Tag Archive | contentment

Are you wearing sewage stained glasses?

It’s a lovely day out there and the little man is headed to school having recovered from a bout with the stomach flu over the weekend.  Although he was feeling better, this morning he woke up with a spirit that was lacking in gratitude. He’d forgotten all about his excitement on Saturday at finding an Army duffel bag from the Korean War, and many other treasures, when he helped clean out a friend’s garage.

He’d also forgotten about all of the board games, books, and DVDs, that we had gotten for free after a yard sale closed yesterday, on our way home from a ginger ale and Jell-O run. What did he feel he was missing in life? Television… He had a sleepover at a friend’s house Friday night and was able to watch copious amounts of television.  Suddenly something that we have not had for nearly two years was all that he could think about.  I am considering it, television, but it is not a top priority to say the least.

Flowers from the front yard!

Flowers from the front yard!

When we go through a day feeling lack…lack for what we do not have, or lack of gratitude for all that we do have, it is like putting on a pair of sewage stained glasses, and everything we look at is tainted by the color and stink of that sewage. We become blinded to all of the goodness in life, and close our hearts to gratitude.  However, it does happen to the best of us at times, even me. 😉

A sense of lack often leads to thinking that we lack even more, as we continue to compare what we have to what others have and end up feeling even more ungrateful and lacking, whether it be lack of personal attributes, or lack of things.  Comparison almost always leads to a feeling of lacking in some way or another, which is why God cautions us not to compare ourselves with others.  It this world, that is hard not to do, but not impossible.

The little man is only 8 years old and at his age, comparison at school, and out in the world, is common.  He is using comparison to figure out how he fits into the world.  His teacher tells him not to compare, and I do the same, but it seems to be human nature, whether we are 8 or 80 years old.

I know several people in the late 70’s who constantly measure their own worth by what they have that others do not.  At 8 it is something that is fairly natural, and provides many teachable moments to help the child value who he is as an individual, and to help him to know and appreciate just how blessed he truly is, and how he can use his blessings to bless others.  At 80 years of age, it is a sad sight seeing someone who feels that the only way to measure up is to outdo everyone.

God loves people who are content with what they have, and who feel as if they are lacking for nothing.  God loves people who feel that they are enough, and have enough, and likewise, other people are drawn to those who are content within, and without, both literally, and figuratively speaking.  Gratitude does not come naturally to everyone, but I believe that it can be nurtured within, and learned over time, and strengthened into a habit.

Once you begin to appreciate all that you do have, it is amazing just how much more begins to show up. You will find yourself surrounded by grateful, content, people, and as you open up to feeling that you have enough of all that you need, you will also open yourself up to receive the things that you may have been blocking with those sewage stained glasses—opportunities that you just could not see, or did not believe existed will become visible, and obtainable.

So, today, put on a spirit of plenty, and glasses stained with the color of joy and gratitude, and don’t be tempted to take them off.  If you need to wear a pair of blinders for a time along with your joy tinted glasses that is perfectly all right.

Once you establish your focus on gratitude, goodness, and plenty, and make it a habit, the blinders will naturally fall off in such a way that your view of life will be brighter, balanced, and the scent will be so sweet that you will not believe that you lived with the scent of sewage for so long.  Take the time to develop a habit of contentment and gratitude.  It is a very worthy summer project with such beauty all around!

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Following your own path–How to be a socially acceptable non-conformist

Part of being an inspirational page owner on Facebook, for me anyway, is trying to convince people that they can become authentic and they will still be loved.  It means sending out messages, often in poster form, encouraging people away from that life of quiet desperation and towards a life of their own making, full of love, joy, and happiness.  I work very hard to plant seeds that give people permission to be themselves even if it means not totally conforming to what most of us seem to think society wants from us.  I am hoping to let people know that you can become a socially acceptable non-conformist, but few people seem to trust that.

Follow the road only you know exists.

I often hear, “I would love to do this, but…,” or, “I wish I could do that, but…”  These statements are always followed by why they cannot do this, that, or the other thing, and in the end if comes down to their fear of bucking what society and the media feeds us, telling us all what we should be doing, and wanting, and attaining.  It would seem that we are all supposed to be working ourselves into the ground, squeezing our families in when we can, and most definitely, we should be trying to please everyone even if it means denying ourselves.  I used to buy into that, too.  In fact, I owned the company.  I cannot buy into it anymore and I so wish that more people understood that life is all about choices, and we DO have them in nearly every part of our lives.  The real question is, are we willing—are we brave enough to make choices that others might not agree with, or see as a little too different to fit into their comfort zones?  Are YOU brave enough, if you are living a life of quiet desperation, to make serious changes, and not to follow the pack?

