Possibility , Here I Come

touchOne of the first things on my gratitude list is California. I know intellectually that everywhere is God’s country but it’s easier for me to believe that God is Infinite Possibility here in my Encinitas, CA.

My parents raised me to believe that anyone who didn’t make the journey from the Dust Bowl to the Land of Infinite Possibility was a damn fool. They left Oklahoma in 1939 and travelled to Pasadena – three adults and four kids in a small coupe. Basically, they abandoned their past and never looked back except to gloat.

They didn’t use words like Infinite Possibility but they seemed to believe CA was the Promised Land. When they talked about their past it always sounded like a dreamy, old soft -focus movie. Never mind that they still lived hard lives. In their movie, the westward move was always their happy ending.

Later, In 12 Step meetings, I heard, “There are no geographic cures”, over and over. I learned many things and I stayed sober but I never really bought that idea. Some places are better than others and a choice to move to a new place can be a very good idea.

I’ve lived a lot of places and they were all beautiful except Trenton, N.J. where I lived on the top floor of the best apartment building. It had a doorman and all the “stuff” of success. Unfortunately, the apartment building was gray, the sky was gray, the people were gray and even the doorman was gray.

My solution in Trenton was to move as quickly as I could. The minute we moved to the PA side of the Potomac, my spirits rose. What’s more, if I found myself in Trenton tomorrow I would definitely start packing.

Altogether, I moved from NJ to PA and back to CA to Oaxaca, MEX, to MA to NY and back to CA. During those years, my family clung to the West Coast and I thought they were stuck  –  they thought I was a damn fool. We were both right.

Partly because of those moves, I discovered many things. The most amazing was how much beauty there is all over the world. The moves I made helped me to learn I had choices. I also discovered I prefer being close to my beloved family. Most important of all – it feels easier to be my true self here.

On the other hand, wherever we are, we live in the place of Infinite Possibility and Free Choice. Certainly, God lives full power, in all places, all the time. I know that God  lives in places that I don’t want to think about, places like Trenton, Boston, Birmingham, Wasalia, Salt Lake City, and Texarkana.

I do believe that we can bloom where we are planted. I understand that God is Infinite Power and Infinite Possibility everywhere – even in scary places like Syria, The West Bank, Calcutta, Juba, Rio de Janerio, and No Korea.

I do pray for people all over the world to grasp the principles of abundance. I do have a distinct and clear vision that the world is connecting and cooperating more each day. Technology is shrinking the planet and that is good. In my spiritual work, I see hands reaching out, over the world, to connect in Love. Like Dr. Ernest Holmes, I believe all shall be revealed and I am happy to wait for the revelation here in Encintas.

This is a very special place. If you believe in vortexes, this must be one.  North San Diego County is a magnet for New Thought and there are more than 20 other groups, centers, and churches within a twenty minute drive of our Carlsbad CSL. Deepak Chopra is minutes away. The Holmes Institute and Seaside Church are in Encintas.

Encinitas was created from four separate communities who banded together thirty years ago. I live in Olivenhain which was settled by a German farming commune in the 1880’s. Encinitas has been the home of the Self-Realization Fellowship for almost a hundred years. One in four people who live here follow Paramahansa Yogananda , the author of Autobiography of A Yogi.  Leucadia was founded by Spiritualists and all the streets are named after Greek Gods and Goddesses. Cardiff was founded by my daughter’s great grandfather who was an inventor. Encinitas is also called the flower capital of the world and the home of the Poinsettia.

Encinitas has spiritual diversity and great good will. Self Realization followers, Religious Scientists, Spiritualists, many yoga centers, and all the traditional Christian churches are happy in each others company. We have the largest Greek Orthodox Church in San Diego County. We not only have a fine Jewish Temple, but we had a female Rabbi long before it was trendy.

For that matter, all of San Diego County is filled with diverse groups of people who are thriving. Of course we have many Hispanic people and some Afro-Americans and Asians. You might not expect it but there are many people from Ethiopia and Sudan here also.

