Eating together. When we eat together we nourish our bodies and our souls.

When we eat together we nourish our bodies and our souls.

Painting by Belynda Wilson Thomas

After a good dinner, one can forgive anybody, even one’s own relations. Oscar Wilde

When family gets together and the laughs just keep coming we feel filled up with joy. A family dinner last night was one of those. When we can come together and feel the warmth and togetherness it is worth the bother of two days of preparation.

Getting together to share a meal is one of our most ancient traditions. Through food, we share ourselves, time and attention. Family stories are shared, memories are created, we relax in the warmth at the table and it is believed the family that eats together stays together.

Anytime families get together it usually involves food. It may be a family picnic in a park taking up several picnic tables and barbeques. It may be more formal in a restaurant, or in a home.

It doesn’t matter what is served, it doesn’t matter how large the family is. What matters is that someone bothers to bring the family together and they reconnect and bond.

Usually, someone is responsible for hosting, inviting, and setting things up. It may be a position they jealously hold, everyone feels they would be hurt if anyone else tried to host. The problem with relying on one person like Grandma, Mom, or Aunty is what happens when something happens to Grandma, Mom or Aunty?

Family dinners may be the glue that holds us together. As young families, we talk with our children about their day. It may be the only time we have together, where all we concentrate on is food and each other.

If we don’t create these times when we talk and laugh we may miss the closeness that develops through family dinners. Do we have anything that can take the place of the family dinner for bonding and closeness?

All great change begins at the dinner table. Ronald Reagan

A study from a team of South Korean researchers suggests that frequently eating meals alone may lead to poorer food choices and eating habits. The study found men who eat alone more than twice a week have a greater risk of developing high blood pressure, high cholesterol, and diabetes.

When children eat with their families it is not only about preventing bad outcomes – it is also about developing good ones. The Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development looked at data from nearly three-quarters of the world’s countries. Among its findings were children who shared a main meal with their families were less likely to skip school. Family dinners are strongly linked to children less likely to abuse drugs or alcohol. Teens that have frequent family dinners are more likely to say their parents know a lot about what is going on in their lives. When teens feel closer to their parents they are less likely to use drugs or alcohol.

A study from the University of Montreal found that children that eat with their families experience long-term physical and mental health benefits. These children were in better physical shape, drank fewer sugary drinks, had better social skills, and were less aggressive. Family meals may also help children with social interaction, discussion of social issues and better communications skills as they learn to discuss day-to-day concerns.

Staying connected is one of the big challenges of our time. It is easy to lose connection with our loved ones if we don’t make time to talk. Eating together is the easiest time to talk and laugh. It is worth it to try to eat more meals together. Getting together for celebrations with our extended family is a way to keep our bonds tight. We all have to eat, eating together may be one of the easiest things we can do to create connection, impart values, and bond.

I applaud everyone that has family dinners. Your family is probably reaping the rewards. If our families could do with more closeness, maybe we can fit in a family dinner here and there. If life is what we make it, making dinner and eating together may be the best thing we can do for our family. We all have to eat, why not eat together more often? Could it be the change to make the world better?

Taking time for each other is the key for harmony in the home and in marriage. Dieter F. Uchtdorf

Dinners are defined at the ultimate act of communion; men that can have communion in nothing else can sympathetically eat together, can still rise into some glow of brotherhood over food and wind. Thomas Carlyle

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Growth is our purpose, pleasure, our everything. Where there is growth there is life.

Where there is growth there is life. Growth is our purpose., pleasure, our everything.

Painting by Marion Wilson Kinnunen

Happiness is neither virtue nor pleasure nor this thing nor that but simply growth. We are happy when we are growing. William Butler Yeats

In One Door Two Locks author Dr. Jim Muncy gives us the 7 keys to success.

Discernment: Judge the seed by the harvest.

Optimism: Be realistic, see what you can be.

Responsibility: Think results, not reasons.

Initiative: Favor action over endless contemplation.

Perseverance: Be persistent but not stubborn.

Purpose: Be unique, but not average.

Sacrifice: See wealth, not riches.

As a University professor teaching sales techniques he began to realize he wasn’t teaching the students how to succeed, and he couldn’t put his finger on what it was his students needed to be successful that they weren’t getting from school or anywhere else in life.

What he realized is the secret to success is not hidden or maybe it is hidden, but it is hidden in plain sight.

King Solomon said, “Wisdom calls aloud from the streets. She raises her voice in the public square. At the head of the noisy street, she cries out in the gateway to the city, she makes her speech. Doest not Wisdom call out? Doest not Understanding raise her voice? On the heights along the way, where the paths meet, she takes her stand. Beside the gates leading into the city at the entrance, she cries aloud.”

