walking blindly on the path..trusting the next step will be there if I don’t turn back

A new painting for sale on MY ARTWORK PAGE

I attended a workshop at the Highlights Foundation this past weekend. I’d originally signed up for it on what felt like a whim since I had never seriously considered writing children’s books, but something felt right about it. Part of my mind had already decided that this must be the Divine’s way of opening up a new path for me. “Maybe I’m meant to be a children’s book writer”, I thought. I liked the sound of that.

Then people who I’d told about the workshop suggested I think about illustrating as well and I was not as open to this idea, even arguing, “Illustrators have a different style than I do, I cannot see myself doing that…” I had a lot of reasons why this wouldn’t work for me but the week before the workshop, one of the faculty was looking at my website and emailed me asking if I’d like to speak with the Creative Director of Highlights while I was there. WOW, I thought, she must see something that she likes in my art. Maybe I am meant to be an illustrator too! OK.

I arrived at the workshop with two new paths beginning to stretch out in front of me. Since the paintings that I do are on wood, I had brought with me a large, heavy, canvas, bag with about 7 of them to show when the time was right. After everyone gathered, I spotted the faculty member who’d contacted me about my painting, talking with some of the other participants. I was sure she’d say something to me like, “Hello Mary, did you bring your artwork? I cannot wait to see it!” or some other equally enthusiastic response. But she did not seek me out. I waited, mingled, tried to not be over-anxious about “my work”, tried to remember that there were lots of people there too, but I started to feel deflated.

I finally introduced myself and she was very nice, informed me about the meeting she’d set up for me the next day, but said nothing about my art. I went to bed on Friday night with a mixture of anticipation, hope, and discouragement, all vying for my attention. It was a huge challenge tying to keep my mind from going to the scenario of seeing my work scrutinized with a pleasant, polite, and slightly uninterested, response the next day.

I knew what I had done. I’d planned a future and it didn’t appear to be working out the way that I’d imagined it, and now my over-tired, over-anxious, mind was scrambling for some sort of firm footing, even if that firm footing was not happy ground. The thought, “This was too good to be true”, was something I’d experienced before, and I felt like I was heading there again. Truly, a part of me wanted to run away; take my toys and go home, or take some drug and fall asleep so I could get relief….but I knew better…and in times like this, I just barely know better. All of the depressing and discouraging paths that seemed to be beckoning to me looked like little life rafts saying, “Take me. This way is easier. It might not be too exciting, but at least you’ll be safe.” But I didn’t want “safety” if it meant going backward and I knew this deep down. I just didn’t know where to go.

I also “knew” that the only problem was what my mind was telling me. I “knew” that I had the ability to change my gloomy, pessimistic thoughts, but I didn’t, in that moment, feel the truth of this. In that moment, I had to rely on what I know are spiritual truths: There is no problem unless I think there is one, everything is unfolding perfectly, and help is always available.

I decided to re-read the response from an email that I’d sent a friend earlier in the day. This woman is not only supportive emotionally, but she also loves my work. She articulated what it was about my painting and writing that made a difference to her, and her words “reminded” me of why I do what I do…And I began to say, to myself, alone in my little writing cabin, “This is happening for me….stay open…this is happening for me….trust…stay open…this is happening for me…”  and I fell asleep.

Waking up on Saturday morning, I felt like a new person. I still didn’t know how the day would unfold, if the Creative Director would have any positive to say about my artwork or not, but I had refocused. Meeting with the other writers and illustrators at breakfast that morning was a very different experience from the night before. I began to feel like I was on an adventure and when it came time to have my meeting with the Creative Director at 3 p.m. I was ready.

I pulled out my paintings and waited. The first word out of her mouth was, “Stunning!’

A flood of goosebumps shot through me. The next 15 minutes flew by. She offered some suggestions, not about how to change or improve my art, but about stepping into being an artist in a larger way. She pulled up the website of a very well-known artist who is pretty “out there” and said something like, “Why not consider a direction like this? You’re good enough.”

I was laughing inside when I left that meeting. A part of me was saying, “Well, you didn’t expect THAT did you, Mary?” No, I certainly did not. And now a new path has, indeed, opened up but I am not going to make it into a “career path” by over-thinking, over-planning, and trying to tweak it into a vision that makes sense to me. I am going to continue to trust that I will be shown, step by step, moment by moment, what to do. I am being called to trust in the larger part of me in a new way. I am ready.

