Happy New Year to all.
 
It is time for a cuppa, thank you for allowing me to join you today.
 
During the week between Christmas and New Year, I start looking for one word that would be my word for the following year.
 
It is a habit I started a year ago and found it helped with focus and being open to when and where the word applied to what was going on around me in either relationships or life in general.
 
Having the right priorities is a disciplined approach to life. It creates unique outcomes that work in your favour. ~ Dan Pedersen
 
Have you ever purchased a car and then notice how many cars of the same colour are out there?
 
When thinking of different words and looking for one, a similar thing happened, I heard it, read it, saw it, or experienced it over and over. It became evident this year’s word for me is “Encouragement.”
 
When in doubt and out of my comfort zone, I will speak words of encouragement to myself.
 
We all have one thing or another that fear keeps us from attempting. Or we all make assumptions based on a thinking pattern such as, I am too old, I am too small, I am too fat, I am too out of shape, etc. Be bold and push back on that thinking and encourage that part of your heart that says, “I want to do this.”
 
When meeting others, I plan to listen better and be more encouraging to them where possible.
 
I recently joined a new gym, and it is pretty intense training, and I am the old man in the room, but the encouragement and support to stay with the challenge are welcome and useful.
 
Ok, I was influenced a bit by an article in the New York Times. In the article, they state, For endurance and brain health, “exercise with an intensity so that you get out of breath.” Read The Right Kind of Exercise May Boost Memory and Lower Dementia Risk.
 
Being physically fit may sharpen the memory and lower our risk of dementia, even if we do not start exercising until we are older.
 
When it comes to age or having been affected by events that caused pain and delays in living, encouragement is an antidote.
 
We all know people within our families or our circle of friends who struggle with life. They need encouragement. Encouragement to make better decisions, and encouragement to know they matter. Encouraging others may encourage them to inspire others, as well.
 
I don’t know where I read this, but it stayed with me, “broken crayons still colour.”
 
Be generous with encouragement. It is verbal sunshine. It costs nothing, it warms hearts and enriches lives. ~ Nicky Gumble
 
Christmas season has come and gone. More and more, I realize the best things in life aren’t material things. Being in the company of those you appreciate makes for a beautiful time and a realization that warm hearts can inspire other hearts too thaw.
 
In a previous blog, Althea, a reader in British Columbia, sent me a story about Book Clubs for Inmates. An organization that began in 2008, when Rev. Dr. Carol Finlay visited Collins Bay Institution, a medium-security penitentiary in Kingston, Ontario. Meeting with a small group of inmates, she proposed an idea: a monthly book club.
 
To Carol’s surprise, the idea was welcomed with enthusiasm. It has now grown to 36 penitentiaries in Canada and has inspired a similar organization in the United States.
 
Eventually, most inmates re-enter society. By encouraging literacy while incarcerated, the mission of Book Clubs for Inmates, (a registered Canadian charity) is to help inmates develop empathy, listening skills, and self-awareness.
 
Discussion is mediated by community volunteers, who guide the conversation into themes such as identity, adversity, forgiveness, and resilience—and how these themes relate to the inmates’ lives. The book clubs encourage positive change through the power of literature.
 
The book club help inmates develop pro-social skills, such as respectful listening and speaking. As inmates read and discuss literature, they grow stronger reading and communication skills. Together this helps them make meaningful life changes. Upon release, reintegrate more successfully back into the community.
 
I received a book this week, Book Clubs at the Big House, The Story of Books Clubs for Inmates, written by Isobel W. Heathcote. The vision to teach literacy, self-awareness and empathy through the simple act of reading and discussing books inspires me. Margaret Atwood is inspired, as stated on the bookmark included. "Book Clubs for Inmates is doing important work for incarcerated men and women in Canada’s penitentiaries. It runs 36 book clubs, offers a child/inmate reading programme, and funds university education for academically-able inmates. I heartily support the work of BCFI, and I encourage you to do so as well.”
 
“The deepest desire in human nature is the craving to be appreciated.” ~ William James
 
Over the last few years, it seems society is caught between the ignorant, the cynical and or the apathetic. The vision of Rev. Dr. Carol Finlay warms my heart. She is out there trying to make the world a better place.
 
“A remarkable culture is a place where people: believe the best in one another, want the best for one another and expect the best from one another.” ~ Dr. Randy Ross
 
If anyone encouraged you in 2019, perhaps you might let them know how much it meant to you.
 
Wishing you a great weekend, and while writing for the last few hours, I have been listening to one of my favourites.
 
Glenn Gould Goldberg Variations. Sample Listen Here
With Love from Prince Edward Island, 
Bruce
ps. 
Judge: "I order you to pay $10,000."
Mario: "Why?"
Judge: "It’s a fine."
Mario: "No itsa not!"