Ideas that expand us

"Looking through a key hole" (photograph I took on retreat several years ago)

Last year, I was telling a friend that I met my father every Sunday morning for breakfast and she said, “Oh, I wish that I had a relationship like that with my dad.” I just smiled but also thought, “You probably really don’t!” It took a lot of determination for me to see that relationship differently and to be genuinely happy to meet with him on Sunday mornings in the summer. I don’t see him during the rest of the year because he lives in Florida, and I have never been invited to either home. He told me last year, at breakfast, that this was not going to change, (and he is 86 so I tend to think that he is right). I see him on Sunday mornings before the track opens. He comes to Saratoga for the racing season and leaves right after.

This is in no way meant as a “poor me” post. I lived with a lot of anger about my past and it ate me up. Ten years ago, I was experiencing such stomach pain, that I really thought I might have a serious illness, and realized that I needed to seriously address my non-acceptance of the past. I had “worked on” forgiveness, done tons of therapy, but was still carrying around resentments and they were beginning to negatively impact my health. I began a process of opening up to a new way of being, to a new way of seeing my life, and everyone in it (or not), to basically save my life. I wrote to a friend last night and said, “One of my concerns about this blog is that people will think that when I propose and idea such as saying, ‘Everything in my life is exactly as it should be’, that someone struggling will feel like I have done this work in one fell swoop and now am saying it is easy”.

Changing the way that I think, has been, hands down, the hardest thing that I have ever done. Accepting where I am now, who is here with me, who is not, is huge work. I removed yesterday’s post because I could feel that it need more explanation. I present concepts and new thoughts with the sole intention of offering a thought/idea that could lead to a more expanded, easier and happier life.

I am posting yesterday’s post again here for anyone who would like it.

I’ve been thinking about a powerful question lately…asking myself this question, “What if my entire life has been ‘perfect’?” I spent many years feeling that I did not quite measure up, that I somehow disappointed my parents, then my children…felt I was not quite a good enough friend or wife or even pet owner. I believe that it is important to make amends, set things right, when I know that my actions have harmed someone, but perpetually feeling bad/wrong/inadequate for actions of the past, only drags those low energies into my present moment. There is a belief system that if you forget the past, you are doomed to repeat it, but the truth is, if you keep it alive, by negative thought and stories, you are attracting similar experiences. Feeling bad about the past does not change it, but it does change my present moment, and makes it more difficult.

I am ready to live today as if everything in my past has been perfect; no person was there by accident, no split-up was ultimately “wrong”….every person who came and left was “right” at that time. There is a peace inside when I quietly sit and say, “What if everything is exactly how it is meant to be, and my life is perfectly on-track.” Maybe Labor Day is a good day to stop “laboring” and struggling about things that we cannot change (the past) and to start living now.

28 thoughts on “Ideas that expand us”

  1. Thank you Mary for your frankness and honesty, once again. Through you I’ve learned to let go of the past to avoid spoiling the present, which is the most valuable lesson anyone has ever taught me. I can admit that I’ve done things I’m not proud of, but I now feel I’m a better person than I was then. People have hurt me but I’ve forgiven them.

  2. I found the idea that my life was perfect a difficult one to initially wrap my head around. But that’s one of the things I like about it. I think, what if… what if it’s true? It’s a wonderful idea and as I come to see it may be true, my foundation shifts and my whole world changes.

    1. That is exactly the experience that I have had/been having, with this concept. Even today, thinking that maybe I had not stated the idea clearly enough, I thought, “what if it was perfect; the first post, the taking it off, the second post….what if it is all just as it is meant to be?!” I could feel a light energy as I thought this. I also do believe that things can, and should, be much less effort than I have made them…that there is a huge amount of universal/spiritual help when I decide to ask for it and to change my thoughts…Thank you for this powerful comment Maria.

  3. Mary – The people who seem to be happiest around me are the ones who understand the importance of acceptance. I often struggle with being more accepting,since it means that I also have to relinquish control — even though I know eventually it makes forgiving possible and peace follows soon after. It’s a lesson I’ll continue to work on for the rest of my life. I was raised to believe that things had to be perfect, and it has caused me a lot of pain and suffering throughout the years. I appreciate your honesty, and I’m very glad you put the post back up. I have a feeling that the idea of “what if it is all just as it is meant to be” is something that we all need to remind ourselves more often.

  4. I’m still struggling with the difference between “acceptance” and “resignation.” I know I can’t change the past. Given the most powerful law of all – the law of unintended consequences – I don’t think I’d want to! But there are things I regret, or make accurately am sorrowful about. And I’d like not to repeat those experiences or resign myself (or others) to being the person I was (or they were) at those particular moments, but rather move forward to something “better” with a wiser and more generous spirit.

