Game on? I hope not.

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Fred and Eleanor

In the last post, I shared my experience of meeting with a former boyfriend/lover and how surprised I was at how much he hadn’t changed. The old “hooks” and words he spoke, which used to pull me in and make me feel so much longing and desperation to have more of him, did not have the same effect on me. He was still saying many of the same things, but I wasn’t feeling drawn in.

When we parted, I realized that I had changed and it felt good. Since that time, I’ve thought a lot about that meeting. I wondered what exactly I’d done that was different?The answer just came to me today: I wasn’t playing any games. I wasn’t trying to get him to come back or “want me” again. I didn’t have an ulterior motive when I asked him to meet me other than wanting to see him again.

This was it. This was the difference, because even though I hadn’t seen him in many years, I’d often thought about how I’d act if I ever ran into him. I hoped that I would be looking fabulous and happy and that he would feel regret that he didn’t stick things out with me…even though I didn’t want to be with him anymore!

In the past, when I’d contemplated what I’d do if I saw him, I imagined projecting myself with style and grace…like an actor on the stage? Yikes.

It occurred to me this morning that I was so clear about him for the simple reason that I wasn’t playing games. I wasn’t trying to get him to feel any way (regret, remorse, disappointment that he and I weren’t together) and I wasn’t trying to be someone “fabulous”. I just showed up as open as I could be. When we parted I felt clear, clean, and whole.

Playing games with people robs us of our clarity and self-respect. Game playing can temporarily make us feel like we are in control but it ultimately results in emptiness. Games are a waste of our time and a wasted opportunity for true connection/communication…but they can be so tempting! Rehearsing what we’ll say, projecting images of ourselves that we hope others will see, pretending that we don’t care when we do, pretending we care when we don’t…

The time is now to be who we were meant to be. Self-love, self-respect, self-caring all bring such authentic joy and peace and this is where I want to live.

It’s not too late!……Special Fall Tune Up/Tune In

Pain and struggle are helpful catalysts in getting us to the point where we surrender or break open to new realities, but we can also grow by making a choice to do so. We can choose to be open, and kind to ourselves, and through this open, kind-heartedness, we can become open to being taught from within.

I believe that we all have an inner teacher/voice that directs us toward happiness and inner peace, and yet sometimes we feel as though we can’t access or trust that voice.

This fall special will be focused on exactly that: learning to hear and trust your own Wisdom. It is for everyone: new and old clients. My usual rate for a ½ hr. session is $35, but I’ve been wanting to offer something new for a while and the thought to offer a fall tune up/tune in series came to me as I was driving this morning. I also hoped to make it affordable, so it will be $75 for three ½ hr. sessions. We can meet here in my office/home or by phone.

Making good friends…with ourselves

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“Dancing on the Sabbath” Edward Gorey  

 

Several weeks ago, I had the opportunity to meet with a man whom I’d been intimately involved with for a number of years. I hadn’t seen him in decades and was a little apprehensive (also curious) about how I would feel when we finally met. We didn’t end our relationship on hostile terms but it wasn’t friendly either. At the time it ended, we were both very disappointed in each other… and ourselves.

I never expected to see him again, and yet by a set of synchronistic events, I ended up doing some work in the city where he still lives, and called him to see if he wanted to meet with me.

Within ten minutes of being together, I was struck by how much he hadn’t changed. Physically he had aged, but his personality, and way of processing the world seemed untouched by the years. We spend about 4 hrs. together, and as I listened to him, I realized that he had pretty much kept his view of the world intact. His struggles were the same ones, his view of life, which often times left him feeling marginalized, was no different.

Over the days and weeks after our meeting, the deep knowing that time alone does not change us, was driven home. I already knew this, at least at one level, but it went deeper. It was a wake-up call. It made me wonder if I was also still struggling with situations in my life that I hadn’t been willing or able to shine the light of awareness on.

There is a wonderful line in a book by Pema Chodron where she talks about her experience of going deeply within. She’d been asked to be the head of a monastery and was struggling with unresolved issues of her own that came to a head during this time. She said it was like, “being boiled alive.” A visiting teacher told her, “When you have made good friends with yourself, your situation will be more friendly too.”*

I was in the middle of reading this book when I met with my old “friend”, and I could see how very unfriendly he was toward himself. He was so hard on himself, so unforgiving, so lost…

We cannot be unmercifully harsh toward ourselves and expect to change…it simply isn’t the way. We cannot beat ourselves into shape; mentally, physically, or spiritually, without paying a great price. That price is love. Nothing that we beat can ever trust or love us. We need to stop finding fault with ourselves and begin the deep and meaningful process of gentle exploration, kind “discipline”, kind thought. Love is the power that reveals the Truth.