Dr. Muncy decided he would teach a class on success but he didn’t know what to teach. He set up his class on success and told his students to find a book on success and read it. The only requirement was they had to read a book that would improve their life in some way. In class, they discussed what the students were learning through the books they chose.

Many of his students told him this was the best class they had ever taken. What he and the students explored and learned together changed his and their lives.

His students varied in age, accomplishments, sex, where they came from but despite the diversity in the students and the diversity in the books they chose to read, a few key concepts always emerged. These key concepts aren’t difficult to understand, or hard to discover or even hard to implement, but putting them to use changed these students lives.

We all have access to the books and it is up to us what we use, and what we ignore.

Growth and comfort do not coexist. Ginni Rometty

Getting everything we desire is not the road to happiness. Michelangelo perhaps the greatest artist in the world prayed, “Lord grant that I may always desire more than I can achieve.”

Dr. Muncy says there is only one way to enjoy life – to have a willing desire. There are two ways to be miserable one is to not desire anything. When we don’t desire anything we don’t sit around completely satisfied, we are bored and useless. The other way to be miserable is to have a desire but to be unwilling to do what it takes to reach that desire. Unwilling to take the steps needed to reach our desires creates frustration.

Happy is the person that dreams and is willing to pay the price to make them happen. We must be willing to work, risk, delay gratification, endure pain, and be willing to grow. According to Dr. Muncy growth isn’t a key to success, it’s the door.

The one thing we must be willing to do to achieve success in our lives, make our dreams come true, and reach our goals is growth. The real pain in desire is not that we want something but don’t have it. The real pain is that we want something but are unwilling to change to get it. If we can have everything we want with who we are we don’t want enough. As we grow we change into the person we must become to achieve whatever it is we desire. We will grow in knowledge. We will grow in wisdom. We will grow in understanding.

What happens when we grow? When we grow our life improves, our relationships improve, we find our passion and purpose, we make a difference. Too many of us feel “Success” is all about money. Money is important only as much as it is useful.

A rich character in a novel whose title I can’t remember says, “Money is a byproduct not a product in itself.” He likened it to the peel left over from his wife canning fruit. When he died he didn’t leave his wife any of the riches he’d accumulated, he left her an old house and a life to build. If he left her his wealth, would she have grown into the person that builds her own life?

We are all somewhere on our life path. Growth is always ahead for us. We are like the buds in Spring waiting to burst forth in leaf or flower. What growth is our life calling for? What change needs to be made? Is growth our purpose?

Life is growth. If we stop growing, technically and spiritually, we are as good as dead. Morihei Ueshiba

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One Door, Two Locks: The 7 Keys to Unlocking the Door to Success in All Areas of Your Life Paperback – 2009

5 out of 5 stars   3 reviews from Amazon.com |

Time is the secret to a long marriage. We win when we don’t give up on life, love, relationships, goals, dreams, each other.

We win when we don't give up on life, love, relationships, goals, dreams, each other. Time is the secret to a long marriage.

A perfect marriage is just two imperfect people who refuse to give up on each other. Unknown

Is you being you really narcissistic? In the fable of the frog and the scorpion, the scorpion asks the frog for a ride across a river. The frog hesitates and says, “But you’ll sting me.” The scorpion says, “No I won’t because then we’ll both die.” The frog agrees and in the middle of the river, the scorpion stings the frog.

We need to recognize the frogs and the scorpions in our life. It doesn’t make sense to volunteer to be stung. It doesn’t make sense to be so careful not to be stung that we eliminate people from our lives. We need to find a balance in our lives and relationships. If we think we will always feel loving, never feel jealous, never feel insecure we are fooling our self. We have to deal with what life hands us, but we don’t have to make friends with the scorpions. Chances are we didn’t marry a scorpion. As I write this I have to see the humor in the fact I am a Scorpio.

We need to be ourselves and we need to let others be themselves. Some of us are so fearful of the scorpion stinging us we don’t take chances with people we should take chances with. People who have proven they are worth the chance.

Forgiveness is important in our relationships, but if we constantly pick people we will need to forgive there might be more going on, do we need to be a victim? If we never give people a second chance because we can’t forgive anything isn’t that also a problem?

We need to find the balance somewhere between victim and martyr. One of the things we may learn is there are worse things than feeling jealous, insecure, and unloved. It is worse when we are so numb, and withdrawn from our lives we don’t feel anything at all. When we see an attractive woman eye our husband and we feel a little, whoa, what’s that? We are normal. If we just shrug it off too easily or carelessly we may be in withdrawal. If we get too jealous we need to ask ourselves why? Why are we thinking our partner would be interested in someone else? We know why other women are interested in our partner, he’s a great guy.

