Both these women were following up on long- held dreams and their victories were even sweeter because they’d carried their visions so long.
My daughter started to become a minister about 20 years earlier and abandoned the dream because her other commitments (raising kids and building a business were priorities). My friend started her book many years ago and delayed the project because she was so involved in her other ministerial duties and projects.
I don’t think either woman was discouraged about postponing their dream. I’m sure that they were both delighted when they dusted off their vision and went after it with enthusiasm later. I know they are both delighted they had the courage to reawaken their dream and breathe life into again.
One of the most famous poems in the English language, by Langston Hughes, asks what happens to a dream that gets put off.
What happens to a dream deferred?
Does it dry up like a raisin in the sun?
The poem goes on to offer even more dubious endings to the question that I won’t quote. It is the raisin in the sun image that captures our imagination. Doesn’t it seem as some of our long-held dreams are wrinkling with age?
Sometimes we use the idea that our dream is too old as an excuse not to pursue it. Certainly, some dreams do get too old. Your dream of making becoming a professional basketball star or ballet dancer might not be practical at forty. That’s true.
However, dreams can often be modified if you still hold some kernal of your desire. You might adapt the dream to current conditions and take dancing lessons for your personal pleasure and health and or play basketball in your neighborhood park.
Age is just an excuse for abandoning most of our dreams. You can get a teaching credential at fifty and put in twenty or more good years in the classroom. You can find true love at seventy and enjoy every day and night the rest of your time together. The person who denies herself the pleasure of attaining a long held dream just because of age is usually wrong.
Sometimes people abandon dreams because they didn’t make good sense in the first place and that’s a good thing. I wouldn’t encourage anyone to reach for his dream of being a professional gambler, wing walker, bungey jumper, lion tamer, bagpipe player, or many other youthful ambitions at any age.
Take a look at some of your youthful ambitions and they don’t seem as good an idea as they did then. For example, I wanted to be a fisherman when I was 12 and I abandoned the idea at 13 because I liked boys. While I have never regretted releasing my dream of being Captain Ahab, I might enjoy fishing off the pier.
I think there is something very special about attempting to fulfill earlier ambitions, even if the dream has to be modified. Actually, there are a lot of ideas about dreaming and failure out there in the ethers. Some people think we should always pursue our dreams and never give up. That’s not always the way life works. Things happen. We make other choices.
In my opinion, the 21 year old man who wants to be a Hollywood actor and marries his pregnant girlfriend instead makes a choice. He now sells insurance in Ft. Worth, TX and I can’t say his choice was good or bad. Nor do I know whether he is a success or failure. It isn’t the choice, but his attitude about the choice that creates his destiny.
If he blames his wife constantly, it was a bad choice for both of them. If he delayed his dream and is happy about it, then it was a good choice. If he modifies his dream later, by participating in little theater, he makes his choice and his success even better by feeding his soul.
We all seek happiness and success in life. We choose different avenues in the belief that we will find the way to those generic goals. Some of us believe we will be happy as soon as attain one or the other dreams we hold. We defer our happiness until we are married, or rich, or get the promotion, and we don’t know, (or we forget) that we can choose to be happy now.
I think some of us could be happier than we are if we understood that our attitude toward life is as important as what we choose. I also believe some of us would be happier if we were able to finish, or resurrect, that pesky dream we’ve been carrying for a while.
I know absolutely that we’d be happier if we stopped blaming choices we made in the past for our deferred dreams of today. Check to see if you are making excuses for your unhappiness because of a “missed boat” or because you “had to” do something else when you wanted to follow your bliss.
It might be instructive if we all made a list of the past dreams we have held that still tickle our fancy. Then we might take a look at one or more treasured dreams and ask ourselves if there is some way we can take action in the direction of one of those dreams.
Don’t use this activity to berate yourself for procrastination. Simply ask yourself if you have been putting off something you’d still like to attain. Perhaps if it is a college degree, you might find time to take one on-line class this semester. Perhaps if you wanted to write a book, you can set aside 10 hours a week to work on it.
If you have a special dream that you believe it is too late to fulfill, please make a point to be creative about modifying it. Even if you wanted to be a great opera singer and didn’t get to study in Europe, you can join the local University Chorus. Even if you wanted to have six children and have none, you can become a foster parent, or school volunteer. Even if you wanted to make a million before you were 30, you can embark on the study of investments and follow through with smaller amounts.
Dreaming is a wonderful thing. It is normal not to be able to choose to fulfill every dream. Sometimes it is best to discard the old ones and get some new goals. Sometimes it truly thrilling to achieve a deferred dream. Why not get a new affirmation – No raisins in the sun for me.
