My mother, Rev. Dr. Jane Claypool, made her transition out of physical form on 10/31/14. I was lucky enough to be with her, so I know it was an instantaneous event – for which I am grateful. However it was very unexpected, as she had just conquered pneumonia once again. After writing her daily gratitude list, she finished up this blog before deciding to go the emergency room. We had been laughing with a friend about Halloween and were having a good morning. She had a new drawing too…..(I will post more of her drawings later). A lovely Celebration of Life memorial service was held on 11/15/14. Please call the Center for Spiritual Living Carlsbad at 760-434-9579 if you would like more information. The website is http://www.CSLCarlsbad.org. All Love To You…. Kate DuVivier
I’ve been spending a lot of time talking about my life because Amanda, one of my dear helpers, asks me many questions. I suppose any life is fascinating when the audience is sixty years younger.
Amanda can’t imagine growing up without TV. She can’t imagine doing the wash before clothes dryers, or heating up food before microwaves. She is fascinated with black and white movies.
Since I am on a diet of happy stories, we often choose old movies. She loves the 1930 screwball comedies we watch in the evening and says they are better because the stories “have more talking.” I agree.
Of course, the very best movies were made in 1939, when I was only six years old, and Hollywood was at its triumphant height. I’ve told her that my three siblings and I went to the movies every Saturday afternoon and paid 12 cents to be admitted but I haven’t been clear on the dates. I started going to the movies alone in the 1940’s after World War Two. The films we saw as children included nasty propaganda pot boilers. I had nightmares about Germans chasing me until I was a woman in her thirties.
Turner Classic Movie channel skips many of those horribly prejudiced flicks. I use my DVR to skip all the war pictures. We all engage in some form of censorship, I suppose.
I imagine Amanda’s idea of my war years in the movie house is filled with Clark Gable tap dancing in a European castle just before World War Two breaks out. Or maybe her favorite is Cary Grant taking prat falls before World War Two breaks out. Then there is Charlie Chaplin impersonating Hitler just before World War Two breaks out.
We know history is unreliable. For starters, it is written by the winners and winners see the picture from their viewpoint.
Our personal histories are also unreliable. We tend to romanticize our memories. When I talk to Amanda about my early years during the Depression, I don’t remember much but I speak as if it were a charming story. My parents become delightful young kids who struggled to keep their four children alive. I say things like, “They kept us together in the midst of the Troubles. They kept us alive!”
That’s true, of course and it is a fact that plenty of men left their wives and children behind to become hoboes. It is also true that some women starved to death and many children were sent to orphanages because their parents couldn’t feed them.
In the current version of my childhood, there is nothing about the humiliation of poverty and nothing of the shame when relatives brought groceries and deposited them on the table without a smile. That was also there but the story of the Depression years skips straight to a happy ending. World War Two broke out and there were plenty of jobs!
When I told this personal history story during my twenties and thirties, my story sounded very tragic. The reasons why my life was so tragic piled up until they took the form of a long, and twisted litany of despair. In those days I believed I was marked for tragedy.
It is true I had a difficult beginning with the early death of my young husband but it was also true that I had sixty or more years ahead of me. I wasn’t doomed to anything. I had plenty of choices along the way. In my twenties, I thought my story was over but it was just beginning.
That’s a common mistake. We tend to see wherever we are as the end of the story even though the story goes on and on. And on Life is always presenting us choices and if we miss the brass ring the first time, we usually get another turn to catch it again.
One of the most delightful discoveries about my current age is the fascinating changes and insights that present themselves. I’ve enjoyed many personal discoveries as I’ve moved along life’s pathway. In fact, I am now at a place where I understand that life is always presenting possibilities.
There is a famous poem by Robert Frost called the The Road Not Taken and it talks about taking the road less traveled. It ends with, “Two roads diverged in a wood, and I–I took the one less traveled by, And that has made all the difference.”
It’s a great poem that says you always get more than one chance. If you have the consciousness to attract a choice of true love, you will have another chance later. Same is true of making a fortune. You’ll have more than one big chance.
I missed my chance to be a famous writer in the 1960’s but the chance returned in the 1980’s. The same pattern was also there in my search for true love. Life is a series of wonderful repetitive choices.
My life still offers plenty of choices. Last week, I wrote a blog about my stay in a nursing home. I had a choice to tell it like it was or simply be grateful to be home.
I might have skipped over the whole experience and written about any number of subjects including gratitude, or the power of supportive friendships. That would have an expected road for a retired minister of a Center For Spiritual Living Center.