    So I don’t want to forget the past, but it certainly isn’t helpful to wallow in it either. And I have concluded that I had unreasonable expectations about my parents that I didn’t and don’t impose on other people, and I remind myself every day that they were once children themselves being raised in the families they were born to, and they did what they knew and were taught to do. And that I don’t need to compound any of their shortcomings with my own.

    And I hope that, as the anniversary of 9/11 approaches, the nation (and particularly the media) will find a way to remember and commemorate, but not wallow and exploit.

  5. Mary, for me yesterday’s post and today’s addition explaining your story about your father and your personal journey of pain, forgiveness, and acceptance, illustrates the idea that “things are as they should be”.

    Your post yesterday prompted Becky to question it’s simplicity, which I’ll bet prompted today’s post – today’s post is so significant to me and you offer a part of yourself that you have not revealed before on this blog.

    Also, Becky’s comment about her daughter’s suicide caused me to google my cousin, Denise, who has suffered a similar loss. I found her recent address and phone number.

    And, now I am rereading Max Ehrmann’s “Desiderata”‘ :
    “And whether or not it is clear to you, no doubt the universe is unfolding as it should”.

  6. Mary, your blog has been a godsend to me. I feel changed since starting to read it. There is a new optimism in my outlook and I feel a sense of community here with you and your readers. Change and letting go of the past does not happen over night, I can certainly appreciate that. What you do here, for me, is to help me along the path. I thank you and I thank this community.

  7. The photograph was very interesting. When I first looked at it, I didn’t see it–I didn’t figure it out. I read the blogs and thought about them. Then, I left the computer with the page open, cleaned my face and brushed my teeth. I sat down again. I looked at the photo and there it was. It was the back of an Adirondack Chair.

    Well, life is like that. We bring our experiences and knowledge to a situation; these grow as we grow, and, then, as we become elderly, they may just as well change, deteriorate. Do you see all the variables? There are no absolute answers to our questions–only subjective opinions. The only Absolute Truth comes only from our Lord and Savior.

    So, then what? Do the very best you can do everyday. If you get up the next morning and don’t like your performance, change it, you can even turn it around. When I have used up my talents, I say, “Lord, I don’t know how to do this. I place it in your hands.” Don’t look back! It’s a done deal!

    I found comfort in the REMINDERS FROM GOD on my Home Page this morning, “Be calm, assured, at rest. I love you.”

  8. Mary, you and Jon Katz’s blog mean a lot to me also. As I read them I realize different and more productive ways of viewing lifes struggles and opportunities. It is a slow path but each little step and it gets better. Also the community on the blogs are amazing and I am thankful for them.

  9. there must be something in the shifting of the seasons that puts us in this similar thinking pattern. I have spent the entire weekend wrestling with my feelings of being inadequate in the ways that I have acted in and reacted to events of the past. Knowing that this is a futile endeavor does not save me from the exercise. I Know Better. I , too, wish to clearly feel the difference between compassionate detachment and resignation. To read this here, to have it echoed, to have my thoughts and feelings mirrored in this place reminds me that Spirit is at work for all of us. A deeper breath is possible with that reminder.

  10. Hi, Mary. Even though I haven’t posted in a long time, I still keep my morning routine ~ coffee at White Feather Farm!

    These postings mirror the path I’ve been on for the last 6+ years and remind me that life is a process, not a series of events. I’ve come to be a little more comfortable with the idea that “letting go” doesn’t have anything to do with not taking action – to achieve the results we think are good and right. But it means everything about turning over the results of those actions to God. I struggled continuously over this until I finally realized that “acceptance” doesn’t have to equal “liking.”

    I truly believe that the Divine plan is not an option. It will unfold and our only choice is whether we resist it or not. So I’m just going to keep trying to relax and lean back into the arms of God. Everything is perfect … just the way it is.

  11. “Life summoning through you is what it’s all about —it’s not the completion of anything.”

    This was the last sentence in the Abraham Hicks message today. I love that notion of being summoned, called to life each and every day. Each day has its precious beginning, rife with possibility – we can seize the moment, or maybe it’s just a day to rest and contemplate. Another line from a poem I loved as a teen and I cannot find it anywhere but know it was written by Katherine M. Hanna, “I will not soon or ever have done becoming grown.” We need to exercise the same patience with ourselves that we did with our little children when they were kids, – every effort was praised and appreciated – we didn’t expect them to be perfect or accomplish miracles overnight – it was the step taken with diligence and commitment that brought them to the path of growth and life, wonder and joy. Mary, I’m so glad you re-posted yesterday’s thoughts, and today, the breakfasts with your Dad. Something in us will always be the little girl wanting Daddy’s approval and Mama’s too. So it’s hard when we feel something is withheld. All the more reason then to share our love and support with each other. I know I have come to recognize all the names here and appreciate you all so much. Maria, I loved your phrase, “my foundation shifts”. Maybe not the best thing when it comes to a house foundation!, but even in time, and it does take time, a foundation that shifts needs time to settle, and again, patience in the process. May we all be open to the light outside that keyhole! Loved the photo Mary.

