I take that as a compliment

A painting that I'm currently working on with another of my favorite quotes, "Sometimes I've believed six impossible things before breakfast" Lewis Carroll

A painting that I’m currently working on with another of my favorite quotes by Lewis Carroll

A couple of weeks ago I officiated the wedding of my niece. Right before the ceremony began, someone I hadn’t seen in several years said to me, “You’ve aged a lot.”

I’d love to be able to say that my first thought was, “Thank you!”, but it wasn’t…what I really thought was, “You inconsiderate shit-head!” I didn’t say anything to him, but I’ve thought about his comment quite a bit since then. I’ve also thought about one of my favorite quotes from the Dowager Countess (Maggie Smith) in Downton Abbey.

A friend of the Dowager’s (Mrs. Crawley) had just told her that she reminded her of someone rather unpleasant, and the Dowager replied, “I take that as a compliment.” To which Mrs Crawley said, “You take everything as a compliment” and the Dowager Countess returned with one of the best lines ever:  “I’d advise you to do the same. It saves many an awkward moment.”

As I thought over the awkward moment that I’d experienced at the wedding, I wondered how it would be possible to take that comment as a compliment. Could I consider myself like a finely aged cheese or wine? That idea just felt dumb. So I kept trying to imagine the comment differently. If I’d been 14 years old and someone said that to me, I would have been thrilled. There was nothing that I wanted more, when I was a teenager, than to look older.

As I pondered that moment, the questions that came to me were, “When was I happy with my age?” When did I feel/think that I was the perfect age?” It seems I’ve always thought that I was either too old or too young. The comment that would have been received by me as a compliment, at one time in my life, was now received as an insult.

But I am the one who received it. I’m the one who “processed it” as an insult. It is true that I have aged. It is also true that as much as I want to embrace wrinkles, gray hair, and spotty skin, I really don’t….not in myself anyway. But I want to, and this man’s comment helped me see deeper into myself. I also realized that there would have been no sting if what he said wasn’t something that I’d already been thinking about myself. He was just a mirror of my own mind.

What would it feel like to take everyone’s “stinging” words (even the words that I remember from the past) as compliments? What a fun thing to imagine and to try. At the very least, I’ll learn something about myself and maybe even challenge, and let go of, some worn out beliefs.

minding my own mind

Fred napping on the stairs

           Fred napping on the stairs

I attended a family function recently. Those are always the best situations for bringing out any unresolved issues that I’ve been hiding away, hoping not to deal with ever again. Several days after this particular event, I was imagining someone in my family criticizing me for something that I did, and I began to defend myself, actually building a case in my mind for why I wasn’t wrong and in fact why he was the one who was off base.

I worked myself into quite a frenzy until I realized what I was doing. I knew that if I continued on with this mindset, I’d end up in a conflict with either this person or someone else, but I noticed this time that I was quite pleased with the defense that I had constructed, and a part of me didn’t want to drop it.

I wanted to be right and I wanted to prove him wrong by my clever and deeply insightful reasoning. I wanted to shut him up, even though I was the one who had created the conflict and his hurtful words, in my mind. I could just as easily have imagined him saying kind and loving words to me…. or could I? Because it really wasn’t him saying anything, it was my own critical voice.

I’m the one who didn’t approve of me. I’m the one who was internally fighting, but didn’t want to look at it. So could I really have imagined those kind and loving words being said about me? Apparently not.

When I finally became aware of what I was doing, I went from feeling “justified anger” to feeling free as I let him off the hook and myself too. I also saw that critical self-talk was still going on within me. There was no one to fight on the outside, it was (and always is) happening within. When I am thinking kind and loving thoughts about myself there is no conflict with anyone. I notice that when I think someone is displeased with me, I need look no further than my own mind. All answers are within.

“Defense is the first act of war.” Byron Katie

One step at a time

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A new painting of The Star. It is for sale on MY ARTWORK PAGE along with the story of how I received the star that this painting is based on.

I was woken up at 4:30 yesterday morning by a screeching fox right outside my window. I wasn’t planning on getting up but within a few seconds I heard a cat. Assuming that the cat was Esther (our 9-year-old girl who does not like to come in the house), I got up and went outside. Esther was fine, but she kept suspiciously staring at the garage so I wondered if the fox was in there or nearby. Last evening the mystery was solved when I spotted a white and black cat inside the garage (Esther’s private domain). As soon as I approached the garage, the cat ran to the back and hid amongst Jack’s stuff. If any of you have ever been inside Jack’s shop, just imagine that multiplied by 10 and you will know what our garage looks like. That kitty could hide forever without me getting to it.

