Leave A Legacy of Gratitude!

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I want to leave a legacy to my family! I have thought about this for a long time now, and I want to leave a legacy of gratitude to my family. I want them, when they think back on me, to think of gratitude, kindness, and love. But I want it to go further than that, I want it to fundamentally change the core of my family! I want generations to come to be affected by my choices today and we know as a rule that is how this works. My family will indeed be affected by what I do today.

We know that children raised in families of negativity, in general, have a higher chance of being the same way- no this is not a steadfast rule!!  But you certainly have a greater chance of having a future life filled with negativity if you’re raised surrounded by negativity, right? OK.

So I want to live my life in such a way that it trickles down and affects my children, my grandchildren and generations beyond them.

Be the change you want to see in the world!  It works. Do it!

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Oh Guilt; You Are My Own Creation!

 

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It is a beautiful sunshiny day here in Central Indiana!  As the morning dawns I can see nothing but blue sky! Awesome! As I sit here in my sun room contemplating what it is that I want to say, a thought comes to me; I can’t believe I am sitting in a room in the Mid-West!! Really? I remember a time (as ironic as this is) when I would mock anyone who had the idea that they wanted to move to the Midwest….OK, truth, I actually had a conversation with a young woman about moving to Muncie, Indiana only a few months before I decided to move to Indianapolis, Indiana! And yes, the conversation had a bit of a mocking tone to it! Ha! Yes I have changed.

Ok, I digress! I wanted to talk about my feelings this morning, the ones which had me reeling for a little while in self-loathing guilt. <———- that there is some strong guilt! So what were these thoughts? Well before I tell you let me first say that there is a happy ending to my self-loathing guilt! Whew! I knew you would want to hear that bit of information first!

Now then what could cause all this horrible caliber guilt? FAMILY! For a lot of you I can probably stop right there and you would understand. We all have those times when we feel overwhelmed for one reason or another in relation to our family. Even the best intentioned person can get to a point where they just think “what is the point?” And yes, sometimes I get there. As I am sure most of you who read my blog understand right off, I do not mean “what is the point” in a terrible “I hate them” kind of way. But I do mean it in an “I’m giving up” kind of way. Yes….self-pity! Yay!
A little back story for perspective you say? Well, suffice it to say I always had a vision of how my life would be once my children were adults and had children of their own. I nurtured these ideas maybe too well over the years. I raised my kids as a single parent (during the time I raised them I did have two relationships but truly I was the only parent there) I always had this idea that we would be close forever. But of course as the kids became adults it changed. They have their own lives, and no that is not where the self-pity comes in, although it was a hard adjustment to make! The self-pity comes in because not only did my vision not come to fruition but others stepped into the picture and they then began to live my dream…with my kids. No it is not the absent parent, it is just other people, people who my children, through circumstance or choice, have found to be more necessary to their lives than I am.

OK, so you have some back story, and I really do not want to go into more detail, it is what it is! I got OK with it all a while ago. Now pay attention….because here comes the self-loathing guilt part….

As the years went by and I realized I do not have this relationship, this life that I wanted, I began to let go and feel better. I was able to step back and just be happy that my kids are grown, have families of their own, and are happy! But then it happens….I take a step away to reclaim some form of life for me and the self-loathing guilt hits! I came to realize the only way to ever have a relationship with my family was to set my days/schedules according to theirs, or it just wouldn’t happen! And for years now that is what I have done, but it has become too hard! I was always rearranging my schedule so that I could have some time with my family. There wasn’t a lot of balance. I realize if I wanted any kind of life I needed to take a step back. I thought if I did this the other side would push back a little, maybe come a little closer to the balance line; but it didn’t happen. I guess that is where the self-pity started. When they didn’t come to me at all, I resisted changing my routine back so that I could once again come to them. Why? Because I realized that they had all the quality of my life, but my life, personal and professional, well it lacked quality because of the nature of having to meet everyone else on their terms.

OK but what is it I am trying to say here? I need to bottom line this.

What I am trying to say is this morning I began a thought process where I asked myself “so are you going to chase them all down and find out what their schedules are this week so you can get some time? Are you going to try to accommodate all of their expectations for when, who, how, where?” And the answer I got was “no” and then I felt overwhelming guilt. OK…self-loathing guilt. It took me a few minutes of thinking on it, in which time I thought about my adult children, as well as my parents, and siblings, all extended family really and then it occurred to me- why am I stressing over being there or not being there for others? Why am I having such a hard time living my life without the guilt I place on myself over what type or how deep of a relationship I have with anyone? If I give my best, treat them well when we are together, love them from afar, keep in touch via other means of communication, etc… Why should there be any guilt?
Why? Because I create the guilt, I mean it is all mine. Nobody makes me have this guilt, heck probably at least half the time if I sat down and talked to any family member about it they would not think any guilt was warranted. Although I know there is some because I know they all sit around and discuss whether we are measuring up as parents/grandparents (because I have been witness to them doing it about the other parents/grandparents) but that should not matter to me. That is not my problem. It is none of my business if others want to judge, or talk about me, as long as I am confident in my actions, my thoughts, my love, my abilities. And I do no harm.

So this really goes back to my detachment post from last week, as well as unconditional love, forgiveness, and gratitude. All of these attributes can help me in this situation, but most of all I need to start with letting go of what others think about me; even family.

