Farewell, My Ladies

Cocacola-5cents-1900_edit1It was a happy coincidence that Dr. Gina Ogden and Rev. Dr. Maxine Kaye were visiting at the same time of year and an unhappy one when they departed on the same day.

They are each my long-term friends and although they don’t know each other, the three of us have much in common, including optimistic attitudes and impressive resumes. It’s true that birds of a feather flock together and I’ve noticed that my highflying friends tend to resemble eagles. Nearly all of them are independent women of a “certain age”.

When I met Gina in Massachusetts, 35 years ago, we both lived in the Berkshires. She now lives in Cambridge, MA and travels all over the world giving speeches and workshops. She’s become a leader in her field of sex therapy and has written many books including her first, the classic, Women Who Love Sex.

Gina is a therapist who helps people change and, unlike most experts, she’s not afraid to change herself. She walks her talk.When I met her she had a modest practice and she published a Women’s Newspaper. Her outlook mostly political and she promoted the women’s movement. She was the perfect therapist for me.

Next, she stepped into the role of self-help/psychology  writer with amazing speed. Our friendship deepened because of our mutual writing interests. The next years brought her much success, including appearances on Oprah and awards in her field.

During the last decade or so, she’s opened up to a more spiritual side of life. She studied with a South American shaman for a while. Now she’s developed a wonderful new approach to therapy that considers the mental, physical, emotional and spiritual aspects of life. She has a large following in her Isis Network. For more check out www.GinaOgden.com

I’ve known my friend Maxine Kaye for about twenty-five years and I admired her from the day I met her. It is a pleasure to be in Maxine’s company because she consistently sees the bright side of life.

She grew up in the Science of Mind teaching and became a minister at a very early age. Everything about Maxine speaks to the power of a strong spiritual teaching. She is intelligent, beautiful and one of the most loving people I’ve ever met.

Maxine has been my unwitting mentor for many years. As a late-comer to a spiritual approach to living, I had a lot of work to do and I was quite critical but even before I met her personally, I could see her integrity. Maxine’s example was inspirational. She showed me it was possible to truly internalize spiritual living principles.

Over the years we served on many, many Religious Science International committees together, including the Board of Education and Board of Directors. She always saw situations from the best possible viewpoint. She never condemned, gossiped or criticized. I admire her because she also walks her talk.

Maxine and I have travelled our unique ministerial paths as friends. I stayed in the center I founded in Carlsbad and she moved around a bit, but she was always in California. Now she is moving to Boca Raton, FL where she will write her daily inspirations and be a guest speaker and workshop presenter. One Sunshine state loses what another one gains. Whenever Maxine’s in the room, it is lighter and brighter.

She not old enough to retire, of course, so she’s just changing her methods of working. If you want to know how old she is, you’ll have to buy her book because I think of her as a teenager. I will tell you this though – her chronological age is simply numbers. Maxine looks and acts amazingly young. She is living proof that positive spiritual living is truly good for you and for every aspect of your life.

Maxine has written an excellent book, Alive and Ageless and she shares many of her ideas how to stay young. These ideas include diet and exercise tips but everything is truly based on building a youthful, healthy consciousness. You can buy the book from Maxine’s website www.TheConsciousConnections.com, or from http://www.LULU.com or from most Center For Spiritual Living bookstores. Follow her wisdom and I think you will be very happy with the results. You can also subscribe to her daily inspirations, ConsciousConnections.

If you met my friends, Gina and Maxine, you would see they are not much alike. There are many differences but it is the similarities that are important to our new world. They are marvelous examples of an emerging pattern for wise women.

I call Gina, Maxine and most of my other friends the Breakthrough generation. We were born into a world where girls were  supposed to be “sugar and spice and everything nice”. Our goals were to marry young, have nice babies and support our husbands as they built their careers.

Breakthrough Wise Women began as good girls who “behaved ourselves”, but times change and our worlds flowered as we began to claim more of the action for ourselves.We were women who moved ahead of the times.