Since it was so late, I decided to put Esther in the cellar for the night and brought a plate of food and a bowl of water outside, placing them next to the open garage door. From an upstairs window, I could see the kitty eating, and I felt good.

When I woke up at 2 a.m. this morning, I thought about the cat. I didn’t know if it would still be around or not but I knew that either way, it was perfect. The thought going through my mind was, “That kitty came into your life and so it is a part of the design of your life…maybe for only an hour, maybe longer, but all is well. Do not get into the future. Do not wonder how you will take care of it. It is 2 a.m. there is nothing more for you to do now. All is well.”

This is a lesson that I have learned: Do what is before you now. Do what you can feel you are being called to do now. The way will unfold.”

Yesterday, I knew what to do for that kitty. I fed it and gave it a little space. I didn’t know what I’d do this morning but I had faith that I’d be shown. When I went to check on her/him this morning, the food was gone and so was the kitty. As I looked at the empty plate, my mind flashed to when we were kids and left cookies and milk out for Santa on Christmas Eve.

I’m so happy that I was able to feed the cat. The only thing that matters is listening to the inner voice which always points the way. In the past I might have lost a night’s sleep over that kitty wondering how I would integrate it with our other cats, if it had diseases, if it belonged to someone, how to catch it and get it to the vet…..” I might have woken up ragged and tired and worried about my (and the cat’s) future. I might have wasted precious life imagining something that didn’t happen.

“A great deal of what people say, think, or do is actually motivated by fear, which of course is always linked with having your focus on the future and being out of touch with the Now. As there are no problems in the Now, there is no fear either.”

Eckhart Tolle

giving credit where credit is due…but where is that?

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“Good Night” available on MY ARTWORK PAGE

For most of my life, I’ve (secretly) held the belief that if I wanted anything done well, I needed to do it myself. I took a lot of pride in getting things done, and for being on time with whatever I committed to…and I wanted to receive recognition for this. As a matter of fact, I wanted recognition and credit for most everything I did. Occasionally, I’d do something and say nothing, hoping it would be discovered and then I’d be sought out so I could “humbly” say, “Yes, it was me.”

I’ve known about my false humility in this area for a long time, but about a week ago, I woke up with the words, “Stop taking credit for anything. You’re not doing it” running through my mind. Since that moment, I thought about these words almost non-stop, and they’ve continued to unfold and become clearer.

The need for recognition, which went hand in hand with feeling that I really did things better than most, was a huge obstacle in seeing myself for who I really was/am. Thinking that I, Mary Muncil, was doing so much (and doing it so well) created an almost shield-like block to my faith in myself as a Divine being. Believing that things had to be done my way, in my timing, presupposed that these things didn’t have an animating life of their own, which was arrogant in the extreme…not to mention exhausting.

“What would it be like to stop taking credit for things going well and for things going not so well?” has been the concept that I’ve been playing with for the last few days, and it feels like freedom…it feels like light…it feels like fun.

“A cloud does not know why it moves in just such a direction and at such a speed. It feels an impulsion…this is the place to go now. But the sky knows the reason and the patterns behind the clouds, and you will know too….

from,  Illusions, The Adventures of a Reluctant Messiah, by Richard Bach

Freedom is living fully in the NOW…leaving the past behind

Eleanor

                                     Eleanor 

I’ve never considered myself easy to get along with. I’m not sure if this was something I was told as a young child, and then just grew to believe or what, but I’ve always been strong-willed and opinionated, and it seemed to me that people like this were more challenging to be around.

Anyway, I was talking to a family member about this a while back and he said, “You are much better than you used to be.” Then he added, “I like the way I am. I’ve always been easy-going.” I bit my lip and said nothing, but I wanted to yell, “Are you kidding?!” Then he asked, “Don’t you think I’m easy going?” I answered, “Well, you’re a lot better than you used to be.” We both laughed, but neither laugh was genuine.

Later that evening, I thought about what I’d said to him and even though it was the truth, he was much easier to be around, I’d really wanted to say, “You may be easier now but in the past you have been incredibly difficult, opinionated, bossy, rigid…” But as I thought about this, another thought came to mind, “He really is different now. He is much easier to be around, so why do I want him to acknowledge that he wasn’t like this in the past? What difference does that make?”

