Building on our strengths, while we work on our weaknesses is this the secret to success?

Painting by Belynda Wilson Thomas

Building your talents into real strengths also requires practice and hard work, much like it does to build physical strengths. Tom Rath

Do we focus on our strengths or our weaknesses? Tonight, I am giving a speech to Speechcrafters; this group is taking a six-week course in public speaking with Toastmasters. My speech will be about putting humor in speeches.

I’m one of the least funny speakers, and I’ve found there is nothing as unfunny as trying hard to be funny. As I’ve put this speech together I’ve come across some things that make sense to me about humor.

A female comic says no one comes up to her after her routine and asks for her number, but the male comics have throngs of women wanting to date them. It seems men like women who laugh at their jokes, and women like men who make them laugh. Over the years the humor in a relationship changes, but sharing a laugh is no less important. Whereas during courtship men were the humor producers and women the appreciators, in long-term relationships it can be harmful for men to use humor. When women are the humorous partner it seems relationships thrive.

One of the reasons is men often use disparaging humor directed at others, whereas women use self-deprecating humor, which might bring relief to a tense situation. Women who use humor report greater marital satisfaction. According to Dr. John Gottman, one of the best ways for wives to lower their husband’s heart rate is to crack a joke to relieve tension, and couples who deescalate the conflict in this way are more likely to have a stable marriage.

As relationships progress a man’s humor becomes less important and a woman’s sense of humor becomes a blessing. In the beginning, it was about attracting a mate but after marriage, it is about sympathy and attunement to the other person’s feelings and perspectives. A genuine laugh is one of the best and most honest ways to convey, I’m with you, and we are in this together.

Build upon strengths, and weaknesses will gradually take care of themselves. Joyce C. Lock

A few years ago I volunteered to be part of a comedy night. I’d always wanted to try it and when the opportunity presented itself I took it. I worked hard putting together material, and bought a couple of books like, “The Comedy Bible.” I prepared, knew my material, and didn’t get one laugh. But, I did get compliments on my material, along with a few pointers from funny men who got a lot of laughs.

Tonight I’m going to tell new Toastmasters to focus on putting together a good speech, not to focus on telling jokes, but to tell true stories that the audience can relate to. They might get a laugh, they might not, but either way, it is okay.

If humor is not our strength and we work hard to give humorous speeches we might sacrifice what we are good at. If we work hard to give speeches that focus on our strengths and we get a laugh that’s a win for everyone.

We should do this in our lives; focus on our strengths and not our weaknesses. When we focus on our weaknesses we often forget to work on our strengths and we try to become someone we are not. We become the proverbial square peg in a round hole.

We only have so much time and energy, and how we spend it will determine our results. If we spend our time trying to become better at what we will never be best at, is that as good as focusing on what we are already good at and improving that?  If we focus on our strengths I think we will have a better life than if we focus on our weaknesses, and we shouldn’t discount small improvements that add up to significant improvements over time.

Build on your strengths, work on your weaknesses. Minh Tan

You cannot build performance on weaknesses. You can build only on strengths. Peter Drucker

Sometimes we’re tested not to show our weaknesses, but to discover our strengths. Sasha Gollish

Thank you for reading this post. Please come back and read some more, and have a blessed day filled with gratitude, joy, and love.

To subscribe, comment, and see archives or categories of posts, click on the picture and scroll to the end.

Thank you to everyone who reads my books, and a special thank you to those who leave a review on Goodreads and Amazon. If you click on the Amazon link and purchase an item, I receive a small percentage of the sale through the Amazon affiliate program.

To be a writer we must write, to become a best-selling author, take a spin on the Wheel of Fortune, and see where it goes.

Painting by Belynda Wilson Thomas

To gain your own voice, you have to forget about having it heard. Allen Ginsberg

So you want to be a writer. The question is, are you writing, actually getting words on paper that will become something? Wanting to do is not the same as doing, and I wanted to write for years, but now I am finally doing, and life rolls along about the same as it did before, except there is now an added dimension to my life.

The more we add to our lives the more we will get out of it. A big part of what we need to add is what takes care of our body and feeds our soul. This is our life we only get one shot at it. Are we enjoying our relationships, or are outside pursuits taking too much time away so those important relationships are being hurt?

What does a successful life look like? When we look at our lives are we proud of the choices we’ve made?

