Tag Archive | now

decisions, decisions…or maybe not

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Fred on the counter yesterday morning…looking like he belongs there!

Jack and I have wanted to move for a while, but since this isn’t happening as quickly as we’d like, we’ve decided to open a small shop/gallery in the studio space on our property. It will be called Little Wing Shop and Gallery. We’ll have artwork of our own and antiques, including furniture, mirrors, scales and other interesting and old things for sale. Jack’s store will be open as well since he isn’t closing it until the end of October.

Today, it just felt like the right time to set a date to open. We’ve decided that we can get ready in 7 weeks (6 weeks seemed too little and 8 much). On Saturday, June 10th at 10 a.m., we will open our doors and welcome all who feel drawn stop by.

Our address is 148 Dunbar Rd. Cambridge, NY 12816, and it’s about 3 miles from downtown Cambridge. Please feel free to email me at mmuncil@verizon.net or call me at 802-233-4997 if you have any questions. I’ll post more about this before the big day.

I don’t know whether this shop/gallery is a “divine” idea or not. Many times, when things are right, I’ve had a feeling of uncertainty. Often my guidance seems clearer when what I’m considering is a no…but the yesses are things that I have to begin and then trust that the way will unfold and the next step will be given. No matter what happens though, I will not worry about it.

Below is a photograph that I just took of the studio space. I’m finishing up painting the walls.

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“The direct path might seem long, because the mind tells you of a distance and mesmerizes you with its proof. When you believe that thought, you feel the exhaustion that accompanies it, the heaviness, the stress. But the direct path isn’t long. In fact, there’s no distance to it at all. Where are you going, other than where you are right now? How can you go anywhere else? The direct path means realizing that the beginning and end of every journey is where you always are. You can’t make a decision. You can only experience a story about how you made it. Decisions make themselves; they’re happenings; they come when the time is right. I like to ask, “Are you breathing yourself?’ No? Well, maybe you’re not thinking yourself or making decisions either. Maybe reality doesn’t move until it moves, like a breath, like the wind. And when you tell the story of how you’re doing it, you keep yourself from the awareness that you are nature, flowing perfectly.” Pg. 122 A Thousand Names For Joy, Living in Harmony with the Way Things Are, by Byron Katie

A new world…today

 

acrylic on old wood painting that I just finished

acrylic on old wood painting that I just finished

I have fallen in love with painting…again. As far back as I can remember, I loved drawing, painting and creating art, but I could never find the space or the medium that felt “perfect”…so I didn’t do much of anything with it.

A few months ago, I had a revelation about my work and my life. I realized that I didn’t really care what I was doing, I cared about how I was feeling, and how I wanted to feel, while I was doing “it” (life). I wanted to get up everyday knowing that whatever I was doing in the moment (cleaning kitty litter, having tea with a friend, working with clients, helping my mother, making a phone call, writing, reading a book, ….) had the feeling of Life in it.

And so I said a prayer that went something like, “I want my life to be filled with loving, fun, meaningful, activity.” That was it. I told my higher self how I wanted to feel, and decided to trust in this larger part of me (Wisdom) to fill in the blanks on exactly how that would show up and what it would look like. I didn’t then try to figure out what this should be. The desire to paint again came after this “prayer”.

When I finally decided just to paint, my living room was adequate as a studio, and my husband, Jack, had the perfect medium; old wood that he had collected over the years; panels from 18th century doors, turn of the century crates and boxes, lids from broken wooden trunks… everything that I needed was right here…when I finally decided just to do what seemed like a fun thing to do.

We have it in our power to begin the world over again.”   Thomas Paine

My side of the story: awful or awe-inspiring?

Ben and Noah napping together

Ben and Noah napping together

I woke up this morning with two thoughts running through my mind. The first was, “You do not have to do anything to be loving, you are Love. Just stop doing and thinking non-loving things.” The second thought was about my former mother-in-law.