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

We may feel our partner should never make us feel jealous. Is our partner making us feel jealous or are we going through things in our lives where jealousy rears its head? We may be feeling everyone is younger, prettier, more fun, more everything and why wouldn’t our partner dump us for them? We can’t blame our partner for our thoughts, inadequacies, feelings of inferiority, and feeling sorry for our self.

We all need to appreciate the people in our lives, especially our spouse who we spend our time with, make our plans with, dream our dreams with, and share the parts of our self we share with no one else. If we would rather fight with and for our partner than be without them that’s a good thing. Feeling “Oh well, whatever,” is surely worse.

We may be uncomfortable with our feelings, but not having those feelings is worse. Feelings make us feel alive even our uncomfortable ones. Sometimes we stuff down our uncomfortable feelings with food, alcohol, drugs, gambling, and any of the isms.

If we aren’t afraid to feel even our uncomfortable feelings we will live a fuller life. People can and will hurt us, but we can’t be afraid to love, make friends, take chances and build relationships. Life is not about being safe; people who play it safe and didn’t take a chance on love are not the happy people.

We can’t be guaranteed a happy ending, we can’t be guaranteed we will never feel betrayed, or hurt. If we are willing to deal with what is, the messy situations, what needs to be rebuilt in our lives, what needs to be overcome, what needs to be endured, we are living our lives. We will get to the end of our lives, and if we have been brave and looked everything in the face and dealt with it, however painful we will feel better about our lives. If we give up, run away, don’t take the chances life presents we will feel we didn’t really live.

Can we live through all life has to offer? Can we accept the challenges as they come? Don’t we have to get through the difficult winter to get to sun-kissed spring? If we don’t give up on our self, others, our dreams, goals, life, we will get through the hard parts. If we can realize life isn’t easy for anyone, we all make mistakes, we hurt others without thinking, life is what we make it, and what we might regret the most is giving up too soon.  We will look back on our life, the hard times, the loving times, the sad times, the bleak times, the building times, the whole of it and be glad we had tenacity and perseverance.

So that thing you were so excited about turned out to be harder than you dreamed. Things that matter always are. Endure, harvest will come. Beth Moore

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Loving What Is: Four Questions That Can Change Your Life
Loving What Is: Four Questions That Can Change Your Life
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Wealth and scarcity. Having more isn’t always the answer. What we do with what we have is.

Having more isn't always the answer. What we do with what we have is. Wealth and scarcity.

Painting by Belynda Wilson Thomas

Health is the greatest gift, contentment the greatest wealth, faithfulness the best relationship. Buddha

What does it take to consider ourselves wealthy? Is wealth just money? According to Dr. Jim Muncy author of One Door Two Locks, wealth is having what we need to fulfill our purpose in life.

If we go with this definition then adding things to our lives that don’t help us achieve our purpose is not necessarily a step in the right direction. Everything we add takes a chunk out of our life. When we go to the gym that’s a chunk of time we can’t spend somewhere else. Belonging to community groups, taking roles in the Church, starting a side hustle, hobbies, time spent with family, friends, watching TV, going to sports events everything takes time away from something else. Owning a larger home, a second and third property, these take chunks of time to maintain.

I’ve watched parents spend so much time coaching a sport after their child no longer plays it that their child appeared deprived of the time they needed with their parent. The parent was so busy being the volunteer of the year they didn’t see how much their child needed them.

It is easy to be so busy helping others we deprive our families of what should be theirs. The other day a pastor was talking about how his marriage was falling apart because he was looking after the Church flock but his wife felt neglected and last on his list. The members of the Church always needed him, and he was always there. When his wife needed him he wasn’t. Even when he set aside time for his wife the members of the Church would need a ride somewhere and they were going that way so the date or weekend they planned had a parishioner in it. The Pastor’s wife never complained because she was a Pastor’s wife. His wife signed up for a shared ministry but she was on the sidelines.

Jim Muncy says wealth comes from having what we need and not being distracted by what we don’t need. Poverty comes in two forms. There is a poverty of scarcity, which happens when we don’t have what we need. There is also a poverty of bondage when we are tied to things we don’t need.

True wealth is not of the pocket, but of the heart and of the mind. Kevin Gates

There is a book I picked up in Indigo one day and I can’t remember the title. The author was talking about abundance and scarcity in relation to hornets and honey bees. When you look at the hornets’ nest they have an abundance of materials to make their nest out of so they are not elegant. The premise of the book is how we live more elegant lives with less, and cluttered wasteful lives with more.

We live in a wasteful society because we have an abundance. When we didn’t have abundance people did more with less. If we watch documentaries of the Victorian Age everything was used. Even bones were sold after they had been used in every way within the household.