Yesterday, I chose to spend my day at the “Breakthrough to Writer’ Success” – Writers Industry Day put on by the Mississauga Arts Council. It was a lovely day spent with fellow writers. Two writers’ groups had tables on topics of interest to writers and I was at the self-publishing and journaling table. The tables were so busy I didn’t get much of a chance to mix and mingle; I spent my time talking to people interested in self-publishing and journaling.

Self-publishing works for some of us and others feel without being published by a traditional publisher their work is diminished. My thoughts on the subject are to go after what you want, do the best work you can, and put it out into the world. Then write your next best book. Building a writing platform so people get to know who you are might be something you can do or it might not be, but nothing ventured, nothing gained.

To live a creative life, we must lose our fear of being wrong. Joseph Chilton Pearce

We need to be okay with the turn our lives take, and writing is no different. When we write and self-publish or are traditionally published, we are taking a turn on the wheel of fortune. Will that spin take us to fame and fortune – not likely, but for some, it does. Do we want the feeling of accomplishment from setting a goal, making it happen, and moving on to the next step? This is what it is for me.

I’ve written and self-published four books and am working on two more. I love the process of being a writer, the reality of holding my books in my hand, and hearing that others enjoyed them. Writing is a solitary pursuit, it feeds our soul, and sometimes, it feeds our bank account.

Writing is especially good for those of us as we enter our later years. We’ve lived a life, we have something to say, and our self-worth shouldn’t depend on how many sales we get on Amazon or through a traditional publisher. Taking up writing is more like a pastime than an economic endeavor, some people feel writers should be paid for their time, some are paid handsomely for theirs, and others not so much.

I’m okay with that and taking my spin on the writing wheel of fortune, and where it stops, no one knows. Some writers reach acclaim in their lifetime and are then forgotten and some are still being read years after their death. Some writers entertain us, some make us think, and some will change how we look at life forever.

We all impact people in our lives and some of us will only impact people we know, but who knows what impact the people they impact will have. We don’t know what the impact of our life will be, but if we live in such a way that those we meet, and those who live with us are impacted in a good way, then we should find contentment in a life well-lived.

Is it better to be known and loved by those who never meet us or to be loved by those who do know us?

If you want to be a writer, you must do two things above all other; read a lot and write a lot. Stephen King

For better or worse, most of my writing life has been about people that work behind the scenes. I’m interested in finding extraordinary moments in otherwise normal people. Mark Boal

Just write every day of your life. Read intensely. Then see what happens. Most of my friends who are put on that diet have very pleasant careers. Ray Bradbury

Thank you for reading this post. Please come back and read some more. Have a blessed day filled with gratitude, joy, and love.

To subscribe, comment, and see archives or categories of posts, click on the picture and scroll to the end.

Thank you to everyone who reads my books, and a special thank you to those who leave a review on Goodreads or Amazon. If you click on the Amazon link and purchase an item, I receive a small percentage of the sale through the Amazon affiliate program.

Is money the root of all evil, or what we will do for money that makes it evil?

Painting by Belynda Wilson Thomas

The price of anything is the amount of life you exchange for it. Henry David Thoreau

One of the things we learn in life is there is a price for everything. There is a price for doing and a price for not doing. What we do for others we do for ourselves, which means when we treat others well we feel good about ourselves and when we don’t treat others well it will come back to bite us. Jordan Peterson tells us we don’t get away with anything.

When we look around we think people are getting away with things, and if we watch social media some of the most outrageous people get the most views. We need to be careful who we emulate, who we hold up as role models, and who we follow. I have always believed pimps are the lowest form of life, because they take innocent people (mostly girls) with a life in front of them and turn them into prostitutes and now cam girls, and one of the ways they do it is the lover boy technique.

If anyone says they want to make someone fall in love with them so they will do anything they want them to do, we know it isn’t something good, and certainly isn’t something that will be good for the young woman’s life.

One of the antidotes to men exploiting young women is strong fathers. One of the things our fathers teach us is to be self-reliant, to be able to look after ourselves and be willing to work to better our situation, and not to let people make you feel you owe them anything.

 When we think things are too good to be true they usually are, and if someone isolates someone from their family, makes someone dependent on them, and then asks them to do the unthinkable, and introduces them to women already doing it who tell them it’s good or at least not that bad and they’ll make a lot of money, they won’t be told he will be getting most of the money, and they are now basically slaves.

