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 It is worse when we are so numb, and withdrawn from our lives we don’t feel anything at all.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
by Byron Katie and Stephen Mitchell | Dec 23 2003
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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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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

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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

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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This messy magnificent life is ours to live, savor, enjoy. Life goes by fast so live a life with few regrets.

Life goes by fast so live a life with few regrets. This messy magnificent life is ours to live, savor, enjoy.

The memories we make with our family is everything. Candace Cameron Bure

Today is the first post I’ve written in eleven days. I’ve been visiting Mom, family and a dear friend from long ago. When you see people you don’t see on a regular basis you see how fast time really flies.

We were dewy-faced young women on the cusp of our lives. Now we are talking about retirement, what our kids are doing, long term marriages, and the travel we want to fit in.

The last time we met neither of us was married, our lives were ahead of us, and now most of our life is behind. We are both looking back on our lives, we didn’t know then what would or could be. We’ve both lived happy, contented lives filled with work and family. A happy life never means it was all happy, constantly contented, or not filled with angst at times.

What makes a happy life? Is it being rich, or famous? I think it’s our relationships that bring us peace and contentment. No matter how much we have, we can only eat so much, live in so much, and see so much of the world, but who we do those things with is what matters.

Families are messy, relationships are easy to fracture, feelings get hurt, and angst gets magnified. We need to forgive our self and others for the frailties of being human. We won’t always think before we speak, consider others before we do something, or think of the consequences of every action. Things will have to be overlooked if we are to have good relationships. If we hold on to every slight, miscommunication and awkward moment we can feel slighted at every turn.

Family is a unique gift that needs to be appreciated and treasured, even when they’re driving you crazy. As much as they make you mad, interrupt you, annoy you, curse at you, try to control you, these are the people who know you the best and who love you. Jenna Morasca

Life is short and we never know if those angry words are the last ones someone will hear. We never know when the last time we can all get together will be. We need to make the most of our opportunities. A phone call can change everything.

We can’t go back and fix everything; we can go forward and deal with the reality of what is. Can we be willing to be uncomfortable until we become comfortable with each other again? Can we overlook some hurts we’ve carried for too long? If we can let go of the burden of expecting people to be more than who they are, and let go of our unmet expectations, can we live in peace and be grateful for the people in our lives with all their frailties, missteps, and foibles?

Often they didn’t know what we expected; we didn’t know all they were going through. We need to let it go. Even if we can’t be warm and fuzzy with everyone, can we be civil and let the past go? It was what it was; our relationships don’t have to be perfect to be worth preserving and developing. If we discard every relationship that isn’t perfect we won’t have any relationships at all.

Is there anyone in our lives including ourselves we need to forgive? Are we the change that needs to happen to bring a fractured family together? Can we make it better, or will we become or remain bitter? This is our messy magnificent life, can we live it, and enjoy it with as few regrets as we can manage?

You don’t choose your family. They are God’s gift to you, as you are to them. Desmond Tutu

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Pro-activity beats reactivity. Not everything can be fixed. We need to know when to hold and when to fold.

We need to know when to hold and when to fold. Not everything can be fixed. Pro-activity beats reactivity.

Don’t approach life’s challenges by being “reactive” be “proactive.” Prepare for the possibilities before they arrive. Unknown

Today is the Sunday before I go visit Mom. I’ll be away for ten days and I’m putting up posts to be published the days I am away. My son asked me yesterday how many I had written. I said none.  He said, “Pro-activity beats reactivity.”

How many of us spend our lives reacting instead of being proactive? Often we don’t even know what proactive looked like until we have something we are reacting to. I’m renting a car while I’m visiting Mom, is it proactive to pay for the extra insurance so I don’t have to react if they say there is a larger than golf ball ding on the car?

Can we start looking for a job while we still have one when the news of layoffs hit? We can wait and maybe we will be safe, this time. Can we find a new job, retrain for something we aren’t likely to be laid off from, something we’ve always wanted to do, or start our own business. We can start a side hustle so we are not so dependent on our main income.

Can we exercise and eat well so we don’t have to react to bad health caused by poor diet and lack of exercise?

Our families need our time and attention so we don’t wake up one day and our relationships have fizzled, because something else was more important, or maybe it was just urgent. We have to be careful with letting the urgent but unimportant take up the time the important but not urgent requires.

We need to make time for friends even when there isn’t a lot of time for them, so when there is time, we still have friends.