There’s a blog called The Zero-Waste Chef she asks how can colonizing another planet that cannot support life be easier than mitigating a crisis on a planet that can and does support life?

It is an abundance that is causing most of our modern problems. It is abundance creating the plastic garbage disaster in our oceans. It is the abundance of food around our waistlines causing most of our health problems. Our healthcare costs are skyrocketing because we are killing ourselves with our knife and fork.

What would it take to consider ourselves truly wealthy?

Gross National Product counts air pollution and cigarette advertising, and ambulances to clear our highways of carnage. It counts special locks for our doors and the jails for the people who break them. It counts the destruction of the redwood and the loss of our natural wonder in chaotic sprawl. . . . Yet the gross national product does not allow for the health of our children, the quality of their education or the joy of their play. It does not include the beauty of our poetry or the strength of our marriages, the intelligence of our public debate or the integrity of our public officials. It measures neither our wit nor our courage, neither our wisdom nor our learning, neither our compassion nor our devotion to our country. It measures everything, in short, except that which makes life worthwhile. ” — Robert F. Kennedy

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One Door, Two Locks: The 7 Keys to Unlocking the Door to Success in All Areas of Your Life Paperback – 2009

5 out of 5 stars   3 reviews from Amazon.com |

Setting goals, changing plans. Perseverance and stubbornness.

Perseverance and stubbornness. Setting goals, changing plans.

Painting by Belynda Wilson Thomas

Obstacles are put in your way to see if what you want is really worth fighting for. Unknown

We are all saddened in our household by the fire at Notre Dame Cathedral. The closest we will get to see it is visiting sites showing pictures or visiting my son’s girlfriend’s sister and fiancé who got engaged in France this past New Year’s and see their pictures of Notre Dame Cathedral. As my daughter said this morning, “we all think the things we want to see will always be there.” In time the fire of 2019 will just be another part of Notre Dame’s history and the rebuild will be marveled at by those who visit it.

It’s a call to not put off till tomorrow what we can do today. Circumstances in our lives and the world can change in an instant. My oldest sister had an opportunity to visit the Holy Land a few years ago. The unrest made her and her sister in law cancel their trip.

I printed out a bucket list for couples last night from the blog Our Peaceful Family. If we don’t know where we are going how are we going to get there? As someone who doesn’t think I’ve planned enough, or set enough goals I applaud those who do. It is understood life happens while we are making plans. Our goals however we can keep even as our plans to achieve that goal are revised.

Seeing Paris has always been on my list. There was a plan once but that fell through. Another plan is in the works. This is one goal that may take almost a lifetime to achieve. It may be all the sweeter because going to Europe has been a goal of mine since High School.

You can’t just have faith and persistence, because if you don’t have adaptability, sometimes you’ll have faith and persistence turning into stubbornness where you’re envisioning and persisting in something that’s out of date. Tai Lopez

We need to hold onto our goals but our plans will change as life interferes with our plans. Perseverance is when we write our goals in concrete and our plans in sand. Stubbornness is when we write our plans in concrete and our goal in sand. If we just do the same thing over and over again without getting anywhere that isn’t persistence that is stubbornness. Persistence is when we have a goal we are working toward but the plans we made to get there aren’t giving us the desired outcome, so we change our plans.

It is persistence that gives us great rewards in life. We need persistence in relationships, marriages, getting through the ups and downs of life. Sometimes we need to change direction to reach our goals. Being stubborn and sticking with what isn’t working will not get us to our goal. This is where we need discernment to know if we are giving up on something we shouldn’t, or changing course is exactly what we need. Knowing when we are at this crossroad may be the biggest challenge of our life.

There are people who have persevered when everyone thought they should change course and reached their goal. Other people changed course and reached their goal. We need to be strong enough to accept the consequences of whatever choices we make.

Yesterday a discussion on the radio was of people who owned stock that reached heights they didn’t think it would. People were recounting how they sold that stock long before it reached its high. There are stories on the other side too, people hold onto stocks too long.

We make decisions in our life, and we have to be okay with our decisions. We have to figure out when we are persevering and when we are being stubborn. Do we turn right or left? Sometimes the cost of change is great, other times the cost is small. There is always a cost we must be willing to pay. It doesn’t matter what the opportunity is, there is an opportunity cost.

We regret what we don’t do more than what we do. Can we be bold, courageous and move toward our goals. Do we know what our goals are? Are we persevering, or being stubborn?

Perseverance is not a long race; it is many short races one after the other. Walter Elliot

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We cannot reap what we did not plant. Our happiness doesn’t grow in someone else’s garden

Our happiness doesn't grow in someone else's garden. We cannot reap what we do not plant.

