Sister Stuff

SayingThisDayMy kid sister is 80 tomorrow and she hasn’t changed much. She’ll never catch up, but she’ll always keep trying! Ever since she arrived on Planet Earth, there’s been this contest about who’s the prettiest, who’s the smartest, and who’s the best. It continues!

Know what she did? She hit par on her golf course yesterday! She plays on a short course every Tuesday for at least the last fifteen years and her garage is full of trophies. She earned them when she was in her 60’s and 70’s. Wasn’t that enough for her? Did she really have to show me up by gaining more accolades at 80?

I guess she thinks I’ll throw in the towel now and admit she’s the best. We’ve been locked in this horrendous competition for at least 80 years and it may finally be coming to an end. I feel like giving up and saying, “You win”. Of course, I never will.

I could say, “I never thought it would come to this, and I’m sure you cheated, but I guess you win – at least for a little while.”

Maybe if I sound really, really depressed she’ll bake me a pie or something. Or maybe she’ll faint and then I’ll feel guilty. On second thought, I may have to admit she’s a better golfer but I don’t have to say, “You win.” I’ll just think of something else we can compete over. Maybe crosswords?

We weren’t born competitors, it was early childhood training that made us that way. When we were kids, people were absolutely determined to judge us.

We didn’t look anything alike but my grandmother made us identical dresses out of identical flour sacks. People asked if we were twins and when they heard no, they were compelled to pronounce who was the prettiest. Her dark hair and blue eyes usually won.She even had a few curls while my hair looked lank – like those Okies in the Dorthea Lang photos of the Dust Bowl.

I won the smart contest, probably because I was a grade ahead of her in school. Finally, in High School, some counselor called my sister aside and told her that her IQ was only three points lower than mine, but I don’t think either of us really believed it until much later when she ended up with so much more money.

Actually we were both pretty and we were both smart. Sometimes we were also in the same grade because Los Angeles Schools had half year promotions. She skipped into my class and then I skipped ahead. It happened more than once because I couldn’t stand having my little sister in my class. As a result of this skipping ahead race, we both graduated from high school two years earlier than normal. We were 16.

We fought and argued as small girls but we declared a truce when we started school because we really needed to be best friends. As children, we moved a lot and it was very handy to bring your best friend with you.

One reason we got along so well is that we divided things up. We shared a room until I got married at 18. After my child was born, I moved back home and we three shared a room again. Some things never change. Her side was neater..

My sister was very neat while I would have lived anywhere and never noticed. She ironed her clothes and shined her shoes before she went to school. I wore the same old gray glen plaid skirt and a wrinkled blouse.

As adults, she took the Martha role and I played Mary. Or was it the other way around? I’m not sure how that story goes but I do know she had one husband, three kids,and two homes throughout her adult life. She was basically a housewife and mother.

I, on the other hand, had two husbands and some extra men, only one kid, moved around a lot, taught school, wrote books and started a church.

We grew up in a time when women’s roles were changing drastically. We didn’t have much money or many advantages and in our own ways, we both did well. I was a “career woman” while she was a “wife and mother”. We really didn’t  envy each other much because we knew we’d made choices that suited us.

Sometimes we didn’t understand each other’s choices and there were times when we quarreled about what the other one should do. Mostly, we just lived parallel lives and didn’t compete.

There were times when I thought my life was better because her life looked boring. I fear I was rather condescending when I was out in the big world and she was home taking care of three active sons and a coaching Little League obsessed husband.

As the years progressed, I was very grateful to her for her steadfast nature. She became the center of our family vortex during the years when my mother and father aged. I was gallivanting all over the place, learning to “express myself” while she was keeping the home fires burning, taking care of others.

With sobriety and maturity I came to see how unselfish and helpful my sister’s choices were. She is a true caretaker and a wonderful person. She says she’s not religious yet she lives her life immersed in Love.

These days, she is still my best friend. We talk on the phone every day and see each other when we can. We are both fortunate because our mother taught us not to dwell on the past, but to look to the present so our conversation is about daily events. I know quite a bit about her “golf ladies” and she knows quite a bit about my “church ladies.”

She’s proud of me for all I’ve accomplished and I honor her for all she’s accomplished as well. We still try not to compete but we can’t help comparing from time to time. She says I get around more than she does, even though I’m in a wheelchair and that gives me a brownie point, I suppose. I say she’s the best golfer I know in her age bracket and that gives her two brownie points at least.