Slavery still exists, but now it applies only to women and its name is prostitution. Victor Hugo

The sex trade seems to be bigger than ever, and Romeo pimps are roaming the streets and online looking for our daughters and granddaughters. What can we do? It seems it is mostly older guys going after young girls, some of these girls are in group homes and when they run away with their wonderful boyfriends is when the pimp has them in their clutches.

The breakdown of the family is our biggest problem and where children become vulnerable. If we can’t build strong families how will we lessen the victimization of our children? We might not be able to do anything about huge societal problems but we can perhaps do something in our own families. If we can keep the lines of communication open, let our children and grandchildren know that even if they make a mistake, trust the wrong person, or go down a path they are ashamed of they can always come home.

If we let them know they can turn over a new leaf in life, turn their lives around, and build a better future we give those that prey on our children and grandchildren less of a hold on them. If someone can make our children or grandchildren feel so bad about themselves they can never be forgiven for the choices they’ve made or been forced into, they are putty in the hands of those wanting to exploit them.

Even pimps can turn over a new leaf, and forgiveness is open to everyone. But a pimp that pretends to reform or makes it seem like being a pimp is empowering might be the most dangerous one of all. There are men teaching other men how to become pimps online.

When we become enamored with people with money we need to ask how they made it. What did they do to get it, and what are they asking us to do to get ours? Some people want to make the sex trade acceptable, if it were respectable it would already be acceptable. If we have to sell our soul to do something the price is too high, no matter how much money we make or the lifestyle we acquire. Is it money that’s the root of all evil, or the willingness to do anything for money, to sell our soul for money, or to make someone else sell their soul for money, that makes it evil?

In reality, victims of human trafficking are often left voiceless and completely unseen by society. Elise Stefanik

Children are the most vulnerable and susceptible to become victims of human trafficking. Asa Don Brown

During the grooming process, a sex trafficking situation can start out looking a lot like a romantic relationship before the exploitation begins. Aura Freedom

Thank you for reading this post. Please come back and read some more. Have a blessed day filled with gratitude, joy, and love.

To subscribe, comment, and see archives or categories of posts click on the picture and scroll to the end.

Thank you to those who read my books, and a special thank you to those who leave a review on Goodreads and Amazon. If you click on the Amazon link and purchase an item I receive a small percentage of the sale through the Amazon affiliate program.

Gratitude is the spark igniting a fire of joy in our souls. It is the catalyst for a better life.

Painting by Belynda Wilson Thomas

Acknowledging the good that you already have in your life is the foundation for all abundance. Eckhart Tolle

Are we grateful for what we have, or are we feeling one more something is what we need? We might think that if we get to… or accomplish… then we’ll feel grateful. Oprah tells us, “If we aren’t grateful for what we have, we will never have enough.” That doesn’t mean it’s wrong to want more, to strive, to build, or to grow, but we need to be grateful for the blessings we already have in our lives.

One of the things said in an Illustrated Journal workshop Saturday, is that members in the audience who kept a journal said they couldn’t believe what a bad state they had been in at specific points in their lives. Looking back over concerns they had they could see those that were resolved, those that didn’t matter anymore, and those they still had to deal with.

Journaling gives us clarity about our lives I don’t see how we can get any other way. Adding illustrations to our journal gives us a creative outlet, creativity feeds our soul, and sometimes we may feel something is missing in our lives and it might be creativity. We get so busy doing this and that, we may look back on a time that was filled with joy and find where the joy came from was some creative outlet that we’ve given up as life got busier.

Listening to the radio not long ago a singer (I can’t remember his name) was talking about how he put out a new album and thought it would sell a couple thousand copies but it became a big success and his life spun out of control. Years later he listened to a speaker who said something that hit him profoundly, “Creativity is beautiful.” He realized he’d gotten away from being creative, and that realization made a significant impact on his life. By bringing creativity back into his life he brought back balance, joy, and gratitude.

Gratitude is a powerful catalyst for happiness. It’s the spark that lights a fire of joy in your soul. Amy Collette

It isn’t always easy to be grateful for the changes we see. We think things should be better, but what if we have to be grateful they aren’t worse? What if we aren’t built for a life of ease? What if a life of ease makes us weak? Who gets to decide who is living a life of ease?

Of course, I say all this as one who lives in relative ease, safety, and abundance. Yesterday my husband was watching a YouTube video on people living in their vehicles in Calgary. They’ve created a community that like turtles, takes their home with them, and as long as their vehicles can move it seems to be a workable solution. They help each other out as a community and share information on how to handle the winters.