Between stimulus and response, there’s a space, in that space lies our power to choose our response, in our response lies our growth and our freedom. Viktor Frankl

Life is a balancing act, the more balance we have the more stable our life is.

Last night my husband and I watched An Interview with God on Netflix a movie about a journalist who is interviewing God. It is thought-provoking leaving more questions than answers, but it answers two questions. Is there anything we can do God cannot forgive? No. Can everything in life be used for good? Yes. It also tells us we have more power than we think, and sometimes the miracle needed is us.

The big message is there are not always signs when people are in the depths of despair. The people themselves may not even realize how close they are to the edge until they look down the top of a building and think, “Why don’t I just jump?”

I’ve had people tell me they had those thoughts, and said to themselves, “What am I doing?” They went home and changed the situation that made them feel like ending it all.

That is being pro-active after they realize how reactive they are. When they got the wake-up call they acted. They turned their life around and started going in a new direction.

If we only react to what life throws at us, we might need to take a look and see if there weren’t signs we didn’t see or didn’t want to see. I was listening to a podcast the other day and the narrator was saying he was visiting someone whose dog was moaning. “What’s wrong with your dog?”

“He’s lying on a nail, but it doesn’t hurt enough for him to move.”

That is how we don’t want to be. When we know we have something to deal with, we shouldn’t wait until it gets to be a disaster before we change things. We need to find a way to be pro-active.

A flood has occurred not far from here because of ice jamming. They’ve been watching it, thinking there could be a problem but nothing was done. When the problem occurred it was fast and furious, now many families are out of their homes because of flooding. Could some pro-active measure been taken?

None of us will live a life where we are pro-active in every situation. We won’t even know how often we were because disaster prevented doesn’t strike.

If we have situations in our life that are like the dog and the nail we need to take a good look at them. Can something be done to make them better? Do we have to live with an uncomfortable reality? Not everything can be fixed, we need to learn and discern when to hold, and when to fold.

 There are three types of people. People who make things happen. People who watch things happen. People who wonder what happened. Unknown

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Seven Habits of Highly Effective People/Cassettes Audio Cassette – Jun 1991

Life is a balancing act. How many balls can we keep in the air?

How many balls can we keep in the air? Life is a balancing act.

Balance, peace, and joy are the fruit of a successful life. It starts with recognizing your talents and finding ways to serve others using them. Thomas Kinkade

Today is Writer’s Group. A friend and I spend half a day with likeminded people discussing all things – about writing. Getting paid for our writing is one of the things we are discussing today.

On Thursday a fellow Toastmaster and I were discussing how being in Toastmasters is like having another family of people supporting us, our ambitions, growth, and dreams.

There is power in belonging to groups. One of the pitfalls is becoming so enmeshed in the group we forget about the family waiting for us. The group energizes us, so we have more to give our family.

We are pulled in different directions. Balance is the key, balance is hard. The key to our life is keeping all our balls in the air, and that takes balance. I don’t think life is so fun if we put all our energy into our social life and don’t give energy to our family life. If we have no one to share our successes with they won’t feel like such big successes.

If we spend all our time with our families none of our outside dreams come true. We feel we didn’t accomplish our dreams, we didn’t venture outside, and we didn’t reach our potential. We aren’t all we “could” be.

One of the things I hate more than anything else is waiting for people. If we have a busy day, and we want to fit some time in with our husband or wife we should schedule it before we leave. Then they know they can go about their business and meet us somewhere or be back home at the appointed time.

I grew up without a phone, people would drop in. I don’t mind people dropping in. What I mind is if they tell us they might drop in, and we wait all day, get something prepared for them, and they don’t even drop in. Dropping in by definition is not planned. Either drop in or schedule something. Am I alone on this?

Problems arise in that one has to find a balance between what people need form you and what you need for yourself. Jessye Norman

My husband and I usually go out for coffee. My friend and I who are attending the Writers Group like to chat. We can talk away an afternoon, sitting in the car outside her house. I’ve made a date with my husband for coffee this afternoon. She and I can talk, but we have a deadline. Balance isn’t that hard if we are willing to schedule, make plans, set deadlines, and say no to activities that start to infringe on family time.

Last month I could have gone bowling and then lunch after my Writers Group, with Toastmaster buddies. I declined thinking that was too much to fit into my Saturday.

