Planting what we want to reap. Making things better. Bringing the worst out in people.

Bringing the worst out in people. Making things better. Planting what we want to reap.

Painting by Belynda Wilson Thomas

You always reap what you sow; there is no shortcut. Stephen Covey

Yesterday was a day of April showers. The spring bulbs are up and the Star Magnolias are blooming in all their glory. This is my favorite time of year and my cousin who lives in California was telling Mom her spring starts in January. That sounds perfect, but spring whenever it comes is welcome.

I was reading about a word for green called “Dog Barking Green” because even the dogs are happy to see the new shoots that come with spring. Don’t our hearts lighten in spring? Wasn’t it terrifying when we watched Game of Thrones and winter was always coming and they didn’t know how long it would last? Years went by without winter and then when winter came they didn’t know how long they had to be prepared for and it seemed they were never prepared enough. How could we prepare for a winter we didn’t know when would end?

It is easy to think things should be different. It is not easy to know what is the difference that makes things better instead of worse. In our hubris, we think we know. Some of us think it would be better if we got back to normal. We think decisions being made are not the right ones. Some of us think the cure is worse than what we are being saved from.

The load some are being asked to bear is more than is reasonable. No matter what happens in life there are always some who do well and some who do worse. As they say, there is never an ill wind that doesn’t do somebody some good. It is easy to get sucked into rhetoric on either side. The middle view is so much less attractive it seems and yet when we live our lives in the middle isn’t that when life works the best.

When you act within the darkness of lies and untruth you attract experiences towards yourself that are equally as disturbing. Unknown

I digress, what about spring because spring is what we need. New beginnings, new expectations, and new directions always seem so great but we don’t always like where new directions lead us. Who do we trust for our information, who do we trust for news? We think we don’t know the whole story about anything and those who want us to believe their side, tell us what they think will convince us they are right.

What seeds are we planting? What germinates will grow. What we tend will flourish but is what flourishes what we want to harvest? My son put it succinctly last night: when we are individualists we take the power and control we have and we can live our lives in a way to bring about the best results. When we are waiting for someone else to fix things we have given up our power and even if they do fix things, will they fix things to our satisfaction? Isn’t it better to use our own power to build our own lives?

People looking to profit off of others, is real, but can we live our lives in a way to keep ourselves out of the clutches of such people? We may do our best and still come into the clutches of some, but if we take control of our lives we can often overcome mistakes and missteps. Expecting society to change so there are never people looking to take advantage of, step on, or just be mean and nasty doesn’t seem reasonable.

How do we make routine traffic stops not turn into fatalities? Most of them do not and we need to remember this even though too many that do are in the news. I think of my dog when we are out for a walk. She reacts to very few dogs, but some of them elicit a response I don’t understand. My little twelve-pound cock-a-poo is agitated and snarling, sometimes at a dog that with one bite would snap her in half. What brings this on? Does the same thing happen to people?

Is there a way to plant what we want to reap and ensure a peaceful outcome to routine events that scare us?

Those who expect to reap the blessings of freedom must, like men, undergo the fatigue of supporting it. Thomas Paine

The less you respond to negative people, the more peaceful your life will become. Unknown

The good deed and the evil deed cannot be equal. Repel the evil with one which is better, then verily he, between whom and you there was enmity, (will become) as though he was a close friend. (Quran, 41:34)

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Secrets and Silence: What if your biggest secret became public? Paperback – Large Print, Aug. 29 2020

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Be the creator of your own life. Focus on what you want, not on what you don’t want.

Focus on what you want, not on what you don't want. Be the creator of your own life.

Painting by Belynda Wilson Thomas

Creativity is contagious. Pass it on. Albert Einstein

Are we building the life we want by being creators, or are we reacting to the problems we see? How many of us think if we can just solve the problem our life will be better?

Problem-solving is taking action to have something go away. Creating is taking action to have something come into being.

This is the difference between focusing on the problems and focusing on creating what we want. We are focusing on what we think are the ills of society. Are we putting as much into focusing on what we want our society to be as what we don’t want it to be? We know that sometimes we have to do things in the midst of a problem like hunger for instance. Giving food to people in a famine does help but it doesn’t provide food security which is what they need.

The problem with problem-solving as our main way of doing things is even when we are successful we now have the absence of the problem but we do not have the creation of something we wanted.

If we have a problem with weeds in our garden we can pull the weeds but we have not created a beautiful garden just by pulling the weeds. To create a beautiful garden we will have to plant the garden we want and tend it and it can become the masterpiece we create.

We seem to be very good at knowing what we don’t want, are we as good at knowing what we do want? Have you ever gone into the kitchen knowing what you don’t want to eat but if you can’t figure out what you do want or what you will make nothing happens? My husband knows he doesn’t like celery in his soup (or anything else). It doesn’t answer the question, what does he want?