I have a friend who is in her mid 70’s and I do not think she has ever known real happiness and contentment.  She worked herself silly as a younger woman and stayed in a marriage that made her miserable.  She lives in a large, gorgeous, home that is decorated within an inch of its life.  You cannot find a single surface, floor included, where there is not some piece of brick-a-brack every six inches.  Her deck has lovely patio furniture with cushions that must be brought inside every time there is a threat of rain, and under the patio furniture are rugs that get soaked when it does rain.  She is constantly on the go, doing for others at the drop of a hat, never able to relax, or just to say “no.”

If she leaves the house without being well dressed and in full make-up, she worries that people will talk about her behind her back.  When she entertains, even a barbecue, no one can relax because she cannot relax.  She has a grandson who is an absolutely wonderful, kind, giving, and grounded young man and of him she says, “Yes, but he’ll never be rich.  Not enough ambition.”  What must I look like to her, I wonder?  I wonder, but the thing is, I do not care.

She looks tired or scared a lot of the time, and every night she drinks too much.  I know at this point in life chances of her changing are slim, but how I would love to see her relax and just find the joy in herself and in life.  I would love to see her just plain happy, and yet, I used to be just like her.  I was constantly on the go, chairing this committee, or that one, or serving on this board, or that one, or more often, all of them. At the same time, I was raising a lot of very young children, and married to a surgeon which meant frequent entertaining, and when I entertained, my goal was to out do those who had gone before me.

I had to be the best at everything and as much as I truly cared about all of the things that I was doing, the reason I was doing them was to feel better about myself.  I had been raised with the notion that perfection was the only acceptable result, and I constantly missed the mark.  It got to the point, shortly before we moved from the community in which I was the go-to person for most everything, where I was out of steam completely, but found myself yelling at my husband who had already moved, “I will not leave this town with anyone thinking I am anything less than perfect!”  He had suggested I drop a thing or two and I could not conceive of doing that.  And just like my friend, I drank every night after I got the kids to bed to ease the pain of another day of being less than perfect.

Of course, that desire to be perfect was a swell cover for many pains that were far deeper, and in the end, that drive to be perfect took me into some places darker than black, and deeper than any bottomless pit, and it very nearly killed me.  However, I had to be knocked down more than a few times before I became willing to make changes in myself, and how I lived, and to be true to myself, and my temperament, and to get to the core of the pain I was hiding from with the need to appear perfect, and the drinking, and the excessive activity.  It took a lot of work, and massive amounts of courage, and a real commitment, and a long, damn, time, but I have found a place where I fully accept myself and am happy in my own skin.  When you get to that place, anything is possible, but far fewer things seem attractive, necessary, or even close to acceptable.

It is no longer attractive to me to pursue perfection.  I would be lying if I said I was totally over the need to be perfect.  The word perfect is one of my favorite words to hear, especially when it comes to my cooking, or writing.  However, I can now easily accept the phrases, “very good,” and “nicely done.”  Before, those would have been seen as insults.  I no longer find it necessary to please everyone to the exclusion of myself, nor is it necessary to say yes to every opportunity that is offered to me.  I derive my sense of self-worth from within—from God and from how I operate in this world.  It is no longer acceptable to me to strive beyond what is healthy for me, nor is it acceptable to have things I do not need, buy things I cannot afford, live somewhere that is far too big, or act like I am anyone but me–the genuine, essential, flawed, imperfect, happy, joyful, me.

Some may view me as lazy.  I know that I am anything but lazy.  Some may think that I need to acquire more things, or have more of what people think that everyone needs, like cable TV, for instance.  I do not want or need cable TV, nor does my son need anymore exposure to vile programs or inappropriate media stories than he already gets other places.  I do not need anymore things, or shoes to match this, or a handbag to go with that.  I now know exactly what I need and that is God, to love my family and friends, to work to pay the bills, and to write to honor God and the gift He has given me.  I have goals for the future that I pray will be a blessing to many, and dreams that I know I will see fulfilled.  God did not create me to be perfect, or run myself ragged in the pursuit of an illusion, or to deny myself and what He has placed in me.  Add a bit of solitude and quiet and my life could not be better.

I live a life so simple and honest that it is hard for many not to see it lacking in some way.  Yet, I know from what they tell me, that they want the same things.  It is just too scary.  The path to get there just looks too scary to take.  I had to go very far inside myself to find my path and it is only the right path for me.  Today, I encourage you to be brave enough to find your own unique path, even if it does not conform to what society wants for you.  Have the courage to go deep enough inside yourself to know who you are and what you really want and be willing to get rid of all of the rest, even if it hurts.  I encourage you towards a life of simplicity, joy, peace, and genuine happiness.  How badly do you want it is the real question?