There Goes The Judge

BadStuffDo you watch TV shows like Judge Judy? Do you carry your own inner judge inside? What do you say to yourself when you look in the mirror? Or make a mistake?

We all have some sort of inner critic – a Judge Johnny or Janie that lives within. It is an aspect of personality that helps us be civilized but we need to keep it within boundaries. When the inner critic gets unruly, it judges too harshly, condemning us to a life of poverty, lack, and limitation.

The critic’s voice whispers sweet negatives  to us when our guard is down. This is the voice that keeps us from speaking out because we might make a mistake. This is the voice of constriction, of hopelessness, of fear and cowardice.

Here’s an example….Maisie dresses for a party in her red skirt, pink blouse and she wears a real carnation in her hair. As she looks in the mirror, her inner judge whispers, “You’re too old to wear flowers and you’re too fat to wear bright colors.” So Maisie obediently takes off her first choice and wears that tired old navy dress. At the party, she lingers a dark corner and Prince Charming goes home with a plump girl in a purple skirt – the one with the  big smile who laughs.

Another example…. Horace is a fine fellow with a great job, a big, fancy, car, and plenty of money. His problem is that he’s lonely. Then he meets a really nice woman and Horace likes her a lot but every time he starts to pop the question, his inner judge hits him over the head with fear. The judge spits out a long monolog that includes be careful, she’s after your money. Why would a good woman want you?

Horace and Groucho Marx must have the same inner critic because it was Groucho who said, “ I wouldn’t want to join a country club that would take me for a member”.

Certainly, we need judgment to keep us from possible danger and to stay safe. We also need it to help us make appropriate decisions. We rely on our inner critic to tell us we should not wear our mink to feed the homeless. But we don’t need much more from it. We certainly don’t need to hear it spew criticism all day long.

If you are like most people, there is a good chance you will benefit from opening up the briefcase of your inner judge and ruling some opinions out of order. Your judge probably holds some nasty beliefs that sting and burn just like the nonsense in Pandora’s box.

Look and listen for stuff like, “You shouldn’t laugh so loudly.” “You’re too tall.” “You’re too short.” “You’re too old.” “You’re lazy.” “You should be working.” “You’re too serious.” “You’re not serious enough.” “You should try harder.” “You hang on too long.” “You’ll never be able to catch up.” “You did something so wrong, it will never be right.” “You should be braver.” “You should be ashamed.” “You should start exercising.” “You should stop eating.” “You’re no good.” “You’ll always be poor.” “No one loves you.” “You’ll never amount to much.” “You are worthless.” “You’re unloved and unwanted.” “Nobody will help you.” “You don’t deserve much.”

The list is endless and each person’s list is personal. Rather than analyzing why we are the way we are or pitting one person’s list of  coulda’ shoulda’ woulda’ against another person’s, I offer three tips for controlling your critical voice.

Rule one – don’t get sidetracked into analyzing the contents of the briefcase. It was Clint Eastwood who said, “We should forge on and expect the sun to shine”. That’s good advice so just forge ahead.

Rule two – don’t get attached to your story, or your suffering, or keep any of those pesty opinions for pets. Let them go freely. It is not denial to move on.

I realize this requires a major change for many of us. If we are not going to analyze our problems, what in the world shall we talk about?  If Maisie and Mable have lunch and Maisie doesn’t want to feel bad about herself, she won’t order the baked potato with butter and sour cream and then confess she’s too fat. She’ll just eat the potato and have a good time.Or she’ll skip the potato and have a good time.

Then if Mable doesn’t get to complain about her husband, what will they talk about? How about world peace? Science of Mind? Their accomplishments? Favorite movies? New books? When we stop focusing on what’s wrong and start noticing what a big, wonderful world we live in, our lives will change.

Sometimes we hang onto opinions about ourselves that aren’t working just because we hate to admit we are wrong. Everyone changes all the time. You don’t have to admit you are wrong, you can just rescue yourself and move on.

Take Horace and his girlfriend, for instance. If Horace stops being attached to his story and decides to take a risk on marriage he’ll be moving on. He’ll also be making new decisions and living in the present instead of being paralyzed in fear. He’ll also have many more chances to deal with his lack of trust.