It is easy when we work from home to let work take over all areas of our life. It has at times totally consumed ours. We set work hours; we don’t answer the phone before or after work hours. We don’t take business calls or have appointments on the weekend. If we don’t set the limits, there are none. Some clients will say, “You can call me anytime.” Some businesses require you to be on call 24/7, ours does not.

It may not be easy to figure out where we need to bring balance into our lives. Bringing that balance into our lives may be even harder. It is worth doing, what seems balanced now, may not seem balanced in the future.

If we work with, live with, and are married to someone we need to take their needs, wants, expectations, and desires into consideration. Building a life that works for everyone is the goal. Will it be perfect, not likely? Is it tweakable? Tweaking is likely to be required as we go through life.

Are there areas in our life that need to be balanced? Is it time to spring clean our life, our schedules, and figure out the important from the urgent “what consumes our time but isn’t really important in the grand scheme of things?”

 The key to keeping your balance is knowing when you’ve lost it. Anonymous

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Marriage and family it doesn’t get more complicated than this.

It doesn't get more complicated than marriage and family.

Wanna hear the most beautiful, complicated, perfectly imperfect word I know, family. Oprah Winfrey

The family is everything Oprah said, and more. When you grow up in a family you think everyone else’s family is more or less like your own. We all think we live in an ordinary family. This is why bad things that happen in families are normalized, and so are extraordinary things.

Some people live in close proximity to their family members; that implies they are close, but it is not always true. Those of us who live far away from our families know there is distance, and then there is distant. We may be far away but very close, and we may be close but very distant.

We have close families where everything and everyone’s business is up for discussion. Other families are closed to talking about personal subjects. Important things may not get discussed. Are these the families where the elephants in the living room bump into each other?

The one thing we know is, no family is perfect. Our families are made up of imperfect people, so how can they be perfect? The worst thing to do is to pretend to be perfect, instead of embracing ourselves warts and all. We are what we are, mistakes were made, we tried to do our best, most of the time. Maybe we pretended to do our best and won’t acknowledge our shortcomings. Some people have a whole different side of themselves they never revealed to those they love. We hear about children learning their father was a serial killer. How do they square that with the loving father they knew?

It can be very hard if our parents cannot accept us for what we are. They wanted high achieving career oriented children. They wanted family-oriented children. Sometimes it seems we can’t please others. The truth is we can’t, we can be the best we can be, and we will fall short of our own expectations as well. We will make mistakes, sometimes the mistakes will be cheap, and sometimes they will be costly. What we learn from our mistakes are lessons we could probably learn no other way.

It might have been easier when families were large. Expectations of each child were smaller. Now we only have one or two children, and we pin all our hopes and dreams on them.

It’s a burden they might not be able to bear. Their idea of success and ours might be completely different. We may feel they need to stay close. They may feel the need to spread their wings and move to far-flung places.

Our children need to find their way, as we found ours, or didn’t in some cases. We made our missteps, and they will make theirs. The love we have for our family is not supposed to be conditional. When I think of some of the terrible choices made by people, how do the choices not affect the relationship?

Marriage, families, all relationships are more a process of learning the dance rather than finding the right dancer. Unknown

One of my nephews says “we love them cause their kin.” He’s right; we wish we could be proud of them. We often hear the expression, “every family has them.” They mean of course the person struggling with the “isms”. They might suffer from alcoholism, drug addiction, mental health, gambling, anger problems, criminality etc. We wish they would get help, overcome, make better choices, and maybe they will.

Really smart people misbehave in maladaptive ways that can’t lead to anything but a life of ruin, and dysfunction. We may hate the choices they make, but we need to try to love the sinner but not the sin so to speak. If we only love our family members when they are on the right track, what kind of love is that?

We create our families with rose-colored glasses, as we stand at the altar or move in with one another. It is the beginning of a new family, but we are tied to the family we were born into with all that entails. Life is messy, crazy, and stressful.

In the book The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F*ck the author Mark Manson says “The problems in our romantic relationships always eerily resemble the problems in our parent’s relationship.”

Wow, do we even know what was going on in our parent’s marriage thirty years ago? Are undercurrents somehow bubbling up in our relationships and we don’t recognise where they are coming from and that is the problem? These situations are generational. How are we to deal if this is indeed part of the problem?

Is this how the sins of the father are brought down the generations? Do we unknowingly recreate patterns we saw played out in our family of origin and bring them to the family we are building?  We may not even realise what the cause of the angst in our life is. We don’t understand why some things affect us the way they do. If things aren’t what they seem, could we be viewing them through a lens coloured by our parent’s relationship?

