Guess where we were yesterday?

Griffin Wesley Getz was born at 11:08 yesterday morning. I sent this photo to my mother and she said, "It looks like you are in love!"...she is right.

Griffin Wesley Getz was born at 11:08 a.m. on June 29th. I sent this photo to my mother and she said, “It looks like you are in love!”…she is right.

 

“People usually consider walking on water or in thin air a miracle. But I think the real miracle is not to walk either on water or in thin air, but to walk on earth. Every day we are engaged in a miracle which we don’t even recognize: a blue sky, white clouds, green leaves, the black, curious eyes of a child…our own two eyes. All is a miracle.” Thich Nhat Hanh

Laughing at myself

"My studio"...Noah and Fred sleeping in the middle of it all!

“My studio”…Noah and Fred sleeping in the middle of it all!**

I am going to be a grandmother any day now. So basically, I have been thinking about my son, daughter-in-law, and the baby, 24/7. When I go out, I take my phone and I don’t turn it off…just in case “the call” comes. This time has been a great teacher for me, because while Tom and Lindsay are “front and center” in my mind, I am just barely “on the stage” in theirs.

Even though I believe that this is the way life should be, my ego has been taking a major hit. There is no need for them to call me every day….even though I think about them all the time and want to talk…even though I really have nothing new to say. When I do talk to my son, he says, “No news yet, we’ll let you know.” They are always loving and sweet and yet, a part of me wants more, and a part of me feels left out.

I feel very grateful that I can recognize this little part of me that always thinks it should be center stage, gets its feelings hurt on a regular basis, and wants to be important. Thank god I finally know that it isn’t really the larger part of me and yet, sometimes, when I forget this, I believe the sad, pitiful, story it tells me, and I feel bad.

For many years, I believed every story that my egoic mind told me. I didn’t think that there was any difference between that mind and me. Life was very difficult when I lived this way. Every time I was upset, I thought it was important and something that needed to be talked out (usually with the person that I was upset with or I feared was upset with me). I thought that my feelings and my thoughts about situations were very important and “the truth”, so I looked for resolution on the outside.

A huge difference came for me when I began to address these “issues” by recognizing that the unhappy stories were not that important, were certainly not coming from the larger part of me, and very often were not the truth at all.  Sometimes, right in the middle of one, I would be able to say to myself, “Isn’t this interesting. I am feeling left out or insulted or…” Once I could do this, I was never completely lost in this egoic mind again (or at least not for long).

There are plenty of people who will listen to a story like mine and think things like, “You shouldn’t feel that way, how selfish, I didn’t think that you were that petty, or you should be further along the spiritual path than this”…but to all of those people (and of course “those people” are only the thoughts in my own mind) I can say, “And those are just unhappy stories too.”

We all have this little mind, no matter how far along the path we are. But knowing that it isn’t speaking The Truth is a huge step. Sometimes, when I find myself in the middle of one of these stories, I will say, “This is happening for me” and I will instantly feel relief, like I have just remembered that I made up this story, am now reacting to it, and also have the abiltiy to stop. Then, I usually laugh.

“The ego is always on guard against any kind of perceived diminishment.  Automatic ego-repair mechanisms come into effect to restore the mental form of ‘me’. When someone blames or criticizes me, that to the ego is a diminishment of self, and it will immediately attempt to repair its diminished sense of self through self-justification, defense, or blaming. Whether the other person is right or wrong is irrelevant to the ego. It is much more interested in self-preservation than the truth. This is the preservation of the psychological form of ‘me’. Even such a normal thing as shouting back when another driver calls you ‘idiot’ is an automatic and unconscious ego-repair mechanism.

One of them most common ego-repair mechanisms is anger, which causes a temporary but huge ego inflation. All repair mechanisms make perfect sense to the ego but are actually dysfunctional. A powerful spiritual practice is consciously to allow the diminishment of ego when it happens, without attempting to restore it. I recommend that you experiment with this from time to time. For example, when someone criticises you, blames you, or calls you names, instead of immediately retaliating or defending yourself, do nothing. Allow the self-image to remain diminished and become alert to what that feels like deep inside you. For a few seconds, it may feel uncomfortable, as if you had shrunk in size. Then you may sense an inner spaciousness that feels intensely alive.

You haven’t been diminished at all. You have been expanded.”

pp 214-215 (from the chapter, Finding Who You Truly Are, A New Earth, by Eckhart Tolle.

** I am putting some new paintings up on “My Artwork” page this morning.

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.