When I started these blogs, I promised myself I’d be honest, as positive and helpful to readers as possible, and that my essays would be mostly about Science of Mind.
Most of all, I promised myself I’d be honest. All of those choices would have been honest. However, the stay in the nursing home was top of my mind and I was full of energy about how dreadful that place was.
I had some other choices that would have been slightly less honest; I could lie and say everything was wonderful, or I could write about some unrelated subject.
I chose the road less travelled by! I didn’t want to skip the subject because I was still steaming full of energy about my stay so I wrote what I wrote. You can read the blog, Miss Me?, in the archives.
I had other choices. I could have named the place but my understanding is that it is one of the best so the issues were generic. I could have called the nurses lazy but I could see they were trying hard and overworked. As of now, I have received more comments about that blog than any I’ve ever written. They were all in agreement and several were interested in participating or starting a drumming circle. If you get a chance, take a look at the comments since they are truly honest and intelligent.
Looking back on your choices is always interesting. As I look back on the choice I made last week, I can see that I made a good choice and I’m glad I did. Maybe several readers will work on starting or participating in a drumming circle. I do believe that will help clients, their loved ones and nursing homes.
While we can’t always predict the outcome of our choices, an honest, well meaning choice can be effective. And if it doesn’t turn out well, you always have plenty of other choices to follow.
Am I looking at any difficult choices now?
What do I have to choose?
What do I want to do?
Are my possibilities honest?
Are my possibilities well meaning?
As I’ve aged, I’ve tried to be responsible and consider the needs of my loved ones as well as myself. I’ve done the right things. I have an end of life directive, a will, a power of attorney, and I even left a list of ideas for my memorial service.
I’ve also tried to rely on the words of my doctors and my daughter and not just insist that it’s my way or the highway. I really want to be a rational senior.
All my life I’ve heard about difficult elders and I was determined not to be one. But after my recent time in the nursing home, I saw that my tolerance of unpleasant conditions is definitely very limited.
I’ve always thought of myself as adaptable but I didn’t do too well on my nursing home stay. I hated it and I certainly let myself slip into reacting to conditions rather than being an independent actor. I only give myself a grade of C minus when it comes to managing my reactions to those nursing home conditions.
As one’s powers diminish, life gets more frustrating. Bottle caps resist turning. Names hide in closeted parts of the memory. Technology sprints into new worlds leaving the senior user far behind.
As one’s powers diminish, it is tempting to become more demanding and more childish. We sometimes make foolish choices. If you don’t believe me, read King Lear. For example, a father of one of my friend’s called her at 3 AM and insisted she drive over an hour, in the rain, to his nursing home; because he needed someone to fix the remote on his TV.
I don’t do things like that but I worry about it.
That said – I really hated the skilled nursing facility I was in and I’m afraid I wasn’t very grown up about it. Instead of practicing gratitude, I complained a great deal.
I’m still not finished complaining… My room was disorganized and no one ever put anything back in the same place twice. The nurses were pleasant although they were harried and often confused. They took 20 to 30 minutes to respond to my call. The food was terrible and I didn’t agree with the doctor’s treatment methods. Except for that – I hated the lack of mobility.
This nursing home had good ratings and I’m assured it is better than most. If this is one of the better ones, I don’t even want to think about the others. My two weeks there were extremely irritating. The staff made several mistakes that I caught and that was scary.
Part of my irritation came from being treated as though I were senile, I hate it when people say, “It’s time for our dinner” – worse yet, “our shower.” It is my dinner although you are welcome to it. It wasn’t anyone’s shower because they announced it by saying, “You missed your shower time”.
Sometimes it seemed to me it might be easier if I were senile but I can’t imagine that is a safe choice.
I’d be the first to admit I’m not well suited to being locked up and cared for. I was born to be free. I inherited the blood of the Wild West. My mother once helped her sister pull the plugs and escape a very big city hospital. They just yanked out the IV tubes and went home.
While incarcerated, I contemplated a similar action. I wheeled myself out to the front doors a few times and stared at my options but I couldn’t drive and it was a long way home. I stayed the course and endured the travail while the ghosts of my mother and aunt haunted and taunted me.
I came three days ago, and immediately called my dear friend and mentor, Rev. Marvis Rodrigues. She is a safe for me to complain to because she doesn’t judge and she has her own experiences. In fact, her life story is a testimony to courage and endurance, She was born with a severe anomaly and has suffered many hospitalizations because of a birth defect she never talks or complains about. She is a courageous friend and helps me keep things in perspective.
