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Luke and Elenor

Luke and Esther

Tomorrow, I’ll be leaving for my trip down south. Over the past few weeks, my brother and I have been going over plans: travel route, motels, hotels, B and B’s, weather considerations, etc. Everything felt like it was flowing along almost effortlessly. Even a book that I really wanted to take along for some in-depth study (Collected Works of Thomas Troward) came within 2 days of ordering it. My thoughts were along the lines of, “This is perfect. Everything I need is provided, even before I ask. Life is so good.”

Then something happened that didn’t seem so good. A reservation I had hoped to get, looked like it wasn’t going to be available. Just a little thing but I could feel myself start to worry….but I caught it. Then another “not so good” thing happened. A fairly large sum of money, that I felt sure would arrive last week, didn’t arrive.

Sunday morning, I  found myself fretting. I wasn’t feeling relaxed or in the flow or trusting of the larger part of me anymore.

It was as if I was drained of life; I felt tired, and a little discouraged both in the circumstance and in myself. I could hear that old, critical voice begin, “If you were further along the spiritual path, you wouldn’t be thrown off by such small things. You haven’t really grown that much at all”. I noticed also that when Jack got up and said “Good morning” I felt irritated, so I knew that I needed to do some serious work on myself.

I really needed to use my will-power to direct and focus my mind where I wanted it to go and not let it lead me down the path of worried, unhappy, and discouraged thought. I  began to say to myself, “This is going to be an adventure. I am looking forward to seeing how things unfold. Everything is happening for me. My life is perfect, right now.”

One thing that I want to stress here is that I didn’t feel this way when I started saying/thinking these things. I used my thoughts/words to pull me up into the state that I wanted to be in. It wasn’t the outside circumatances that were making me feel down, it was my mind telling me a story of how wrong things were (and how wrong I was) that was making me feel that way, so I needed to change my mind to achieve inner peace (not change the circumstances so I could feel better, because in the moment, I couldn’t change anything on the outside). All I had to work with was my mind, and that was enough. It is always enough.

I started writing this post at 7 a.m. It is 9:18 a.m. I have never had such a difficult time putting a post together. Usually, if I work at it for a couple of hours, and nothing comes together, I assume I am being guided not to write that day.  But for some reason, I kept at it, even though it didn’t seem like it would amount to much.  Book after book revealed nothing appropriate for a quote. I almost decided to abandon my writing when I picked up, Man’s Search for Meaning, and read these words that brought me to tears,

“Let me recall that which was perhaps the deepest experience I had in the concentration camp. The odds of surviving the camp were no more than one in twenty-eight, as can easily be verified by exact statistics. It did not even seem possible, let alone probable, that the manuscript of my first book, which I had hidden in my coat when I arrived at Auschwitz, would ever be rescued. Thus, I had to undergo and to overcome the loss of my mental child. And now it seemed as if nothing and no one would survive me: neither a physical nor a mental child of my own! So I found myself confronted with the question whether under such circumstances my life was ultimately void of any meaning.

Not yet did I notice that an answer to this question with which I was wrestling so passionately was already in store for me, and that soon thereafter this answer would be given to me. This was the case when I had to surrender my clothes and in turn inherited the worn out rags of an inmate who had already been sent to the gas chamber immediately after his arrival at the Auschwitz railway station. Instead of the many pages of my manuscript, I found in a pocket of the newly acquired coat one single page torn out of a Hebrew prayer book, containing the most important Jewish prayer, Shema Yisrael. How should I have interpreted such a ‘coincidence’ other than as a challenge to live my thoughts instead of merely putting them on paper. ” Man’s Search for Meaning, by Viktor Frankl, pages 137-138

As I read these words, I felt a direct prompting from this great spiritual man, to live my highest and best self, and to think my highest and best thoughts……now.

Luke and Esther playing in the back yard yesterday

Luke and Esther playing in the back yard yesterday

Last week I wrote about my trip down south (ending in New Orleans) and my decision to stay a couple of extra days alone at the end of the trip. I found a Bed and Breakfast, called The Green House Inn, that sounded perfect. A feature that I really liked was their salt water swimming pool. As I was making my reservations, the owner said, “The pool is european style”, so I asked what this meant and he said, “It is a ‘clothing optional’ pool, Miss Mary.” I laughed and thought, “Well, this really will be an adventure!”

I don’t know if I will be brave enough to go naked into the pool. The idea of looking at my own (almost 60-year-old) body, naked, isn’t all that appealing, much less having it seen by anyone else. I know that I should love my body, and truly I have made peace with it…mostly. But totally naked, in front of people?