As I write, I see that I am very pleased to live in a place of such diversity, acceptance, and peace. I believe my town and larger community are a demonstration of Infinite Possibility. People do not have to compete or fight. Life is not a game with winners and losers.

In Truth, we all live in the land of Infinite Possibility because we have the power to make positive choices. For me, the greatest gift of New Thought is the knowledge that we are never stuck. There is always something we can do that will move us toward our dreams.

I am not saying we all need to move to Southern California or make any physical move at all.  Sometimes it is better to stay put and work it through. On the other hand, my grandmother repeatedly said, “You made your bed, now lie in it.” She was wrong! You can sleep on the couch or in a new house or the shelter if you need to. You do have always have a choice. You are never stuck.

What I am saying is that wherever we are, there is the possibility for more and better. We can change. We can choose. Our mind is connected to the Infinite Mind and prayer gets us in touch with Infinite Power and Infinite Possibility. We can always move our minds in the direction of something greater.

We can also make active choices. Just taking charge of the small things, like finding time for prayer, going to the gym, spending our time with people we really like, choosing to talk about happy things. These simple choices can make a world of difference in our happiness.

You have a right to be happy. You have a right to pick and choose for yourself. This day, declare your independence from the past and take charge of your NOW choices. You deserve the best!

Ask Yourself

Do I want anything new?

What would I have to believe to accept it?

What steps might I take?

Where would I begin?

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New Thought – New Woman

EMMA2I can’t let March go without writing this… New Thought deserves a very special place in Women’s History. Did you know that New Thought was the first church  to have women ministers? Did you know Emma Curtis Hopkins was a leader in the women’s movement?        

One reason I was attracted to New Thought in the first place was that women had an equal voice and there were a so many women ministers in our churches.

Recently I read that since the beginning of time, women have been more interesteed in religion than men are. I don’t know if that is true but I do know that I’ve never attended any church anywhere when there weren’t more women that men in the pews. Nevertheless, I’m almost positive we remain the only denomination with more women than men behind the pulpit.

New Thought was started in the 1880’s when the women’s movement was gaining steam but the real reason we allowed women equal power in our churches is because of what we teach – our basic theology. We define God as Creative Intelligence that is present everywhere, and is all powerful and all Good.

God is not an old man in the sky fighting a big battle with a smaller man in a smokin’ red suit from down below. God is neither male nor female but encompasses everything. Since God lives fully present in each of us, we all have equal access to the Power For Good and we can all use it.

Women have been the leaders in our teaching since the very beginning. One early leader, Emma Curtis Hopkins (1855-1925), is credited with being the founder of New Thought by many scholars. I am in that camp. I believe Hopkins was the true founder because she clearly articulated the ideas of the teaching as religion and her writing is still taught in our churches.

Others say Phineas P. Quimby who learned about Anton Mesmer’s early hypnotism and experimented with the principles of mental healing was the founder, but although he believed in mental healing, he did not believe in organized not religion.  It was his student, Mary Baker Eddy, who combined his mental healing techniques with religion and who founded Christian Science. Her churches are not considered New Thought.

Emma Curtis Hopkins was a former school teacher who was a divorced woman with health and financial problems. Hopkins studied with Eddy and split away to form her own teaching. Over a period of years, she built a wide-spread work and earned the title, Teacher of Teachers.

She taught thousands of people including the founders of the three major New Thought denominations; Unity, Divine Science and Religious Science. She also taught Anna Rix Militz who founded the California-based Home Truth and many others who founded large works at that time.

Emilie Cady was in Hopkins’s first class and Cady is author of the famous Unity text, Ten Lessons in Truth. Later Hopkins taught Unity founders Myrtle and Charles Fillmore . She also taught Malinda Cramer, and the other founder, Nona Brooks, learned from a student of Hopkins. Ernest Holmes, founder of Religious Science, studied with Emma Curtis Hopkins later in her life.