Special Fall Tune Up/Tune In

Pain and struggle are helpful catalysts in getting us to the point where we surrender or break open to new realities, but we can also grow by making a choice to do so. We can choose to be open, and kind to ourselves, and through this open, kind-heartedness, we can become open to being taught from within.

I believe that we all have an inner teacher/voice that directs us toward happiness and inner peace, and yet sometimes we feel as though we can’t access or trust that voice.

This fall special will be focused on exactly that: learning to hear and trust your own Wisdom. It is for everyone: new and old clients. My usual rate for a ½ hr. session is $35, but I’ve been wanting to offer something new for a while and the thought to offer a fall tune up/tune in series came to me as I was driving this morning. I also hoped to make it affordable, so it will be $75 for three ½ hr. sessions. We can meet here in my office/home or by phone.

Please contact me by email, mmuncil33@gmail.com if this offering is of interest to you.

 

 

* Pg.8 When Things Fall Apart

 

slow down

The other day while driving home I found myself mentally racing into the future. I’d had a conversation with someone very close to me, and my feeling was that she wasn’t pleased with me, and this thought left me feeling ungrounded. I was tired and overwhelmed, which is not a good time to think about anything, much less make plans, but I was doing it anyway. My head felt like it was packed with cotton and it was talking non-stop as it tried to get me to grab onto a plan that would make life feel more manageable. It wanted safe ground. It wanted the relief of a solid plan. But I know better. No plans that I have ever made when in this state were ultimately good ones. They always involved moving away from anything that felt challenging…they always ended up too small. I finally said to myself,

“Slow down. I need to slow this mind down.”

Within a few miles, I saw a bunch of police cars up ahead. As I got closer, I could see police officers standing in the center of the road talking to the drivers of each car as they approached. Many cars were then directed to the side of the road to wait for “whatever”.

When it was my turn the officer said, “Are you aware of the speed limit?” I said, “No. Was I over it?” and he said, “Yes”. But instead of feeling anxiety I felt an odd relief. Somehow the universe had done for me what I couldn’t do for myself: It quite literally stopped me in my tracks.

I waited until the officer said, “What’s the hurry?” I actually thought before I answered, taking the time to ask myself, “Why are you rushing, Mary?”, and no good response surfaced so I looked at him and said, “There is no hurry at all.” I noticed a little laugh in the tone of my answer that prompted the same response in him. He smiled at me and said; “Just slow down”. I said, “Thank you”, and slowly drove away. I was still tired but I wasn’t racing into a “solution” and I wasn’t running away from my feelings, which were less overwhelming but still present.

What I have noticed about myself is this: when I am in distress, my mind goes on a search for the cause. It wants to blame someone/something for the discomfort and then it wants me to make a decision that will minimize the chance of ever feeling that way again. I cannot even count the number of times in my life when I’ve ended relationships for the simple reason that someone said something that made me uncomfortable…so many opportunities missed to expand my world.

I’m not talking about unsafe or toxic relationships where almost from the beginning things were off…and I knew it. If I am in a relationship that mostly leaves me feeling less than, inadequate, or confused and distressed, then I am probably getting guidance to move on. But if this isn’t the case and on balance I feel “more myself” and expanded in this relationship, then when we experience a “glitch” or an uncomfortable interaction, my running away from it will diminish me.

The voice inside my head that says, “You don’t need this!” and makes me want to run or fight when I feel uncomfortable, is as familiar as my own hands. I used to listen to her, believe what she said, and then act on that belief…no more. Now, maybe not in the moment, but always within a little time, I say to her, “Oh yes I do. This is exactly what I need. Thank you.”…And she never argues, as a matter of fact, I can often hear her almost chuckle, just like the officer in the street, and say, “Good for you, you brave thing…you couldn’t have done that a few years ago.”

“While control makes us strategize, trust lets us experience a larger set of resources. To move from controlling to trusting life is like exhausting ourselves by trying to put our arms around a river until we realize we have to enter the river and let the current take us.” The Endless Practice: Becoming Who You Were Born To Be, Mark Nepo

 

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Newest mixed media piece, The Other Shoe 2….Victorian baby shoe mounted (floating) in old drawer. This was such a fun piece to create. I wanted to convey the thought that the other shoe isn’t going to drop…all is well…no need to worry! (this piece is for sale on my artwork page or you can email me for details at mmuncil33@gmail.com)

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replacing the old guard

It’s been almost 3 months since I made the decision to say yes to whatever was asked of me. During this time, I’ve had the opportunity to talk with a number of people about this decision. Many have responded with questions about how I’d react if I were asked to do some outrageous stunt…some have expressed concern that I will be taken advantage of, and these were concerns of mine as well…before I began this adventure of opening myself up to the unknown.

