Getting Gladder

dareA friend, who was born in 1908, taught me to say, “Another day to be glad in” the first thing every morning. She learned it from her mother who was born around 1880. I now  teach it to people who were born in the 1990’s. That’s how wisdom grows, expands and evolves.

Some people are certain life is getting worse, not better. They talk about the “good old days” when life was simpler and better. Some believe in places like Shangri-La, ignoring the fact that the old movie is Hollywood fiction. Other people believe in lost islands of perfection such as Atlantis where everyone was spiritually advanced.

Actually, life is getting better all the time because we gain wisdom as we age and we learn from our mistakes. We impart that wisdom to the next generation. Individual lives vary but in general, we are living better now than we did in the past.

Being a caveman or woman makes good reading in the funny papers but there was no fire to keep us warm or cook our possums. And can you imagine childbirth in the Middle Ages? How about illness before we knew about germs?

There were some dreadful side effects to the industrial revolution but we enjoy the inventions the Age of Progress brought. Technology has improved many things. In my lifetime, I have seen so many labor saving and entertainment devices introduced to my home that it is hard to count them all. I once lived without TV and hung my clothes on outdoor lines.

Our emotional and spiritual natures have also improved. There was a time when theologians seriously doubted if women had souls and witches were burned at an astonishing rate. Only men could speak in church and women had to wear hats so their flowing locks wouldn’t tempt the men.

It’s fun to daydream about Somewhere Over The Rainbow where troubles melt like lemon drops but it simply isn’t true. Life was harder in the old days.

We are much better off today. Travel is easier. Food is better. Health is better. Our collective wisdom has improved things. Slavery may not be totally eradicated but it is rare and considered criminal instead of normal. Child labor is frowned on everywhere and usually against the law.  Thank God we educate girls in nearly every part of the world.

I also believe that people are growing wiser and kinder every day.  Think about it.  Aren’t you growing more loving and less judgmental as you mature? Aren’t you more interested in others than you were as a self-centered teenager?When life is longer and gentler, it follows that people treat each other better.

Ancient Egypt was supposed to be the seat of all spiritual wisdom but  it was a brutal place for the average man who  lived to be 35. Longevity enables us to mature spiritually. The phrase “We are one,”  takes on deeper meaning when we have young loved ones. Every age brings special joys.

We tend to glorify childhood but if you watch the park playground, you will notice that children are just learning to share. In fact, sharing is a major part of the kindergarten curriculum. Yes, I believe we are created as perfect, whole and complete and I observe that it takes most of us a while to discover our perfection. Most of us  improve with age.

We love the innocence of childhood but innocence implies the need to learn. Yes, kids can teach us some things but most of the time, we must teach the children. If the Master Teacher really told us to  become like children to enter the gates of heaven, we shouldn’t take that advice literally. No sensible adult aims for a return to childhood.  We call that senility.

It’s  best not to take the Bible literally. I would interpret the phrase “become like little children” to mean releasing the resentment and pain of the past. And the best way to release those old grievances and sad stories is to live in gratitude each day.

Wisdom can be learned and taught and that is how humans fulfill some of their spiritual potential. We are here to express God and the goodness of life and we expand in spiritual wisdom as we remember to be grateful. In New Thought, we define God as an ever-expanding evolutionary principle. Spirit is Infinite Power, Infinite Love, and Infinite Possibility. That word infinite means no limits. Spirit has no limits and neither do we.

We also know that we bring more of what we focus on into our lives. We keep our thoughts as light and bright as we can to bring more lightness and brightness to us. Over the years, I have learned to train my mind toward optimism and to lighten my dark moods.

How about you? Do you start your days with joy and enthusiasm? Do you believe life is good and getting better? Are you willing to learn? Do you want better days?

If you wish for better days but doubt the possibility your life could improve, why not experiment? Start a simple spiritual practice based on thanksgiving. Gratitude is a powerful tool and everyone can use it to kickstart the Law of Attraction.

What works for others must surely work for you because we are one. I’ve learned to use one of the  simplest and most effective spiritual practices I’ve encountered in my many years of study.

Here it is:  Before you finish your first cup of coffee in the morning, write “Another day to be glad in,” in your notebook. Then list ten things (or more) that you are grateful for.

I  believe you will find this is truly a mind and heart expanding practice, especially as it becomes a treasured habit. It will work in any situation. I’ve seen it pull people out of deep depression when practiced faithfully. I’ve often had it turn around  a day that promised difficulty but turned out great. Gratitude is a lot like magic.