I’m so grateful to have a best friend like my sister. Happy Birthday, Anne!

Ask Yourself

Do you have relationships you cherish?

What would you like to tell those people today?


Keep On Keeping On

FaithNever give up! That is something I’ve preached for years and now I am proving it in my own recovery. I haven’t been able to take up my bed and walk like they did in those Bible stories, but I do see real progress.

When I landed in the hospital with nerve damage last September, no one offered me much hope. All anyone knew was that my back hurt and I was paralyzed from the waist down.

No one knew for sure what happened to me, or what would happen next. I endured many tests, and many hours of physical therapy until January, when they sent me home in a wheel chair.

I got the impression the medical staff thought my recovery was as good as it was going to get, although no one said it out loud. They only said, “You can never tell about nerves.”

I prayed daily and I did my exercises. I didn’t waste my time worrying about what had happened or why it happened. I started each day with a gratitude list and tried to stay as cheerful as I could, because I knew cheerful helps.

The improvement was very slow but steady. I remember how pleased I was when I learned to move from wheelchair to chair without anyone helping me. I remember how thrilled I was when I went to the bathroom all by myself!

Small victories are still happening after months of physical therapy in rehab, at home, and now in outpatient care. Since I started with my current physical therapist, I feel very hopeful.

I’d been under the care of at least five other physical therapists, plus consultation with neurologists, a spinal surgeon and other medical doctors before I found Jennifer. She found what weak muscles are keeping me from walking. Jennifer’s new exercises definitely helped.

I’m now using a walker around the house sometimes. This week, I began standing for a minute without any support or help on balance. I do this at least four times during exercise. It feels like a significant break through.

I don’t have any guarantees but every little win makes walking seem more possible. I pay attention to the wins because I want to keep motivated. I do what the doctor says. My personal recovery plan includes compliance.

I developed this recovery plan when I was diagnosed with breast cancer ten years ago. That was a scary surprise and my recovery covered almost a year of surgery, chemo, and radiation. I’m now officially a survivor.

During my cancer recovery, I chose to follow a media diet of happy, happy, happy, all the time. I based my choices on Norman Cousins’ book, Anatomy of An Illness and I’m on a permanent diet of happy movies and books.

As a Religious Science minister, I am certain that it is possible to recover from any illness. The course of any illness will go the way of the individual’s prevailing belief system. Therefore, the most important thing is to keep my belief system as light and bright as possible.

I know that it is God that heals and God is present everywhere. While I pay attention to my present body condition, I do not worry about the past or future. God lives in the NOW and I do my best to live there as well.

My recovery plan depends on my spiritual practice and Western medicine. I realize Western medicine is not the only way to recover, and it may not be the best plan for everyone, but it suits me.

I believe the best path for anyone to follow is the path he or she believes in most deeply. I also believe you should be persistent and compliant after you decide what path you will choose to follow. Jumping around and trying to use Chinese teas, Indian yoga, magic numbers, Irish whiskey and Western chiropractors is probably not the best way to cure a sore toe or anything else.

Years ago, I discovered that I am a believer in Western medicine. I believe if you are going to use doctors, then you should do what the doctor tells you. My responsibility is to select the best doctors I can and do what I’m told.

Even though I am the patient and need to be compliant, I never forget that the doctor is there to serve me and I have a right to ask questions and get answers. It is never a good sign when I feel ignored or patronized. I have, on occasion, changed doctors or therapists because I didn’t think we were a good team.

My job is to ask questions when I don’t understand and to cooperate. My doctor’s job is to explain and not to patronize me. If it isn’t working, I have a right to change doctors or ask for a second opinion.

I sometimes hear people complain about their doctor. As we talk, I often find these people don’t question their doctors and don’t follow directions. What good is getting the prescription for an ailment and not taking it? Instead of thinking of themselves as part of the team, they seem to see themselves as victims. Assertiveness training is needed everywhere, even in the doctor’s office.

Speaking of assertiveness training – I do believe in following the doctor’s orders unless they say there is no hope. Never let anyone tell you that your prognosis is hopeless! You are a spiritual being and you are more than your disease – whether it is measles or bubonic plague.

I think of myself as a healthy person and from the beginning of this adventure with my back paralysis, I have tried to be positive about my recovery. I am so grateful for all the help from Religious Science practitioners. I consulted them over and over again. Right now, I have a daily prayer partner whose help I treasure.