What dream would I like to resurrect?
How should I modify it?
What’s my plan of action?
I’m especially happy to have Katie join the CSL staff as a minister because she was in the first ministerial class I taught, about 20 years ago. At that time, she completed all the work but dropped out before the last steps because of other commitments.The dream grew slowly.
Kate was with me when I began the church and she has been a great supporter since the beginning. She served as Treasurer on our first Board of Trustees for several years. I cannot even remember how many volunteer tasks she’s completed in the past 25 years.
I was surprised and delighted when she decided it was time to pick up her dream again and enrolled in my ministerial class. This time, she had the time and she was able to retake all her class..
Today, she joined her classmate, Lori Mac, who was approved as a minister earlier. Now CSL Carlsbad has two new wonderful ministers to celebrate.
They are coming on the staff at a time when our Center is stretching, strengthening, and growing under the leadership of Rev. Debby ODonnell and Rev. Mattie Dobbs.
Rev. Lori and Rev. Katie, join Rev. Catherine Bonin and Rev. Ron Card as staff ministers. We also have five new Practitioners. Our enhanced staff is proof that our Center is thriving. It is very clear that the Carlsbad Center will continue to move into new possibilities.
When I started this Center 25 years ago, I was certain that my job was to teach Science of Mind. The Center has held fast to that vision under the leadership of my two former students, Rev. Debby and Rev. Mattie. They continue the tradition of excellent educational opportunities.
I am very proud of the wonderful work Rev. Debby and Rev. Mattie are doing as co-pastors. Since they took over, things have moved very smoothly. The Center continues to make teaching classes of paramount importance. It also continues to celebrate peace, serenity and love as our organizational culture.
Every Sunday, I sit in the back of the room and enjoy the service while I feel very proud and I approve of their leadership whole heartedly.
I am also proud of our new Practitioner staff; Sharon Bagley, Sal De Casas, Dee Emery, Lynn Guilfoyle, and Debra Reeves. Rev. Debby was their teacher with assistance from Kate DuVivier. I offered a bit of editing and teaching to their class. The Revs. Mattie and Catherine also offered help. We believe in sharing and helping because “We are One”.
Although we are connected, we are also very different from each other. Each of us has special skills and talents and we cooperate easily. We have plans for the future that include stretching and growing in wonderful ways. The recent graduation of the seven new practitioners and two new ministers make this a plan, not just a possibility. The Center is about to hit a major growth spurt.
Rev. Lori plans to write a book and develop a speaking and teaching ministry. Rev. Kate plans to teach classes and create an outreach program for an immigrant population. Part of the good news is that both of them plan to be staff ministers indefinitely. That means a great deal to all of us at CSL, Carlsbad.
On a personal note, I’m thrilled that Kate was able to take her ministerial training from me. This is probably the last ministerial class I will teach and Kate’s presence made it especially precious.
I love my daughter, of course. I also love every one of my students, and sometimes think of them as my sons and daughters. I am especially proud of the ones who went on to become ministers. We are part of a great enlightenment campaign that is taking place on this planet right now.
I have trained over 40 people to become RSI (and now CSL) ministers. They went in many different directions and many started churches. Milwaukee, WI, Bainbridge Island, WA, Tuscon AZ, and others are CSL spots on the map. Wherever they are, they are all giving service to the world in some fashion.
Some of my students are retired now and many work or worked in CSL centers. Some went to work for Hospice or in other chaplain or counseling positions. Sometimes, like the doctor and counselor, they decided to use the skills they’d learned in their own private practices that are devoted to building healthy families.
I’m also proud that many of my students helped change things within the parent organization. Liz and Jerry Hooley were two of the first co-pastors. Rev. Amy Aspell initiated one of the first focus ministries within the RSI organization. There are many other innovations that happened because of this Center. Rev. Jeanette Keil was serving as assistant minister in our Center when she became the first Chaplain to be ordained.
This Carlsbad Center has always been a teaching center and we will continue to offer many classes. Several of the new practitioners and the ministers want to teach classes. We recognize that we are here to help people change their lives and classes are the fastest route to freedom.
Twenty-five years ago, I made it my mission to teach Science of Mind. I usually taught four classes a term and many, many people prospered because of the changes they were able to make. It gives me great pleasure to hear from former students and not a week goes by that I don’t hear from one or more of them.
It is a wonderful thing to be able to look back and see that one has been useful. I know that our new staff will have exactly that experience if they continue to serve the teaching. Whether they spread their wings and fly into fascinating places, or stick close to home, a life of service is a wonderful gift to the world and to themselves.