Living in a van might not sound great but it is giving a community of people dignity, and freedom without infringing on the rights of others. We might be surprised how happy a simple life can be. I didn’t watch the video enough to understand how they look after some of the simple things in life like bathing and using the bathroom.

If it isn’t happiness that brings us gratitude, but gratitude that brings us happiness can we be grateful for the life we have?

The struggle ends when gratitude begins. Nicole Donald Walsh

As with all commandments, gratitude is a description of a successful mode of living. The thankful heart opens our eyes to a multitude of blessings that continually surround us. James E. Faust

When we focus on our gratitude, the tide of disappointment goes out and the tide of love rushes in. Kristin Armstrong

Thank you for reading this post. Please come back and read some more. Have a blessed day filled with gratitude, joy, and love.

To subscribe, comment, and see archives or categories of posts click on the pictures and scroll to the end.

Thank you for reading my books, and a special thank you to everyone who leaves a review on Goodreads and Amazon. If you click on the Amazon link and purchase an item I receive a small percentage of the sale through the Amazon affiliate program.

Small changes lead to big changes, be willing to start small, and be willing to persevere.

Painting by Belynda Wilson Thomas

We must not, in trying to think about how we can make a big difference, ignore the small daily differences we can make which, over time, add up to big differences that we often cannot foresee. Marian Wright Edelman

Tonight I’m reflecting on my path at Toastmasters. It’s taken me 37 years but I am close to achieving my Distinguished Toastmasters designation. Someone said, “If you get everything out of Toastmasters you can get out of Toastmasters, you will never get out of Toastmasters.” I was out of Toastmasters for 27 years while my husband and I raised a family and built a business.

We can only juggle so many balls at once and Toastmasters was the ball I could put down and pick back up. We have to be careful when juggling the balls of life we know which balls are the important balls. The balls we must guard and protect, the balls which if they fall we will not be able to pick back up, or even be able to put the pieces back together again.

Life can be forgiving and not forgiving when we make mistakes, and some people will seem to get away with more mistakes than others, but Jordan Peterson tells us we never get away with anything. We always have to pay a price. I think this is true, then we must decide what price we are willing to pay. There are prices for opportunity and lost opportunity. There is a price for speaking up and a price for not speaking up about things that are important and even those that aren’t so important.

If we are asked what we want for breakfast, perhaps we could have eggs, sausages, and a delicious omelet with a side of toast and apricot jam (not bought but homemade). If we shrug our shoulders and say, “whatever” a bowl of porridge may be put in front of us, or a piece of burnt dry toast.

I think in life I’ve been a bit of a “Whatever” person and perhaps that works in marriage when the husband leads and the wife follows. Life is built on shared goals and values, and the workload is divided.

I’m becoming less of a “Whatever” person as I get older. Being a parent is such a heavy and wonderful load that it takes over our life and we don’t have a lot of time for pursuits of our own. When the heavy lifting is over we have time but often have no idea what we want to pursue with the time that is unfolding before us. We need to be careful especially as retirement nears we don’t just accept the idea that we are old and life is over, or almost over so why bother learning new things, or setting new goals? We think a drink on a beach sounds like paradise, and it probably is for a week. But then what?

Men trip not on mountains, they stumble on stones. Proverbs

There comes a time in our life when there will be few choices left to make and we might not like any we get to choose from. But if we are not at that point yet, we should think long and hard about how we want to spend our time before we get there.

We have many opportunities to do many things, learn, develop, grow, and make the best of the life ahead of us. The more decisions we make for ourselves the fewer will be made for us. Sometimes it is okay to say, “Whatever you’re having.” It might be better to develop our choosing muscles and design our days for maximum satisfaction.

I like to start my day by writing with a cup of coffee beside me and my little dog keeping me company. How do you like to start yours? There are days when the alarm rings and I turn it off and go back to sleep. I still get a bit of writing in but not the long uninterrupted time I need to get into it. On blog days I’m up at five, it’s the rest of the week I need to work on.

How we spend our days is how we spend our life, we can make better decisions to have a better life. No one will do for us the things we must do for ourselves and some of the little things we can change will make the biggest difference because it is the things we do daily that have a huge impact on our lives.

Is there a little thing we can change that will pay huge dividends in our lives?

Small changes can produce big results – but the areas of highest leverage are often the least obvious. Peter Serge

You will never change your life until you change something you do daily, the secret of your success is found in your daily routine. John C. Maxwell

The man who moves a mountain begins by carrying away small stones. Confucius

Thank you for reading this post. Please come back and read some more. Have a blessed day filled with gratitude, joy, and love.