The more we answer the question “What do we want” instead of focusing on what we don’t want the better our life will be. We can create what we want, or at least try. We may hate our job, it’s easy to quit a job, but did that solve the problem or just give us a new and worse problem? What do we want, a new job, a business? Then we need to know what kind of job, or what kind of business? Could we perhaps get a job that would pay our bills and create a business part-time that will feed our spirit? Now we have a win/win we are creating a life, maybe a life we will love.

It is a sobering thought to realize we are spending our time focusing on the wrong things. How much time do we spend thinking if I could just fix that problem? But, fixing that problem is not what we want, we need to focus on what we want and we may think getting rid of things like problems is what we want but really don’t we want to build and create the life we want.

Accept responsibility for your life. Know that it is you who will get you where you want to go, no one else. Les Brown

Is it true that the more we focus on problems the more problems we get? What difference would it make in our lives if we became builders of our lives instead of problem solvers in our lives? What if we build a happy family instead of trying to fix the problems which we may always have to deal with? We will never see things the same, there will always be challenges, but as we build what we want those differences will not be as important as what we create. We will always have problems but focusing on fixing problems seldom leads to final success.

In fact, focusing on our problems often leads to a problem cycle:

The problem leads to action to solve the problem, which leads to less intensity of the problem, which leads to less reaction to the problem, which leads to the problem remaining, and the cycle continues.  

This is the life cycle of problems. Many of us pride ourselves on our problem-solving abilities. We may even call ourselves creative problem solvers. Problem-solving can be distracting at the same time it gives us the illusion we are doing something crucial and important.

One of the things we are fighting about is if we don’t see the same problem, or the same solution to that problem. How heartless are we if we don’t care about someone else’s pet cause, and how heartless when they don’t care about ours? We can feel the romance of being the individual against the elements, the machine, big government, injustice, inequality, racism, sexism, the division between rich and poor, global warming, and there are more. We certainly have enough problems that everyone can find a noble cause to make them feel good.

Problem-solving gives us a false sense of security. If we didn’t have these big problems to focus on what would we think about, what would we talk about, and how would we let people know how noble we are? Instead of asking ourselves what problems do we want to solve? What if we asked ourselves what do we want to create? If we get more of what we focus on and we focus on problems are we getting more problems to focus on? What if we focus on creating the life we want, we focus on our circle of influence, and as we create the life we want our circle of influence enlarges. What if this is better than focusing on our problems? What if this is what is behind the saying, “Give a man a fish and he will eat for today, teach a man to fish and he will eat for a lifetime.”

Imagination and creativity can change the world. Unknown

Creativity is the power to connect the seemingly unconnected. William Plomer

The only way to discover the limits of the possible is to go beyond them into the impossible. Arthur C. Clark

Thank you for reading this post. I hope you enjoyed it. I hope you will come back and read again. Have a blessed life filled with gratitude, joy, and love.

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Change your thoughts and you change your world. Are our thoughts making our lives better or worse?

Are our thoughts making our lives better or worse? Change your thoughts and you change your world.

Painting by Belynda Wilson Thomas

Positive anything is better than negative nothing. Elbert Hubbard

How should we start our day is an important question? If we start it complaining we might complain all day. There is a story in the book, “A Complaint Free World.” A stranger shows up in a town he stops at the Shopkeeper’s shop asking for food and lodging and they turn him away. He stops at the poor Baker’s bakery and the Baker makes him a meager dinner and gives him his bed to sleep in.

The next morning the stranger gives thanks to the baker and tells him, “Whatever you do first this day you will continue all day.” The Baker is unsure of the meaning of this strange comment, but he starts baking a cake for the stranger to take with him using up his meager supplies. As he uses up two eggs, four more appear, as he used the last of the flour more appears. Overjoyed at his good luck he starts baking all manner of delicacies and customers line up to purchase his creations. In the evening tired and happy, and his cash register overflowing, the Baker is approached by the miserly Shopkeeper.

“How did you get so many customers today?” the Shopkeeper demands. The Baker shares his story of the stranger and his strange blessing in the morning. The Shopkeeper and his wife run after the man they had refused to help the night before. “Gentle Sir,” they say. “Please forgive our rudeness last night. We must have been out of our heads not to help you. Please allow us to share our hospitality with you.” Without a word, the man joins them back on the road to town.

When they arrive at the Shopkeepers’ home a sumptuous meal is prepared. He sleeps in a luxurious room. The next morning the Shopkeeper and his wife are bouncing in anticipation of the blessing to be bestowed upon them. Sure enough, the stranger thanks them and says, “Whatsoever you do first this morning, you will continue all day.” The Shopkeeper and his wife rush to their store. Expecting a large number of customers for the day, the Shopkeeper grabs the broom and begins to sweep the floor, the wife counts the change in the till. He sweeps and she counts. She counts and he sweeps. Try as they might they cannot quit counting and sweeping until the day is done.