Rev. Marvis had a successful ministry despite being physically challenged and she is now retired. She told me a delightful story about visiting a friend who was in a nursing home and was just as frustrated as I was. Together, with the approval of the activity director of the nursing home, they devised a wonderful activity to relieve stress and express creativity.
Marvis and her wheelchair bound friend created a drumming circle for the rest of the residents who wanted to participate. Most of them were also using wheelchairs. She, and several church volunteers, donated drums and percussion instruments and the circle met weekly. Everyone got to express themselves while making music based on the rhythm of the heartbeat. What could be more healing? More basic? More fun?
The drumming circle allowed everyone, including the mentally and mobility challenged residents, to express their feelings. According to Rev. Marvis, “The process of pounding on a drum or shaking a rattle or tambourine allowed the residents to release pent up anger and frustration. Plus, they all ended up with a smile on their face. It became a favorite activity the residents looked forward to”
The activity director shared with Rev. Marvis that after a drumming session, the residents returned to their rooms happier, more relaxed, and they took very sound afternoon naps.
Rev. Marvis’s story sounded like a great idea and I decided it might be an activity I could use to clear up some of my negative feelings about the whole experience.
I have been disappointed at my reaction to the frustrations of the nursing skills center. Up until now, I haven’t had any way to release my emotions and move on. Now, I have decided to pursue creating drumming circles. I will begin by talking to some of the people in my Center for Spiritual Living about creating a drumming circle for a nursing home in our area.
If any of you readers are looking for an outreach project for yourself or your church, you might consider setting up a drumming circle in a neighborhood nursing home yourselves.
I think it will be a fairly simple project. Instruments are easy to find in toy shops. Or you can get creative and use metal or wooden spoons, and pots and pans. Very often the activity director of the nursing home will utilize the idea into a drum making activity with their residents using coffee cans. Your friends and church people will probably be happy to help supply the instruments.
Residents enjoy the music concerts provided in the afternoons more than any other activity I’ve seen in nursing homes. Drumming is a very primal form of music making and it seems as if it would be an easy activity to set up.
I want to release the negative aspects of my nursing home experience and move on in my own consciousness. I know that there is always a new choice and a new opportunity and I can release my frustration. I also know I am not alone; a drumming circle could be wonderful for others as well.
Let me know if the idea appeals to you. If you follow through in your own neighborhood, please keep me informed.
How do I release stress?
Does this idea appeal to me?
How might I follow through?
Once upon a time, a long time ago, I interviewed an artist about her work and I was curious, so I asked her why she was always so happy. She answered, “I chose Heaven.”
Later, she explained, “When I was very young, I loved my husband and baby very much. It could have been a perfectly joyous time except my Dad was dying of bone cancer. His hospital was two hours away and I visited him nearly every day. It seemed to me that I was always in the wrong place. When I was home, I felt guilty and when I was in the hospital, I felt I was cheating my baby. I felt like I was always bouncing between Heaven and Hell.”
“So how did you solve it?” I asked.
She answered, “Someone taught me the Serenity Prayer. I understood there wasn’t much I could control. My baby was fine and my Dad was dying, no matter what I did. My only choice was my emotional response. I could choose misery or happiness. When I finally understood that – I chose Heaven.”
By the time she shared her wisdom with me, her dad was long gone, her baby was in college, and she was a well-known artist. She was also a vital, enthusiastic, successful and joyful person.
I asked her the personal question because I wanted what she had. I’d been sober two years but I was broke and, and in a miserable love affair. I’d heard the Serenity Prayer many, many times and, to be honest, I thought it was a cliché until I heard her story. Since then it has become my favorite tool for solving life’s puzzles.
With sobriety, I realized that life would never be perfect. There would always be things I liked and other things I didn’t. The Serenity Prayer helps me navigate difficult choices.
God granted me a great deal after I got sober. I gained new opportunities and wonderful tools to create a sane life. I learned to use the Serenity Prayer and I discovered that I had more choices than I’d believed.
I attracted and built a good writing career, a sensible financial situation, and many excellent friends. Eventually, I gained self-forgiveness and a wonderful relationship with my family.
However, there were things I desperately wanted and didn’t get. I bumped my heart against the true love dream for a long time. We eventually parted company because I couldn’t make him be what I wanted him to be. That wasn’t my only disappointment but it was a biggie.
It is tough to give up the dream even if the reality is only heartache. Like most people, I want what I want when I want it. God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, the courage to change the things I can, and the wisdom to know the difference.
