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Posts Tagged ‘acceptance’

Maud and me

Mary and Maud

I’ve been wanting to write this story for a while, and finally I am. I first met Maud Maynard in 2009, but I’d heard about her, and had been briefly introduced to her, in 2002… but I didn’t want to have anything to do with her. Not because she wasn’t a perfectly nice, possibly interesting person, or because she had done anything wrong. I didn’t particularly want to like her since I’d found out that she and Jack had dated before he and I met, and that they were still good friends, and it was obvious that he thought the world of her. That right there was enough for me to not care for her.

It wasn’t like he’d talk about her all the time or anything, but he’s say, in casual conversation, things like, “I ran into Maud at the bank and you’ll never guess what she just did?!” I would pretend I didn’t hear him or change the subject, but he’d inevitably get back on-track and say, “She just went skydiving with her son!” or some other equally fun sounding story, knowing how I myself like adventure and thinking I might appreciate another woman with the same spirit. I didn’t. I’d respond to his stories about her with a casual “Oh”. This went on for years, and I thought it was an odd joke the universe was playing on me, that one of my favorite names was Maude (my grandmother’s name) but I had no intention of getting to know her.

Then one day it happened. I’d been asked, along with a number of other alternative health/spirituality practitioners/healers, to give a short presentation to a group. After I’d agreed, the schedule of events was mailed to me and I was aghast to see that Maud Maynard was one of the presenters too.  I wondered if I could get out of it.

Fate had different plans, and several weeks before the event, another friend of mine suffered a horrific loss in her life. By the night of the presentation, I hadn’t even had time to prepare. I knew what I was going to talk about but I didn’t have a note or any emotional reserve. I showed up empty, hoping Spirit would help me to say what needed to be said.

Maud presented before me and as she began to speak, and tell the story of how she became involved with Reiki, I felt a light, that was surrounding her, almost reach out and hug me. As she continued to talk, I had to hold back the tears. I thought, “She is wonderful. She is wonderful.” …and I told her this as we walked out together that evening. We’ve been walking together, as friends, ever since (and Jack is thrilled and occasionally says things like, “I knew that you would love her. You two are so much alike.”) I now take this as a high compliment.

I started this story by saying that I’d wanted to write it for a while, and one reason that I didn’t was because it was/is so multi-faceted. Do I write about how sometimes we resist what is right in front of our faces and is so perfect?  How the Spirit of this Universe is always putting the highest and best in front of us to simply say yes to? How jealousy can be so insidious, and can limit our lives, if we don’t challenge/recognize it?

All of these are true, but I don’t think I’ve ever written about jealousy before, and if anyone had asked me if I was jealous of Maud, I’m not sure I would have had the awareness to say yes. After all, I didn’t really have a reason to be jealous. But I’ve found out that jealousy doesn’t need a reason. Just like all destructive emotions: hatred, resentment, bitterness, and unforgiveness, jealousy manifests when we don’t feel good, for whatever reason, about our lives or about ourselves.

I’ve also found it very healing to recognize, uncover, and admit when I am feeling jealous. For me, being able to tell this story, first to Maud (years ago …and we’ve had some good laughs about it) and now here, helps me to keep an eye on that tendency in myself. Because it still does come up at times, and maybe it always will. But it won’t hold me captive if I see it, maybe even talk about it, and then gently say goodbye to it.

I want to live in inner-peace and happiness. I want to be open and free of tormenting emotions and thoughts.  Every time I let go of an unhappy belief or emotion, the world, my world, opens up a little more….the world becomes a little kinder, nicer and friendlier.

“The jealous are troublesome to others, but a torment to themselves.” William Penn

Maud’s website is http://maudmaynardreiki.wordpress.com   She has a blog and also her contact information for her Reiki practice. I’ve had many sessions with Maud (all have been wonderful) On my trip last spring with my brother (when we were planning on driving 20 hrs straight) I asked Maud for Distant Reiki and found I had an energy that was surprisingly great.

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Noah on the couch (with his cute paws folded)

Noah on the couch (with his cute paws folded)

Thank you everyone for the blessings and wonderful wishes for Tom and Lindsay’s wedding. It was better than I could have imagined,… in every way (and I will be posting a picture when I get them).

Possibly every family has a couple of members who are not easy around each other, and I am no exception, but I made a decision that I was going to be open and welcoming to everyone, including the two who, judging from past experience, have been more of a challenge. When we first saw each other at the rehearsal dinner, they averted their eyes and looked like they wanted to escape, but I knew that if I was going to feel peace during the events (and after) I needed to look past this. I thought that maybe if I extended a genuine welcome (which I really was feeling), told them that I was so happy that they had come, it would be the needed opening. They were cordial.

The wedding was like stepping into a fairy tale. All of  Lindsay and Tom’s hard work and planning had paid off and even the weather cooperated. It felt like we were being carried on the wings of Love. Even the air seemed like it was so full of joy that it would burst with happiness.

Before the dancing began, I got in line for the bathrooms and as I looked out to the beautiful lawn I saw the two family members walking away from the wedding, heading toward the cars. My first thought was, “No, you can’t leave yet! Don’t you at least want to try to say something nice to me? Anything?…like, “Beautiful wedding, or this is such a special day for Tom and Lindsay, you must be so proud”, or anything nice, kind, or open?”

