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?

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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?


Pet Talk

When my daughter took care of me during a fairly serious illness, she would sometimes go home for a few minutes to watch her kittens play. It was her way of handling stress. Being with pets is apparently one of the best possible meditations when you are worried about your mom. That was quite a while ago but I thought about it recently when she gave me an old magazine article about what people learned from their pets.

Everyone has heard by now that people who live with pets are healthier, happier and live longer. Until I read the article in the July issue of Simple Life magazine, I had never thought of pets as life coaches but why not? Learning life skills makes a lot of sense when you think about it. Doggies know a lot about love and fish know a lot about setting boundaries.

The author of the article, Silas Neal, cited stories about pets that taught their owners all sorts of wonderful life skills. They ranged from cats teaching assertiveness training to a parrot that cured his owner of cursing. Seems the bird pronounced a “choice” word during the minister’s visit.

My favorite story was from the woman who learned not to be a materialist. Her puppy chewed up her shoes and she told herself that, “stuff is just stuff.” I don’t think of myself as a materialist but my home is so filled with “stuff,” that I think maybe I ought to get a puppy.

I won’t really get a puppy for two reasons. First – I live on a very busy street and my yard is almost impossible to fence. The other reason I don’t have pets is my “tragic history”. Growing up, my father was very enthusiastic about having pets but had absolutely no interest in training them. His taste ran to the exotic and pedigreed kind of animals. He would introduce them to the household and then move onto a different hobby.

The memorable Siamese cats were called Sue Lin and I forget her brother. I’ll never forget Sue Lin who jumped from the floor all the way to my shoulders and then dug in hard. She did this amazing athletic feat on an hourly basis. Her brother was a hunter and brought dead birds in to lay on my pillow in the morning. He was the affectionate one, and except for bird carcasses, easy to get along with.

My Dad also  raised fancy Weimeraner dogs for a while. We sometimes had as many as seven roaming the house. They chewed up all my best shoes but that didn’t teach me to be a non-materialist . Nor did I learn to put my shoes on a higher shelf. I reacted by feeling more like a victim than ever. That victim response increased when the dogs dragged embarrassing trash through the living room when my boyfriends came to call.

These teenage tragedies were more than 60 years ago and I still retain the scars and grievances. While I don’t actually dislike animals, I’m not emotionally equipped to learn from pets. I prefer to stick with my gurus, Ernest Holmes, Carol Carnes, and Maxine Kaye.

I have actually owned pets twice. I tried to keep cats but my neighborhood teems with coyotes and rattlesnakes. After a couple of heartbreaking and expensive incidents, I gave up so you might say I did learn something from those pets. I learned to quit while I was money ahead.

For a very short time, I had a cute little dog named Sigmund but he ran away so often that I stopped chasing him. He reminded me of some of the men in my life and it was not a happy memory. I guess I may have learned something  about letting go from Sigmund. Or not.

I’m perfectly happy for my daughter and son-in-law, (who live right up the street) to have pets. I enjoy visiting them and when their old dog, Jack died, I mourned him for months.

I also had a niece who lived with me for quite a while and she had a dog “with issues”. That worked out because she was in charge of her pet. The dog was neurotic – he would stand in the hall and bark when he saw me but after about a year, we managed to establish a truce.

I had a different roommate who had a bird. She walked around the house talking to the bird who sat on her shoulder. I think the bird could fly but I never saw it actually do it. As far as I know, my roommate was the only one who could talk in their conversations; I never heard the bird answer her.

My niece may have learned patience from her dog. Perhaps my roommate developed her psychic powers from her bird. Do you have a pet? Have you learned anything from your pet? I’d love to hear from you.

Sometimes I daydeam about getting a pet even though I know it’s not a great idea. My sister has had a series of darling little doggies. She also has a nice little park in which to take her doggies for walks. Sometimes I think I suffer from pet envy. It is probably not pet envy – just delayed sibling rivalry.

I’m also a little jealous of the attention some people give to their pets. One of my best friends acquired a puppy a few years ago and she and her doggie came to stay for a few days. My friend talked to her doggie more than she talked with me but then, her doggie was cuter.

While I may not be much of a pet fancier, I do like to play mental games – especially when I am leading workshops. One of my favorite sets of questions goes like this… “What kind of flower are you? What kind of color are you? What kind of music are you? What kind of dessert are you? What kind of fruit are you? What kind of animal are you?

My answers are; tulip, orange, old time blues, peach pie, apple, and elephant,.

What would be your answers?

I suppose I could use my workshop questions the way some people use their pets. My elephant answer could teach me to know myself better. An elephant is steady, strong, slow, empathetic and magical.

And what is your animal like?

Ask Yourself

What have your pets taught you?

Why do you think pets help people live longer and better lives?