The experience of being open to whatever was/is presented has put me in what I can only describe as an exquisite flow. The biggest change for me is this: I am no longer afraid of being overwhelmed or harmed in any way by showing up for life…as it presents itself to me. I didn’t realize how much energy I’d used up by trying to protect myself: weighing, over-analyzing, and dissecting every opportunity/request that came my way.

By committing to saying yes, it feels as though the Universe/God/Spirit has orchestrated opportunities that are tailor-made for me. It has been an exercise in Trust, and for someone who professed to be a big believer in trusting Spirit, I’ve been surprised to see the areas in my life, hidden away by justification and over analysis, that needed to be challenged. I feel so much less guarded about life. I want to experience it all: touch my boundaries, challenge me to be my best self, offer me opportunities to try and fail…I want to experience it all.

A few months ago, someone asked me to submit a story, to the organization, Expressing Motherhood. I said yes, did it, and let it go. I was genuinely surprised to be chosen as one of the participants, but my surprise has turned into delight…I don’t know what to expect and I like that feeling.

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TICKETS: https://www.brownpapertickets.com/event/3440196

http://www.expressingmotherhood.com

This entry was posted on May 23, 2018. 5 Comments

shall we talk about sex?

One of the challenges that I had to face, when Jack and I decided to really give our marriage a chance, had to do with sexual intimacy. After menopause, I really didn’t care if I ever had sex again. The physical urges were all but gone and that was fine with me…it even seemed like the natural course of things. It was a relief.

I’d never had a healthy body image, even when I was young, firm, and fit…and sex…what a loaded issue. Growing up Catholic, sex was at best, a necessary evil if you were married. Otherwise it was considered dirty, disgusting, and a sign of moral depravity and weakness.

Even though I left the church when I was in my 20s, at some level I still carried these beliefs about sex, and by extension about myself. I thought I’d finally banished these beliefs when I no longer felt like a sexual being, and I wasn’t being “challenged” at home; Jack had felt rejected so many times that he gave up asking. What I didn’t recognize or should I say, what I didn’t want to see was how Jack felt about sex; how it meant acceptance and love to him.

So when we “reconciled” a year and a half ago, I knew that I’d have to face a part of myself that was painful; namely an aging, sagging, bagging, body that didn’t look or feel at all enticing/sexy, and these old beliefs that sex was somehow wrong.

I didn’t jump back into sex with full abandon: inhibitions suddenly gone, free and open at last, but I did, to the best of my ability (sometimes with inner trembling) open myself up to be present in this way for Jack. What I came to see was that my apparent rejection of Jack’s advances was in fact a rejection of myself; I really never believed that I could make peace with sex or myself as a sexual being.

Does sex sometimes feel “obligatory” to me? Yes. Could I turn away from it and never give it another thought? Maybe…but maybe not. I’ve been surprised by how wonderful it is to not be fit and firm, buff and sexy, but to feel deeply appreciated…to talk about our insecurities and apprehensions about sex and to see them met with such tender understanding.

A part of me that I had relegated to the past, is now opening, growing, and pushing me to live more fully in the present, and these old beliefs are falling away. My softer body is mirroring my softer inner self who is willing to be more vulnerable, less in control; more open…and I welcome her with a soft, wrinkled smile.

 

 

Several days ago, a friend sent me a wonderful article from the New York Times entitled, “What sleeping with married men taught me about infidelity”, the link is below. https://www.nytimes.com/2018/04/06/style/modern-love-sleeping-with-married-men-infidelity.html

the experience of saying yes

Three weeks ago I decided to say yes to whatever was asked of me…for one month. It has been a life-changing decision. One of the things that has surprised me the most is how saying yes, has relieved me of the burden of my over-analytical mind, and simultaneously freed up time.

I used to be a big fan of saying that I’d pray about something, turn it over, see if I got any direction in my dreams, blah, blah, blah, before I would commit to saying yes. I hadn’t realized how much I was stalling Life and putting It off.

Saying yes has freed up something inside of me. I have a new enthusiasm for simply getting up in the morning. I literally can’t wait to see what will be asked of me; what new thing, that I couldn’t even have imagined, will show up.

When I first wrote about saying yes, four people recommended the book, The Surrender Experiment by Michael Singer, so in the spirit of saying yes, I put in my request at our local library. I thought that I’d open it, read a few pages and return it the same day, having fulfilled my obligation to say yes. Luckily (and I don’t believe in luck) Jack picked it up for me while I was out of town and he began reading it…and he couldn’t put it down…. then he asked if he could read it to me. I said yes. I had the same reaction to the book: I didn’t want it to end.