I have always been fascinated by Hopkins and her colleagues because they lived in a time when women were pushing for the vote and for equal opportunity. Most of these New Thought pioneers were divorced or widowed women who travelled from town to town, staying in people’s homes and teaching any beginners they could attract. They were truly very brave.

Some of them, like Hopkins, were charismatic enough to draw big crowds (as much as a thousand) and even start schools. Others labored in the vineyards with little notice, crisscrossing the nation by railroads and opening minds and hearts.

They were teaching philosophy and religion in a time when most women worked at uneducated, menial jobs and/or housework. They were harbingers of the New Age of Women. Some, like Helen Wilmans and Hopkins, were active in the Women’s Movement and others were simply active women.

Wilmans was active in the labor movement as well as creating a mail order books, lessons and distance prayer business in the town she built in Florida. She was hugely successful for a while and  known as a political activist as well as a prosperity teacher. No one knows much about her today.

Emma Curtis Hopkin’s fame remains but people don’t know she taught leaders of the Suffrage Movement.  Of the 22 graduates of in her first graduating class, 20 were women. One was Helen Wilmans. Two others were the very active, well known suffrage activists, Louisa Southworth and Elizabeth Boynton Harbert.

What’s more, Hopkins Metaphysical Association had a booth in the Women’s Pavilion of the 1893 Chicago World’s Fair!

Over the years, I have heard many comments bewailing the lack of men in our churches (mostly from women). Almost no one comments about the wonder of having so many fabulous women leaders. We need to look at that and pay more attention to our history.

While the Christian Science and Seventh Day Adventist Churches were American religions founded by women during the same era, those leaders who the founders were male.  Our leaders have included both genders throughout our history. The first president of the International New Thought Alliance was the noted writer and magazine editor, Elizabeth Towne.

Some people know that Quaker women played a leading part in the struggle for women’s rights but not many know that New Thought women were also involved. Other people associate the Unitarian-Universalist Churches with social action and that is certainly true. It is also true that they had very few women ministers until the 1960’s.

Both Unitarian and New Thought teachings are descended from the Transcendentalists and we both claim Emerson as one of our ancestors. I am also very proud to also claim early feminist, Margaret Fuller, first editor of the Transcendentalist magazine The Dial as my ancestor as well.

Unitarians and the Quakers have been well known for their social activism, while we have been quietly making history for the last century and a half. When I began studying Religious Science, the President of Religious Science International was a woman named Earlene Castellaw. Dr. Arlene Bump was president later. The Rev. Dr.Cathy Hearn headed United Religious Science for many years.

I believe New Thought people should be very proud of our women’s history heritage and make it known. I still have a few copies of a book I wrote ten years ago. I plan to rewrite one of these days and add more about these ideas and new facts. Meanwhile, contact me if you are interested. The book is called New Thought – New Woman, a survey of Women and Spirit from Goddess to New Thought.

Ask Yourself

Why was I led to this teaching?

How do I feel about a majority of women in my Center?

Am I proud of our New Thought history?

Do I have friends I want to tell about our history?


Life Is A Circle Dance

heart015Lori Mac and friends led us in a Sacred Dance Workshop after Sunday service. The dances were from Sufi, Native American, and Celtic traditions. Maybe it was because it was St. Patrick’s Day, or because Lori did such a great job,  but I came away believing that circles are magic. 

Think about it. We see the image of the circle in Nature, in Spirit and in Art. Consider apple pie, mothers, Easter eggs, gift exchanges, hugging, halos, polka dots, and circle dancing, and you will see only perfection.

The circle appears over and over again in the art of all cultures. Drawing circles begins early and we are such proud parents when our child’s random lines begin to complete themselves and look more like lopsided circles. In my college art education classes I learned that a child’s intelligence can be measured by how early she closes her lines and creates her first primitive circle.