If he’s not attached to fear, and his wife wants money for new curtains he will just say yes or no. He won’t be thrown into a panic and think she’s trying to take him to the cleaners for everything he’s got. He’ll still have to make decisions and use his judgment but he won’t be frozen in fear. Horace gets to be born again on a daily basis.

Rule three  Use Love to deal with your inner critic. This is the most important thing to do. You can use love to bring everything into perfect right order.  Love yourself into health and happiness. If you look in the mirror and your judge whispers, “You look awful today.” Smile at your reflection in the mirror and said, “God loves you and so do I. Have a great day, Beautiful.”

When that judge whispers, “You didn’t get your work done today, you’re a lazy good for nothing.”  Say out loud, “I took the day off and it was fun. I deserve a good life.”  If your inner critic says no one loves you, tell yourself God loves you and you love yourself. Say, “I am love.” Say it until you mean it.

You can even love your judge in time.  Spray the inner critic with love and watch it shrink.  Next time the judge tells you that purple is not your best color, say, “Thank you for sharing. I hear your concern. But just for today, purple is my best color.” In other words, treat that inner judge the way you would treat someone you love but have no intention of letting run your life.  Acknowledge and move on. It’s an old trick but it works.

Ask Yourself

What am I telling myself that works for me?

What would I like to stop saying to myself?

How do I plan to do that?


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Gifts of History

OneworldThe History Fairy gave me three gifts this week, she blessed me with old memories and new insights. Thank God for history and all the people who live, record, and study it.

         My first gift was a woman from Columbia University who is writing her Master’s thesis on the Sunfire series of teenage historical novels. I wrote several in the series. She graduated from Yale and   plans to get her doctorate in American Studies.

It is always a pleasure to hear from fans. When she interviewed me, she told me she loved my books because they were about independent women with interesting work  and I felt as though I had a part in her success. It also reminded me that things can change. When I  wrote those books, Yale didn’t even accept women.

The Sunfires were different from my other teen romances because they were based on actual history. I have always loved historical fiction and I loved researching and writing them. Mine were about a one-room schoolteacher, a Lowell mill girl, a telegraph operator caught the Johnstown flood, a 1930’s movie star, and a young woman during the bombing of Pearl Harbor. My favorite was Corey – an escaped slave who walked to Philadelphia freedom. The Sunfire series was a first and Corey was an even bigger first because it pictured a black heroine.

The History Fairy also brought two impersonal gifts. They were TV documentaries on the Freedom Riders  and the Women’s Movement. Both events touched my life personally.

I have had a deep interest in racial equality since I was  fourteen, and attended a teen conference sponsored by the American Friends Society. One of the presenters was a Philadephia Quaker named Bayard Rustin. He spent the war in prison as a conscientious objector and then began a  struggle for equality in the South.

Rustin absolutely fascinated me. He wore denim work shirts and played the guitar even though he was a very educated man. He taught us enthralling protest songs that were as inspiring as his words. I had never met anyone like him and I fell in love because I was a silly young girl, but I also fell even more deeply in love with his message.

I never learned much about him. I know he was with A. Philip Randolph, and organized of the March on Washington. I believe he spent most of his life in the shadows of the movement because of his homosexuality. It is only recently that I’ve seen his name and work openly acknowledged.

As I watched that documentary on the violent confrontations in Alabama and the prison jamming in Mississippi, I realized  how slowly ideas change. I was also reminded how important courage is. Those “agitators” of the early ‘60’s saved the soul of our nation. I believe  those amazing non-violent young people are the true spiritual leaders of our time.

I’ve known for a long time  that poverty is the partner of ignorance and education is the key to change.I have learned that good laws create new opportunity and they do eventually work.  It was wonderful to see that Truth condensed into one TV show. I  realized things have changed for the better. Not finished, but changed.

I was a small contributor to the march toward equality – a few dollars, a few parades. I volunteered for a few social programs, did a few press releases for Rep. Shirley Chisholm’s campaign, volunteered for classroom assignments where I could do some good.Over the last 66 years my ideals have not wavered and I know that foot soldiers  are important to the march of history.