There is always something to be grateful for. There are always people you love, natural things you admire, entertainments you enjoy, a some surprise event like a baby’s smile or a phone call to enjoy and put on your list.

Your list doesn’t have to be complicated. Just note the simplest things, like your coffee, your doggie, your petunias, tomorrow’s football game or your favorite aunt’s name.   By making the list, you take control and you will no longer feel so helpless. It will lift your spirits.

We can all control our emotional mindset if we acquire simple techniques such as gratitude lists. It took me a long time to learn that truth but I accept it now. I used to want to blame conditions or other people but I rejoice that I am in charge of my emotional life now.

Wisdom grows through our experience. Because we are intelligent humans, we can also learn from other people’s experiences. Even a simple idea such as taking charge of our emotions can be learned through practice. Sometimes it takes a while to embrace obvious truths but it can be done.

Ask Yourself

What’s on my list today?

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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?


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?


The New Transcendentalists

Walden PondMy friends, the Zagwyns, are in Massachusetts this summer so they sent me photos of some Transcendentalist landmarks, including Walden Pond. They knew I’d love to see and hear all about this amazing spiritual vortex. This is the birthplace of the Transcendentalist movement and New Thought followed closely behind. I like to think of us as the New Transcendentalists.

 If you attend a Center for Spiritual Living Center or follow New Thought some other way, your lineage includes a group of distinguished American thinkers called Transcendentalists. Ralph Waldo Emerson, Henry David Thoreau, Margaret Fuller, Bronson Alcott and Walt Whitman are among them. You have a very proud heritage.

The early New Thought writers all quoted Emerson and for many, many years, he was the best known, most quoted and most widely read of all American authors. For example, my mother could quote Emerson poems by heart.

It is difficult for us to imagine how much impact Emerson had because his ideas are all around us today and they don’t seem that original. However, he was a revolutionary influence in the fields of philosophy, religion, and literature. His ideas about finding God in Nature, self-reliance and trusting ourselves branded the character of this nation as democratic and self-reliant.

Emerson was trained as a Congregational minister but he did not believe in some of the rituals, including communion. He decided to become a writer and platform speaker instead. In 1836, he published an essay called Nature. It was not particularly well received but now it is a standard reading in college English classes.

The same year Nature was published, Emerson helped establish an informal group popularly called the Transcendentalists. This group originally gathered to discuss new ideas from Europe; instead, they became the birthplace of independent American thinking. The Transcendentalists were important founders of abolition, women’s suffrage, and authentic American literature as well as opening up traditional religious thinking.

Emerson was the central figure in the movement. During the next fifty years, Emerson wrote and spoke all over the nation and in parts of Europe. His essays included SelfReliance, Compensation, Spiritual Laws and the Over Soul. Our CSL class on Emerson includes these and other essays as well as some history of the era.

So many of the ideas and attitudes that we think of as distinctly American come from the works of Emerson and the Transcendentalists. It is hard to imagine a world without them. It is also extremely difficult to imagine Religious Science without Transcendentalism.

Emerson found God everywhere and Ernest Holmes accepted the immanence of God as an absolute truth. Emerson said we should be self-reliant and listen to our hearts. Holmes believed that our intuition was a pathway to God’s wisdom. Emerson wrote, “To thine own self be true”. Holmes said, “Every man knows the truth.”

Ralph Waldo Emerson was born 1804 and died 1889. He was Harvard educated but he urged American intellectuals to take a self-reliant attitude and stop looking toward the European past. He consistently called for an authentic American voice in literature. Emerson said many wise things, including “Imitation is suicide.”

Ernest Holmes was born 1902 and died 1956. He was a self-educated thinker who combined Emerson’s idealism with mental healing techniques. The 1937 Science of Mind Textbook is one of the most influential books of the 20th century.

The two men lived in entirely different worlds, even though they were New Englanders, because of the differences in life at their different times. Despite these material differences, Emerson and Holmes had much in common. Both were born into families with dominant mothers and absent fathers. Both had brothers, but no sisters. Both men were precocious, avid readers and showed amazing promise at an early age. Emerson entered Harvard at 14. Holmes dropped out of school because he was bored and studied independently.

Both were born in New England. Emerson lived his whole life around Boston – most of it in Concord, and that was the vortex of intellectual power in his time. His neighbors and friends were some of the most brilliant people in US history. Margaret Fuller, Bronson Alcott, Herman Melville, Nathaniel Hawthorne, Theodore Parker and in New York City, Walt Whitman were all his good friends.

