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

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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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Forgiveness sets us free. We can have peace, or we can be bitter.

We can have peace or we can be bitter. Forgiveness sets us free.

Forgiveness – painting by Belynda Wilson Thomas

The weak can never forgive. Forgiveness is the attribute of the strong. Mahatma Gandhi

This is our life we have to make the most of it. At funerals and visitations, the point is brought home more fully. At some point, it’s all over. Whatever we didn’t do, fix, make amends to, make right, forgive, build, learn, achieve, see, or experience, the opportunity is gone.

The splits in families are evident if you are watching from the sidelines as I was. The woman who died is who I knew. She was one of the funniest, fun loving, full of life people I’ve met. She had a hard life with two marriages ending in divorce, raising six sons and losing one to cancer in his twenties.

At the funeral home, I was watching interactions between the attendees. A small group chatting and laughing was approached by a woman and immediately one of the members left. The one that left was I believe the deceased’s sister. At least there wasn’t a scene but differences can’t be put aside even in death?

It makes one wonder about one’s own family and how things will be handled? It is my belief that when we don’t handle things while someone was alive we have more to regret after their death.

When we got home we watched “The Shack” on Netflix. This was a book pick for the book club years ago. I didn’t realize it was made into a movie. If anyone is looking for a movie or book whose central theme is forgiveness this is the book or movie for you.

Holding a grudge doesn’t make you strong; it makes you bitter. Forgiving doesn’t make you weak; it sets you free. Dave Willis

The author’s wife encouraged him to write a book for his children, and that is who the original audience was intended to be. It was self-published and through word of mouth became a best seller on the New York Times bestseller list.

There is a part in the book where the protagonist Mackenzie meets Wisdom. Wisdom tells Mackenzie he is here for judgment. He asks, “What am I being judged for.” He is told he is not being judged, he is to be the judge. “Which of his two children does he send to heaven and which to hell?”

“I can’t choose”, he says.

“You must,” Wisdom says.

“Take me,” he finally says.

God has told Mackenzie earlier that she has seen what each person went through before they did whatever they did. She says that she does not condone what is done, but wherever there is evil the results will be felt. We all have free will and our choices lead us where they do. Forgiveness is what severs the chains that bind us to the hurt, betrayal, and loss that ruin the good that is left in our lives when something horrible happens.

We don’t choose what happens in our lives, we do choose how we react to what happens. Forgiveness can help us move forward better, instead of bitter.

Forgive others, not because they deserve forgiveness, but because you deserve peace. Jonathan Lockwood Huie

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Be brave; love truly, fully, deeply. We regret the chances we didn’t take to fully love and be there for someone.

We regret the chances we didn't take to fully love and be there for someone. Be brave; love truly, fully, deeply.

No one ever fell in love without feeling a little bit brave. Mario Tomasello

We all want love, isn’t that what we tell ourselves? Yet Psychology Today says many of us are afraid to really let ourselves be in love. Our defenses raised offer a false sense of safety, we think they will keep us from getting hurt but all they really do is prevent us from achieving the closeness we desire. What is it that drives this fear of intimacy? What is it that prevents us from having the love and relationships we say we want?

Real love makes us vulnerable. We believe if we care less, we will be hurt less. The truth is if we care less, we don’t build the life and love we want. We live a life of wasted opportunities for closeness.

The person who loves us, who wants to get close, at some point may give up on us. They may still be with us, they may still come to visit us or maintain a marriage with us, but it won’t be the relationship we long for.

Life is about giving and getting. We may feel completely justified in judging our partner, questioning their loyalty, fidelity, commitment. We may feel a small mistake or oversight on their part was actually something bigger, and they meant to hurt us. It may be a sibling or a parent we feel we can’t forgive, for something that slipped out of their mouth and landed on our self-esteem, and opened up an old wound, a wound that never healed.

We might all be the walking wounded. We won’t feel better if we don’t love fully and something happens. I know from talking to someone who lost her husband too soon that making plans that never came to fruition was more healing than if they hadn’t been making plans. We might think it is worse to have plans that will never develop, but it isn’t. It might be counterintuitive that the more we love, and give everything we have to our relationships the happier we are and even the better we can deal with the loss of those relationships.

