Tag Archives for " Happiness "

The Masquerade of Perceived Bliss

Have compassion for everyone you meet, even if they don’t want it. What appears bad manners, an ill temper or cynicism is always a sign of things no ears have heard, no eyes have seen. You do not know what wars are going on down there where the spirit meets the bone ~ Miller Williams

Life is hard.

It doesn’t seem fair. And there are days when it’s no fun.

It makes sense that people dip into a deep blue funk (that’s what I call depression).

The Masquerade of Perceived Bliss begins early in life.

Lullabies hushing little ones to stop the tears – don’t cry – we’ll buy you something. Won’t you delight in one more snuggly stuffed animal?

We don’t want to see your tears.

Who called you a name at school? It’ll be ok, have some milk and cookies.

We can’t handle your hurt.

They made fun of your new jeans? Let’s go get the right jeans, then.

We need everyone to approve of you - you can’t be different.

The coach is being rough on you? Don’t worry about mowing the yard or getting your homework done – this is a blow to your self-esteem.

Just don’t cry. Please, don’t cry. I can’t stand to see you cry.

Stop the tears with food, clothes, money, video games, and alcohol…please, don’t be sad! You have no reason to be sad – look at everything you have!

Can we stop hot-wiring happiness?

There is no instant elation.

We are humans, created with crevices of imperfection. Sadness, anger, bitterness, jealousy, confusion, grief, anxiety, arrogance…

Yet, it is faster, easier and not only acceptable – but expected - to throw a cloak over the pain. You had better do just that, camouflage any emotion – you know you only have three bereavement days for the loss of your immediate family member, right?

Stuff all those tears. Take these pills. Read this book. Listen to this song.

We are complex beings and we regularly dismiss the intricacy of our souls for the sake of time-management.

We teach and we learn to impersonate emotional perfection. The childhood grief, adolescent pain, adult anxiety and fear begin to feel less important – maybe even imagined.

But the authentic soul aches to be seen and heard. If you don’t allow it a voice, its desire to be recognized will twist within your body. The pain is determined to be witnessed.

Not everyone has earned the privilege to bear witness to your pain. And that may be one of the most difficult steps of ending the Masquerade.

Your pain deserves to be validated, cared for, and supported and when we expose our emotional rawness to someone who doesn’t hold it sacred, the hurt is magnified.

Living in your truth is risky and takes courage…so, go slowly and remember this is a journey.

Believe. Create. Live.

© 2015 Rebecca G. Townsend

The Badge of Busy-ness

“Be gentle with yourself.  Be gentle with yourself.”

I heard it over and over as I entered consciousness from a restless night of sleep.

The sun was beginning to show itself after it’s own evening of re-charging and it was becoming brighter and fuller.

I was not mimicking such energy in my own awakening.  My eyelids felt like 10 pound sandbags trying to be lifted by a mere pinky finger…gravity is winning.  And I am losing.

“But, be gentle with yourself,” I hear the small voice within cry out for it’s own attention.  Am I to treat myself with kid gloves?  Why do I keep hearing the same thing?

Could it be that I am not listening?  That I am moving too quickly…saying ‘yes’ when I should be saying ‘no’?

How do I change the automated response of ‘yes’ to the perceived selfish reply of ‘no’?

My life has been spent trying to earn the honorable badge of busy-ness.  In my community and in my childhood home, there was a distinguished identity associated with a full plate of responsibilities.

From a young age, I began to correlate busy with worthy.  I viewed someone who was “on the go” as important and valuable. 

I created a script – a story in my head - based on the belief that in order to be a person of influence and prominence, I had to say ‘yes’ to everyone and every opportunity.  I had to be of service to others whenever I was asked…and that it is selfish to say ‘no’ to someone.  It is selfish to not care for others when you have been taken care of so well.

This story line runs deep.  Parts of this story are generational.  I could have possibly been mimicking what I watched my sweet mother do so often and so well – serve others.  How could she not have with the name of Mary Martha?

In her service of others, I watched her stay up late completing promises of baked goods for a church gathering.  I saw her up before the sun to prepare us for school, when we should have been independent in that task.  I saw her live with no boundaries around her own time and our family time.  She ran on empty so often.

And here I sit.  Having just celebrated 44 years of amazing existence on this earth and I realized I am close to being depleted.

I have justified my hectic and active calendar for the last several years because I believe I have finally found my sweet-spot in life. 

I love my life – I love my family – I love my work.  I love the opportunities I have been given in serving our military members and their families.  I love being a witness to and a guide assisting individuals and couples on their journeys.  I love the opportunities I have to share what I have learned, professionally and personally.