I pay attention to my recovery efforts and I follow my plan but I do not make it the main issue in my life anymore than I can help. I have kept as busy with church work as I can because it is good for me to think about something besides myself.

I have continued counseling others, continued teaching and just gave a workshop with my friend Sharon Bagley. I write my blog about other things than my health. I’m helping others with their books. I’m writing the final draft of Spiritual Practice, a book I started last year.

So that is my program for recovery. I am very determined and never think of giving up. I comply with the medical advice. I pray daily for recovery and ask others to pray for me as well. I take good care of my diet and exercise. I keep cheerful and help others when I can. Most of all – I remember that I am more than a diagnosis – I am alive and well and living my life NOW.

Ask Yourself

Do I agree with this program?

How do I behave if I have a health issue?

What is my relationship to my doctors like?

Art and Spirit

wonderOur Art & Spiritual Practice Workshop was the first public event I’ve led since I went into rehab last September. Treatment works! 

Last September I couldn’t stand up at all and was not given much hope of recovery. The best  the doctors promised was that nerves continued to recover for a long time. I’m ten months into that mysterious back injury, and I’m still not certain how it happened. That’s not important, however. What’s important is that I am continuing to improve.

I’m walking short distances with a walker now and I can definitely see progress. Since the pain is less and I can now walk a bit with a walker, most of my medical helpers seem to think there is hope. I have never doubted it and neither has my beautiful daughter Kate.

We never gave up expecting the best and we intend to keep working at it. I pray every day and I monitor my thoughts throughout the day. I also thank  Kate and everyone else who is praying for me.

Every day, I am getting better. Most of the time, the signs are small but doing the workshop felt like a major signal of increased ability. What I really want is to continue to contribute to life. So today I am celebrating a breakthrough.

I led the Art & Spiritual Practice Workshop with my friend Sharon Bagley, a marvelous artist, who recently got her practitioner license.

This was Sharon’s first experience of leading a workshop. She had the enthusiasm of youth and talent. I’ve done hundreds of workshops for Wise Women and in church in the past 25 years but this was special because I was actually there, doing what I love to do.

It takes planning and hard work to create a workshop of value. We had excellent help from Lynn Guilfoyle, who contributed to the planning meetings and helped in many ways. She has posted photos on Facebook on Lynn Guilfoyle and Center For Spiritual Living, Carlsbad. She also arrived two hours early to do the set up, she brought the refreshments and chaired the cleanup. We had several other helpers and I want to thank them all. Our church people are always happy and generous with help.

I couldn’t help with the set up but I enjoyed sitting in my wheel chair, (I think of it as my temporary throne). It really does seem to take a village to make a workshop and Sharon and I thank all the willing hands and hearts who contributed to the success.

I truly loved being a part of Sharon’s first success as a workshop leader. I’ve known her as a talented artist from the work she posts on Facebook. Now, I know she is also as a talented teacher.

Sharon opened the morning with a fabulous exercise on dealing with our inner critic. Seems we all have a voice inside us that sends out negative messages. Sharon showed us how to tame that critic so we can get on with our success.

I showed people how to use art in their journaling and in meditation. All of the presentations were popular and people were happy to share their work. That made for a very interesting morning.

I was especially pleased that so many of the participants came from Sharon’s hair dressing clientele. She’s so upbeat, it’s not surprising that her customers decided they wanted to know what she knows and signed up. A leader who lives what she teaches is always popular. Sharon lives on the sunny side of the street.

A lot of spiritual practice is aimed at helping us be happier and more carefree. Each of the exercises we presented was a direct method of lifting up spirits. It was also a means of getting what you want in life. Sharon’s art work that she posts on Facebook is full of joy and it reflects the real Sharon.

My artwork that gets posted on this blog is a form of meditation I developed after my pills made me too sleepy to count my breath or follow a mantra. I select a word I want  and spend 20 or 30 minutes creating that word. While I draw, I focus my thoughts on the good in the word.

Focusing on something like  Joy or Love is a Western form of meditation called contemplation. There are many other  techniques that utilize art. Go to any museum and study the paintings from the Renaisance and you will see that artists are expressing genuine religious feelings.

The circle is a symbol of wholeness that shows up in spiritual practice often. There is a circle in the composition of paintings of Mother Mary and her child in Western art. That is the same circle we find in ancient Hindu mandalas.

Another spiritual concept that is universal is the impermanence of life or experience. The sand paintings of Tibetan monks and Native Americans are well known expressions of spirituality in art.