The women’s movement is taught as ho-hum history these days.  “There was the birth control pill, Betty Friedan, Gloria Steinham, The Sixties explosion and the rest is history”. When we were in those moments, it was terribly personal.

Our journey is quite a story. It took a lot of courage to get from there to where we are now. If you don’t believe me, watch Mad Men.

We lived that history. Whether we were political or not, whether we knew it or not, we were deeply impacted by the women’s movement. For Jane, Maxine and Gina, and most of my other friends, it is very, very personal history.

Although they are several years younger and we are very different people, we share a common experience because we didn’t stick to the expected script. We made choices and we designed lives that were inconceivable when we started out. Think about it. No women ministers. No sexual revolution. No Oprah. No world travel.

Things turned out a lot bigger and better than we expected  because we stepped out on faith.  I love both my friends for many reasons but that shared history is a big part of it. I love it that we designed interesting and successful lives by making brave choices.

Even though I was sad when Gina and Maxine left town, I didn’t want to hold them back. It’s OK to wish people lived closer but it is not OK to try and cage them or to hold back their changes.

These two great ladies have been my friends since cigarettes were sexy and Coca-Cola was a nickel. We have always kept in touch before and we will continue to do so. They will always be in my life even if not in the next room.

I will miss them, of course but I’m glad they are doing what they want to do. I am glad they are living the lives they want to live. I am glad to be a part of the Breakthrough generation.

Ask Yourself

List three major ideas that have changed in your lifetime.

Do you have  friends you miss?

Do you have a friend you want to tell you are proud of?

Do you want to contact a distant friend today?


New Thought – New Woman

EMMA2I can’t let March go without writing this… New Thought deserves a very special place in Women’s History. Did you know that New Thought was the first church  to have women ministers? Did you know Emma Curtis Hopkins was a leader in the women’s movement?        

One reason I was attracted to New Thought in the first place was that women had an equal voice and there were a so many women ministers in our churches.

Recently I read that since the beginning of time, women have been more interesteed in religion than men are. I don’t know if that is true but I do know that I’ve never attended any church anywhere when there weren’t more women that men in the pews. Nevertheless, I’m almost positive we remain the only denomination with more women than men behind the pulpit.

New Thought was started in the 1880’s when the women’s movement was gaining steam but the real reason we allowed women equal power in our churches is because of what we teach – our basic theology. We define God as Creative Intelligence that is present everywhere, and is all powerful and all Good.

God is not an old man in the sky fighting a big battle with a smaller man in a smokin’ red suit from down below. God is neither male nor female but encompasses everything. Since God lives fully present in each of us, we all have equal access to the Power For Good and we can all use it.

Women have been the leaders in our teaching since the very beginning. One early leader, Emma Curtis Hopkins (1855-1925), is credited with being the founder of New Thought by many scholars. I am in that camp. I believe Hopkins was the true founder because she clearly articulated the ideas of the teaching as religion and her writing is still taught in our churches.

Others say Phineas P. Quimby who learned about Anton Mesmer’s early hypnotism and experimented with the principles of mental healing was the founder, but although he believed in mental healing, he did not believe in organized not religion.  It was his student, Mary Baker Eddy, who combined his mental healing techniques with religion and who founded Christian Science. Her churches are not considered New Thought.

Emma Curtis Hopkins was a former school teacher who was a divorced woman with health and financial problems. Hopkins studied with Eddy and split away to form her own teaching. Over a period of years, she built a wide-spread work and earned the title, Teacher of Teachers.

She taught thousands of people including the founders of the three major New Thought denominations; Unity, Divine Science and Religious Science. She also taught Anna Rix Militz who founded the California-based Home Truth and many others who founded large works at that time.

Emilie Cady was in Hopkins’s first class and Cady is author of the famous Unity text, Ten Lessons in Truth. Later Hopkins taught Unity founders Myrtle and Charles Fillmore . She also taught Malinda Cramer, and the other founder, Nona Brooks, learned from a student of Hopkins. Ernest Holmes, founder of Religious Science, studied with Emma Curtis Hopkins later in her life.