As I stood in that line, I had the realization that I was at a crossroads. These people, that I had tried to please for so much of my life, didn’t want to be involved with me; they didn’t even want to say hello or goodbye. I’d known it for a long time, had always felt this, but I also always believed that I could do something, should do something, to change it, to make them see me differently.

I watched them leave, and wondered if I should go after them, and a small voice inside said, “No. Let them go. They have their own choices to make, their own lives to lead, in the way they choose. Now, you need to choose.” I don’t quote much scripture (from any religious tradition) but the words that came next were:

“I set before you life and death. Choose life.”

In that moment, I  knew that I could turn one way and follow them, try to convince them to stay, to make-up, to forget the past and begin again with me, or I could turn the other way, and re-join a wedding that filled my heart with Love. …a place that was celebrating Life, Love, and a Grace-filled new beginning.

I let them go, and as I watched them walk away, I could feel that they were also just a mirror of me: the small part of me that is still walled off, still afraid of getting my feelings hurt, still afraid that I am not getting enough, or the right kind, of attention.

But I also saw that this wasn’t the biggest part of me…it was a remnant. They are still a part of the quilt that makes up my life; the millions of little patches, threads, and beads that move from center to periphery, from large to smaller pieces, some from small to larger, all in a way that I could not possibly orchestrate, all in utter, incomprehensible, perfection.

As I walked back to the wedding, I could feel what can only be described as a blossoming inside my heart. I saw my son and his new wife beaming, laughing, surrounded by family and friends…and I felt that patch of the quilt that once only said, “Tom”, grow and expand to “Tom and Lindsay and the new family that they are beginning to create”.

…and I could see another little patch begin to take form…it wasn’t quite on the quilt yet but I could feel him or her somewhere very close, and the thought flooded me with goosebumps. It is all perfect.

“Don’t look further for answers: be the solution. …Make a promise to stop getting in the way of the blessing that you are. Take a deep breath, remember to have fun, and begin”-Jonathan H. Ellerby

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Eleanor

Eleanor looking into the recycle pail

winter boots are still being used

winter boots are still being used …for something!

Yesterday afternoon, I was trying to nap, and Fred plopped himself down right next to my head. This isn’t all that unusual but this time, just as I was drifting into a very peaceful sleep, he started grooming himself (and Fred is a very loud licker!). I kept trying to ignore the sound, but his licking seemed like it was getting louder and louder and it was also right in my ear. I could feel irritation begin to rise.

After a couple of minutes, I reluctantly opened my eyes to move him, and was very surprised to see that he wasn’t grooming himself at all, he was grooming Noah, whose head was resting on Fred’s paws. Suddenly, instead of feeling irritated, I was filled with a feeling of warm delight. Our cats rarely groom each other and I love it when they do.

As I quietly watched them, I also noticed my thoughts. When my mind told the story that Fred was too loud, I felt irritated. When my mind told the story that animals grooming each other was a soothing activity, my mind felt peaceful. The sound was the same in either case. My mind was the only thing that changed. In one scenario I was in hell (not really, but I wasn’t happy) and in the other scenario, I was in heaven.

I was raised with the belief that people should not make noise. Chewing (especially with our mouths open) slurping, and  burping, were severely criticized and ridiculed. As a result, everyone in my family became extremely intolerant of these human (or animal) sounds. We didn’t question these beliefs as little children, we just accepted them as truth.

What I have come to know is this: if something disturbs me, it is my thinking about it that is the problem. It doesn’t matter if I’ve been bothered by “this thing” for my entire life. It is still my thinking that’s causing the problem and I can change that (even though with some very old habits of reactive thought, it might take a little time to do so).

Being intolerant of others is an unhappy way to live. This may have been the way that my family was, but it isn’t my choice to continue along that same unquestioned path….and what is my alternative? Stop eating with people? Put all of my animals in another room when they are grooming, eating, licking or scratching themselves? Try to get the entire world to stop making noise so I can live comfortably with a limiting belief? I think not.

Instead, when I feel unhappy, I question my mind, my beliefs, my opinions, my “convictions”, and every time, I find that they are small, petty and unworthy of continued support.

“Your time is limited, so don’t waste it living someone else’s life. Don’t be trapped by dogma, which is living with the results of other people’s thinking.” Steve Jobs

It is Friday again! It might be interesting to watch your reactions to people’s (or animals) behaviour this weekend, and if you find yourself irritated, maybe challenge those judgements, refuse to give them further support, and open up your world a little bit more.

 

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No blame

Bodhi caught in the act

I’d been wondering lately why the toilet seat had been wet (I had my theories but happily didn’t accuse anyone). Then, a few days ago, I heard a lapping sound, coming from the bathroom. I didn’t realize that Bodhi was drinking out of the toilet.