As I write, I sit in my TV room that it is decorated with Huichol yarn paintings. Those Indians of Nayarit, Mexico created wonderful magical stories from their indigenous belief system. My favorite, among my paintings, is the Corn Mother with bright yellow yarn hair. The story says each season she is born, dies and reborn to celebrate life and the Huichol staple crop – corn.

The belief that life is eternal and also changing is very common in art. I have some wonderful clay figures that were intended to be companions in death. Like the ancient Egyptians, the Lacondon Indians of Chiapas, Mexico buried small figures to keep the dead person company on his or her journey to the afterlife.

We all enjoy looking at art. It enriches our view of life and we “borrow” the artist’s experience to enlarge our own. I have never seen calla lilies the same way since I saw  Georgia O’Keefe’s painting. Artists help us see.

The experience of creating our own artistic expression is even more valuable than appreciating an artist’s work, . It doesn’t have to be pretty or perfect . Any attempt at using line, color, texture, and form to create a composition has value. We can all be artists if we are open to the experience. Our Saturday workshop was designed around the idea that if we are willing to participate, we are artists.

Artists – whether we find them in a workshop in Carlsbad, the Italian Renaissance, or the most remote jungle in Mexico,-  are marked by their ability to see clearly and distinctly. An artist’s eye is open to the beauty and uniqueness of life.

Our Western Bible tells us we are created in the image and likeness of God. I believe that our ability to create art is a proof of that belief. God is best defined as the Creative Intelligence of the Universe. Since God is creative and intelligent and we are created in that image, we are also creative and intelligent. Adding an art experience to your spiritual practice might be a good way to understand that.

Ask Yourself

What kind of art do I enjoy?

What would I like to try?


Keys to Happiness

KeyHow are you feeling? Do you feel lonely? Do you feel great? Do you feel bored because you’re certain you know everything I’m going to write?

Right now, I’d like you to take a look at your emotional climate and rate yourself on a happiness scale of one to ten. Whatever your score, wherever you are, you are in the right place for using a spiritual approach for increasing your happiness.

Even if you gave yourself a ten on the happiness scale, there is more possible. If  you gave yourself a lower number, don’t be discouraged, or ashamed. There are spiritual tools you can use that will make your life easier and more pleasant.

Of course, no one is ecstatic all the time. There will always be ups and downs and some days are always going to be better than others. We all have a right to pursue happiness. What’s more, it is a spiritual quest for humans.

When we begin the search for happiness, we may believe another person, money, or achievements will be the magic key. Actually, it takes more than outside events to attract joy. It takes more than “stuff’ to make us happy. I believe a spiritual connection is a very important ingredient.

You and I are spiritual beings having a human experience and the more we can feel our connection to our spiritual nature, the more apt we are to be happy. That’s why so many studies show that people who follow a spiritual path are happier than people who do not.

When you understand that happiness depends less on outside events than on your reaction to them, you have an important key to your quest. The simple truth is that you do not need to react to life, you need to act.

You have free will, and that means you always have choices. You can choose actions that create happiness, no matter what is going on. With attention and spiritual practice, you can learn to make the right choices about your prevailing belief system.

The Truth shall set you free. One Truth that frees us is the fact that we can use our ability to make choices to increase our happiness. It is important to remember that you don’t have to wait for your mood to shift. You can shift your attitude when you become conscious that you need to change.

Science of Mind students know that life is not something that happens to us. We happen to life. We make choices that are going to improve our lives and if we make a mistake, we learn from that mistake. We never give up; we make new choices that work better.

When we seek happiness, we must open ourselves up to more light, more love, and more joy. We must release the thoughts and actions that don’t serve us and make room for happiness.

Sometimes people think they cannot be happy until a certain problem is solved. That is probably not true but it is always good to take a look at the problem and understand what can be done.

The first tool I go to when I am unhappy about any issue is the Serenity Prayer. God grant me the courage the change the things I can, the serenity to accept the things I cannot and the wisdom to know the difference.

This prayer helps me sort out my situation and my potential responses. I am quickly reminded that there is no sense worrying about the past. That eliminates hours of useless stewing of the “coulda, woulda, shoulda” variety.

Once I give up on rewriting the past, the Serenity Prayer helps me move on and design a sensible new plan. For example, I don’t bother wishing I had started saving money at age 21. The past is gone forever so I have to deal with my current finances as they are today.