I was seldom happy in those early days . Then I discovered Science of Mind and the teachings of Dr. Ernest Holmes, founder of Religious Science. When I combined 12 Step wisdom and the Science of Mind teaching, my life kept getting better. I kept getting happier. And happier.
At some point, I decided events didn’t matter as much as I’d thought, because I could always choose my emotional responses. Disappointment didn’t throw me. I stopped being a victim. I could choose to be happy – I could choose Heaven.
No one completely escapes disappointment. No matter how hard we work, or how effectively we visualize good news, sometimes things go in different directions. We don’t get to control everything but we do get to control our reactions.
We can choose to be happy. Life isn’t a tragedy unless we react as though things are tragic. Most people have events happen that are sad and it takes time to get over those rough spots however, the Serenity Prayer can help us heal more swiftly.
For example, losing a job is not good news but it is also not the end of the world. Some people curl up into a ball and refuse to recover from he blow. Others accept it happened and find the courage to move on quickly. They find another job or start their own business.
Very often, something that looks bad turns out to be the push we needed. A divorce leads to true love. An illness leads to better health habits.. A bankruptcy leads to a simpler lifestyle. What looks like loss turns out to be that Staircase to Heaven they sang about in old-fashioned musicals.
Of course, some things really are tragic and it may take time to find the serenity to accept what has happened. The death of a loved one is certainly sad especially when it is unexpected. However, most people survive grief and regain their happy lives.
People with serenity come to understand that death really is a part of life. They release grief as quickly as possible. It does no good to mourn for the rest of your life. It neither brings the loved one back nor helps the others you love if you mourn too deeply.
Accepting life as it comes and making choices about how to react as you go along is a good action plan for living. In 12 Step programs we are advised to live a day at a time and not dwell on the past. I’ve observed that attitude really does help people.
Much of it has to do with emotional maturity and choice. Some of us find the serenity, courage, and wisdom to live one day at a time when they are facing a life-threatening illness. Others are miserable when they break a fingernail.
I believe it is very helpful to remember that nothing is permanent, not even pain. That’s the good news. On the other hand, you will never be able to arrange everything exactly the way you want it and keep it there. How you choose to react is more important that the event itself.
If you don’t believe me, I invite you to try an experiment. Apply the Serenity Prayer to any perplexing or unhappy event in your life. Begin by asking yourself whether you need to find the serenity to accept it or the courage to change it. In other words, begin by seeking wisdom.
Next time something happens in your life that seems like a bad thing, ask yourself if there is anything you can do to make it better. If the answer is yes, be happy and do it. If the answer is no, choose to be happy anyway.
Many people find it surprising or unbelievable to hear that they can control their reactions to life’s events but it is true. It is also an important key to happiness. You can stop believing life makes you a victim and start believing you have the wisdom and power to be a player in the game of life.
Am I unhappy about anything today?
Is there anything I can do about it?
How do I choose to feel about my issue?
Someone from New York City came to church yesterday. She’d been carrying around an article I wrote for two years. She wanted to meet me because the article was important to her. I can’t tell you how much her visit pleased me.
It is a wonderful thing when someone reaches out to praise an author for something they’ve written. I used enjoy the fan letters when I wrote for teenagers. But this was different because the writing came from my heart and I had a clear intention to be helpful.
In fact, hearing that my work helped someone is just about the best thing that could happen to a spiritual writer. We are dedicated to helping people and we don’t always hear from our readers. That young woman not only made my day, she made my week and a lot longer.
I felt appreciated and valued. It was quite different from having friends tell me they liked one of my blogs. This was a young woman I’d never met, from three thousand miles away, who carried my inspirational words with her all the time. She made my work seem very special.
I felt appreciated and I appreciated her. We had a great visit in a short time. I saw that exchange was like dropping a pebble of Love that rippled outward and outward. It was a bright spot in my day and I’m sure my good mood impacted others because good news travels fast.
Any honest expression of appreciation that we give or receive is a treasure that should be noticed and taken to heart. When were you last praised? Did you take the time to treasure it? Sometimes it is instructive to make notes of the praise and compliments you receive. You will brighten your life by paying attention to the appreciation others are expressing toward you. It will raise your self esteem.
On that same subject, ask yourself if you give praise easily? Or often? When was the last time you wrote a note to your favorite author? How about your favorite teacher in school? Do you tell your friends how much you appreciate them? Giving appreciation feels really good. The emotional lift comes with giving as well as receiving.