Of course I’ve packed my swim suit, just in case I chicken out. But I would like to try going into the pool….naked. It sounds like a fun challenge, like the time I (who was very afraid of heights) decided to go skydiving. I just wanted to see if I could do it. But as I think about this,  I believe that skydiving was easier. I did have to get into the plane, allow myself to be strapped to my instructor, and creep to the door of the plane. But after that, it was done; I was going to float down to earth, by parachute, whether I changed my mind or not. And I didn’t have any fear that people were going to roll their eyes when they saw me or think, “I hope that I don’t look like that when I get older!”

So this feels like a challenge…in the best sense of the word. I am challenging my false pride and the non-acceptance of my aging body, because the thought of aging gracefully and being unconcerned about (and accepting of) the way my body looks, is so lovely to me. I’m not there yet, but I would like to be….I can imagine it. And that is the first step.

“Remembering that you are going to die is the best way I know to avoid the trap of thinking you have something to lose. You are already naked. There is no reason not to follow your heart.” Steve Jobs

Fred decided to take a nap on my hand this morning as I wrote this post.

Fred decided to take a nap on my hand this morning as I wrote this post.

Watching the Steve Jobs documentary, One Last Thing, something that I found very interesting were the comments made by the people he had intimately known. One man, whom he’d been friends with for years, basically said that Steve was an incredible friend: loving, caring, and generous with his time. Another said that Steve Jobs eventually betrayed everyone. These two (polar opposite) perspectives made me think about myself and what others might say about me.

We all know people who, most likely, don’t think very highly of us: those who have seen us at our worst and have remembered that (and only that) about us. But there are also those who have seen us at our worst, at our best, and everything in between, and still choose to think about our wonderful qualities, our kindnesses, our best selves. It is odd to think that this process; the sifting and sorting of memories (and the conclusions that we then accept as “truth” about the character of a person, or ourselves) is a choice, but I have come to see that it is just that.

I also began to think about how I view myself, and it made me ask myself the question, “What images are you choosing to hold onto and believe about yourself Mary?” When there are hundreds of thousands, probably millions of memory images that I could think about, why would I choose to, over and over, re-live an unhappy scene from my past; a scene where I felt I was far-less than my best self?

At one point in my life, I thought that this would help me to not repeat the past, but what I found was the opposite. This re-thinking, mulling over, feeling bad about the past, only made it feel more real, and even though I was now a different person (for instance, I don’t drink anymore, but was still thinking about some of the decisions that I made when I was in my 20′s and drinking) my present was always informed by my less-than-stellar past. …talk about dooming myself to a life full of regret and disappointment.

It has really hit me lately that we need to become our own best friends. We need to be the kind of friend who sees all of us but loves us anyway. We need to be, to ourselves, the kind of friend who sees our good qualities as so much more indicative of who we really are, than our short-comings.

When I see people who are trying so hard to connect with others, and yet finding, time after time, that they are disappointed in those relationships, in those people (who seem to repeatedly fall short of their ideal of what a friend should be) or who feel that friendships are extremely difficult, I always see someone who is not their own friend. When we don’t have a loving, friendly, attitude toward ourselves, we eventually see this unfriendliness mirrored back, by those around us.

After watching that show the other night, I sat down and wrote myself a friendly letter. I told myself in this letter all of the things that I found delightful, wonderful, praise-worthy, and unique…about myself. I enjoyed this so much that I wrote a few more. What took me completely by surprise, and still does, is several days after I did this, I received an email from someone in my family telling me how much they appreciated me, my good points, things that they had observed about me over the years, but had never told me.

Who am I? Who are you?…it depends on what image I pull to memory,…so why not recall only the best (if that is what I would like to see more of)…it sounds so simple when I think about life like this.

If you had a different concept of yourself, everything would be different. You are what you are, so everything is as it is. The events which you observe are determined by the concept you have of yourself. If you would change your life, you must begin at the very source with your own basic concept of self. Outer change, becoming part of organizations, political bodies, religious bodies, is not enough. The cause goes deeper. The essential change must take place in yourself, in your own concept of self. There is no better time to start than now. The present moment is always the most opportune in which to eliminate all unlovely assumptions (about yourself and others) and to concentrate only on the good. …You are a being with powers of intervention, which enable you, by a change of consciousness, to alter the course of observed events, in fact, to change your future.” Neville Goddard, from “The Power of Awareness”

Ester peaking her head over the top of my blanket as I write in my "Creating reality" journal

Esther peeking her head over the top of my blanket as I write in my “Creating Reality” journal

Several weeks ago, I ordered a scented oil diffuser on-line. Within a few days, I realized that the concentration of perfume was so low that hardly any scent was noticeable. I tried everything I could think of to make use of the product and finally accepted the fact that it wasn’t going  to work at all. Then I had the idea to write to the manufacturer of the diffuser, tell them what happened, and ask if they could send me some of the concentrated scent. I wrote the email and let it go.