Circle dances are a part of every culture I know about. I love the old movies where the natives are dressed in wild costumes and they beat their drums and jump up and down and stomp around in a circle. Those movies were set in Africa, India or in the American West. The covered wagon pioneers in the Westerns also stomped around in circles but for some reason that was called square dancing.

Shaker dances were mostly circles, so were polkas, and Marie Antoinette’s minuet. The Busby Berkley musicals used circles to illustrate it all; magic, perfection, connection and creative energy. So do the Rockettes of Radio City Music Hall fame.

By the way, Lori was a Rockette for many years before becoming a Religious Science practitioner and ministerial student. And watching our circle dances yesterday taught me why all those Rockettes needed to be regulated for height. Our dance participants came in all sizes so some of the moves between a five foot two dancer and her six foot two partner were quite a stretch.

Dance is not the only art form that depends on the circle.  Visual arts abound with circular images.Consider the nudes by Rubens. Those ladies are all soft pink circles. So are the apples and peaches in a Cezanne still life.

The gorgeous mandalas of Asian art are examples of perfection and the connection they celebrate is with Spirit. One of the best known images in Western Renaissance paintings is Mother Mary holding her child; if you reduce those paintings to basic forms you see circles of color and light travelling over the canvas.

Circles are everywhere. In the bullseye target on the archery field, in King Arthur’s Court, in the giant pot that three witches stir as they predict McBeth’s future. Today, just for fun, look around and see how many circles you can count. Start with our shrinking world.

The circle also means means respect and sharing as equals – whether in the tribal council of wise men or the family intervention meeting re: Uncle’s drinking. We instinctively know a circle means equality of responsibility and respect.

Sitting in the round, whether in large or small circles, infers equality of opinion in all times and in all places of the world. I wish more political meetings started in a circle instead of a head table with speakers and an audience. I think the world would be better.

Generally speaking, circles feel safer than rows. Generally speaking, conversation flows easier in circles. Generally speaking, love is easier to express, either silently or aloud. It’s all about the energy flow. Energy moves from one to the other more easily when we are connected in a circle. Loving energy is God expressing through our connection to each other and we need to express and enjoy God. That is our true purpose.

As I watched Lori and my other friends dance, I felt included even if I couldn’t dance. Their loving energy was swirling all around the room and it included we few who were not dancing. None of us was left outside the magical God’s Energy Circle.

I could see the love moving around the room. One of the leaders said, “This is a participation dance, not a performance” and that defined the precious feeling of the event. If someone missed a beat, no one missed a second beat by reacting.  No laughter. No frowns. Just acceptance and catching up. I would like to feel that acceptance everywhere I go.Wouldn’t you?

What if we could bring that loving energy to our freeways? Of course, anyone who has ever been on one of those circular freeway patterns in the center of some strange city knows that not all circles are happy places. But the potential is there. That’s good to know. And the seed is planted. Moving on.

Love and cooperation are part of circle magic. Another part is a sense of brotherhood or sisterhood or union with each other.  It can be very strengthening to join hands in solidarity. There is magic in standing up for what you believe as a group. The sum instantly becomes greater than its parts. The old hymn, “Let the circle be unbroken” expresses that magic very well.

Completion is inherent in a circle although it does not necessarily mean an end or finish. Actually, a strong circle is never ending and it can have eternal, ever-widening impact on others. I think of the way the Transcendentalist Circle ripples out over our times almost two hundred years later.

Circles are unending and they can also be forever flexible. Our sacred dance circle was able to expand or contract easily. People did come and go and they were accepted and released. My favorite dance was Celtic and we sang the words, “Merry come and Merry part and Merry meet again.” It seemed like a perfect model for relationships.

Circles also mean creation. The religions that depend on the feminine creative principle make much of the circle. It is the Chalice of life, the Holy Grail and the true center of life.  Certainly life begins with an egg and although it also requires a wiggling sperm, the circle image is reinforced in the coupling.