Holmes chose to move to the creative center of his time – Los Angeles. His congregation was filled with movie stars, and one of his main financial contributors was the man who subdivided Bel Aire. The Institute he established included Asian religious leaders, college professors and psychologists. Holmes’s open mind blew away any narrow idea of religion. The teaching was called Religious Science because he viewed life as a whole, with no split between science and religion or the visible and invisible worlds.

Emerson and Holmes shared a similarity in temperament which was instrumental in making them great leaders in thought and in life at the same time it was a result of their beliefs. They were both happy, well adjusted, loving men. In his day, Emerson was often described as sanguine, which means he was never ruffled, and always optimistic. Holmes was also sanguine.  A woman who attended my church used to go to hear him in earlier times. Once, I asked her, “What was he like?”  She thought quite a while and finally said, “He was a merry little man.”

Both men were generous. During Emerson’s lifetime, he supported his mother, brothers, friends, including the Alcott family for most of their life. He also very generously sponsored the publication of other writers works. Stories about generosity abound about Holmes’s as well. They both lived well and neither was interested in amassing a lot of money. They expected it to be there.

Emerson and Holmes shared many beliefs. They both believed in idealism – that is they believed that behind every material experience, there was a spiritual cause. They believed in abundance – that is they could share their wealth, give of themselves, circulate freely and there would be enough to go around. They believed in self-reliance, that is, that the final authority in our lives is within, that we must look within to find our unique and individualized truth.

They believed in the sacredness of life – all life. Neither man distinguished good and bad aspects of life, but they saw only good. They were both fascinated by Asian religions and incorporated compassion and detachment into in their teaching. Nevertheless, they remained Westerners. They believed in the innate value of all people. They recognized that all of us have a divine origin and nature.

This is your lineage. If you have studied Ernest Holmes, you have also studied Ralph Waldo Emerson. Their wisdom is available to you as a gift from the Universe. Say thank you and accept; happiness, peace, idealism, optimism, self-reliance, sacred life, and all the other components of their enlightenment.

Ask Yourself

What would I like to accept from Holmes or Emerson?

What would more self-reliance feel like?

What would more self-love feel like?

What would _____ feel like?

Where can I learn more?


Lovers In Paradise

scan016One afternoon, in Stuffy Old England, more than a century ago, the poet & artist, William Blake, had a visitor. “Come in,” he called. “We’re in the garden.” And there were Blake and his wife, stark naked, reading Milton’s poem, Paradise Lost to each other.

The visitor left the garden quickly and went into the house where the Blakes soon followed him. Blake said to his shamefaced friend, “What’s wrong? It’s only Adam and Eve, you know!”

Many of us learned to be ashamed of our bodies, and for that matter, of our sexual feelings very early. Perhaps we were taught that sexual love was suitable only for married couples and should take only place in the dark. Perhaps we were taught that too much interest in such things was a sign of immaturity or evil.

We hold remnants of a lot of goofy old ideas. Some people really believed that there were “good” and “bad” women and only the bad ones enjoyed sex. We seem to have a love/hate relationship with our bodies and sexual desires. Our movies and TV stories are stuffed with our yearning for romantic love at the same time we deny it is possible.

It was during the days of chivalry that the idea of “romantic” love as separate from sexual union was invented in the Western World. The idea was that romance had a deeper spiritual component and from that we got the whole virgin and whore syndrome.

As a young woman, we girls argued often about whether or not one could possibly enjoy sex without being “in love”. Despite the stuff in the media, most of us still hold remnants of these ideas. It is fun to be romantic on Valentine’s Day and we should never be ashamed of our bodies and our natural drives. (Although we certainly want to be loving and responsible about our behavior.)

More than a hundred years after the Victorian Age, some of us are still living in that repressed belief system. During the rule of rule of England’s Queen Victoria, she is supposed to have counseled young wives to, “lie still and think of England” during sexual intercourse.

Some of our repressed ideas are from an even earlier age. They come from the early years of the Christian religion when Saint Augustine decided that men should love God, and not be tempted by women. He thought men were better off celibate and we see how that works for priests. Those were ignorant times. There were serious debates about whether or not women had souls in those days. They had souls, all right but they had very few rights or power.