From the moment that we met, we were uncomfortable with each other, and that didn’t change over the years that I was married to her son, my ex husband, Tom.  I had a lot of complaints about her, and she about me. One day, I was voicing my unhappiness about the way that she treated me to someone who knew us both, and this person basically said, “I can see both sides.” I was livid. What did she mean by both sides?! In my mind there was one side (well, one right side at any rate) and that was mine. How dare she think that I had anything to do with the problems in this relationship.

At that point in my life, I didn’t know how to honestly look at myself and say, “What is this showing me about me? or Am I treating her the way that I would like to be treated: am I applying the Golden Rule by not thinking about her what I wouldn’t want thought about me?” These questions, which I have now come to know as the keys to clarity and inner peace, were not a part of my consciousness at that time, so I had two options: blame her or blame me.

I thought critical, judgemental thoughts about her whenever we were together (and a lot in between) but put on a fake, happy face and smile when I was with her, and couldn’t understand why she was such a (blank) to me. I didn’t believe that my thoughts had anything to do with my outer, external world….or my inner world.

I didn’t know that my thoughts could make me so unhappy, but I do now. And NOW is where all transformation happens. The past is over, or it can be, now. The moment that I stop thinking thoughts that block who I really am, and who the other person really is, the truth (which is beyond sides and stories) bubbles up and it is awe-inspiring.

“You want to be loved because you do not love: but the moment you love, it is finished, you are no longer inquiring whether or not somebody loves you.” J. Krishnamurti

Success is all around you (and more importantly, inside you too!)

Jack and Eleanor

Jack and Eleanor

I’ve thought a lot about success lately, and what that concept really means to me. There are zillions of quotes about success and a greater number of opinions about what it means to have lived a successful life, but so many of these seem to be focused on achieving something that the world can see and applaud, or a sort of summing up of a person’s life, weighing it, then stamping it with the appropriate label: Success, Failure, Mediocre, Uneventful . And yet, what I have come to see is that success is an in the moment, and very private, thing.

Everyone has been a success at something, in some moment, in their lives, and who am I to judge anyone’s life as a success or failure? I can’t possibly have known even the tiniest fraction of what they thought or did in their life: the word that they spoke to someone and changed that person’s life, the time they stopped their car and held up traffic so a turtle could cross the road, the sleepless nights that they stayed up with a sick child, quietly rocking and soothing them to sleep. The apple pie they brought to a sick friend, the dollar that they gave to someone on the street, even though it was their last dollar. All of the quiet little heroic acts. The quiet successes.

Since I cannot really know if anyone is a success or not, I’ve made a decision to call everyone’s life a success, and when I think about them, I intend to look for their successes instead of where I think they’ve come up short.

I spent much of my life comparing myself to others, and when I felt less-than, I (consciously and unconsciously) looked for what they were doing wrong, in an attempt to bolster my own sense of self, and not come up so short in my own mind. One day I realized how insane this was. “If we are all connected, and I am looking for the failure in others, won’t I just find more of that in myself?”, was the question that came to my mind and stopped me in my tracks. It was so obviously true. I wondered how I had missed it for so many years. We get what we are looking for.

What also surprised me was how quickly this turned around (my feelings about myself) when I started looking for other people’s successes. Success is mine,and yours, now. It is ours when we think a better thought. It is ours when we look for it.

“We have it in our power to begin the world over again.” Thomas Paine

Gentle reminders; let’s try again

The little shrine in Jack's shop

The little shrine in Jack’s shop

I stopped by Jack’s store the other day but he wasn’t there. The door was open and music was playing …he always plays the same cd: Jennifer Berezan’s “Praises for the World”. The first thing that I noticed was the music seemed too loud, then I saw a watercolor painting with dirty glass. As I walked toward the back of his shop, I noticed something else; my need to scrutinize, judge, evaluate, and try to “improve” my (or Jack’s) environment.

When I noticed this thought, I stopped and took a breath. It almost brought me to tears. …surrounded by all of this beauty, I looked for the dust. Looking into the face of someone I adore, I notice the pimple. Looking at my own smile, I notice the teeth that are not white anymore.

