Wisdom Choices

Key

Once upon a time, a long time ago, I interviewed an artist about her work and I was curious, so I asked her why she was always so happy. She answered, “I chose Heaven.”

Later, she explained, “When I was very young, I loved my husband and baby very much. It could have been a perfectly joyous time except my Dad was dying of bone cancer. His hospital was two hours away and I visited him nearly every day. It seemed to me that I was always in the wrong place. When I was home, I felt guilty and when I was in the hospital, I felt I was cheating my baby. I felt like I was always bouncing between Heaven and Hell.”

“So how did you solve it?” I asked.

She answered, “Someone taught me the Serenity Prayer. I understood there wasn’t much I could control. My baby was fine and my Dad was dying, no matter what I did. My only choice was my emotional response. I could choose misery or happiness. When I finally understood that – I chose Heaven.”

By the time she shared her wisdom with me, her dad was long gone, her baby was in college, and she was a well-known artist. She was also a vital, enthusiastic, successful and joyful person.

I asked her the personal question because I wanted what she had. I’d been sober two years but I was broke and, and in a miserable love affair. I’d heard the Serenity Prayer many, many times and, to be honest, I thought it was a cliché until I heard her story. Since then it has become my favorite tool for solving life’s puzzles.

With sobriety, I realized that life would never be perfect. There would always be things I liked and other things I didn’t. The Serenity Prayer helps me navigate difficult choices.

God granted me a great deal after I got sober. I gained new opportunities and wonderful tools to create a sane life. I learned to use the Serenity Prayer and I discovered that I had more choices than I’d believed.

I attracted and built a good writing career, a sensible financial situation, and many excellent friends. Eventually, I gained self-forgiveness and a wonderful relationship with my family.

However, there were things I desperately wanted and didn’t get. I bumped my heart against the true love dream for a long time. We eventually parted company because I couldn’t make him be what I wanted him to be. That wasn’t my only disappointment but it was a biggie.

It is tough to give up the dream even if the reality is only heartache. Like most people, I want what I want when I want it. God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, the courage to change the things I can, and the wisdom to know the difference.

I was seldom happy in those early days . Then I discovered Science of Mind and the teachings of Dr. Ernest Holmes, founder of Religious Science. When I combined 12 Step wisdom and the Science of Mind teaching, my life kept getting better. I kept getting happier. And happier.

At some point, I decided events didn’t matter as much as I’d thought, because I could always choose my emotional responses. Disappointment didn’t throw me. I stopped being a victim. I could choose to be happy – I could choose Heaven.

No one completely escapes disappointment. No matter how hard we work, or how effectively we visualize good news, sometimes things go in different directions. We don’t get to control everything but we do get to control our reactions.

We can choose to be happy. Life isn’t a tragedy unless we react as though things are tragic. Most people have events happen that are sad and it takes time to get over those rough spots however, the Serenity Prayer can help us heal more swiftly.

For example, losing a job is not good news but it is also not the end of the world. Some people curl up into a ball and refuse to recover from he blow. Others accept it happened and find the courage to move on quickly. They find another job or start their own business.

Very often, something that looks bad turns out to be the push we needed. A divorce leads to true love. An illness leads to better health habits.. A bankruptcy leads to a simpler lifestyle. What looks like loss turns out to be that Staircase to Heaven they sang about in old-fashioned musicals.

Of course, some things really are tragic and it may take time to find the serenity to accept what has happened. The death of a loved one is certainly sad especially when it is unexpected. However, most people survive grief and regain their happy lives.

People with serenity come to understand that death really is a part of life. They release grief as quickly as possible. It does no good to mourn for the rest of your life. It neither brings the loved one back nor helps the others you love if you mourn too deeply.

Accepting life as it comes and making choices about how to react as you go along is a good action plan for living. In 12 Step programs we are advised to live a day at a time and not dwell on the past. I’ve observed that attitude really does help people.

Much of it has to do with emotional maturity and choice. Some of us find the serenity, courage, and wisdom to live one day at a time when they are facing a life-threatening illness. Others are miserable when they break a fingernail.