If we love our children as deeply as we can, even newborns that die, research tells us the parents who loved fully, are better off than the parents who tried to protect themselves from the pain of loss. There is no protecting ourselves from loss, there is only protecting ourselves from feeling, the regret is we can no longer have those feelings and we didn’t even feel them when we had the chance.

We can live on the sidelines of love, or we can love. Love is not about getting, but about giving. We are afraid to trust, and we think that is justified, but what is the cost of withholding that trust?

We don’t trust the drivers on the road, so we don’t let our children walk to school, or ride their bicycles. At a park, I saw a little boy on a strider bike going over rocks and his mother watched him. He’s brave and so is she, letting him become himself. Of course, he took a tumble, cried, she picked him up, but it wasn’t long and he was off adventuring again.

We can’t hold on tight to love; if we do we stifle it. Our children need to grow and develop, keeping them needing us is stifling them, we need to encourage their independence. We need to give them encouragement to be who they are to be, not hold them back out of fear.

Hold everything you love with an open hand. It’s like holding sand in your hand, the tighter you close your hand the more sand you lose but if you hold the sand with an open hand, you lose no sand. Prince Willis

If we are brave enough to love with our whole hearts the people who come into our lives and enjoy our time with them we will enjoy all there is. They may depart; they may move away, they may build lives that leave us on the periphery. It is still better to have loved and lost than never to have loved at all.

The real tragedy of life is not to love when we have the chance. Once that chance is gone we may flog our self with our regrets. If we gave all we had to the people in our life when they were with us, we have no regrets for what was, even as we may feel pain and sorrow for what is. We need to feel every part of our life. We think we protect our self by not feeling because we don’t want to be hurt, but we hurt our self by not feeling, we make our self feel dead even when everything in our life is alive and vibrant. Worrying about what might be, we miss what is, and what could be.

This can happen in all our relationships. We hear about families who plan great get-togethers and then spend it fighting instead of enjoying the brief time they have together.

Often families fracture instead of coming closer in times of bereavement. We will face loss in our lives, it will hurt, if we made the best of the time we had with that relationship it can be with no regrets and we can be truly happy for what we shared even though our hearts are broken with their loss. Isn’t that better than regretting the words we didn’t say, the fights that broke out because… the hurt feelings, the missed opportunities? We will face loss, but we don’t have to have regrets about the relationships in our life if we made them the best they could be while they were with us.

Can we live a life with few regrets?

Worry does not empty tomorrow of its sorrow, it empties today of its strength, joy, and beauty. Love deeply, fully, truly.

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A Mind at Home with Itself: How Asking Four Questions Can Free Your Mind, Open Your Heart, and Turn Your World Around Paperback – Sep 11 2018

Food is the stuff of life. Who are we depending on for our next meal?

Who are we depending on for our next meal? Food is the stuff of life.

Give a man a fish and you feed him for a day, teach a man to fish and you feed him for a lifetime. Maimonides

If you ate today, thank a farmer. If you are able to accomplish anything in life you need sustenance and our food comes from land or sea.

Only a few countries in the world produce enough food to feed their population. 16 percent of the world’s population today depends on food produced somewhere other than in their own country. In 2050 that number is expected to jump to 50 percent.

Canada is one of the countries listed as being food self-sufficient. We should be very careful to keep it this way. If we can’t grow enough food for our own people, we are no longer in control of our own destiny.

One of the things growing up on a farm teaches us is the carrying load of land. There is a limit to how many cattle, horses, goats, sheep, pigs, or chickens that can be raised on a finite piece of land. It isn’t different for people or countries.

We haven’t done that well with famines in the past; will we do better with a much larger population?

Just like they tell us in an airplane we must put our own oxygen mask on first. When it comes to food self-sufficiency every country should be figuring out how they can feed their people if no other country has a surplus to sell to them.