I could see that I was dragging the past into the present. There was a part of me that didn’t want to see him through new eyes. I didn’t want to let him off the hook. I was oddly invested in keeping our entire past history active in my mind, even though a lot of it was difficult (for both of us) and even though I wanted him to see me as changed. It is no wonder that I’ve felt conflict in our relationship. It also became clear that I’d been keeping myself on that hook too, stubbornly holding onto many of the same hurtful memories about my own shortcomings.

If I want to feel harmony, peace, and happiness within but insist on holding onto past judgments, prejudices, resentments, and hurts, I am going to continue to have those two sides (of me) battling. Jane Roberts coined the phrase, “The point of power is in the Now”, over 30 years ago, but it is a spiritual truth that has been taught for thousands of years. Practically speaking, I believe  this means that we have the ability to see and to experience ourselves, and everyone else, as who and what we are in this moment.

A question that I ask myself, when I’m experiencing a conflict, is, “Are you so sure that you are seeing this person/situation accurately?” If I’m honest with myself, the answer is always, “No”, because the next question is, “Are you willing to see them/it differently?” When I answer, “No”, that is a sure sign that I am living in the past. But when I say, “Yes” (even when I cannot imagine a perspective different from the one I am currently holding onto) I begin to feel a new kind of peace and openness. I don’t even need to see what that new perspective is because I can sense it. Sometimes the conflict just falls away and I forget it. At other times, a more expanded vision takes the place of the old, but either way, I am free. I am living in the NOW.

 

“Living in the past is a failure method and a violation of spiritual law.” pp.31 The Game of Life and How to Play It, Florence Scovel Shinn

This entry was posted on June 14, 2015. 6 Comments

I say…..

Fred loves sitting in the grass

Fred

I know that we all have discouraging thoughts, and the one that seems to really grab me is, “You haven’t made any progress at all (in whatever area I’m currently fretting about) and at this point in your life, you probably never will.”

This was the thought that assailed me the other day, and honestly, I felt like crying, screaming, and giving up. It just seemed so obviously true. I was steeped in self-pity. I felt like a failure and the worse I felt, the more my mind came up with evidence that my feelings about myself were true. New negative thoughts seemed to jump into my mind, crowding in with the other negative thoughts until, energetically, I probably resembled a sinking ship.

I have tools for times like these but am reluctant to use them because in this state, I’m pretty sure that they won’t work either. Even though I have hundreds of examples of success when I try, in the moment of despair, I cannot imagine feeling better. I’m sure this is the reason why I wallow for hours instead of minutes. But eventually, I do try to work with my mind…when I can’t stand myself any longer.

This is what I did the other day. I went for a walk and began talking to myself. I asked myself the question, “What have you done in the last six months that has been helpful, to anyone?” and I made my mind look for the good…even the smallest thing, like asking Jack to put up netting around the base of a tree so the robins would be safe, came to mind. And the good, the lovely, the uplifting thoughts began to come, one after the other, until within 15 minutes I felt so good that I wanted to scream, “Thank you! I love my life!”

I was not only feeling grateful, but I couldn’t believe that I’d felt so bad a few minutes earlier. Nothing on the outside had changed to change my feelings. I spoke new words about myself and my life….that was it…and my life lit up.

Just the idea that we can illuminate our minds, bodies, emotions, and worlds, by speaking and thinking positive, uplifting, encouraging, words of Truth, seems so simple that this, our most powerful tool as human/spiritual beings, is often overlooked, dismissed, or forgotten. I once read, “Words are containers of light“.

So what do you say….how about taking today to think only the most beautiful thoughts about yourself? I’d be delighted to hold that intention for you too.

 

true power comes from within

examples of power poses

A bunch of people emailed to say that the link to this TED talk didn’t come through so I’m re-posting yesterday’s blog along with a photo of the poses. I’d originally heard Amy Cuddy on NPR and as she spoke about her personal journey of feeling like she didn’t belong, and what changed for her, I was deeply moved. At the end of the talk she basically said that making this small change in the way we “stand” can dramatically change our lives. She went on to say that she wanted to get this information out to help those who may have no resources other than their own minds to work with.

I just watched a great TED talk given by Amy Cuddy (a professor at Harvard Business School) and wanted to share it with you. It’s about 20 minutes long and toward the end, she talks about how changing our “postures” for only 2 minutes will change our minds and our lives.

a new little painting of mine called, The Invitation, that I'm offering for $44. If you are interested, you can find details on MY ARTWORK PAGE

a new little painting of mine called, The Invitation, that I’m offering for $44. If you are interested, you can find details on MY ARTWORK PAGE

This entry was posted on June 4, 2015. 4 Comments