To subscribe, comment, and see archives or categories of posts click on the picture and scroll to the end.

Thank you to everyone who reads my books, and a special thank you to those who leave a review on Goodreads and Amazon. If you click on the Amazon link and purchase an item I receive a small percentage of the sale through the Amazon affiliate program.

If knowledge is power, what is a lack of knowledge? Are we taking advantage of our access to knowledge?

Painting by Belynda Wilson Thomas

Reading is essential for those who seek to rise above the ordinary. Jim Rohn

If Knowledge is power, what is a lack of knowledge? This week is back-to-school week, and we are blessed to live in a time when most people have access to education. Some people are still out of their homes because of fires, and people have lost their homes to fires. It is a time of challenge for many, and our thoughts and prayers are with them as they navigate this difficult time.

Tomorrow, children and their parents will walk by our door to school. I remember excitedly waiting for the first day of school. Seeing friends I hadn’t seen over the summer and finding out who my teacher would be. It was an exciting time, and fall still fills me with a feeling that a new adventure should be around the corner.

Last week at Toastmasters, I became a mentor for a new member, and she told me her favorite author is Leo Tolstoy. I have to admit I’ve never read his novels. I bought Anna Karenina and will read it, and I’m on the lookout for a copy of War and Peace.

Reading furnishes the mind only with the materials of knowledge: It is thinking that makes what we read ours. John Locke

One of the ways we gather knowledge is the books we read. It is lovely to go to a bookstore or library with an array of books to choose from. The world’s knowledge is at our fingertips, all those authors’ stories to read and to ponder. What would we do if we faced what the character faced?

If we read books that cause us to think our lives become rich. We can’t experience everything in life. Reading is a way of experiencing more of life, and through exploring ideas we will have more questions to ask. Dr. Seuss sums it up, “The more that you read, the more things you will know. The more that you learn, the more places you’ll go.”

What would it be like to live in a time when most people were illiterate? How barren would our life be if we couldn’t read?

Reading maketh a full man; conference a ready man; and writing an exact man. Francis Bacon

The book to read is not the one that thinks for you but the one which makes you think. Harper Lee

When I think of all the books still left for me to read, I am certain of further happiness. Jules Renard

Thank you for reading this post. Please come back and read some more. Have a blessed day filled with gratitude, joy, and love.

To subscribe, comment, and see archives or categories of posts click on the picture and scroll to the end.

Thank you to everyone who reads my books and a special thank you to those who leave a review on GoodReads and Amazon. If you click on the Amazon link and purchase an item I receive a small percentage of the price.

We don’t know what we don’t know; life should be a learning experience.

Painting by Belynda Wilson Thomas

He who learns but does not think, is lost! He who thinks but does not learn is in great danger. Confucius

Visiting an art store gives us an array of items to experiment with, but there is usually a learning curve, and we have to be willing to be a novice before we master the skill we set out to learn.

This week I bought dip pens and ink. I’ve bought fine-tipped paintbrushes over the years but they never do what I want them to do, and I think I know why. A paintbrush is not the tool I’ve been looking for, the tool I’ve been looking for and didn’t know it is a dip pen that will give a sharp line. There is a huge variety of dip pens available for drawing and writing. I have purchased a few nibs and can’t wait to see how they work with acrylic paint.

We don’t know what we don’t know. It’s hard to believe it took me this long to figure this out. I have a book on painting with pen and ink, it has sat on my bookshelf for years.

Note about inserting nibs into nib holders. There are helpful videos explaining how to insert nibs into the holder. I mangled my first nib holder because I wasn’t inserting the nib into the correct place.

When I got my Speedball Sketching Pen Set home I found a broken nib, yesterday I replaced the broken nib and purchased a Calligraphy Pen set which includes what some reviewers suggest is one of the best writing nibs. These dip pens are going to make creating an Illustrated Journal more fun and creative, and I’m looking forward to enhancing my illustrations.

If you are not willing to learn, no one can help you. If you are determined to learn, no one can stop you. Zig Ziglar

We all make mistakes and one of the biggest ones we make is trying to do something without the right tools. When we look at what someone else can do and think they just have more talent than us, sometimes they have better tools, and they know how to use them. If we can get those tools and learn how to use them our work will improve.