I was very glad so much was caught on tape. Thank God for brave journalists. I was also sad as I remembered how naive we were. In the beginning, we mostly believed racism was limited to the South. Not so. But I believed it then. Didn’t I have friends who were black? I know better now.

The second show reminded me I’ve changed a lot of ideas about women’s issues as well.  I’m ashamed to remember that in the early seventies, I told my  boyfriend I wasn’t a feminist. He was black and he said quietly, “Then you don’t know what’s been done to you.”

I think I resisted jumping on the feminist bandwagon because I wanted to be beautiful and sexy and successful. The propaganda about the women’s movement was ugly and  fierce. I did join NOW almost immediately and I did go to those consciousness raising meetings.

My consciousness may not have been raised as much s startled when the leader suggested my   problems might not all be psychological. She said they were sociological! I was busy  having an identity,or mid-life crisis. At any rate, I chose to be an aging hippie instead of a insistent feminist. It never occurred to me just to be ordinary.

Part of my resistance was that I detested thinking of myself as a victim. However, when I got drunk, I whined a lot. I obviously thought my life was pretty unfair.  Also, I desperately wanted to believe Prince Charming was out there somewhere and would be coming along to save me very soon.

In the end, Prince Charming let me down and I sobered up. With the help of Bill W and Ernest Holmes, I combined my spiritual emergence with attention to my feminine side. Two friends and I wrote a small workbook for women alcoholics. We started the first women’s meeting in town. Getting sober meant looking at my life in new ways.

As American life changed, I also changed. I learned to be grateful for my journey and to enjoy the remainder of the trip.  I thought I was getting smarter as I aged but it may have been that new ideas were exploding all around me and I didn’t want to miss the fun. Who knows?

That was then and this is now. What I know for now, for certain, is that we all very connected. On a clear day, I can see a direct line from Eleanor Roosevelt, my girlhood idol, to Michele Obama who is reinventing First Lady.

We all have a part to play in our march toward discovering our spirital magnificence. When one person finds more Light, it opens us all up to more Light.  The poet, John Donne wrote in the 1600’s. No man is an island… do not ask for whom the bell tolls, It tolls for thee.

At age 14, I thought that poem about a bell was all about Gary Cooper blowing up a bridge for love of Ingrid Bergman. Now I know the poem was written for love of all of us. We Are One.

Ask Yourself

What are three  ideas  you changed over the years?

Why did they change?

Did your change impact others? How?


Changing Gun Laws

Lennonquote_nMy brothers went on Dad’s hunting trips. My sister and I were expected to help clean and cook those pitiful little birds. I didn’t want to hunt and I deftly avoided kitchen chores, so it didn’t seem like a big deal then. But guns seem like very big deal right now.

I’m willing to admit that some very nice people like to hunt even if I never did. Those tiny birds seemed like a foolish payoff for all that tramping in the weeds. The birds weren’t very tasty and you could crack a tooth on a leftover bullet.

I’m writing today because life has changed since 1940 and we need new gun laws. My Dad hunted in places like Corona that are now wall-to-wall houses. One of my favorite movie scenes is when Eddie Murphy as a new congressman goes on a hunting trip with NRA types and shoots birds with an Uzi. It was so ridiculous in Distinguished Gentleman that everyone laughed. But assault weapons are not funny in real life.

I’ve never really bought the idea that hunting is a transcendental experience. Nevertheless, lots of people I’ve respected have enjoyed hunting so I’m willing to leave regular guns in the hands of responsible people. But the rest is nonsense.

The Sandy Hook massacre apparently created enough public awareness so that we are on the verge of political action. I trust that President Obama will do what he says he’s going to do, especially since a large majority of Americans are in favor. But he cannot do it alone. Good people like us need to continue a steadfast activity in the direction of change. Let’s not get discouraged or confused but forge ahead. Let’s not get trapped in rhetoric about how complicated change is. Complications dissolve where there is a clear vision.

