Past & Present Gifts

gift  I hope you are having a wonderful holiday season. Mine was lovely. This year, I enjoyed every bit of the holiday festivities. The events were low key compared to some years, but the love seemed even more pronounced. God is good – all the time.

One of the highpoints of this week was spending Christmas Eve with family members in Redondo Beach. This is the season for nostalgia and we all know that can be dangerous but this year the party was very present and very fun.

We ate a lot and laughed a lot and we didn’t drift into the “good old days” conversations. My family has never looked like Norman Rockwell’s idealized version of Americana but as the years flew by, we all found our own balance and happiness.

Even though memories flooded my mind, I enjoyed the present holiday season very much. I always loved my family but when I was younger, I didn’t know it as well as I do now. I am also better at recognizing their love for me. I’ve changed and so have they.

Redondo Beach hasn’t changed much, and everywhere I look, I see myself as a younger woman, making crucial choices. Especially at Christmas, I feel a bit like Old Scrooge (with less money) visiting my youthful self. These trips down memory lane are a little unsettling; I fade in and out of time warps even though I know the past is gone forever.

I lived in this beach town from age 16 until age 30. I then returned at 33 to live here until I was 40. During that time, I was widowed twice and I raised my daughter there. I also taught school longer there than any other place. History is all around me. Some of it is pretty bad but I see more and more good in those years – now that I’ve ridden and survived the rapids.

I started drinking there. I also had an auto accident and got sober there. I returned to drinking there nine years later. I worked my way through college there and I wrote my first novel there. There is also where I first attended Dr. Frank Richelieu’s Religious Science Church.

I’ve been sober for 39 years, by the grace of God and my 12 Step program. I really do know the past is gone forever. I also know I can’t push the rewind button on my life and make different choices. I can, however, take this season of Joy as a chance to be grateful. Life has actually turned out as well as any of those novels that Dickens wrote.

One of the greatest gifts of my age is the ability to look back and marvel at the “dumb luck” or the unseen angels that guided me to make some positive decisions. Forty years ago, I wouldn’t have bet a nickel that I’d still be here – let alone be happy.

I’ve already lived longer than my parents, grandparents, aunts and uncles. Despite my smoking, drinking and eating issues, I’m still here. I’m interested in life and I can still be useful from time to time. That is surely a gift from God. Thank you, God.

I’m no Charles Dickens but I could write several different endings to the book of Jane’s life. If it were not for the crucial and (mostly) unconscious choices along the way, things might have been very different.

I could have been killed in that auto accident instead of ending up in the hospital and deciding to get sober. I could have married any one of several wrong candidates for my hand. I could have been a miserable human being if it were not for going to church when I was 23. I could have been truly broke if I hadn’t decided to go to college.

Until recently, I could only see the tragedy in going back to drink after 9 years of being dry. Now I see that those 9 years enabled me to raise my daughter, build a career and achieve enough I could use when I got sober the second time.

It is humbling to think about, when I look at my life as though it were a novel, I can see a series of dumb choices and also many others I made in the direction of life and love. I chose to keep on trying to heal even during some very dark times. I chose to believe that using the ideas I found in Science of Mind and 12 Step programs could help me turn my life around.

I chose to leave some people because I felt bad when I was with them. I chose to continue to seek love. I chose to try new ideas and to step out on faith. I chose to take better care of myself even though it was a long way down the path in the other direction. I chose to let the past be what it was and to believe I could make different choices today.

All of these choices amounted to acknowledging that God was for me, not against me. It took me a long time and it was a zigzag path but the forward steps added up.

I used to believe I was stuck and I wasn’t. Since I’ve discovered the power of choice, I have devoted myself to helping others take charge of their lives.

Many people aren’t sure they have many choices ahead or behind them. They believe they are only reactors, rather than actors on the stage of their own lives. They see themselves as victims. Whether victims of their early childhood, their late starts in life, their fate, their bad luck or their flawed characters, they define themselves as powerless. Despite what our culture teaches and what we may believe, everyone has access to Infinite Power and Infinite Possibility.

That Infinite Possibility and Power must be discovered within ourselves. No one can do it for us, although we can point the way for each other, we must make our own choices.

If I had that power, I would wave my magic wand and say, “Do it this way!” But it would never work. We all have to discover our own pathway to hope. In the end, we will all be writing our own life story.

One of the saddest things about seeing yourself as a victim is that you don’t know you have any power to change anything. Even if people get to the place where they hear an authority say, “You can change your thinking and change your life,” they may interpret that to mean, “It’s all your fault.”

In this Season of Love, I feel my Oneness with all people and all life. If I could, I would give everyone the gift of self- discovery this season.

Right now, I imagine every reader, unwrapping the gift of love and discovering Unlimited Possibility in the exact right size and color for his or her life. And with the gift, there is a message from me. It says, You have the power to change your thinking and change your life. Never give up hope! Never stop trying! You can do it!
Ask Yourself
What positive choices have I made in the past?

What positive choices shall I make soon?

What do I want to use my gift of power for?


7 Comments on “Past & Present Gifts”

  1. Lynn & Terry says:

    Great post… Thanks!

  2. Sally Carroll says:

    Thanks for your candid sharing…I can so relate to taking some of the same directions choosing sobriety and the 12 steps and a loving higher power- I am getting together with the extended family on the 30th and I look forward to seeing my siblings- and nieces and nephews and their little one s… I walk down the path of acceptance and love overflows…

  3. Doris Palardy says:

    Thank you Dr Jane Wonderful thoughts and ideas Happy New Year Love Doris

    Sent from my iPhone

  4. Lynn Gabrielson says:

    Beautiful, insightful and very inspirational. Thank you Jane!

  5. Bravo! A trip down memory lane without guilt. I thank you with love.

  6. Ellen Sheive says:

    Merry Christmas to you, Dr. Jane!! I enjoyed, in a personal way, this blog. Even though the details of our lives are very different – the essence of our acquired wisdoms isn’t. I also had one of the most perfect Christmas experiences ever, with my family, this year. (and I have always seemed
    to experience Christmases as pretty darn perfect – to me). And, yes, it seems that my family all have – somehow – reached a point of individual “maturity and wisdom” that now lends itself to connecting with each other in such a beautifully tolerant, loving, grateful way. I’m so delighted to know that my crop of grandchildren are now growing up within this beautiful space that we, the family, are “being” for them. If each of us, as a micro-cosm of the “world” can just make peace and wisdom in our families and neighborhoods — well, who knows, maybe the whole world can finally get there.

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