I believe it is very helpful to remember that nothing is permanent, not even pain. That’s the good news. On the other hand, you will never be able to arrange everything exactly the way you want it and keep it there. How you choose to react is more important that the event itself.

If you don’t believe me, I invite you to try an experiment. Apply the Serenity Prayer to any perplexing or unhappy event in your life. Begin by asking yourself whether you need to find the serenity to accept it or the courage to change it. In other words, begin by seeking wisdom.

Next time something happens in your life that seems like a bad thing, ask yourself if there is anything you can do to make it better. If the answer is yes, be happy and do it. If the answer is no, choose to be happy anyway.

Many people find it surprising or unbelievable to hear that they can control their reactions to life’s events but it is true. It is also an important key to happiness. You can stop believing life makes you a victim and start believing you have the wisdom and power to be a player in the game of life.

Ask Yourself

Am I unhappy about anything today?

Is there anything I can do about it?

How do I choose to feel about my issue?

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Keeping Your Head On Straight

acceptscan188We know things go better when we are thinking positively and feeling great. But do we know how to move quickly from a negative to a positive attitude?

 Sometimes things happen that dismay or disturb. When those incidents do occur, how quickly can you reclaim your positive attitude? Who is in charge of your emotions?

Dr. Tom Costa, Founder of the Palm Desert, CA Church of  Religious Science  used to say, “If you are going through Hell, don’t pitch your tent there. Keep on moving.”

One of the main skills we learn in  Centers for Positive Living is  how to keep on moving. We are united in our belief that we don’t need misery and we can claim happiness.  When people need to overhaul their belief systems,  Positive Living Centers are the place to do it. We don’t stare at lemons and wring our hands. We make our claim on joy and drink  lemonade or champagne, as we choose.

Of course, things happen and people do get down. The important thing is recovery speed. Hanging onto our stories creates new tragedies. In the novel, Great Expectations by Charles Dickens,  Miss Havisham, wears her tattered, ancient wedding dress and lives her in her personal Hell built around being  jilted. Her decision to wallow in grief, anger and a need for revenge, ruins many lives.

Most stories aren’t as dramatic as that Victorian soap opera but we all know people who get down in the dumps and can’t crawl out for days, or weeks, or months, or even years. Like Miss Havisham, and they believe they have no control over their feelings. We know better.

In Positive Living Centers, we learn our emotions are a part of our consciousness. That consciousness includes our emotions, thoughts and beliefs and it constantly sends messages to Universal Mind (God). What’s more, Universal Mind responds to the messages by sending more of whatever we are thinking, feeling and believing.

The responsiveness of Universal Mind is both good and bad news. It isn’t so great to learn that a bad mood attracts more negative stuff. On the other hand, it is wonderful to discover we can change our minds and that creates change our in our lives. The more we can stay positive in our thoughts and actions, the more positive our lives will be.

Almost no one can be positive all the time. There are times when, for most of us,  negativity is a natural response.  If your lover dies, you are sad. If your job disappears, you are discouraged. It may not always be possible to keep from reacting to events. On the other hand, you do have control over how long you stay in a negative reaction.

Negative moods are seldom useful. Grief may be normal but it does no good. Wearing black forever is boring. Freeway  impatience may bubble up on the drive to work but it shouldn’t spoil your day. If you make a mistake and use tooth paste for shaving cream at 7 AM, there’s no need to be upset at 11 PM. The anger or grief that you hold onto are only felt by you. They do not affect the other person – you are the one who flunks the stress test.

Taking charge quickly and  controlling  our emotional response to events is a very effective skill. Learning to control of our familiar moods is also very useful. Some of us have formed habits of sadness, depression, self-pity or self-condemnation over many years. We identify these habits as negative moods. There are skills for dealing with those old habits as well. We do not need to pitch our tents in an old story.

There was a time when I would get very depressed and cry all weekend. I was in my forties and convinced my life was ruined. Between my 12 Step program and Science of Mind, I learned to handle my moods and live a happier life.

From 12 Step, I learned the past was gone forever. I also learned to live one day at a time. I used the Serenity Prayer like a mantra and said it until my mood shifted. I also learned I had to go to meetings and stick with supportive people.