How is a spouse to deal with this? As the dysfunctions of each family of origin play out in our marriage, how could it be anything but messy, some of the time? Wherever we go, there we are, we can’t leave our families behind for good or ill. We take them with us and we work through the issues or we don’t. Life is so much more complicated than it seems.

Is creating lasting relationships both the challenge and the reward of a life well lived?

Family is like music, some high notes, some low notes, but always a beautiful song. Unknown

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Art is life, life is art. We are creative if we are living. Quit comparing the worst of yourself to the best of someone else.

Art is life, life is art. Quit comparing the worst of yourself to the best of someone else.

Life is creation – self and circumstances, the raw material. Dorothy Richardson

Yesterday was the grand opening of a new Indigo. My husband and I checked it out. They had a Tarot card reader and I wanted to get my Tarot cards read. The line was closed, but if she could take one more, I would be the one. I hung around looking at books but in the end, she went overtime finishing the line, and I went home without my Tarot read. It might be for the best, what if she told me something I don’t want to hear?

While I was waiting I read most of a small book Art Matters by Neil Gaiman. He talks about why we should make art, the importance of reading and libraries, and why we shouldn’t make doing it for money our priority.

The author says he wrote his first book and he got enough money for a typewriter and a few months of rent. He wrote the book with the primary goal of making money. The publisher went bankrupt before his book was published. He still had the typewriter and a lesson. Never make art just for the money, because if you don’t make money you don’t get anything. Make art, whatever type for you, for the joy of doing it, because it feeds your soul, by all means, make money, but don’t put the money first.

We don’t always profit from our ventures, especially if the only profit is money. If it is worth doing even if we don’t make money, we have already won just by doing it.

Even if I never make money from my novel it has been worth it to me. The journey and it’s been a journey of learning, growing, and developing has been totally worth it.  I have won because I wrote it. My thoughts are on paper, and a few people have read it and given me positive feedback. I am especially grateful I have been able to give my mother two versions of it.

An artist should never be a prisoner of himself, prisoner of style, prisoner of reputation, prisoner of success. Henri Matisse

Life is what we make it, and part of life is what we make. Our greatest creations are of course our children. All other creations are also expressions of who we are, what we think, feel, hope and long for, the disappointments, lessons, and what we’ve learned along the way.

Art of any kind helps us through the dark periods in our life. Art therapy is a real thing. Artistic pursuits are varied, gardening is both an art and a science, it feeds us spiritually and physically. Few forms of art are as useful as gardening. An indoor garden improves our air quality and our mood. Greener cities have less crime. Greener offices have happier employees.

In a movie about characters in rehab, they were counseled when they left the facility first to get a plant. If they could keep the plant alive for a year, then they were counseled to get a dog.

It doesn’t matter what type of art we do. It doesn’t matter if we feel it is art. What matters is that we live our lives with meaning and purpose. Can we enjoy the art of the every-day? Making a good soup is a work of art. Cooking, making our homes more welcoming, planting seeds. We often think artful living is for someone else. We think a lot of money is needed.

Can we be careful to not compare ourselves to other people, what they are doing, accomplishing, displaying? We compare the worst of ourselves to the best of someone else and of course find our self wanting. Especially on social media, it is easy to do this. What do people post, only the best of themselves?

Our art can be just another way to compare our self and find our self wanting. We need to make peace with our self, our choices, the path our life has taken and find joy, happiness, and meaning in what is.

Our book may never have a wide audience; it may never even be published by a recognized publisher. It may never make it to the wider world at all. Even if it remains a private endeavor it is still worth doing. Our art may never be displayed anywhere but in our own home. Some of us won’t even display our artwork in our home. It is still worth doing!

Perfection is the enemy of the good. We need to be kind to our self, enjoy our creations, do it for the love of doing it. Money is not the only measure of art; it might not be any measure at all. Success at art brings its own set of problems we are told. We begin to feel like a fraud if they only knew the real us, we would no longer be considered a successful…

Enjoy what is, your talents, circumstances, art, life, creations, and environment. Can we be grateful for all we have in our lives, the good, the bad, the things we wish we could change, and the things we can?

Tell your own story, and you will be interesting. Louise Bourgeois

I have already settled it for myself so flattery and criticism go down the same drain and I am quite free. Georgia O’Keeffe

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