I have always been fascinated by Hopkins and her colleagues because they lived in a time when women were pushing for the vote and for equal opportunity. Most of these New Thought pioneers were divorced or widowed women who travelled from town to town, staying in people’s homes and teaching any beginners they could attract. They were truly very brave.

Some of them, like Hopkins, were charismatic enough to draw big crowds (as much as a thousand) and even start schools. Others labored in the vineyards with little notice, crisscrossing the nation by railroads and opening minds and hearts.

They were teaching philosophy and religion in a time when most women worked at uneducated, menial jobs and/or housework. They were harbingers of the New Age of Women. Some, like Helen Wilmans and Hopkins, were active in the Women’s Movement and others were simply active women.

Wilmans was active in the labor movement as well as creating a mail order books, lessons and distance prayer business in the town she built in Florida. She was hugely successful for a while and  known as a political activist as well as a prosperity teacher. No one knows much about her today.

Emma Curtis Hopkin’s fame remains but people don’t know she taught leaders of the Suffrage Movement.  Of the 22 graduates of in her first graduating class, 20 were women. One was Helen Wilmans. Two others were the very active, well known suffrage activists, Louisa Southworth and Elizabeth Boynton Harbert.

What’s more, Hopkins Metaphysical Association had a booth in the Women’s Pavilion of the 1893 Chicago World’s Fair!

Over the years, I have heard many comments bewailing the lack of men in our churches (mostly from women). Almost no one comments about the wonder of having so many fabulous women leaders. We need to look at that and pay more attention to our history.

While the Christian Science and Seventh Day Adventist Churches were American religions founded by women during the same era, those leaders who the founders were male.  Our leaders have included both genders throughout our history. The first president of the International New Thought Alliance was the noted writer and magazine editor, Elizabeth Towne.

Some people know that Quaker women played a leading part in the struggle for women’s rights but not many know that New Thought women were also involved. Other people associate the Unitarian-Universalist Churches with social action and that is certainly true. It is also true that they had very few women ministers until the 1960’s.

Both Unitarian and New Thought teachings are descended from the Transcendentalists and we both claim Emerson as one of our ancestors. I am also very proud to also claim early feminist, Margaret Fuller, first editor of the Transcendentalist magazine The Dial as my ancestor as well.

Unitarians and the Quakers have been well known for their social activism, while we have been quietly making history for the last century and a half. When I began studying Religious Science, the President of Religious Science International was a woman named Earlene Castellaw. Dr. Arlene Bump was president later. The Rev. Dr.Cathy Hearn headed United Religious Science for many years.

I believe New Thought people should be very proud of our women’s history heritage and make it known. I still have a few copies of a book I wrote ten years ago. I plan to rewrite one of these days and add more about these ideas and new facts. Meanwhile, contact me if you are interested. The book is called New Thought – New Woman, a survey of Women and Spirit from Goddess to New Thought.

Ask Yourself

Why was I led to this teaching?

How do I feel about a majority of women in my Center?

Am I proud of our New Thought history?

Do I have friends I want to tell about our history?

I’m Back

I spent a couple of days in the hospital last week and I‘ve slept a lot since then. Thank God the bacterial infection did not go into my lungs. Now that I’m back, is it too late to tell you how happy I am about the election?

My team won and I am happy because I felt strongly about the personal freedom issues. But it turns out, I am not good at games. If my team wins, the other team loses and I love so many people who are on the other team.

Generally, my friends and I agreed on personal liberty stuff but differed on economic ideas. So, one week after the election, I am recovering and asking, “Can’t we all just get along?”  

         I believe this nation is rich because of its diversity and ability to have civil discourse. Like most Americans, I am ready to stop fighting and rebuild a cooperative government.

The good news is that the election is over. I am ready to move on and I believe resisting change is silly. Whether we want it or not, life will most certainly change. Our job is to make sure life flows in the direction of love and justice for all. We may do that in a peculiar zigzag path but we are moving ahead.

Dr. Raymond Charles Barker said that a consciousness once stretched never returns to its original shape and I think that is equally true on a personal and national level. When the edges are pushed out, they never can return to the “good old days”. Nostalgia tends to breed discomfort and disease, not solutions.

