Year of the dragon

Stepping through a new door (a beautiful card sent by a friend who has a wonderful photography blog,

Saturday afternoon, I was napping on the couch when my mother called. I was only half asleep but feeling good and was happy when I heard her voice. She immediately said, “You sound like you were sleeping!” I told her that it was no big deal, I was glad to be awake because it was late afternoon and I had wanted to get up anyway.  This didn’t satisfy her. One of my mother’s pet peeves is people sounding tired when she calls. It doesn’t bother her that she woke them up, but it annoys her beyond belief when they sound tired.

I had forgotten this until about 2 minutes into the conversation when she said, “You sound dopey. I’ll let you go. Bye!” I was fully awake then. I stayed on the couch and kept saying, “Let it go. That is her. Don’t make it your problem. Don’t build a case against her….” After a little while, the feelings of irritation at her did fade, and I felt much better. I resolved to not talk about it. When Jack got home, it was the first thing that I told him, but I also said that I was not bothered anymore and was glad that I had moved through it.

My mother called again yesterday. I had been in the middle of a semi-frustrating situation, working on a project for most of the morning that wasn’t going well, and the first thing out of my mouth to her (which I tried to hide with a little humor that I wasn’t feeling) was, “So, you don’t think that I sound dopey today?” and as I said it, I thought, “You were going to drop that weren’t you Mary? What happened to your resolve?” But I knew exactly what it was. I had been feeling irritated with myself before her call and didn’t catch it, so the situation from the day before just jumped on board the “feeling irritated and frustrated train” when it passed by, and I didn’t even try to stop it.

Like attracts like in situations, people and events. I know this. I also know that I can truly let something go, and I can also take it back by thinking about it. Today is the beginning of the Chinese New Year; the year of the dragon. I like the idea of new beginnings, of letting go of past hurts and resentments, and stale patterns of feeling, and of stepping into a new, more expansive, less petty, happier way of being…today is a new day.

“We will open the book. Its pages are blank. We are going to put words on them ourselves. The book is called Opportunity and its first chapter is New Year’s Day.” Edith Lovejoy Pierce

32 thoughts on “Year of the dragon

  1. Your phrase – “don’t build a case against her” resonated with me. How many times – over and over have I brought up “stuff” to make sure that I have enough reasons to “justify” my being angry, resentful or what have you. I also enjoyed your phrase – “jumping on the feeling irritated and frustrated train” – “and not trying to stop it.”

    I’d like to add two phrases that I learned (and use) from the self-help mental health group – Recovery International (FKA Recovery, Inc.) – “Self-justification is a sequel either to self-accusation or fear from outside challenge.” The other is “first thought blackens shiny escutcheon of self, second thought whitens it.”

    These two thoughts came to mind from your example – the building of the case against your mom and the desire you had to clear yourself of any perceived wrongdoing.

    Recovery offers in person groups, phone and internet assistance. It is a cognitive behavioral approach to change our thinking and behavior and is not a 12 step group and was developed by a neuropsychiatrist – Dr. Abraham Low. It was VERY instrumental in my personal journey.

    Good morning everyone. Nice to say that to the group as I set out to start my day.

  2. Good morning Mary! I always get so much out of each and every one of your posts. And always, there is one line or phrase, that totally jumps out and grabs me. This morning it is “stale patterns of feeling”. As much as I try to let things go, sometimes, just when I think I have, a ‘stale pattern of feeling’ surfaces. I can’t even say it ‘creeps’ in because it seems to ‘rush’ in…like a tsunami of emotion. Replace the old with the new, I think. Focus on a positive interaction. See it/him/her in a new light. Or, simply, forgive. Today IS a new day…that is what I will tell myself the next time I try to take back a stale pattern of feeling. Happy New Year!

  3. Mary, you share your own challenges in ways that educate and enlighten us all. Thank you.

    Those doors on the card are gorgeous, what a lovely way to start the week! Makes me want to paint my own door purple…. Big hugs to all.