“Security is mostly a superstition…Avoiding danger is no safer in the long run than outright exposure. Life is either a daring adventure, or nothing”. Helen Keller




40 thoughts on “walking blindly on the path..trusting the next step will be there if I don’t turn back”

    1. Dear Sandy,
      It is wonderful to hear that my experiences are helpful. It’s also one of the main reasons that I started writing this blog, and what I always crave to hear from others….personal experience and how the situation was resolved in a way that was helpful to not only them, but for me to look at my life in a new way. Love, Mary

  1. Dear Mary, what a wonderful and enlightening story! And such a confirmation about following a silent, sometimes confusing path of trust in the divine. You remind me to do the same…..just follow Faith as it unfolds exactly what is meant for me, for everyone and their highest good. Over thinking always leads me to stress, anxiety and getting stuck in the ruts along the way. Thank you for this wake-up call to just take each day, each moment as it comes and remember that the “I” in me is not in charge, but the spirit in me is connected to the divine source…..which is in charge of bringing me delight, goodness, love and learning.

    1. Dear Debra,
      I am sure that you can identify when I say that I have always loved creating art. I love the fact that you pursued that path professionally. I always felt a bit in awe when I looked at your work…and now, for me to begin to consider myself as a serious painter, along with the other things that I truly love to do as work, feels like a dream (in the best sense of the word). Thank you for your presence. Love, Mary

  2. The Creative Director nailed it Mary…Stunning…yes…your painting, your writing, and you! And another aha moment for me from your post this morning…the thought of holding onto our visions ‘lightly’…holding firmly, in Faith, but lightly enough for our visions to flow, to expand…not so tethered to us that we restrict their forward motion and momentum..not so specific that we become resistant to
    where they might lead us…hmmmm…it really is always about the light…in all its many meanings…Thank you!

    1. Dear Kathye,
      I don’t usually know that I’ve got my dream in a vice grip (is that even an expression?) until it doesn’t go “my way”! I have always gotten out ahead of myself and have found staying in the moment the biggest challenge. Even when I was single and dating, I’d be sizing up the guy (on the first date) to feel out what he’d be like as a husband. Love and smiles to you today, Mary

  3. Congratulations, Mary! What a wonderful, uplifting, and exciting experience. And, once more, it was exactly what I needed to hear today, as so many of your posts are.

  4. Congratulations, Mary! When I saw your bunny painting a few weeks back, the first thing that popped into my mind was children’s book illustration as well as you might consider selling prints of your artwork, not just the originals. I can’t wait to see your first children’s picture book featured here on your blog!

  5. Your talents are taking you someplace, Mary, and the fact that you can hold onto it all lightly and let it blossom as it will, is a wonderful lesson for me and others. Congrats on ALL of it. When you are famous, I LOVE it that I will be able to say, “Oh, yes….I have one of her early pieces!”

  6. I echo Suzanne Tate’s comment. I too have an early piece, Home, one of the birds perched on a nest with eggs in it. I have it where I can see it all the time I am at my desk. It never fails to speak to me. Mary, you are one in a million so go for whatever is out there and you will succeed!

    1. Dear Marilyn,
      Thank you for your loving support and for letting me know how you feel about that painting….your words bring me unspeakable joy. Love, Mary

  7. Mary, your post is wonderful, and congratulations. Sometimes starting something new can feel like a step back (leaving my job, starting freelance work) and I lie awake arguing with myself on many nights. Your post reminds me to calm those voices and to strike a balance between the grandiose plans and the sometimes discouraging absence of evidence that the step I’ve taken is the right one for me.

    1. Dear Charlotte,
      I was telling someone the other day that often I can only tell if I’m on the right path by the open doors but when I am on the wrong path, it feels wrong…it feels like a NO, and doors either don’t open (or I need to pry them open) or they slam shut in my face. I know what the wrong way feels like and am trying to pay closer attention to the feelings that let me know I’m on the right path. Love, Mary

  8. You are the queen and my hero on positive thinking and having it reflex back on you. I love reading your amazing stories.