Science of Mind gave me an amazing array of positive techniques to use in my daily life. It took a while, but I learned to use spiritual  tools. One of my personal tools was to think of myself  as a cranky two year old when my mood began to slide downward.  What do you do for a fretful (or screaming) toddler? You distract her.

I discovered I didn’t need to solve most problems.  If I simply distracted myself my life would generally heal itself.  I would lure myself away from self-pity by watching an old movie or reading a chapter in my Science of Mind Textbook.  I switched channels  and moved on.

Last week,  our Conversations in Consciousness group talked about personal techniques for changing moods. Some of the things I’ve listed came from that discussion. Others I learned others along the way.

Helping someone else raises your self-esteem.

Laughter heals the heart. Cultivate belly laughs.

Choose books that have happy endings. Watch comedies on TV.

Stick with cheerful people.

Wear bright clothes. Give away the clutter.

Make friends with some children.

Exercise – any kind of exercise works.

Get a massage. Go to yoga classes.

Get out in nature. Chase squirrels. Study beetles.

A walk on the beach can lead to happiness.

Today, see if you can add activities that make the list longer. We can all benefit from having plenty of techniques for putting our heads on straight.

Ask Yourself

When I want to move to the sunny side of the street, how do I do it?

When I want to get my head on straight, how do you start?

What are my tools for positive  mood swings?


Good News!

scan016Yesterday was a good news day for me. Sometimes it seems as though things will go along and go along and then one day the champagne cork pops! The trick is not to give up.

         My two students completed an exam from CSL headquarters that took more than seven hours. That more or less finishes their work with me and moves them into their last year of ministerial studies. I am certain they did well on the test and I am certain they are already wonderful ministers. I could not have had more beautiful people for my last ministerial class. Thank you, God!

It’s been two years, but it seems like yesterday that we started. In another way it seems as though we’ve been meeting every Wednesday since we were all teenagers. That can’t be so, because one of the students is actually my daughter.

My other good news is about a long running national struggle and the opportunity for me to release a personal grievance. The Supreme Court announced two decisions that will change the lives of gays and lesbians from this day forward.

The first had to do with Prop 8. Here in California, it looks as if CSL ministers will be performing same-sex marriages again. I look forward to it. The other Court decision gave me personal joy and I am finally ready to release an old grudge about a gross insult and injustice against my dear, departed friends whose story parallels the Supreme Court case…

When I lived in Massachusetts, I had two wonderful friends. We were extremely close for many reasons, including sobriety, political opinions and loving to laugh. We also had a great deal in common because of our successful years in education.

One of my friends was a retired high school librarian. Her partner was a retired administrator in the same school district. By the time the first partner died, they had been together 37 years and were living in a upscale retirement village in North Carolina.

I was back in California by then, but we were still very close. When Mary died, I flew out to help Betty. She thought it would be simple since they had shared everything for so many years.They’d been to a lawyer, made their wills, and everything was owned jointly. So she thought.

Betty believed her income would be lower but that she would still be well-off because they had done everything they could to legally tighten it all up.  She knew she couldn’t inherit her partner’s pension, etc., but she expected the current assets to be slam-dunk. Maybe it would have been in Massachusetts.

We were stunned as the lawyer explained that the surviving partner had to pay an enormous amount of North Carolina State inheritance taxes to settle the estate. I don’t remember it all exactly, but I know she had to pay something like 25% taxes on half of everything because they weren’t married. When it was over, Betty  was in much worse financial position than she’d expected.

These were two women who had worked hard and supported themselves since they entered college in the early 1930’s. One typed other student’s papers. The other waited on tables. Neither of them would have finished school without a desperate need to move up in life. They were ambitious and  they needed those teaching credentials to be self-supporting.

They were a generation older than I was and I knew what it had been like for me so I admired them very much. They were very successful (for women) in their day. Remember, there were no women in corporate hierarchies and  women’s colleges hired only a few women professors. They really did well for their times. They earned their money. Mary taught night school adult classes. Betty made a library training film and self-published it way back in the 1950’s. They were quite frugal, worked hard, and were conservative in their lifestyles. They did what they could to take care of business.

