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?

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Farewell, My Ladies

Cocacola-5cents-1900_edit1It was a happy coincidence that Dr. Gina Ogden and Rev. Dr. Maxine Kaye were visiting at the same time of year and an unhappy one when they departed on the same day.

They are each my long-term friends and although they don’t know each other, the three of us have much in common, including optimistic attitudes and impressive resumes. It’s true that birds of a feather flock together and I’ve noticed that my highflying friends tend to resemble eagles. Nearly all of them are independent women of a “certain age”.

When I met Gina in Massachusetts, 35 years ago, we both lived in the Berkshires. She now lives in Cambridge, MA and travels all over the world giving speeches and workshops. She’s become a leader in her field of sex therapy and has written many books including her first, the classic, Women Who Love Sex.

Gina is a therapist who helps people change and, unlike most experts, she’s not afraid to change herself. She walks her talk.When I met her she had a modest practice and she published a Women’s Newspaper. Her outlook mostly political and she promoted the women’s movement. She was the perfect therapist for me.

Next, she stepped into the role of self-help/psychology  writer with amazing speed. Our friendship deepened because of our mutual writing interests. The next years brought her much success, including appearances on Oprah and awards in her field.

During the last decade or so, she’s opened up to a more spiritual side of life. She studied with a South American shaman for a while. Now she’s developed a wonderful new approach to therapy that considers the mental, physical, emotional and spiritual aspects of life. She has a large following in her Isis Network. For more check out www.GinaOgden.com

I’ve known my friend Maxine Kaye for about twenty-five years and I admired her from the day I met her. It is a pleasure to be in Maxine’s company because she consistently sees the bright side of life.

She grew up in the Science of Mind teaching and became a minister at a very early age. Everything about Maxine speaks to the power of a strong spiritual teaching. She is intelligent, beautiful and one of the most loving people I’ve ever met.

Maxine has been my unwitting mentor for many years. As a late-comer to a spiritual approach to living, I had a lot of work to do and I was quite critical but even before I met her personally, I could see her integrity. Maxine’s example was inspirational. She showed me it was possible to truly internalize spiritual living principles.

Over the years we served on many, many Religious Science International committees together, including the Board of Education and Board of Directors. She always saw situations from the best possible viewpoint. She never condemned, gossiped or criticized. I admire her because she also walks her talk.

Maxine and I have travelled our unique ministerial paths as friends. I stayed in the center I founded in Carlsbad and she moved around a bit, but she was always in California. Now she is moving to Boca Raton, FL where she will write her daily inspirations and be a guest speaker and workshop presenter. One Sunshine state loses what another one gains. Whenever Maxine’s in the room, it is lighter and brighter.

She not old enough to retire, of course, so she’s just changing her methods of working. If you want to know how old she is, you’ll have to buy her book because I think of her as a teenager. I will tell you this though – her chronological age is simply numbers. Maxine looks and acts amazingly young. She is living proof that positive spiritual living is truly good for you and for every aspect of your life.

Maxine has written an excellent book, Alive and Ageless and she shares many of her ideas how to stay young. These ideas include diet and exercise tips but everything is truly based on building a youthful, healthy consciousness. You can buy the book from Maxine’s website www.TheConsciousConnections.com, or from http://www.LULU.com or from most Center For Spiritual Living bookstores. Follow her wisdom and I think you will be very happy with the results. You can also subscribe to her daily inspirations, ConsciousConnections.

If you met my friends, Gina and Maxine, you would see they are not much alike. There are many differences but it is the similarities that are important to our new world. They are marvelous examples of an emerging pattern for wise women.

I call Gina, Maxine and most of my other friends the Breakthrough generation. We were born into a world where girls were  supposed to be “sugar and spice and everything nice”. Our goals were to marry young, have nice babies and support our husbands as they built their careers.

Breakthrough Wise Women began as good girls who “behaved ourselves”, but times change and our worlds flowered as we began to claim more of the action for ourselves.We were women who moved ahead of the times.

The women’s movement is taught as ho-hum history these days.  “There was the birth control pill, Betty Friedan, Gloria Steinham, The Sixties explosion and the rest is history”. When we were in those moments, it was terribly personal.

Our journey is quite a story. It took a lot of courage to get from there to where we are now. If you don’t believe me, watch Mad Men.

We lived that history. Whether we were political or not, whether we knew it or not, we were deeply impacted by the women’s movement. For Jane, Maxine and Gina, and most of my other friends, it is very, very personal history.