The best part of telling someone you appreciate them because of something special about them or their work, is that appreciation works both ways. Not only do you speak up and help someone see his or her own worth, your expression of appreciation is a message that goes into the Universal Mind. Spirit will find a way to return it to you. That’s the way spiritual law works.
Some people fall into the belief that there is a shortage. It’s as though there is not enough personal value to go around. They never express appreciation for anyone else. We all have known competitive people who try to make someone else bad so that they can feel good. They do not yet understand that there is no shortage of good will or personal value. Life is not a contest.
If Maxine Kaye or Carol Carnes is a good writer, that doesn’t mean I am a bad one. It means there are three good writers in this paragraph. And many more on this planet! If we start to talk about which writer is better, the conversation soon becomes nonsense! How can we compare Hemingway to Austen when they are so unique?
Life is not a contest. There is no shortage. We all have unique value and we can appreciate each other without diminishing anyone else. In fact, the fastest remedy for a competitive attitude is to begin to compliment others. He or she will quickly discover there is enough praise to go around. The praise that is given will find a way to return, pressed down and multiplied.
What do you believe would happen if you added appreciation to your spiritual practice? Are you willing to experiment?
If you want to learn to appreciate yourself, you can start by recognizing the value of others and expressing gratitude. You will see a boomerang effect very quickly. Begin to make it a habit to say thank you to others. Make it a habit to express praise for the things that others do that add value to your life.
When you attend church, don’t just praise the ministers and musicians because they do another good job. At the same time, look for those volunteers who are generally ignored. They work on set up, bringing and arranging the flowers, making coffee, on the sound system, or teaching Sunday School. These people all do valuable work and so we should praise them for a job well done. Appreciate them.
In general, begin to notice the things that people do for you and give genuine praise for their efforts. Soon, you will begin to understand that you live in a loving world and your life is touched by many wonderful people. Our civilization is built on cooperation and trust. Praise the civilized people in your world.
People who serve you and your lifestyle are important to your well being. If you are alert, you can praise their contributions and brighten their days. Often, you will find that the service you receive becomes even more enthusiastic. You and the recipient of your praise will be happier for the exchange.
The Law of Attraction is well known in New Thought circles. What you are focusing on is important. This is expressed over and over again, in every Sunday talk and in bestselling books such like The Secret. This spiritual law is also expressed in sayings such as, “What goes around comes around.”
I say, “Focus on the solution, not the problem.” You can train you mind to stop obsessing about what’s wrong and start believing that your desires are possible. Let the problem stew in its own juices. You don’t need to add to the mess. Begin by asking, “What do I want to see happen?” If you focus on the desired solution, you draw it toward you.
You can experiment and prove the Law of Attraction in your own life. Make notes of your results. During the next month, make it a game to honestly praise as many people as you can. Thank people for the way they interact with you. File a favorable report on your favorite grocery checker’s work. Tell important people in your life (such as your children) how much you appreciate them.
Open your heart and make appreciation your way of life. Don’t hold praise back for fear it won’t continue to improve. Praise what you love and watch it grow.
The people in your life want to please you and they need your approval. Make it a point to notice the good stuff. Send notes and small gifts for special service.
If you are honest with yourself, you will see that your life is smoother as you learn to use praise as a positive living tool.
What happened today that I can praise?
How many ways can I thank people this week?
Do I see the unrecognized helpers?
It’s been hot here and I don’t enjoy hot, humid weather. I tend to forget San Diego has the best year-round climate in the continental US. I’m like the millionaire who complains when her stocks don’t rise fast enough.
It is easy to forget how comparatively fortunate we are. Whether it is health, money, friendships or climate, we don’t want to fall into a pattern of grumbling and make it worse. Let’s not take the good stuff in our lives for granted.
Sometimes it helps to see ourselves in relation to others. I don’t like to chortle because someone else is hotter than I am, but when I watch the weather channel it does put my complaints in perspective. Do you ever use comparisons as a basis for gratitude? I do.
As a child, I resented the idea of comparing myself to others. At supper, I was supposed to eat all my dinner because of the poor starving Armenians or Chinese etc. It just didn’t seem right that I should have to eat spinach because someone on the other side of the world was hungry.
My mother used to tell the story about a person who had no shoes until he met a beggar who had no feet. I wasn’t interested in shoes or feet, I just wanted my dessert. And I wanted it now!
Since I’ve learned more about how spiritual law works, I’ve been able to release the guilt I felt about my “selfishness”. It didn’t really help if I ate all my supper. (I’ve also resigned from the clean plate club and lost over 100 pounds.)