Both the Baker and the Shopkeeper received the same blessing. The Baker starts his day in a positive and generous way and receives great abundance. The Shopkeeper starts his day in a negative and self-serving way and derives nothing. The blessing is neutral. Our ability to create our lives is neutral. We need to use it however we wish knowing we will reap what we sow.

It’s your thoughts behind the words you speak that create your attitude. Jeffrey Gitomer

It is hard, but we need to remember when people lash out at us it is their hurt they are projecting onto us. We need to be careful we in turn don’t inflict this on someone else and the cycle goes round and round until the last person on the receiving end is lashing out at a helpless child or animal.  

People attempt to hurt others because they are hurting. Sometimes instead of taking hurtful words personally can we understand the hurt behind the words and treat them with understanding? We cannot live in peace if we allow someone else’s negativity to affect our lives and turn us into a negative force as well. Are we finding a positive, grateful way to start our day that sets the tone for the rest of it? Perhaps this is why we greet each other with, “Good Morning.” A good morning leads to a good afternoon, which leads to a good evening resulting in a good day.

One of the worst quotes I’ve seen is, “My attitude is a result of your actions! So if you don’t like my attitude blame yourself.” Even if it is true, expecting someone else to change instead of ourselves is giving our power away.  We can’t turn someone else into a positive person and it is their negativity getting us down, isn’t it? Telling someone else they need an attitude adjustment in my experience never works but telling ourselves we need one, might. It won’t work every time. It is hard to ignore buttons that get pushed by master button pushers, but over time we can think about why those buttons get pushed so easily.

We are often hurt when someone calls us selfish, but what if we didn’t take our own interests into account? That is how we get used and abused not standing up for ourselves, not knowing when to say no, not having enough self-interest in our own lives to build it in a positive manner. Living a good life, full of self-interest is making life better for everyone because when everyone lives a better life so do we.

I was thinking about the small town ten miles from where I grew up. The amount of work it must have taken to create the services that were there for us kids growing up? When someone raised funds to build something that would help their kids they also helped other kids. Many parents coach teams so their children can be on one. What they do to help their kids, helps many kids.  Often this is self-interest and community service rolled into one. What if one of the most selfish things we do is help other people because we are in turn helped? What if giving to get is how the world works. It isn’t about us not getting, it is that we help others to get, and they, in turn, help us to receive. The more we help others to get what they want the more we will get what we want. What if changing our thoughts can change our lives?

Our attitude towards life determines life’s attitude towards us. Earl Nightingale

Never whine, never complain, never try to justify yourself. Robert Greene     

Watch your thoughts; they become words. Watch your words; they become actions. Watch your actions; they become habits. Watch your habits, they become character. Watch your character; it becomes your destiny. Lao Tzu

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Change Your Thoughts – Change Your Life: Living the Wisdom of the Tao Paperback – Illustrated, Jan. 1 2009

by Wayne W. Dr. Dyer (Author)4.7 out of 5 stars 2,257 ratings


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Is complaining attracting what we say we don’t want? Is positive prophecy a better way forward?

Is positive prophecy a better way forward? Is complaining attracting what we don't want?

Painting by Belynda Wilson Thomas

All you can change is yourself, but sometimes that changes everything. Gary W. Goldstein.

Are we getting what we focus on? Is what we are complaining about showing up in our lives as if we ordered it. I’ll have one of those horrible things, and another helping of unhappiness with pain and suffering for desert. We build our own lives we are told but only the successful admit it.

On Saturday I perused the book isles of Value Village and found a book “A Complaint Free World” by Will Bowen. He suggests we make a commitment to going complaint-free for twenty-one days. Is that even doable? No complaints at all! He says he finally got there and one of the tools he used was a rubber bracelet he moved from wrist to wrist every time he caught himself voicing a complaint.

I found a purple rubber band and put it on my wrist yesterday. I was doing pretty well because I went for a walk with my dog. I painted in my studio but the challenge isn’t when we spend time alone it is when we are with other people. At dinner, I even managed to not complain (I mean I didn’t notice any), but after dinner was another story.

My son, his fiancé, and I talked about, “The Royals.” All we were doing was complaining about people who were complaining.

Am I sure we should never complain?  I was listening to Jordan B. Peterson’s book yesterday on my walk, “Beyond Order.” He talks about not hiding things in the fog. We don’t address things because we don’t want to face the ramifications of confronting a problem head-on. It may be complaining when we address things but one of the things we need to do is know when we address something what do we want the outcome to be. Often, this is why we don’t address things. What is the outcome we want? This is the answer we don’t have and this is what we should work out in our own mind.

Martin Luther King’s, “I Have a Dream” speech was not a complaint. He painted a bright and vivid picture of the change he hoped to see. When we paint a picture of a problem already solved that is not a complaint it is a prophecy of better. What if we brought forward positive prophecies, instead of complaints into our world?