The glory of gardening: hands in the dirt, head in the sun, heart with nature. To nurture a garden is to feed not just the body, but the soul. Alfred Austin

A victory garden is a vegetable garden, especially a home garden, planted to increase food production during a war. These victory gardens were started in World War 1. In 1917 Charles Lathrap Pack created the National War Garden Commission to encourage women at home to grow and preserve their own food. Crops in commercial production would then be available for troops and allies overseas.

Posters with sayings such as “Sow the Seeds of Victory” promoted this idea. Instructions were given on how to garden, from sowing seeds to harvesting and preserving crops, as well as saving seed for the following year.

There is a resurgence of victory gardens based on self-reliance, sustainability, healthy eating, and ecosystem support. It gives families food security. It also protects against the effects of multinational seed conglomerates gobbling up small seed companies in an attempt to control the world’s food supply. The “Victory” in modern victory gardens is freedom from the conventional food system. It is taking charge even to a small degree of what we eat. It is about making a difference in our own lives, being the change we want to see in the world, and giving up feelings of helplessness by doing something meaningful, something positive, something productive, and something important.

We can wring our hands and worry, or we can be proactive and make a difference. Is it possible that everywhere in the world people can do some small thing to make life better? Does better everywhere start with plants? Can every country improve its potential for food self-sufficiency?

The single greatest lesson the garden teaches is that our relationship to the planet need not be zero-sum and that as long as the sun still shines and people still can plan and plant, think and do, we can if we bother to try, find ways to provide for ourselves without diminishing the world. Michael Pollen

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Judging others, judging our self. Judge not lest yee be judged.

Judge not lest yee be judged. Judging others, judging our self.

Painting by Belynda Wilson Thomas

Good judgment comes from experience, and a lot of that comes from bad judgment. Will Rogers

Last night we watched Sully a movie about “The miracle on the Hudson” where a plane was landed on the Hudson River and all 155 people on board were saved.

He was a hero but still faced questions and maybe the loss of his job, pension, and livelihood if he was found to have put the plane down in the Hudson when simulations showed he could have made it to an airport.

As he listened to what they said he didn’t remember things the way he was being told they happened. He was starting to second guess himself, had he made a huge mistake in judgment as an experienced pilot of 42 years.

He was not allowed to see the simulations that the investigators had requested, but he knew someone within the industry and he requested they have simulations done. At the hearing, the simulations he requested were played. The simulations showed he could have landed at either of two airports with the plane intact.

He asked how many practice runs did the pilots get, he was told seventeen. He said those simulation pilots knew the situation they would be facing but he did not. He had 208 seconds and part of that time was spent on evaluating what had happened and what to do about it, not just implementing what to do. He was given 35 seconds of evaluation time. Now when the simulators had to take 35 seconds off their flight time they could no longer make it to either airport.

We can second guess ourselves, or be second-guessed by others. It is easy to look at things in hindsight differently than when we lived it. If we put enough effort in we can see how we could have, and even should have done things differently. We didn’t have the luxury of time when we made our decision. We didn’t know how other people would view things. The miracle on the Hudson is that the pilot only took 35 seconds to figure out what to do and then did it. He was only 7 miles from an airport. Missing that airport by feet or by miles was still a miss.

Doubt yourself and you doubt everything you see. Judge yourself and you see judges everywhere. But if you listen to the sound of your own voice, you can rise above doubt and judgment. And you can see forever. Nancy Lopez

We have to be okay with the decisions we make in our life. All of our decisions may not lead to the finest moments of our life. We are human; we need to cut our self some slack. It may look the same regardless of what our intent is. We may believe things happened differently than someone else believes.

It is in these moments that growth happens. We are responsible for what we do, say, and think. How others interpret what we did, said and thought we may not be responsible for. We may not be able to change their mind, we may have to go forward confident in ourselves we did the best we could at the time.

We see it all the time, embarrassing moments in people’s lives are exposed. Something they thought innocent or at least private comes back to haunt them. Maybe they are threatened with blackmail and must come forward and expose themselves to scrutiny. It is a testament to their character that they expose themselves to scrutiny instead of being blackmailed.

We live in a time now where mistakes are not tolerated. If we are not comfortable being awkward around others, we will keep more to ourselves. We will hesitate to initiate conversations out of fear of being thought a pervert, insensitive, or uninformed. We will not reach out to other people for fear they will misunderstand our motives. We fear we will not address them the way they wish to be addressed. We will be insensitive to the challenges they have faced in their life.