So, on this Valentine’s Day, I offer some thoughts on romantic and sexual love. We are created in the image and likeness of God and that is the Creative Principle of Life. God is Love, working in our lives through spiritual Law. God is a Power For Good in our lives and we can express it in all our relationships.

God created us in love and we are born to express love. That is a basic truth that we hear in New Thought churches but there is little said about romantic love or sexual activity beyond praying to meet the perfect right partner.

Some people actually come to church to meet that perfect right partner. Perhaps we are lonely, and want someone to complete us. If we stick around, we will discover that we must love ourselves first.

“You complete me” was a great line in a good movie but the Truth is… No one can complete you. You must discover your own completeness in order to understand your own worth and spiritual magnificence.

One thing I hope we all know is there is nothing wrong with wanting a partner to love. Our bodies are made to express love. It is normal and natural and in obeys life’s purpose to love. If we choose to truly express love and not just create a power play or manipulation, it is good. How could it be anything else?

There are many ways to love. One way is to marry a person of the opposite sex and have some kids. I heard of a couple recently that was celebrating over 80 years together. Yes, it can be nice to find true love young and stay with it but that is not the only good or acceptable way. If a relationship is not loving, divorce is not failure, it is an intelligent response.

Some people stay single and if they are happy, that’s fine. It is also possible to find love and stay away from marriage. It is possible to be celibate and be happy and sexually active and be happy. The main thing is to make choices that work for you as an individual, not for your parents or parent’s parents.

Some people choose to remarry and, statistically, second marriages work better than the first one. I knew a man who was happy in his fifth try. He must have done a lot of growing and changing along the way and I salute his optimism. Optimism helps and so does spiritual growth. I know several people who are happy in their third marriages.

Every couple should have the marriage choice if they want it. I know same-sex couples who have been together for many years and they would like an official marriage. There is no question in my mind that same-sex couples should be allowed to marry just like the rest of us. Why in the world should anyone care?

As you enjoy your day, take a moment to enjoy the vision of William Blake and his wife reading poetry to each other in their little English Eden. I hope it makes you smile. Blake was a deeply spiritual man and his work has helped set this culture free from some of our nonsensical beliefs. I think of him as being a person who knew who and what he was. It is not surprising that he was happy reading classical poetry to his wife, while naked in his garden.

Blake lived in Joy. Without pretense, without waiting for perfect conditions, without shame. He welcomed his friend into the Garden of Eden, without embarrassment, because he knew the Truth that sets us free – that we are all spiritual beings, created in the image and likeness of God. And knowing that creates joy just to think about, doesn’t it?

This Valentine’s Day, and every day, won’t you take a moment to see yourself in Joy? And feel the Joy? Feel the freedom, the love and the internal permission to enjoy life that is yours by right of Divine Inheritance.

Ask Yourself

Do I love my body?

Am I willing to use this affirmation?

I love my body, as it is, right now.

Am I in Joy now?

Am I willing to use this affirmation?

I am Joy in action.


Laughter Lightens The Load

laughing buddhaNotice how much better your day goes with a good belly laugh? Do you have a friend, a relative, a pet, or a TV show that makes you laugh? Do you understand how laughter enriches your life? Laughter is a part of my daily spiritual practice. How about you?

The scientific, as well as anecdotal, evidence is clear that laughter is good for us. It is a great healing agent. It is efficacious emotionally, physically and mentally, so we should cultivate the people, places and things that encourage us to laugh.

Why not take a moment today to write a list of people, and things, that consistently make you laugh? Everything on your list is a blessing and should be cherished and encouraged.

On Wednesday evening, January 30, my Center For Positive Living is offering a Laughter As Meditation workshop, so if you are close to Carlsbad, CA, you might choose to be there. Whether you attend or not, you can use grease the wheels of your days with laughter.

Be on the lookout for jolly resources. Cultivate them. Make time for laughs! It is a fairly simple thing to call your grandchild on the telephone for a laugh. It is also easy to tape a talk show that makes you laugh and then watch it at your convenience .

Begin to notice where you are putting your relationship energy. Make sure to give some attention to friends who laugh, not just the friends who ask for help with problems.

Friendships should be balanced and fun, not just based on solving problems. Sometimes we nice New Thought people can spend our energy on helping others and forget to help ourselves. Let’s not focus on healing rather than staying well.

Two friends visited me last week and I realized one reason I treasure their company is that we laugh. Their joy is contagious. One thing we laughed about was my eccentric taste in movies.

