Loving nature loving ourselves.

Photo of pond by Belynda Wilson Thomas

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For most of history, man has had to fight nature to survive; in this century he is beginning to realize that, in order to survive, he must protect it. Yves Cousteau

Nature is our mother. Latin proverb

Last night we had our first Horticultural meeting for 2019. The speaker was Elizabeth Schleicher and she is a member of a Rose Society. Last year she attended the World Federation of Rose Societies conference in Copenhagen the capital city of Denmark. She showed us a slide show of what she saw and learned in Copenhagen. She was a very entertaining speaker and told us she is looking forward to attending the next WFRS world conference in Australia in 2021.

Roses are one of my favorite flowers she has about ninety in her garden, I used to have about fifty in mine. Winter kill has cut back my numbers I’ll have to see where I am in the spring.

Joining a Horticultural society is meeting a likeminded group of people beautifying their corner of the world. We have plant sales; adopt public gardens, garden tours, speakers who enhance our knowledge, and flower and photo shows. Many of our speakers travel the world and bring back what they’ve seen in talks and slideshows.

We have speakers whose passion is composting with worms, all aspects of gardening and beautifying the world. Guerrilla gardening which is gardening on land you do not have a legal right to cultivate. This was done in a big way in New York City in the 1970s. Large sections of New York City were abandoned by landlords and city officials. This movement started on a vacant lot at the northeast corner of Bowery and East Houston where in the winter of 1973 two homeless men froze to death in a cardboard box. An artist Liz Christy had already been tossing “seed grenades” into vacant lots, these are water balloons packed with seeds, compost and water which scattered their contents as they burst.

Man’s heart away from nature becomes hard. Standing Bear

Love the world as your own self; then you can truly care for all things. Lao Tzu

Liz Christy saw a young boy playing in the garbage that littered the lot. He was about to climb into an abandoned refrigerator. When Liz Christy took the child to his mother and reprimanded her for letting him play in a dangerous place the mother said “she had a house full of kids to watch. If Liz Christy was so worried about the refrigerator why didn’t she get rid of it?”

Liz Christy organized a group of friends and started beautifying the lot. After the story exploded in the Daily News the city leased the lot to them for a dollar a year. The group dubbed themselves the Green Guerrillas. More than 800 gardens revitalized neighborhoods, reclaimed decay on vacant lots and created city gardens. Neighborhoods were tipped from crime to community action.

Studies show gardens and green space help lower crime rates. When we live without green space and gardens we lose more than we think we do. We think we are maximizing our cities by building on every lot. By getting taxes from every square foot we are able to provide more services. Hostility increases where there is less green space, cooperation increases where there is more.

When we get back in touch with the earth through planting, a tree, flowers, and vegetables we ground ourselves.  According to Richard Louv if we want to be better, more creative, healthy humans we need to get out in nature. When we tap into the restorative powers of nature we can boost mental acuity, creativity, promote health and wellness. When we build smarter, sustainable green communities and economies we ultimately strengthen our human bonds.

He believes the future will belong to the nature-smart – those individuals, families, business, and political leaders who develop a deeper understanding of the transformative power of the natural world and who balance the virtual with the real. He believes the more high-tech we become, the more nature we need.

We can create beautiful green livable cities where we encourage walking and a connection to nature. Horticultural societies, green guerillas, city planners, volunteers and everyone who lives in a city needs to do their part. We are creating the future; can we make it a future we love? Can we by loving nature, love ourselves? Can we by loving ourselves, love nature?

If you lose touch with nature you lose touch with humanity.If there’s no relationship with nature then you become a killer;then you kill baby seals, whales, dolphins, and man eitherfor gain, for “sport,” for food, or for knowledge.Then nature is frightened of you, withdrawing its beauty.You may take long walks in the woods or camp in lovely places but you are a killer and so lose their friendship.You probably are not related to anything to your wife or your husband. Jiddu Krishnamurti

Nature is not our enemy, to be raped and conquered. Nature is ourselves, to be cherished and explored. Terence Mckenna

The Nature Principle: Reconnecting with Life in a Virtual Age by [Louv, Richard]
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Happy wife, happy life. Be the change.

Photo of pink daylilly by Belynda Wilson Thomas

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Marriage is not a noun, it’s a verb. It isn’t something you get. It’s something you do. It’s the way you love your partner every day. Barbara De Angelis

Wives happiness is more important to their husband’s state of mind than the reverse. It seems a happy wife makes a husband feel he is doing a good job of being a good husband.

The Happy Wives Club has 8 essential keys to being a happy wife.