These days, comparison is a tool in my bag of gratitude tricks. When I remember to be grateful I don’t live in Arizona, it cools me off as much as an extra shower.
I am not a shaman and I don’t do a rain dance so I can’t yet control the weather, but I can control my thinking and my response. Gratitude thinking changes the experience even when things are out of my control.
Gratitude trains the mind to be happy. Feeling happy is as welcome as a cool breeze. Believe it or not, it is possible to feel happy in any climate. It is also possible to feel happy before getting everything we want. In fact, it helps us get it.
Happiness really is a choice. We are in charge of our thoughts and that puts us in charge of our moods. The key is to manage our minds effectively, no matter what the issue seems to be.
Using gratitude to move away from the problem and toward the desired solution puts us in a mental space where we are guided to take new actions. It is perfectly all right to work for new goals and feel happy before you gain them.
I used a prayer of gratitude to control my response to the weather this week and it helped me a great deal. It didn’t change the temperature outside but it led me to make some discoveries. A mid-day shower helps. So does setting the fans correctly. I’ve also changed my work schedule so I’m in my air-conditioned office during the hottest part of the day instead of just the early morning.
Anyone who follows the teaching of Ernest Holmes has heard the expression, “Change your thinking and change your life.” Followers of Science of Mind read books and take classes to learn how to pray effectively. Affirmative prayers change circumstances and solve problems. So does positive thinking. The key is to focus on the solution rather than the problem.
In Centers for Spiritual Living, we learn to use the power of our minds consistently to create positive results. We learn that there is a Power For Good and we can use it. We learn that our individual minds are connected to the One Mind. We learn that we are co-creating our lives.
We discover that positive thinking and affirmative prayer can actually bring improved circumstances into our lives because God is Love working through Spiritual Law. The Law of Attraction is always working and our prevailing belief system is creating our experience.
One aspect of powerful prayer is to see it so clearly in your mind and feel it so deeply in your heart that you accept it as real. Your prayer then closes with an expression of gratitude for the achieved goal. If you hold onto your belief, God does the work just as quickly as you can accept it.
The key is to look at what we want rather than obsess about what might go wrong or what we think is the problem. We cannot afford to be children stamping our feet and saying, “I don’t have what I want!” We need to be believers who are saying “Thank you God!” We need to trust in the power of prayer.
Many wonderful things happen when people focus on using spiritual law in their lives. Those who develop a habit of prayer and visualization attract great results because they are using unlimited God-power. Debt can change to wealth. Illness can change to health. Loneliness can change to love. All this comes through the Law of Attraction.
I have seen great demonstrations of the power to create new circumstances through consistent prayer and meditation during my years as a student and teacher of Science of Mind. I know that the dedicated student achieves great results. Gratitude helps create dedicated students. So do classes.
Classes are the best way to understand the concepts that lead to a consistent and satisfying use of mental power. This is the time of year to think about enrolling in a class at your local center or on-line. I am so grateful that it is now so easy for everyone to find an excellent class in this day and age.
When we focus on gratitude and look at desired solutions, rather than the problems, a great many good things happen. Great good can happen even if the condition cannot be changed completely. For example, I may not change the weather but I can accommodate myself to it. New solutions may become apparent. I may even decide to move North. The results of my prayer may not be exactly what I think I want, but I can gratefully celebrate the solution that emerges.
If I stamp my feet or whine because I can’t make it snow in September, I’ll be fighting the laws of nature and making myself miserable. Better to distract myself and move on. I can always choose to feel grateful for what I have and the results I get. That attitude will lift my spirits and make things better.
No matter how hopeless things look, prayer and positive thinking will create a better, not worse, situation. Stick with gratitude. It is the key to success.
What are my goals?
Do I believe they are possible with God’s help?
Do I have a solid knowledge of affirmative prayer?
How might I learn more?
Sometimes things happen that dismay or disturb. When those incidents do occur, how quickly can you reclaim your positive attitude? Who is in charge of your emotions?
Dr. Tom Costa, Founder of the Palm Desert, CA Church of Religious Science used to say, “If you are going through Hell, don’t pitch your tent there. Keep on moving.”
One of the main skills we learn in Centers for Positive Living is how to keep on moving. We are united in our belief that we don’t need misery and we can claim happiness. When people need to overhaul their belief systems, Positive Living Centers are the place to do it. We don’t stare at lemons and wring our hands. We make our claim on joy and drink lemonade or champagne, as we choose.
