Guilt…be gone!

I am a believer that you should be happy with what you have.  So often we look at what others have and we forget about all the wonderful things that we have in our own lives.  I like to “preach” that even though you might not have a brand new car, you do have one that takes you where you need to go.  Your home decor might be stuck in the 1970s, but you have a roof over your head; a shelter from the extremes of cold and heat.  You have food to eat even though you might oftentimes say, “I’m starving” if you haven’t eaten in 4 hours.  This is also why, sometimes, when I hear that I am so lucky to have everything I have or if someone says, “I wish I had that” pointing to something I own, I actually feel guilty.  Why do I feel this way?

I look around at family and friends and see things they have.  I do not covet those items.  I am happy for them and for their acquisitions.  These “things” make them happy.  If they are happy then I am happy for them.  I never say, “I wish I had that.”  Maybe I’m weird.  Having wanted stuff does create joy in your life, but there are those that once they get that remarkable thing they are still not happy.  These are people who do not actually love themselves or their life.  They can collect things forever, but until they find that inner peace, they will never be satisfied with anything they own.

Don’t get me wrong.  I am a lover of shopping and acquiring new things.  I have even delved into “new to me” items.  They are gently used items because we have such expansive wardrobes of clothing that we don’t get a chance to wear anything out.  It also makes me feel thrifty and supportive of local charities.  Yup, all these thoughts will go through my head and then I’ll buy a totally new item of clothing.  Meh…it happens to the best of us.

Now, having someone say, “it must be nice,” in a snarky tone, is what gets me feeling guilty.  Yes, it is nice that I can buy nice things for myself and my family.  It is nice that we can do some renovations in our house that have been the bane of our existence since day one.  It’s wonderful that I have such beautiful things in my life.  Yes, these “material things” do make me happy and make my smile.  Why do I feel guilty?

The guilt doesn’t last as long as it used to.  It is with age and experience that I have learned to get over that feeling.  You see, after sacrificing my wants and giving to others instead, I had gone through many a bad experience where none of it was appreciated.  The recipient would thank me and praise me for I had done for them.  After a few months passed, none of it mattered.  It became, “what have you done for me…lately?”  Giving to those who always greet you with an open hand for taking, will never appreciate what you have done for them.  It’s a bitter pill to swallow, but you learn from it and move on.

I also remind myself, that even though everything seems like it happened yesterday, it didn’t.  Wiseguy and I have spent years and many work hours to accumulate the goodies we now have.  I now like to say that I have earned these things.  Children were raised to the best of our abilities.  There are now grandchildren that we can spoil and pamper as we could not afford to do with the children themselves.  The foods I prepare to make everyone’s taste buds happy are incredible and that is because I finally can afford to do this.  Whenever I get happy smiles for the food selection I am beyond ecstatic and grateful for everything that is in my life.  I could easily cry all day long with joy when I compare where we started our life together and where we are now.

IN THE BEGINNING:  a one bedroom apartment in a not-so-ritzy part of town.  We had a newly purchased bed.  I had moved out of my parent’s house with my clothes, my VHS Disney collection, and my books.  The furniture stayed there except for one metal shelf that had housed my book collection.  This was to become our kitchen pantry for 4 years in that apartment.  We, Wiseguy and I, had received the following as charitable gifts:  an old motel tv (that lasted a few months before the colour tube busted), a round banquet table, and two metal banquet chairs.  Our friends at work decided to donate to our cause.  We were gifted a pull out couch and a swivel chair from a Native Indian fellow we worked with who had 7 children.  Yes, we were more destitute than a man with 7 children.  After a couple of months, my mother-in-law and father-in-law took us to a lovely store called Sears (which is now closing down forever) and they bought us a lovely forest green couch and matching chair.  We still have that couch and chair.  We can’t bear to part with them even though they are now 22 year’s old.  We shopped at Value Village (a thrift store) for ourselves and for the children.  We didn’t have much, but we were very wealthy in the happiness department.  We loved each other, we loved the children, we loved our life.