But often we think we are lacking and we don’t explore what is out there that would help us improve. We are our greatest critic; we are the one that holds ourselves back the most. We compare our worst to someone else’s best and find ourselves lacking. We think if we don’t have the proper credentials we can’t do something we want to do. There are many self-taught people that do great things.

One of the best attitudes in life is to be a willing student and learn from everyone we meet. If we accept we will never know everything and are willing to learn, it is amazing where we might pick up insights that improve our lives.

We may think, if we’d learned this earlier it would be better, but we’ve learned it now, and we can do with it what we can. There are early bloomers, late bloomers, and repeat bloomers in life. It isn’t true that it’s never too late, there comes a time when it is too late, life has run its course, but until that time comes, we can learn and do more things.

We have never had so much access to information; we need to pick and choose from what is out there. I’ve always thought I wasn’t interested in marriage advice from someone who wasn’t married, child-rearing advice from someone who doesn’t have children, or life advice from someone not living a good life. Sorting what is good from what is not good is a feat in itself. But, we’ve always been told, “You’ll know them by their fruit.” If we focus on the good and the beautiful, those who want to build instead of the ones who want to tear down and destroy, we can sort through the maze of those who want to instruct and inform.

Life is what we make it, is there something new we would like to learn how to do, change, or experience?

It is what we know already that often prevents us from learning. Claude Bernard

A man who asks is a fool for five minutes. A man who never asks is a fool for life. Chinese Proverb

The most useful piece of learning for the uses of life is to unlearn what is untrue. Antisthenes

Thank you for reading this post, Please come back and read some more. Have a blessed day filled with gratitude, joy, and love.

To subscribe, comment, and see archives or categories of posts click on the picture and scroll to the end.

Thank you to those who read my books, and a special thank you to those who leave a review on Amazon and Goodreads. If you click on the Amazon link and purchase an item I receive a small percentage of the sale through the Amazon affiliate program.

Perseverance, if we can persevere, we can overcome.

Painting by Belynda Wilson Thomas

Perseverance, secret of all triumphs. Victor Hugo      

Itsy bitsy spider went up the water spout, along came the rain and washed the spider out. Along came the sun and dried up all the rain and itsy bitsy spider went up the spout again.

This little poem has been going around and around my brain. It must be about thirty-five years ago I saw a fellow Toastmaster give a speech about Itsy Bitsy Spider. She was a teacher who had just come back from a trip to Europe and a month later she died of cancer. There aren’t a lot of speeches I remember but I remember hers, is it because she died a month later?

Sometimes we pick up a book and it is precisely what we need to read, or watch a movie that is exactly what we need to see. We don’t even all agree on what was in the book or the film because we are each touched differently by what we read and see.

We are all impacted in our lives by people we meet, and we impact others. The impact we make counts. Most of us will never impact the world in any great way; no big or small invention will have our name on it.  We won’t impact people outside of our circle, but our circle impacts other circles, whether that circle is our family, community, or workplace. It is part of the whole as are we.

We all have our contribution to make and I know we sometimes look at the contribution some are making and ask ourselves, what kind of a contribution is that? We may see some people on their worst day and see some people on their best day and we might be totally wrong about who in the end makes the biggest contribution.

There are many conflicting ideas about how society should be built, what we as a society should value, and how we should deal with the challenges of our time. I feel sure we’ll go up the water spout a few times while we are figuring this out. We hope people we elect have answers that we don’t have, and we hear people expound on theories they never have to put into practice so they can continue to expound on them. I was listening to Dr. Wayne Dyer in a podcast he said, “When I didn’t have children I had lots of theories about raising children, now I have children but no theories.”

In the realm of ideas, everything depends on enthusiasm… in the real world, all rests on perseverance. Johann Wolfgang von Goethe

A society based on principles we all believe in is a good place to start. One of the things many people believe is the rich are getting richer, some believe the poor are getting poorer, but others believe the poor are also getting richer. We become a victim of our success and I believe that is what a lot of our housing problem is. Everyone wants to live in a few places, the prices are being driven up, demand outstrips supply, and we are playing musical chairs for housing.

Is the antidote to this a less successful society? Who wants that? What if we are always somewhere on that water spout and life looks different to us depending on whether the sun is shining or the rain is falling? We might find it easy to be too optimistic when the sun is shining and too pessimistic when the rain is falling. What if we need to find balance knowing in every life a little rain will fall, what if all of us will face challenges in our lives, but we don’t know what part of life those challenges will come?