Here are 8 Essential Keys to Being a Happy Wife

  1. A happy wife knows how to FLY (First Love Yourself). I know this is not the first time you’re hearing it, but it’s really important: you cannot be happy or love someone else in any relationship if you are unhappy and unloving to yourself. It all starts from within.
  2. A happy wife expresses love to her spouse. She shows her spouse love by having an attitude of gratitude. She tells him how much she appreciates even the smallest of contributions and support.
  3. A happy wife respects her spouse. Regardless of differences of opinions, she never engages in name calling or disrespectful behavior towards her spouse.
  4. A happy wife surrounds herself with other happy wives. And she’s not ashamed of distancing herself from unhappy or bitter wives. She knows she can lean on other happy wives for prayer and support.
  5. A happy wife treats her marriage as a ministry. Regardless of your religious affiliation, marriage is a ministry. It’s designed for you to serve your spouse. When you focus on making your husband happy, he will naturally do the same for you.
  6. A happy wife knows which battles are worth picking. Is it really worth the nagging that turns into fussing if you know he’s never going to remember to put the toilet seat down? Hanging on to the smaller idiosyncrasies can prohibit you from seeing that he did the dishes without asking, or took out the trash without the daily reminder.
  7. A happy wife is okay admitting when she’s wrong. This was a tough one for me early on because I was one who really hated to be wrong and still do at times. But the difference now is that I can own up to my faults and I can admit when I’m wrong. Humility goes a long way. Learn to laugh at your own mistakes.
  8. A happy wife knows when it’s time to let go. I interviewed my parents recently as they celebrated 47 years of marriage and this was one of their tips for reaching this milestone: They have the understanding that nobody is perfect, and they don’t expect each other to be. But nothing is more important than the sustainability of their union.

Are you a happy wife? What key would you add to this list?

Marriages are always in flux. There are ways we can act and conduct our self that is more conducive to a happy union.

We tend to forget that happiness doesn’t come as a result of getting something we don’t have, but rather recognizing and appreciating what we do have. Frederick Keonig

Placing blame in a marriage is like saying, “your side of the boat is sinking.” Hank Smith

The Huffington Post gives us 11 ways to make our long-term marriage happier, starting today.

Remind our partner and our self we appreciate them.

Say thank you for the little things.

Practice honesty, even when we are ashamed. This means honesty about everything, money, our relationship, what we expect from each other, and what we want in life.

Take care of our appearance.

Foster relationships outside of our marriage. Our spouse can’t meet all our needs and interacting with other people makes us more interesting. Being part of groups or clubs brings joy to our life.

Watch our words. You always… or you never… Would you instead of could you… Thank you instead of nothing or a dismissive… No eye rolls!

Look after the little things. Put away the jumper cables our self. It’s a small thing, but it is the small annoyances that left unaddressed do us in.

Relish the silence. Sometimes we need to let some things slide; when we get pulled into an argument by getting defensive we make things worse. Let go, forgive, and focus on the positive. Don’t stay silent and harbor bad thoughts, you really have to let it go.

Recognize the ebb and flow. We go through periods in our marriage we are in an up or a down or on our way to an up or a down. Learn to go with the flow. We can go from thinking about them with tears in our eyes, to hardly being able to stand to listen to them breathe. Know this is normal and there is always a new up and a new down coming. Enjoy the ride.

Be kind. It is easy to take each other for granted. We can start the day off by asking our self “what can we do today to make our partner happy?” Would they love it if we sat through a soccer, baseball, or hockey game? When traveling is there something we know they’d love to see we could suggest? We all love to know someone is thinking about us.

Maintain intimacy and passion, both inside and outside the bedroom. Intimacy isn’t just sex, and passion isn’t just when we can’t keep our hands off each other. Romance may happen in the ordinary moments of our day with a moonlit walk that ends in a kiss, being there for our spouse in their most difficult time or standing up and being there for our partner. Don’t let other people define what is a normal or healthy amount of sex for our marriage. Know things change, but that doesn’t mean they are less exciting or fun. Intimacy comes in many shapes, including conversation and cuddling.

Relationship coach Laura Doyle recommends the number one thing we can do to improve our marriage is to make our self happy. If we talked on the phone and laughed with a sister, brother, mother, or friend, took a walk in the sunshine, or did something else that filled us up we are less likely to be irritated by something.

When we’ve made our self happy by investing the time and energy to delight our self we are more likely to laugh at a situation than scream. We set the tone in our marriages. Actively replenishing our spirit by doing at least three things for our own happiness is like insurance. It protects us from feeling so frayed that something snippy or sarcastic comes out of our mouth, or we roll our eyes.

When we are happy we get a better response. Everyone in the house feeds off our energy. It’s a big responsibility to be happy for the whole family. What three things can we do today to feed our spirit? Can these small doable things change our life and our marriage? Can we be the change we want to see in our marriage?

New love is the brightest and long love is the greatest, but revived love is the tenderest thing known on earth. Thomas Hardy

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Be Happy Paperback – Mar 1 2019

Volunteering. Getting more by giving more.

Getting More By Giving More - Photo of clematis by Belynda Wilson Thomas

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What is the essence of life? To serve others and to do good. Aristotle

Last night was our Christmas craft night at the Horticultural Society. Bundles of greenery were presold in bundles. Making a centerpiece was demonstrated and members set to making their centerpieces. My job was helping hand out the greenery, collect money if any was owed and sell the extra bundles.