Last evening they called. After explaining the situation, the woman who called said, “I am going to check to see if you can return this and get a refund.” I thanked her, but as we hung up, I realized that a return wouldn’t work for me. I’d already thrown the reeds away, and poured 3/4th of the oil into other containers trying to see if I could get some smell from it. For about a minute I had that sinking feeling of “Darn it! I wish I hadn’t thrown part of this away. Now I can’t even return it.” Then I realized that returning it wasn’t what I wanted. I was imagining a scenario that I didn’t want, not one that I wanted.

So, I pulled out my journal and wrote an email as if it was from this company. It said, “Hi Mary, This is ——-from (the company). We’re going to go ahead and send you another diffuser…..”

I then sat down with Jack to watch, “Steve Jobs: One Last Thing” (a PBS documentary that we had rented). Before going to bed, I checked my emails and was delighted to see one from the diffuser company (specifically from the woman who had said she’d call me today about returning the diffuser). This is her email:

“Hello Mary, I just wanted to let you know that I am able to send you a replacement diffuser. Considering it is an oil diffuser, it will have a slightly different fragrance throw than burning a candle. I would just suggest you flip the reeds occasionally so the oil can dissipate into the reeds and give off better fragrance. I will have this diffuser shipped to the address provided in your e-mail….”

I wish that I’d known, earlier in my life, the power of my thoughts (and especially the power of the written word) to create. The journals that I kept as a 20 and 30 year old were full of life’s miseries, difficulties that I was having with people, unhappy outcomes of parties, frustrations, dissappointments….I’m sure there were some good things too, but I remember thinking it was very important to get all of my struggles down on paper; I believed that this was the way to be “real” and the way to clear away the messes. I didn’t know that I was in a constant process of creation and had only an inkling of the power of my words to create my reality.

I know better now….so I do better now.

“Life can be much broader once you discover one simple fact: that everything around you that you call life was made up by people no smarter than you….the minute you understand that, you can poke life: you can change it, you can mold it, embrace it, make your mark upon it. Once you learn that…you’ll never be the same again.” Steve Jobs

Ben

Ben

A few days ago I wrote about taking a trip down south (with my brother Bob) in a couple of weeks. We are ending in New Orleans, but with the arrangements that he’d made, we would only be in the city for a day. As I sat quietly this morning, the thought came, “See if you can change your flight and stay an extra couple of days.” I got onto the Southwest Airlines website and found that not only was the change simple, my new flight was actually less expensive, so my brother (who paid for the tickets) will be getting a partial refund.

When I committed to make the change, I could feel my heart beating in excitement. I felt a little afraid but it was a good feeling. It felt like something I really wanted to do but knew if I over-thought it, I might back out. I didn’t know what those few extra days in New Orleans would look like, but when I thought about them, I felt filled with wonder. It felt like a YES.

So I am asking for input and suggestions, from all of you who know New Orleans. What are your favorite restaurants, bookstores, places to stay? Anything and everything that you love about New Orleans, I would like to hear about, and I will be blogging from there too…letting you know how it unfolds and sharing this adventure…for some reason, it feels less scary to think that you will be coming along with me in spirit.

I’m also aware that if this plan wasn’t for my highest and best good, then it would not have been so simple/easy. When things unfold like this plan has, I know that I am in the flow of Spirit. I’ve spent enough time trying to push my plans and “bright ideas” through (that were not from the larger part of me) to know the difference. When something hasn’t been right, it has also been difficult; full of struggle, anxiety, and effort, and I’ve slogged through my share of those undertakings to recognize them now….before I get in too deep…thank god.

Is something calling to you? Take a step in faith. Know that if it is right for you, then the way will be made clear. Ask the higher part of yourself for guidance. Go forward, trust that if it isn’t right, you’ll know. Let love lead you and you will never go wrong.