What if knowing we can keep on keeping on is the greatest attitude we can have, and we will live through it all the bitter, the sweet, the happy, and the sad? No one only gets a sweet life, and would it be a great life if we did, we wouldn’t even know how good we had it because we’d have nothing to compare it to.

It seems some of the greatest people have lived through the greatest challenges. Those challenges made them who they are. Should we really want soft and easy lives, or should we look for ways to take on a load in life, carry it with dignity, and make something better?

I’ve come to think of marriage and raising children as a load we carry, and sometimes the load is easy and gives us more than it asks of us, and sometimes it asks more than it gives, but if we give up in the hard times we will never get back to the easy fun times and we will forever have a fractured family. Sometimes a fractured family may be better than a chaotic broken one that stays together, and only the people in it may know for sure which is which, and even they might not be sure.

Imagine, it’s not just itsy bitsy spider going up the spout but the whole family. It might be easier to scramble up it by ourselves, but when we get to the top we are alone. If we can bring our family with us, it will be challenging, and the journey will be longer, but when we get to the top, and we are all together, how much more joyous will it be?

Don’t give up before the miracle happens. Fannie Flagg

Success seems to be connected with action Successful men keep moving. They make mistakes, but they don’t quit. Conrad Hilton

Many of life’s failures are people who did not realize how close they were to success when they gave up. Thomas A. Edison

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Journaling is whispering to ourselves and turning that whisper into reality.

Painting by Belynda Wilson Thomas

You don’t have, because you don’t ask. Jordan Peterson

On Tuesday, my daughter asked, “Mom, what is your speech about?”

I said, “Creating an Illustrated Journal.”

“That sounds really boring,” she said. I think some people don’t have better lives because they think the things that will give them a better life are boring. She didn’t mean it maliciously, only trying to help me have an engaging speech. She hasn’t heard the speech, which is twenty minutes long, and tonight, I will find out if my audience thinks it is boring.

As my Distinguished Toastmasters project, I had planned a Story Time event for August 28th – the focus of a DTM project is to create a project or event that will help a community group. The community group for Story Time was going to be a local Children’s Aid Society; the event was scheduled for August 28th but was cancelled in July, because of scheduling conflicts.

About the time Story Time was cancelled I was contacted by another community group I’d put a proposal in to teach a workshop on Creating an Illustrated Journal. The workshop is scheduled for September 15th, and I will present the same workshop to my writer’s group on September 9th.

I would never have thought of creating a workshop on Illustrating Journaling if the head of the Mississauga Writers Group hadn’t asked me to come with her to a community group helping people with brain injuries and to present a proposal for a workshop.

I thought, “What do I have to offer as a workshop to anyone, let alone people with brain injuries? But, I thought of a conversation I’d had with someone recovering from a mild stroke. “They tell us to relearn, what we already know, it is not a time to learn new things.”

What do we already know? We know how to write, and we know how to make marks on paper. This speech I am giving tonight is to be a professional 20-22 minute speech. The speech will be a shorter version of the workshop I will deliver in September, and each presentation will be geared to a different audience.

Journaling is paying attention to the inside for the purpose of living well from the inside out. Lee Wise

I believe keeping a journal which I have done since I was fifteen is one of the best things I’ve done in my life. I have shelves full of journals I’ve written over the years, sketchbooks I’ve kept over the years, and some that cross over into Illustrated Journals.

We can’t always articulate our thoughts into words, which is why an illustrated journal is superior to only a written one. A picture can tell a thousand words, an eloquent scribble might be as cathartic as pages and pages of writing. I believe if there is anything I can encourage people to do that will improve their lives, keeping a journal is one of the biggest.

In a journal we explore our dreams, some we will articulate, some we won’t, and some we will never breathe to another person. In my journal entry on Sunday, February 2, 1975. I wrote about wanting to be an artist and a writer but I wanted a career as a backup in case I failed in my other two endeavors. I found that entry a few years ago when I was writing a speech and reading some of the things I’d written.

A mindful, meditative practice will help us improve our lives, a written journal and especially an illustrated journal can be that practice. Keeping a journal is a profoundly powerful practice we can have in our lives. I think I started keeping a journal because my grandmother, I never had the privilege of knowing, kept one. All but one of her journals was ruined by squirrels, she documented her days, and the little things are our life. In the end, they are the important things. We think the big things are more important than the little things, but the little things add up to be the big things.