Painting by Belynda Wilson Thomas

A pessimist sees the difficulty in every opportunity; an optimist sees the opportunity in every difficulty. Winston Churchill

Spring is here and yesterday was a cold wet day. We need the rain to see the lush beauty of spring that is just starting to pop up out of the ground. On my walk the other day I was looking for spring flowers but I didn’t see one hardy blossom.  A little south of here near the lake flowers are springing up.

All winter the yards look the same, but in the spring we see who bothered to plant bulbs last year or sometimes twenty years ago. Last fall the bulbs didn’t get planted and so this spring they will not bloom. They sit where they have sat all winter in my garage. Our lives are sometimes like our winter gardens, there are things going on but no one can see it yet. Later in our lives, we see if something was planted or if we were fooling our self and others.

We may beat ourselves up as thistles grow bigger than what we planted. We need to weed our gardens, we need to edit our life, we need to water and fertilize. Plants like people have companions they prefer. If we learn what plants do well together we will have a better garden than if we think it doesn’t matter.

Gardens are a great metaphor for life. We get what we grow, and we reap what we sow. If we don’t watch it the weeds will take over, if we don’t tend it we won’t get much to harvest and if we didn’t bother we won’t have anything at all. We can plant crops that we can harvest this fall or we can plant crops that will take years to come to fruition but once they do they give us a crop every year for years to come.

A society grows great when old men plant trees whose shade they know they shalt never sit in. Greek proverb

We get to choose the type of garden we grow and the life we build. Every garden is different because the microclimate, the soil, the light, the moisture and the plants that thrive will be different. Some year’s one kind of crop may thrive more than another. In life it is the same, some talents, interests, and skills are more appreciated. If we chose the right avenue of study or business we can look like stars.

If we are growing our crop commercially we must decide in the spring what we will plant. We might not know until fall what the most profitable crop will be. Once we’ve bought the seed and planted the crop we are dependent on nature and the economy whether this was a good crop to grow or not. We may get a poor crop but the prices are high, we may get a bumper crop but the prices are low. We may get wiped out by hail, drought, or pestilence.

We need to deal with life as it comes, when we look at our lives we can see if we sowed the seeds of harmony or discord. Did we keep the weeds at bay or were some of our best plants (ideas) choked out. Did we water and fertilize or did we depend on nature? Did we plant something well suited to our soil and climate or are we trying to grow something unlikely to thrive?

What we get out of life we get from what we do, and everything we do comes from what we think. When we think better, we do better. Life is a garden our thoughts are the seeds, we can plant flowers or we can plant weeds. Unknown

We can be very hurt if someone tells us our life is a mess because of our thoughts and actions. But, you don’t know what we’ve been through, the disadvantages, the hardships, the unfairness, the injustice we say. It is true life isn’t fair, it isn’t fair when someone wins the lottery, or someone is in an accident why did one get something good, and one get something bad? The only thing we get to do is deal with the reality of our life, make the best of it. We admire the people who make the best of their life.

Often we would never want to be the people who make the best of things. Who would want to be Helen Keller? She didn’t look at what she couldn’t do because of what she didn’t have. She made the best of her life. We admire her for it. We use her quotes often. I have never heard anyone say they wish they were like Helen Keller.

We more often want to be like the people who made a mess of the gifts they had. They had a voice like an angel but ruined their life with drugs. We think we would love to be blessed with that voice. It isn’t what we get; it’s what we do with it. We always think we would do better with more, we never think we would do better with less. Yet the people we really admire in life often did better with less. What do we need to change in our garden of life?

Action is the blossom of thought, and joy and suffering are its fruits. James Allen

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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Find answers through walking. Ask questions as we walk.

Ask questions as we walk. Find answers through walking.

Painting by Belynda Wilson Thomas

An early morning walk is a blessing for the whole day. Henry David Thoreau

Sometimes when nothing is going right in our life the best thing to do is go for a walk. Pierre Trudeau went for his famous walk in the snow. Walking is recommended for artists to work out their problems with their writing and art while they walk. I have found when walking, answers will come to me about art, writing, life, relationships, directions to take in life.

I’m working on a painting and nothing about it was doing what I wanted. Yesterday my dog and I went for a walk and I thought about the blues I was using and two of my blues Cobalt and Ultramarine are dried up. The thought came to me I should go to the art store and replace my dried up paints that adding those blues to my painting might be part of the answer.

One has to be disciplined in an art store, the array of colors is dizzying, and there are always colors that call out to me and I pick up but then put back on the shelf.

When I spent time in my studio last night I struggled less with the painting and I attribute that to my walk. Using the new blues created more harmony. It’s starting to come together.