Although they are several years younger and we are very different people, we share a common experience because we didn’t stick to the expected script. We made choices and we designed lives that were inconceivable when we started out. Think about it. No women ministers. No sexual revolution. No Oprah. No world travel.

Things turned out a lot bigger and better than we expected  because we stepped out on faith.  I love both my friends for many reasons but that shared history is a big part of it. I love it that we designed interesting and successful lives by making brave choices.

Even though I was sad when Gina and Maxine left town, I didn’t want to hold them back. It’s OK to wish people lived closer but it is not OK to try and cage them or to hold back their changes.

These two great ladies have been my friends since cigarettes were sexy and Coca-Cola was a nickel. We have always kept in touch before and we will continue to do so. They will always be in my life even if not in the next room.

I will miss them, of course but I’m glad they are doing what they want to do. I am glad they are living the lives they want to live. I am glad to be a part of the Breakthrough generation.

Ask Yourself

List three major ideas that have changed in your lifetime.

Do you have  friends you miss?

Do you have a friend you want to tell you are proud of?

Do you want to contact a distant friend today?


Compassion Notes

touch3I’ve been in rehab for five and a half weeks and I still don’t have a definite medical diagnosis! While I am obviously getting better, my case is still a medical mystery.

I’m certain I have excellent physical care and my medical needs are being cared for. I believe my job is to focus on my spiritual care. Thank you, Dear Readers, for the way you have helped make that possible.

In the beginning, I couldn’t remember the steps of treatment but I could remember that God and I are one.  I held on tight to God inside and all around me. I was definitely part of the Oneness. I knew God is Love.

I also remembered to be grateful. Even in the hardest times, I remembered to be thankful for my nurses, therapists, doctors, and hospitals. And friends. I was especially grateful for my church friends and family.

It made me happy to know people were praying for me. I have received many messages from colleagues telling me they were praying for me.

Some people may think of me as a “loner” or very independent but that isn’t true. I treasure my friends and this rehab episode has shown me how much I treasure my sense of connection in God and people.

I gratefully depended on other people’s prayers these past weeks and I was very glad for every one of you.  It made me feel wonderful to recognize how many wonderful preachers and practitioners are in my life. When they called or visited, I asked for treatment.

I have been grateful for every visitor, every phone call and every card. I feel rich as I recognize how many wonderful people are in my life.

I do appreciate your prayers and I feel confidant that you folks who praying for me are doing a fine job because I am getting better. Thank you very much for all your prayers and visits and calls. Please keep up the good work.

I have learned a lesson about healing that I want to share with everyone. We all need reminders that we are spiritual beings and, at the same time, when we have a sick person in our lives, we may need reminders that we are also human beings.

In the beginning, it felt as though my spiritual practice was disappearing. I know that is not the truth but I did feel very much more physical than spiritual. You were my lifeline and offered me hope. You are very important.

One of the things we say about the practitioner’s work is that he “knows the truth” for the client even when he or she doesn’t know it for herself. I have personally discovered that. I hope you keep up your good work. for me at the same time I hope to show all my readers how important love and prayer and support mean to anyone.

Won’t you please continue to hold the truth and lend me your consciousness? Believe me, even though I am  better and I can pray for myself,  I still require your help. Our Oneness in God is now a new dimension for me. Your love and prayers are real helpful.

          This rehab episode has deepened my appreciation of how much people need each other when they are in trouble. Yes, it is true that we are never alone because we are with God. It is also true that the love of other humans becomes extremely important when we are perplexed and feeling out of touch with life.

From now on, I will see the Compassionate Care concerns of our churches as a very important service we offer.  I think it a major function of any center or church. (It is also a major part of being a loving friend.

Teaching people to think and live positively is important all the time. It is the real reason we become centers for positive living.

Our Centers For Positive Living support members and friends  in many other ways as well, including metaphysical studies, and social connections. I think Compassionate Care is also very important. In fact, since we are also human as well as spiritual, I am ready to raise prayer and support who are going through hard times to a higher priority.

Many years ago, in a 12 Step Meeting,, I heard a speaker tell a story about the child who wanted her mother to stay by her side until she fell asleep. The mother said, “God is always with you.” The child grabbed her mother’s hand and said, “Yes but I want my God with skin.”

I understand the story better now than I did 38 years ago.

Ask Yourself

Is there anyone I want to reach out to today?