People make mistakes, we don’t understand each other. We make mistakes with those we know and love, we will make mistakes with those we don’t yet know. When we protect ourselves from making mistakes, we close ourselves off from engaging with others, opportunities, and life.

When offending someone is an offense, we will not engage with them. That is worse than offending them because it will limit all of our opportunities. There are unintended consequences in everything. If we are no longer able to overlook people’s mistakes where do we go in our families, businesses, society, politics and the greater world?

We’re all caught up in circumstances, and we’re all good and evil. When you’re really hungry, for instance, you’ll do anything to survive. I think the most evil thing – well, maybe that’s too strong – but certainly, a very evil thing is judgment, the sin of ignorance. Anthony Hopkins

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STOP BEING A JUDGMENTAL FAULT FINDER: 30 Days: Strengthen Your Faith by [Ashton, Nora]
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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

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

Self-expression. Finding the beauty and joy in life is part of the journey.

Finding the beauty and joy in life is part of the journey. Express yourself.

Painting by Belynda Wilson Thomas

Without self-expression, life lacks spontaneity and joy. Without service to others, it lacks meaning and purpose. Laurence G. Boldt

The joy of self-expression is the true joy in life. It is when we express our thoughts, feelings, and ideas as beautifully as we can that we find true joy in life. When we feel, see and experience the expressions of nature and other people we feel a connection to others, the greater world and even to ourselves.

How great it is to go for a walk and see the first flowers of spring. The sunshine, the spring flowers, a blue sky with fluffy clouds, the first shoots of green grass, the chirping of the birds. Regardless of what is going on in our life this expression of new life, of a new season gives us a sense and feeling of joy.

When we express our self we explore who we are. We examine our thoughts, beliefs, goals, dreams, ideologies, fears. Through self-expression, we may find out what is most important to us, our purpose.

It doesn’t matter how we express ourselves, only that we do. Humming, singing to our self, doodling is all self-expression. It isn’t important if our self-expression is shared with the world. It is important that we do it.

We may hesitate to put our self forward as an artist, but when one looks at the works that are put forward there seems to be room for everyone. A painting may look like a mess but when we notice the title “Feelings” we realize they captured the subject perfectly.

We hear journaling, art, music, and dance is recommended as therapy because they are forms of self-expression. They help us get what we are feeling on the inside, outside of us.

Painting is self-discovery. Every good artist paints what he is. Jackson Pollock

The first thing we all worry about is, are we doing it right, instead of worrying are we doing it at all. We judge and second guess our self, we are our worst critic.

We can get into trouble if we express ourselves in inappropriate ways. Just yesterday I was shown a video of a young woman expressing herself outside of her house with nothing on her bottom half, the police were called. She looked full of joy but obviously was having an episode of some kind.

They say the second regret of the dying is they wished they’d let themselves be happier. Even on a bad day, we have so much to be grateful for, so much to enjoy, yet we sometimes wallow in self-pity, misery, and despair. Even if life isn’t always what we make it, it is probably how we see it. We hear people in the depths of despair finding the positive in the life of their son or daughter no longer with them.

We can be happy, we were fortunate to have had someone in our life, even if they are no longer with us. Had they not been in our life, we wouldn’t have this hurt, but we wouldn’t have the joy they brought us either.

Often people who have been to the depths of despair have much to teach us. They have a depth and understanding of life that comes from facing the worst, rebuilding their life, going forward from the darkness into the light.

Many people find a way to express themselves after a tragedy, they find it healing. It doesn’t matter how we express ourselves, only that we do. There are many ways to express our unique self; they aren’t just singing, dancing, writing and art. Can we sing, dance, hum, doodle, paint, knit, quilt, play an instrument, write, do public speaking, photography, fashion, coding, plan a special event, build something, bake or cook, journal, make a comic book, write poetry, quizzes, create games or anything else we can think of? Just do it!  Can we express ourselves and make our self and the world better?