This began our week of taking every opportunity we could to drive and read…I drove and he read. We’ve visited galleries, cafes, museums, and Indian grocery stores, all in distant places, so we could do this and it has been a magical experience.

Several days ago, someone asked me if I thought I’d continue this practice after my month was over and my immediate thought was, “I am only just beginning this…I am a novice, I am being taught by life something so exquisitely simple yet profoundly life-changing, why would I ever go back to the prison of thinking I knew better than Life?”

I’d love to hear your experience, if this is something that you are doing and I am also open to any questions that you might have.

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“oh brother!” new mixed media assemblage (available on My Artwork Page)
Turn of the century wooden dried fruit box with 1900s cigar box (threads showing where lid was removed) mounted inside. Back of cigar box has map from 1950s book, “My Father’s Dragon”. 1850s ambrotype of brothers (looking very unhappy) attached to vintage child’s block and then attached to wooden box. 1940s insert to military binoculars underneath.
This assemblage, on the outside reminds me of all of the things that boys (and all people!) get into, but the faces on these boys really seem to spell trouble…and yet what is inside?…of them…of us all? With this thought in mind, I asked my sons and other men whom I respect, to give me words that represent “brother”. I then printed these words onto old school paper and lined the inside of the binoculars with these strips that say: loyal   bond   faithful   trouble   fun   friend   adventure   love  protect  respect   trust   cracking up  support   helpful   home  family  encourage   inspire.
At the back of the binocular inserts are small mirrors, which beckon us to always look for the good inside of us (no matter what is happening on the outside). Needless to say, I had a lot of fun creating this piece.

This entry was posted on March 21, 2018. 8 Comments

welcome those guides…

Over the past year or so, a lot of people have asked me if Jack and I have moved yet…and this is a reasonable question. I’ve talked, dreamed, wished, hoped, intended, focused on, let go of, took back again, prayed for, and puzzled about moving for a number of years….and still we have not moved. How can I account for this? Of course there are rational explanations but all of these feel hollow.

I’ve come to see the true reason for not moving…and it is rather simple: there was other “work” to do first and moving would have been a distraction. Those of you who have read my posts over the past year and a half know what Jack and I went through… and are still processing. It has been a roller coaster ride of emotions and feelings that has left me more certain than ever that I cannot know or control anything outside of myself…or at times, even my own life. I’ve also begun to embrace this uncertainty in a new way.

Sometimes it takes having our well-planned lives turned upside down or ripped apart before we enter into the stage of spiritual development so crucial for inner peace…. trust. I’ve begun to trust in a much deeper way the divinity that is all around me and includes me.

I always thought I needed a plan and felt like a rudderless ship without one. I don’t have a plan anymore…I have ideas about what I’d like, but I hold them very loosely. I’ve grown much more interested in seeing what happens when I think that I want something.

The other day Jack and I visited a museum to see the work of Joseph Cornell. After, as we walked through the gift shop I saw a pair of earrings that I liked a lot, but didn’t buy. Instead, I came home and started looking on-line for modernist, sterling, handcrafted earrings. I became a little obsessed so I stopped.

The next day we decided to take a ride to donate a bunch of things at a thrift store. As Jack brought the items to the back, I browsed the tiny shop and spotted a gorgeous sterling silver modernist handcrafted pair of earrings…for $2.50. I didn’t see a signature on them but it didn’t matter. They were exactly what I wanted. Only after we arrived home did we discover the mark of Ed Levin.

This was such a small thing, but it felt like a wink from my higher self…I hadn’t wanted to go to that particular thrift store but Jack really wanted to, so in the spirit of saying YES, I agreed.

I don’t’ think that we need to suffer huge traumas to grow. I believe that opportunities to change and expand are constantly being presented…and that they can be as gentle as a nudge or a whisper to awaken out of our sleeping, troubled, mind-directed way of living. But if/when those traumas do happen, like they have in my life, can I welcome them? Can I see them as missed opportunities that have come back again to help me? Can I see them as “guides from beyond”?

 

The Guest House

This being human is a guesthouse.

Every morning a new arrival.

A joy, a depression, meanness,

some momentary awareness comes

As an unexpected visitor.

Welcome and entertain them all!

Even if they’re a crowd of sorrows,

who violently sweep your house

empty of its furniture,

still treat each guest honorably.

He may be clearing you out

for some new delight.

The dark thought, the shame, the malice,

meet them at the door laughing,

and invite them in.

Be grateful for whoever comes,

because each has been sent

as a guide from beyond.

Jalaluddin Rumi

from Rumi: Selected Poems, trans Coleman Barks with John Moynce, A. J. Arberry, Reynold Nicholson (Penguin Books, 2004)

 

This entry was posted on March 12, 2018. 9 Comments