It is said that we can’t pick our family and it is said that we have an obligation to our family. And I do feel we have an obligation to an extent. Most definitely in times of need, but I need to let go of this picture I have of how family is supposed to be. My vision, the vision I nurtured all of my adult life (and honestly well before I was an adult) of life with adult children. I need to be OK with the fact that I have a life to live and I need to live it, without guilt, of any kind, because I am doing nothing wrong. I love my family and sometimes they are not available to me and I need to realize that this does not mean my life is held hostage waiting for an opportunity….and that is said with no malice. We all need to live our lives and when we do see each other it should be good and when we are apart we should stay in touch and that should be good enough. We should be happy that we have that. Because I know some families who do not speak…period!

If we only see each other once a month it needs to be good! And we should speak to each other often! SPEAK…not only text. And there should be no guilt. And if your family is not available to you when you are available or if they refuse to make time for you in any way you should not tear your life apart with guilt. It is not yours to have. It is not about you.

Do the best you can, be the best you can, and be OK with that!

And this also means if you want to move 1000 miles away; do not let guilt stop you! If God calls you somewhere… you go. There is Skype, text, phone, planes, trains, and automobiles! Ha! I mean come on!! The quality of relationship that you have with your family is what you make of it; no matter how close or far you live from each other.

I believe I try too hard to create this vision I had for our life and that is hard on everyone in my family. I can’t help but feel as though I’m being judged by them for not living up to this image I created. But what I realize, and yes it has taken me a long time, is that if indeed they are judging me, then this is not my problem. I need to be confident in my love and how I express it! I can’t live to please others, I just need to know that I love as best I can and I make sure others know how I feel! And I can’t backslide because someone decides my actions seem as though I do not care. I am secure in my love for them!! I need to own that and own who I am! No blame for others!! No blame, no guilt. We love the best we can and say it….as often as possible. We do no harm. And we are secure in who we are. Guilt so often is a figment of our own mind. And usually only we can rid our lives of that guilt!

Love, Pain, Fear

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There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear, because fear has to do with punishment. The one who fears is not made perfect in love. ~ 1John 4:18

To love means to experience fear and pain. They go hand in hand, don’t they? Years ago I took a course in spiritual growth; the curriculum I studied included something about “detachment” – healthy detachment. At the time I did not understand what that meant; in fact I couldn’t fathom any kind of detachment when it came to my loved ones, my husband, parents, and children. To me this idea seemed love-less.

I remember reading how to detach. It said to remove fear and pain from your life (with regards to loved ones) you needed to learn to detach from the outcome, detach from them in a sense. I could not understand that, to me this seemed an impossible thing to do! It took me a few years before I began to understand what the course was actually teaching, and yes I have a pattern of learning things, especially of a spiritual nature, it can take a while for something to click. It’s all in the journey!

Do You Trust God?
I think my big AHA moment came when I thought about giving my children’s lives over to God. I had dedicated my children to God when they were little and over the years, even as adults, I continued to let God know that they were in His hands. But I am not sure I meant it, or understood it. One day I thought about it and like a light bulb going off it dawned on me that I had never really given them over to Him, I said it but I didn’t mean it, at least not fully. Because I still had a fear of losing them, I always had that fear. I realized if I had truly given them over to God I would not fear what is happening with them; I would trust in Him. And that goes for all relationships. If I trust God to take care of these people and the relationships (in life and death) then I will no longer fear for them. And it stands to reason a lot of pain would be removed from my life as well.
I had not thought about it before. But once I did think about it I realized I couldn’t get to this place (of no fear- just love) without detachment. That is when I revisited the detachment theory.

Respect For Free Will
It took me a long time to be able to understand how much love it takes to get to a place where I could let go with love, in love. To have a healthy detachment.
I think when I heard the word detachment I thought of a void of love or emotions, but that is not it at all. It is in the greatest love that I am able to detach so that I can allow others to express themselves and live a life of free will…their free will.
Today I understand the detachment concept and I have given my family and all loved ones over to God. I respect their free will. I don’t think I could if I didn’t understand healthy detachment.
Although….having said this, every once in a while it sneaks up on me, my old ways sneak up to create fear and pain, an ache that I can feel deep within, and it scares me. But when you love from a pure place, a place of detachment, then there is no fear. No fear of loss. You understand by living in this very unselfish way, you are allowing all your loved ones to live a life where you have respect for their free will, and you encourage them to live in this way. And to live their best life! So when my old ways sneak up on me, I just remind myself that to be detached in a healthy way is pure love and the best I can offer my loved ones! They get my love, support, and encouragement without all the baggage that can go along with it!

It is truly a great place to be. Getting there takes time, staying there takes time………staying there 100 % may not be a reality for a human being. We as humans will always have our ups and downs. it is in the return to unselfish unconditional love that we find our place and our peace.

***Disclaimer- In my opinion there are many levels of detachment. I think I have been clear what level I am referring to. It is a tool I use in which to allow others to be themselves, to live their lives without my interference (brought on by fear) and still love, unconditionally and fully! I strive to detach from the outcome and from the fear and anger that can be associated with relationships.

A few scriptures from different religions on detachment-
• The Ignatian emphasis of Christian spirituality emphasizes interior freedom. To choose rightly, we should strive to be free of personal preferences, superfluous attachments and preformed opinions. ~ Christianity/Ignatian Spirituality
• One who performs his duty without attachment, surrendering the results unto the Supreme Lord, is unaffected by sinful action, as the lotus is untouched by water. ~Bhagavad Gita
• “The essence of detachment is for man to turn his face towards the courts of the Lord, to enter His Presence, behold His Countenance, and stand as witness before Him.” (Tablets of Baha’u’llah, p. 155)
• Fame or Self: Which matters more? Self or Wealth: Which is more precious? Gain or Loss: Which is more painful? He who is attached to things will suffer much. He who saves will suffer heavy loss. A contented man is rarely disappointed. He who knows when to stop does not find himself in trouble. He will stay forever safe. ~Taoism