Living longer creates a sense of trust in the evolutionary process. This has been true for me personally and I believe it is also politically true. Wasn’t it fun to see the diversity in our newly elected officials?

I remember when white males absolutely ruled our political and corporate organizations. You youngsters may have enjoyed watching Mad Men, I just found it distressing de ja vu all over again.

Yes, there was a time when voter suppression was a given, not a failed scheme. There was a time when there were no women on the Supreme Court and the women who ran for president were considered eccentrics at best and probably nut cases.

In those ancient times, when I told my shrink I was working on Rep. Shirley Chisholm’s presidential campaign, I think he wanted to lock me up.

There was even a time when the South was totally Democratic and all African Americans (then called Negroes) who were allowed to vote, voted for the party of Lincoln. Our first Afro-American Senator, Edward Brooks, was a Republican from Massachusetts.

There was also a time when a politician’s personal life was off limits. Clinton’s life was a public soap opera but Kennedy was a real dog with the ladies and no one even mentioned it.

Those were not the good old days and I do not want to return to them. I was pleased that so many women were elected this year because I think women change things in basic ways. They learn at their mother’s knee that protecting the young is their most important duty.

It may not make me a good feminist to say this but I think women are less theoretical than men. They know that passing a law based on an abstract idea will have a direct and concrete effect on the lives of families. Men also know this, but women know it at a more cellular level. This election defined women as a spectacular voting block.

As a New Thought person, I believe that all change begins in the consciousness of the individual. When I look back at the political leaders I admire most in my life, I see many giants. Eleanor Roosevelt, Bayard Rustin, Martin Luther King, Gloria Steinham, Shirley Chisholm, and John F. Kennedy are a few of the political leaders I admire.

I also admire some fascinating and inspirational spiritual leaders. They include; Ernest Holmes, RC Barker, Frank Richelieu, Valerie Seyffert, Kennedy Shultz, David Walker, Louise Hay, Sue Rubin, Nancy Anderson, Barbara Lunde, Earlene Castellaw, Arlene Bump, Carolyn McKeown , Sandy Jacobs, Maxine Kaye, Carol Carnes, and Marilyn Hall Day. These are people who were here before me and I know that I stand on their shoulders.

Perhaps the greatest leaders of all have been my students and friends who followed me into the ministry. They taught me to question and to stretch my understanding of how God works in our life.

I cannot name them all here but my dear friend and prayer partner, Jeanette Keil, has been a daily inspiration for many years. I also love my young friends, Jeff Proctor and Judy Beiter, who left the planet a lot sooner than I expected. I miss them both.

There are too many other friends to mention by name but they are all a part of my beloved spiritual family. Some of them, like Eleanor Roosevelt, opened my mind to God’s Infinite Possibilty. Though she was a remote person, she was a powerful influence for me.

Every one of my wonderful collection of influences opened me up to the power of God in my life. They were all unique and individualized expressions of God. I felt connected to them. Whether I could articulate it or not, when I watched, listened and learned from them, I felt God in action.

I am not an abstract person. I see God in the love of mother and child, in the bloom of the rose and the rise of the sun. When I am feeling the connection of oneness  and love with people, I feel the presence of God.

People are connections. They surround and love us. We cooperate in ways we don’t often notice but we have come a long way since the days of the cave people. We cooperate in amazing ways with spectacular results all the time. Our government, when it is working correctly, is God in action.

Elections matter. Whether it is a vote for the rights of same-sex marriage or a bond issue to support the schools, our decisions matter. Today, I recognize the loving connection to each other in the government and in God. God is One and we are connected to each other.

God is Infinite Opportunity, Infinite Power and Infinite/Unlimited Love. God is the Creative Energy of the Universe working in our lives. Full time. 24/7.

I am grateful to be a citizen of the United States. I am grateful for the good government we have. I am grateful for all the historic mentors who lead us into the light. I am grateful to be connected to life and to each of my individual readers. I am grateful to be to be home and recovering. All in all, it is fair to say, I am celebrating life. How about you?

