now

What are you doing on July 19th?

Noah checking out the July 19th, “Writers Meet Agents Workshop” Colchester, VT http://www.leagueofvermontwriters.org

Since many of you are writers, I thought that this workshop might be of interest. Details are on the website of The league of Vermont Writers

I’ve been sitting at my computer for an hour trying to see if I could write a meaningful post. I guess not, but at least I can post an interesting upcoming event, and a great quote.

Zen does not confuse spirituality with thinking about God while one is peeling potatoes. Zen spirituality is just to peel the potatoes.” Alan Watts

expecting change, welcoming change

"Home"

“Home” (acrylic on old board)

A few months ago, I became a board member of a group that I’ve belonged to for about a year. I have never wanted to be on any kind of board before, and was totally surprised when I wanted to be on this one. Many years ago, I was asked to be on the board of an organization, and said yes for two reasons: the first was I thought it would be prestigious (good on my resume and all that nonsense) and second, I thought I should. I disliked it so much that I quit after 3 months. Then I felt guilty.

Back in April, when the vacancy was announced for this current board position, the feeling of “I want to do it!” flooded me. As I approached the president to put my name in, a little voice inside my head was also saying, “You don’t have enough time to do this. What if you get elected and then you don’t like it? What if they don’t elect you and then you feel resentful? What if ….” on and on it chattered away as I made my way forward.

My first meeting as an official board member happened this week. It involved a 3 hour drive (one way) to meet in an upstairs room of an old library (turned into a museum). It was 85 degrees outside, with no air conditioning inside, and I loved every minute of it. I sat at the table with six other people and thought, “I really like every one of these people”. They were fun, funny, serious, relaxed, focused, open to ideas…everything that, for me, makes life wonderful.

There are things that I am finding out I want to do (that I never did before) and other things that I was sure  I would want to do forever, that no longer speak to me. A few years ago, I did a ropes course (high up in the trees of the Adirondack mountains) and loved it so much that I almost bought a season’s pass. For the next few years, I did it many times. Then a few months ago, I did it with a friend and half way through I thought, “I don’t think I’ll ever do this again.” It just felt done, and I have come to trust this inner voice of No, as much as I trust the inner voice that says, Yes…and neither need to make sense to my “little chatter box” mind.

What will the world present today for me/you to love, and to say yes to? I love that thought.

No work or love will flourish out of guilt, fear, or hollowness of heart, just as no valid plans for the future can be made by those who have no capacity for living now“. Alan Watts

Life as serious fun

Rumi

Acrylic on old board painting that I just finished, “The door is Round and Open. Don’t go back to sleep” Rumi *

When I hear people say, “Be careful what you pray for, you might just get it!” I usually don’t say anything, but this line of thinking never felt right to me, and I’ve come to see that it isn’t true. Oh yes, we can all  make things happen. I can put my will-power and determination onto an idea and wrench it into place with extreme effort, but this isn’t my idea of prayers becoming reality.

When I use pure will-power and grit to accomplish a goal, there are feelings that accompany it: struggle, worry and tension. And I’ve done this enough to know how it feels when “my plan” is simply that (and not a part of a larger good/higher ideal for my life). When I have the feeling that if I let up for a second, my goal will dissolve, then I’m usually contemplating a move that isn’t in the highest and best, because if it is, there is an energy, that is me but is also beyond me, and larger than me, that moves things along, opens doors, brings ideas, opportunities, and assistance, that I could never have dreamed of….and I know this feeling too. It feels like “going with the flow”.

Last week, I wrote about wanting to go to Alinea (a restaurant in Chicago). I contacted them (found out I couldn’t even buy tickets for September until mid-July), looked up flights from Albany to Chicago, and read about some interesting B & B’s within walking distance of the restaurant. All of this activity was so much fun.

I was talking with a family member about this, and he said, “Have you figured out the total cost of this trip?” I told him that I had (approximately) and then he said, “I want to pay for your trip as an early birthday present.” That was a total surprise. But I also knew that if this trip to Alinea was meant to be, it would flow….in ways just like this that would also be delightful.

