How to make yourself happy

legendsandfairytales:

This is absolutely excellent!

Originally posted on Happiness Weekly:

laughing

Happiness depends upon ourselves. Aristotle

Knowing how to make yourself happy is one of the most empowering things we can do. Life is constantly changing and everything is unpredictable, which means the only person we can fully depend on is ourselves. If we’re going to spend a lot of time by ourselves, it’s a good idea to know how to make ourselves happy!

I caught up with a colleague the other day and we spoke about the little things people had been doing lately that made us feel special. We could literally narrow it down to: receiving an email first thing in the morning, tapping on the glass to say hello as someone walked by, a guy calling me “mate” when he said hello and getting a thumbs-up signal.

We stopped and looked at each other in horrified realisation:

“How in the hell did such small things come to make…

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Idealistic Perfectionistic Mothers

Today I am writing about myself. On standardized personality tests I usually come out as a cross between a “thinker” and an “idealist.” My youngest son, whom my “idealistic self” secretly hoped would be my perfect child, despite all evidence to the contrary, is clearly not going to be a perfect child. Many of us mothers will adamantly refuse to express that we may have a favorite child, but scientific research indicates that mothers do indeed favor one child over another at various times. It may not be the same child who is favored all the time. We might claim that “we love each child differently.” But in our subconscious mind we typically do have favorites.

In my own journey through motherhood, I think I was seeking to favor the child who behaved the best. When my oldest child resisted attending catechism classes, hiding behind the janitor’s closet door, leaving 20 teachers looking for him, I knew he wasn’t going to be perfect. “No hope for him, off the favorite list!” I must have thought. When my daughter attended preschool and informed the entire class that she wasn’t wearing any underwear today, while asking if anyone wanted to see. I think reality set in for me. I must have subconsciously thought, “Well, that did it, you are clearly off the favorite list, dear daughter.” Yesterday, my youngest son left his backpack and jacket at the doctor’s office after his appointment. This is not really an embarrassing moment as far as that child is concerned. I recall attending mass when he was two-years old as he shockingly shouted his new vocabulary of “private body parts” when he was potty training. I remember him running away from me and hiding in a drainage ditch. I remember him delivering his bowel movements to me in his toy dump truck. I think I wanted a “perfect child” so badly, that I over-looked all the evidence to the contrary. Today, I’ve decided that this third child indeed is not going to be my perfect child either. Now, I could try to give birth to another child and keep feeding this illusion of mine, or I could lovingly accept the imperfect people God has blessed me with to raise with mercy and compassion.

I enjoy oil painting as a hobby, but I have absolutely no expectations of myself to be an artist. I simply enjoy painting for the fun of it. I have one of my paintings in my bedroom. It is a seascape. It is not perfect by any means, but I like the colors, so I keep it up. I have other paintings that have less flaws in them which I’ve given away. But somehow, I tend to keep this imperfect painting for myself. With mercy and compassion, I embrace the awkward palm trees, goofy waves, and imperfect shadows in this painting simply because I choose to see the pretty colors. Perhaps, I could spend a little more time appreciating the beautiful, colorful, imperfect children God has given me like I enjoy my imperfect painting. This particular trait is really what our Catholic Saints are known for. The Saints are people who embraced their own imperfections with compassion, thereby empowering them to love others as they loved themselves.

Sandy Hook Elementary and the Shooter’s Father

Today’s news highlights Peter Lanza, the father of Adam Lanza. Adam Lanza killed 20 young elementary students just before Christmas in 2012. According to the interview, this tragedy haunts Peter everyday. Peter Lanza speaks honestly about his relationship with his son and his feelings regarding the shooting, which is probably one of the worst massacres in US history. Peter tells a story of a very typical child in elementary school that changed significantly during middle school. In middle school, Adam was diagnosed with Asperger’s Syndrome. However, Adam refused to cooperate with any treatment. With the changes in Adam’s hormones taking place during middle school, along Adam’s ability to clearly comprehend that his parents and doctors believed there was something “wrong” with him, Adam was definitely beginning to show signs of schizophrenia. However, this diagnoses is a very difficult label to put upon an adolescent.

Looking back over time, Adam was clearly disconnected from any concept of reality. No one who is grounded in reality can brutally murder an innocent six year old child, let alone 20 elementary children. Over two years earlier, Adam’s father could not absorb the reality of his son’s illness and fled the conflict involved with functioning as a responsible parent. Today, Peter communicates to the world that his child was evil and he wishes he was never born. This is probably exactly how Peter felt many years ago, especially after the diagnoses of his sons Asperger’s.

Is how Peter Lanza treated his son Adam, the same way God our creator treats Adam? In Adam’s mind the answer was most likely “YES!” As parents, our everyday relationship with our children paints upon our children’s hearts the concept of God our creator, the meaning behind life, and our own sense of worthiness or value to society. Often times the parent’s lack of integration between their public life and their private lives can be manifested in the stressful split of a child’s own psychological health. For some unknown reason, some children can navigate extremely difficult life situations with resiliency while others cannot. What we as a society need to honor and support are the many parents and caregivers who are stubbornly suffering every day trying to support their loved ones who are living with mental illness. What can be done for the many unseen parents today who are doing the best they can to prevent the next shooting, because they believe their own loved ones could be dangerous?

