is a reaction in our relationships. If we want to bring out the masculine in our man maybe we need to bring out the feminine in ourselves. We can be the best man or woman we can be, that is what we can do. We cannot through cajoling, criticizing, or manipulation turn people into who we want them to be.

A great relationship doesn’t happen because of the love you had in the beginning, but how well you continue building love until the end. Unknown

If we are trying to change our partner we are trying to change the wrong person. Al-Anon a self-help group helping spouses of alcoholics tells the partner of alcoholics to quit trying to control others and focus on their own attitudes and behavior. The other person is always the problem in our eyes until one day if we are lucky we realize we are the person who can change things for our self. We have the power and although we may not like the truths we have to face. Once we face the hard truths, and accept that change is ours to make we can take charge of our life. Our attitude is everything.

What we resist persists and grows stronger. When we accept the person we are trying to change warts and all, and love them how they are even if that person is our self we can begin to effect change.

Life can only be how it is this very moment. It cannot be different. We cannot be different and they, whoever they are cannot be different.

Anything we allow to be exactly how it is, completes itself. When we don’t struggle against the reality of life and accept it for what it is it will complete itself. If our heart is broken we need to accept that. Resistance is futile, but acceptance is powerful. It is what it is, and that’s okay and once we deal with what is we can go forward.

Women need to focus more on our feminine energy and men need to focus more on their masculine energy to be the best we can be. We need to find the balance in our lives but balance isn’t more masculine women and more feminine men. Being feminine women and masculine men does not impact social, economic, and political equality. It will help us to give our greatest gifts, at work, in our relationships, and spiritually.

Are we embracing our masculinity or femininity in positive ways? Are we the South or North Pole to our partners South or North Pole?

To love at all is to be vulnerable. Love anything and your heart will be wrung and possibly broken. If you want to make sure of keeping it intact you must give it to no one, not even an animal. Wrap it carefully round with hobbies and little luxuries; avoid all entanglements. Lock it safe in the casket or coffin of your selfishness. But in the casket, safe, dark, motionless, airless, it will change. It will not be broken; it will become unbreakable, impenetrable. To love is to be vulnerable. C.S. Lewis

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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A Lifelong Love: How to Have Lasting Intimacy, Friendship, and Purpose in Your Marriage by [Thomas, Gary]
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Listening to understand. Seeking to understand more than to be understood. Sometimes the greatest gift we can give is to listen.

Seeking to understand more than to be understood. Sometimes the greatest gift we can give is to listen. Listening to understand.

Painting by Belynda Wilson Thomas

The most basic of all human needs is the need to understand and be understood. The best way to understand people is to listen to them. Ralph Nichols

“No one listens to me but you,” I heard my son say to Krypto our Scottish Terrier when my son was about twelve. My Mom said when she was a young married woman living in the city she wished she could just find an old cow to wrap her arms around and talk to. I’ve many times wished I could wrap my arms around a horse.

We may be putting human characteristics on animals but it seems they listen and understand, if not what we are saying then our tone. They twitch their ears, offer comfort and we are not alone with our feelings.

Listening is the cornerstone of a good relationship. We need to feel heard to feel understood. When we don’t have the time, patience, skills or interest to listen to people they can become lonely and depressed. During a time of depression, feeling listened to can seem as critical as breathing air.

Sometimes it takes one person in someone’s life to listen to them that helps them move on. We hear about students who found that teacher. It is one of the things we get from being part of religious organizations, someone to listen to us and help us sort out our feelings and our life. Therapists are paid a lot of money, and part of it is to listen.

I had a conversation with my husband the other day. He doesn’t see the reason for long conversations with strangers. My response is you usually don’t have short conversations when they are short that’s just chit chat. Real conversations that impact people take a little longer.

If we have lots of people in our life we may not need conversation so much. We get it from everyone. Some people are not so lucky, their circle is small. People don’t always have someone to talk to. Sometimes the most important things are said to strangers because we may not feel we can talk to our family. We feel we would be judged, ridiculed, ostracized. This is why many hairdressers need to be good listeners. Like they say “only our hairdresser knows.”

Listening is not “Yes, but.” Listening is not, “this is what you should do.” Listening is not getting defensive, I need to work on this. Listening is not giving advice or telling someone they shouldn’t be thinking or feeling what they are thinking or feeling. Sometimes we only work out our thoughts in conversation. Our thoughts are all jumbled up in our mind waiting to be released through conversation. Journalling helps release those thoughts, but even those of us who journal still need a listening ear and connection.