Love makes all things easy.” Dwight L. Moody

….Yes is a world

& in this world of 

yes live

(skilfully curled)

all worlds

                                                           (excerpt from the poem, “love is a place” by e.e. cummings)

The other day I had an appointment with our family doctor. It has been a long time since I’ve gone to the doctor, but  my right eye has been bothering me for a while, and so I knew I needed to see someone. As I headed back to the exam room with the nurse, she stopped in front of the scale and said, “I need your weight.” This was a turning point for me. For so much of my life, weight had been an issue. In the past, when I had a doctor’s appointment, I would wear the lightest clothes I had, eat no breakfast, drink practically nothing,  and you can bet that I stripped off every article of clothing possible, before stepping onto those scales.

Years ago, I worked as an office nurse for my friend Dr. Bailey. I saw many women who basically had the same anxiety about weight that I had. But one day a woman came for her annual exam and her approach to the entire appointment was so radically different, that it made a lasting impression on me. She was a potter, owned a small farm in northern Vermont, and every year (at her annual exam) she brought Dr. Bailey a piece of her pottery as a gift.

As she and I walked down the hall, I asked her to step on the scale to get her weight. She didn’t even attempt to get undressed. With her jacket and boots still on, she stepped on the scale. She was a large woman, not fat, but very sturdily built, and she was comfortable with who she was, what she weighed,… with her life. She didn’t have to say a word, self-acceptance just radiated from her. She was generous in her life and even in her size and it all seemed right.

I wondered how it was possible (unless someone was thin) to be so comfortable. At that point in my life, accepting my body as it was, seemed like an impossible fantasy. My body had never felt right to me. It didn’t matter if I weighed 118 or 168, in my eyes, there was always something wrong with it.

When I stepped on the scale last week, I realized that I had left my jacket on…and I was still holding my purse. The nurse asked me if I wanted to take my jacket off and I said, “It can’t make that much difference.” I just felt that whatever I weighed was OK, and I give credit to this woman who, so many years ago, showed me how to live gracefully. It may have taken me 20 years to step into this way of being, but she opened a door for me, a door to another way of seeing, and I held that image, like a seed, somewhere deep in my mind, until last week when I realized that it had finally bloomed.

It truly is time to say yes to who and what we are…it doesn’t mean that we won’t change and grow, but that positive change will come from a Yes to life, not from a No. Harsh non-acceptance just closes us down, closes doors, blinds us to opportunity. Yes…saying yes to life…. opens life up to us.

 

love that face!

love that face!

Several days ago, I decided to write a short story about a trip that I took to San Diego in 2005.  I’ve gone on some amazing trips with my brother Bob over the past decade, and thinking about that trip in particular filled me with a sense of adventure. Yesterday morning, Bob called and asked me if I would like to meet him for dinner. It sounded like fun so I agreed. Half way through our meal Bob said, “I just had an idea. I’m going on another bike trip, this time from Tallahassee to New Orleans, in late March. Would you want to come? All expenses paid?”

I had spent the last 2 days writing about saying yes to adventure (specifically with my brother), and less than 48 hrs later, I had a wonderful invitation.

I’ve noticed this pattern for a while now; when I write with feeling, really get into a story (fiction or non-fiction) the scenarios eventually play themselves out in my life…..sometimes with amazing speed.

We are surrounded by a universal law which is creative. It moves from the thought to the thing. Unless there is first an image, it cannot move, for there would be nothing for it to move toward”  Ernest Holmes

Over the years, I’ve worked with people helping them to imagine and articulate their dreams, but I hadn’t really grasped the power of the written word (in story form) to bring those images to life until very recently, so I’ve decided to offer a workshop/class with the focused intent of dream realization through writing. I believe in the power of words. I believe that each of us has access to the life of our dreams, but sometimes, we forget this. We forget that creative play, spiritually speaking, is very serious business! I know that the combination of desire, focus, and creative fun, can be life changing. If you think that this is for you, details are below.

***WRITE AWAY! Workshop is an on-line class that I will be offering, starting March 1st.  The format and time-line will be flexible but will include 3 (1/2 hr) phone meetings with me (times will be set up that are mutually agreeable). The first will be for 1/2 hr at the beginning of your writing project, and the second and third will be at any time after you’ve begun to write. The focus of this adventure together will be for you to move closer to your dream. I’m not a writing teacher but would be happy to give you any feedback if that is something that you want. I’ll limit this first workshop to 10 participants but if it proves to be successful (and fun!) I will offer another.  The cost is $100.

If you are interested, please email me at mmuncil@verizon.net, and I’ll fill you in on how to pay, ect.

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