We people in New Thought know how to hold a vision. We use the power of prayer daily. Will you join me and devote part of your spiritual practice to envisioning fewer guns and less violence? Include it in our prayer for peace?

I believe in the power of prayer and I also believe in backing up my prayer with activities that support the desired goal. There are some simple steps to take. We can endeavor to be centered in peace ourselves. We can make sure any guns we have around are securely locked up. We can also get rid of them.

Prayer works. Follow-up action works. We are not powerless and we are with the majority opinion.

When an idea takes hold, change happens and each of us can do our part to support this idea. That is actually how all change happens on a personal, community, national or worldwide level. First we establish a clear vision. God then supports that vision. I believe we must also support the vision with our actions.

God does the work but there is an old saying, “Treat and move your feet.”  We seldom get the job unless we send out the resume. We seldom move ahead unless we take political action. Our actions confirm our commitment to the vision.

Don’t get confused about the issue in the following weeks. We often hear that guns are not the problem – that people who shoot guns are. That’s simplistic. Without assault weapons, fewer people would have been killed in massacres like Sandy Hook and Tucson and Columbine.

You may also hear that the real problem is violence in the inner cities. It is true that young people are losing their lives every day in the streets. Urban mayors are pushing hard to regulate guns in their cities and that is one more  beginning. Tightening up gun regulations will reduce  problems.

I don’t want us to be distracted during this window of opportunity, although it is clear there is not just one single solution, but many partial solutions. We must approach the problem of violence in the United States from several angles.

Mental health is a big part of the problem. We need changes in mental health identification and treatment. I can see those changes coming but I am not willing to postpone action on banning assault weapons until we solve the myriad mental health treatment issues.

Violence in the entertainment media is also a problem. The special effects that accompany crime drama in today’s movies are appalling. Many people in New Thought already choose to avoid entertainment violence. I find it’s no big loss. If enough people boycott violent films and video games, it will help.

Then there are the constitutional arguments. Both liberals and conservatives use them to defend their beloved First and Second amendments.

It is ridiculous when liberals rage against the 2nd Amendment “patriots” then turn around and insist that the appalling graphic carnage in movies is protected by the 1st Amendment. Nonsense on both sides.

The First and Second Amendments were written as a reaction to English rule. They are not written in stone. They can be interpreted differently and they can be changed. Fundamentalism, whether from the right or left is nuts.

Yes – I want to support stronger controls of violence in movies, TV and games. And…  I do not want to let that slow down the control of assault weapons and tighter regulations on guns.

When the NRA and others try to cloud the issue by pointing out that the issue of violence is complicated and there are other problems, it amounts to static on the airwaves. We know there is truth in what they say and we know they say it to distract us from taking action today.

They say what they say because there is big money in guns. We know that reducing the availability of guns will help reduce violence. We also know you don’t need assault weapons to shoot birds or deer.

You do make a difference.

I believe we can reduce the violence in the United States by getting assault weapons off the street and tightening up all gun laws. I salute and support the leaders who are in front of this movement and I will sign the petitions, write the letters and pray for passage of laws and the establishment of peaceful life in this land.  How about you?

I write this today because I would like to see every one who believes in the power of peaceful change to speak up in the next few days. Write letters to your representatives. Sign petitions to ban assault weapons. Send money to the organizations that support the cause.  Send this blog to your friends. Spend some of your prayer and visioning time on this issue.

Ask Yourself

What do I think about gun laws?

Will I pray about it?

Will I write a comment on this blog about it?

Will I take political action about it?


My Rose Parade Epiphany

SayingThisDayI watched the Rose Parade because it reflects the things I love about California – the blend of old and new ways and ideas. Besides all that, the Rose Parade and I have history.         

I went to the Rose Parade when I was around thirteen and I climbed a lamppost to see more. That made me very dizzy and I thought I would faint or vomit.

That experience scared me so much that I avoided parades, football games, pep rallies, rock concerts and  department store sales forever after. I only began to enjoy the Rose Parade after I got a large color TV and could drink coffee in the comfort of my recliner.