We often misinterpret each other’s messages while under the illusion that a common understanding has been achieved. Larry Barker

Sometimes people feel they can only talk about safe subjects, but it isn’t the safe subjects they need to talk about. I’m reading a book called “The Dance of the Dissident Daughter by Sue Monk Kidd. It is her journey of finding herself as a Christian woman, wife, mother, writer and her conflicts with how women are portrayed in the bible and in the Church. The second created and the first to sin. The woman is man’s glory and her glory is her hair. Let women learn in silence and be submissive. I permit no woman to teach or have authority over a man.

I remember reading those things and how they impacted me as a girl on the cusp of womanhood. When you stumble across these things, who do you talk to about them? How do we process our place in the world? When I expressed it to one of my Aunt’s and I don’t know how I phrased it. She replied, “There are gifts, or joys or something in being a woman.” It was probably the best answer because it was true, and she didn’t make me feel stupid for not liking what I was hearing. I felt understood, acknowledged and like I didn’t need to like what I was hearing, and that it was okay to think and question.

It seems like a small thing, to acknowledge what someone is feeling and not diminish it. She could have said I didn’t have a right to not like what I was hearing or to question the bible, and it would have affected me in a completely different way.

When someone listens to us, really listens we feel accepted, understood, valued and validated. We don’t feel invisible or alone and it gives us a voice to help us find our self again.

It is very powerful to be a listener. It is a skill worth developing. I’m trying, it isn’t always easy especially with some of the people we need to listen to the most. That is when defensiveness rears its ugly head. We feel if we let them say what they are saying we are agreeing that what they are saying is true. A lot of the time we don’t agree with their side of the story, not completely.

We still need to hear them out, let them tell their side of the story completely and then when it is our turn to tell our side hopefully they will listen to us. When we try to talk over each other nothing is accomplished but more hurt feelings. The feelings get even more hurt because not only is there whatever happened, but by not feeling heard they feel they don’t count, they aren’t important, their point of view is not regarded.

We need to save our side of the story for another time. If we are telling our side of the story and they are telling their side of the story at the same time, no one is listening. No one feels listened to. There is no understanding, there is no healing. This is how a lot of problems don’t get solved and yet are talked about endlessly. But we protest, we do communicate, we do talk, it just isn’t working because the other person isn’t feeling listened to and then when it is our turn we don’t feel listened to either.

We can tell ourselves we listen endlessly, but our “yes buts,” and telling our side of the story doesn’t move the relationship along. It becomes an endless loop of conversations that goes nowhere, nothing changes, and neither party feels heard or understood.

We need to learn to listen. If we have rifts in our families listening is the likely antidote. Listening is the key to understand, and understanding is the key to healing. It isn’t always easy but it’s worth it.

Is there someone in our life we need to listen to and understand their side of the story? Can we seek first to understand before seeking to be understood?

The biggest mistake made by most human beings: listening to only half, understanding just a quarter, and telling double. Unknown

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The Lost Art of Listening, Second Edition: How Learning to Listen Can Improve Relationships Paperback – Feb 16 2009

by Michael P. Nichols (Author) 4.1 out of 5 stars 9 ratings


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Overcoming our fears. Becoming humble and meek isn’t being weak doormats.

Becoming humble and meek isn't being weak doormats. Overcoming our fears.

Painting by Belynda Wilson Thomas

Humility is not thinking less of yourself, but thinking of yourself less. C.S. Lewis

Last night Toastmasters was a treat. All the speakers but one backed out and he said he had little time to prepare but gave a good speech anyway. Instead of speakers, we did two extra rounds of table topics.

Many of us love and hate table topics. This is an impromptu speech for 1 – 2 minutes on a topic with no time to prepare and not a topic of our choosing. Sometimes the topics are easy and we can relate to them, some fit if we have specific knowledge or interests. Some leave us dumbfounded and rendered speechless.

We have a new member who bravely accepted the challenge and three guests who also did. Once we have that deer in the headlights feeling a few times we get used to it, sometimes something smart and thoughtful comes out, sometimes not. What we do is face our fear and get comfortable with being uncomfortable. This is preparation for life. We need to speak up in our lives, jobs, social and political situations.

