nothing to do but relax

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Eleanor napping

For much of my life I lived by the philosophy: “If I don’t do it, figure it out, or orchestrate it, either it won’t happen or it will be done poorly or wrong”. For a long time, this way of living worked…sort of. I got a lot done anyway. But I was never at ease. I felt guilty and lazy when I wasn’t struggling with something…and I was always struggling with something. If my life was momentarily peaceful, I’d take on other people’s situations and struggle with them. Every problem, of every person in my life, became mine to solve.

It was a stunning revelation when I realized that I lacked faith in anything beyond myself. It was shocking to see that I had so little faith in Life/Love/Spirit. I also realized that my attitude was condescending toward others and a very limited way to see myself: a bundle of problems to be solved.

I had no idea how much harm these worry/struggle thoughts were doing, but I knew that I was getting tired and I assume that I was tiring to be around as well. Even if I wasn’t physically active, my mind was working (struggling) over-time. The question, “How can you do nothing and expect life to change?” always nagged me until I realized that doing nothing didn’t mean sitting somewhere with racing, worried, angry, frustrated, or “concerned”, thoughts.

As I began to relax, to trust the larger part of me/Life/God/Love, I started to experience the spontaneous dissolution of “problems”. Sometimes I would just imagine a person (including myself), who I’d been worried about for whatever reason, as smiling or laughing, as I sat outside enjoying my morning cup of coffee, and often I’d either get a call or an email from that person with a happy message. If it was my own perceived problem I’d find a similar resolution had occurred, or I’d get a new idea on how to go forward and find the situation quickly solved.

I began to see that doing nothing wasn’t really doing nothing at all. I began to see that true rest meant having a mind that was at peace… and that kind of rest was always available. It is one thought (or the dropping of one thought) away.

“I always forget how important the empty days are, how important it may be sometimes not to expect to produce anything, even a few lines in a journal. A day when one has not pushed oneself to the limit seems a damaged, damaging day, a sinful day. Not so! The most valuable thing one can do for the psyche, occasionally, is to let it rest, wander, live in the changing light of a room.” May Sarton

new painting, NEST EGG

new painting, NEST EGG for sale. My show in Manchester is over (it was a wonderful show. 11 paintings sold and they’ve invited me back!). I’ll be putting more paintings up on my website in the next few weeks.

26 thoughts on “nothing to do but relax

  1. Thank you for starting the day/week-end with such a meaningful post from you. I’ve missed your words (and you). Just by taking the time to read and digest this post – it gave me the opportunity to just stop and regroup and slow down and breathe. Thank you dear Mary Muncil.

  2. Agree with the 1st comment. Your perspectives are solid and well thought out. And always have room to grow and be personalized by your readers. We have many common experiences that we often don’t notice or realize.

  3. This post resonate so deeply Mary. I so often feel bad about my life if I am not busy doing. Busy equates with good and successful, right? Thank you for your words today and for your continued guidance. I feel at peace in mind, body and spirit this beautiful morning in September. Cheers from Idaho!

  4. Dear Mary, your words truly resonate with me this morning! My overly busy mind is always searching, always looking for something to do, to solve, to worry about, to inspect and dissect. How exhausting! And such a waste of energy! Thank you for your insights today; a wonderful reminder that inner quiet and inner peace comes from trusting in divine order, trusting that life always works out and that answers are available within the silence of knowing that all is well all the time! Much love to you!!

  5. Oh Mary, opening my email here, I was overcome with fullness of gratitude to read your new post. You see, It seems that I would no longer receive your posts as I’ve gotten a new laptop with windows 10. Simply put, I’ve not technology-inclined, nor do I wish to be. But…I have been missing my treasured feeds and it feels like my on-line life, such as it is, has been scrambled and turned on it’s dear head. I’ve been stressing over this for a over a month and still not resolved. I’m probably going to dump this laptop and get a tablet, maybe i’ll be more confused. who knows?

    So in and thru all this confusion/frustration, I’ve gone into my inner space where the wisdom and experience of your words have brought me energy to reside in this moment. I usually get up and walk away from the madness and go outside, away from the “virtual” reality, and find the quiet space within. Thanks for this particular post today. It’s mine on many levels and I feel connected–again! Oh thank you and hoping this transfers. much love dear mary

  6. As always, Mary, your post rings true and clear. I am slowly but surely learning to relax and let go, and it feels so good to lay the burden down. At my age, I don’t need to sneaker-up every day in prep for a marathon! It’s finally sinking in.

    Blessings to you for helping us. And congrats on your art achievements! Your work is super!

    • Dear Suzanne, Thank you for your comment and for your thoughts about my paintings. At times, I still find myself struggling and usually I discover that I am when I begin to feel off/tired/irritable and then I think, “What have I been struggling with? What problem am I believing that I have?” Just to recognize this brings relief, doesn’t it?