Some people write resolutions or clean house but I like to spend my New Year’s mornings watching the beautiful floats pass me by. I sometimes turn the sound off and I always tape it ahead so I can fast forward the commercials. It’s a good way to start the year – relaxed, comfortable and surrounded by beauty. I love sunshine and flowers.

The parades show the very best about my beloved state. They showcase its amazing diversity, unusual history, and most of all – it’s perfect balance of tradition, campy earnestness and impermanence.

This year, as I was watching, I marveled at the amount of love and care that goes into every float. The one from Cal Poly was built by an estimated 10,000 hours of volunteer labor and all from California, mostly organic, flowers. I could see those earnest young engineers tilling the soil. Many of the flowers came from campus gardens.

I was enjoyed the beauty, ingenuity and fascinating details built into those floats. My personal favorite was from Indonesia. It won the President’s Award and was built with the 2500 species of Indonesian orchids.

The Indonesian float contained antique musical instruments and giant shadow puppets. Human attendants walked beside the float wearing spiky, fabulous costumes that looked as though they came out of one of my favorite movies, Pricilla, Queen of the Desert.  I loved that float and I found myself wanting to preserve it somehow.

That brought me to my epiphany for the New Year! It occurred to me that even if there were some way to “keep” the float, once the moment was over, it would not be the same. I truly understood that the magic of the moment is in the mind of the viewer in that moment.

Whether you are hanging from a lamp post or sipping coffee in your living room, when the float passes you by, it is gone. Which is just another way of saying, “The past is gone forever”. I should have learned that better, of course, in 12 Step or as Religious Science minister. God is always NOW.

There was something about my enlightened New Year moment that helped me internalize the idea that the time I have is Now. We say we know these things but if I am honest, I can see that quite a bit of my life is dedicated to the past, one way or another. For example, my office is filled with photos of people who are gone. Some have moved far away and some are dead.

I still love them and I like to remember that love. My friend, Rev. Jeff Proctor’s photo is on my desk as a kind of magical memory of him and his technological ability. Is that good or bad? I don’t know but I do know I must not yearn for the past or I will miss the present.

Somehow, in the years since I got dizzy in a New Year’s crowd back in the 1946, I’ve learned a lot. I’ve learned that I am in charge of my life and my mind. I’ve learned to enjoy life and to appreciate beauty. I’ve also learned that beauty really is in the eye of the beholder.

This year, I’ve learned that even if you could spray the float in plastic and stick it in a museum somewhere, the experience would not be the same. It would not bring the same thrill. But that’s OK. We just need to move on and not regret the past.

The fact that the past is gone forever is not a good thing or a bad thing. It is just the truth. If we are unable to accept that truth, we will hold on to guilt, bygone wishes, or remorse. We can’t reject the present because we judge it inferior. Accepting that life moves along is a key to enjoying life.

The Rose Bowl floats reminded me of sand painting. I’ve always been fascinated by the hours that the Tibetan, or the Native American shamans work on sand painting. When they are complete, they destroy them. Why?

This was always a big mystery for me. I have always thought of visual art as something we hang on walls. That may be so for some people but for the spiritual teachers of many cultures they are more. The sand paintings are beautiful teaching devices. Rose Bowl floats and sand paintings teach the impermanence of life wonderfully well.

As a writer and artist as well as a spiritual leader, I know a bit about losing oneself in the beauty of the moment. That particular sense of losing yourself in the moment is the payoff that keeps people coming back to paint that picture, build that float, stretch into a new yoga pose or write that novel.

The artist is familiar with being in the moment and so is the person who follows Buddhist or Hindu meditation techniques. It is a great relaxing change for most people.

Most people tend to sell meditation, and other well-known forms of spiritual practice as ways to enhance ordinary life. You hear a lot about lowering blood pressure or living longer. That’s fine but it’s not the best part of the story.

Moments of living in the Now are where we find God. The payoff from painting, journaling, stretching into yoga or simply counting your breath, is in the moment where you lose your separate sense of self. Spiritual practice is its own reward. God is in the Now. Joy is in the Moment. Life is Now.

It’s true the past is gone and the future is unknown but that is neither good nor bad. It simply is. The impermanence of life simply is. This is your moment to know God. And also is the truth.  Happy New Year.