Ask Yourself

Who were my early mentors?

What historical figures do I most admire?

What did I learn from these early mentors?

Who am I connected to now?

When do I feel connected to God?

Dear Readers

It has been a good week. Three colleagues and two friends have just happened to mention how much they enjoyed this blog. There is nothing like feeling appreciated to cheer me up.

If you paint, you can always hang your work on your wall or give it to friends. If you sing, you can enjoy your own voice even in the shower. Writers seem to need readers to make the activity seem valuable.

I have written seriously for about 45 years. The first ten years were tough because I would send stories out and they came back with nice rejection letters. Then I sold a novel and it was never published. It felt so close but even though I could taste it, I never got there.

During those ten years, I learned to tough it out in the face of rejection and I learned my craft. I was not happy and I did not get what I wanted from writing but, in retrospect, I know I wanted much more than to be a successful writer.

Now I know I wanted the moon with a red ribbon on it and, what’s more, I wanted to get it by telling the world how sensitive and unhappy I was. That was a path that may have worked for a few talented souls – Dostoevsky and a couple of others  – but most writers find it is an alley that leads to a dead end.

I wanted too much from writing. I wanted to feel good about myself. I wanted to be proud of myself. I wanted to be recognized by others as a valuable human being. I wanted to see myself as a valuable human being. Most of all, I wanted to be loved.

I did eventually get to love myself and take pride in my work but I didn’t get there by complaining. When I got sober, I returned to Science of Mind and I found a new voice as a writer. I became very purposeful and successful. I wrote 80 books for teens, both fiction and non-fiction.

If you read them, you may find bits and pieces of me in them but mostly, they were about kids’ dreams and what they could learn along the way. The one that sold the most was about a girl who used visioning and hard work to become a cheerleader. The one I am proudest of is about a girl who was a slave during the Civil War and escaped to go North.

The non-fiction was about anything from how to be a teenage model to the building of the atomic bomb.

I know I was a writing success in the outer world. What can be more successful than being on the NY Times best seller list for 30 weeks? I also know I am very fortunate that I was immersed in Science of Mind and a 12 Step program or I might have been lost again. I needed more than writing success to get what I wanted in life.

My 12 Step Program taught me about gratitude, being in service, and the value of a supportive group. I learned the wisdom of knowing the difference between what I could control and what I had to accept.

Science of Mind built on that wisdom and helped me achieve my dreams. I learned that life was not a struggle but a joy, and that I had intrinsic value as a human being.

The books that I wrote after I became a Religious Science minister brought me much closer to my original aims of loving and appreciating myself.  Science of Mind Skills combined my deepest beliefs with my ability to teach others. It is still selling very well and I think it now qualifies as a classic.

Wise Women don’t worry, Wise Women don’t sing the blues, felt like a big risk but it paid off. I began each chapter with a small scene from my own life and then I used that story to tell my readers what I thought women needed to hear.

I think it was with Wise Women that I really found my own true voice. I let my readers know I was an alcoholic, that I’d had a very peculiar childhood, and that I’d had some early heartbreaks. I also told a bit about the eleven year affair I had with a married man. Those little vignettes certainly broke the mold of what I thought most people imagined a “New Thought minister” should be.

I was glad I took the risk. I was happy the book was received so well. I was thrilled by the number of women who attended workshops and weekends over the years.

In retrospect, I am proud of all my writing. I am even proud of those ten long years when I persevered in the face of rejection. I still love to say, “I used to write for the New Yorker …but they didn’t buy.”

Which brings me back to this blog. I would like to have many more readers and I am proud of the ones I have. The real joy of this adventure is that I write whatever is on my mind. I am happy when others tell me they find it valuable. I’m always pleased when people take the time to write a comment. I love feeling connected to a wider world.

People’s lives change and my goals have modified and grown saner in the last 45 years but I appreciate it when someone pays me a compliment. We all want to  feel valuable.

If you are reading this, please know that I value you very much. Thank you for being in my life and I am glad I am in yours.