I usually make a pot for outdoors but we don’t bring soil into the Church hall. This is a messy night already and soil only adds to the mess. My bundle of greenery is in the garage. I’ll assemble my outside arrangement over the weekend. The greenery is wonderfully fresh, all the way from B.C.

A few years ago the greenery was provided by a group of women who got together on a weekend and provided the greenery for free. They then put on a demonstration making fabulous Christmas decorations. They decorated a wooden sled, wooden skis, outside urns, and created centerpieces.

They are a hard act to follow; for years they entered contests at the CNE and Canada Blooms. Things change, they are less involved in the club and so am I. When we have extraordinary members in clubs the clubs thrive, the energy is palpable. Finding new people to take their place is challenging.  At one time I thought I would get more involved with the Horticultural Society but my interests have gone in other directions.

Being involved in a group is more fun than being on the periphery of one. It takes time and we only have so much of it. We have to pick and choose where we put our time. The Horticultural Society is now least on my list of groups. It is something a friend and I do most months. We are members but we don’t contribute much. Helping out last night was the most fun I’ve had at the Hort in a long time. Helping out, we talk to other members, we feel part of it, we belong.

Service to others is the rent you pay for your room here on earth. Muhammad Ali

I am so grateful to all the Churches that rent out space to organizations at reasonable rates. These groups help build our communities, give meaning to people’s lives, and help us connect with each other.

Everywhere I look people are building “online” communities. We need to not forget the physical communities we live in. If we don’t interact with each other we don’t learn to trust each other. If we don’t trust each other we don’t build good communities.

Research shows people at the lowest income levels make calculated decision for a variety of reasons. They favor immediate financial rewards over larger delayed rewards. This is not a good way to build a community where much of what is done on a community level is volunteered.

When we get involved with community groups we are introduced to likeminded individuals, keep our body and mind active, and hone and grow new skill sets. A Stats Can survey finds Canadian volunteers feel an improved sense of well-being and health, meet people through networking, and contribute to the community. When we are in the throes of raising children and working full-time jobs, volunteering may be hard to fit in, as those responsibilities lessen we have opportunities to fit volunteering into our life.

We create the communities we live in. Communities change and grow as the individuals that make them change and grow. Many of us want to live in a great community, but do we want to be the ones that make that community great?

Volunteers don’t get paid, not because they’re worthless, but because they’re priceless. Sherry Anderson

Remember that the happiest people are not those getting more, but those giving more. H. Jackson Brown Jr.

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Volunteering: Personal, Social and Community Benefits Paperback – Mar 5 2013

Make it a habit, good habits make great lives. Start something great. Be willing to start small.

Belynda Wilson Thomas painting - "The Journey"

Create a good habit by starting small. Good habits are the secret to a great life. I’ve always told my kids, “continue to develop good habits.”

Exercising first thing in the morning is a good habit. I started it, because it has done so much for my mother, who at 93 still does morning exercises before she gets up. She still goes for a walk most mornings, cooks her own food, cleans her own house, looks after her plants, reads and quilts. She stays in touch with my late father’s family and knows all the news. She is engaged in life.

To create a habit start small. As I reflect on my writing it is a habit, and that habit enabled me to complete a novel. One word on top of another word added up. It is that simple and that difficult to master most things we want in life.

Starting is half done and don’t quit. One simple habit that I think starts the day off right is making our bed in the morning. No matter how your day goes, you’ve accomplished one thing. On a bad day if nothing else you crawl into an inviting, made bed.

So often we want to make big changes, but if we start small they can become big changes over time. You want to bring exercise into your life. Start with two push ups per day. If you haven’t done them before you get into bed, you can probably muster the energy for two push ups. Once you start you might not stop at two, but two is all you have to do to complete that goal. It sounds silly to set your goal at two push ups but try it. You will change your life if you keep it up.

My goal when I started writing on October 9th, 2000 was to keep a writing journal. I wrote down the time I started, the time I finished and the number of words I wrote. By making that entry in my journal my writing session was a success. I didn’t know it at the time but I was creating the habit of writing.  It has added up to something, a soon to be published novel, now a blog. My art is the same; I always try to have a painting on the go. I am not a fast painter but conceptualizing a new painting as the old one is close to finished keeps me going forward.

Start small, but start, because starting is half done. I watched a video on blogs and one piece of advice stood out. Don’t wait until you have your about me page perfect before posting. So I didn’t, my son set up my blog and the next day with trembling hands I pushed publish. Then I relaxed, for better or worse my blog was out in the world. Just do it! Then do it again until you have a long line of accomplishments. It is mostly true, it is never too late to start, to be the person you know you should be. Perfection is enemy of the good. Too many of us have never done the things we dreamed of because something wasn’t perfect. It will never be perfect and maybe it shouldn’t be perfect, maybe it should be just like you and just like me, perfectly imperfect.