Change your thoughts and you change your life. Norman Vincent Peale

My life as an experiment continues as I focus on what I want instead of on what I don’t want. As I think back over my life knowing what I wanted wasn’t always easy. Sometimes it was easier to drift along because if I stated what I wanted even in my own mind it looked like work. It would be work I was responsible for doing to create the life I stated I wanted. For years I didn’t state I wanted to be a writer because then I would have to step up and write.

When we say we want something we are now responsible for making it happen. It seems daunting but it is also exciting to take charge of our own lives and direct the outcome of our actions. We don’t know what something will become when we start it, but we know if we don’t start it will never be anything.

What are the seeds we are planting in our lives? Are we planting complaints, judgment, disrespect, hopelessness or are we planting encouragement, positive prophecy, respect, and acceptance of what is as we try to build what might be?

We become what we think about. Earl Nightingale

The highest possible stage in moral culture is when we recognize that we ought to control our thoughts. Charles Darwin

Why are we Masters of our fate, the captains of our soul? Because we have the power to control our thoughts. Alfred A. Montapert

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A Complaint Free World: How to Stop Complaining and Start Enjoying the Life You Always Wanted Paperback – Feb. 5 2013

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Secrets and Silence: What if your biggest secret became public? Paperback – Large Print, Aug. 29 2020

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Order and chaos finding the balance. Gratitude may be what makes the biggest difference in our life.

Gratitude may be what makes the biggest difference in our life. Order and chaos finding the balance.

Painting by Belynda Wilson Thomas

Trade your expectations for appreciation and your whole world changes in an instant. Tony Robbins

I’ve started listening to Jordan Peterson’s book, “Beyond Order” and reading “The Tipping Point” by Malcolm Gladwell. Jordan Peterson says, “We think we know how to make things better but we often don’t.” Malcolm Gladwell says, “Even when things get better we often don’t know why they improved.”

One of the things that Malcolm Gladwell talks about is how “Fixing the broken window syndrome” in New York City fixed a lot of problems. When we create order out of disorder we make things better. He says when people live in chaos they internalize it and it affects them in ways they don’t even recognize.

During an experiment conducted where volunteers agreed to play the part of prisoners in a makeshift prison or be guards through random draws. The situation degraded quickly. Jordan Peterson tells us we should never believe we are above acting in the most horrific of ways. This also means we are not below acting in the best ways and our environment is more important than we may think.

Sometimes we have control over our environment and sometimes we do not. The outcome of children in a chaotic environment with a strong family is not likely to be as good as the children from a weak family in a good environment. If we live in a society that works we have a lot to be grateful for. It is not something to be taken for granted because it can devolve into something horrible and building it back up again may not be easy.

When we hear about people who have elevated schools, communities, and countries they usually bring about order out of chaos. Discipline, diligence, neatness, and cleanliness, become important. I remember going to school in the early grades and we had to put our hands on our hankie and show our fingernails were clean every morning. What a long time ago that was. Our schools are still orderly and we may lament they aren’t how they used to be but our school system for the most part works and we should be grateful. One of the things Jordan Peterson stresses is we should be grateful for what works in our lives and we should be careful we don’t make things worse with our zeal to make things better.

As we express our gratitude, we must never forget that the highest appreciation is not to utter words, but to live by them. John F. Kennedy

We may ask ourselves what would make our society better. We often say we need more equal outcomes. What if there will never be equal outcomes but we can do our best to offer equal opportunities. We know we can’t offer poor kids the opportunities rich kids have. What poor kids have, that rich kids often can’t have is the opportunity to elevate themselves above where they were born. This is an accomplishment only those who can attain more than their parents have, can aspire to.

There is a point above which more will not help us lead a better life. If we are fortunate enough to live at that place where we live in peace and plenty we should be grateful for everyone that has built our society. Our society is not perfect; do we even know what a perfect society would look like? Whose idea of perfection do we go with?

What if we are always trying to balance order and chaos? If we have too much order then creativity is missing, too much chaos and we don’t have a society that works. We can’t count on services being there for us because it takes order for buses to show up at bus stops and schools to be open, clean, and safe. The supply chain that keeps our stores stocked is an amazing accomplishment.

People sometimes complain when gentrification occurs in neighborhoods. The mess gets cleaned up, windows are no longer boarded and the neighborhood becomes safe again. It is no longer a cheap place to live. We are always in a cycle of rebirth and decay. It happens in our own lives, our homes, neighborhoods, and cities.

We may look back and think a moment in time was perfection, and it might have been but change is always coming. New houses become old houses; new generations of children take their place in society. Nothing can stay the same no matter how much we may wish we could hold onto the perfect moments in our lives. We have to let go of where we are to embrace what is coming even if what is coming isn’t what we want because we think our best times are behind us.

If we can enjoy where we are in life, the blessings we have, the opportunities in front of us instead of lamenting about the ones in the past we will live a better life.

