My mother, Rev. Dr. Jane Claypool, made her transition out of physical form on 10/31/14. I was lucky enough to be with her, so I know it was an instantaneous event – for which I am grateful. However it was very unexpected, as she had just conquered pneumonia once again. After writing her daily gratitude list, she finished up this blog before deciding to go the emergency room. We had been laughing with a friend about Halloween and were having a good morning. She had a new drawing too…..(I will post more of her drawings later). A lovely Celebration of Life memorial service was held on 11/15/14. Please call the Center for Spiritual Living Carlsbad at 760-434-9579 if you would like more information. The website is http://www.CSLCarlsbad.org. All Love To You…. Kate DuVivier
I’ve been spending a lot of time talking about my life because Amanda, one of my dear helpers, asks me many questions. I suppose any life is fascinating when the audience is sixty years younger.
Amanda can’t imagine growing up without TV. She can’t imagine doing the wash before clothes dryers, or heating up food before microwaves. She is fascinated with black and white movies.
Since I am on a diet of happy stories, we often choose old movies. She loves the 1930 screwball comedies we watch in the evening and says they are better because the stories “have more talking.” I agree.
Of course, the very best movies were made in 1939, when I was only six years old, and Hollywood was at its triumphant height. I’ve told her that my three siblings and I went to the movies every Saturday afternoon and paid 12 cents to be admitted but I haven’t been clear on the dates. I started going to the movies alone in the 1940’s after World War Two. The films we saw as children included nasty propaganda pot boilers. I had nightmares about Germans chasing me until I was a woman in her thirties.
Turner Classic Movie channel skips many of those horribly prejudiced flicks. I use my DVR to skip all the war pictures. We all engage in some form of censorship, I suppose.
I imagine Amanda’s idea of my war years in the movie house is filled with Clark Gable tap dancing in a European castle just before World War Two breaks out. Or maybe her favorite is Cary Grant taking prat falls before World War Two breaks out. Then there is Charlie Chaplin impersonating Hitler just before World War Two breaks out.
We know history is unreliable. For starters, it is written by the winners and winners see the picture from their viewpoint.
Our personal histories are also unreliable. We tend to romanticize our memories. When I talk to Amanda about my early years during the Depression, I don’t remember much but I speak as if it were a charming story. My parents become delightful young kids who struggled to keep their four children alive. I say things like, “They kept us together in the midst of the Troubles. They kept us alive!”
That’s true, of course and it is a fact that plenty of men left their wives and children behind to become hoboes. It is also true that some women starved to death and many children were sent to orphanages because their parents couldn’t feed them.
In the current version of my childhood, there is nothing about the humiliation of poverty and nothing of the shame when relatives brought groceries and deposited them on the table without a smile. That was also there but the story of the Depression years skips straight to a happy ending. World War Two broke out and there were plenty of jobs!
When I told this personal history story during my twenties and thirties, my story sounded very tragic. The reasons why my life was so tragic piled up until they took the form of a long, and twisted litany of despair. In those days I believed I was marked for tragedy.
It is true I had a difficult beginning with the early death of my young husband but it was also true that I had sixty or more years ahead of me. I wasn’t doomed to anything. I had plenty of choices along the way. In my twenties, I thought my story was over but it was just beginning.
That’s a common mistake. We tend to see wherever we are as the end of the story even though the story goes on and on. And on Life is always presenting us choices and if we miss the brass ring the first time, we usually get another turn to catch it again.
One of the most delightful discoveries about my current age is the fascinating changes and insights that present themselves. I’ve enjoyed many personal discoveries as I’ve moved along life’s pathway. In fact, I am now at a place where I understand that life is always presenting possibilities.
There is a famous poem by Robert Frost called the The Road Not Taken and it talks about taking the road less traveled. It ends with, “Two roads diverged in a wood, and I–I took the one less traveled by, And that has made all the difference.”
It’s a great poem that says you always get more than one chance. If you have the consciousness to attract a choice of true love, you will have another chance later. Same is true of making a fortune. You’ll have more than one big chance.
I missed my chance to be a famous writer in the 1960’s but the chance returned in the 1980’s. The same pattern was also there in my search for true love. Life is a series of wonderful repetitive choices.
My life still offers plenty of choices. Last week, I wrote a blog about my stay in a nursing home. I had a choice to tell it like it was or simply be grateful to be home.
I might have skipped over the whole experience and written about any number of subjects including gratitude, or the power of supportive friendships. That would have an expected road for a retired minister of a Center For Spiritual Living Center.
When I started these blogs, I promised myself I’d be honest, as positive and helpful to readers as possible, and that my essays would be mostly about Science of Mind.
Most of all, I promised myself I’d be honest. All of those choices would have been honest. However, the stay in the nursing home was top of my mind and I was full of energy about how dreadful that place was.
I had some other choices that would have been slightly less honest; I could lie and say everything was wonderful, or I could write about some unrelated subject.
I chose the road less travelled by! I didn’t want to skip the subject because I was still steaming full of energy about my stay so I wrote what I wrote. You can read the blog, Miss Me?, in the archives.