I know a person who is very sorry he dropped out of college at age 23 and he talks about it a lot. He could go back and get his degree at night school now. It’s true he will be over 40 when he finishes, (as he says) but he will be over 40 whether he has a diploma or not. The Serenity Prayer helps people look at things sensibly and offers a plan of action.

Another tool that works very well when people want to be happier is to take action. It is not a good idea to mull over an idea forever and let fear of failure immobilize you. Fear will paralyze you. Guilt or other negative opinions will also freeze you into failure. Action heals!

If you aren’t certain what to do, take a risk and take some small steps in the direction that looks best to you. After a fair trial, reassess your progress. Should you stay on course or stop? Either way, you will be better off. If you have to switch course, you will have more information. If your chosen path is working, then you are already on your way.

Whenever you are confronting an issue, the key is to let the past go and take sensible steps in the direction of your dreams. Be prepared to change your plan if you need to, but by all means, keep moving.

Just about any kind of problem can make you unhappy if you allow it . Many of us find relationships especially perplexing. One important key to happy relationships is to look on the bright side and remain optimistic while you set boundaries that work.

On the other hand, the key to relationship misery is to try to make other people be what you think they ought to be. Good relationships include a healthy dose of compromise and acceptance.

Over the years I’ve learned to release a lot of my desire to control others. Instead of playing the part of Control Freak, I now try to adjust and adapt to situations.

These days, when things aren‘t going my way, I remind myself of the rules. God lives in me but I am not God. I cannot write a script and make everyone say their lines exactly the way I want. I’m in relationship with other spiritual beings who are also having a human experience.

Once I recognize that they are just as unique and individualized expressions of Spirit as I am, I must recognize their right to their own choices. Love only works when it is grounded in acceptance and respect. People don’t own other people. While people can change, they do not change for others successfully. People pleasing won’t work.

It is actually much easier to live in happiness than in struggle. Using tools like the Serenity Prayer, releasing the past, direct action, compromise and acceptance helps. Try it and enjoy the results.

Ask yourself

Do I want more happiness?

What tools can I use?

How will I try to add to my happiness?

The Witch Of Wall Street

rich3They called her the Witch of Wall Street. Hetty Green was more famous for her peculiar relationship to money than her fantastic wealth.

In the late 1800’s, Hetty Green was usually the only woman on a list of richest Americans but she could never be considered prosperous.

In New Thought, we say prosperity is the ability to do what you want when you want to do it. Hetty Green was so wrapped up in her money fears she couldn’t do much of anything.

When Hetty died in 1916 at the age of 81, her fortune  was more than $100 million (over $17 billion in today’s dollars). Despite the money, the stories about her extreme lifestyle, show that she felt so poor that she could barely afford to breathe.

Hetty Green started a love affair with money at age six when she began tagging along with her father. She read him financial newspapers on their walks to work. When she turned 13 she began working as a bookkeeper in the family business.

She always invested her earnings conservatively because she believed she couldn’t afford a risk. All her life, she invested in railroads, property and stocks and bonds. She also loaned money for high rates. She even loaned money to the City of New York!

She inherited 7 ½ million at age 21. After her inheritance, there are many stories – apparently mostly true. She always lived in cheap rooms and got most of her meals in a place called “Pie Alley” where the main meal of the day cost 15 cents. Other than that, she ate cold oatmeal unless her rented room came with heat. Then she could warm her oatmeal on top of the radiator.

On her 21st birthday Hetty refused to light the candles on her birthday cake. The next day she wiped the cake off the candles and returned them to the store for a refund.

An aunt who promised to leave her $2 million died two weeks after her father but only willed Hetty $65,000. Hetty forged a new will and went to court for five years but she eventually lost.

When she was charged with forgery, she fled to England with a wealthy man, whom she married. They lived in London until the charges were dropped and then they returned to the U.S.

Hetty was 33 when she married. It took her until then to find someone rich enough. They quarreled about money and were divorced before the kids were grown.

Hetty was a poor and miserable housewife. She walked miles to buy broken cookies for the kids. She returned her berry boxes for a nickel. She always carried a small milk can to get the best price on milk for her cat. She got a free bone for her dog with her purchases.

Hetty Green was famous for arguing with tradesmen. She once spent half the night looking for a two cent stamp.

The most damning story is that her 14 year old son hurt his knee sledding. Hetty tried to treat the injury at home. When he didn’t recover, she dressed him in rags and visited charity clinics. Eventually, the boy’s leg was amputated.

