They are each my long-term friends and although they don’t know each other, the three of us have much in common, including optimistic attitudes and impressive resumes. It’s true that birds of a feather flock together and I’ve noticed that my highflying friends tend to resemble eagles. Nearly all of them are independent women of a “certain age”.
When I met Gina in Massachusetts, 35 years ago, we both lived in the Berkshires. She now lives in Cambridge, MA and travels all over the world giving speeches and workshops. She’s become a leader in her field of sex therapy and has written many books including her first, the classic, Women Who Love Sex.
Gina is a therapist who helps people change and, unlike most experts, she’s not afraid to change herself. She walks her talk.When I met her she had a modest practice and she published a Women’s Newspaper. Her outlook mostly political and she promoted the women’s movement. She was the perfect therapist for me.
Next, she stepped into the role of self-help/psychology writer with amazing speed. Our friendship deepened because of our mutual writing interests. The next years brought her much success, including appearances on Oprah and awards in her field.
During the last decade or so, she’s opened up to a more spiritual side of life. She studied with a South American shaman for a while. Now she’s developed a wonderful new approach to therapy that considers the mental, physical, emotional and spiritual aspects of life. She has a large following in her Isis Network. For more check out www.GinaOgden.com
I’ve known my friend Maxine Kaye for about twenty-five years and I admired her from the day I met her. It is a pleasure to be in Maxine’s company because she consistently sees the bright side of life.
She grew up in the Science of Mind teaching and became a minister at a very early age. Everything about Maxine speaks to the power of a strong spiritual teaching. She is intelligent, beautiful and one of the most loving people I’ve ever met.
Maxine has been my unwitting mentor for many years. As a late-comer to a spiritual approach to living, I had a lot of work to do and I was quite critical but even before I met her personally, I could see her integrity. Maxine’s example was inspirational. She showed me it was possible to truly internalize spiritual living principles.
Over the years we served on many, many Religious Science International committees together, including the Board of Education and Board of Directors. She always saw situations from the best possible viewpoint. She never condemned, gossiped or criticized. I admire her because she also walks her talk.
Maxine and I have travelled our unique ministerial paths as friends. I stayed in the center I founded in Carlsbad and she moved around a bit, but she was always in California. Now she is moving to Boca Raton, FL where she will write her daily inspirations and be a guest speaker and workshop presenter. One Sunshine state loses what another one gains. Whenever Maxine’s in the room, it is lighter and brighter.
She not old enough to retire, of course, so she’s just changing her methods of working. If you want to know how old she is, you’ll have to buy her book because I think of her as a teenager. I will tell you this though – her chronological age is simply numbers. Maxine looks and acts amazingly young. She is living proof that positive spiritual living is truly good for you and for every aspect of your life.
Maxine has written an excellent book, Alive and Ageless and she shares many of her ideas how to stay young. These ideas include diet and exercise tips but everything is truly based on building a youthful, healthy consciousness. You can buy the book from Maxine’s website www.TheConsciousConnections.com, or from http://www.LULU.com or from most Center For Spiritual Living bookstores. Follow her wisdom and I think you will be very happy with the results. You can also subscribe to her daily inspirations, ConsciousConnections.
If you met my friends, Gina and Maxine, you would see they are not much alike. There are many differences but it is the similarities that are important to our new world. They are marvelous examples of an emerging pattern for wise women.
I call Gina, Maxine and most of my other friends the Breakthrough generation. We were born into a world where girls were supposed to be “sugar and spice and everything nice”. Our goals were to marry young, have nice babies and support our husbands as they built their careers.
Breakthrough Wise Women began as good girls who “behaved ourselves”, but times change and our worlds flowered as we began to claim more of the action for ourselves.We were women who moved ahead of the times.
The women’s movement is taught as ho-hum history these days. “There was the birth control pill, Betty Friedan, Gloria Steinham, The Sixties explosion and the rest is history”. When we were in those moments, it was terribly personal.
Our journey is quite a story. It took a lot of courage to get from there to where we are now. If you don’t believe me, watch Mad Men.
We lived that history. Whether we were political or not, whether we knew it or not, we were deeply impacted by the women’s movement. For Jane, Maxine and Gina, and most of my other friends, it is very, very personal history.
Although they are several years younger and we are very different people, we share a common experience because we didn’t stick to the expected script. We made choices and we designed lives that were inconceivable when we started out. Think about it. No women ministers. No sexual revolution. No Oprah. No world travel.
Things turned out a lot bigger and better than we expected because we stepped out on faith. I love both my friends for many reasons but that shared history is a big part of it. I love it that we designed interesting and successful lives by making brave choices.
Even though I was sad when Gina and Maxine left town, I didn’t want to hold them back. It’s OK to wish people lived closer but it is not OK to try and cage them or to hold back their changes.
These two great ladies have been my friends since cigarettes were sexy and Coca-Cola was a nickel. We have always kept in touch before and we will continue to do so. They will always be in my life even if not in the next room.
I will miss them, of course but I’m glad they are doing what they want to do. I am glad they are living the lives they want to live. I am glad to be a part of the Breakthrough generation.
List three major ideas that have changed in your lifetime.
Do you have friends you miss?
Do you have a friend you want to tell you are proud of?
Do you want to contact a distant friend today?
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.
What makes you feel valuable?
Do you want to forward this blog to anyone?
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.
How do I react when I make a mistake?
How quickly do I let go of the mistake?