Link to Peter Lanza’s story:

https://news.yahoo.com/peter-lanza-adam-lanza-father-speaks-out-134758406.html?vp=1

Mother Teresa’s Confusing Contradictions

I am currently attending a Catholic mom’s group which is studying Mother Teresa. Mother Teresa was a well-loved, well-known Catholic nun who’s claim to fame, and possible sainthood, is her unwavering care for the poorest of the poor in India. India is a country where the Hindu religion will allow monkeys to ravage a banana orchard while the human residents starve to death. Generally speaking, human life is not considered to be precious in India. Mother Teresa cared for the poor and gave “the least of these” dignity as human beings.

However, Mother Teresa is often faulted for not doing enough by choosing not to administer pain medications or vitamins to those in her care. In her Catholic thinking, the poorest were there to be the lampstands of Christ on earth in the midst of their suffering. Many people think she should have better utilized funds to alleviate the suffering of the poor and as a result she is accused of romanticizing suffering.

Regardless of Mother Teresa’s choices in financial matters, many Catholic’s were even more confused upon learning about her ”Dark Night of the Soul.” Portions of Mother Teresa’s diaries were published after her death revealing disturbing doubts as to her sense of the real presence of God. However, Mother Teresa was a mystic. Her spiritual life involved becoming one with those she loved and served. In her darkness and despair the spirit of Mother Teresa united with those she served. She came to deeply understand within her own being the pain, fear, and rejection the poorest of the poor felt throughout their lives. The presence of God as an entity that is separate from human beings disappeared for Mother Teresa. God became alive in the human beings whom others had rejected. Mother Teresa deeply understood those she ministered to because she allowed her spirit to become one with theirs.   

Mother Teresa gave onto Caesar what belonged to Caesar while she gave to God what belonged to God. The money she handled was given to the Vatican while her heart was given to the poor. That clarifies any doubts in my mind as to who Mother Teresa truly served. She successfully became one with Jesus Christ and hopefully, today, she is finally experiencing his resurrection.

We Are All One Body In Christ

When one denomination of Christianity suffers, all the body of Christ suffers. The secular world does not know who to trust or what to believe when various Christians fail to live according to the basic Ten Commandments.

I hear many stories as a massage therapist who is studying to be a Catholic chaplain. I hear of a young 8 year old girl, who over 50 years ago, was raped by a family member. This 8 year old girl sought help from her parish priest. The parish priest was not helpful, he also raped her. He was never charged or condemned as a “bad” priest.

I knew a young man who committed suicide after serving as an altar boy for several years in a small northern town. Only after he killed himself did anyone hear rumors of the molestation he may have suffered from his priest. This priest was never considered a criminal either.

I hear of a 12 year old girl whose mother adored their parish priest. The priest would come for dinner at their home. When the mother was not around, the priest would partially undress and demanded a backrub from the 12 year old girl. The mother could see nothing wrong with such behavior. This priest was never considered a criminal.

I hear of middle aged women who do not have the self-esteem to be able to enjoy a real relationship with a spouse and instead accept the scraps of affection given by busy priests through emotional and sexual liaisons which bring along the spiritual shame of adultery.

I observe women between 40 and 80 years old adoring a priest like a 14 year old girl at a concert for Justin Bieber.

If our Catholic Community is going to heal, the “New Evangelization” efforts need to be rooted in reality instead of idealism. Catholics need to be taught to listen to the victims, hear their stories, acknowledge their pain, and guide the wounded towards peace. Many Catholics attempt to bury their head in the sand while refusing to see that there is not a small minority of “bad” priests. In reality there is a very wounded church with many wounded sheep. We are the body of Christ, all of us, no matter what we have done or not done. We are united in Christ. As Catholic Christians we are called to fear God alone, not our priest, bishop, Pope, or other people’s opinions.

In my own life experiences, I have found homosexual priests to be very supportive of my efforts to serve others. I have found married Eastern Orthodox priests and black priests from Africa to respect me much like I was respected by other professional men as a scientist and engineer. I have not had many positive experiences with white, American, heterosexual priests. All I can say is that when interacting with these priests, in my own mind I often think, “Houston to Apollo 13, I think we have left reality and entered the land of projection again….” My opinion is that priests would do well to have the freedom to choose marriage if they desire while being free to keep their vocation of priesthood. I think it is very good to have intimate relationships with other people where each person keeps the other person accountable by providing healthy reality checks.

Thank you everyone for taking the time to read my thoughts. I suspect this will be my last posting on this issue. It’s time for me to return to writing fiction. I feel like I have spoken my truth and that brings me peace. Love and Prayers to all.

The Inner Thoughts of Catholic Leaders

Many of my Protestant friends scratch their heads and wonder why Catholics continue to follow various thought patterns that were rebuffed during the Protestant Reformation and again during Vatican II. The key issues many Protestants observe are: 1) Catholics trying to work their way to heaven instead of accepting God’s grace, and 2) The idolization of the consecrated religious.

