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Love with Grace

Grace makes beauty out of ugly things ~ Bono

Year after year, I see the wounded wobbling into my office around this time.

The Expectation Train derails and causes mass casualties between December 25th and February 14th.  Most are still injured following a fall into the Disappointment Ditch of Christmas.   So the forecast of a Failure Frenzy on V-Day is pretty predictable, with a 95% chance of resentment.

Isn’t "love" a beautiful thing?

We do this to ourselves though. As a society, we allow the hype of media and advertisers to woo us into the fairy tales of candlelight dinners, sparkling gems, and imported chocolates accompanied by fine wine.

Although there is a piece of us living in reality, the fantasy can be all consuming…and quite damaging. Especially when we keep these ambitious hopes sequestered within, setting up the Failure Frenzy that much more.

Here’s the deal - when we live each day with intentional love and authentic connection, the pressure to fulfill made-for-TV dreams becomes null and void.

But what is ‘intentional love’ and ‘authentic connection’? It’s being able to state your truth – your joys, your worries and your annoyances with respect and consideration. It’s being an adult in a mutually caring relationship.

Photo by Rgt

Photo by Rgt

It’s the ability to reframe the coffee rings on the counter from a malicious act of personal contempt to a love note, letting you know your husband is home, safely sleeping beside you at night.

It’s the choice of listening with the goal of curiosity rather than the motive to be right.

It’s putting away the scoreboard and picking up the pom-poms to be the personal cheerleader of the one you have chosen as your lifelong confidante, companion, and lover.

It’s pausing to think of your own worst traits before you opt to recite the peculiar pet peeves you’ve catalogued of your spouse’s.

It’s saying, “I’m sorry. I was wrong. What can I do to make this better?”

Intentional love and authentic connection is grace in action. It’s believing the best about our partner and trusting they believe the best in us. In this world of fear and anxiety, let’s not add to the turmoil – let’s love with grace.

Believe. Create. Live.

© 2016 Rebecca G. Townsend, LLC

 

Beginning Behind

VULNERABILITY WARNING: The content of the following blog has a vulnerability rating of 92 (that was a B when I was growing up). This blog may make you uncomfortable. It may cause you to think differently of me as a result of the humanness exposed. Continuing to read may cause you to disapprove of me or cause you to like me more. If you like me just as you believe me to be, you may not want to read any further…

It’s January 19th and I feel like I’m already so far behind. I could actually strike the words I FEEL LIKE (notice, I did?). The truth is I am very late to this party oballoonreleaseCopyrightPixabyf 2016.

I just took down the Christmas decorations on Saturday, January 16th. Yes. That is 22 full days after Christmas. I had not touched anything – the stockings were still hung, every ornament was still on both trees, nativity scenes were displayed in full glory – even the Wise Men were surprised they were still hanging out 10 days after their arrival. Come to think of it, I can’t even claim all the decorations are packed away – I just remembered one of the door wreaths is more Christmas-y than winter wonderland…sheesh.

Our New Year’s cards to send to family and friends arrived on January 12th; the return address was embossed on the last envelope yesterday. However, the address labels aren’t printed and handwritten note haven’t been penned. I think February 1st is a reasonable goal.

I have zero specific intentions or dreams written down for 2016. Oh, I have well over 50 in my spaghetti noodle brain – but they’ll get lost in the spinning if I don’t purge them onto paper soon.

Most people lose weight between January 1st and 15th.  I opted to gain 5 pounds last week while I was working at one of my favorite healing places on earth, Onsite.  I'm juicing 2 meals a day this week in an effort to break even, but my hanger has interfered with all other efforts of balance and peace.

And because I feel the need to discharge all of this shame and disappointment in myself, I have to lay the blame outside of myself.

I have no more room in my soul for one more ounce of shame!

So, I’m blaming it on the Gregorian calendar. It’s an innocuous thing to indict. Pope Gregory XIII died in 1585 and I’m certain he is due for some modern day accusations.