It’s the feeling-tone of the idea/thought that lets me know if I am going in the right direction or heading off onto a side road/dead-end. If I have to work, really hard, to accomplish something, I will have to work really hard to sustain it. If I am worried sick about anything, then that event, relationship, or occurrence, will hold “worried sick” energy.

Prayer, to me, is seeing the outcome that I would like to see and then letting it go (to the best of my ability). But if I find myself thinking about “it” after I have let it go, and I usually do, then I try to make sure that I am not worrying it, struggling with it, or trying to micro-manage it. I want to live my life as play. I want to flow with this great stream, of which I am a part. I want to discover, deep down in my being, the truth that Life is seriously fun!

“Man suffers only because he takes seriously what the gods made for fun.” Alan Watts

 

*if you are interested in buying this painting, you can see the details on the My Artwork page or contact me at mmuncil@verizon.net

A new world…today

 

acrylic on old wood painting that I just finished

acrylic on old wood painting that I just finished

I have fallen in love with painting…again. As far back as I can remember, I loved drawing, painting and creating art, but I could never find the space or the medium that felt “perfect”…so I didn’t do much of anything with it.

A few months ago, I had a revelation about my work and my life. I realized that I didn’t really care what I was doing, I cared about how I was feeling, and how I wanted to feel, while I was doing “it” (life). I wanted to get up everyday knowing that whatever I was doing in the moment (cleaning kitty litter, having tea with a friend, working with clients, helping my mother, making a phone call, writing, reading a book, ….) had the feeling of Life in it.

And so I said a prayer that went something like, “I want my life to be filled with loving, fun, meaningful, activity.” That was it. I told my higher self how I wanted to feel, and decided to trust in this larger part of me (Wisdom) to fill in the blanks on exactly how that would show up and what it would look like. I didn’t then try to figure out what this should be. The desire to paint again came after this “prayer”.

When I finally decided just to paint, my living room was adequate as a studio, and my husband, Jack, had the perfect medium; old wood that he had collected over the years; panels from 18th century doors, turn of the century crates and boxes, lids from broken wooden trunks… everything that I needed was right here…when I finally decided just to do what seemed like a fun thing to do.

We have it in our power to begin the world over again.”   Thomas Paine

Go forward

Fine dining at White Feather Farm (5 of the 6 cats, sharring a can of tuna)...not exactly Alinea but they do not care...even the dirty sock does not distract!

Fine dining at White Feather Farm (5 of the 6 cats, sharring a can of tuna)…not exactly Alinea but they do not care…even the dirty sock does not distract them

Jack and I watched a wonderful documentary the other night called, “Spinning Plates”. It highlighted the success and struggles of three very different restaurants (focusing on the owner’s and chef’s personal lives as well) in the US. If any one of these restaurants was within driving distance, I would want to go, but one of them, Alinea, sounded so fantastic that I felt like I would fly to Chicago just to dine there.

I’ve never done that before: flown somewhere just to eat at one restaurant….so we are going to do it.

There are a million reasons why this is an impractical thing to do, and if I deferred to my head (making a list of pros and cons), we’d never go. But I don’t defer to my head (and its lists) when something calls to me like this did. When I get the feeling, “Wouldn’t that be wonderful!”, I begin planning it. I am also aware that sometimes my “must do” feelings aren’t really 100% reliable as a guide, so I do something else; I pray the “Roadblock Prayer”.

I’m not sure if I’ve written about this amazing little prayer or not but it is worth talking about if I haven’t. Many years ago, I worked as a prayer volunteer for the Norman Vincent Peale Center and the woman who ran that program was the one who first introduced me to this incredible tool.

It is simply this: when a decision needs to be made about anything, first try to feel what your inner guidance is saying. If the feeling is Yes, then go forward as if it is the right direction, but include this prayer before you begin (or really at any point) as you move forward:

“I am going to go forward with (…….), and if it is not in my highest and best good, I give you (‘You’ here is referring to your higher self, God, Spirit of the Universe, higher intelligence, or any concept of Divine Wisdom that speaks to you) full permission to roadblock it.”

After praying this, it is important not to re-think your decision. Trust that if it isn’t right, the roadblock will be obvious. Don’t pray this and then go back to the mental ping-pong game, weighing pros and cons. This prayer is simply one way of turning the decision over to your higher wisdom to work out (or not) the details. It is one way to move forward without worry.