  7. Mary, I have been missing your WhiteFeatherFarm coming into my inbox on a regular basis but we all deserve some down time and for you, creativity continues with a wonderful response to your exhibit, congratulations. As to quieting my mind down, I smiled when I read your first part of your posting this morning. So often, I think, you inhabit the minds of others, maybe we are not all that different to one another. I’ve had a particularly worrisome time with my middle-aged son who has been having personal difficulties and last week I decided that what I really needed to do is what snakes do around my swimming pool in the springtime, shed my skin and become renewed without a worry button. This may be impossible but I’m trying very hard, he’s old enough to paddle his own canoe and if he doesn’t, he will be suffering the consequences, which as a mother, I have a hard time sitting back and considering. What worry does for us, is wear out our DNA, I suspect.
    Sandy Proudfoot, in Canada

    • Thank you, Sandy. I’ve so often worried about family members and have almost always been really surprised when I finally let go/stop/turn it over and not only do I feel better, but the other person does well, has a break-through, finds their way (without my help!) …I sometimes wonder if my need to “fix” actually holds things in an unproductive pattern.

      • Mary, I sometimes have to hit a brick wall before I wake up to my own behaviour. I got up this morning with a renewed sense of trying to deal with my own issues that are being brought to the fore again after the death of my husband in 1972. You’d think after all these years, I would have put to bed some of the anxiety I felt back then but in another context, another situation, up pops this anxiety. I shall be mindful of your comment here and thanks. Letting go has to be the hardest thing ever to do.
        SandyP

  8. Thank you, Mary, for another wonderful message. I have always felt guilty if, at the end of the day, I could not mentally run down at least a couple things I accomplished. I am going to make a note to have such days when I just want to sit and do nothing and not feel guilty. I do feel tired sometimes and perhaps the burden of thinking I am not doing enough is what is tiring me out more than some actual work. Thank you for making me think, Mary. Much love to you this week and every week after!

    Sandy Morgan

    • Years ago, I heard someone who had gotten sober in AA say, “I was sick and tired of being sick and tired.” It seems like sometimes we just need to get to a point where we say, “Enough!”, don’t we?! That is how I’ve felt when I let my (negative) mind take control.
      As I sit here on my couch writing to you, I feel a deep peace. Thank you, Sandy. Love, Mary

  9. Love your sense of humor in posting the napping Elenor relaxing, indeed !
    And I so much relate to all the comments here today! Especially ” the thinking that I’m not doing enough is more tiring than some actual work” ( Sandy M) , and Sandy P you are right , we are perhaps not all that different from another.. Worry only wears out our DNA.

    The words in the quote , that “the most valuable thing to do for the psyche is to let it rest” is a wonderful reminder to do just as Suzanne said, ” lay the burden down”. I often think how stressed we all feel in this era we live in. When my mind searches for peace, sometimes I try to visualize the milkmaid in the Vermeer painting, who, by the beautiful and solemn light in the room, peacefully, contentedly pours her milk: a simple act of everyday life that somehow conveys the utmost contentment in just “being”. To simply “live in the changing light of a room”: what a beautiful thought.
    Mary , your artwork is so organic, so much in tune with nature expressed in it’s sweet bird themes. Congratulations on selling so many of them .

    • Thank you for your lovely thoughts, Bobbie. Eleanor is right here on the couch with me as I write this to you…and yes, she is napping again!…what else to do on a 85% day. Hugs, Mary

  10. What a great post – and I really identify with so much in it. My husband and I were on vacation in Vermont this summer- we saw your Manchester show at the bookstore (where I was loading up on Melodie Beattie books) and loved your paintings. I am an illustrator and have done a tree of peace painting and work with a color palette very similar to yours. You can see my collection of work at Illustration Source by searching under my name. My own site is: http://www.katieatkinsonillustrator.com
    I am so interested in the combination of what you are doing. I recently went back to school to get my Drug and alcohol counseling certificate. (Mainly to better understand my son’s co-occurring disorders). I have felt way too much pressure to fix and advocate for my son, change the inadequate mental health system, and intellectually figure this out. All to come to the conclusion that this is totally exhausting, takes me away from being at peace, is between him and God, and is not mine to change. I am finally learning to take whatever co-dependency I have and give it to God to change me and learn to let things unfold in God’s way and timing. I am now working at integrating my art with recovery programs.

    • thank you, Katie. From my personal experience, my parents couldn’t have done a thing to make “sobriety” happen for me. When I was ready (which was in 1986) I had a sudden revelation and with it, the path that I needed to take unfolded before me…one step at a time. Loving thoughts to you today, Mary

      • Thankyou Mary-that is helpful to know, Such interesting paralells. I can see that trying to fix someone can become an addiction in itself, and was for me. I could intellectually see that my trying to help did not produce any lasting change (several forced rehab treatments, and many 911 calls to the hospital), just temporary reprieves. Ultimately I had to exhaust all avenues available to me, just like he is having to come to the end of himself before change can really happen. It can’t happen intellectually reasoning with someone. I finally understand that we each have our own separate journeys of recovery, and that there are spiritual gifts and growth that are part of this path. God can take care of the details.

  11. This is such a wonderful post, Mary! So appropriate – the universe at work. Thank you for your insights – they are so helpful 🙂 Glad you show was successful – I look at the painting I bought every day and love it so much 🙂

  12. Mary, I think your paintings leap directly over your ‘thinking brain’ and head right into your ‘creative mind’. [ I’ve thought so for quite a long time.] How could your show be anything BUT successful??? Life/love/spirit has always been the milieu I’ve found here at the Farm; that and the unfettered honesty of trying to live a good life of good intentions. I miss your posts when I need them the most. Because it does feel like coming home …….. ❤ Resting comfortably here.

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