  4. Please forgive me for chuckling mightily at the picture in my head of that conversation! Empathy certainly is not your Mother’s strong suit.
    Why is it that these kinds of negative feelings seem to be so deeply rooted in us and why is it much easier said than done to let them go? I don’t have any answers but I greatly appreciate your humor and acute observations on our behalf!
    Love from Fran

    • That is wonderful Fran because I was laughing a bit when I wrote it. In the past I would have been harder on myself and I am starting to see myself do things like this and say, “You still have some work to do Mary and that is OK.”

  5. I struggle with this forgive and forget the past every day and especially the forget part Mary. I love what you wrote and sometimes we are too hard on ourselves and need to mellow out alittle but I know I especially need to move on and live each day for what it is and to my best ability to do so! Thanks again for being there for all of us….Julie

    • The following is from a book by D. Patrick Miller (who happened to write an article that Susan Alcantara shared recently about Jacob Needelman). The book is called “A Little Book of Forgiveness.

      “Forgive and forget” is a popular distortion of the work of surrendering grievances. The real process is “Remember fully and forgive.” If it were actually possible to forget everything you forgave, you could teach very little to others seeking freedom from their resentments.

      He goes on to say…..
      “It’s true that we do eventually forget some things we’ve truly forgiven. But that kind of forgetting takes care of itself; it’s not something you can tell yourself or anyone else to do. Trying to forget is just another means of denial — and whatever is denied is not forgiven. Remembering fully helps us take note of what we do not want to see repeated, so that forgiveness doesn’t inadvertently give anyone permission to commit the same mistakes again.”

      Julie, I hope this helps.

  6. Oh I can so relate to this post! My mother passed away last year and as her health declined she got more and more critical of me (always had a way of bursting my happy bubble) and there is a huge “Mother Wound” deep inside. I am still dealing with it…probably always will be. Thanks for sharing.

    • As sad as the connotation is, MaryAnne, I am really taken with your term, “Mother Wound.” It says SO much, in fact, it is already sparking thoughts that I will be journaling about. Thank you.

    • I, too, was affected by the term “Mother Wound.” My mother has been gone ten years – and it does get easier – but oh those “zingers” that would be said (and then felt and absorbed by me). It has taught me to be more careful about what I say and how I say it. I try to be respectful of someone else’s feelings and not speak too quickly.

  7. I like that idea of getting rid of ‘stale’. Who wants to eat stale bread? – but who doesn’t also love the smell of a new book, one that you’ve opened for the very first time? So on to new pages, out with the old, good bye stale. And yes, easier said than done. Mary, you are so honest sharing with us your real life examples such as your phone visit with your Mom. I bet it helps too, to write it down, get it out in black and white, and maybe even enjoy a chuckle as you see its power diminish. What you experienced in Capital Letters at the time, shrinks to lower case, and maybe even d-e-l-e-t-e!

  8. I appreciate so much that you so honestly and openly share the specific situations you face and how you move through them and continue to grow spiritually. It really helps to know that you as a minister and spiritual counselor also face challenges. I found your blog through Jon Katz and have shared your blog with other friends of mine. Your blog posts truly are an inspiration on my spiritual journey each day. I read my mediation passages and your blog post each morning to start my day. THANK YOU!

  9. Dear Mary,
    Thank you for today’s post…so honest, sincere and humble. I am inspired each day by your beautiful, simple approach to life’s challenges and the open heart with which you share you journey. Beautiful, beautiful.

  10. Happy Year of the Dragon to All. I love dragons. Dragons are related to Snake medicine which symbolizes powerful creation energy. By shedding its skin , snake makes itself new when it has outgrown its own skin… how great is that to consider as we try to outgrow our old patterns.

  11. “Do not trifle with dragons, for you are small and crunchy and taste good with ketchup.”
    Author Unknown

    And so, we enter the Year of the Dragon, and I wish you all a crazy-good Happy New Year as we empower ourselves and learn to breathe fire!

    Wonderful post, Mary, as always. I have so many similar reactions to my mom, and I’m trying really hard to ignore little annoying things that she does that rattle my cage. However, I don’t beat myself up anymore about it, as I believe it’s gone on so long, the irritaion has part-way melded with my DNA. I clear out what I can and forgive her AND myself. T’was ever thus.