If you have any questions about this, please feel free to ask (here as a comment) and I will do my best to answer them all.

Myrtle wants to play

When I heard Jack’s car pull into the driveway last evening, I felt happy. I hadn’t seen him in a couple of days and a lot had happened that I wanted to share with him. A minute passed, then two, then five and I began to get annoyed as I thought, “I was really looking forward to seeing him and he apparently is in no hurry to see me!” I then began to feel sorry for myself along with being irritated at him.

When I finally heard the door open I had to hold back the urge to express my unhappiness, but it felt like it was going to burst from my mouth. I really wanted to tell him how inconsiderate he was for not rushing in to see me. The first thing that he said when he stepped inside was, “You have a tire that is almost flat. I need to get your car down to Tink’s (our mechanic) tonight, fill it with air, and have him fix it tomorrow.”

Oh. So he was outside looking at my flat tire, trying to decide the best way to get it fixed….for me.

Sometimes my mind is an idiot. It will tell me a story, I will assume that it is true, feel bad, and subsequently make both myself and the other person unhappy. Because even when I don’t actually voice the thought, if I don’t recognize it, it will affect my relationships. I might be a little distant or cautious around the person….after all, they did hurt me (by being inconsiderate, or uncaring or whatever else my mind labels them as being).

I have also come to the conclusion that this story-telling idiot of a mind is going to be with me forever and so I am going to make peace with it, laugh at it, and “out it” as much as possible…not in the hopes of being rid of it, but to accept it as a part of this odd and interesting facet of being human.

I’ve often suggested to people (yet never did it myself) that they give this part of the conscious mind a name and to make it a funny one; a name that brings a smile. Why not play with it? If we have no hope of getting rid of it, we might as well have some fun. I have decided this morning to name my idiot mind, Myrtle*.

“I like nonsense, it wakes up the brain cells. Fantasy is a necessary ingredient in living, it’s a way of looking at life through the wrong end of a telescope. Which is what I do, and that enables you to laugh at life’s realities“. Dr. Seuss

 

*I just looked up the name, Myrtle and here is the meaning (how perfect!)”The meaning of the Latin name Myrtle is simply ‘the myrtle plant’. This evergreen plant was sacred to Venus and was used as a symbol of affection”.

when the student is ready, the teacher will appear

a new painting that I am working on (acrylic on old board)

a new painting that I am working on (acrylic on old board)

I’ve always liked (and believed) the saying, “When the student is ready, the teacher will appear.” The thing that I didn’t realize though was that “The Teacher” has always been here. The Teacher is Life itself, and hidden within every moment (every circumstance, event, interaction, thought) It waits to be recognized.

It may show up in the form of words in a book, a conversation with someone who has gone the way before me, or a person that I choose to talk with. But it is just as likely to come from a bird, a dream, or a song, and it always teaches me how to live; what to do, and what not to do.

I have also come to know that The Teacher is not accessed through the conscious mind….it will not be put in a neat little box, labeled, “Future”. Its guidance is in the moment, for the moment.

For many years, I wanted to paint again, but didn’t, because I couldn’t figure out where I would do it. And then one day I felt a deep urge to paint and so I began. Right in the middle of our living room, cats and dogs and fur and life all around me, I pulled out my paints and a new world opened up.

Guidance from “The Teacher” is being offered to us at every moment because It is the larger part of who we really are. It is constantly and continually revealing paths that lead to more life, more harmony, and more love.

I can see in my own life, the times I didn’t follow this inner knowing, it was because of a lack of faith; I couldn’t (with my conscious mind) figure out how something would work out, so I didn’t begin it. I wanted the type of guidance that said, “Do this now, and then tomorrow you will do this, and then next year, you will have this.”

When I am trying to figure out how some future event will work out, before I make a move in my present moment, I am lost. The only question that will open my ears, my eyes, my mind, to this guidance is, “What would You (Wisdom, Deep desire, My Own Heart, Love, God) have me do?”  And then I do it.

You need to climb way out on the limb of faith, and know that god will grow a tree under you.” Edwene Gaines