Ask Yourself

What’s new in my life?

Do I hang onto the past?

How’s my spiritual practice?


Dreams Can Come True

On Monday, a friend called and said, “ Your book, Dreams Can Come True, was on the Today show.”  There were several messages from other friends who saw the show. I am always amazed at the powerful reach of TV.

Later that day, my daughter sent me a clip of the show and I watched it. If I can figure out how to do it, I will put a link out later this week.

The reason the book was on TV is that the Today Show has a new host – Savannah Guthrie – and they were introducing her to the audience. Apparently Dreams Can Come True was her favorite book as a young teen.

The other host, Matt Lauer, read from the back cover and tried to tease her about the plot which is all about wanting to be a cheerleader and catching the most popular football hero as a boyfriend.  I was happy when she defended the book, saying, “It was a good book.”

I was also bit dismayed at how much trouble they went to make their new host look like a silly girl. After all, the woman is an accomplished journalist and she’s read lots of other books since she was in 7th grade.

It threw me back to those days (1982) when I was a member of the National Organization of Women (NOW) and we were trying to pass the ERA Amendment. NOW kept calling me and I kept sending them money. My contributions came from the money I was making writing teenage romances.

The book is out of print now and it was fun to see the cover on a national TV show. We all enjoy our 15 seconds of fame. I hope it was helpful to Ms. Guthrie and the thousands of other young women who read it back then. I’ve always been proud of my career as a writer for teenagers, even though I moved on to spiritual writing.

In those days, I was happy to be making good money at a craft I’d struggled with for years. I was able to write books girls loved because I had been a teacher and I knew teenagers. It never seemed inappropriate to me to write about  a young  girl’s search for popularity and young love. They always learned some life-lessons along the way. Lessons in self-reliance and integrity, as well as how to get what you want.

I’m not sure I’d be able to write most of the stuff that I see pushed on TV now. That is because I have changed and times have changed. I am older, more deeply involved in my spiritual teaching, and I haven’t been in a classroom for more than 35 years. As I said, times have also changed. But…

Times haven’t changed – up until now – as much as I wanted. While there are some gains in women’s lives, we never did get the Equal Rights Amendment passed. Women still make 77 cents on the dollar that men make in the same jobs. While there are more women in visible TV spots, they are nearly all beautiful. There are still not many women (beautiful or not) politicians at the state or national level.

What’s more, it seems as if the gains we made over the years are being pushed back as fast as politicians

(who say they are all about jobs but spend their time pushing against equal rights) can push.

I am concerned that our political future may be deeply impacted by unlimited and undisclosed contributions from a few “fat cats”.  It was not the future I expected back in the 70’s and 80’s when the lives of women and other “minority” groups seemed on track to get so much better.

If you had told any of us who were working for the passage of the ERA amendment that the rights and support of women and children would be in grave danger now, we wouldn’t have believed it. Access to abortion, birth control, child health care, and nutrition programs is absolutely important to the health of this nation.

I don’t care how much people long for the good old days that never existed. Nostalgia for simpler times is a poison pellet this country must not swallow. Believe me, there was never a time when all girls wanted was to be popular cheerleaders. Those teenage romances were about as realistic as the Cosby show.

I love to watch old movies and am almost addicted to screwball comedies of the Thirties but I don’t believe that people lived like that in real life. They were simply entertainments. We should never confuse entertainment with fact. Plus, time can never run backwards.

That said, I am very happy to have Dreams Can Come True acknowledged as, “a good book” by a successful and visible child of the 80’s. It is always amazing and wonderful how wide those pebbles we toss into the lake can go.  I wish her well in her new spot.

As for my own current career. I will be speaking on Rev. Beverly Molander’s radio show next Monday at 1 pm. You can access the show by going to http://www.unity.fm/program/AffirmativePrayer. That invitation came because of the book’s brief appearance on the Today show.

I am finishing up my Emerson class this Thursday and it has been wonderful to revisit that fabulous thinker and his friends.  This has been an exceptionally bright group of students and they especially enjoyed watching my lectures that I made 20 years ago. I especially enjoyed being reminded of that  110 pound weight loss.