When we face our fears in any situation it can change the way we face fears in other situations. For many of us, we have paid the price of fear. It is not cheap when we are afraid to take the chances and opportunities that life presents. It is only by facing our fears that we can embrace our life. We can choose freedom or we can choose to be constrained by fear.

It may take everything we have in us to face our fears, but if we do, we can change our life by taking the next step. The opposite of fearful and small isn’t becoming a tyrant who pushes their weight around.

Pride makes us artificial and humility makes us real. Thomas Merton

Perhaps dealing with our fear and becoming people who can deal with what life offers and choosing that which is good for us, and saying no to that which is bad for us, is becoming meek. The biblical understanding of meek is “power under control.” Isn’t that what we want? When we can harness our power and use it, direct it, focus it, control it, we become powerful people. Wild unharnessed power is dangerous, uncontrolled, and devastating.

Harnessed power is in engines, power tools, and great leaders. Jesus described himself as meek and lowly. Is true power refusal to inflate our own self-estimation, and reticence to assert ourselves for ourselves? Should our goal be to become humble “self-effacing,” and meek “power under control?”

Why are humble and meek made to seem like doormats and weak in our society? Many of us think arrogant, self-aggrandizing, and living a life for personal gain should be the goal. Maybe that is why people who attempt to live a life of hedonism feel empty.

Is facing our fears and living a life of passion and purpose what we should aim for in life? Where are we on the road to being meek and humble “self-effacing and with our power under control?”

Humility is not cowardice. Meekness is not weakness. Humility and meekness are indeed spiritual powers. Swami Sivananda

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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David and Goliath: Underdogs, Misfits, and the Art of Battling Giants Paperback – Apr 7 2015

by Malcolm Gladwell (Author) 4.4 out of 5 stars 113 ratings


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Getting comfortable in our own skin. Does it matter if we are extroverts or introverts, shy or gregarious? Don’t we just need to learn to accept ourselves?

Does it matter if we are extroverts or introverts, shy or gregarious? Don't we just need to learn to accept ourselves? Getting comfortable in our own skin.

Painting by Belynda Wilson Thomas

One thing you can do better than anyone else is, be yourself. Unknown

This morning I rolled over after turning off my alarm. I’ve missed my time for writing in my journal and reading. It’s raining so my dog Lulu didn’t get a walk. My hour was given up because I didn’t jump out of bed like I’m supposed to. Just five minutes became sixty.

Last night my daughter and I spent a fun evening with a Mary Kay consultant. I’ve known the Mary Kay consultant for years as the daughter of my Mother-In-Laws friends. She was encouraged to become a Mary Kay consultant by a friend who knew she was shy and it would help her deal with her shyness so she could go after the opportunities in life to use her talents. Mary Kay’s philosophy is to prioritize our lives with faith, family, and career in that order.

Back in the early 60’s when Mary Kay started the company she was hoping to give women opportunities to develop a business they could work at their own pace. She didn’t know the empire she started would grow to what it has. She started, she persevered and her company has outlived her.

Our consultant is a gifted singer. She auditioned for a spot in a prestigious choir and was accepted. Would she have done that without the confidence she’s gotten from Mary Kay? Who knows? Living a big life is taking chances, stepping out of comfort zones, using our talents and gifts.

The thing is we never know where getting out of our comfort zone will lead. We just have to do things, take the chance, risk failure and be uncomfortable until we become comfortable. We may only become comfortable being uncomfortable, but that is a big step.

Beauty is not flawless; it shines even through your flaws. Unknown

Introverts gain energy by spending time alone.

Extroverts gain energy by being around other people.

I’ve always thought of introverts as shy, but it seems we can be shy introverts or shy extroverts. There are also gregarious extroverts and gregarious introverts.

So introversion isn’t the same as shyness. We can’t change whether we are introverted or extroverted but we can work on shyness, getting comfortable speaking or performing publicly.

Introverts thrive in small groups.

Introverts like deep conversations. Introverts may be awkward at small talk but come alive when substantive topics come up.

Introverts need to have peace and quiet in their lives to set goals, recharge, process their thoughts, and tune into their feelings.

Introverts value their personal space.

Introverts like to talk about what they like to talk about. They are good listeners but it doesn’t mean they never want to get a chance to talk.

Introversion isn’t a mental health problem.

