I am that…stepping into beauty

Bodhi looking outside at the snow this morning

Bodhi looking outside at the snow this morning

Over the years, I have become very aware that every feeling I experience, every negative thought about another, every judgement that I make, is really only telling me about me. I was reading the book, The Gentle Art of Blessing, this morning and these words spoke to me:

“No one can be our ‘enemy’ (or a total bore, or pain-in-the-neck, or whatever unflattering adjective we all occasionally feel like applying to others)….. Absolutely everything that happens to us in life, everything we are aware of, is filtered through the filter of our consciousness, our perception. An event ‘in itself’ does not exist. We interpret all events, all encounters, every single sensual impression.”*

There is no better way to know ourselves, than to pay attention to our feelings and thoughts about others, and our world.

I spent a lot of time looking at my judgements about other people, and it was a necessary first step to knowing myself. When I began this process of uncovering myself, it was very painful. Who wants to see petty, mean, harsh, jealous, critical, unhappy, morally righteous and superior thoughts, not as a statement about “the other”, but as condemnations of ourselves?

But through this spiritual exercise, I grew to see myself more clearly and was able to catch this tendency to criticize others (seeing that I was really only looking at me, reflected in their behaviour) more easily, and it led me to the next step, which was/is, the revelation that every good, appreciative, loving, and lovely feeling was/is also a window into myself.

When I see someone as caring, I am seeing myself. When I see someone as competent, successful, expansive (and I feel appreciation for these qualities in them), I am seeing myself. When I notice beauty, I am noticing myself.  When I see a very patient person, I am seeing myself. When I notice a kind gesture, I am noticing myself. When I hear wisdom, I am hearing myself.

I didn’t look for the good in myself…for a long time. I didn’t think that noticing it (in the world) had anything to do with who I was. I believed that all spiritual/emotional progress was made by digging out the bad, the wrong, the unhealthy tendencies, the hidden crap. I was always digging, hoping to eventually uncover it all so I could finally be at peace and be happy. I got lost in the first step.

We are seeing, hearing, and feeling ourselves at every turn.

In two days it will be Thanksgiving. I am inviting you to join me in noticing yourself in the good, the lovely, the beautiful, the generous, the kind, the surprising, the wise. I am also inviting you to join me in silently saying (each time you notice these wonderful things) “I am that”, and then in becoming aware of how you feel, in recognizing your beautiful self, in the world around you.

If you’d like to (and feel brave!) please share these experiences of your magnificent self here on the blog (as many times as you’d like to over the next few days). Many of us have no problem telling ourselves and others about our faults and defects of character, but when it comes to telling our magnificence….

So I will begin;

Last night Jack and I ate at  a wonderful restaurant in Vergennes, VT, called the Black Sheep Bistro. As we walked toward the entrance, we saw a couple of people busily working, draping large, full, garlands of real evergreens, surrounded by spirals of lights, around the outside windows. I paused to let them know how much I appreciated their work. They smiled and thanked me. I appreciate this kind of detail, and in that moment, I could see myself too.

29 thoughts on “I am that…stepping into beauty

  1. Our wonderfully gifted pastor preached last Sunday on being thankful right down to the “little things.” We take so much for granted if we aren’t reminded. One of the men of our congregation opined he is thankful for another tall member who puts up the 12′ Christmas tree every year! Have a wonderful Thanksgiving, Mary (and Jack, too)

  2. I remember back a long time ago (maybe 20-25 years) when I was first introduced to the thought that I had good parts to me also. There was a woman that I highly admired in the self-help group that I belonged to (Recovery International). She was thoughtful, loving, kind, caring and on and on. I kept hoping and wishing that I could be LIKE her. She was everything I wanted to me. I don’t remember who it was or how I got the idea to know that I, too, had these positive traits. I AM loving, kind, caring, thoughtful, etc. I was drawn to her (and she to me) because we both ARE those things. She was a mirror that I could look at and finally acknowledge that that’s who I AM also.

    Thanks for the opportunity to relive the memories I have of Treasure (her name) and to remember who I AM.

    Happy Thanksgiving to all. I’m looking forward to checking back to this posting and reading about the positivity of our group and perhaps even adding more thoughts. I think your “assignment” will bring a different type of Thanks Giving as I become more of an observer of my SELF and who I AM.