Maybe all we can do in our lives is ask ourselves do we need more order or more chaos to have a more balanced life. Are we too creative/chaotic and we aren’t taking care of the other parts of our life, or are we too ordered with no creativity? Is life about as good as it gets and we are too blind and ungrateful to see how blessed we are?

Gratitude makes sense of your past, brings peace for today, and creates a vision for tomorrow. Melody Beattie

To speak gratitude is courteous and pleasant, to enact gratitude is generous and noble, but to live gratitude is to touch heaven. Johannes Gaertner

Gratitude turns what we have into enough. Aesop

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Thanks!: How Practicing Gratitude Can Make You Happier Paperback – Illustrated, Nov. 6 2008

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Secrets and Silence: What if your biggest secret became public? Paperback – Large Print, Aug. 29 2020

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Be a Doer. Make something happen. Be ready to take advantage of opportunities when they present themselves.

Make something happen. Be ready to take advantage of opportunities when they present themselves. Be a doer.

Painting by Belynda Wilson Thomas

The world needs dreamers, and the world needs doers. But above all. The world needs dreamers who do. Sarah Ban Breathnach

January has a reputation for not being our favorite month. After we’ve popped the champagne and brought in the New Year we look at ourselves and shrug our shoulders, “Now what?” This year we may be thinking it even more so. One of the things we can do to give ourselves and our life a lift is to declutter and energize our space.

My husband and I have been putting off a big project. We wallpapered our kitchen about twenty-six years ago and loved it. But, twenty-six-year-old wallpaper is well, as my daughter says, “So passé. It’s time for a refresh and you should paint the cabinets too because they are so out of date.”

If you have never taken off wallpaper it is not for the faint of heart. A week ago on Sunday, I said to my husband, “Are you sure, because once I tear that first strip, we are committed.” I only wish it came off in strips but it comes off in bits. It is a meditative process, and it isn’t the worst way I’ve spent parts of a January. Seeing the wallpaper give way to the white beneath and what will eventually be a lovely fresh yellow kitchen feels like progress.

I’ve even made up my mind to tackle the powder room wallpaper next and the hall wallpaper after that. This is a project professionals would do better but right now that presents a few problems. The satisfaction of doing it ourselves is going to be worth it. My fingernails are taking a real beating as they are my best tool for prying off the wallpaper along with a sponge and Dif solution.

Thinkers think and doers do. But until the thinkers do and doers think, progress will be just another word in the already overburdened vocabulary by sense. Francois de La Rocheloucauld

It takes a lot to start but as they say, starting is half done. Once we are in the middle of a project it is easier to keep going than it is thinking about what it entails before we start. Once the house is in this much of a mess over one room why stop until we’ve looked after all the areas we want to? There is nothing like a new coat of paint to refresh our surroundings. When I saw what one of my friends did with her kitchen I made up my mind to do the same. When my husband saw her kitchen he was sold on the idea too. It has taken us quite a while to actually get ready to do it, but here we are in the midst of it.

What is it that brings us to the point of taking the next step? We can know we need to do something, and even want to do it but something holds us back. One thing that works is setting a date. We said we would do it in January and then the date was upon us and we started. It’s one of the reasons dieters start a new diet on Monday. The problem with that strategy is if we have to diet. We need to adopt a lifestyle to get and keep in shape, to be at the weight our body is comfortable at, which might not be the one we prefer.

If we are going to make anything happen in our life we have to be one of the “Doers.” Nothing happens until someone does something. If that someone isn’t us then we are waiting for other people to tell us what is going to happen in our lives. There is little security in life, but the security there is, comes from the ability we have to shape our lives, roll with the punches, and be in a position to say yes or no to opportunities or circumstances.

Is there something in your life you’d like to tackle? What is holding you back?

A lot of people have ideas, but there are few who decide to do something about them now. Not tomorrow. Not next week. But today. The true entrepreneur is a doer, not a dreamer. Nolan Bushnell

A non-doer is very often a critic, that is someone who sits back and watches doers, and then waxes philosophically about how the doers are doing. It’s easy to be a critic, but being a doer requires effort, risk, and change. Wayne Dyer

Be both a speaker of words and a doer of deeds. Homer

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

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30 Days – Change your habits, Change your life: A couple of simple steps every day to create the life you want Paperback – Oct. 15 2014

by Marc Reklau  (Author)4.3 out of 5 stars 736 ratingsBook 1 of 8 

Secrets and Silence: What if your biggest secret became public? by [Belynda Wilson Thomas]

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Standing strong and owning our stories. Are we the hero of our own life?

Are we the hero of our own life? Standing strong and owning our stories.

Painting by Belynda Wilson Thomas

You either walk inside your story and own it or you stand outside your story and hustle for your worthiness. Brene Brown

Aren’t the new days of New Year’s filled with big plans? We call them resolutions and we make them in our mind even if we aren’t willing to say them out loud. This is the year we are going to… One of the problems with resolutions is when we get right down to it they are about two things, work and change. If things are going to be different, something has to change.