I am convinced that My Man Godfrey, starring  Carol Lombard and William Powell is hilarious. It is one of those screwball comedies from the 1930’s that I’ve seen in many, many times. I showed it for them once and they didn’t laugh. But they have been laughing at me ever since.

I don’t see these friends often since they live 3000 miles away but when I do, it is a blessing. I have many other friends who are closer in distance who also make me laugh and they are also blessings.

I talk to my sister every day and we often laugh together. Our childhood history wasn’t always so light-hearted but much of it is funny in retrospect. We didn’t just survive, we thrived. And there are many day-to-day stories that are also laughable.

One gift my family shares is a sense of humor. It’s in our DNA.  At times, our sense of humor can be can be a bit dark but it never intends to be cruel. We should all be careful to laugh with people, never at people. All it takes is a little mindfulness. Staying centered in love while we are laughing is important.

Sometimes people have totally forgotten how to laugh. Or they never learned. Many people come to the New Thought teaching to lighten and brighten their world. Some simply don’t know how to laugh. It may be bewildering to begin the search for laughter if you truly never crack a smile.

If someone asked me how to “safely” learn to laugh, I would suggest starting with movies. I’d also say to go for the simple, clean-hearted oldies.  Skip the edgy, raucous stuff of 2012 and go back to the brighter eras on the silver screen. Despite Depressions and Wars, those comedies were really light hearted.

Right now, I have a selection of Danny Kaye movies that are waiting for me on my DVR. When he begins his amazing double talk, I will laugh out loud. He made them during World War Two when people really needed a laugh.

Want to learn to laugh? Experiment with the movies. See what makes you laugh. Do you love Lucille Ball? Does Dustin Hoffman in Tootsie seem truly funny? How do you like the Three Stooges? And what about Shrek? Do you find the wry comedy of Woody Allen irritating or irresitable?

In your experimentation, notice how your general emotional climate grows happier even if personal situation doesn’t change rapidly. A good laugh can make any problem feel more manageable.

When I was diagnosed with breast cancer, it was clearly life threatening. One of the things I did as a part of my healing program was to watch a lot of comedies on TV. I cut out all tragic drama and  sad songs. Of course, I also did many other things including daily prayer. Others also prayed for me. And I had excellent medical services.

I don’t think that watching Gene Kelly sing in the rain, or Woody Allen stumble through his New York stories healed me. On the other hand, I do believe the comedies lifted my health consciousness, just as the prayers did.

You don’t have to have a life altering challenge to decide to bring more laughter in your life. It is just a simple issue of becoming more aware of what you are doing and thinking during your day. Practicing mindfulness about laughter is easy and it will pay off.

Recently, I watched W.C. Fields in a movie and he was– giving a professorial lecture on the human body. He was very pompous, talking about his miracle cure, with the authority of a snake oil salesman. He said,”My latest survey shows that 3 out of 4 people make up 75% of the world’s population.”

That’s nonsensical statement that is makes fun of authority and it makes nearly everyone laugh. I could also offer statistics but don’t want to make a big deal out of the fact that laughter helps us.

I don’t want to be like the W.C. Fields or the Wizard of Oz – those all American windbags. I’m not  going to promise that laughter is a panacea. I have no charts of human anatomy showing how laughter floats through your body and/or your life, clearing away all disease.

But just for a moment… Imagine I am an old time medicine woman with a chart and I’m moving my wand down through the organs until I get to the place in my gobbledegook lecture where I point to the liver and say, “And now the liver – very good with bacon and onions.”

Surprised? That made me laugh very hard when I saw Fields do it. Maybe it seems silly to you so I will just tell my truth. Laughter is good for you. Try it, you’ll like it.

Ask Yourself

Who makes me laugh?

What makes me laugh?

What do I want to do to add more laughter to my life?


You Will Get The Raise

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My sister and I talked recently about the adults (besides our parents) we knew in our early teens. She was enthralled with a woman I remember as pushy but cheerful. I was fascinated by a woman who was brilliant and non-conformist.

I thought it would be good to write today about why we believe what we believe and how belief impacts our lives. While none of us is able to control every bit of our lives, we do need to know that we have a great deal more control than most people believe.

Our parents are our first interpreters of reality and if we are fortunate, we have others. Positive beliefs mean a lot to kids and I like to believe that kids raised in Religious Science get a positive attitude.