  3. Mary, what a beautiful gift you have given to us all, to remember that tied up within this box we call ourselves are treasures (love your friend’s name, Mary Solomon!) that we somehow manage to keep concealed, forgetting to acknowledge and be thankful for our wonderful attributes. I had a ball this past weekend staying overnight at my younger son’s home caring for his two dogs as he and his girlfriend were out of town attending a friend’s wedding. We are having Thanksgiving at his house on Thursday so I set to work doing a major cleaning – something he never expected of me, and that was half the fun of it all! Knowing that my efforts would be a total surprise for him and his dear girlfriend, allowing them a breather before entertaining on Thursday, made the usual ‘boring’ chores feel like playing house, anticipating the joy they’d have coming home to a clean house with a couple new plants to boot! It feels funny to share this, but Mary, you encouraged us not to feel like we’re bragging – just sharing the parts of ourselves that others may appreciate and that we may not often enough, acknowledge to ourselves. A most happy and blessed Thanksgiving to all. Can’t wait to keep checking in over the next few days to read from others, many of whom are now dear and recognized names, and to newcomers, welcome to the flock! xoxo

  4. Beautiful post, Mary. I am thankful for you and this blog.

    I appreciated your show of appreciation to the Bistro workers. The other day, as I was leaving my bank, I thanked the guard on duty outside the door, and he just nodded, and I continued to my car. All of a sudden, I felt strangely compelled to turn back and say to him, “You know, I really do appreciate your presence here. It means a lot to me and I’m sure it means a lot to the other customers, too.” He looked a little shocked, and said “Thank you.”

    More and more, I’m concerned about the treatment of the “invisible” people we encounter every day – the cashiers and sales clerks, the security guards, the elderly, the receptionists, the delivery men and women. Everyone needs to be acknowledged. Everyone needs not just to feel appreciated, but to be told they are appreciated.

    • Jill, your last paragraph is the whole ballgame! There seems to be too many invisible people today….and none of us is immune from falling into that category, depending on whom we’re interacting with and what they ‘see.’

      I think you have provided us with a wonderful exercise: to actively seek out these people and vocalize our appreciation for what they do. Thank you for that.

  5. Mary, you have given us some very important homework. I love the way you emphasized the positive things we see in others, and not just the negative as the mirror. It seems so simple, and yet, I’ve never considered acknowledging someone’s positive attributes as being part of my makeup, too. I have a lot of thinking to do!

    Happy Thanksgiving to all the Flock. Just being part of this group makes me thankful.

  6. For me it was a simple smile and a “Happy Thanksgiving” to a truck driver walking past me as I sat in the car, with my window down, at a rest stop on the New York Thruway, while waiting for my husband to come out. Stopped him right in his tracks! “I’m heading home, to Oklahoma, be there just in time for turkey”, he said! And I felt every bit of the warmth of the image he created for me with his simple reply! Sending the same, a smile and warm Thanksgiving wishes, to all here…I am so grateful!

  7. “How very special are we, for a moment to be, a part of life’s eternal rhyme” (Charlotte’s web) Grateful to be here.peace to all .

  8. Our wild apple trees had bumper crops this year. Branches so heavily laden with fruit to the point of almost breaking from the weight. Wildflowers bloomed their heads off. In September I was given a basket of peaches from a friend who had a peach tree with unprecedented abundance.

    Gifts for the sustainability of our lives so rich, diverse and unconditionally given, How do I express my gratitude?

  9. All so true. But would we be human if we did not at some time or the other judge another. I try not to judge for their is that old adage. “Judge not least yee be judged.” And I think that is the absolute truth. But it is also difficult not to judge myself for I see lots of faults and flaws but then I am thankful that I know I am a kind person and I say thank you “a lot” to other people.

  10. Profoundly moved by your words. Love the exercise of finding ourselves reflected in what we find to be the good traits of others! I too will look forward to learning more about others who will be posting!
    One day this week , I took a long steep hike up a rocky mountain trail to a great view of our valley with my small Aussie, River. On a drizzly, cold grey day, I was aware that there was a young couple ( I am not so young) , quickly gaining behind me, she with a small baby strapped to her. I have always been reticent about saying hello ( I am deaf). It seems I must muster courage each time I say hello , never sure of myself. The young woman smiled the most engaging smile. I uttered a greeting as we passed on the narrow trail. As it so happened , she had just taken a sign language class at a community college. This amazingly intuitive woman unstrapped, then thrust her baby into my arms, unbidden and we had the most wonderful conversation. Her baby was spellbound by the hand action, and her husband was the kindest looking young man you would ever hope to see! I ‘ll always remember those gentle , sweet newlyweds ( how happy they were!) and their gurgling baby! We had such a great few minutes of talk and greetings.
    I suppose then, that I am brave in a shy kind of way, intuitive, someone who loves babies (and other vulnerable creatures), kind..
    I wish you a great Thanksgiving , everyone. Take a wonderfulful hike/ walk that day if you can! You never know who you will run into..

    • Bobbie Meriwether…I loved your sweet story and I can imagine why that young mom was so drawn to you. She must have seen what a big heart you have!

      May your days be blessed.

    • Bobbie, yours is a story I will read and re-read, thank you so much for sharing this special day in your life and in the most beautiful way you made your light to shine upon the couple and their baby. They will surely remember this day too.

