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Archive for October, 2009

What Costume Are You Wearing?

Wednesday, October 28th, 2009

MaskThe costumes are in full display in every store I see. This week I went to pick up candy for the trick-or-treaters and was reminded of the many times I didn’t look forward to putting on a Halloween costume when I was growing up. For some reason, when I was younger I didn’t look forward to Halloween – the candy part I loved – but the dressing up part was never one of my favorite things to do. I would see all the plastic faces and plastic things to pull over my head (i.e. Holly Hobby) and, quite frankly, they scared me. I didn’t like the idea of putting on a ‘mask’. I also didn’t like the way make-up felt on my skin (I still don’t).

For one entire day children get to say who they want to be, and buy or make a costume, enjoy walking around their neighborhood and getting candy. For so many years, probably since age 13, I wanted to be someone else ALL the time. I wanted to have a mask so no one knew I was gay. I felt like I was always wearing a costume – everyday wanting to be like my friends. Then again, from the time I was about 13 years old, I thought everyone knew I was wearing a costume, and could see right through the façade.

It wasn’t until I was in my mid-20’s that I was able to fully accept ALL of me. Telling people about my sexuality came at a price. After telling people about meeting a woman (who later became my life partner), some friends stopped talking to me.  Although it hurt at first, it did show me the difference between false relationships and true friendships. It allowed me to come to a deeper acceptance of who I am.

Later, my costume came when I would interview or start new jobs. I wanted to fit in and kept my life a secret.  I wore the office costume to fit in. This didn’t work either as I could only wear the mask for so long before it didn’t fit any longer.

Throughout my life I have worn many costumes to fit in, to belong, and to have people see me in ways that I believed would bring acceptance.  In the end, none of the costumes fit because they weren’t real. The only person I need to be is me and that is the best treat of all.

What costume are you still wearing in life? This Halloween, take the mask off and see what treats are awaiting you!

Happy Halloween!

Mary Anne

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“Living in Harmony with the Way Things Are”

Thursday, October 15th, 2009

HarmonyBack in May of this year, I posted a blog about a MTA mystical moment. I was able to turn around what could have been seen as an annoying long commute into a learning experience.  Each day I commute from the Bronx into Manhattan is an opportunity to learn more about patience, kindness, and the art of allowing. Every time I get on a subway for at least an hour I get to be present to what is happening around me. I watch fellow New Yorker’s trudge, push, shove, and curse their ways onto the train. I also watch as folks hold the doors open, give up their seats to the elderly, and help sick passengers.

I recently had another MTA mystical moment. I had been listening to Byron Katie’s book, A Thousand Names for JoyLiving in Harmony with the Way Things Are, on my iPod. This book takes excerpts of the Tao Te Ching and provides everyday pearls of wisdom by questioning any thoughts that keep us stuck. Every morning I play a few chapters, listen to it, and see how I can apply the lesson. If nothing else, the words are soft, gentle, and full of peace – a nice way to start any morning.

As what usually happens in a typical week commuting to the city, there was a delay on the subway.  Most days, I don’t even hear the garbled voice over the intercom announcing the delay. On this particular day, I had to be at work early because I was giving a workshop. I left enough time to get there, even if the train was a little delayed. The train came to a stop after going about five stops. The doors remained open and we were not moving. Then the loud booming voice came through the speakers. “We are currently experiencing a delay due to an unconscious passenger. We are waiting for EMT to arrive. Once EMT is on the scene, we will proceed. Sorry for any inconvenience and we thank you for your patience.” There it was – a clear message of what was happening and why we were delayed. I looked up and saw people grab cell phones to call or text their jobs about being late. People started mumbling and complaining to one another.

My first reaction was to say a prayer. As we waited for the ambulance to arrive, I was hoping the person would be OK. Off in the distance a loud emergency siren was sounding. I took a deep breath. My eyes were drawn to my iPod – “A Thousand Names for Joy – Living in Harmony with the Way Things Are.”  Here was an opportunity to live in harmony with the way things were. There was a passenger who was unconscious and waiting for emergency personnel.  Now was my chance to ask myself how I am unconscious in the world. Was there a part of me that needed tending to and emergency attention?

Thankfully, EMT arrived and the trained moved and I was much more conscious the rest of the day. Every delay is a chance to come to a MTA mystical moment and live in harmony if I am open to it.

How are you living in harmony with the way things are?

If you would like to make space for more harmony and more forgiveness, please join me for a 4-week telecourse, “Resting in Radical Forgiveness” starting October 27. http://www.toningtheom.com/upcoming-events/ – resting

Peace!

Mary Anne

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Change the Scenery – Change My Thoughts

Thursday, October 8th, 2009

changethesceneryAs I listen to many themes of change – changing seasons, the changing colors of leaves, the changing light, the changes in the Fall TV line-up, I think about areas of my life that I want to change. After a very hectic schedule, I decided to attend a Byron Katie workshop at Kripalu – Center for Yoga & Health. I knew that Kripalu was in the Berkshires and would be a nice way to begin this new season of change. I booked the last weekend in September for this getaway out of the city. I was excited that there was a bus that drops participants right at the front door. This meant having time to sit and read, listen to my iPod and even take a nap. I made my way to 32nd Street and 7th Avenue to take the commuter bus and waited, and waited, and waited. After calling to find out where the bus was, I was told the bus had left without me (and two other participants). The staff was going to make arrangements for us to get there in time for the evening workshop and it meant taking a cab to the East Side and getting on a train. After standing outside for over an hour and half, the questions began to surface: Should I just go home? Is this meant to be? Do I feel like spending more time trying to get to the Berkshires?

I let the questions float around for a few moments. I then looked at the two other folks with me and said, “Are you ready to take the train?” Somewhere deep inside, I knew I needed a change of scenery. I wanted a new perspective on some of the thoughts that had been holding me back. After a two hour train ride, we were picked up by Kripalu staff, given goody bags full of delicious snacks, and then dropped off at the front door where we were given an upgraded room and treated with a lot of kindness and generosity.

I had a choice of believing the thought that this would be a miserable experience after missing the bus, or living through the experience and receiving some gifts. As I listened to Byron Katie (whose mission is to show people how to question their thoughts – known as Inquiry), I just sat and listened to the stories of others, knowing I too was holding on strongly to beliefs for dear life. I have been able to use the following Byron Katie quotes as a form of meditation and wanted to share them:

“I see thoughts as children – as the beloved.”

“What are the thoughts that wake you up to yourself?”

“You are the greatest teacher you will ever run into.”

“Ego’s don’t love, they want something.”

“We make our own decisions, but only ALL of them.”

“What story are you entertaining that is denying you from love?”

“We are only as limited as what we believe in the moment.”

After listening to Byron Katie walk people through questioning their thoughts, I began to question my own thoughts about the bus leaving without me. The bus left. I learned another way of commuting to Kripalu. The bus left. I was able to spend more time with two other amazing people. The bus left and I am still here. I realized it was more than changing my physical scenery to make changes. I needed to change my thoughts. By changing the scenery in my mind, I was able to change my thoughts and give myself an incredible weekend experience.

Peace!

Mary Anne

This is dedicated to Byron Katie for waking me up to ‘myself’. Special thanks to all the staff at Kriplau for their generosity and extraordinary customer service.

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