Ask Yourself

What makes you feel valuable?

Do you want to forward this blog to anyone?

Happy Wise Woman Day

It is Saturday, May 21, in Tustin, CA at the Unity Church and I am speaking before a large group of women about my Wise Woman book. It seems different and also very much the same. I’ve spoken  hundreds of earlier times on the subject. It has been a while, but it is very familiar.

Times have changed since 1994 when I wrote the book, Wise Women don’t worry, Wise Women don’t sing the blues.  It is almost twenty years but I can tell by the questions the women from the audience that many issues remain the same.

The women who attended the Wise Woman event appeared prosperous. They are a self-selected group who know something of New Thought and they are willing to change their thinking to change their lives. I am proud to be a part of them and glad to discover old friends who are looking well and happy. It is a joyous day.

My dear friend, Rev. Rachel Lampert, put the conference together with her dear friend, Rita Prosperi; they did a beautiful job. There was an amazing number of willing workers who did their part with no drama. They were pleasant, competent, capable women volunteers and one man who helped with the filming. He had a wonderful laugh!

All of the speakers and workshop leaders were lovely, brilliant and talented. The musicians were fabulous and the conference was opened by a woman who belonged to a local Native American tribe. She leads a spiritual group called Song Of The Earth and by the time she finished chanting, I felt the earth truly was singing .

The day was fabulous. I felt loved and lifted. The laughter was a blessing –especially from Rev. Rachel who has the best laugh in the world. The audience was great, of course, because the Law of Attraction is always working. I am generally an optimistic person but lately, I’ve had a few doubts. This event gave me a great deal of hope for the future

Of course, I reviewed my own life as I prepared my talk and that made me very aware of changes that have happened. For example, in my youth, all ministers were men. I knew only of Aimee Semple McPherson who was disgraced as a fallen woman.

Even though women continue to face economic and political issues, I can see very real progress. We see women on TV every day who are established leaders in their fields. My two favorite news commentators Rachel Maddow and Melissa Harris- Perry are perfect examples of wise women who would not have been seen on the air 20 years ago.

Feminists are no longer terrified of lesbian labels. Maddow has the courage to be openly gay. Harris-Perry is Afro-American and a professor. While we are not all working on TV or CEOs of corporations, we have come a long way. Most of us know at least one notable woman in her chosen field. We don’t deliberately limit our children’s and grandchildren’s ideas of what kind of work they can do as adults.

That being said, women still make an average of 77 cents for every dollar a man makes at the same job. The top layers of government and industry are hugely dominated by men. Physical appearance is still a big very factor in how the world responds to women.

Life is better in many ways but anyone who thinks that the need for women to step up and speak out is over should take a good long look at what is actually happening in this nation. We have a great deal of work to do.

At the same time, it is probably better to be born a woman in the United States than most places. We can drive cars, marry late or not at all and get ahead economically. We can be single parents without apology.

Opportunities will continue to grow. As more women are elected to political office, the plight of the poor, the education of children and other social issues will improve. I believe this because I know that women are culturally and historically tuned into these issues. They are aware of the implications of massive numbers of children living in poverty or the need for effective health care costs for seniors. The majority of health care providers are still women who volunteer to care for family members. This is not a bad thing, it simply is what is.

I do find the rise of a right wing political, religious and social attitude in the US very distressing. These action-oriented believers threaten to push back many of our gains. Cuts in the national budget are never military but hover over education, child protection, and women and children’s health care.

I am amazed to see a political party try to unapologetically try to turn back the clock. They are apparently determined to take away gains made on women’s choices. Roe vs. Wade , women and children’s health care and other issues of choice are in chronic danger.

That said – the women I talked with in Tustin were healthy, wealthy and wise. A group of intelligent, optimistic and spiritual women like that create an aura of loving power that is exactly what we need on a personal, local, state, and national level. Indeed, I am certain that women like them are the ones to save the planet.

That group of wise women created an atmosphere that was a distinct and beautiful feeling of peace, love, power and intelligence. It felt clear to me that, as Julian of Norwich said, “All is well and all will be well.”

