Tag Archive | loving ourselves

offering my best

One of the things that I’ve found most challenging about my mother is our conversations…which have almost always felt like parallel monologues; she talked about other people and what they were doing (which to me felt like she was avoiding any “real” conversation) and I would in turn would try to introduce “meaningful” subjects (things that I found interesting).

I tried for a number of years just to listen to her, thinking that eventually she would ask me a question or inquire about my life in some meaningful way, but found that she would simply talk herself out and then, if I did begin to speak, that would somehow add fuel to her thoughts and she’d be off and running again, or she’d become uncomfortable and start looking around the room, get up and clean something (or once she got an ipad, she would turn to that).

I am 61 years old and had never found peace with this dynamic. I have always felt as though there was something wrong with me when it came to my mother and our relationship. Then last week in couple’s therapy, I told our therapist that I had stopped by my mother’s house and as she immediately began to talk about other people, I said, “Mom, I don’t want to talk about anyone else….” Our therapist replied to me by saying, “You are still trying to change your mother.” I knew that he was right…after all of these years, I still was trying to get my mother to be interested in me.

Then he looked at me with the most compassionate eyes and said, “Your mother doesn’t like you.” I knew it was the truth.

Don’t get me wrong, I know that my mother loves me, she just doesn’t like the woman that I am. I like to swear and have a particular affection for a word beginning with the letter F. I am direct. I like to ask questions. I am, at times, loud. I am curious about religion and spirituality and have always questioned ideas and beliefs which, in my upbringing, were the “unquestionable”. If someone told me that I couldn’t do something, this often felt like a challenge to me to do it. I am smart, and although I didn’t know this for a long time, my mother told me many times that this aspect of me intimidated her.

Over the past week, I’ve found a new sense of freedom when I’ve thought about my mother and I’ve had the interesting revelation that I don’t like her either. Just admitting this about myself, and acknowledging her feelings about me, has brought inner peace. I am free not to like her. She is free not to like me. She doesn’t need to change one bit for me to love her, but I don’t need to change to get her love either…as a mater of fact, I can’t.

I would go to the ends of the earth to help my mother if she needed me and I know that she’d do the same for me…this feels like real love….so good to know.

“The curious paradox is that when I accept myself, just as I am, then I can change.” Carl Rogers

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Evolution of Little Wing Shop & Gallery opening June 10th at 10 a.m…(148 Dunbar Rd. Cambridge, NY). I’d love to meet you (or see you again!) if you’d like to stop by. 

 

a 15 minute trip…the destination is your choice

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He Holds the Universe in His Hands (painting available on my artwork page)

Several nights ago, Jack and I got into a lengthy discussion about our relationship. After 20 minutes of “honestly” telling each other what we felt was missing, how we had been disappointed, discouraged, angry, hurt, and generally dissatisfied, we both felt horrible. The more we talked about what was wrong (in an attempt to correct these shortcomings) the worse we felt.

I know this truth: look for what is wrong and you will find it. Attempt to solve problems or clear misunderstandings from a place of unhappiness and all of the negative, crappy, old complaints will jump on that train and take you on a ride to hell.

As we sat on the couch feeling more and more deflated, we decided to try something different and began to talk about what we appreciated and loved about each other. Within a few minutes, our energy lightened, and just like when we talked about what we didn’t like, and more examples popped up to confirm that we were in fact a mess, as we talked about what was good, fun, loving, caring, wonderful, surprising, delightful, and happy, more memories, stories, and occasions presented themselves as well.

In 15 minutes, we went from discouragement to actual happiness about where we were as a couple, and even where we had been.

 

15 minutes.

 

What I know is that anyone can do this. You do not need special training or any skill other than a genuine desire to see yourself and “the other” with new eyes. If you can’t sit down with the person who you believe is causing you so much pain, then do this in your mind. Imagine having the new, positive, conversation and do it until your energy changes.This is what I believe true forgiveness is.