I enjoyed every moment of the Sacred Dance Workshop and I thank Lori for bringing it to the Center. It helped me appreciate life even more and I remembered that someone once told me Hindus say that what we call life is actually the Gods dancing. If so, I’m sure they are dancing in a circle.

Ask Yourself

What are the important circles in your life?

Would you like to expand any of your circles?

Would you like to create any new circles?


Sunday, Beautiful Sunday

dreamI am speaking at the Center on Sunday. Since I created 50 new talks a year for many years, I’m not nervous. I know that one way or another, I will say, “Your consciousness creates your life and you can change your consciousness.”

For example, when I retired I expected a life of leisure but I kept thinking of new ideas and saying yes. Now, I ask, “Where did my free time go?”

As we move up the ladder of life, things don’t always change quickly. For example, my life continues to attract work because I hold onto my love of work. We all have repeats of success and failure in areas of our lives and the question is whether the repeated experience is OK. We make the choice.

Our Positive Living Centers are devoted to helping people change the parts of their lives they want to change. The way we change our lives is to change our consciousness and spiritual practice is the simplest way to do that.

On Sunday, I will be as clear about that process as I can be because I know Sunday church is the start of spiritual practice for most people. There are many other opportunities but church attendance is usually the opening tool to lift up our consciousness.

What the speaker says on Sunday is important and I will do my best but my talk is only a small part. The decision to suit up and show up for church is the real starting point for consciousness expansion.Everyone who is there made a personal decision and their choice demonstrates an intention to have a better life.  I discovered attending church made my week go better many years ago.

Even after I made a conscious decision to use Science of Mind in my life, I still had difficulty hearing the message. In the beginning I heard, “If you have trouble, it’s your fault.” I was so full of regret and guilt that all I could hear was blame. I must have heard something else however, because I kept  coming back.

I was aware of my first real shift in consciousness when I found Dr. Raymond Charles Barker’s Power of Decision.  The book was so clear that I believed I’d found the key to the kingdom. The idea that my ability to change my life began with my personal decision to do so made perfect sense to me.The message that it wasn’t God’s will but God’s response to our messages fit into what I knew about psychology and what I was learning in 12 Step programs.

Reading is a great spiritual practice. So are classes. I began to take classes and that really helped me let go of the past and look to a better future. Classes give you a chance to ask questions and get direct responses so they are very powerful change agents.

Classes challenged me to pay attention to my thoughts and helped me monitor progress. I could actually prove this stuff in my life. In the midst of a group of like-minded people, I found I could really see change in their lives. I reasoned if it worked for them it was surely working for me. The teaching began to seem less fanciful and more practical. I began to dream bigger dreams.

One major attraction for me to the New Thought teaching was that good old American value, Self-Reliance. I loved the Emersonian attitude of being free from conformity and trusting yourself. I also loved the idea of rescuing God from a human-like description and recognizing God as the Creative Intelligence in every aspect of Life.

As a literature major, the intellectual authority of the Transcendentalists was important to me. Since I already knew about Emerson, Fuller, Thoreau, and Whitman, I felt more comfortable with our teaching. And the Transcendentalist political action suited my beliefs.

We come to understand and use the teaching in a variety of ways. It has been my privilege as a teacher to see many students accept New Thought without doubt, almost from the day they arrived. More than one colleague tells me when he or she knew was introduced to Holmes’s writings it was immediately clear it was the Truth.

We are all different. My doubting Thomas attitude served me well in some ways. It has made me a thorough student and given me the ability to explain things well. It took me longer but I eventually came to a place of trust.

The Hindus tell us there are several paths to enlightenment. We know about Hatha Yoga, the physical path, but there are also paths of service, of love and of the intellect. In New Thought, we must find our own path based on our own consciousness.

Our individual consciousness is a collection of ideas, beliefs and emotions taken from personal experience and cultural influences. Many believe it also contains remnants of past lives. We are all unique  individualized expressions of Life and so we all have unique consciousness.