Walking gives us room to think, making time to think can be the most productive part of our day. I can’t seem to manage meditation, but walking meditation is a thing. People will teach us how to do guided mindful walking. For now, I just want to walk more, enjoying the scenery, my dog, the rhythm of footsteps, the thoughts that float in and out of my mind.

The healthiest people on the planet walk. We think we should join a gym if we want to be healthier. We should walk. Walking is a proven method to stave of cognitive decline. This might be why my Mom is doing so well. At 94 she goes for a walk almost every day. Dad in his later years didn’t walk much. Mom says even in his early life he wasn’t a great walker. He got old a lot quicker than Mom. They were only a year apart in age but he aged more quickly and declined more rapidly.

When you hear the word “disabled,” people immediately think about people who can’t walk or talk or do everything that people take for granted. Now, I take nothing for granted.  But I find the real disability is people who can’t find joy in life and are bitter. Teri Garr

Friends from Toastmasters climbed the CN Tower yesterday. I applaud them but hesitate to even think of joining them on this endeavor. Running and climbing stairs has in the past caused knee pain. Knees are so important I protect mine by not abusing them. Even at the gym, I don’t buy into the “no pain, no gain” ideology. Sometimes pain is telling us something and I listen. I’ve ignored the pain in the past and then dealt with the healing I wouldn’t have needed to deal with if I’d listened to my body in the first place.

It may be if I ran properly it wouldn’t bother my knees. There may be a proper way to take the stairs as well. All I know is if I run when my knee starts to hurt, I walk.

Yesterday we were talking about “runners high”. My husband says he’s experienced “runners high”. I’ve only ever experienced being grateful and happy I’ve quit running. I’ve watched people run with grace and ease I can only envy. I don’t think its something one develops, that seems like a gift one is born with, like being musical, having a great voice, or talents in any area.

Talent, of course, is not all it takes. The most famous singers don’t necessarily have the best voices. Sometimes their gift was promotion and picking great songs. I’ve heard the best writers aren’t usually great oral storytellers. Some people can have you laughing till you cry recounting their trip to the grocery store.

Whatever we do, whatever we want to accomplish, whatever we dream, taking a walk often will help us do it, accomplish it, dream it. If we don’t know what to do, maybe we should go for a walk. Answers may come, or at least we’ll have gotten some exercise, and fresh air.

The landscape painter must walk in the fields with a humble mind. No arrogant man was ever permitted to see Nature in all her beauty. John Constable

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Beneath My Feet: Writers on Walking Hardcover – Apr 2 2019


Did things happen the way we think they did? Is our memory reliable?

Is our memory reliable? Did things happen the way we think they did?

Memory is deceptive because it is colored by today’s events. Albert Einstein

We remember what we remember because it happened just the way we remember it. Except that doesn’t seem to be the truth. Last night at Toastmasters I told a couple of stories from my childhood I believe to be true.

When the Shell Lake massacre happened in August of 1967 my siblings and I met a man in a light blue car on a trail untraveled by anyone but us. The killer at that time was still on the loose, the RCMP was on a manhunt, and the killer was reported to be driving a light blue car.

In my memory, we picked up the pitchforks on our hay rack, ready to defend ourselves if the man in the light blue car stopped. Is it really true that we picked up the pitchforks? Or has my memory embellished this, did we really do nothing and just watch in horror and thankfulness when he passed without stopping? Did we worry about Mom because the only place that trail took you was to our home? I don’t remember being worried about Mom, or coming home from getting our hay. I only remember meeting a light blue car where we never expected to meet anyone.

The man in the light blue car stopped at my parent’s house and talked to mom and told her he was taking soil samples. She told him our neighbor’s son had his gun trained on him with orders to shoot if he came toward the house.

Studies show it is much easier to plant false memories than we think. Hillary Clinton once famously claimed she had come under sniper fire during a trip to Bosnia in 1996. “So, I made a mistake,” she said of her false memory. If she could make a mistake like that, what about our own memories?

We don’t know how many of us are reliving false memories. We know therapists have made their clients believe they were sexually molested when they weren’t. People have been convicted because of eye witness accounts that were not true. Our false memories can be very detailed. We can deliver our false account confidently and emotionally. We aren’t lying because we believe what we are saying.

There is no memory or retentive faculty based on lasting impression. What we designate as memory is but increased responsiveness to repeated stimuli. Nicola Tesla

We may think that when eye witness accounts don’t match that someone is lying.  They are telling their side of the story. This isn’t the same as telling the truth and only the truth. “Just the facts ma’am,” may not actually be possible.