These women were the kind of school teachers who have almost disappeared. Those best and brightest women have mostly now gone into higher paying jobs now.  They were “good” women. Well meaning, respectable, quiet and non-assuming. They took care of things, minded their business and expected courtesy from the world. In the education field, in my day, women like these were fairly common. They were the first “don’t ask, don’t tell” group.

Anyway, my friend Betty took the financial blow without quite understanding what went wrong with their plans. She was in shock over the death of her partner and she didn’t complain, but I was astonished and outraged at an amazing injustice! In retrospect, I think they failed to check out North Carolina inheritance laws before moving there, but women of my generation (even lesbians) didn’t know much about money management.

All this happened twenty years ago but I remembered it well. When I first read about the lawsuit Edith Windsor brought before the Supreme Court I got mad all over again. Her story was almost the same as Mary and Betty’s. The difference was that Ms. Windsor’s married her partner in Canada in 2007. My friends weren’t married because they didn’t have that choice. Many people who love each other still don’t have that choice.

As of yesterday, the Supreme Court declared in favor of Ms. Windsor. She gets to file a joint income tax return and new financial rights for survivors of same-sex marriages are established as the law of the land. Ms. Windsor gets to keep her rightly inherited money. I now release my old grievance and celebrate the future happiness of new friends.  I think many people can understand that people deserve to marry if it means financial equality so I look for more states to make same-sex marriage legal quickly.

Things have turned around in many ways. I celebrate the gay rights movement for continuing to hang in there on equality issues. As time moves along, common sense does prevail.  I try to remind myself of that when I see what’s happening right now on voter rights. That issue didn’t fare so well in the Court but I know that change is coming.

No matter how slowly, we are climbing higher on the good sense ladder of social issues. We should never, never give up.

It is important to positively persist. Those  who hang on to the dream, do prevail.  I learned this as a writer when I was starting out. I learned it again when I started the Center For Positive Living more than 20 years ago. I was reminded of it yesterday when my students took their ministerial test and I was reminded again when I read the news today.

But this is a day to celebrate and I do! I celebrate my students. I celebrate my friends’ love! I celebrate gay rights! I celebrate what’s coming on voter rights! I celebrate this day! We shall never give up. Never let the dream die. We speak our truth and keep on keeping on!

Ask  Yourself

What three things can I celebrate today?

What dreams have I pursued and caught ?

What is my dream now?

How shall I pursue the dream now?


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?


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).


Bless and Release

FreeShe sat in the chair, shoulders slumped and head in her hands, as she sobbed. “I don’t ever want to see him again.  He’s bad for me but I can’t get him out of my mind.” Her practitioner said, “If you mean that, then every time you think of him, say, “I bless him and release him to his highest good.”

         It worked! It took almost a year, but she followed the suggestion and one day she realized she hadn’t thought of him in days. What’s more, from that day forward, she was a happy woman. One day at a time.

This is a true story and it is demonstrates a simple but quite wonderful technique for letting go of any long, tortured issue or relationship.

Despite her original feelings, she blessed and released until she truly felt the words. It worked for several reasons and the first of these was she wanted change. The second reason it worked was that she got support and  help.

When we have lived with a problem long enough to know that we need to move on and we do not have the courage to do so, we really should seek help. It is out there. Ministers and practitioners in churches are a good place to start your search for support.

It is usually very helpful to talk over your problem with someone who is trained to listen. It may enable you to clarify your position and you may be able to come up with a next step that makes sense. If you seek a religious counselor, you get the added benefit of prayer.

Of course, you should also pray for yourself but sometimes when we are deeply emotional about an issue, it is difficult to pray effectively. Having a minister or practitioner pray for you can be very helpful because the practioner is not emotionally involved. He or she will see you as perfect, whole and complete even when you are despairing.

There are also other avenues of support available. Sometimes your pastor may be able to refer you to a respected psychologist or grief counselor.  You may need to get a physical checkup if you are depressed to make sure your health is optimum.

Twelve Step groups such as Alcoholics Anonymous, Debtors Anonymous, Alanon, Gambling Anonymous, C0-Dependents Anonymous, and Narcotics Anonymous are extremely valuable if you are struggling with an addiction. There is something wonderful about being with a group of people who are also recovering from an addiction. You will hear some real “down home” wisdom there. The Steps and the Traditions are a great platform for a new life.