There is a self-defeating human tendency to not want to think anything good about the person we blame for our unhappiness. It can almost feel like we will loose our leverage (anger, resentment, etc.) if we see the good in them or forgive them…especially if we don’t think that this will be reciprocated. But if we don’t do this, we will end up bitter, small, and more fearful, believing that we need to protect ourselves from further injury.

Love is the only power strong enough to protect us from harm, and the field of Love is accessed through the open mind…and heart.

“We must develop and maintain the capacity to forgive. He who is devoid of the power to forgive is devoid of the power to love. There is some good in the worst of us and some evil in the best of us.” Martin Luther King, Jr.

 

A visitor bearing gifts

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It has been a long time since I posted a picture of either myself or Jack on the blog…so here we are sending you so much love today!

Several days ago, I found out that someone close to me had betrayed me in a way that quite literally sent me into shock. For hours, my body shook and my heart felt like it would explode. Later that same night, as I tried to sleep but found it impossible…thoughts about the hurtful event felt like spears being shot into my brain and I didn’t think that I could stop them. Feelings of anger and confusion made sleep, the one thing that I thought might bring some temporary relief, impossible.

I tried to say, “This is happening for me, not to me”, but it felt empty and pitiful compared to my feelings…it felt like utter bullshit.

At about 2 a.m. as I lie there in my cocoon of hell, the word, “kindness” came into my mind. I kept repeating it and as I did, I became aware that the angry thoughts, and the reliving of the betrayal, were such unkind things to do to myself. They felt like daggers, because they were just that….and I was doing this to myself.

So I started repeating,

“Be kind to yourself. Think kind thoughts, or no thoughts. This is so hard but don’t become hard. Become soft, stay kind. Let this open you up to more love, life, and goodness. Don’t close down. Don’t become hard.” The sense of relief that I experienced was small and I felt powerless as I was then overwhelmed with sadness instead of rage, but I knew that deep sadness was appropriate and that anger was a cover up.

In the past, anger had been a default emotion for me. I thought that I was in control (or it felt that way) if I was angry…but sadness? Sadness was frightening. Sadness seemed like it would render me useless, pitiful, and unable to move. Anger felt like it contained within it the energy to change and so I had been reluctant to turn away from what felt like an old ally. But I had the awareness that the sleeplessness and sadness were working something in me…similar to the feelings that I’d experience on a vision quest many years earlier. I was in a new place and I needed to trust it, even though it felt awful.

Sleep still did not come and so at 5 a.m. I got up, made a cup of tea,  went outside, and asked to see my part in the betrayal. I could not have asked that question 12 hrs. earlier, and if anyone had said, “So how did you bring this into your life? Or “How did you attract this?” (both legitimate and good questions which I know to be the truth), I would’ve become enraged and probably shot back, “How dare you insinuate that I had any part in this?”

But I was ready to ask myself, and within minutes an answer came; I saw how for several years I’d had so many negative and unfriendly thoughts about this man and in that moment, my heart opened and I sobbed uncontrollably. There was no blame of him or myself; there was only the space that an epiphany creates. There was room for something new to emerge and I sensed that it would heal me in a way that I could never do by trying to change myself. It was Grace…my part in it was simply to stay open (simple but certainly not easy).

We all know people who have been so hurt by others that they shut themselves off from life. They become hard and closed-down in an effort to shield themselves from the inevitable pain that happens as we live these human lives. There is going to be pain. There are going to be betrayals, or what we believe in the moment are betrayals. There is going to be loss or the feeling that we have lost something/someone, but what we do in these moments, holds the key to our freedom and happiness. One of my favorite quotes by W. Clement Stone is, “Big doors swing on little hinges”. Deciding to refuse anger and blame and ask what my part was seemed small at the time.

During the experience that I just went through, I could see these 2 paths clearly and I knew that the old way for me was dead. I made a decision to stay open, not knowing that a light would shine so quickly on the new path, bringing with it a great feeling of relief. I didn’t know if I would get an answer at all, or if it did, when it would come… an hour, a day, a month?