Walt Harrington a former reporter for the Washington Post Magazine, now a professor of literary journalism the University of Illinois, once said, “Truth is a documentary, physical reality, as well as the meaning we make of that reality, the perceptions we have of it.”

A true story is always filtered through the teller’s take on it.

The mind and its memory do not just record and retrieve information and experiences, but also infer, fill in gaps, and construct, wrote Bryan Boyd in On the Origin of Stories. “Episodic memory’s failure to provide exact replicas of experiences appears to not be a limitation of memory but an adaptive design.”

Narrative, as Barry Siegel director of UG Irvine’s Literary Journalism Program, explains, shapes meaning and order out of an existence that is otherwise just angst and chaos. This is one takeaway that nonfiction enthusiasts might consider when thinking about the intersections between stories and memory. There is harmony in both.

How much of what we remember about an event actually happened the way we remember it, and how much of what we remember is colored by the emotions surrounding the event? Do we reconstruct the event to make ourselves feel more heroic, hurt, and betrayed? As we retell the story does it get bigger in our mind?

Our mind tries to make sense of whatever is asked of us. People who have had their right and left brain hemispheres severed make up facts that each side of the brain appears to accept as true.

Patients with certain brain syndromes make up stories to replace the recent memories they don’t have. Could it be that all our memories are both bits and pieces of the truth and colored by our emotions and the meaning we put on that event? Could it be that relying on our memory is one of the most unreliable things we do?

It is curious to note how fragile the memory is, even for the important times in one’s life. This is, moreover, what explains the fortunate fantasy of history. Marcel Duchamp

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

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You Are Not So Smart: Why You Have Too Many Friends on Facebook, Why Your Memory Is Mostly Fiction, an d 46 Other Ways You’re Deluding Yourself Paperback – Nov 6 2012


Life is what we make it. Facing our fears and dealing with what is.

Facing our fears and dealing with what is. Life is what we make it.

Painting by Belynda Wilson Thomas

As long as you think that the cause of your problem is “out there” – as long as you think that anyone or anything is responsible for your suffering – the situation is hopeless. It means that you are forever in the role of victim, that you’re suffering in paradise. Byron Katie

When we face our fears we go forward. We might be afraid to cut our hair and try something different. Sometimes we are afraid to start things; sometimes we are afraid to finish them. We may make too few changes and other times we may make too many.

Finding balance in our lives can be hard. We feel stagnate, we seek change, the change makes us feel insecure and precarious. Do we naturally vacillate between too little and too much change?

We are careful, and then we throw all caution to the wind. Some people start to change their life and everyone looks at them and labels them as having a midlife crisis. Why is a new hairdo, a new car, planning to see the wonders of the world a crisis?

Dumping our wife or husband may seem like a crisis but maybe it’s been something that has been simmering for years. There comes a point when we all have to evaluate where our life is and where we are in it. If we feel stuck in a rut, this could be a rut of not feeling well; we can take charge of our nutrition. It could be the rut of employment, relationships, the heavy burden of our mortgage, or other life responsibilities.

Just the other day I was encouraging a friend to get a makeover. She doesn’t need a makeover because she doesn’t look good. She needs a makeover because it can punctuate the new beginning she is looking for. Kick start the new stage in life that is here for her. The new adventure she is embarking on.

I am a lover of what is, not because I’m a spiritual person, but because it hurts when I argue with reality. Byron Katie

We can look at our self in the mirror one day and see this old hairstyle has to go. This happened to me when my daughter graduated from high school. As we were looking for her graduation dress, I kept seeing myself in the mirror and I realized it was time for a short cut. Then it happened a few years later when I saw a picture of myself taken at a friend’s shower. Taking charge of our hair can seem like we are taking charge of our life.

If a short hair cut, hi-lights, low lights, or a bright splotch of color in our hair makes us feel better, do it. It’s only hair, it will grow out, and we can always change the color back if we went a little too drastic. What if we love it, what if this is the lift we need to help us through whatever we are going through. Or what if it makes this age we are in feel right.

For my daughter’s wedding, I got hi-lights. One of the best things I’ve done to make what I see in the mirror and what I think in my mind mesh. It’s not about not getting older if we are lucky we will get older.

Mom tried to have straight hair a few years ago; because she thought curly perms were too hard on her hair. She didn’t look like herself, and I don’t think she liked what she saw in the mirror. She looked lovely with a curly perm when I was out to see her. Even at ninety-four, we should do what makes us look and feel our best.

Some of us have a fabulous silver color as our hair grays, some of us don’t. If we look fabulous with our silver hair then wear it proudly, it is very becoming on those it looks good on. For the rest of us find a color that looks good. When we feel good, we feel motivated to live our best life.