A labor of love is exalted because it provides joy and self-expression to those who perform it. Dennis Kimbro

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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Painting Abstracts: Ideas, Projects and Techniques Paperback – Nov 1 2008

Focusing on things we can’t control is no way to live a happy life.

Living a happy life is focusing on the things we can control.

Everyone thinks of changing the world, but no one thinks of changing himself. Leo Tolstoy

We can’t control everything, we can’t even control most things. If we control the few things that are ours to control we live a happy, productive, contented life filled with joy and gratitude.

Our children, their choices, lifestyle, careers, habits, and outlook on life are not ours to control. Most of us have a full plate if we control those things in our own lives, let alone someone else’s.

We cannot make our spouse lose weight, drink less, eat more vegetables, be positive, or even be faithful. We can live with them and love them and the situation, we can live with them and hate them and the situation, we can live with them and love them but hate the situation, or we can leave. The one thing we want, for them to change is beyond our power. Sometimes when we accept people for who they are they will choose to make changes in their life. This is their choice; we get to choose the changes we make in ours.

Trying to maintain strict control over everything in our lives leads to anxiety. The more unsuccessful we become at trying to control everything in our environment the more anxious we become.

We waste our energy trying to control things that are not ours to control.  A simple thing like picking the plants in our garden that like our soil is better than planting the plants that don’t thrive there. Rhododendrons don’t do well in my soil, but roses do. Sometimes we can manipulate plants to grow in regions they didn’t grow well in. The Canadian wheat varieties Red Fife and Marquis are such a success story.

History… celebrates the battlefields whereon we meet our death, but scorns to speak of the plowed fields whereby we thrive, it knows the names of the king’s bastards, but cannot tell us the origin of wheat. That is the way of human folly. Jean-Henri Fabre

Knowing what we can change, improve, manipulate and control is ours to determine. Where we make the big mistake is when we want to control what is someone else’s to control, improve, and change.

If we waste our time trying to prevent anything bad from happening we will be exhausted. Often the bad thing that does happen isn’t even the one we worried about. We were so consumed with what we worried about we didn’t see what was coming. We need to be able to face life head on and deal with what is, we spend so much time worrying about what might be, we forget to enjoy what we have.

When we spend our lives trying to control other people we damage our relationships. We may be so judgmental of something about someone we think they can and should control that they don’t want to be around us. How many celebrations are ruined by judgmental people who make the people celebrating think they aren’t enough, thin enough, pretty enough, accomplished enough, educated enough, old enough, young enough, etc?

Often we judge others harshly because we are trying to boost our self-esteem, our judgment is a clear reflection of our own unhappiness. The second most common reason we judge others is fear. When others intimidate us we try to put them down by pointing out a flaw or two. Our judgments are our soft spots. We judge others because we are not happy and secure. When we catch our self judging someone we should ask our self, “what is it about them that we are so unhappy with? What change do we need to make in our own lives to feel more secure and happy?”

We need to develop a balanced sense of control. Taking charge of the things we can control, knowing which things are out of our control, and being wise enough to know the difference is our challenge.

We can host the best party, but we can’t make people have fun. We can be the best employee, but we can’t make someone else appreciate us. We can take care of our health but we can’t guarantee we’ll live to one-hundred. We can nag, beg, and make threats, but we can’t make our spouse or anyone else change. We can control circumstances within our own life but we can’t control the environment, economy, or outside influences. We may have the best ideas, but we can’t control if people will take our advice.

If we listen more we will have more influence than if we give advice. We can share our opinions and concerns but if we do it more than once we risk losing our effectiveness and it can even backfire as people dig in their heals to make sure they don’t do what we want, to prove they won’t be controlled by us.

Even if we don’t like the situation we are in, we must decide if what we don’t like is ours to change or someone else’s. If it is ours we should get busy. If it is someone else’s we should find something else to concentrate our energies on. No one in our life is our project to fix. Often the things we don’t like in someone else’s life is a reflection of something we don’t like in our own life but don’t want to acknowledge. It’s time to take a good hard look at ourselves, what makes us feel small, inadequate, inferior, and less than we long to be. This is what we can work on; this is what we can change.