Is there anyone I want to thank?


Staying Positive

now  I am working hard on physical and occupational therapy in rehab. My quest for the demonstration of my healthy and active physical body is going well.  I am clearly getting better.

I still don’t have a clear picture of what is going on but I am over the shock of the sudden change in my health. One day I was well and the next day I was in hospital. It has all gone well but there is much more to do.

Thanks for your concern and for your prayers and please keep up the good work. I sometimes find praying for others is easier than praying for myself because it is easier for me to see the truth about your perfection, wholeness and completion. I see through your appearances more clearly than my own because  it is eaIsier not to believe it.

When I pray for myself, I sometimes get tangled up in wondering what happened and why it happened. I am so grateful for your prayers because, without the prayers of my loved ones, I would not have come this far.

What happened is not the important thing but, in case you are curious, my back was injured and I am unable to stand alone or walk at the time I am writing this.

We hear that challenges present an opportunity to learn and to grow. They also present an opportunity to express gratitude. I am very grateful for this rehab center and the wonderful staff. Everyone is cheerful, optimistic and pleasant all of the time. That’s a big help.

My years of Science of Mind studies also help a great deal. I’d like to believe that my understanding is so great that I never have illness or troubles. Perhaps that will be true some day, but iIn the beginning of this episode, I was in too much pain to help myself much, Knowing that my friends were working for me was a big comfort. It is also true that treatments we do for others are important. I’ve been on both sides of the prayer process and I am living proof. in both ways.

In the beginning, I was in so much pain I was out of it. I relied on the love and wisdom of my family and friends. My daughter, Kate DuViver, and my son-in-law Chuck DuVivier as well as my sister, Anne Seislove and brothers, Mike and John Claypool showed me the love and support that family brings.

Families and friends and spiritual groups all are expressing God in action. I am very fortunate to have a wonderful church family also. Friends and other support groups have helped me. I thank God this is so.

My ministerial friends Mattie Dobbs, Carol Carnes, Lisa Stewart, Lori Mac, Lynn Guilfoyle were all wonderful about visiting, running errands and praying out loud when they were here. Many others are praying silently for me and I am very grateful.

Behind that visible group of supporters is an army of other friends and colleagues who are praying for my fast recovery. Known and unknown well-wishers are making  a definite difference in my recovery.

Everyone can see the difference. Recently, one of the nurses told a visitor that I was getting better even though they might not know why. The visitor friend looked at me and smiled. We share the belief that Spirit comes first.

My church is a tremendous recovery resource – the people, the wisdom and the love are very real and I can feel it all. Thank you for your prayers and love. It is all a part of a giant recovery plan that God has given me and everyone else in need.

I also give great thanks for my wonderful medical support that I have found with my primary and secondary medical staff. I am so grateful for Scripps Hospital Rehab and my new Rehab Center here in Carlsbad.

Consciousness comes first, We can waste time asking ourselves what went wrong and how did it happen? Or we can focus on the  desired solution. Anything we believe will be a part of our healing process will help.

I believe in traditional medicine as well as spiritual healing. I remember my first Pastor, Dr. Frank Richelieu, saying “All knowledge is God-given.” I believed him then and I believe him now.

Long ago, I decided my job includes selecting the best medical treatment I can find and then following the instructions of my medical advisors plus the healing principles of Science of Mind.  Dr. Ernest Holmes,  founder of Religious Science, said  that it is not a choice between spirit and matter but that everything has its basis in Spirit.

It seems to me that right now, I am in the perfect place to fully  accept the spiritual truth of my perfection. I am grateful to be in medical facilities  that accept prayer as a healing modality. More than one doctor and nurse has offered the opinion that prayer helps.

I know the most important part of my personal healing process is to use spiritual mind treatment and remember the Truth that sets me free.

This rehab center is a wonderful place and I believe that my getting a private room here is a direct result of my daughter’s prayers. She did the search and God guided her to this wonderful set up. The room is filled with good colors – warm, buttery yellow and soft aqua accents. I am very sensitive to the healing power of color and couldn’t be happier about the color palette.

I am still careful to limit my visitors to a few daily because I am busy with other activities such as therapy. If you want to visit, please call in advance. If you want to contact me, please send cards or well wishes to the Church or by email.

I will try to keep the blogs up more regularly now that I am feeling a bit better.  I think it is a service to write honestly, even when things are less than perfect on the level of appearances so that we can all recognize the Truth that sets us free.