  9. Mary, what a wonderful description of your week-end, from discouraging thoughts to a positive outcome and the struggles you went through with your mind. I could place myself in your space too…doing the same thing, doubting, then having to talk to myself and dig myself out of that negative space…It’s nice to know others go through this too…it’s I think a very human response. How do you feel now?
    Sandy P in Ont., Canada

    1. Dear Sandy,
      Thank you for your appreciation and identification with my emotional journey. I feel as though I’m in a new space. I created a much larger studio when I got back home and have also begun thinking about myself in a new way. I now see that weekend (especially the very difficult night of doubts) as a passage. Love, Mary

  10. Thank you for sharing your happy news with us, and congratulations. You are an inspiration in the “art” of trust as well as your painting art. I tell friends now it’s a “Mary Muncil” when they admire the pieces I’m lucky enough to own.

  11. Oh Mary, thank you for sharing this amazing story. What a grand adventure you have opened yourself to – can’t wait to see what else waits for you on the path!

  12. Mary the magnificent! Really. I loved your phrase, “I just barely know better.” Thanks for sharing your generosity here with us; your paintings are stunning to me too.

  13. Almost midnight here, one of my fav times to read your thoughts, Mary. Seems to me that becoming a grandma for the first time has opened a new creative outlet for you! Enjoy, enjoy, no need to control the process, sit back and see where life takes you. It is good that after all this time you still get to surprise yourself! You are already an artist in life, now become one on paper, too 🙂 …and if it is ok with you, could we come along for the ride??? This could turn into a great adventure and Helen Keller is right, security is highly overrated!

    1. You are right about the creative opening since my grandson was born, Sabina! I was looking forward to being a grandmother but never knew that his birth would be such a catalyst for change in my life. I think my post may have given the impression that I was encouraged to write/illustrate but that wasn’t what happened…it was more an open door for seriously stepping into the role of artist/painter, but I will certainly be sharing that journey here. Love, Mary

  14. Hi Mary! ❤
    The workshop sounds like it was an incredible experience. I also truly enjoy how you talk about the human emotion experience you went through. It is such a common theme in life. It made me remember so many times I have felt this way. (You feel great and talented with some anticipation, expectation about what might happen end up being weights on your emotions, confusion led to unjustified self-doubt, the wait, the meeting with nerves, and then finally hearing mirrored back to you what you already knew about yourself but were not able to say without the validation for yourself first…The best part of this scenario-You are not "talking" yourself into any self doubt. You have seen the real you and cannot deny it any more. HOW AWESOME!)

    So many times I went through similar experiences yet I looked at others and recreated self-doubt. I was really good at recreating…now the only thing I recreate is a smile when I realize I have "been there, done that" and do not have to return to how I was…I leave that way of thinking behind. (It was dysfunctional but at the time it was what I always knew and although it was a form of comfort due to being a common feeling…it was not one I wanted to stay in.) I took the time to view things from different angles. I noticed I was just as awesome as others. I had my own unique talents. I can not please everyone but there were plenty of people in the world and someone would, (and did) like my talents.

    I pictured the world not as all the groupings of people but as a whole organism. As a whole organism…there are emotions you enjoy feeling and others you do not. When I thought of it in this way…I moved towards what I wanted to feel. Seeking like minded individuals. Not just limiting myself to one grouping however, as many as I wanted based on the things I do. So many amazing individuals…I do not need to limit my surroundings. I do not need to limit my opportunities. I do not…do not…need to limit who I am. Wow-It was then I found my confidence, I found my voice, I found my individuality, I found my "belongings". Amazingly from this I also found patience for others, acceptance of others free will to judge, my free will to know the real me and not let judgment of others let me falter from clarity of self.

    Mary…your heart knows! You are awesome. Even if you start to question…you answer the question for yourself…don't let others define you…you know who you are and the talents you have. I am happy you found someone who also sees what you see within yourself!

    Congratulations Mary!

    1. Bobbi Jo, Thank you for your wonderful description of the process creative people go through with our feelings. For myself, I never looked at my work as being creative although within myself I knew it to be more so than not, but in looking back, in being validated, I appreciate whatever creative skills I have more now than when I was younger. It’s a good post, Mary and the responses are also helpful. SandyP in Canada

      1. Thank you, Bobbi Jo. I’ve thought a lot about this past weekend and realized that when a big change is about to happen, it is almost as if one last barrier is put up (in this case my mind with its little story about what it hoped/thought should happen) to say, “Are you really ready?”

  15. Hi Mary,

    This was such a lift to my spirits. Thank you for sharing your experience. I think we’ve all been “there” in our lives at one time or another. And I love Helen Keller’s quote 🙂 Thank you!

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