See, I really don't like it when January 1st falls on a Friday. And in 2016, New Year’s Day was on a Friday. If Pope Greg would have channeled his inner perfectionist, he would have put in some rule about January 1st always being on a Monday. Can I get a resounding “AMEN” on that?

There's something about starting new things on Mondays that make me feel like I’m beginning on a blank slate.

Why would you start new habits on Fridays, Saturdays, or Sundays? It ruins a perfectly good weekend!

Monday is the beginning of a work-week and starting a new habit is work. Creating new patterns and behaviors is a struggle and can be overwhelming. The thought of having energy to kick-start an initially life-sucking practice at the end of a long week makes me want to curl up in tornado safety position and rock myself into emotional safety.

I find it very annoying when The Engineer says, "On January 1st, I’m going to stop eating gluten and dairy." Or, “I’m going to work out from 5am to 6am.” Or, “I’m not eating after 7pm.” He doesn’t expect me to join him in his endeavors. He never assumes I’m game and he never pressures me to join him in these shenanigans. But, seriously…what do I do?

Oh, I eagerly grab the Guilt by it’s horns and wrestle to wear it as scarlet letters broadcasting, “NGE: Not Good Enough.”

Not this year. At the end of 2015, I looked at my January calendar and saw all the fortune I had scheduled. I decided to try to view my calendar as full of opportunities – not busy-ness. I knew The Engineer would be traveling as soon as the holidays were over and I could see the potential for frazzled living.

I chose to offer myself grace and compassion. Gifts I easily give to others, yet struggle to receive for myself. I chose to speak gently to myself even when the messages of “being behind, not being organized, not as good as so-and-so” were as loud and dark as a Black Sabbath concert. It was and is a struggle. Yet, I know I am not alone in trying to walk away from these messages delivered by age-old traditions, family customs, social media, and societal expectations.

Knowing I have fellow travelers makes this journey towards harmony and connection easier and exciting. We are created to be connected in our love, in our shame, in our guilt, and in our joy.

How are you trying to pave a new path according to your inner yearnings? Let’s start a conversation to walk beside one another on this journey.

Believe. Create. Live.

© 2016 Rebecca G. Townsend, LLC

My Truth is to Dare

Most of us have two lives.  The life we live, and the unlived life within us.  Between the two stands Resistance.

~ Steven Pressfield

 

Fresh PageHello blank document.

I’ve been looking at you for a long time.  Many mornings you’ve greeted me with your willingness to accept my thoughts as doctrine.  You’ve offered me space – nothing but white space.

And yet, I’ve rejected the offer.

Instead, I become distracted by ancient voices that creep around in my core.

Those voices taunt me with an old recording of my anthem “You aren’t good enough.”

I wish it was a surprise visit and they were just passing through.  Yet, this old record player is stuck.

I’m not really shocked to hear it because I’ve heard it for so long and it’s played quite loudly for many years.

I thought perhaps I had drowned out that voice with hard work and busy-ness.

But the familiar murmurs quickly become roars.  These cries for attention have somewhat startled me, causing the forward movement to come to a screeching halt.

And I have been sitting at the crossroads of Resistance and Deliverance for months.  I’ve been hiding behind a calendar of legitimate excuses.

The scheduled days would make anyone gasp for a breath of fresh air – but apparently I thrive on the poison they emit or stay emotionally drunk from the intoxication of this busy-ness.  Or maybe I’m paralyzed by the conditions I’ve set.

I am afraid if I sit here for too long, I’m going to turn around and not travel this far again.

I am scared the archaic voices will take me back to the spot of fear and the words that merely seem stuck will never be loosened.

I don’t want to go backwards anymore.  I don’t want old stories to haunt me and keep me quiet.

I know there is refinement through these days of abrasive buffing and polishing.  I believe these stalls at crossroads are part of this journey.

I am only frustrated – not defeated.

I have a choice to make - continue on Resistance Road or turn on Deliverance Drive and brave the terrain, tackle what obstacles may come my way, and dare to be me.

In a game of Truth or Dare, perhaps my truth is to dare.

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

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