 Love, Dr. Jane

Ask Yourself

Last time I was in trouble, what people  helped me?

Is this a good time to send them a thank you note?

Can you list 10 people who really helped you get though any tough spot in your life?

Do you want to write a thank you note?


Best Friends

touch3Note: first posted on Sept 30, 2011 reprinted Sept 17.2013 | Author: janeclaypool | Filed under: General | Modify: Edit this | Leave a comment »

I hang up on from a phone call with a very good friend and I feel full of gratitude that she is  well and happy, that I am well and happy, and that we are in each other’s lives. Over the past twenty years we have been though many changes but our friendship has always been there. We have supported each other through good and not so good times. There have been laughs and tears and lots of shared history. My life is richer because of my friend.Good friends are really important and they must be nurtured in order to thrive. When I was a girl, switching “best friends” whenever we got a new hobby was common. So was  dropping our girlfriends when we got a new boyfriend and I can remember how that could hurt.

Growing up means treating friends as though they are appreciated. Our good, long lasting friendships are precious. If we are not careful, we forget to tell them how much they mean to us. We should also understand that there are times when we need to be there for a good friend when they are in need, even if it is inconvenient. Friendship is definitely reciprocal if it is to work over a long time.

Treasuring a good friend is a lot different from building a network for our business or social ambitions. It is also different from loving our family because they were born to be our connections. Making friends involves choices and choosing good friends is a consequence of knowing who we are. There are plenty of people on Facebook and they may be listed as friends but it takes time and common experiences to develop a real friendship.

Not all friends from the past need to be carried into your world of today. It is wonderful to keep your friends from high school or college but if you want a healthy balance you will have to develop some new ones along the way. Especially as we age, people’s lives and situations as well as interests change. Some move away, some change, some die, some simply take a different path in life. So if you only stick with your old friends, you can end up with a very narrow world as time marches on.

It seems to me that we should try to cultivate new friends and, at the same time, treasure the old ones. As always, balance is the key to intelligent living. No one can have an unlimited number of close friends but beware the person who insists that he or she must be your only friend. “Best friends” works better in 7th grade than in adulthood.

One of the best ways to meet friends is to find a people you enjoy who have similar interests. These days, most of my friends are people I’ve met in my spiritual activities; once they nearly all came from my 12 Step program. Before that, most of them came from my writing activities. I still have a couple of friends from every one of those previous interests because they are a part of me and my history. Most of all, these treasured old friends have qualities that resonate in wonderful ways.

What kind of people make the best friends? I love the ones who are always there for you. They can be there in times of need and they are wonderful. On the other hand, the ones who make me laugh are fabulous. I also love the ones who are interested and excited about new ideas and activities. And then there are my deep thinker friends and my deep believer friends. It varies from day to day so I guess they are all my best friends.

Ask Yourself            

What old friend can I contact today?

What new person can I get to know better and maybe make a friend?


Appreciation

touch3Someone from New York City came to church yesterday. She’d been carrying around an article I wrote for two years.   She wanted to meet me because the article was important to her. I can’t tell you how much her visit pleased me.

It is a wonderful thing when someone reaches out to praise an author for something they’ve written. I used enjoy the fan letters when I wrote for teenagers. But this was different because the writing came from my heart and I had a clear intention to be helpful.

In fact, hearing that my work helped someone is just about the best thing that could happen to a spiritual writer. We are  dedicated to helping people and we don’t always hear from our readers. That young woman not only made my day, she made my week and a lot longer.

I felt appreciated and valued. It was quite different from having friends tell me they liked one of my blogs. This was a young woman I’d never met, from three thousand miles away, who carried my inspirational words with her all the time. She made my work seem very special.

I felt appreciated and I appreciated her. We had a great visit in a short time. I saw that exchange was like dropping a pebble of Love that rippled outward and outward. It was a bright spot in my day and I’m sure my good mood impacted others because good news travels fast.

Any honest expression of appreciation that we give or receive is a treasure that should be noticed and taken to heart. When were you last praised? Did you take the time to treasure it? Sometimes it is instructive to make notes of the praise and compliments you receive. You will brighten your life by paying attention to the appreciation others are expressing toward you. It will raise your self esteem.

On that same subject, ask yourself if you give praise easily? Or often?  When was the last time you wrote a note to your favorite author? How about your favorite teacher in school? Do you tell your friends how much you appreciate them? Giving appreciation feels really good. The emotional lift comes with giving as well as receiving.