My path to full acceptance of the teaching was based on the intellect. It was work but I had nothing more important to do. What is your path? And how do you discover it?

I believe that the best way to find techniques that help you expand your consciousness begins in your home church or center. Your will find like-minded people who share your interests. You will also find a bookstore devoted to the practice of consciousness stretching.

All centers offer classes with excellent teachers. Most offer workshops and activities that offer you chances to grow. Certainly, volunteering can help you open up in wonderful ways. Making the choice to help make the coffee can be a turning point in your life. Selfless service is priceless for expanding your life.

Wherever you are when you read this, I invite you to attend your nearest church next Sunday. Whether the speaker says anything you can believe or agree with or not, you will find opportunites there. You will find paths to changing your life by changing your thinking.

Once you begin to send lighter and brighter messages to the Universal Mind we call God, everything will become lighter and brighter. If you want to change, you can do it. If you want to celebrate what you have without listening to others, you can do that. You get to design your life with the help of the Power For Good in your life that you are always using.

 Ask Yourself

What was your first step into belief in Science of Mind?

What would you like to change in your life?

What do you want to keep?

How might you begin or deepen your spiritual practice?


Gifts of History

OneworldThe History Fairy gave me three gifts this week, she blessed me with old memories and new insights. Thank God for history and all the people who live, record, and study it.

         My first gift was a woman from Columbia University who is writing her Master’s thesis on the Sunfire series of teenage historical novels. I wrote several in the series. She graduated from Yale and   plans to get her doctorate in American Studies.

It is always a pleasure to hear from fans. When she interviewed me, she told me she loved my books because they were about independent women with interesting work  and I felt as though I had a part in her success. It also reminded me that things can change. When I  wrote those books, Yale didn’t even accept women.

The Sunfires were different from my other teen romances because they were based on actual history. I have always loved historical fiction and I loved researching and writing them. Mine were about a one-room schoolteacher, a Lowell mill girl, a telegraph operator caught the Johnstown flood, a 1930’s movie star, and a young woman during the bombing of Pearl Harbor. My favorite was Corey – an escaped slave who walked to Philadelphia freedom. The Sunfire series was a first and Corey was an even bigger first because it pictured a black heroine.

The History Fairy also brought two impersonal gifts. They were TV documentaries on the Freedom Riders  and the Women’s Movement. Both events touched my life personally.

I have had a deep interest in racial equality since I was  fourteen, and attended a teen conference sponsored by the American Friends Society. One of the presenters was a Philadephia Quaker named Bayard Rustin. He spent the war in prison as a conscientious objector and then began a  struggle for equality in the South.

Rustin absolutely fascinated me. He wore denim work shirts and played the guitar even though he was a very educated man. He taught us enthralling protest songs that were as inspiring as his words. I had never met anyone like him and I fell in love because I was a silly young girl, but I also fell even more deeply in love with his message.

I never learned much about him. I know he was with A. Philip Randolph, and organized of the March on Washington. I believe he spent most of his life in the shadows of the movement because of his homosexuality. It is only recently that I’ve seen his name and work openly acknowledged.

As I watched that documentary on the violent confrontations in Alabama and the prison jamming in Mississippi, I realized  how slowly ideas change. I was also reminded how important courage is. Those “agitators” of the early ‘60’s saved the soul of our nation. I believe  those amazing non-violent young people are the true spiritual leaders of our time.

I’ve known for a long time  that poverty is the partner of ignorance and education is the key to change.I have learned that good laws create new opportunity and they do eventually work.  It was wonderful to see that Truth condensed into one TV show. I  realized things have changed for the better. Not finished, but changed.

I was a small contributor to the march toward equality – a few dollars, a few parades. I volunteered for a few social programs, did a few press releases for Rep. Shirley Chisholm’s campaign, volunteered for classroom assignments where I could do some good.Over the last 66 years my ideals have not wavered and I know that foot soldiers  are important to the march of history.