Whether we are introverts or extroverts, shy or gregarious we need to learn to accept ourselves and get out of our comfort zone enough to risk failure to risk success.

We can’t be different than who we are. Can we be the best we can be? Do we need to develop ourselves and use our gifts and talents? It may not be important whether we know we are an introvert or extrovert. We may find as we try to pigeon hole ourselves we don’t fit neatly into categories. We are individuals; we have quirks, strengths, weaknesses, challenges, gifts, and talents. If we can live our life with gratitude according to our values, priorities, and find passion and purpose isn’t that what’s important?

When you’re comfortable in your own skin, you’re beautiful. Confidence is the best makeup you could ever wear. Unknown

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Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking Paperback – Jan 29 2013

by Susan Cain (Author) 4.6 out of 5 stars 290 customer reviews


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Cultivating an attitude of gratitude. Does gratitude turn what we have into enough?

Does gratitude turn what we have into enough? Cultivating an attitude of gratitude.

Painting by Belynda Wilson Thomas

Be thankful for what you have; you’ll end up having more. If you concentrate on what you don’t have, you will never, ever have enough. Oprah Winfrey

Today is my husband’s oldest nephews fortieth birthday and I met him when he was nine months old. We can say where did all that time go, but we know where it went. We were living our lives, and even though it doesn’t seem like it’s been that long between here and there, it has.

We lament about time, but we all have the same amount of it in a day. I was listening to a YouTube video the other day. The speaker said she always knew she would have a “big life.” Her parents were the last survivors of their families from the concentration camps of World War ll. She felt she owed it to them to have a “big life.”

A big life is the expression of a heart fully alive. A big life is adventure. A big life is risk and reward, fear and peace, despair and joy. A big life is immersed in all of the reality, and the potential, that the world has to offer. Taken from The Big Life – Live a Big Life blog.

What would it mean to each of us if we were to define what a big life means to us? What does it mean to me? Living a big life is being true to our self. It is having the courage to accept the challenges that life offers, love truly, fully, deeply. Be willing to take risks, be willing to accept the next challenge. Be willing to make a decision and stick by it. Be willing to deal with disappointment, be willing to deal with the messiness of family and relationships. Be willing to be the same with all the people we meet along the way. Be willing to step up for the next challenge, be willing to do the best we can where we are, and to be grateful for the chance to live each and every day no matter what that day brings.

I don’t think it is fame or fortune that makes a big life. Attitude is probably the most important attribute needed for a big life. Are we giving everything we have to everything we do or are we waiting? Waiting for what? Are we waiting for the opportunity that we’ll give our all to? Shouldn’t we give our all to every opportunity and see where that takes us?

Gratitude opens the door to the power, the wisdom, the creativity of the universe. Deepak Chopra

If we can live each moment of our lives fully, that should be the goal. All the mundane and special moments add up to our life. No matter if we are goal-oriented, or we live by the seat of our pants, we don’t know what tomorrow brings. Somehow we need to deal with what is while we work towards our goals, dreams, and aspirations. We also need to realize we aren’t more when we have more money, we just have more money. We aren’t more if we are thinner. This doesn’t mean we can’t want to be richer and thinner, it just means we will still be us when we reach our goals.

If we are waiting “until” to enjoy, feel good enough, relax, find love, exhale, rejoice, celebrate, or be grateful. It is likely that day will never come. We will never lose enough weight to love how we look in the mirror if we aren’t already okay with what we see in the mirror. If we don’t feel we are enough or have enough, there will never be enough. We are told there is no group of women as insecure as supermodels who have the thinnest thighs and shiniest hair.

We have enough today because we are alive today. We are told babies can’t live if they don’t get enough love. That means if we are alive today we got enough love. We are enough, we’ve received enough.

Today I am grateful for all the blessings, challenges, people, love, experiences, and everything in my life. It is what it is, it is what it will be, and I am grateful for the whole of it.

Can we live in gratitude for the blessings and bounty in our lives, even if it isn’t the blessings and bounty we want, or see in other people’s lives? Can we cultivate an attitude of gratitude?

Gratitude turns what we have into enough. Aesop

When I started counting my blessings, my whole life turned around. Willy Nelson

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 Little Book of Gratitude: Create a life of happiness and wellbeing by giving thanks Paperback – Sep 6 2016

by Emmons PhD, Robert A. (Author) 5.0 out of 5 stars 5 customer reviews


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