There are many ways to let go of activities and relationships that no longer are working. Of course you must want to change to do much but you can always begin where you are. Even if you don’t want to change, you can pray to be willing to change. Your prayers will bring you further guidance.

It is important to remember that we must truly let go and move on. It does little good to let go of a bad marriage if we carry our story with us for the next ten years. The purpose of changing to feel better is to truly release the problem and move on. We must let go emotionally as well as physically.

In the beginning of this article, the woman learned to say, “I bless you and release you to your highest good.”  She didn’t understand why she should bless the person she was angry at, but in time, it became clear. If we hold onto the anger, we are holding on to the past. We must move into the present to be happy and fully functioning.

Do you know people who carry their “story” with them wherever they go?  They cannot enjoy life or live fully because they are still trapped in negative feelings about something that happened in the past.  Certainly, it is bad to have a dreadful childhood. It is worse – it is tragic – when a person retells the story of his past so often that he creates a dreadful adulthood as well.

We must be willing to release the past and live in the present if we are to create a happy life.  We must not be stuck in the past or so busy planning the future that our lives slip by without our active enjoyment.

Many great religious teachings, including Buddhism and New Thought emphasize the need to be fully present. We must be aware of the present moment in our hearts and minds as well as bodies.

There is a wonderful old story about two travelling monks who walked until they came to a river. They met a woman there who needed help to cross. One monk carried her across and put her down on the bank. She thanked him and the monks continued to walk. An hour later the other monk said, “You should not have carried that woman! It was forbidden!’ His companion answered, “True, I broke my vow but I put her down an hour ago and you are still carrying her.”

What are you still carrying? When we carry bitter childhood memories or nurse grudges against old bosses or fromer spouses, we are like the monk who continues to carry the woman.  Let’s not hold onto the burden or we will feel like Marley’s ghost dragging his chains as he visits Ebenezer Scrooge in Dickens’ Christmas Carol. Let’s put the past down and walk freely into the moment. The past is gone forever.

Think about it. The past is over. It is gone. The way the past continues to harm us is when we choose to remain angry or sad. If we use the past as an excuse, if we feel self-pity, or if we are mistrustful, we are allowing the past to intrude on today’s possibilities.

I own a battered copy of a book by Ram Dass called Be Here Now and I treasure it. The book looks as if the cat dragged it through the swimming pool a couple of times, but it contains great wisdom. We are here now and we need to realize it, mentally, emotionally and physically.

Here’s a physical exercise to use as a reminder to be open and present. Take a moment and close your fists tightly and squeeze hard. See how that feels? That is what holding onto the past feels like. Now, slowly, open up your hands, stretch your fingers out and cup your hands into a receiving position. That is today’s possibilty. Which do you choose?

 Ask Yourself

Is there anything I want to release in my current life?

Do I carry negative feelings about anyone from the past?

Am I willing to bless and release that past?

1118 words


Birds of a Feather Flock Together

Do you live in a bubble? Yes.Yes.Yes. You do live in a bubble of beliefs called ladywithdoveconsciousness. Your bubble acts as a filter and an attraction device. It draws circumstances and events to you or pushes them away. Your thought bubble is creating your life through the Law of Attraction.

Since you are reading this, you and I are probably have matching bubbles in some ways. For instance, if you are reading this on Facebook, we probably share friends. That means you get a lot of messages filled with sweetness and light, and dare to dream ideas.

My favorite news commentator likes to talk about how that other political party lives in a bubble. She seems certain her life based on “reality” but I’m not so convinced. I love her but I think she’s stuck in an “ain’t it awful” bubble. I watch her because she’s the best there is. Even though she’s a friend on Facebook, I wouldn’t want to live in her bubble.

One of the attractions of Facebook is that you select your friends and control and create your own bubble. I don’t agree with everything that’s posted on my Facebook page but it adds up to positive thinking and I am committed to positive thinking. I like to think life is a bit like Facebook.