To accuse others for one’s own misfortunes is a sign of want of education. To accuse oneself shows that one’s education has begun. To accuse neither oneself nor others shows that one’s education is complete”. Epictetus

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the studio window

I didn’t notice the growth around this window until the other day. Jack had planted geraniums in the window box, but neither of us know what the vine is. I did a post a few months back about a man who had a small tree growing out of his porch roof and someone commented (humorously) that it could be getting dangerously close to a “Grey Gardens” situation. I noticed grapes growing on our hedgerow a few weeks ago.  A friend said that they were probably Concord grapes.

Jack had always done all of the gardening, planting and weeding but over the past few years, he hasn’t wanted to do it anymore. He’s been putting his energy into creating sculptures, many of which he had designed, in his mind, decades ago. I look at his work in amazement.

We talked about getting someone in to help us sort our gardens out, but truthfully, I don’t mind the way things look, and I am very grateful that Jack has put his energy into his deeper calling. I’m not going to weed today. I am going to appreciate the wild, the unpredictable things that are happening right outside my window.

Jack's "Color My World" sculpture (with a friend in the background!)

(the video link below is “Watching the Wheels” by John Lennon…enjoy your perfectly wild day)

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Watching something

Eleanor likes to stand on the stairs and look out the window. She seems to prefer this to going outside (even though she can). I used to try to coax her outside…thought she needed to run up trees and do all the things that cats are supposed to do. One day, as I was trying to give her a little push, I had the thought,  “She is very happy playing inside. Why am I trying to change that to make her conform to some idea that I have about how cats should behave?”If she could have spoken at that moment, I think she would have said, “You go outside if you want to Mary. Do what makes you happy. Quit trying to change me.”

When I am happy inside, I find that I can accept others around me much quicker. When I am not so happy with myself or my life at the moment, those seem to be the times when I try to “tweak” others into being different. This never works out well! It almost always creates more issues to be cleaned up later.

Today, I will pay attention to what is happening within me before I interact with anyone else. If I am not feeling great, I will love myself (and others) enough to work gently on me, until I am feeling better….take a deep breath, then keep my mouth shut!

 

And why worry about a speck in your friend’s eye when you have a log in your own? How can you think of saying to your friend,‘Let me help you get rid of that speck in your eye,’ when you can’t see past the log in your own eye? First get rid of the log in your own eye; then you will see well enough to deal with the speck in your friend’s eye”. Matthew 7:4

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I attended a workshop Tuesday evening and at the break, I was standing on the porch listening to a rather loud discussion by a couple of the other participants. One woman was saying, “This is the worst workshop that I have ever been to. There is nothing new being presented!” (she had just asked for a refund…which she did receive, and was leaving),  and another woman replied, “I think this is the best workshop that I have ever attended…..”

I have been in plenty of situations where people have had very different reactions to something, but this may have been the most pronounced. Neither of these women were new to the information, but it was clear that the woman who thought it was the best, was open to more than just the information being presented. She was enjoying the entire experience.

The woman who was leaving, looked like someone you might avoid if you met her on the street. Her face was hard and her mouth tight. She looked ready for a fight. She didn’t leave peacefully, with the attitude, “Well, this is just not for me, so I am leaving, but I hope that you enjoy it.” Even on her way out, she was trying to convince others that it was awful too.

She had made up her mind that the evening was a waste, and so that is what it became to her. Even though she had gotten her money back, and  had only spent an hour of her time in the workshop, she was still angry….. suffering because of her attitude, not because of the workshop. It is really easy to see this in someone else…not so much when it is me. Witnessing these two women was a powerful reminder that I alone choose my attitude and that my attitude will ultimately determine how much I enjoy my life.

“You will not be punished for your anger. You will be punished by your anger.” (quote attributed to the Buddha)

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It dawned on me the other day that I was having more irritated feelings, when I thought about my mother, than loving ones. This is not new. My mother has had very firm ideas about what was right and wrong, and she never hesitated to express them!  Growing up, we butted heads…a lot. She has softened and become much more accepting of others, and life, in the last few years, especially since she turned 80. Part of me hasn’t caught up with this yet.

Many times, before we are going to get together, I find myself dreading it. My mind is pulling the limited view of mom up. Part of me knows that she has changed but somehow my mind doesn’t want to accept this?

I start to dread our meeting. Who will she criticize? Who will she complain about? I wish I hadn’t made the date. This happened the other day….again. I said to Jack, “I need to change this. No matter how difficult she has been (believe me she could be writing this story about me too!) she is also incredibly generous. She actually co-signed for the house we are living in.

Where was my gratitude? I felt somewhat ashamed of this. But i did something different. I didn’t call her,  I decided to work only in my mind for a few days.  I started walking around the house saying “thank you mom”…to myself,  over and over. When I opened the front door, I said, thank you mom, when I sat looking out the window, thank you mom. The more I said it, the more I began to feel it. We met for breakfast later that week as planned. I had a wonderful time. I called her when I got home and she said, “You know Mary, I drove home with all of these warm feelings. I felt so loved!” And I also felt loved and accepted and happier.

The power of focused thought, along with the feeling of gratitude …if we could only see these powerful spiritual tools, we would pick them up much more frequently I am sure.

I am imagining you reading this right now. Without you, this blog would not be. Thank you, thank you, thank you!

Love,

Mary

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