She argued over every bill she received and her battery of lawyers routinely had to sue her to collect legal fees.

The Witch of Wall Street is an amazing true character. She got a free desk from banks where she kept her money. She stored all her furniture in a spare room in the bank every time she went out of town so she could give up her rented rooms.

She wore only black and traveled to her free desk in her bank every day. The bankers ridiculed her for her attire and eccentricities. They gave her the nickname ‘The Witch of Wall Street”.

She lived in grungy single rooms, spending as little as $5 a week for living expenses. She wore the same dress day after day until it was in tatters. When she absolutely had to wash the garment, she laundered the bottom skirt only where it showed dirt.

During her whole life, she never spent a penny for entertainment, Her one extravagance seemed to be her dog, who ate better than Hetty or her kids.

Hetty Green’s life is perfect proof that, “Money can’t buy happiness.” Despite her billions, poor Hetty never had enough. Money isn’t the villain in this story. The mistaken belief in lack and limitation is the culprit. True wealth should provide freedom.

How do we attain true wealth? We can begin by ignoring Hetty’s advice. Ideas about scarcity, caution, and fear are as limiting as chains and shackles. Money should create opportunity and the ability to stretch and grow.

I’ve never known anyone as extreme as Hetty Green but I have known people whose thrifty ways were out of control. They saved as though they were breaking rocks on a chain gang. They worked hard, postponing life in favor of the future and they were never happy. False beliefs can cripple.

We can be sensible money managers and live a good life. We can manage money with joy. We can design a rich life. Our life can include enough money but our life doesn’t need to be about money.

Our relationship to money should be healthy, wealthy and wise. We should have enough to be in healthy balance, and we should be wise in the ways we choose to spend or save it.

What does a healthy balance look like? That depends partly on your level of trust. If you trust that you are in the flow of prosperity, if you trust that God supports your dreams, if you trust that Life is for you, you don’t need huge amounts of money. You can manage your money and follow your dreams.

Building a healthy level of trust can start with clear assessment of your beliefs. Try some journaling about your early messages around money. You will find patterns easily and you will know where to start changing your thinking and changing your life.

If you find you need more trust and less fear, do something about it. I recommend reading Spiritgual Economics by Dr. Eric Butterworth. I also recommend the wonderful prosperity programs in your local New Thought center. Take prosperity steps.

I’m sure none of my readers ate cold oatmeal for lunch. Your beliefs are not as out of control as Hetty’s but check out your “saving ways”. If you are wearing tight shoes because “They’re still good” or you begrudge your tithe because “Times are uncertain,”pay attention.

Begin by taking a look at your actual situation. Make a list of your financial assets. Count your money. Then add your other prosperity assets. They include your good health, your achievements, your talents, and your good relationships. Your mental and emotional strengths are your true wealth. Make the list of them also and you will be amazed at how rich you are.

You’ already have so much prosperity. You also have unlimited potential. You’ve got God on your side. Don’t let false ideas defeat you. Remember that you can use your spiritual practice, including your prayers, to enhance your work.

Ask Yourself

Am I richer than Hetty?

How prosperous am I?

Book News

DreamMy friend, Dr. Dennis Merritt Jones has a new book called (Re)Defining Moments – Becoming Who You Were Born to Be. It came out on July 29th. My advance copy allowed me to take a good look and put my stamp of approval on it.

I’ve known Dr. Dennis for over twenty years and I admire him very much. He was a Religious Science minister for many years and he now devotes his time and energy to writing and speaking. He is author of several books and his articles have appeared in the Huffington Post and many other general publications.

I admire the way he has brought our wisdom to a wider public. I know he is a dedicated New Thought teacher and he brings a new and creative angle to everything he writes.

This book is especially interesting because he says we can live an authentic life and avoid the tug-of-war so many people get caught up in when they try to be all things to all people.

Here’s some of what he says in the introduction:

I often wonder how many of us are living our lives based on who we are not rather than who we truly are…If we were to excavate the deepest recesses of our consciousness, we would discover many beliefs about ourselves that are simply not true and that may never have been true. Yet we live from these beliefs as if they were true because we have never identified them clearly enough to question them, to challenge them. This is the power to be found in our redefining moments; they create an opening for us to consciously challenge old ideas and beliefs about who we think we are by accessing the limitless new possibilities that lie inherent in the authentic self.