Is there something about someone else we think they should change? Could it be a reflection of something in our own lives?

Yesterday I was clever, so I wanted to change the world. Today I am wise, so I am changing myself. Rumi

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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13 Things Mentally Strong People Don’t Do: Take Back Your Power, Embrace Change, Face Your Fears, and Train Your Brain for Happiness and Success Hardcover – Dec 23 2014

We have to risk failure to risk success.

We have to risk failure to risk success.

Don’t think about what can happen in a month. Don’t think about what can happen in a year. Just focus on the 24 hours in front of you and do what you can to get closer to where you want to be. Unknown

In Noah St. John’s book Afformations; he says the most basic human fear is the fear of rejection. Why is this the most basic fear? He says, centuries ago we lived in tribes. If we did something bad it was considered a crime against the tribe. The worst punishment was not death, but banishment, because there was virtually no way we could make it on our own.

How can we develop the habit of taking action in the face of fear? We need to understand almost everyone has the same fear. One of the best things to do is imagine we are rejected for what we want to do. Really feel what it would be like.  Guess what, when we accept that we may be rejected we can deal with it.

Everyone is not going to love the painting we spent three months completing. Many times we aren’t as happy with it ourselves as we hoped. Noah St. John doesn’t tell us to tell ourselves we are great, we are powerful, we are going to become rich and famous. He teaches us to ask why. Why are we great, why are we powerful, why will we become rich and famous. Then we have to come up with the how.

Nothing happens until we do something. The problem with positive self-talk is it often doesn’t lead anywhere. We leave out “the how”. If you want to build a house, first you have “a why”. You need a place to live, or you know other people need a place to live and if you build it, they will buy it. Once you have “your why”, you figure out “the how”. First, you will hire an architect or draw up the plans yourself. Get all the paperwork done to submit for your building permit. You don’t buy the windows before you have your plan.

Failing to plan is planning to fail. Do I have a plan? I’m promoting an unpublished novel. Am I putting the cart before the horse? I don’t know and as we go forward in life we never know where something will take us. If we waited until we knew where it would take us we would never do anything. I know more than one person has read my blog. I know most people will never read my blog or my book. I’m okay with that.

When I wrote my first novel; the one that’s in a binder behind my desk, I became a writer. The novel no one has seen but me. It is still one of my proudest achievements? It is writing that convoluted mess of 311 pages that made me believe; I could be a writer because I wrote. By any standard of literature, it is a failure. We have to be willing to fail bigger, fail better if we want success.

If we want to write, paint, quilt, publish a cookbook, record our song, build our house. What’s stopping us? There are a lot of dreams that never reach fruition. It’s a risk we take. Would we rather be the dreamer with a dream that fails or doesn’t reach its potential than die with our dream inside us?

Patience is not simply the ability to wait – it’s how we behave while we are waiting. Joyce Meyer

We don’t and often can’t know where something will lead. We start, and starting is half done. Take the step, and hope the bridge will be there. What’s the alternative? Don’t take the step and spend our lives wondering what if? What if we tried to get that song published? What if we published that book? What if we started that business? What if we asked that guy or girl for a date?

What if we say yes to life? What’s the worst that can happen? He or she rejects us, we’ve been rejected before. What if no one reads our book? What if they do? If we don’t write it we know for sure no one will read it, not even us. We don’t know what we can do until we do it. We have to get out of our own way and let what is in us come out, so we can see it.

Very few of us have original thoughts or will do original things. There is nothing new under the sun. We won’t paint an original painting, our painting is original, but the subject won’t be. The words aren’t original, if they were, we wouldn’t understand each other. Everything has been said before, it doesn’t mean we shouldn’t write. Words resonate with us because they are a truth we already know. That is part of their power.

Dare to dream, dare to do. Fail bigger, fail better. We have to risk failure to risk success. Is there something we’ve been putting off doing? Is now the time, is it now or never?

If you spend too much time thinking about a thing. You’ll never get it done. Bruce Lee

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Afformations: The Miracle of Positive Self-Talk

Aug 19, 2014

by Noah St. John and John Assaraf



Get it by Wednesday, Jul 25

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