  12. Thank you so much Mary, as I stepped through a new door this morning, even ritually stepped into my meditation room as a sacred threshold, moving from the past to a new beginning. My new chapter in my new blank open book is new life without my husband. He delivered the news that he was divorcing me yesterday. After sobbing tears and numbness, I woke up before dawn and found the Beloved orchestrating a beautiful new sonata to allow me to sing a new song in this year of the water dragon. I am jumping on the new wave and riding it to my new love, my earthly beloved. I have been writing a lot about love lately and now I see that God has closed a door and has opened a new magnificent door to the unknown, a higher and deeper octave of Love. I take courage that as I step through the door, the new love will appear, shinier, brighter, and filled with the Divine Love of the Beloved. Thanks for allowing me a chance to state my intention to take one step at a time, guided by the Holy Spirit, and allow the ground to appear beneath my feet. Bless you Mary for your synchronistic post.

    • I love the way that you stated what you were walking toward. Thank you so much for sharing this with us, and I will be holding your loving intentions too. Warm hugs and thoughts are being sent your way.

    • Your attitude in this post is marvelous. Divorce is a journey and, like any journey, it will end. Your life and its layers of meaning, however, will continue.

      You may even alight from the “divorce train” a stronger, more vibrant being than when you stepped aboard. I did.

      Wishing you days of strength, resilience, and self-discovery. Good luck and God bless. You have the loving wishes of the Flock always at your shoulder.

    • God bless you, newheavenonearth!
      Sometimes those husbands are so darn dopey. You write beautifully about stepping through your new door. You are a strong and beautiful woman. May love, light and laughter be yours always.

  13. Kelly, that was so beautifully stated.
    Yvonne, with your background and sensitivity, I know you are getting a great deal from the group as you are giving so much love to it.

  14. Hhmmm. My first thought was: thank goodness your Mom’s lack of acceptance was NOT hereditary. While her insistence to ‘feed the peeve’ is a long simmering habit, your ability to use it as a positive learning experience is the light we all see here.
    Mary, I personally believe you are Wonder Woman incarnate, but please never try to stop a moving train; better to catch the next one. It could take you to a place you’ve never been before!! XOXO.

  15. I LOVE that purple door!
    And thanks so much for your sharing and your wise words. I’ve been working for some time to “let it go” and not let the little things bother me. And it’s led me to feel more peaceful inside and more accepting and loving of others.

  16. To newheavenonearth:

    Endings can be sad, but they also create space for new things in your life. I can feel that your energy is strong and you will look back at some point and say, “Thank you for this experience.”

  17. Mary, that is a beautiful purpley,joyful door and Buddah. I love that card.
    Your Mom sounds so much like my Mom was! But what I really identified with was the resolve you made not to entertain the situation further and then when your Jack came home it was the first thing out of your mouth! I just can’t help it sometimes and I’m always so happy when I see my Ron! I think it’s the great “friendship” part of our relationship. It just makes me feel so accepted and safe.

    • Now that is an interesting way of seeing the situation Cindy! Love it and thank you

  18. I love the purple door card at the start of the Post ending with the door opened to the Buddah in a Garden. I had to study it to get that it was one NOT two cards. It reminds me of a lovely poem my son, Robin, wrote for his girlfriend. The poem ends with: “Emily, you are the Buddah in my garden”. He actually built a Japanese Garden, found a wonderful Buddah statue for its centerpiece, and that is where he proposed to her! He built the garden over a series of summers before he ever met Emily. When the garden was complete and he wasn’t, he found Emily. They got married on July 3, 2011. NEW BEGINNINGS.

    I recently read the classic novel THE GOOD EARTH by Pearl S. Buck. I highly recommend it. Happy Chinese New Year whatever your heritage may be.

    Also, thanks to Mary Solomon…what you wrote about “self justification” got my attention.

    And, the concept of “Mother Wound” in today’s comments, not only put my tapes on rewind about my own mother, but caused me to reflect on wounds I have inflicted on my daughter, and how I want to be more aware of what I say and how I say it.

    Thanks to Mary Muncil and the Flock for enlightening my life. Mary Rita.

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