When I was a teen, Ernest Holmes was just hitting his stride. Oprah wasn’t born. I don’t think I knew anyone who believed we lived in a friendly universe. We had just finished a devastating war. We were stunned by the depth of cruelty toward Jews, Gypsies, homosexuals and non-conformists in Nazi Germany. We were also stunned by the power of the atom bomb and the Cold War was starting.

Some of my teachers were optimistic and it helped. I was inspired by one who worked her way through college by typing. Another told us to get a library card because no matter how tough times got, books would always be free. Many teachers took time to encourage me to develop my mind. But I don’t remember anyone talking about unlimited possibility.

Many of my fellow students dropped out at 16 and went to work. The girls all planned to marry young. I knew one girl who dropped out of sixth grade to marry a sailor. By the time she was 18 she had three kids and she hated her husband. They all lived with her mother.

We believed the culture of our times. The movies were full of tales of 18 year olds marrying and living happily ever after. Only they seldom showed the “after.”

I knew life wasn’t the movies but I dreamed big dreams. I would someday be thirty-five, live in New York City and be a working girl. The term “working girl” meant something quite different in those days and while my job was vague in my dreams, my apartment was quite wonderful with white rugs and two white poodles.

I did eventually end up in New York City and I worked hard. But…I shared a rent-controlled apartment with an aging, divorcee. Ah well! I never liked poodles anyway.

It took me a long time to study Science of Mind and begin to hope that I could be happy. I now believe that we live in a basically friendly universe. My God is a God of unlimited possibility. I know that to make dreams come true, you have to change your thinking.

My ideas are common these days. Times have changed and change is good. I am happier than I could have dreamed as a child.

I wasn’t kidding when I said that we live in a basically friendly universe. Things go the way of our prevailing belief system. When we change our thinking, our lives change. Sounds simple but it takes, attention, skill and practice. So much of what we believe is from the surrounding culture and we are not even always aware of it. We must be independent thinkers.

The important thing is to remember that Spiritual Law is responsive to our thoughts, emotions and beliefs. The law of cause and effect is always working.

Many years ago, I read a chapter in a self-help book on how spiritual law always finds a way to respond. The chapter was entitled, You Will Always Get The Raise. If you begin to look around, you will see it is true.

Suppose you are in an abusive relationship and you are miserable. If you do nothing but think about how miserable you are, and stay in that relationship, you may begin to believe that you deserve whatever your partner says and does. The consequence will be more misery. Somehow, you need to find a new idea that gives you the courage to leave.

Even so, if you leave the relationship but hold onto the negative beliefs about yourself, the abuse will show up and continue in other ways. One of the saddest things in life is our propensity to repeat negative patterns.

This may be easier for you to see in others. Take a look at how patterns tend to repeat in others’ lives. Don’t judge or criticize, just observe. The next step is to look at your own negative patterns without judgment.

Now look around and find some success stories. Something will have changed in that person’s belief about life and himself. If you can observe clearly, you will see the way things changed because her belief changed.

You will observe that people who focus on the positive get more positive in their lives. You will be able to discern that Universal Mind finds a way to return our prevailing beliefs. You will always get the raise.

The concept that the spiritual law of cause and effect returns your prevailing belief is very different than the rules you learned about being a good little boy or girl. Working with spiritual laws opens people’s lives up to unlimited possibility.

You are truly in a position to prove the phrase, “Change your thinking and change your life.” Right now. If you have been around Science of Mind for a while, think back to how you were feeling when you first arrived and compare that to how you feel now. You will discover a great change for the better.

Even if you are new, you can prove this very quickly. Decide on a goal, and do spiritual work around the issue of belief. Keep records and notes for a month, then check you data. One reason Science of Mind is called science is that it is verifiable. While you probably can’t change everything in a month, you can test it and see some progress. And know that you can change your thinking a bit at a time for the rest of your life. It gets easier.

You may find affirmation cards helpful to carry in your pocket and review several times a day. You should also think about taking a class and going to church on Sunday. You can buy my book, Science of Mind Skills, on this website by going to New Thought Works page.

Most of us get a much narrower and tighter view of life as children than we can discover for ourselves as we become adults. You can change your mind. You are not stuck in your old thinking.

Remember that you can do it. Even if you encounter resistance breaking out of your early belief system, millions have done it before you. Go ahead and risk putting some effort into changing. Remember that all effort will be rewarded. You will always get the raise.

Ask Yourself
What’s one belief you’ve changed?

What’s one belief you want to change?

What’s one great prevailing belief you have that works in your life?