Catholic teachings do not affirm putting any human being on a pedestal, not a Saint, not a priest, and not the Pope. On the contrary, Catholic Theology affirms the equal value of each human life as a divine reflection of God’s image on earth. However, uninformed and misled Catholics will still tend to exalt other people as “above” themselves. Just like in the days of King Solomon, the people want a king. God does not want an earthly king. God wants Jesus Christ to be the King. However, that’s too abstract for many people to fathom. Additionally, many adult people are still psychologically seeking a parent figure in their lives. Until an individual can become an adult in the world, and a child of God alone, this pattern of exalting human beings will continue.

The human beings that most people will choose to exalt are those that have done something important. This is true in the secular world with professional athletes. People will idolize other people. Therefore, the idea of “working ones way to heaven” starts to immerge. One of the ways many Catholics seem to think one can “earn” heaven is through sacrificing earthly pleasures. Thus we have the life long vows of celibacy.

Now, many leaders in the Catholic Institution who are in positions of authority have faithfully lived a life of sacrifice. They have lovingly forsaken their desire to be a husband/wife and a father/mother while living in an institutional setting with each hour of their day planned. The consecrated life of a religious brother, sister, or priest is often highly structured in service to others. It is very painful for these individuals who have offered their entire lives with such a high degree of service and so little personal freedom, to be able to allow someone else the same honor and authority. A married Protestant minister who later in life becomes a Catholic priest presents a very painful rebuff to many of the consecrated religious. It is like the parable in Matthew 20:1-16, where the landowner offers a daily wage to all the workers in the vineyard. The landowner hires workers in the early morning, at 9:00am, at noon, at 3:00pm, and again at 5:00pm. The landowner pays each worker the same daily wage. The early morning workers complain while the landowner replies,

“Friend, I am doing you no wrong; did you not agree with me for the usual daily wage? Take what belongs to you and go; I choose to give to this last the same as I give to you. Am I not allowed to do what I choose with what belongs to me? Or are you envious because I am generous? So the last will be first and the first will be last.”

This, in my mind, is the only thing that prohibits the Catholic Church from allowing priests to marry. All the rest of the economic concerns are simply rationalizations in my mind. As a mother I ask myself, “How am I possibly going to afford to send my three children to Catholic High School at $9,000 each child, each year?” But I trust that God will provide. Dropping the celibacy requirements in the Catholic Church will create a need for financial restructuring, just like my family’s finances had to change in order to send our children to Catholic school instead of public school. Why can my husband and I make the sacrifices which are in the best interests of our children while the Catholic Church cannot? I would prefer to see my Catholic Church honoring marriage by watching my children going to Catholic school along side the pastor’s children instead of worrying about my pastor’s sexual outlets and hoping they will not be my children.

Detroit Priest in Prison

Childhood sexual abuse in the Catholic Church hits again. This time the condemned priest served in my husband’s home town of Warren, Michigan. The Catholic Church intends to completely end any association with this individual. He will no longer be a Catholic priest. No matter how disturbing it is to learn of a priest living a life a fantasy, masturbating, and occasionally approaching others for a sense of connection to the “real world,” our Catholic faith teaches us to put ourselves in his shoes and to try to understand him.

If we attempt to try to understand this priest and his choices, we will likely find a young man who wanted to please his family so he went into the priesthood. He took a vow to be perfect like God is perfect. In doing so he rejected his humanity to become the image of Christ to others. The divine light of Christ was to be seen in him. This required him to perpetually live in the adult ego state, never free to be an equal to others. Meanwhile, inside he was still an immature boy, seeking to emotionally heal and become one with others. He could not psychologically connect with an adult woman, because such relationships were intimidating for him and against his vows. At 63 years old he was still emotionally, sexually, and psychologically a wounded child. This wounded child found significant connection in fantasy with other wounded children, thus the priest’s preoccupation with child pornography.

In my mind, I see my Catholic Church asking this individual to serve others with the love of Christ while refusing to offer the assistance this man needs to become a humble, kind, sympathetic equal to others. It is essential for all human beings to have other people in their lives who are their equals, who help them to grow and mature. No one is born perfectly. No one comes out of childhood with perfect parents. Everyone needs other people in their lives who will not put them up on a pedestal and make them into a parent figure. It is unhealthy for a priest to always be called “Father,” and never “My Friend.” This same controversy is what fueled the Protestant Reformation. There is nothing in biblical scripture or Catholic Theology that demands a priest to take a life-long vow of celibacy. I certainly hope our new pope, Pope Francis, will change the Roman Catholic celibacy requirements to allow leaders in Catholic parishes to be considered equal adults who are free to marry adult women as their equal partners. In my mind, Father Timothy Murray is simply another man whom the Catholic Institution chewed up and eventually spit out.

Here is a link to this recent incidence:

http://www.freep.com/article/20140123/NEWS03/301230090/timothy-murray-father-sentenced