I have a crazy amazing life.  I’m overwhelmed when I reflect on the pieces of my puzzle.  The pieces are so beautiful individually and I cannot believe all these blessings are creating my life.  MY life.

{Let me just pause in complete awe of the Divine…my heart is full of gratitude for these gifts of people, talents, and opportunities.}

BUT - Here’s my conundrum – How do I remove this Badge of Busy-ness that has implied such honor?  I have worked diligently to earn this and now I should just rip it off?  Tear it off of my soul’s work?

If I have heard the message of the importance of self-care once in the last two months, I can assure you I’ve heard it well over 4 dozen times.  Yes, almost daily – in a devotional, on a video, from a loved one, at church, in a seminar and…ummm, ironically, I’ve actually taught it to others.

I am beginning to acknowledge the importance.  I am contemplating what self-care would look like in my life.  By exploring new boundaries to preserve time and space for self-care, I am seeking to honor myself and those I love and care for.

I am seeking to be gentle with myself as I experience the pain and guilt of relinquishing this Badge of Busy-ness.

I am seeking balance.  That is the badge I want to earn.  The Badge of Balance.

Believe. Create. Live.

 

© 2015 Rebecca G. Townsend

Another One Bites the Dust

And now let us believe in a long year that is given to us, new, untouched, full of things that have never been – Rainer Maria Rilke

There are always flowers for those who want to see them ~ Henri Matisse

Given that I grew up in the ‘70’s and was a teenager of the ‘80’s, Queen’s hit song “Another One Bites the Dust” has been the “Auld Lang Syne” of my New Year’s Eves for some time.

I realize Queen’s song is about murder on the streets, yet, somehow I feel like I’ve often destroyed the 365 days of the departing year.

It’s difficult for me to not emotionally self-flagellate over failed goals. These fanciful goals have included maintaining a gluten-free, organic, unprocessed diet…sustaining the perfect fitness plan for my specific physical brokenness…preserving the organization of work spaces as they were when there was no work happening.

I could go on about all the failed New Year’s resolutions – but that’s not fruitful and only perseverates the flogging.

Instead, I’ll share what I have done well.  Something I didn’t set as a New Year’s goal but something I have been intentionally working on for several years – gratitude.

What’s is amazing in the here and now?  What do I have to be grateful for today?  Instead of picking apart what I’m not doing well and nit-picking myself into a deep blue funk, why don’t I pause and recognize what I am conquering and the successes I have had?

Many days a victory for me is merely not letting my tongue split in half and jet evil venom on my family if the door is locked as I try to come in with arms full of bags from work, the grocery, the dry cleaners.

That’s a little thing, but trust me, I’ve hissed and squealed over that door and I've appeared as the disrespectful adolescent heading to the principal’s office.  I’m fairly quick to observe my own behavior nowadays.  So, after a couple of ‘door incidents,’ I knew I had to approach entering our home differently.

I went back to gratitude.  What am I grateful for as I approach our home? I’m grateful to actually have a home.

I’m grateful that when The Engineer and I got married, we both owned homes.

I’m grateful we have a solid brick home with such strong materials that they aren’t even available anymore.

I’m grateful only one family before us – the family, who built the home in 1947, loved our home.

I am grateful the doors lock.

I am grateful not only for all the furnishings inside our home, but for the hearts and minds awaiting me…not to mention a wagging tail and jumping short furry legs.

When I begin to break down my initial gratitude for our home, it helps me see how blessed and fortunate I truly am.  And the ugly words and negative attitude that were quick to appear, disintegrate in the presence of gratitude.

How can you begin this journey of gratitude?  You could reflect on the previous year by recalling the times and/or things which brought you and loved ones smiles and laughter.

Or do a calendar review and pick one awesome thing from each month. Even in a really bad month, there was surely a delicious meal or a surprise find.  If you can’t recall what happened in your life in February 2014, perhaps that’s something you should be intentional with in 2015…writing down amazing days on your calendar that may note small victories, large celebrations and perhaps even daily gratitudes.

When we focus on what is going well – what we love and appreciate about our lives – the little inconveniences, well, they will remain small.

I’m curious what shift we would see and feel in our world if even half of us focused on gratitude and goodness.

Would you like to join me with the intention of giving, granting and gathering gratitude and goodness in your own life and the lives of your loved ones?  That intention could make 2015 an amazing year for everyone in your life.

Happy New Year!

Believe. Create. Live.