My Mother’s Day celebration began in that room. I was truly blessed to be a part of the event. I was also very blessed to have my beautiful daughter there with me. She has been the biggest blessing of all in my life.

I wish everyone of my readers a Happy Mother’s Day – not just yesterday, but every day for the rest of your lives.

Ask Yourself

How has my life changed?

How would I like my life to change?

Women and New Thought

“Imagine what it must have been like to ride the trains like those early women did,”my ministerial  student says. “They were very brave and it makes me feel special to be a part of that history”.

As she speaks, I can feel myself beginning to glow  with pleasure. After all, any history teacher wants her students to appreciate the past, and I believe New Thought history and its connection to the rise of women’s rights is especially relevant.

My interest in the role of women in New Thought history goes all the way back more than twenty years when I was training to be a minister. In those days, we had to write a thesis and mine was on Women and New Thought.

We also had to give a public lecture on our subject. I talked about women’s lives in the 1880’s and how difficult it was just to get dinner on the table and get the weekly washing done. Housework was a full time job for most women but there were many, including well-known figures such as Emma Curtis Hopkins and others, who chose to be practitioners and teachers of New Thought.

Those early practitioners and teachers were often widowed or divorced and they struck out on their own, riding trains from town to town and staying in boarding houses while they taught. Some of them, like Hopkins, started schools that were fairly big establishments but most were doing small works in small towns, spreading the word to small groups.

During the years of my ministry, I have done more research on the early women in New Thought and written the book,  New Thought, New Woman.

One of the great strengths of our religion is that we describe God as the Creative Energy of the Universe. Our founder, Ernest Holmes and the other New Thought writers use many names for God including; Universal Mind, First Cause, Divine Mind, Infinite Mind, Divine Givingness … and the list goes on.

We sometimes use the word God but we never intend it to describe an Old Man who lives in the sky and looks down upon us, judging what is right and wrong. We do not believe that God is male and that men are the natural leaders of churches.

Our understanding of God is not a human-like figure, it is much grander and without gender. In that way, we were like the Quakers, who also allowed women to speak in meeting (church) because they believe the Inner Light lives in all persons and that Light guides us.

How could we say that only men can be ministers if we believe that God creates us all and lives everywhere including within us? If God is present everywhere all of the time then we must acknowledge that women should have an equal voice in the pulpit.

The fact that God has no gender is probably the major reason so many women were so important to the New Thought movement from the very beginning. The founders of Divine Science were women. The founders of Unity were a married couple. The first president of the International New Thought Alliance (INTA) was a woman.

There were many important New Thought writers and some of them are still quite well known. Ella Wheeler Wilcox is no longer considered a great poet but her verse is still taught in poetry classes. Do you know her most famous lines from the poem Solitude? Laugh and the world laughs with you; Weep and you weep alone.

Most writers have faded from our current lists but not all of them. The Game of Life and How To Play It by Florence Scovell Shin is still in most New Thought bookstores. So is, Emilie Cady’s Lessons In Truth.

Emma Curtis Hopkins, often called the “Teacher of Teachers” is definitely better known now than she was twenty-five years ago. There are new classes based on her old books. She not only taught the founders of the surviving New Thought denominations, she wrote several books and influenced famous people in the arts.  In her lifetime, she spoke to and taught thousands of people.

The other factor in the importance of women in New Thought is that the women’s movement was rising at the same time New Thought was developing into a distinct denomination. In the 1880’s through the turn of the Century, women were on the march. They were interested in a variety of causes. Those movements included women’s right to vote, abolishing alcohol consumption, rational clothing (remember Amelia Bloomer?) public hygiene, prison reform, and helping poor people.

Some New Thought leaders were also interested in more than one of these subjects. Others reserved all their energy for healing and teaching endeavors. However, the important thing to know about this period in history is that women were beginning to be much more active outside the home. For the first time, they were in the public forum as lecturers, writers and teachers.

The New Thought teaching was something that was open to them as a way to earn a living and they took advantage of that fact. Many of the travelling practitioners and teachers were widowed or divorced women. Additionally, women were accustomed to healing and teaching work and they simply expanded their techniques and boundaries as time and women marched onward.

