Tag Archive | letting go

I give Up

Being in pain, and wanting help, are not the same thing. When I was actively drinking, I was in a lot of pain. It was mostly emotional, but I had particularly awful hang overs, even when I didn’t drink very much, so I suffered physically too. Over the years, I tried everything that I could think of to change this. I tried all sorts of ways to control my drinking. At one point I switched from white to red wine, thinking that since I disliked red wine so much, I’d drink less. And I did, for about a month, until I acquired a taste for dry red wines.

I tried everything I could think of… short of stopping. That was out of the question. I didn’t want to imagine a life without alcohol, and if I did think about it, all I could see were endlessly boring days and years, lacking color, vitality, fun, and sparkle. A sober life was, in my mind, no real life.

I was in a lot of pain, but I didn’t want help. I wanted to feel better physically and mentally but I wasn’t open to real change. One day that changed. I’d tried every which way to keep alcohol in my life and nothing worked. It wasn’t fun anymore…hadn’t been for a long time. I was disgusted with myself for the things that I said and did when I drank. I was embarrassed by my lack of control. I hated the way I was living (mentally) even though all of the outside stuff looked pretty good. I hated myself. I was in despair. And that was enough.

I didn’t have to go to church, get on my knees and pray, or cry out to God; all things which would have been out of the question anyway, since at that point in my life (I was 30 years old) I considered myself to be an atheist. I truly don’t know what happened in that moment, but something made me decide to go through a weekend without drinking, and then to extend it another 5 days. I also didn’t make a plan for what I’d do (to reward myself) at the end of my period of abstinence: something that I had frequently done in the past.

I let go of my big ideas, just long enough for a much bigger idea to come in from someplace beyond my conscious mind, and that thought was, “You are an alcoholic and you need AA.” Was it the Grace of God?…probably, although I wouldn’t have called it that. A miracle?….maybe, but I didn’t believe in miracles. It just felt like the next right thing to do. It wasn’t my idea but I trusted it, and I followed it. And it led me out of hell.

When I see someone in pain, my natural inclination is to want to help, but I can’t help anyone who isn’t ready, anymore than anyone could have helped me before I surrendered inside. Once I was really ready, there was more help available, and instantly available, than I could have dreamed of. It was there all along, but I wasn’t ready to see it until I had exhausted all of the options that I thought made sense (and ones that I liked).

Being at a place in our lives where we feel like we don’t know what to do can be a huge turning point. Hitting an emotional bottom, feeling like we have no answers and can see no way, can be the greatest day of our lives. “I don’t know what to do, but I want help”, can be the greatest words we ever say, or think.

“Nothing in the universe can stop you from letting go and starting over.” Guy Finley

 

goodbye to a limiting way of thinking,…hello to a friend

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.

New beginnings

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

Learning to listen

Ben approves of the new sofa!

Ben approves of the new sofa…it is very soft and cozy

A couple of days ago, Jack and I attended the opening of the Saratoga Arts Fesitval. They were showcasing several artists, and he was one of them. I had a bit of a hard time deciding what to wear; nothing really seemed to fit me all that well. I finally made my decision, but in the process of choosing clothing lately, I’ve been aware (more than usual) that the shape of my body is changing. It slowly but surely seems to be losing its grip on firmness. Parts of me giggle and bulge that just yesterday, appeared to be fairly securely held in place.

It is as if the entire army of little cells, that make up my skin (and the fat underneath it) have decided to take a well-deserved rest and by god, they are just going to sit down right where they are and relax. I imagine them as faithful old servants saying, “Enough is enough. We’re not holding this up any longer. Where are the chaise lounges?”

Every day, I discover new ones, draped and folded over each other, looking up at me with languid eyes, watching me as I decide whether or not to do 100 sit ups a day (at least until my son’s wedding). They see me considering this, and I swear I can hear them whisper to the each other, “She’ll never do it.” and the others reply, “We know.” and they  smile, close their little eyes, and go back to sleep.

I’ve been seriously pondering this situation lately, and am trying to make the decision to let them have their way; What if I on-purpose opt for softness?” What if I decide to let go of “body image” and begin to listen to “body wisdom”?

So back to the arts festival where I ran into a good friend who just happened to be talking about, you guessed it, what outfit to wear to the wedding. As I heard her, I kept thinking, “You look great. There is nothing for you to be concerned about.” and I finally said this …and was met with my own mind coming back at me saying, “Yeah but….” but I didn’t pick up on this and felt I needed to make my point more emphatically. After about 10 minutes (of me trying to convince her that she looked good) I got something in my eye. It got worse and worse. She pulled out a mirror, hoping that I could find whatever it was, but I couldn’t see anything. We finally left, drove directly to the drug store, and I sat in the car, while Jack ran in and bought me an eye-flush kit. By this point, my eye felt so irritated that I didn’t want to open it.

As I sat in the car, asking what it was all about, a scripture came to mind, “Take the log out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to pick the splinter out of your neighbor’s.” I started to laugh. You would’ve thought that my friend handing me a mirror might have been a clue for me to look at myself…but I was too busy trying to “fix’ her. I wanted her to see herself differently. By the time Jack came to the car with the eye kit, the irritation was almost gone.

Have you ever been about to say something unkind or gossipy  and found yourself unable to speak because of  a sudden tickle in your throat, or you begin to sneeze, cough or forget what you were about to say? I love these little nudges…what wonderful gifts our bodies are; forever cooperating with the higher part of ourselves, sending us messages to take a more loving path.