The pain that this incident caused was my wake-up call. It was a gift and I recognize it as such.

I now believe even more in the concept that we do not heal ourselves. Healing happens when we metaphorically speaking, stop pouring salt in our wounds: stop blaming anyone, including ourselves, for the unhappiness in our lives. Stop looking to others to change toward us so we can be happy. Stop looking at anything outside of us for wholeness. We live in a field of Grace…it does the work if we let it.

I’m so grateful to be able to share this with you. If you are ever in a situation like I was, I hope that something here will help you to see a new way too. I wish you freedom and deep peace today.

The Guest House

This being human is a guest house.
Every morning a new arrival.

A joy, a depression, a meanness,
some momentary awareness comes
as an unexpected visitor.

Welcome and entertain them all!
Even if they are a crowd of sorrows,
who violently sweep your house
empty of its furniture,
still, treat each guest honorably.
He may be clearing you out
for some new delight.

The dark thought, the shame, the malice.
meet them at the door laughing and invite them in.

Be grateful for whatever comes.
because each has been sent
as a guide from beyond.

Rumi
(translation by Coleman Barks)

 

 

 

 

loving the mystery

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“HOME” a new mixed media piece of mine…the eggs are from a local family who raise chickens for the love of it. (it’s for sale on MY ARTWORK PAGE)

 

Last Thursday, I drove by a house that almost took my breath away. I parked my car and walked down the old tree-lined street, from the house to downtown Burlington, imagining what it would be like to call this home.

I’ve been looking at houses around the area for several years, but none have come close to the appeal of this one. It is everything that I’ve been looking for; it’s large and old with several porches and fireplaces, a nice backyard, and, it’s only ten minutes from my son, daughter-in-law, and grandson’s home.

My emotions and mind were scrambling. It was thrilling to see something that looked like the fulfillment of a dream, but within minutes, my feelings plummeted into doubt and despair. There was no way that I could afford this house.

I knew that I had to change my thoughts, so I began to say, “I am always in the right place at the right time. If this is meant to be my home, it will happen, even if I have no idea how.” I felt much better, but still had to work on my mind which seemed to slip into the feeling of desperate longing for something that seemed out of reach.

This morning while I was on a walk, again thinking about this house, I heard myself say, “If I am ready this will happen” but those words felt discouraging. The subtle message in them was, “If I am good enough, If I’ve done enough work to deserve it, If I’ve grown spiritually enough to line up with this kind of abundance…” and of course, a part of me never thinks that I’m good enough, or that I’ve done enough, or ever will.

At that moment, I changed my mind. Not about wanting this home or moving, but my attitude about myself. I began to say, “If this is right for me, it will happen.” It was such an exhilarating feeling to go from, “Oh, I hope that I’m good enough. I hope that I am ready!”, with all that this implies about being “less than” and needed to elevate myself, to, “I am open and ready for the right home: one that matches my desire.” I was suddenly on equal footing with my dream, instead of seeing it as better than me.

There has to be harmony to this move. If I desperately struggle and try to force it, I will carry that energy with me.The energy that we use to accomplish our goals and dreams floats around the final manifestation/outcome like a bubble, attracting more of the same. If I struggle to get something/make something happen, I will struggle, or feel as though I need to struggle, to keep it …or get rid of it. Desperate energy repels what we want most, and most of us have gone after something like this at least once in our lives. I have many times.

When I was single, I couldn’t stand to be without a date, so I went out with guys whom I knew weren’t right for me. I didn’t want to be alone, and I feared no one else would come along, or if they did, they wouldn’t be interested in me, so I said yes when I should have said no, or I’d desperately chase a guy that I was sure was the one for me, only to have him run, quickly, away.