I had other choices. I could have named the place but my understanding is that it is one of the best so the issues were generic. I could have called the nurses lazy but I could see they were trying hard and overworked. As of now, I have received more comments about that blog than any I’ve ever written. They were all in agreement and several were interested in participating or starting a drumming circle. If you get a chance, take a look at the comments since they are truly honest and intelligent.
Looking back on your choices is always interesting. As I look back on the choice I made last week, I can see that I made a good choice and I’m glad I did. Maybe several readers will work on starting or participating in a drumming circle. I do believe that will help clients, their loved ones and nursing homes.
While we can’t always predict the outcome of our choices, an honest, well meaning choice can be effective. And if it doesn’t turn out well, you always have plenty of other choices to follow.
Am I looking at any difficult choices now?
What do I have to choose?
What do I want to do?
Are my possibilities honest?
Are my possibilities well meaning?
Some people in New Thought set their intention for the day every morning. I do a version of that by writing, “Another day to be glad in” and I list ten things I am grateful for. Beyond gladness, my intention is sometimes fuzzy. I can struggle with choice when it comes to making plans for my day.
Since I’m semi-retired, I sometimes have a bit of a challenge deciding what to do. I have plenty of great choices but they’re not usually urgent. While that’s good news it also can be the bad news.
I’m working on several projects but I have no regular job so, with the exception of my commitment to ministerial class, everything else is choice. Hard to believe that freedom of choice can be a problem, isn’t it?
That freedom sounded wonderful in the days when I was up at the crack of dawn to teach English five days a week. Although I had more choice over managing time when I was selling real estate, or writing for teens, or running the church, my urgent to-do list was generally packed.
Now I have a flexible – vaguely normal schedule that includes prayer, meditation, prayer partners, writing and research, errands, art activities, social phone calls and social activities. There are also the necessary but still pretty flexible errands, household chores, exercise.
Usually, I know what I plan to do on a particular day but some days, I do my early morning stuff and then I am in a quandary. Quandary is one of those words like yonder. It exists but nobody knows where it is.
Shall I take a drive to the ocean? Call a friend? Work on my new book? Watch a movie? Write in my journal? Draw and paint? Usually, I make a quick choice and celebrate with gratitude that I have the health, wealth and time to enjoy life. Those are the good news days.
Other days I have to climb out of my quandary before I can do anything. That’s usually when what I really desire is to read one of my historical novels. The trouble with that choice is that I always feel that reading fiction is a bit sinful, like eating chocolate or staying in bed till noon.
Old habits die hard. I learned to feel guilty about that choice because when I was a child I was a compulsive reader. I simply went into the book and stayed until it was over. I am still determined to finish when I start a novel. When I read Gone With the Wind, I become Scarlet. And what’s more, I love being Scarlet.
During my full-time ministerial career, I didn’t read very much fiction. I would gleefully take six or seven paperbacks in my suitcase when I was going to conferences but that was like a vacation. Usually, I taught classes nearly every evening and worked in the church during in the daytime. I really didn’t have much spare time.
When I stepped down from being a pastor, I delighted in my return to fiction. I am now enjoying my novels a great deal. It is one of the gifts of growing older and I’ve learned to appreciate books even more as the movies and television seem aimed at twenty year olds.
However, old habits die hard. This morning, I wanted to finish the book I started last night but I chose to start writing this blog instead. If not today, it would be tomorrow. Since then, I’ve taken two phone calls and spent two hours on errands.
Those things needed to be done and I thought today was a good day to do them. I take full responsibility. I wanted to talk on the telephone to people I love. The errands were better done today because heads into the weekend. My choices were mine and they seemed sensible.
The important thing is that I know that I am not a victim. I don’t feel sorry for myself. If I had chosen to read all day, I still would not have felt guilty. It is my day and my choices!, Whatever choices they are, I claim them. I am so grateful to Science of Mind for showing me that I have free will and can exercise it every day of my life. I am so grateful to know how free I am.
In college, I heard about an experiment with rats that proved that two positive choices created as much stress as two negative choices. That fact haunted me and it seemed better not be offered too much. Then Science of Mind helped me figure out that it was my inability to deal with choices that was haunting.
I am not a rat! I can handle two positive choices! I do it all the time.
There was a time when I would get stuck in decisions over what to do and feel absolutely trapped. I felt as though I was at the mercy of life, whether it came in the form of chocolate or a new novel. Feeling trapped led me to experience guilt or feel sorry for myself. I am so glad that’s healed because I don’t need negative emotions.
Today, I celebrated my choice by delaying my reading until I wrote the blog. I also delayed my blog writing long enough to do the errands and phone calls. I’m happy with every choice I made. It’s a wonderful feeling to be happy instead of guilty, mistreated or frustrated. I will read this evening.
Won’t you join with me in knowing that we always have choices? Even if something happens that is outside our control, we can choose our responses. While it is true that we can’t do everything we want, all at one time, it is also true that we can decide what to do first.
This has been a great day. I celebrate the wisdom and the power of my experiences. I celebrate the fact that I don’t have any reason to feel like a victim. I celebrate that I know what I know.
Do good choices confuse or stress you?
How do you decide what to do first?
Do you feel comfortable with your choices today?
What would you like to choose for tomorrow?