Ask Yourself

What have I done that took courage?

What might I do today?

What does New Thought history have to do with my life?

I Make Mistakes

I made two mistakes on my last blog about the Wise Woman Celebration on May 12 in Tustin, CA.  Here are my corrections. The place to go to for more information is http://cwwevents.org/ . On March 15 the price goes up to  $60. I hate it when I make mistakes but it happens. So all I can say is I’m sorry and move on.

 Mistakes don’t just happen. Someone makes them. In this case, I failed to do the research and rushed to print. It was very apparent to anyone who cared and I got more than one comment. I am doing my best to make amends.

 Making silly errors like that used to drive me nuts. I still hate sloppy mistakes but it takes more than that to upset me for long. Life is shorter than it used to be and I don’t sweat the small stuff. I learned long ago that I am human and I must learn to love me “as is”. While I know I’m perfect at the level of the Absolute (in God’s eyes) I see plenty of room to improve here on Planet Earth.

I’ve learned to handle the actual mistake as quickly as possible and move on. Step number 10 in the 12 Step Program says, “Continued to take a personal inventory, and when we were wrong, promptly admitted it.” I have found great relief in that particular step because it freed me from having to always be right. It is literally exhausting to need to be perfect all the time.

We all learn to defend our egos and some of the ways we try to do that don’t work well. The best defense is to be careful about your work and I wasn’t. My ego took a hit and I could only make it worse by holding on to the mistake longer than I needed to. We can get in a lot of trouble defending our egos. I could try to find someone else to blame and make someone else unhappy. Or I could stop writing the blog and sink into depression, saying, “I made a mistake – I’ll never try again.”  We are familiar with those techniques – we see them in our own behavior or others.

Defending the ego by refusing to admit you are wrong is common and doesn’t work well. We all know people who are difficult to live with, work with and have fun with because they couldn’t admit they were wrong about anything. I had a friend who insisted on picking all the restaurants and then defended his choice, even when the service was bad, the food was mediocre and the price was high. He was fun in a lot of ways but not when it came to dining out.

Never being able to admit you made a mistake is a dreadful burden. The worst of it is when you are stuck defending an indefensible position. When Nixon was forced to resign, one devout Republican I knew never talked about politics again. I have known more than one person who avoided marriage after one failed attempt.

Some people seem to think that they owe it to themselves to defend every action and they never admit making a mistakes. What they are really doing is defending their egos by insane or pathetic or belligerent behavior. Warmongers can’t back down. Bullies can’t say they are sorry. Experts can’t see the flaws in their own work. Beauties can’t adjust to the changes of time. Parents can’t correct their children. Teachers can’t see that they have failed when the student fails. And so it goes.

Right now, there is a lot of political jargon flooding the airwaves and one favorite expression the commentators are using the phrase, “double down”. It comes from playing blackjack and means splitting your cards and playing two hands. What that seems to mean in political language is making a preposterous statement more preposterous by defending it.  Of course, politicians can never say they were wrong.

I think seeing my mistake, taking responsibility for it, and doing my level best to make amends is the sign of emotional maturity. That’s apparently not a goal of politicians but it is my goal. My guess that it is also your goal. You and I try to live our lives in integrity and harmony. If we double down, it is because we truly believe something.  We may eventually change our minds but we don’t try to bluff the law of cause and effect. We know that spiritual laws are inexorable and the mistake will come back to haunt us if we don’t acknowledge it.

There is usually a real cost to a mistake. That cost can always be lessened if the mistake is acknowledged and corrected quickly. Doubling down almost always makes a mistake worse.

So I made the mistake, I’m sorry, and if you contact me quickly, I’ll try to help you not suffer from my error. That is the end of it for me. You can always make a comment on the blog if you have an opinion. But I’m letting it go. I will try to be a bit more careful but chances are good this isn’t the last time. I love you all.

Ask Yourself

How do I react when I make a mistake?

How quickly do I let go of the mistake?