  12. A quote from Byron Katie –

    I was reminded of this quote by ByronKatie as I read some of the comments about how things are.

    “Argue with reality and you lose, but only 100% of the time.”

  13. Mary, I really appreciate your frankness and also feel a kindred spirit there. I’ve also experienced the feelings that you describe such as not measuring up. I do take comfort in Romans 8:28 “And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose.” Becky’s response stopped me dead in my tracks, I wasn’t sure how to answer her or comfort her. There is a lot in this world that I just don’t understand…

  14. Mary, your posts have expanded my world, and through me then they have expanded the worlds of others. Having not seen yesterday’s posts, I cannot comment, but my heart goes out to Becky for her loss.

    Your comment (a quotation from someone) that “thoughts are things” is so true. As with being cognizant of what and how I eat, I am now vigilant about what and how I think, too. Both are integral parts of health. Thanks for that awareness.

  15. I really appreciate your posts. I have dealt with some self-loathing for being a cranky person – but your posts have made me think about accepting the fact that I am cranky and need to work on it – and that alone has made me less cranky. I didn’t used to be cranky but I recently gave up smoking – which is the most difficult thing I have ever done. Crankiness is a side affect that I am battling. Thank you for your blog. I always feel calmer and stronger after I read it – which I do every day. Your blog gives me a new, useful tools to manage my crankiness, suspicion, and resentments. It also makes me realize that I am not an utter failure because I haven’t done away with my spiritual warts – that it is an evolving process that I should keep working on. Thanks again.

    1. Jill, Congratulations on giving up smoking. That’s a great achievement and you should feel very proud. None of us is perfect – we all have warts and imperfections – and they make us nicer people.

  16. Is it merely the accumulation of life experience that brings us to this place of examining the possibility that maybe, just maybe, our lives are perfect for each individual circumstance? Who else would we be if not for the things and people who helped shape our unique bodies and minds.

    It’s taken most of my adult years to realize that every day is an invitation to grow and change; we are never ‘done’. To embrace what IS seems so elementary and yet so difficult at the same time.
    Just having the discussion, and the support of all those here, makes me confident we’re all on the right path!

  17. Mary:
    Love the expanded version even more! There is no delete icon in life and there is constant adjustment needed on one’s thought patterns.
    My personal favorite is to catch myself playing the old tapes in my mind and stopping, taking a deep breath and updating the message to a more peaceful, user-friendly interpretation. After a while, the new attitude becomes the permanent record!
    Peace, Rose

  18. Now I wish I had read the comments before posting. What a great group you have brought together; all with different approaches and viewpoints. Yet, I get a sense of flowing, like a small, gentle stream. Look forward to reading and “meeting” y’all here! Thanks for inviting me Mary!

  19. The message came at a interesting time for my niece and myself. My niece is going through a particularly tough time with her Dad’s illness and has a dis-connect with her only brother. Unknown to me, my niece was seeing her brother today for the first time in 3 years.( I did not know this when I sent along today’s message). I truly believe we are all where we are meant to be. Some days it is harder than others to accept this, but when I do accept it, I am happier. Everything that has happened to us has formed the person we are today. I have been trying to help my niece let the past be the past and live in today and I now know that there was a reason I sent today’s message.

  20. Mary, I was about to comment on yesterday’s post last night, because I, too, have always felt inadequate. Then I saw Becky’s comment, which stopped me in my tracks. I’ve never suffered a loss as grievous as hers, but some I have suffered have caused me to doubt that there is a God who is in control and who has a plan for us that is unfolding as it should. But, in spite of this, I keep a copy of Max Ehrmann’s “Desiderata” that Mary Rita mentioned on my dresser, and I read it every morning. It gives me a lot of focus and direction.

  21. I love that you visit your father every week when he is staying in your area despite your conflicted feelings. And how smart are you to get there early before that track opens! :o) It’s tough to suck it up and do the right thing.

    I think that if a parent is ‘ornery’ they only become more so as they age. You are wise to keep the lines of communication open despite past hurts. You don’t get the time back and you get the parents that you get.

    Thank you, Mary for sharing these life experiences with us. And I thank the readers who comment with suggested readings. God bless us one and all!

  22. Mary, I’m so glad you re-posted yesterday’s post, because I didn’t get a chance to read it yesterday. I don’t think it needed more explanation; it was perfect just as it was. Hit home with me, as usual. How much happier we would all be if we could just stop the negativity/regrets/etc that play and replay in our heads. I’m working on it!! Thanks for all that you do….

Comments are closed.