I was very glad so much was caught on tape. Thank God for brave journalists. I was also sad as I remembered how naive we were. In the beginning, we mostly believed racism was limited to the South. Not so. But I believed it then. Didn’t I have friends who were black? I know better now.

The second show reminded me I’ve changed a lot of ideas about women’s issues as well.  I’m ashamed to remember that in the early seventies, I told my  boyfriend I wasn’t a feminist. He was black and he said quietly, “Then you don’t know what’s been done to you.”

I think I resisted jumping on the feminist bandwagon because I wanted to be beautiful and sexy and successful. The propaganda about the women’s movement was ugly and  fierce. I did join NOW almost immediately and I did go to those consciousness raising meetings.

My consciousness may not have been raised as much s startled when the leader suggested my   problems might not all be psychological. She said they were sociological! I was busy  having an identity,or mid-life crisis. At any rate, I chose to be an aging hippie instead of a insistent feminist. It never occurred to me just to be ordinary.

Part of my resistance was that I detested thinking of myself as a victim. However, when I got drunk, I whined a lot. I obviously thought my life was pretty unfair.  Also, I desperately wanted to believe Prince Charming was out there somewhere and would be coming along to save me very soon.

In the end, Prince Charming let me down and I sobered up. With the help of Bill W and Ernest Holmes, I combined my spiritual emergence with attention to my feminine side. Two friends and I wrote a small workbook for women alcoholics. We started the first women’s meeting in town. Getting sober meant looking at my life in new ways.

As American life changed, I also changed. I learned to be grateful for my journey and to enjoy the remainder of the trip.  I thought I was getting smarter as I aged but it may have been that new ideas were exploding all around me and I didn’t want to miss the fun. Who knows?

That was then and this is now. What I know for now, for certain, is that we all very connected. On a clear day, I can see a direct line from Eleanor Roosevelt, my girlhood idol, to Michele Obama who is reinventing First Lady.

We all have a part to play in our march toward discovering our spirital magnificence. When one person finds more Light, it opens us all up to more Light.  The poet, John Donne wrote in the 1600’s. No man is an island… do not ask for whom the bell tolls, It tolls for thee.

At age 14, I thought that poem about a bell was all about Gary Cooper blowing up a bridge for love of Ingrid Bergman. Now I know the poem was written for love of all of us. We Are One.

Ask Yourself

What are three  ideas  you changed over the years?

Why did they change?

Did your change impact others? How?


Big City Memories

open005Thirty-five years ago, I attended Religious Science noon meetings in New York City quite regularly. They were open-agenda, drop-in events.  Julia Coleman, who is a student practitioner, and I are now starting a similar noon meeting on Tuesdays from 12:30 to 2 PM. We begin on Tuesday, March 19th.

I loved those noon meetings because they helped me figure out how to use Science of Mind in my personal life. At the time I was having relationship trouble and I thought it was because he wouldn’t  “behave”. I was also scared about money and very anxious to make it to the top of the Big Apple by writing for teens. I was doing well and Science of Mind was helping although I didn’t know as much as I wanted to.

In my beginning studies, I found Science of Mind very abstract. It seemed impossible to incorporate the beliefs into my ordinary life. The idea that I could be perfect, whole or complete seemed ridiculous, yet I yearned to believe it. Those SOM noon meetings I attended were a Godsend because they helped me bring the ideas into my day-to-day existence.

I started by attending noon meetings at the RSI building in mid-town Manhattan. They were led by a practitioner who read questions from the floor and made comments before she treated. They were rather formal but they helped me.

I soon switched to the meetings Rev. Valerie Seyffert led. I liked those better because we conversed about regular situations in regular lives. Rev. Valerie led her meetings at Quest Bookstore in the Fifties block. Quest was a fabulous metaphysical bookstore. I think there were only two spiritual bookstores in the City. I loved the Quest meetings because anyone could ask a question. They  felt real.