I am so happy to celebrate the new ministers and practitioners in this post. I am also happy to celebrate the current management and the great job they are doing. This is another day to be glad in. I am very glad I chose to be a minister. I am even more glad my daughter and the other students have followed in my footsteps. We make a difference!
Does helping others make me happy?
Would I like to take a Science of Mind class?
Would I like to find a way to help others?
Easy crossword puzzles on the AARP website are not really very easy when I get stuck on a wrong-headed route. If I need a synonym for aged and I’m thinking elderly but the answer that fits is ripe they become Frustrating Crosswords.
I have spent many precious moments trying to fit a wrong word into a tight space. Last week, the clue was sort and my time was doubled because I couldn’t imagine anything but genre or type. Sort can also mean arrange.
My problem is chronic. The word was ruler, and I spent ten minutes searching for a four letter word that meant measuring tool all the while, forgetting about king.
I thought the answer to public should have been crowd and it turned out to be overt. I thought the answer to long should have been stretched and it turned out to be yearn. I think the answer to employ should have been hire and it turned out to be use.
Crosswords are just a game and I needn’t worry about my scores. I have an excellent vocabulary so I don’t worry about that either. However, my tendency to latch onto one idea and hold on so tight it hurts can be a private problem. How about you?
Opening up our minds to new ideas is a great skill. We can look at our earlier lives and see how important the ability to see more than one way really is. When I look backward, I see my youthful relationships could have been simpler if I’d seen love and sex as separate words. I see now that my life could have been richer if I’d known mathematics is fascinating fun.
New viewpoints are often invigorating and helpful. Learning new things keeps us young and healthy. I improved my health when I began to define food to include vegetables and fruits, not just meat and potatoes.
Steadfastness and perserverance are two great characteristics. On the other hand, being willing to explore new aspects of a situation and attach new meanings to words is very rewarding. Opening up to change is a great deal of what we learn in the spiritual classes at the Centers For Creative Living.
Hanging onto one viewpoint is just one more way to resist change. If it is an idea that impacts our decision making abilities, we need to learn to let go sooner. The ability to adapt to changing conditions is one important measure of intelligence.
Think about the ideas you have had to change in your lifetime in order to adapt to modern living. Perhaps there was a time when you thought boys were bad cooks or girls were bad mechanics. If you wanted a relationship that is based on equality, you will probably have modified those ideas by now.
One of these days, as a part of your spiritual practice, make a list of some of the ideas you have changed in your life. You will be pleasantly surprised at the progress you’ve made simply by changing your mind.
Here are a few of my changes:
1, I used to believe I was too dumb for math and now I believe I can balance my books.
2. I used to believe I needed nine hours of sleep every night and now I believe seven hours works just fine.
3. I used to believe comic movies are a waste of time and now I believe they make you healthier.
4. I used to believe TV was an idiot machine and now I believe it is an exciting medium.
5. I used to believe working with a team was difficult and now I believe it can be wonderful.
We all change ideas as we move through life and that is a good and not-so-good thing. The trick is to retain the ideas that are still valuable and discard the ones that no longer serve us. It is useful to take an inventory from time to time just to clean up some of what needs to be changed.
As we inventory our beliefs, we may find we are hanging onto ideas that need to change. For example, you might want to take a look at some of your ideas about work divisions between men and women. Who does the housework? Who mows the lawn? How’s that working? How would you like to see it change?
As you do this inventory, be on the lookout for prejudice. You may have picked up some very narrow beliefs as a child. You know the kinds of things I’m talking about. One ethnic group can’t drive well. Another ethnic group is lazy. One gender is untrustworthy. Another gender is money hungry.
If there are any of these old pre-judgments hanging around in your consciousness, this is a great time to change.
Learning to look at life through a wider viewpoint can make you a more successful, much happier, and more successful person. When you open your mind to different ways of looking at things, you also become more creative.
Much of what we teach in our Centers for Spiritual Living has to do with allowing new ideas and new opportunities to come into our lives. We have a simple statement that we say over and over, “Change your thinking and change your life.”
Our Sunday talks, books and classes help us create better and better lives. If you are interested in knowing more about how to widen your ability to see clearly, check out my book, Science of Mind Skills. It is available through this blog or in your church bookstore.
Do something to build a wider mindset today.
List at least five ideas you have changed recently.
List at least three ideas you are considering changing now.
How do you plan to open your mind set?
As a part of my morning spiritual practice, I like to re-read a few pages of the classics. I am reading Treat Yourself to Life by Dr. Raymond Charles Barker today. On page 103 he says, “The most important thing for you to know about your mind is that it can change.”