I am also committed to changing my thinking and changing my life. Facebook has turned out to be an effective tool for that endeavor. I may get too many photos of cute animals for my taste, but the kitties really are darling. Some of the jokes are corny and others make me laugh out loud. A real laugh out loud is a wonderful thing.

Many people on my Facebook page are old friends and that’s fun. I am communicating with four wonderful people I lost track of years ago. Recently had lunch with someone I sponsored about 20 years ago. I’m also getting to know new people with positive ideas.

I used to think Facebook was a waste of time and it is still low on the time totem pole. I joined because I wanted more readers for my blog and it seemed like an easy way to expand my circle. When I receive a friend request, I check for a New Thought connection and say yes. Now I have 583 friends. Let the circle keep on growing.

Some people are afraid of Facebook because of the weirdos. I’ve found dealing with negative types easy. If someone tries too hard to sell me things, I cut him or her out of my group. Same goes with people who complain constantly. It’s very impersonal. I don’t wrestle with my decision. Out they go!

Facebook has increased my blog readership. I’m getting more comments from readers and  I reached my last year goal of  200 subscribers on New Year’s Day.  The biggest pay off  turns out that to be the kaleidoscope of an  inspirational book or DVD that my friendly bubble creates for my personal pleasure.

It feels like a science fiction movie. Imagine opening a book and finding it is filled with new stuff every time you look. It’s always the same only different. I love it – partly because of the delicious illustrations and partly because it enables me to look at old ideas in brand new ways.

I get a lot of illustrations from children’s books of the Victorian age. I’m a sucker for those Beatrice Potter paintings. I also get a lot of magical  illustrations from a site called Wyse Woman. There is no way I would ever go to a psychic but I love her entries.

One day several photos of glamorous models, age 80 to 103, showed up. Who could imagine opening your Magical Facebook and seeing some elegant lady with bent shoulders and a cane modeling real clothes you can buy? No – I didn’t buy anything but I was truly charmed. It blew away some of my cobwebs about aging that were stored in my mind corners. It also made me laugh.

Lately, I’ve noticed that I’m spending quite a bit of time on Facebook and I think it is good for me and my spiritual practice.  I love those inspirational quotes, pasted on photos of the Dali Lama or Albert Einstein.

Our beliefs, whether we call them mental atmosphere or consciousness or bubble are instrumental how our lives play out. We can learn to control or change those beliefs if we pay attention.

My grandmother said, “Birds of a feather stick together.” I had an eccentric psychiatrist friend who insisted she could diagnose any mental patient within a day by turning him loose in the yard and seeing who he made friends with.I thought she was just being outrageous but when I taught school I found it worked. When a student was transferred to a new school because of discipline problems, he  invariably bonded with troublemakers the first day. It was like kids had radar.

One of the first things you hear in 12 Step Programs is, “Stick with the winners.” Soon after, you hear is that geographic cures never work. The great novelist Thomas Hardy said, “Character is fate”. And our pal, RW Emerson said travel was no good because you just carried “ruins to ruins’.

At some level, the idea that we attract who and what we are is an old one. It makes perfect sense to me because I have been studying and teaching Science of Mind and the work of Ernest Holmes, for many years. Our consciousness is the collection of ideas, thoughts, emotions, and beliefs we hold. We form out consciousness from what we have experienced and learned and some of it is deeply personal while other parts are cultural and historical. I personally believe we probably brought some with us at birth.

We want to reinforce the positive parts of our prevailing belief system because that will bring in more positive things to our lives. We can clean up our consciousness and then we will be more loving and hopeful about ourselves and the world. We are confronted with many choices daily  and we can steadily move toward the light.

Life is easier and better when we make positive choices. With attention, we can improve any situation. We can begin today by consciously looking at what we are reading, what ideas we are accepting and what friends  we are choosing. We have a lot of control because there is a Power For Good working in our lives and we can use it.

Life is not as simple as Facebook but the principle of the Law of Attraction is the same. You and I can control the messages we receive in life by the large and small choices we make today. How shall we spend our time? With whom shall we spend our time? What shall we read? What shall we view on TV? We can choose. Some choices can be new and different.

Ask Yourself

How do I choose my friends?

What do I want my message to be today?

Is there anything I want to change today?

ladywithdove