Of course, things happen and people do get down. The important thing is recovery speed. Hanging onto our stories creates new tragedies. In the novel, Great Expectations by Charles Dickens, Miss Havisham, wears her tattered, ancient wedding dress and lives her in her personal Hell built around being jilted. Her decision to wallow in grief, anger and a need for revenge, ruins many lives.
Most stories aren’t as dramatic as that Victorian soap opera but we all know people who get down in the dumps and can’t crawl out for days, or weeks, or months, or even years. Like Miss Havisham, and they believe they have no control over their feelings. We know better.
In Positive Living Centers, we learn our emotions are a part of our consciousness. That consciousness includes our emotions, thoughts and beliefs and it constantly sends messages to Universal Mind (God). What’s more, Universal Mind responds to the messages by sending more of whatever we are thinking, feeling and believing.
The responsiveness of Universal Mind is both good and bad news. It isn’t so great to learn that a bad mood attracts more negative stuff. On the other hand, it is wonderful to discover we can change our minds and that creates change our in our lives. The more we can stay positive in our thoughts and actions, the more positive our lives will be.
Almost no one can be positive all the time. There are times when, for most of us, negativity is a natural response. If your lover dies, you are sad. If your job disappears, you are discouraged. It may not always be possible to keep from reacting to events. On the other hand, you do have control over how long you stay in a negative reaction.
Negative moods are seldom useful. Grief may be normal but it does no good. Wearing black forever is boring. Freeway impatience may bubble up on the drive to work but it shouldn’t spoil your day. If you make a mistake and use tooth paste for shaving cream at 7 AM, there’s no need to be upset at 11 PM. The anger or grief that you hold onto are only felt by you. They do not affect the other person – you are the one who flunks the stress test.
Taking charge quickly and controlling our emotional response to events is a very effective skill. Learning to control of our familiar moods is also very useful. Some of us have formed habits of sadness, depression, self-pity or self-condemnation over many years. We identify these habits as negative moods. There are skills for dealing with those old habits as well. We do not need to pitch our tents in an old story.
There was a time when I would get very depressed and cry all weekend. I was in my forties and convinced my life was ruined. Between my 12 Step program and Science of Mind, I learned to handle my moods and live a happier life.
From 12 Step, I learned the past was gone forever. I also learned to live one day at a time. I used the Serenity Prayer like a mantra and said it until my mood shifted. I also learned I had to go to meetings and stick with supportive people.
Science of Mind gave me an amazing array of positive techniques to use in my daily life. It took a while, but I learned to use spiritual tools. One of my personal tools was to think of myself as a cranky two year old when my mood began to slide downward. What do you do for a fretful (or screaming) toddler? You distract her.
I discovered I didn’t need to solve most problems. If I simply distracted myself my life would generally heal itself. I would lure myself away from self-pity by watching an old movie or reading a chapter in my Science of Mind Textbook. I switched channels and moved on.
Last week, our Conversations in Consciousness group talked about personal techniques for changing moods. Some of the things I’ve listed came from that discussion. Others I learned others along the way.
Helping someone else raises your self-esteem.
Laughter heals the heart. Cultivate belly laughs.
Choose books that have happy endings. Watch comedies on TV.
Stick with cheerful people.
Wear bright clothes. Give away the clutter.
Make friends with some children.
Exercise – any kind of exercise works.
Get a massage. Go to yoga classes.
Get out in nature. Chase squirrels. Study beetles.
A walk on the beach can lead to happiness.
Today, see if you can add activities that make the list longer. We can all benefit from having plenty of techniques for putting our heads on straight.
When I want to move to the sunny side of the street, how do I do it?
When I want to get my head on straight, how do you start?
What are my tools for positive mood swings?
My blog is two years old this week and I’m still a happy writer. The subscriber base is at 250. While that readership isn’t what I hoped for, it is definitely more than I expected. I love the instant gratification of blogging. On the other hand…
I have always been impatient. Being in a hurry runs in my family, so I suppose it is in my DNA. Or maybe we were just birds in a flurry who flocked together and called ourselves the Whitaker-Claypool species.
All I can tell you is that nothing I do is ever enough at the same time I’ve always enjoyed every job I ever had. I find work fascinating. When I followed my bliss it turned out to be more work.