  11. I’ve been going up to my mother’s house once a week since she got home from rehab. Last week, as I was leaving her house, she said, “Do you want to leave your car here and take mine? You’ve been putting so many miles on your car going back and forth. Maybe you could give it a rest.” I really didn’t see a reason to do this, but it was such a sweet offer on her part, that I said sure. When I got home Jack asked me why I was driving her car and I said I really didn’t know, it just felt right to say yes.
    Today I went back up and my car wasn’t in her driveway. When I asked her where it was she said, “I was told to tell you to trust the universe.” (at that comment, I knew my brother had something to do with my missing car). Over the next few hours, I took my mother to a doctors appointment and went on a number of errands with her. When we arrived back at her house, my car was mysteriously back in the driveway…..with new tires on it.
    I had been meaning to get new tires for a couple of months, but just kept putting it off. I knew that I had to get it done (my tires were almost bald) but I didn’t….and we hadn’t had snow, until today. I found out that my brother had noticed my car with its bald tires, when he visited our mother last Saturday, and devised a plan to surprise me with this very generous gift. After I called him and thanked him from the bottom of my heart, I thought of the post today. I was the recipient of a wonderful gift; generous and done with a twist of fun. I had to say it (to myself)….”That is me. I see myself in that spirit of generosity and playfulness.”

    • Holy moly (sp?). What a great story. I was just about to call it a night and got to read this great post. I’m going to bed with a sweet smile on my face. Thank you. I think your blog is going to be loaded with “treasures” as we all celebrate ourselves and thanks for being who we are. Thank you.

  12. Well, I almost made it to bed….
    Checked Facebook one more time and found this was the last posting in my news feed by Iyanla Vanzant:

    “Iyanla Vanzant
    You are the good news today! You are going to be the compliment someone needs to hear. You are going to be the encouragement someone has been waiting for. You are going to show up with something good to say, something good to give, something good to do for somebody.”

  13. last week when my Mother was unexpectedly hospitalized for a hip fracture, I went to vist that night. Unfamiliar territory, not sure what entrance to hospital to enter or where on earth Mom might be………… I was anxious to begin with and not happy to be searching around for her room, just not in a good place emotionally…………. a security guard approached me and said *where do you want to go*? I explained the situation to him and rather than him giving me directions…..he calmly told me to follow him walked with me and led me personally to station, hallway, another hallway, and finally right to Mom’s room. I was so overwhelmed by his personal attention and it was almost as though he had sensed my anxiety and dispair. I was so very thankful and appreciative, I thought my heart would burst at this mans kindness towards me. I told him how much I appreciated his care and concern and direction and I almost expected him to say *well, this is my job*. Rather……he said *oh, you are welcome. I love what I do, I was happy to help you find your Mother*. My heart was warmed at this man, and that I was able to feel his caring and concern told me also that I was perceptive and open to human kindness. One of my good qualities

  14. Oh Mary, What a wonderful brother you have. He is a gift. I too have one of those wonderful brothers. We’re lucky girls. 🙂 I am a great friend and loyal confidante to my fiance’. I’m able to put his needs ahead of mine if appropriate and would go to bat for him at a moments notice. I’m a wonderful mate! That is part of my magnificence!
    Happy Thanksgiving, Love, Cindy

  15. Earlier this month we had to have our septic tank pumped. For people without public sewer, this is something that must be done every few years. The man who arrived to do it came to the door, pulling on gloves, first to ask a technical question, and then a few minutes later was back to say he needed access to a hose. Both times he was professional and although I wouldn’t say “happy,” he was not showing signs of being in the position of doing a very distasteful job. The odor from the procedure was pretty overwhelming, even though I was inside the house. He worked steadily away (in the rain, to boot) and came to the door after about 45 minutes of pretty foul work to give me the bill. From the bottom of my heart I thanked him for doing a job so many others would never consider, but one which must be done. He humbly said some days were worse than others but they all smelled pretty much the same. We had a nice chat, exchanging information about work we;d done over the years. I hope my compliment made his day a little brighter.

  16. Mary, I have some wonderful nurses. They are funny, extremely talented, and so kind hearted. When I deal with others I hope that they see those qualities in me. Happy Thanksgiving to all.

  17. You all warm my heart with goodness and plenty on this thanksgiving week. Love to Mary and Jack and all the good people of White Feather Farm.

  18. ..the good
    the lovely
    ….the beautiful
    the generous
    ……the kind
    the surprising
    ……….the wise.

    i am that
    ..those
    …them
    ….us.

    • Cheryl, you remind me of a quote Mary gave us long ago (I can’t remember from whom): “There is only one of us here.”

  19. I spent several hours with my mother, just the two of us, last week, for the first time in a long time. She is living with mental illness, and can be very difficult to get along with. As she went on a negative rant, full of self righteous pity and resentment, i was able to feel compassion for her, instead of inpatient disdain, my usual response. I could see that what i most disliked about her was what i most disliked about myself. I printed out this post when i read it, and mailed it to her. I hope it can help her to start seeing the good in others, and in turn, herself.

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