One of the problems most of us have why we don’t follow through on our resolutions is we don’t break them down into “SMART” goals, specific, measurable, achievable, realistic, and timely. The other problem is, we overestimate what we can do in one year, and underestimate what we can do in ten years.

Some of the time it seems we treat everyone around us better than ourselves. We understand other people not meeting their goals but we berate ourselves. We tell ourselves we have no discipline, we don’t persevere, and we aren’t the achievers of the world. Is that any way to talk to someone we love?

Often there is no one we criticize more than ourselves. We tell ourselves, I won’t do that, I won’t do that, and then we find ourselves doing that thing again. What if we are telling ourselves the wrong thing? What is the thing we do want to do instead of the thing we don’t want to do?

We won’t get up late again becomes, we will get up when the alarm rings. We won’t be so hungry we eat the whole bag of chips becomes we will eat prepared meals at mealtime, and we will have healthy snacks on hand. We won’t waste our evenings watching TV, becomes we will write, paint, dance, sing, play an instrument, go for a walk or whatever activity we want to do in the evening. We need to quit telling ourselves all the negative things we don’t want to do and start telling ourselves the positive things we do want to do. We need to quit setting ourselves up for failure.

Why do we set ourselves up for failure? There must be a payoff. The payoff might be, if we never do this thing we say we must do, then we never have to face something else. One day I was listening to a very accomplished woman on YouTube. She said, “Don’t think I’m special, because when you do, it means you don’t expect as much from yourself.” When we tell ourselves that person is “Special” they are so talented, they are so lucky, smart, etc. We are giving ourselves an excuse to not step up in our own lives and make our own dreams come true. It is true there are talented people out there, but perseverance often outweighs talent.

Loving ourselves through the process of owning our story is the bravest thing we’ll ever do. Brene Brown

We sell ourselves short when we think other people are so much more than us, but it takes the pressure off because we tell ourselves we can’t, instead of we aren’t. What could we do, if we decided to do it? What is the, “It” in our life? The “It” that when we accomplish it we feel we have hit a milestone in our life we can be proud of.

For me, that was publishing my novel “Secrets and Silence.” Is it the best book ever written? Absolutely not, but it is published and available for purchase as a print and Ebook, or read as a Kindle Unlimited subscriber. I wanted to write my whole life, then why has it taken me this long to publish a novel? Why when I wrote my first novel starting October 9, 2000, and wrote 85,000 words did I put it away and never consider editing it to become publishable? It is a convoluted mess I am proud of, but I haven’t done anything with it. I am actually more proud of it than the one I published because it started me off as a writer. A writer that wrote almost every day, and a writer that persevered to the end of a first draft.

Editing that novel would have meant I had to put myself out there. I had to call myself a writer and have people read my work and judge it. Why have I been so hard on myself? I have twenty years of being a writer behind me even though I only published one novel that was started in 2012. It took me eight years to get it ready to put out into the world. A big part of that eight years was getting me ready, not the book.

What was I afraid of? Maybe part of what I was afraid of is that my world might change more than I wanted it to. It would take up the time I needed to give to my family. At least that sounds noble, so I’ll go with it.

I have feared putting my work out for public scrutiny. I didn’t hang any of my paintings on the walls of my own house until a few years ago.

What has changed? Becoming a Toastmaster first in 1986 and then again in 2016 has made a huge difference in my life. When we watch others struggle to find their voice it makes our own struggle to find ours, okay.

We are all struggling. We all have things about ourselves we aren’t proud of. We all make mistakes, and wish we’d made different decisions along the way. We are here, how can we make this a great year?

Where do storytellers find the wisdom to discover their own stories? From no place more mysterious than their own hearts. Marion Dane Bauer

Your life is a story, what’s done is done. Where it goes from here is totally up to you. Write your own ending. Unknown

Be bold enough to use your voice, brave enough to listen to your heart, and strong enough to live the life you’ve always imagined. Unknown

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Braving the Wilderness: The Quest for True Belonging and the Courage to Stand Alone by [Brené Brown]

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Secrets and Silence: What if your biggest secret became public? by [Belynda Wilson Thomas]

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Polite and powerful. Is this asking for what we want in a direct polite manner?

Polite and powerful. This is asking for what we want in a direct polite manner?

Painting by Belynda Wilson Thomas

Treat everyone with politeness and kindness, not because they are nice, but because you are. Roy Bennett

Can we learn to be polite and powerful, and if we do will it make all our relationships better?

One of the areas in our lives we struggle with is our relationships. Wouldn’t it be nice if we all got along, understood each other, communicated directly and honestly? In the book, “The Power of Positive Confrontation” author Barbara Pachter tells us we can be polite and powerfully change our communication pattern.  She tells us we must learn to WAC’em. What does WAC’em mean?

W is what is bothering us. We need to be very clear that what we think is bothering us is really what is bothering us.