It took me a long time to learn about trusting the greater harmony of Life…and sometimes I still forget, especially when I really want something. But I love having the opportunity to look at it, and talk about it, right in the middle of it, and in this moment, I am at peace with the mystery. I actually feel excitement and adventure in the air, and it feels like what life should be…not something that is completely predictable, foreseeable, or known, but something that has elements of wonder and promise, punctuated with occasional surprises that leave us happily speechless.

Will I eventually buy this home? I don’t know. But I know that I am open and I know that whatever happens, it will be right, because I really am always in the right place at the right time.

“There is nothing to change bur out concept of self. Humanity is a single being in spite of its many forms and faces, and there is in it only such seeming separation as we find in our own being when we are dreaming. The pictures and circumstances we see in dreams are the creations of our own imagination and have no existence save in ourselves. The same is true of the pictures and circumstances we see in this dream of life. They reveal our concepts of ourselves. As soon as we succeed in transforming self, our world will dissolve and reshape itself in harmony with that which our change affirms.” From, The Search, by Neville Goddard

 

What will I do today?

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Eleanor snuggling with one of Luke’s toys

“I arise in the morning torn between a desire to save the world and a desire to savor the world. This makes it hard to plan the day.” E. B. White

 

For much of my life, I’d felt a deep urge to help others…but it never seemed like I was doing enough. I believed that life was a long, narrow, uphill, climb toward some place of perfection where I would finally be in my right place, doing my right work, at the right time; a place where I’d finally know who I was and why I was here. I struggled for years to get to this place, yet it always seemed out of reach. Rest was not an option on this path.

During these years of struggle, I was incredibly self-concerned, but I didn’t realize it. I thought that my striving was noble, not selfish. I assumed that harsh self-examination was the path to improvement…and god knows, I believed that I needed to be improved. But God didn’t “know” this. This wasn’t a Divine path. The constant thoughts of how I could be a better person, do more for the world, and become happier, were fueled by ego.

When I began to lighten up, which meant stopping critical thoughts about others and myself, I noticed that people around me changed and reflected this light back to me. I saw that I didn’t so much have to do something but I needed to stop doing/thinking the things that separated me from who I really was/am: Love.

I don’t mean to suggest that I never have a critical thought about myself, or other people, anymore. I have plenty of them, but I am much more aware of these thoughts as invitations to a fight; they are seductive; they call to me with feelings of anger, righteous indignation, resentment, and revenge. They tell me that I am better than other people. They tell me that I’ve been wronged. They tell me that there is a right and a wrong (I’m usually the right/virtuous one) and I must choose my side and fight for it, or banish the other one. They masquerade as strength, but in reality, if I believe them, I become their victim.

I’ve been declining a lot of these invitations lately and in their place, choosing to see what is right with a person (including myself), situation, event, or memory. Several days ago, I was thinking about one of the people currently running for president, and how easy, and almost fun, it is to blast this person. So, again, I noticed this and asked myself, “What is there to love about this person?” We are one. He/she is a part of my consciousness at some level. It wasn’t hard to answer the question, it only required giving up my desire to criticize and condemn.

So, what will I do today, save or savor the world? I think that I’ll just be myself. I will Love it/me/them/us and I will allow that Love to flow back to me.

 

Unique and wonderful you

Bodhi checking out 2 of my favorite Christmas decorations (characters from The Land of Misfit Toys).

Bodhi checking out 2 of my favorite Christmas decorations (characters from The Land of Misfit Toys).

Jack and I were watching a documentary last week called, Advanced Style; a wonderful film that showcases women over 60 who love fashion and seem to embrace not only far-out and fabulous clothing, but life as well. I feel like it would inspire anyone to get outside of their comfort zone as far as fashion goes, and it did this for me, but it also made me feel braver and more open.

I cannot even count the times when I’ve been shopping and an unusual piece of clothing would catch my eye, I’d try it on, love the colors, textures, and feel, only to return it to the rack because it seemed too “out there”. I know that the source of my apprehension was fear of rejection…fear that someone would look at me with raised eyebrows, a scowl, a frown, or god-forbid a sneer. The words, “Tone it down, Mary” still echo from somewhere in my past.