I am ready to let my body have its way…or should I say, show me a new way. I am ready to listen, really listen to its wisdom. I am ready to believe that soft, rolling flesh and wrinkles and gray hair are trying to teach me something important. I am ready to become more transparent.

“It is not the end of the physical body that should worry us. Rather, our concern must be to live while we’re alive…to release our inner selves from the spiritual death that comes with living behind a facade designed to conform to external definitions of who and what we are.” Elisabeth Kubler-Ross

 

what can I bring?

My father taking me (in the carriage) and my sister out for a spin. He was 30 and I was just a few months old when this photo was taken.

My father and I are taking a trip today, but this time I will be doing the driving. He turned 87 this year, and I’ll be 57 next week. When he asked me what I wanted for my birthday, I told him that I would love to go up north (to the Saranac Lake/Paul Smiths area of New York where he grew up) with him and just see it through his eyes for a day.

We’ve talked about taking this trip for the past 10 years and at one point, I seriously doubted it would ever happen because he would never commit. I wasn’t even sure (until he called to confirm 2 days ago) if it we were still on for today, and I had made peace with this possibility …maybe I wasn’t ready until today.

As I think about this, I’m sure it is true. Up until the last few years, I’d still needed something from him. I’m not sure if it was approval, recognition or just attention, but for most of my life, I’d lived with the feeling that I wasn’t getting enough of him. He seemed just out of reach to me and this left me with a grasping feeling, which made me angry at both him and myself.

It wasn’t easy to turn this pattern around; to stop looking for what I was getting from the relationship, and to start thinking about what I was bringing, but the reward had been the feeling that I have even more love to give.

The tighter you squeeze, the less you have“. Thomas Merton

A good plan and a hair crime

Fred sleeping by my lap top (when I’m writing on the couch, this is where he likes to be)

A while back, I wrote about my 85-year-old mother wanting to get a computer and me nixing the idea. I really couldn’t imagine her learning any new technology (since she has never shown the slightest interest in anything like this before now). Well, she decided she was going to get one and asked Amanda (her granddaughter, my niece) to drive her to the Apple store where she bought an iPad, and had high-speed internet service by the end of the week. 2 days ago, I received the following email from her;

“I don’t know which Mary I have  but Mary daughter. Igot the hair crime  thanks. Love u bye spelling. I’m sending it anyway
Sent from my iPad”

I’d sent her some hair-gel, and she was thanking me. I loved this! When I called her to tell her how funny her message was she said, “I don’t know how I typed ‘hair crime’ but I thought it was funny so I just sent it.”

I’m so glad that I didn’t get involved with her computer buying when she asked me. I think the combination of me telling her that I didn’t think she would do it (which she admitted got her a little fired-up) and her needing to step out on her own and prove to herself that she could do it, have opened doors that wouldn’t have opened if I (or any of her children) had set her up.

Since Amanda was only passing through town, my mom couldn’t depend on her (long-term) either, so she needed to figure things out for herself. She found (and signed up for) a computer class at the senior center, and I know that this will expand her social circle which is another thing that she’s wanted. At 85, my mother is starting to plan her own life and go for what she wants…I’ve never been so happy to be proven wrong.

“If you don’t design your own life plan, chances are you’ll fall into someone else’s plan. And guess what they have planned for you? Not much.” Jim Rohn


Ask…. and let go

“Mama Bird” Hand-colored engraving by Karla Gudeon. Jack and I took a ride to the R. Michelson Gallery in Northampton MA on Wed. afternoon and we fell in love with this little picture, so now it’s home with us….it seems to say to me, “All is well, Let go, Relax and Trust!’
http://www.RMichelson.com

Just about 10 years ago, I was craving a trip to the ocean…the warm, light blue-green clear water felt like it was calling to me. The trouble was, it wasn’t calling to Jack. I tried to talk him into going, but he didn’t want to; said we couldn’t afford it, and wouldn’t talk about it. I  found this to be quite frustrating (to say the least), and I was beginning to resent him.

One day, in despair over my inability to get him to change his mind, (and in my mind he was the only way that I was getting to the ocean) I went out for a run. Half way through I had an epiphany, “I cannot do this anymore. I’m angry at Jack every time I think about this trip, and frustrated with myself for not being able to figure out a way to do it. If I am meant to go on a trip to the ocean then it will have to show up another way. I am letting it go.” And I meant it. I felt a weight lift and a sense of calm came over me.

As I walked into the house after my run, Jack said, “Bob called (my younger brother) and said he’d call you back this morning. I told him that you were running.”

Bob called about 15 minutes later and said, “Hey sis, I just had an idea. I am taking the kids to Sanibell Island for spring break and wanted to know if you would like to join us? There’s an extra bedroom in the condo and it is yours if you want it.”

It was as if I literally “let go” of the thought that Jack had to make this trip happen, and it was finally free to travel out from me and my “one way this has to happen idea”, and find a better path to turn my dream into a reality.

I realize that solutions don’t always come as swiftly as this one did, …but sometimes they do! If you would like a weekend assignment, how about taking one thing in your life that you’ve been wrestling with or trying to figure out,  and let it go, just for the weekend, …give yourself (and your idea) a little room to breath, to relax and refresh. When we turn inside, and change the only thing that really matters; our thoughts and our attitude, life will show up to meet us on that new ground too.

“He who has so little knowledge of human nature as to seek happiness by changing anything but his own disposition will waste his life in fruitless efforts”.  Samuel Johnson