The best part of telling someone you appreciate them because of something special about them or their work,  is that appreciation works both ways. Not only do you speak up and help someone see his or her own worth, your expression of appreciation is a message that goes into the Universal Mind. Spirit will find a way to return it to you. That’s the way spiritual law works.

Some people fall into the belief that there is a shortage. It’s as though there is not enough personal value to go around. They never express appreciation for anyone else. We all have known competitive people who try to make someone else bad so that they can feel good. They do not yet understand that there is no shortage of good will or personal value. Life is not a contest.

If Maxine Kaye or Carol Carnes is a good writer, that doesn’t mean I am a bad one. It means there are three good writers in this paragraph. And many more on this planet! If we start to talk about which writer is better, the conversation soon becomes nonsense! How can we compare Hemingway to Austen when they are so unique?

Life is not a contest. There is no shortage. We all have unique value and we can appreciate each other without diminishing anyone else.  In fact, the fastest remedy for a competitive attitude is to begin to compliment others. He or she will quickly discover there is enough praise to go around. The praise that is given will find a way to return, pressed down and multiplied.

What do you believe would happen if you added appreciation to your spiritual practice? Are you willing to experiment?

If you want to learn to appreciate yourself, you can start by recognizing the value of others and expressing gratitude. You will see a boomerang effect very quickly. Begin to make it a habit to say thank you to others. Make it a habit to express praise for the things that others do that add value to your life.

When you attend church, don’t just praise the ministers and musicians because they do another good job. At the same time, look for those volunteers who are generally ignored. They work on set up, bringing and arranging the flowers, making coffee, on the sound system, or teaching Sunday School. These people all do valuable work and so we should praise them for a job well done. Appreciate them.

In general, begin to notice the things that people do for you and give genuine praise for their efforts. Soon, you will begin to understand that you live in a loving world and your life is touched by many wonderful people. Our civilization is built on cooperation and trust. Praise the civilized people in your world.

People who serve you and your lifestyle are important to your well being. If you are alert, you can praise their contributions and brighten their days. Often, you will find that the service you receive becomes  even more enthusiastic. You and the recipient of your praise will be happier for the exchange.

The Law of Attraction is well known in New Thought circles. What you are focusing on is important. This is expressed over and over again, in every Sunday talk and in bestselling books such like The Secret. This spiritual law is also expressed in sayings such as, “What goes around comes around.”

I say, “Focus on the solution, not the problem.” You can train you mind to stop obsessing about what’s wrong and start believing that your desires are possible.  Let the problem stew in its own juices. You don’t need to add to the mess. Begin by asking, “What do I want to see happen?” If you focus on the desired solution, you draw it toward you.

You can experiment and prove the Law of Attraction in your own life. Make notes of your results. During the next month, make it a game to honestly praise as many people as you can. Thank people for the way they interact with you. File a favorable report on your favorite grocery checker’s work. Tell important people in your life (such as your children) how much you appreciate them.

Open your heart and make appreciation your way of life. Don’t hold praise back for fear it won’t continue to improve. Praise what you love and watch it grow.

The people in your life want to please you and they need your approval. Make it a point to notice the good stuff. Send notes and small gifts for special service.

If you are honest with yourself, you will see that your life is smoother as you learn to use praise as a positive living tool.

Ask Yourself

What happened today that I can praise?

How many ways can I thank people this week?

Do I see the unrecognized helpers?


Blog on Blogging

powerquote_nMy blog is two years old this week and I’m still a happy writer. The subscriber base is at 250. While that readership isn’t what I hoped for, it is definitely more than I expected.  I love the instant gratification of blogging. On the other hand…

I have always been impatient. Being in a hurry runs in my family, so I suppose it is in my DNA. Or maybe we were just birds in a flurry who flocked together and called ourselves the Whitaker-Claypool species.

All I can tell you is that nothing I do is ever enough at the same time I’ve always enjoyed every job I ever had. I find work fascinating. When I followed my bliss it turned out to be more work.

In my lifetime, I’ve had excellent jobs in fashion sales, teaching, folk-art shopkeeping, real estate, writing and the ministry. Work was always a source of enjoyment for me and probably will always be. I am especially happy writing my blog although I’d hoped to sell more of my books off the blog bookstore than I have so far. My plan was that if readers liked my for-free blogs, they’d love my for-sale books. Ah well, the best laid plans of mice and writers.

