Take a new picture…a kinder one.

my grandfather
One of my favorite photographs of my grandfather

I was recently given a gift that reminded me of my maternal grandfather, and so I’ve been thinking a lot about him. He is one of the few people who has come to me in a dream, and upon awakening I felt deep a sense of longing for his presence. He was (to me) a big, lovable, kind man. I felt safe with him. He was legendary (in the Adirondack north country) for his physical strength. He was quiet, but had a huge laugh… I can still hear that laugh when I think about him.

I know that these are my images of him; my memories. They are snapshots in time of a man who was, like us all, multi-faceted. I know that he was also very hard on his children and not easy to live with for my grandmother, but I didn’t experience this part of him, so my memories are softer.

He died in 1985. I think that one of the reasons that I feel such a sense of longing for his presence is because I wasn’t sober at that time in my life. What I remember most about the day of his funeral, is wanting to get away to go out to a bar. I got sober in 1986.

I would’ve liked to have had the experience of knowing him through sober, adult, eyes, but I didn’t, and even if I hadn’t been drinking, maybe I still wouldn’t really have been able to listen to him…we don’t need to be drinking or using drugs to be so wrapped up in our own little worlds of thought that we miss the true essence of each other…and ourselves.

Who are you….really? Who am I….really? Who are the people and animals that surround and interact with you and me? We are so much more than we could ever imagine, we are certainly more than someone’s snapshot of us. Or of our own snapshot of ourselves (many times this image is not very nice either). I am a woman who at 29 years old went to her grandfather’s funeral and went to a bar after. But I’m also so much more than that. I’m sure that I did some very nice things that day too. But I don’t remember them because I’ve only held one image of myself…and I haven’t let it go.

I believe it’s time to bless and release all of the old images of ourselves (and others) that hold those unhappy, sad, cruel, unforgiving, angry, resentful, remorseful  scenes, and to finally allow them to transform us. For years I thought that I had to remember all of the negative (and retell it with precise detail) so I wouldn’t repeat it. Now I know that whatever I hold onto, just pulls more of the same to me, and blinds me to the goodness that was, and still is, all around (and inside) me….and you…and everything.

Today is a new day. A day for making new images…of ourselves and others.

“How should we be able to forget those ancient myths that are at the beginning of all peoples, the myths about dragons that at the last moment turn into princesses; perhaps all the dragons of our lives are princesses who are only waiting to see us once beautiful and brave. Perhaps everything terrible is in its deepest being something helpless that wants help from us“. From Rilke’s poem, Dragon Princess

8 thoughts on “Take a new picture…a kinder one.”

  1. Oh Mary, I love this post for so many reasons. I love your message. You make it so clear how holding on to old, negative images of ourselves can so distort our current vision and keep us from living the whole moment, missing important parts. I will spend this morning blessing and releasing what old images I have of myself and of others. Thank you. More synchronicity. I, too, was 29 when my maternal grandfather passed away. He died on New Years Day, 1980. I remember my mom telling me that he wanted to live into the 80’s! And he made it! I can hardly recall much about his funeral though. What I recall most is seeing my mom cry, really cry, for the first time…and seeing her as someone’s daughter and not just as my mom. Earlier this year, my favorite cousin and friend, visited from Florida and brought with her some family ‘papers’ that she thought I might want to keep. Her mom, my aunt, had recently passed and she had been the matriarch of our family. Included in what my cousin gave to me was the ‘guest book’ from the funeral of our grandfather. Your post prompted me to get it out. I am looking at it now…it is full of pictures, verses, guest signatures and tributes…it feels great to think of Pop Pop today…I am feeling his warm hug. Thank you Mary for this inspiration. Thank you Judi for the guest book. Thank you Pop Pop for your love and your lessons. Thank you God for the memories…

  2. Mary,
    Thanks so much for your posts! I frequently share with others in the program. They are so right on! Again, many thamks for sharing

  3. thank you, for this today.. . so often i fall into the negative place of seeing myself as so much less than. . . that judgmental voice. . .thinking about others– “if they only knew the real me. . . ” your wise and honest words are a gentle reminder for me to bless and release, and I will try. .

  4. Just a few days ago there was a wonderful Daily Om on this very topic – I will include the link for anyone who may care to read it – in it , it says: here is a little portion:

    Your worth, however, is not a product of your intelligence, your talent, your looks, your good works, or how much you have accomplished. Rather it is immeasurable and unchanging manifestation of your eternal and infinite oneness with the universe. It represents the cornerstone of the dual foundations of optimism and self-belief. Your worth cannot be taken from you or damaged by life’s rigors, yet it can easily be forgotten or even actively ignored. By regularly acknowledging your self-worth, you can ensure that you never forget what an important, beloved, and special part of the universe you are.

    and the link:


    I love the picture of your grandfather, Mary. My maternal grandfather died when I was only ten – I never knew my paternal gpa, – but oh the sweet memories of my grandparents’ visits – driving all the way from the western tip of the Upper Peninsula to mid-Michigan, lower peninsula. I so recall Grandpa buying us soft served ice cream cones on the last day of school and to our great delight, he bought us yet another one later on in that very day. Funny how those little memories stay with you, reminding you of the magnanimous heart in such a small act. Kathye, what a lovely gift to receive your Pop Pop’s guest book.

  5. I love Rainer Maria Rilke’s insight: there is another way to interpret what might initially be perceived as an “opposing force”. So much depends on our point of view. Our (personal) experiences are perceived in such a subjective way.

    What an interesting and wonderful photograph of your grandfather. What in the world may he have been experiencing at that moment in time?

  6. Mary i love when people talk about their grandfathers….by the time i was born both mine had passed…i love to try other peoples grandpas on for size…i am a sucker for an old guy with a handkerchief hanging out of his back pocket…

  7. You are entitled to all the beauty and abundance in this universe. You a beloved child of God. And we are all deeply flawed, just trying to do our best. Namaste and I am sending you big hugs

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