My meditation coloring book is done and I will be writing about it soon.

I will be speaking in church on Sunday, July 29th, and I think my talk will be about Summer Reading. Any suggestions?

Please Share

What was your favorite book as a kid?

What is your favorite New Thought book?

 


Awakening & Friends

In my dream, I got a clear message that awakening is not a solitary enterprise but something that happens as a group. The dream felt important, although I wasn’t sure what it meant. Soon after, two friends visited who were part of an extraordinary change in direction (my conscious awakening) many years ago and I understood the dream message better. It takes a spiritual community or shanga to open up most of us and we need others to help us accept the gifts of Spirit.

The friends who visited were instrumental in some very great changes in my life. I met one friend in 12 Step circles because I sponsored the sponsor of her sponsor.  I’m sort of her sobriety grandmother. The other friend was my shrink for a couple of “blast-off” years in my life.

We all believe people can change and we’ve all changed in many ways. Notably, we each changed careers. I was a full time writer then. Now I am mostly a minister and spiritual counselor who writes. The shrink now writes full time and speaks all over the world. The 12 step friend is a substance abuse & family counselor.

Most importantly, we are each expressing our Divine selves in ways that would not have seemed possible back then. I am happy to have been a part of their awakening to their higher expression of life and I am very happy they are a part of mine.

As I look back at my life, I see how important friends have been in helping me step out of old patterns and into new ways of living. When I think of the amazing, talented and fascinating people I’ve counted as friends I realize how fortunate I am.

Every step along the way, no matter how alone I felt at the time, there was a friend to guide me. From the very beginning, teachers and mentors were a big part of my life. I had good friends who supported the best of me. No one needs friends who see them as victims or in hopeless situations.

When I got serious about sobriety, the charming man who was my sponsor until he died a few years ago appeared, out of the blue, into my depressing life in  Oaxaca, Mexico. He was a writer, a New Yorker, a Buddhist, and loads of fun. He might have been sent from Central Casting to help me.

When I began to study the ministry, my friend Carol Carnes was two years ahead of me. She was a single mother, had a dry wit and loved jazz. She was my spiritual guide all the way through my studies and early years in Religious Science International. She might have been sent from Central Casting to help me.

There were many others who seemed to suddenly appear in my life at exactly the right time as though they were sent from Central Casting to play an important part in my journey.

Ever notice how you get an idea and a series of supporting props will show up in your life? Maybe you decide to take up gardening and your new neighbor turns out to be a Master Gardener at the local university. He might have been sent from Central Casting to show you how to do it. Or maybe you decide you want to know more about opera and you run across a series of lectures on ITunes. That’s what I call help from Central Casting.

Your life really is your movie and you really are the star but you need co-stars to make it work. That’s when you send a telegram to Central Casting. Prayer works even better than telegrams but the important thing is to have a vision of change.

All you have to do is get the greater vision and believe in it – even a little bit. The Law of Attraction will kick in and support your evolutionary journey. And when your friends who are a part of your awakening show up, be sure and remember to be grateful and treat them well.

Our friends are treasures and they will be there when we need them but they should also be enjoyed for themselves. Don’t wait for an emergency to be grateful or tell them you love them. Tell them often because love is good. God is Love. God is good. All the time. Love is good. All the time.

I enjoy my friends and I also marvel at the ways in which they change and grow.  I do not need them to stay the same, nor do I need them to agree with me.  I need them to be more and more of themselves and to support me in my quest to be more of myself. Friends are a major joy in my life. They are also a major part of my spiritual understanding.

The longer I live, the more I am convinced that our relationships to each other mirrors our relationship to God.

In New Thought, we believe that God lives within every human being on the planet. It is wonderful to contemplate that idea and try to see God in everyone. Sometimes that is difficult so it is especially good to start by seeing God in your friends. I see my friends as Godsends even though it seems as if they might have come from Central Casting.

God is Love. Love expresses in many ways and one beautiful way is through friendship.

Ask yourself 

Is there a special friend I want to contact today?

What do I want to tell this person?