As I became present, standing in the middle of Jack’s shop, I saw a little shrine against one of the walls. As I walked closer, I realized that although it probably once housed a religious statue, Jack had arranged little glass chickens and a rooster (accented by a model T Ford plaque) inside. My thought was,

“If I didn’t know who owned this shop, I would like to get to know him.”

Then I realized that I didn’t know him. Not really. When I think I know what he will say next, or how he should arrange his store (or his life), how can I know him? I know my version of him; the version that, to my mind, always needs tweaking.

When I am finding fault with Jack, or myself, or anyone, it’s because I’ve focused on something that (in that moment) is unacceptable to me, and the result is always the same; I am unhappy, and I think that I need to change it. Now! …I also know enough to recognize when I’ve fallen (yet again) into this state and what I can do about it.

First, I notice. Second, I try to be very gentle with myself and say, (almost like I would speak to a little child who fell down, or to a newly rescued animal that was still very afraid of getting hit), “It’s OK (to whatever just happened!). Let’s try again.”

“The greater part of human pain is unnecessary. It is self-created as long as the unobserved mind runs your life. The pain that you create now is always some form of nonacceptance, some form of unconscious resistance to what is. …Surrender to what is. Say ‘yes’ to life, and see how life suddenly starts working for you rather than against you”. pages, 33-35,  Eckhart Tolle, The Power of Now

The moment I’ve waited for….

Suzan Visser "Marchen"

The magical artwork of Suzan Visser, “Marchen” (Fairy Tale)

There is no spiritual concept that has given me more trouble than the idea of living in the now…in the moment. The first time that I consciously remember hearing it, was when I was 30 years old and entered AA. The way that it was stated there was, “One Day at a time” and I had no idea what it meant, so I relegated it to the file in my brain labeled, “Meaningless, Stupid Concepts”. After all, if I couldn’t understand it then it must not be valuable.

This moment, always seemed so mundane, so unspectacular, as compared to what some future moment could be. Life to me was a struggle and a race to get something, and to get somewhere, better; some place in the future that was bright and fulfilled. When I tried to stay present, meditate, slow my thoughts down or drop them for just a little while, my mind would  begin to mock me with thoughts like, “You think that this is Ok? You are missing the boat. You should be doing something more. Success doesn’t just happen. You need to make it happen and you are not doing enough. What is the purpose of your life?”

The conscious mind is like a critical parent. It says things like, “What do you have to show for all the time that you spent just sitting?! You must produce something tangible, something that you can see, something that the world will applaud. Otherwise you are wasting your time and you are a waste”. If you said to it, “I watched a bird sitting on a telephone wire this morning.” It would say, “And?! Please tell me that you did more than that!” and if you said, “I did. I noticed that when a car rode by, it lifted both of its wings, as if to catch the wind, and it made me laugh”, the mind would shake its head and tell you that you were a hopeless failure, doomed to live a boring life of mediocrity.

But I have discovered that this is not true. I don’t understand the Now, but I have experienced moments, and sometimes hours of being present, and what I know is that it is vast, deep and so beyond the little minds capacity to understand, that while there, while in this state, all ideas about it being nothing, seem funny. It is heaven, and it cannot be understood with the mind, it must be felt, and as soon as we acknowledge it, it opens up a realm to us, that we had previously not experienced.

And it is right where I am, right where you are, right now.

Did you ever catch a glimpse of a flower and feel the beauty of it in your whole body? Or look at the face of someone you love and feel flooded with Love?…that is it. What we tend to do, what takes us out of this precious state, is rushing past these moments with thoughts like, “I wonder what kind of flower that is? or I forgot to water the flowers! or some other thought that seems more important…and then the mind is off and running.

We don’t think it’s enough to just be, and so we rush past the Now. We rush past heaven on our way to what we hope will be a heavenly future.

It is Friday, June 14th, 7:41 a.m. as I finish writing this. This moment is the culmination of a lifetime of hopes, dreams and love. What are you doing right now? Did you know that this is the moment you’ve been waiting for?

“Without stirring abroad, one can know the whole world. Without looking out of the window, one can see the way of heaven.” Lao Tzu