In my lifetime, I’ve had excellent jobs in fashion sales, teaching, folk-art shopkeeping, real estate, writing and the ministry. Work was always a source of enjoyment for me and probably will always be. I am especially happy writing my blog although I’d hoped to sell more of my books off the blog bookstore than I have so far. My plan was that if readers liked my for-free blogs, they’d love my for-sale books. Ah well, the best laid plans of mice and writers.
So far, my business plan hasn’t exactly worked. But, it really isn’t about the money. It’s about connection – connection to God, to you, and to myself. Work is about expressing my God-given nature – Love. Every job I’ve ever had was of use to others or I had to move on. I could not imagine only helping myself.
Retirement frightened me. When I moved into the Minister Emeritus position at church, I wasn’t well. Actually, I was very ill and I got better. I taught a few classes and spoke some but I still had a lot of free time and it scared me. Does free time frighten you?
In the beginning of my semi-retirement, I read a lot of silly novels and watched a lot of silly movies. That was fun but then it wasn’t so much fun anymore. I wanted to be useful again.
I did start a book on Spiritual Practice and, once again, I was impatient. The project seemed like a big commitment, and I was busy helping other people write their books. (My Spiritual Practice book really is almost finished and I’m telling myself not to be impatient.) Books are not short adventures – they are a serious undertakings.
In contrast, blogs are pure fun. My blog has been well received. After a bit of practice, I can write and publish a blog in four to six hours. That’s a good day’s work for a retired person.
I know there are more readers than those listed as subscribers. I get nice comments and people they tell me they enjoy the essays. At our recent CSL Conference at Asilomar, several people I didn’t know complimented my blog. Recently, a few ministers asked me questions about writing a blog of their own. I definitely encouraged them.
I believe everyone can enjoy blogging. It is a chance to help others and learn more about yourself. It is useful. The time involved and the subject matter are optional. I am fussy and I write long posts. Many people write only a few daily lines. Nearly all of us have used journaling as a self-discovery tool. A blog is only a couple of steps away from journaling. Blogs can also be a spiritual practice.
One difference stands out. Your journal is personal while a blog is intended for others to read. The writer must offer something that amuses, inspires, instructs, or connects with his readers. That said, no topic is for everyone but there is someone for every topic.
Are you interested in writing a blog? The first step is to imagine what your might like to write about and who you think your audience may be. Freedom to write whatever I wanted was important to me. I decided I could include memories and opinions about political and social issues as well as spiritual principles. I would aim for twice a week but give myself permission to skip once in a while.
Blogging is a great if you have something unique to say. Whoever you are, no matter what you know, you must plan before you begin. This stage will be short for some and take a long time for others but it must be done.
Your chosen topic should also be something that will hold your interest and something you know about. Simply musing about the good old days will bore your readers unless you are as clever as Andy Rooney. I do write about them sometimes, but I attempt to make the old days relevant to my reader’s current life.
Whether you are interested in blogging or not, you might enjoy perusing other blogs on the internet. Individual blogs have “tags” so you can run searches easily. Keep your searches current and subscribe to the ones you enjoy. I subscribe to several blogs about books and history. What topics would you like to explore?
If you are personally interested in blogging ask yourself what topics you know about. Why not spend time for a few days making list of subjects you know about as a part of your spiritual practice?
Topics for blogs are fascinating but they don’t have to be rocket science. There are blogs on cooking cassarole dishes, grammer, Greek history, raising triplets, aiding the elderly and losing weight, and thousands of other subjects.
Blog subjects are so creative they amaze us. One writer wrote a blog for my local paper about living on the State’s food subsidy money. There was a movie about Julia Child and a young woman who set out to cook every recipe in Child’s cookbook. It was based on her blog.
What do you know about? It will be a great spiritual practice for improving your self -esteem to list topics. You will be surprised how many activities and interests you are proficient in when you do this.
Before you begin to actually write your blog, learn from every writing class I’ve ever taken by imagining your ideal reader. Who is she? What do you know that she doesn’t? That’s a great way to find your topics for posts.
The next writing lesson I can pass on is to ask yourself what you enjoy reading . That may give you a clue about what you should write. F/Y/I I read two spiritual blogs every day and although my blogs don’t resemble them, they inspire me. These blogs are from Dr. Carol Carnes and Dr. Maxine Kaye. You can access them by going to firstname.lastname@example.org and email@example.com .
Just for fun, pretend you believe you have something to say and you know you are powerful . Your pretense or “acting as if” will be exciting and instructive. Go through the suggested blog planning steps and see what happens.
Do I journal now?
Would I like to blog?
What blogs do I read?
What do I know about?
Who would like to read about my knowledge?