Wise Women Gather

In two months, on Saturday, May 12, a group will gather at Unity in Tustin CA for an all day Wise Woman Celebration. My good friend, Rev. Rachel Lampert organized one of these all day conferences a few years ago and it was such a success that she is doing it again. I am happy to be delivering the keynote talk and as far as I am concerned, this is a great time to remember we have the power to change. We are the majority!

            When I wrote the book, Wise Women don’t worry, Wise Women don’t sing the blues, sixteen years ago, several people told me the topic was too late – that women’s issues were all over. I was amazed at how certain they were that women had marched in a few parades, burned a few bras and then lived happily ever after. Many of the women I was met in my ministry were struggling with balancing time, family, and work and needed to learn how to set successful boundaries. Many needed clarity and courage.

It seemed to me that Women in New Thought had some real strengths because their belief system allowed them full power by right of Divine Inheritance. Since we define God as the Creative Energy of the Universe (non-gender), women could easily accept that God wanted them to expand and grow and have wonderful lives. On the other hand, we all came from somewhere and we all carried a lot of that “somewhere thinking” with us into our days.

It also seemed to me that Women in New Thought had an especially confusing task of being loving and not letting people trample on them. They also had a higher vision of what their lives could be like and were ready and willing to change anything that needed to change. The book’s most important message was that we are not victims. We can use simple metaphysical principles to take charge of our lives. We model a balance of love and power that is unique in many ways.

Wise Women don’t worry, Wise Women don’t sing the blues, is still in print and the book still sells pretty well. It is the genesis of this May 12 th conference (although there will be many independent women presenting their specialties). It has been the genesis of many Wise Woman weekends in the past. I trained over a hundred women to lead Wise Women groups and there are several Wise Women groups still operating. I get messages fairly often from readers who tell me how the book helped them. At this point – I count the project a total success. But not finished!

The conference in Tustin is another new beginning. It will be my privilege to be keynote speaker and there will be talks and workshops by others on sexuality, music, storytelling and many other subjects. If you want more information go to celebratewisewomen@yahoo.com. If you register before March 15 the price will be $36.00. After that, I think it goes to $50 but you need to check that out for yourself.

As far as I am concerned, this conference could not come at a better time. Ideas and cultural beliefs change slowly and only if we are persistent. When we elected Obama, we had a choice of a black man or a white woman. They were both exceptional and well qualified. The very fact that they were our candidates was thrilling. But that wasn’t the end of the story.  I think some people thought that we could put the whole civil rights issue in a big sack and store it way up on the top shelf. That’s clearly not happening.

Sometimes resistance to change gets stronger in reaction to apparent gains. I think that is apparent right now. Civil rights issues are in the limelight. And there is a lot to heal. Unemployment is greatest among minorities. We hear quite a bit about same-sex marriage and don’t-ask-don’t tell policies in the military. Civil rights for same-sex couples in a long way from achieved.

Nor is the issue of women’s rights healed. If you watch the news, women seem to be losing ground. Now basic choice and health rights are threatened. You notice that there are very few boards of corporations or educational institutions or governments or any other seats of power even if the women members are in the majority. Nor is the representation of blacks and Hispanics anywhere near their statistical numbers in the United States.

This Wise Woman Celebration on May 12th will be about personal issues. It is not political. Every one of us will have a chance to take a look at our lives, our choices, our boundaries and limits and our hopes and dreams. The whole day will be devoted to personal empowerment and it is open to women of all political persuasions.

However, I am already planning my few choice words. I believe there is nothing more political than the issue of personal freedom. Women must not submit to becoming victims in any way. We must find the courage and clarity to take charge of our lives. It is time to wake up and speak up. There’s nothing like a good book or good conference to wake us up.

My plan for May 12th is to take a look at the future as well as be happy about the past. How about you? What are your plans for that day?

Ask Yourself

Do I want more information about the conference?

Do I want to read Wise Women don’t worry, Wise Women don’t sing the blues? ( Note – order it by going to the New Thought Works bookstore on this blog).

How am I feeling about my personal freedom?

Is this an issue for me to speak up about?

How shall I begin?