A is what do we want the other person to do or change?

C is we must check in with the other person by asking something like, okay?

One of the ways we feel bad about ourselves is when we haven’t confronted people we believe we should. We didn’t stand up for ourselves, ask for what we wanted, or communicate directly about something important.

Barbara Pachter tells us that polite confrontation can change our life because when we ask for what we want, we have to know what that is. When we tell someone what is bothering us we have to have figured out exactly what that is. Part of the problem in our lives is we don’t know and haven’t acknowledged what the problem is, and we don’t know what we want the other person to do. We often don’t know what we think we should do.

One of the greatest victories you can gain over someone is to beat him at politeness. Josh Billings

When we get clear about what we want, and clear about what we think should be done by the other person, then asking for what we want politely and powerfully is the next step. Often people would give us what we want if they knew what it was. They would do their best to make us happy if they knew how. If we figure out what we want we can do our best to make our own lives better, and the lives of those around us.

Are there any downsides to being polite? One of the biggest problems we have plaguing relationships is people feel disrespected and this means they feel that people in their lives are not polite enough. I am guilty of this. I don’t always give my husband my undivided attention when he is speaking to me. I have to stop myself from multi-tasking and continuing to work as he talks to me. I need to give him my undivided attention and listen to what he says because when I don’t, he feels he isn’t as important to me as what I am doing. Of course, that isn’t true. He should know I am just trying to be efficient. But, do I really get that much more done? Wouldn’t it be better if I just stop what I am doing and give him my undivided attention?

Radically respectful and politely powerful are behaviors we can cultivate in ourselves to make our relationships better. We are the only people who can change the things we want to be changed. We need to treat others the way we want to be treated and even if it doesn’t work the way we wanted we have taken the high road.

The high road isn’t an easy road, but I believe it leads to easy relationships with others. The art of tact and diplomacy is being polite and courteous. One of the problems we have with our “Political Correctness” is that it is often not polite. We have always had disagreements on how society should be run, and instead of being a polite society, we have become a politically correct and often rude society. I think we should get back to politely talking about our differences and agreeing to disagree. Is there power in politeness and should we be using it more in our lives? Are we powerfully polite and radically respectful?

Rudeness is the weak person’s imitation of strength. Eric Hoffer

A polite enemy is just as difficult to discredit, as a rude friend is to protect. Bryant McGill

Courteousness is consideration for others; politeness is the method used to deliver such considerations. Bryant H. Mcgill

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The Power of Positive Confrontation: The Skills You Need to Handle Conflicts at Work, at Home, Online, and in Life, completely revised and updated edition Paperback – July 1 2014

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Secrets and Silence: What if your biggest secret became public? by [Belynda Wilson Thomas]

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Are we all hypocrites? Is it impossible to live up to our own expectations?

Is it impossible to live up to our own expectations? Are we all hypocrites?

Painting by Belynda Wilson Thomas

To believe in something, and not to live it, is dishonest. Mahatma Gandhi

Perseverance is the key to success. We need to persevere as we find our way through hard times, build a career, business, and family. Most long marriages are an example of perseverance, of not giving up on each other or themselves as they navigated through whatever life threw at them.

I found a quote the other day that went something like this. Tough times create tough people, tough people create good times, good times create soft people, and soft people create tough times. Is there a balance or are we always cycling between cycles?

Already in my lifetime, we have cycled through a few cycles. I was reminded of this when a Writers Group buddy posted on Facebook about the Christmas she was six and her family had moved into a house they later lost when interest rates skyrocketed in 1979.

Many industries face cycles of crisis, the weather creates havoc and pandemics can involve the whole world. We are putting our faith in a vaccine to stem the pandemic and I bet even those of us who said, “Not me,” might have had enough of this, and if it gets our life back to normal, and we can travel to see loved ones. We will step up for, “Our shot in the arm.” This is where I am at least.

Even though we believe in persevering we still need to heed knowing when to hold-em,  fold-em, and when to run. Do we hold onto that job because it’s a job instead of building that business? There are marriages that should be left. There are times when persevering is a way of not facing the future’s reality. Knowing when we have hit that crossroad and redirection is needed instead of persevering in what we’ve been doing, is a hard call.

Sometimes never giving up can make us look foolish. It might not always be clear to outsiders why someone continues on against all odds. What is it that they see, believe, and think can happen why they don’t do what everyone else feels is the right and honorable thing to do?

Avoid the base hypocrisy of condemning in one man what you pass over in silence when committed by another. Theodore Roosevelt

We don’t know what goes on in other people’s heads and sometimes it seems we don’t even know what is going on in our own mind. We wrestle with ourselves on what direction to take, how to spend our time, and what we make important in our life. Our choices become the sum of our life. If we aren’t happy with the life we have we probably have to look at our choices.