So far, my business plan hasn’t exactly worked. But, it really isn’t about the money. It’s about connection – connection to God, to you, and to myself. Work is about expressing my God-given nature – Love. Every job I’ve ever had was of use to others or I had to move on. I could not imagine only helping myself.

Retirement frightened me. When I moved into the Minister Emeritus position at church, I wasn’t well. Actually, I was very ill and I got better. I taught a few classes and spoke some but I still had a lot of free time and it scared me. Does free time frighten you?

In the beginning of my semi-retirement, I read a lot of silly novels and watched a lot of silly movies. That was fun but then it wasn’t so much fun anymore. I wanted to be useful again.

I did start a book on Spiritual Practice and, once again, I was impatient. The project seemed like a big commitment, and I was busy helping other people write their books. (My Spiritual Practice book really is almost finished and I’m telling myself not to be impatient.) Books are not short adventures – they are a serious undertakings.

In contrast, blogs are pure fun. My blog has been well received. After a bit of practice, I can write and publish a blog in four to six hours. That’s a good day’s work for a retired person.

I know there are more readers than those listed as subscribers. I get nice comments and people they tell me they enjoy the essays. At our recent CSL Conference at Asilomar, several people I didn’t know complimented my blog. Recently, a few ministers asked me questions about writing a blog of their own. I definitely encouraged them.

I believe everyone can enjoy blogging. It is a chance to help others and learn more about yourself. It is useful. The time involved and the subject matter are optional. I am fussy and I write long  posts. Many people write only a few daily lines.  Nearly all of us have used journaling as a self-discovery tool.  A blog is only a couple of steps away from journaling. Blogs can also be a spiritual practice.

One difference stands out. Your journal is personal while a blog is intended for others to read. The writer must offer something that amuses, inspires, instructs, or connects with his readers. That said, no topic is for everyone but there is someone for every topic.

Are you interested in writing a blog? The first step is to imagine what your might like to write about and who you think your audience may be. Freedom to write whatever I wanted was important to me. I decided I could include memories and opinions about political and social issues as well as spiritual principles. I would aim for twice a week but give myself permission to skip once in a while.

Blogging  is a great if you have something unique to say. Whoever you are, no matter what you know, you must plan before you begin. This stage will be short for some  and take a long time for others but it must be done.

Your chosen topic should also be something that will hold your interest and something you know about. Simply musing about the good old days will bore your readers unless you are as clever as Andy Rooney. I do write about them sometimes, but I attempt to make the old days relevant to my reader’s current life.

Whether you are interested in blogging or not, you might enjoy perusing other blogs on the internet. Individual blogs have “tags” so you can run searches easily. Keep your searches current and subscribe to the ones you enjoy.  I subscribe to several blogs about books and history. What topics would you like to explore?

If you are personally interested in blogging ask yourself what topics you know about. Why not spend  time for a few days making list of subjects  you know about as a part of your spiritual practice?

Topics for blogs are fascinating but they don’t have to be rocket science. There are blogs on cooking cassarole dishes, grammer, Greek history, raising triplets, aiding the elderly and losing weight, and thousands of other subjects.

Blog subjects are so creative they amaze us. One writer wrote a blog for my local paper about living on the State’s food subsidy money. There was a movie about Julia Child and a young woman who set out to cook every recipe in Child’s cookbook. It was based on her blog.

What do you know about?  It will be a great spiritual practice for improving your self -esteem to list topics. You will be surprised how many activities and interests you are proficient in when you do this.

Before you begin to actually write your blog, learn from every writing class I’ve ever taken by imagining your ideal reader. Who is she?  What do you know that she doesn’t? That’s a great way to find your  topics for posts.

The next writing lesson I can pass on is to ask yourself what you enjoy reading . That may give you a clue about what you should write.  F/Y/I  I read two spiritual blogs every day and although my blogs don’t resemble them, they inspire me. These blogs are from Dr. Carol Carnes and Dr. Maxine Kaye. You can access them by going to ccinlove@aol.com and drmaxinekaye@constantconnections.com .

Just for fun, pretend you believe you have something to say and you know you are powerful . Your pretense or   “acting as if”  will be exciting and instructive. Go through the suggested blog planning steps and see what happens.

Ask Yourself

Do I journal now?

Would I like to blog?

What blogs do I read?

What do I know about?

Who would like to read about my knowledge?