Jordan Peterson tells us if we can get the small things in order, we can improve our lives incrementally. Let’s say we get meal times in order – that will look after our health. If we get an exercise routine in order – that looks after our fitness. If we can get our relationships in order – make time for our spouse – time for our children, time for friends, and time for ourselves. That would look after a big part of our life. Documenting this in a journal can help us tweak areas of our lives until we have the life we want.

If we articulate what we want we will be on our way to making it happen. We want to travel, when, where, for how long, and how much will it cost? Then we can start planning, maybe a big trip is too expensive, maybe we can go on a smaller trip and plan for the big trip. When we journal we whisper to ourselves and hear those whispers. Living is turning those whispers into dreams and goals.

Writing is another powerful way to sharpen the mental saw. Keeping a journal of our thoughts, experiences, insights, and learnings promotes mental clarity, exactness, and context. Stephen Covey

Whether you’re keeping a journal or writing as a meditation, it’s the same thing. What’s important is you’re having a relationship with your mind. Natalie Goldberg

Keeping a journal of what’s going on in your life is a good way to help you distill what’s important and what’s not.

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Thank you to those who read my books, and a special thank you to those who leave a review on Goodreads and Amazon. If you click on the Amazon link and purchase an item I receive a small percentage of the sale through the Amazon affiliate program.

In times of crisis do we see who we really are?

Painting by Belynda Wilson Thomas

The secret of crisis management is not good versus bad; it’s preventing the bad from getting worse. Andy Gilman

For those of us that woke up in our bed, in our own house, we are blessed. Those that had to evacuate because of fires are blessed too because we have the resources to help people to get out of danger. Hopefully when the danger is past people will be able to go back to a home and community that is still standing, and if not they can rebuild.

As my sister who lives in Yellowknife said, “We’ll deal with what we have to.” Is there anything else we can do but deal with what we have to? We may think we shouldn’t have to deal with forest fires, but if we have forests, we’ll have forest fires. We may think things should be different than they are, maybe they should be, and maybe, we can do things a little differently so they are, and sometimes I wonder if we are trying to bend nature to our will instead of learning to live with it.

 For every action, there is a reaction. One of the things we tell ourselves is, “It will be different this time.” But perhaps the question we need to ask ourselves is why would it be different, whatever “It” is? We build houses on flood plains and are surprised when they flood. We bring more people into Canada than we have housing for and wonder why we have a housing crisis and house prices are out of reach for most people.

We need houses, and we need farmland, but do we need to build homes on farmland? We have planners for these things, but what forces come to bear on how decisions are made? Chances are no matter what decisions get made, everyone will not be happy. That is pretty much a given no matter what the decision is about, or where the decision is being made.

I don’t envy the people that have to make the big decisions, but I get to criticize them fairly or unfairly. We need a country that works, and for the most part, even though we grumble, we have a country that works, and we see how well it works when we see action taken in emergencies. During emergencies, we see what can be done, how we can work together, how we can look after immediate needs, how we can take care of everyone and meet the needs of displaced people and help them to get through a terrible ordeal.

Courage is not having the strength to go on; it’s going on when you don’t have the strength. Theodore Roosevelt

Do we need a crisis to see the best in people? Not everyone acts the best in a crisis, we hear of looters, and arsonists taking advantage of situations but for the most part, people work together in a crisis and do the best they can for the greatest amount of good.

We think our housing crisis is a big deal, but it will be nothing like a food crisis if we build on the farmland of Canada and end up not being a country that is food sufficient. Counties that can’t feed themselves are OK until someone else needs what they want or they don’t have the resources to purchase the food, or their inhabitants can’t afford the cost of food brought into the country. Some people believe we can get more production per acre but how much, and at what cost?

Am I having these thoughts because I am getting older? Am I thinking growth is not sustainable because I have no vision?

The secret of change is to focus all of your energy not on fighting the old, but on building the new. Socrates

You never let a serious crisis to go waste. And what I mean by that; it’s an opportunity to do things you think you could not do before. Rahm Emanuel

The best people know that there are two phases in every crisis: the one where you manage it and the other where you learn from it. To succeed you have to do both. Mark McCormack

Thank you for reading this post. Please come back and read some more. Have a blessed day filled with gratitude, joy, and love.

To subscribe, comment, and see archives or categories of posts click on the picture and scroll to the end.

Thank you to everyone that reads my books, and a special thank you to those that leave a review on Goodreads and Amazon. If you click on the Amazon link and purchase an item I receive a small percentage of the purchase price through the Amazon affiliate program.