It is so easy to look at someone else and say, “My life would be so much better if you would…” It might be true, but that isn’t what we get to control. We get to control our reactions, our decisions, where we put our energy and resources. Often the more we try and control other people the worse it gets. They dig in their heels because to do what we want them to do, is to be controlled. When we release control they can choose to do what is the best thing to do out of their own free will and voila, a win for everyone.

There is a big difference between trying to control someone and enabling them. If we have situations in our lives that need to change we need to figure out if we are trying to control someone, we are enabling them, or if the one that needs to change is ourselves.

We may think we know the direction someone should take but we should heed what Jesus said, “Or how wilt thou say to thy brother. Let me pull out the mote out of thine eye, and, behold a beam is in thine own eye.” It is so easy to see what changes and improvements someone else should make, but not so easy to see the improvements we should make in our own lives.

Are we hypocrites seeing how someone else should act and change, instead of looking at ourselves?

If we don’t keep trying, we’re Latter-Day sinners. If we don’t persevere, we’re Latter-Day quitters. If we don’t allow others to try, we’re Latter-Day hypocrites. LDS quote

If you define hypocrite as someone who fails to perfectly live up to what he or she believes. We’re all hypocrites. Dieter F. Uchtdorf

Imperfect people are all God has ever had to work with. That must be terribly frustrating to him, but he deals with it. So should we. Jeffrey R. Holland

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Why Everyone (Else) Is a Hypocrite: Evolution and the Modular Mind by [Robert Kurzban]

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Secrets and Silence: What if your biggest secret became public? by [Belynda Wilson Thomas]

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Lemonade for sale. When life hands us lemons should we make lemonade?

When life hands us lemons should we make lemonade? Lemonade for sale.

Painting by Belynda Wilson Thomas

One bad chapter doesn’t mean your story is over.  Anonymous

Winter is coming, can spring be far behind? We know spring always follows winter. The only attitude we can control is our own. The only business we can mind is our own. The only time we need to be concerned with is now. It might be hard to live with these words as we go forward into winter.

For many of us, it may feel like the Grinch stole Christmas. We are being told, “It’s for your own good. We are doing it to protect you.” Some people might be protected right out of their livelihood.

In my own house, we are divided on what should be done. There is no right answer that makes everyone happy. There are those who want freedom, those that want protection, and often those two aren’t both possible.

My sister-in-law has to close her hairdressing shop, again. Her landlord still needs his rent, the bank will still expect their mortgage, the city will still expect the taxes, and everyone still needs to eat. We can’t just put life on hold and is it fair for small businesses to pay the price for this? It seems it is small businesses whose doors are closed. Restaurants, hairdressers, gyms, and small businesses were following the rules set down. If there was a problem at any location it should be dealt with. Blanket shutdowns are probably not going to be effective except at depriving people of their livelihood.

It breaks my heart to think how it would be if we had one of those little shops, to see what we’ve built up over years destroyed, not through our own mismanagement, not through being unwilling to follow even rules we deem unfair, but because we are easy to close. When we close small shops, restaurants, and hairdressers that were only allowed a few customers at a time what are we accomplishing? Had we kept our businesses open at the level we had before this lockdown and let them succeed or fail, at least they had a chance.

Nothing ever goes away until it teaches us what we need to know. Pema Chodron

How should it be handled? I don’t know, but the despair that has been cast on business and people’s lives since this new lockdown was declared will weigh heavy on many people. No one envies the decision-makers right now.

A ninety-year-old woman opted for assisted suicide rather than go through another lockdown in her nursing home. She planned on an assisted suicide death, but not yet. Preventing people from living to some is not better than dying. Loneliness is a big deal, solitary confinement is considered unacceptable for prisoners, and yet we are now doing it for people’s own good.

My aunt always said she planned to live till she died. She died in 2018 in her own home at 97. Mom at 96 lives in her own home, taking care of her own needs. What if she was in a nursing home in lockdown, I can see her saying “I did that, but I won’t be doing it again.”

We need to bring out all the sayings we can come up with right now as we go through this. We will need mantras, prayers, and positive self-talk as we develop a mindset to get through this winter. Gratitude, prayer, and positive thinking will serve us better than bitterness. Is the lesson we need to learn that if we are okay at this moment then we are okay. Looking too far down the road will scare us. If we focus on what we have this moment we can be grateful and live in gratitude, joy, and love. We may have to face whatever we have to face but why worry about it until we have to face it? Can we not let a bad situation bring out the worst in us? Can we choose to be strong and positive and remember Spring is coming? How would you like your lemonade, sweet or sour?

Tough times don’t last but tough people do. Robert Schuller

The primary cause of unhappiness is never the situation but your thoughts about it. Eckhart Tolle

A great attitude becomes a great day which becomes a great month which becomes a great year which becomes a great life. Mandy Hale

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Tough Times Never Last, but Tough People Do! Mass Market Paperback – May 1 1984

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Secrets and Silence: What if your biggest secret became public? Paperback – Large Print, Aug. 29 2020

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