Now that I am old enough to be a grandmother I marvel at how young grandmothers are. Mom has always said she didn’t feel her age, to be forever young if only in our heart and mind is a great thing.

Maya Angelou said there was something great about every decade. There was a time when being fifty, sixty, seventy, eighty, and ninety were beyond my comprehension. Now that the reality of these higher numbers hits what is important is how healthy, happy, active, and grateful we are, not the number we’ve reached.

Life is what we make it, at every age, and every stage. Happy, grateful lives can be ours; it’s a matter of attitude not circumstance. Are there fears we need to face? If we know it could get worse but we can deal with it we can go forward. We can feel free to live, not just wait for something to happen. We will deal with it, whatever it is. There isn’t really any point in worrying about all the things that might happen while we are blindsided by those that do.

Can we live our lives with gratitude and joy? Can we live one day at a time, and enjoy it? Can we make the best of what is, instead of worrying about what could be?

Placing the blame or judgment on someone else leaves you powerless to change your experience; taking responsibility for your beliefs and judgments gives you the power to change them. Byron Katie

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 and love.

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Who Would You Be Without Your Story?: Dialogues with Byron Katie Paperback – Oct 15 2008


Unmet expectations, impossible expectations, we need to learn to be grateful for what is.

We need to learn to be grateful for what is.

Painting by Belynda Wilson Thomas

He is a wise man who does not grieve for the things which he has not, but rejoices for those which he has. Epictetus.

How many of us dread the “Passion” question? What are you passionate about? I’ve felt over the years many times I was still looking for what I wanted to do with my life. Is there an all-consuming passion that some have? It has eluded me all my life. Being a wife and mother included some passion, some drudgery, some just getting through the day, some moments of intense joy and pride, and some moments that brings us to our knees. Being self-employed is much the same.

If we judge our life on the “Passion Scale” and find it wanting maybe we should throw the “Passion Scale” out and continue living a meaningful life where what we do solves someone’s problem. If what we do doesn’t solve someone’s problem, chances are we don’t have a job because that is what we get paid to do. We get paid to make something happen, fix something, change something, provide something, and create something that someone is willing to pay for.

When we do something purely to please our self we call it a hobby. Turning hobbies into jobs and livelihoods has its own problems. When no one pays us they have no say in what we create. When they pay us, they do.

In 1970 it was a radical notion to find out what you like to do… and find a place that needs people like you. This was the premise behind What Color Is Your Parachute.

The unintended consequence seems to be the more we’ve placed importance on the passion hypothesis, the more disinterested, and therefore less happy with the work we do we have become. We’ve built up such expectations about what a life filled with passion and purpose means that even the people who do have the dream jobs doing what they love don’t feel fulfilled.

We are often attracted to ideals we don’t actually want to live. We hear about authenticity – we are attracted to the stories of people living simply in beautiful surroundings. Do we want to live that simply?

Autonomy is a keyword – having control over when and how we work. Do we want the risk of not having a steady paycheck? Self-employed is sometimes a euphemism for unemployed. This is especially so when you want a loan from a bank.

Mission is something we long for – a cause that transforms work into something meaningful. This depends on what we call meaningful. It is meaningful to me when a coffee shop gets my order right. Is that meaningful to the person behind the till? It is meaningful when a plumber can fix my plumbing problem.

Gratitude is riches. Complaint is poverty. Doris Day

Fixing people’s problems are what we get paid for. The more people there are that can fix the particular problem we can fix the less it is worth. When we find a problem we can fix that is highly valued but not widely available we have something that might pay well.

We might go to a particular restaurant on a particular day because we like being served by a particular server who sees us as a person and makes our day with their kind and positive attitude. That person is likely to make more tips than a server who doesn’t connect with us and doesn’t go the extra mile to help us enjoy our experience.

When we expect too much out of anything, it can spoil even the best things in our life. Perfection is enemy of the good. When we are grateful for what is in our life, we will get more of what we focus on. When we focus on the lack in our life, lack of passion, lack of money, lack of fulfillment, lack of joy, lack of our partner meeting our needs, lack, lack, lack. We will get more lack.

I grew up with my parents saying, “I cried because I had no shoes until I met a man that had no feet.” We can all cry about the things we don’t have, but do we look around and see all we do have?

Did we wake up to a warm body other than our own in our house? Did we wake up in four walls with a roof and a floor? Were we warm and cozy?  Were we able to have something to eat? Is there transportation to take us to where we need or want to go? Even if things aren’t that great, couldn’t they be worse?

Can we give up our unmet expectations, our impossible expectations and enjoy what is?

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

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 and love. 

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Gratitude: How Daily Appreciation, Mindfulness And Kindness Can Transform Your Life Paperback – Sep 13 2016