I wish that I could eradicate my fears by understanding where they came from, and I spent years trying to do that. Was it my parents, teachers, friends, an unfriendly priest or nun, who first implanted the idea in my subconscious that I was somehow too much and at the same time not good enough? Probably all of these people did some of that and the big question is not, “Why?” but, “So what?” Mine is not a unique story. I’d even venture to say that everyone I’ve ever talked to, no matter how successful, seemingly together, serene, or happy, could say that at some point in their lives they have felt unacceptable, not OK, not loveable, capable, or full of joy at being themselves. And I think if we were being honest with ourselves, most of us would have to admit that we still have moments, or hours, when we feel like this. I know that I do.

We cannot think our way out of our irrational fears, we must walk through them. I’m not taking about ignoring guidance that says things like, “Don’t walk down that dark street” or “This person is not right for you” (no matter how much you want them to be). I’m talking about the feelings that say, “I’d LOVE to do this, but I’m afraid I’ll be rejected, criticized, or ridiculed” so I’ll just stay small, shut my mouth, watch from the sidelines, put the silk multi-colored shawl with the beaded fringe down and buy the brown scarf instead because I’m not really a “shawl person”. What does that even mean?

Who am I really?

I don’t think that is a question that can be answered. I heard a lecture by Alan Watts where he was taking about Bodhidharma who was asked that question and he replied, “I don’t know who I am. Planting flowers for the butterflies”, which seemed to say, “Do what brings you unspeakable joy. Don’t try to figure out the unhappy past. Do what you love now, and life will make sense.”

 

“If you use your mind to study reality, you won’t understand either your mind or reality. If you study reality without using your mind, you’ll understand both.” Bodhidharma

 

A good business plan

Noah napping

Noah napping

I was talking with my sister the other day about someone who had married into our family, and subsequently refused to have anything to do with anyone in our family (except for the person she married), and the poem, Outwitted, by Edwin Markham, came to mind.

After years of feeling like I was being excluded by this woman it dawned on me that I could not be excluded from happiness, inner peace, love, and friendship by anyone except myself. When I got angry, resentful, disgusted, discouraged, or resigned, to what I perceived to be her unfriendly ways, I walled myself off (I thought from her but really it was from the happiness that I could have been feeling whether I was seeing them or not).

At some point, I made a conscious effort to draw a circle that included her. It didn’t mean that I then started extending invitations to her to get together. She’d made it clear that she didn’t want this….so I did it in my mind. I thought happy thoughts about her, saw her as I would like someone to see me: happy, healthy, peaceful, and loving life. This might not sound like a big deal, but in the beginning, it took a monumental effort to think nice things about her, especially when I was pretty sure that she was thinking sh** about me.

Occasionally, I would feel like I should do something more (like send a card or gift) and I would do it, but these physical expressions of love were never well-received or wanted, so I would go back to simply thinking good thoughts. I didn’t do this in the hopes of eventually have a relationship with her, because I wasn’t sure that this would have been in the highest and best for either of us. I didn’t have any motive, other than wanting inner peace, which eventually came.

I still do not have a relationship with her (except for the one in my mind) but it is so fine with me. I feel very peaceful when a thought about her enters my mind, and am also open to the possibility of seeing her some day. Having this type of relationship taught me something important: no matter what a person does (or doesn’t do) to me, they cannot make me feel excluded, less-than, or unwanted. I do that to myself by being exclusive, small-minded, and petty in my thinking.

What anyone thinks about me is none of my business. What I think about me, and what I think about them, is my business….and my business is the business of loving myself, my world and others.

 

Outwitted

He drew a circle that shut me out— Heretic, rebel, a thing to flout. But Love and I had the wit to win: We drew a circle that took him in!   Edwin Markham