© 2014 Rebecca G. Townsend

Rest In Peace, Sweet Grechen

No matter how close we are to another person, few human relationships are as free from strife, disagreement and frustration as is the relationship you have with a good dog.  Few human beings give of themselves to another as a dog gives of itself

~ Dean Koontz

I had no business saying, ‘YES.’  We already had two canine kids – a boxer we rescued and a seven-year-old dachshund who was still angry we had disrupted her life with a large and hyper giant.

But, I couldn’t leave this 6-week-old injured puppy at the veterinarian’s office after they called me to see if I could offer her a safe home.

When I first met the dapple dachshund, she had two drainage tubes, multiple stitches and a tail that was broken in 2 places.  She was nothing less than pitiful – yet, adorable as little creatures with pink paws and puppy breath are.

While being raised in a puppy mill, she had ended up in the middle of two adult dogs fighting over food.  The breeder abandoned her at the vet’s office after being told she would never be able to have puppies.

I’m not sure I had even left the premises before I was calling my then-husband to plea the case for a third dog.  It was a petition that needed no more evidence than a hand to paw meeting.

But, my little Gretchen had a three-week stay at the animal hospital before she could come to her new home.  I visited her almost every day and the innocent puppy, once betrayed, gradually allowed herself to experience devotion, dedication and loyalty.

Her allegiance was with me, when four months later, I was separated and divorced.  I kept Gertie Mae and Gretchen, the dachshunds, and the boxer left with the husband.  It was a sad parting for us all.

Those pups were my healing when I didn’t see the possibility of restoration.  They sat with me through the tears, angst, and doubts of my loneliness.  They unknowingly mended my brokenness with their faithfulness.

Occasionally, I would meet someone who understood the saving grace Gertie and Gretchen extended to me.  The girls were a good test of character – better than any psychological evaluation I could complete.

After almost five of years of living single, I met and married The Engineer.  He was dachshund-approved even though we agreed on a ‘no-kid, no-dog in our bed’ policy.

Gretchen was spunky and sneaky.  She would be the one to find – and taste – things in our 60-year-old home that had gone unnoticed for decades.  A couple of after-hours vet calls taught me that hydrogen-peroxide ingested via a syringe would quickly produce evidence of what “treasures” she had found.

She chewed through plenty of cloth bags and plastic containers for items most would consider inedible.  Gretchen seemed to have a stomach of steel and a determination of survival, which she had learned as that helpless young pup in the midst of an adult dog brawl she almost lost.

Gretchen seemed to age quickly following Gertie Mae’s tragic and unexpected death in 2010.  She was obviously depressed and who isn’t cheered up with a new puppy?  We adopted a five-month-old long-haired male dachshund and named him Hansel.

Gretchen was not amused.

To ensure Gretchen felt loved, appreciated and remained Queen of her domain – The Engineer established a morning ritual.  Gretchen would be delivered with my coffee for snuggles.

She became my writing partner.  Gretchen was more patient with my writer’s block than I was.  I often had to coax her out of the burrow she created beside me every morning.

Gretchen was constant and persistent in her love and protection of me. She snapped at The Engineer more than once when would try to pick her up if the writing and snuggles were not completed.

Hansel adored his older sister and would dote on her and engage her in play as much as possible.  The love was obviously mutual – most of the time.

Gretchen would occasionally vie for our attention with a limp or refusal to eat.  We would obediently take her to the vet, rarely coming home with any diagnosis.  The prescribed remedy typically included more intentional attention from these busy humans.  It was always a good reminder for us to slow down.

Last week, when Gretchen turned her nose up to the gourmet, grain-free, gluten-free beef-stew canine meals, we assumed it was due to the true chaos in our home as we began a huge demolition and renovation project in our home’s main living area.

When she decided to stay in her crate one day, we thought maybe she was experiencing some pain from assumed arthritis.  We couldn’t seem to convince Gretchen that jumping from the back of the couch onto hardwood flooring to greet us was not necessary nor good for her back.

However, by Friday, it was obvious that Gretchen was truly not feeling well and a visit to the vet was warranted.  Kidney failure was not the diagnosis we expected.  And 48 hours of obvious suffering was heartbreaking to see.

Our family rules were broken and Gretchen was beside me every waking and sleeping moment…just as she had been by my side 11 years earlier through my emotional suffering.

We allowed Gretchen to join Gertie Mae in that amazing Dog Heaven on Monday morning.  We know and believe Gretchen is running, chasing squirrels and eating whatever she finds with no belly aches to follow.

Thank you, sweet Gretchen for your unconditional love.  I didn't rescue you - you rescued me.

Believe. Create. Live.

© 2014 Rebecca G. Townsend