Since it was midtown Manhattan, most of the issues revolved around ambition. I heard some fabulous stories about winning acting roles, selling books, landing singing gigs and achieving amazing corporate promotions. Since I was frantically,writing and selling  it was the perfect  place for me.

Rev. Valerie was also the perfect teacher for me. She had been Staff Minister for Dr. Raymond Charles Barker and when he retired, she started her own work in the National Arts Club on Gramercy Park. Independent churches were rare in those days but she had nerve and a deep belief in the Infinite Possibility of Infinite Mind. Dr. Erwin Seale ordained her.

When I lived in New York City, I was just recovering from alcoholism and on the fast track to writing success. I’ve always been grateful for Rev. Valerie’s ability to help me incorporate theory. She also helped me with my questions about how my 12 Step work could fit in.

She made it all sound ordinary. On the other hand, her life wasn’t exactly ordinary. She’d inherited the permission to rent her studio apartment in the National Arts Club Building from her deceased artist husband. We met there on Sundays and she taught also held classes in that studio. We were usually around thirty or forty. Fabulous space.

The apartment was like something out of the movies. It was one very big studio room, a tiny kitchen and small bedroom with this amazing second floor library terrace that ran around three walls.  Nothing up there but the aisle for walking and rows and rows of books. The fourth side was tall glass open to full Northern light. People said, “I would kill for this space.” It made me wonder…

I was impressed by her apartment as well as her wisdom. I was a bit of a snob so I was also impressed that she a Baroness and a Countess on her Board of Trustees. Another prominent church member was a descendent of the Noble Prize family who spent her days giving away money to deserving causes. All that was heady stuff for this middle-aged girl who grew up in a housing project.

Rev. Valerie was articulate and logical and, after all those years with my hero, RC Barker, she knew her stuff. I also found the space quite inspirational. All that light triggered visions for my future. One day, I had a moment when the light actually seemed to be within me as well as outside in the space around me. That day the world stood still long enough for me to “get it.”

What I “got” was that I was a wisdom teacher in my own right. I “got it” that I might not be original but I valuable.  I was a skilled teacher and writer and that made useful to the world of Science of Mind. I understood I had a brilliant future. The moment passed and I was  back to sharpening pencils and pounding typewriter keys but I was changed. I have tried to live up to that vision. That is why I  continue teaching, writing books, and sending out this blog.

I know now that everyone is uniquely gifted and has something special to give the world. I am so grateful for my teachers. I do my work because people like Rev. Valerie Seyffert were there for me, as Dr. Barker was there for her. Religious Science has grown so much during my term of service because we all reach out and touch so many others.

One of the things life has taught me is that simple ideas are powerful. Our noon meetings will be based on simple but powerful ideas. Everyone is welcome, whether a beginner or experienced in the teaching.

The seed idea for our group came from Carlsbad’s Julia Coleman, who brought up the idea of having conversations about Science of Mind. I agreed if she would be the co-leader. That means, among other things, that at least one of us will be there every Tuesday. Julia, is a brilliant student and she asks great questions, so I know we can keep the conversation rolling.

I have made a definite, penciled-in commitment, beginning 3/19. That’s a big week for me. I am speaking on Sunday, March 17, starting the Conversations on Tuesday, March 19, and giving a workshop with Lynn Guilfoyle on Science of Mind and Twelve Step recovery on Saturday, March 23 from 9 to 12:30. You are all invited to everything.

For the Tuesday noon meeting, bring your topics or questions and a brown bag lunch. You can participate as you like. You can talk or listen. You can skip lunch and  watch others eat. We will  serve tea only. The meeting  is offered on a free will offering. I hope to see you there.

Ask Yourself

Who were my first teachers?

What did I like about my first experiences?

Would I like to check this group out?

If I am unable to attend, because I am out of the area, would I like to start a similar group? (I can help you).