NOW:  After almost 22 years from that single bedroom apartment we have progressed and donated that old furniture to the same place where we used to shop.  We have given that store dining room sets, clothing, small appliances.  We live in a beautiful home with 5 bedrooms and two spare rooms.  My kitchen appliances are a professional chef’s dream and I enjoy cooking and baking and having people’s faces light up with the goodies I serve.  We have an abundance of things and we worked hard to get them.

Do I feel guilty?  I did for many years, but have finally decided that it was with hard work and patience that I now have what is in my life.  Most importantly, I still have my Wiseguy and the beautiful children in my life.  I am also grateful to now have 5 grandchildren who can enjoy all the fun things that are now part of this abundant lifestyle.

Now I forcefully and emphatically say:  GUILT….BE GONE!


Welcome to Heaven…

Heaven.  My parents were Roman Catholic so heaven was the place where God lived with (the Virgin) Mary on one side and Jesus (his Son) on the other.  Heaven.  The place where there was no pain.  Everyone was happy.  There was no anger.  No jealousy.  Nothing bad. I think I summed up that theory of heaven.  Sorry if I offended anyone, but this is just my theory and version on this topic.

I have actually studied many religions because I was curious.  After high school I decided to major in history.   Wiseguy loves to quiz me all the time about historical facts.  FAIL.  (Why are the years so important in history?  I know, some historian right?)  I LOVE history just because of the drama and social aspects in all the his-stories. 

Anyway, let’s return to the taboo topic of religion.  Being brought up RC I went to church every sunday.  I was a soprano in the choir.  At the age of 14, I wanted to be Mother Teresa.  Honest.  However, meeting boys kind of changed that.  They were cute and I loved to danced and MT never really did that did she?  So, my goal was just to be a good person.  Yup, that should do it for my RC soul.

In keeping in line with “being a good person” I was very open about many things.  My parents (bless their hearts) believed that “birds of a feather MUST flock together”.  So, keep the same heritage / religion when you are looking at potential dates.  The awful teenager that I was, I decided to date someone of the Muslim persuasion.  Ouch!  It was more based on personality and not religion, but I really learned a lot . I actually read the Koran (Quran), took notes, asked the boy questions about stuff I read.  The one thing I learned (which I think is the most important thing I ever learned) is that rumours and the unknown breed fear.  Not to mention that scriptures taken out of context (as is the case with many writings) can really do a bang up job in creating and breeding fear in any society.

Each religion (and there are many) talk about love and forgiveness.  They talk about patience and understanding and loving.  So, my amusement has always been that anytime there is a war, and “God’s people” are brought up, I can’t help but feel happy and sad at the same time.  Really, I don’t want to stir the pot (I am a peace-loving person after all), but after studying ALL religions (honestly…ALL religions…even the Church of the Flying Spaghetti Monster) the basic message in each is:   love and understanding and inner peace and community.  How shooting other people was derived from THAT message baffles me.  

My blog today is not a lecture.  In my opinion (yes, opinion) I believe that every religion is right.  I also believe every religion is wrong.  Weird right?  But I strongly believe that if we followed the basics of any religion, we would actually be happy.  Every religion  believes in a higher power.  Each one believes that we must love ourselves and by accomplishing this feat, we can and will love everyone around us.   Love and forgiveness leads to happiness.  That is the root of every religion.  If we mixed up all religions with only the parts on love, kindness, tolerance and discarded the parts on how to dress and who can beat whom and who goes to heaven and who doesn’t, then I believe the most perfect religion would exist.

Today I think it is important to realize how important loving yourself is.  It’s not about being a narcissist.  I believe that when you stop looking at what others have that you do not, you can start to appreciate what “wonderfulness” you have in your life and in yourself.  When you feel that beauty inside you, that rose-coloured world returns and life starts feeling and looking good again.  THAT world is a beautiful place to live in.  The more happiness and joy you emanate, the more the same kind of happiness is attracted to you.  You are amazing and beautiful and wonderful.  Once you appreciate what you really have and stop concentrating on what you believe you are missing, you will have a clear path to that wonderful place.  Welcome to Heaven!  That happy place where there is no pain, anger, jealousy.  Just lots of Happiness and Love. (Right John?)