I must have read the book at least a dozen times in the past twenty-five years and on this morning the simple statement that minds can change jumps out giving me some down-home wisdom.
Think about it – it is actually the nature of the mind to change. Human thought and beliefs change all the time. When we get new information, we switch our beliefs. We think the world is flat until we learn it is round. We think children are stupid until we understand they think differently. We think women belong in the kitchen until we see what they earn in the work place.
People get interested in New Thought principles because they want something new or different so they are not essentially resistant to change. But even the most open of us sometimes hit resistance? If that happens, what do we do? Here are some tips…
Don’t complain. Refrain from telling yourself or others how difficult it is to change your mind.
Go back to basics and remind yourself that minds can change – it is what they do. This is the time to double up on your spiritual practice and thank God for any progress. All your mind needs more information.
Remind yourself of your goals. Won’t it be wonderful when you switch from fear to love? From financial struggle to prosperity? From ailing to healthy? Never give up!
If you are near a Center For Positive Living or other New Thought church you can get the support you need. They offer wonderful wisdom talks and sociable gatherings on Sundays. You can connect with others and learn about their successes. That’s the kind of information that will help you change your mind.
Consistent attention to this wisdom teaching is important. If you don’t see dramatic changes, be patient. Enlightenment comes in mini-drops for most people, including me. One day at a time, one insight at a time, and we can go far. The changes keep coming and our ability to use Infinite Power keeps increasing.
If you need help understanding and using the teaching, my book, Science of Mind Skills, gives you the basic concepts. It is laid out simply and the ideas the build on each other. There are short exercises and affirmative prayers. It is set up for independent study and you can buy it in your church bookstore or on this website.
As I look back I see that my understanding deepened in small increments and in many ways. Certain moments in my own journey stand out for me. Early on, Dr. Carol Carnes told me we don’t treat for things, we treat for the consciousness to attract and hold on to what we desire. I’ve always been grateful to her because until then, it seemed to me that people only used prayer to get a new car or better boyfriend. Dr. Carol pointed the way to a spiritual expansion that I truly desired.
Another time, Dr. Robert Bitzer, former President of RSI and a colleague of Dr. Ernest Holmes explained to a group that the Science of Mind Textbook wasn’t really difficult to read. He said sometimes Dr. Holmes wrote on the absolute level and other times on the relative level (our human experience). Maybe that’s a simple idea but it helped me understand what I was reading.
It is amazing how a simple statement can be easy to ignore until light strikes and the door to wisdom opens. This morning, Dr. Barker’s words lit me up! We may believe change is difficult but it is really easy. Minds change – that’s what they do.
We choose to give our mind new direction through our spiritual practice. We pay attention and set aside time to create new pathways toward a deeper understanding of how Spirit impacts our lives. We don’t need to push the river after all.
There was a time when I thought I should use will power to pray to fix my life. Up until then, my achievements mostly came through will power and hard work. I thought I had make it happen. It was really a new idea to imagine, believe and accept that God did the work.
Once we really get it that God is Love working through Spiritual Law and that Spiritual Law is responding to our prevailing belief system, we have the basic knowledge for creating a happier, healthier, wealthier and more creative and loving life. It is important to consistently deepen our understanding of that basic belief.
I am happier, more self-loving, more in awe of life, and less frightened now. Trusting God is a continuing process in my life. I write this blog because I want as many people on this planet as possible to have the wisdom that Science of Mind teaches. Learning to look at the world from a spiritual perspective is so empowering.
Our teaching is all about accepting the best and in order to do that, we must accept new information about life. We seek spiritual information from prayer, other people’s talks, workshops, classes, and eventually everywhere we look we can see the goodness of life.
I’ve been around a long time and I’m still getting new insights. I believe in continuing education and I wish everyone would continue reading and meditating and praying even if they think they know it all. Wisdom deepens. Life just gets better and better with spiritual practice and that’s why I’m writing my new book on the subject.
Spiritual practice refreshes our minds and brings us new information. Sometimes we need to release old idea before we can accept new goodness. New information is a part of the process. We cling to the old ideas out of habit or ignorance until we learn better ways. Releasing old ideas, even those we’ve held since childhood, doesn’t have to be difficult. All we need is to open up to new information.
Changing our minds is not a struggle or a puzzle. Our minds are built to change! Learning more is the most human and natural thing in the world. One of the great gifts of living in this 21st century is the knowledge that we are never stuck. Our minds will change and we stretch and grow because it is our nature. Life is a journey and the quest is for greater wisdom.
Where do I think I am I stuck?
What belief stands in the way?
Am I willing to switch it?
What’s a better belief?