Dr. Dennis has written a guidebook to understanding our authentic selves, in language anyone can understand. (Re)Defining Moments is in New Thought church bookstores and, Barnes & and many other venues.

I’m especially pleased it will reach so many people because I believe our wonderful wisdom teaching can be useful to people of all faiths. The book does not need to limit itself to Religious Science, Unity and Divine Science church members. Anyone will find value when he or she read it.

The central messages of New Thought, “Change your thinking and change your life” and “There is a Power for Good greater than we are and we can use It” are easy to understand and they work.

Throughout his writing career, Dr. Dennis has made it a point to be a clear spokesperson of these empowering messages. He avoids jargon and writes in a clear manner. His books are perfectly at home on bookstore shelves as well as in church bookstores.

Dr. Dennis and I worked together for several years on the Board of Directors of Religious Science International and we shared the dream of making this teaching as accessible to as many people as possible. His first book, How To Speak Religious Science has been a favorite for many years. Many churches give it away to new members as a welcoming gift.

In distant days, my book Science of Mind Skills and Dr. Dennis’s book, How to Speak Religious Science were the only two really simply written books on the market. We both sold many, many copies and they are both still in print. Often, the simplest language conveys the strongest lessons.

People make a big mistake when they confuse fancy language with power. Did you ever try to wade through Phineas Parkhurst Quimby? It’s not easy and the only reason his work is so famous is because others took it and wrote simplified versions.

Other powerful wisdom teachers including, Raymond Charles Barker, Eric Butterworth, Louise Hay, and Oprah are masters at writing powerfully and simply. Simplicity of language, in writing or speaking, is an important component of good communication.

I’m happy to claim Dr. Dennis Merritt Jones as my friend and I’m happy that he has completed this book, (Re)Defining Moments. I’m especially happy he is offering it to a secular world. This book is designed to appeal to everyone – the churched and unchurched alike. It is a book destined to reach far and wide.

In 1991, I gave a writing workshop to the RSI ministers and I shared my dream of church bookstores filled with books written by New Thought ministers. At that time, there were not so many books by my colleagues. The publishing world was very different and it was a great deal more difficult to get a book published than it is today.

My dream is now coming true, one book at a time. Many of our most talented spiritual leaders are finding the time to write. Dr. David’s is an outstanding success. He has others, including The Art of Uncertainty ~ How to Live in the Mystery of Life and Love It and The Art of Being ~ 101 Ways to Practice Purpose in Your Life. They all have a creative and unique approach to New Thought teaching.

Publishing has changed since 1991 and it is easier to get your book published. Now church bookstores now carry a great many books by New Thought ministers. Some, like Dr. Chris Michaels, are extremely prolific as well as running large, successful churches. Last time I looked, Dr. Chris had five books listed on his website, including Your Soul’s Assignment.

Others have one excellent book that gives their unique outlook on New Thought teaching. Dr. Carol Carnes wrote The Way Within and she has now followed it up with a novel. Dr. Maxine Kaye wrote Alive and Ageless. Both Carnes and Kaye also have brilliant daily blogs.

Rev. Elizabeth Arrott and Rev. Michael Rann collaborated on Shortcut To A Miracle. These are some of the successful books that come to my mind quickly but they are truly the tip of the iceberg. It is a wonderful iceberg that will change a lot of lives.

Books contain wisdom in efficient form. A variety of writers who take on related subjects offer fascinating variations on the theme. Right now, I am helping two other ministers create their first books and I am delighted because I’m certain this is just a small sampling. I’ll bet there are many others working on their own unique outlook on New Thought wisdom.

Dr. Dennis and the others are spreading the word with their books. Of course, there are other powerful ways to teach New Thought lessons but the beauty of a book is that is always there for you. Hardly a day goes by that I don’t pick up a favorite book and browse long enough to find a new quote or to refresh my memory about a salient point.

Books are here to stay and more good books are written all the time. Congratulations to Dr. Dennis Merritt Jones for his latest addition to the body of wisdom called New Thought Literature. Thanks and Good Luck, Dennis. Keep up the good work!

Ask yourself

Read any good books lately?

Want to read a good one soon?

Community News

LadieswithUmbrellasI didn’t want to wait for the sheriff to knock on my door. I packed my evacuation bag and then sat down in front of the TV to watch the news and assess the fire situation.

Two days later, I was still glued to the TV and I never had to leave my home. I had a slight headache but no other damage or difficulty. Was it a waste of time?

