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.
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?
One 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.
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.
Notice 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.
Who makes me laugh?
What makes me laugh?
What do I want to do to add more laughter to my life?
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.
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?