Maybe I  could have been established  a more balanced program of news watching but I wasn’t sorry I’d sought information while it was happening. Not only did I get to see the fires come under control, I could also see what was going on in my friends’ neighborhoods.

My particular area was not impacted as much as many of my friends were. Thank God, none of us was harmed. Nor did we suffer any major losses. Two of my good friends had to evacuate and others were put on warning. As I write this, the eight North Country fires are nearly all out and the TV is off.

Just before the fires started, there was an email discussion within my minister’s group about how much news we should watch. It started in reaction to my last blog when my theme was that things are usually all right so the events that make the news are the exceptions.

The minister’s exchange  moved quickly to a question of whether we should watch the news at all. Some ministers  believed they needed to be informed to serve their congregations well. Others believed that any news was bad for us and they advised avoiding it altogether.

It was an interesting discussion and the opinions were all over the place. It was especially fascinating to read the emails and then have the responses followed so quickly by dramatic local news. I thought the  fires were a definite illustration of why avoiding the news doesn’t always work.

Anyone can see we need to know what is happening in our immediate world if it is potentially harmful. Fires are a clear cut examples. On the other hand CNN’s coverage of the lost Malaysian airplane was so obsessive and attracted so many obsessive watchers that it was fodder for jokes from the late night TV hosts.

The idea that we should avoid all news is fairly prevalent among followers of New Thought. They believe that knowing the bad news and all the trouble in the world is not useful. They think we are simply overloading our minds with negativity. Of course it is true we want to be as positive as possible so they have a point.  One well known self -help author wrote about going on a “news fast’ several years ago and that idea spread rapidly.

I am always a bit shocked when people I think are intelligent tell me they never read a newspaper or watch the news. It makes no more sense to me to avoid the events of the world than it would to avoid eating correctly or taking care of my health.

I heard the Dali Lama say once that we should take care of our planet’s environment because, “That is where we live.” He made perfect sense to me then and in the face of global warming, he makes even better sense now.

The Dali Lama’s words were a very simple statement and most of us would agree with it. We must decide what to do and how to do it to deal with the impact of global warming on the planet. Certainly, we must pray. Just as certainly, we must act in new ways.

I believe it really is important to know what is happening in our community. In ways, our community includes local, statewide, national and global connections. The idea that we need to keep abreast of what is going on in these communities seems just as clear as taking care of our environment. When we know what is going on, we can pray and we can also take action.

We cannot expect to avoid our responsibility to the natural environment just because we are spiritual people. Nor can we expect to avoid all political responsibility. There are times when we need to be informed and to take action.We learn about events through our news media although some venues are more reliable than others.

Should a spiritual person avoid the news? Some of my friends don’t vote because they think living a spiritual life means avoiding politics. I cannot agree. Not only do I want to know where the fire is going next, I want to know what is happening around me in social or political events.

Perhaps because I grew up during World War Two, I formed a definite idea of my place in the scheme of things. The “good people” who tried hard to avoid knowing what was going on, before World War Two, learned a big lesson. War broke out anyway. Millions were killed on both sides. Hitler’s hateful beliefs resulted in the killing of millions of Jews and others.

.I learned that a good citizen participates in his or her government.Deliberate ignorance made many things worse.

I formed the habit of reading newspapers in the sixth grade and kept it up until fairly recently. Now I find I depend much more on TV and internet to keep me informed. Although I buy the Sunday paper in San Diego and get the daily NY Times online, I mostly scan headlines. I only read what interests me. I watch Rachel Maddow most evenings and Melissa Harris Perry on weekends because they cover issues nearest to my heart.

I always vote. I use absentee ballots and I always take the time to inform myself. I donate money to some causes and I write letters from time to time. There was a time when I was much more active and even if I can’t march,  I still want to help steer the country into equality, liberty, etc. I truly believe that no man is an island.

The question of whether or not  to pay attention to the  news is an interesting one and I was happy to see it so fully discussed. I know that everyone has a right to make his or her own decision however, I can’t help wishing more New Thought people were more interested in current events.

The question of  the importance of the news was solved in my neighborhood when the recent fires were a few miles away. Issues like the narrowing of voter registration and closing Planned Parenthood centers are just as urgent in their own way. Let’s not wait till the knock on the door comes before we know what is happening.

Ask Yourself

What do I really believe about following the news?

Is there anything I want to change in relation to the news?