Big City Memories

open005Thirty-five years ago, I attended Religious Science noon meetings in New York City quite regularly. They were open-agenda, drop-in events.  Julia Coleman, who is a student practitioner, and I are now starting a similar noon meeting on Tuesdays from 12:30 to 2 PM. We begin on Tuesday, March 19th.

I loved those noon meetings because they helped me figure out how to use Science of Mind in my personal life. At the time I was having relationship trouble and I thought it was because he wouldn’t  “behave”. I was also scared about money and very anxious to make it to the top of the Big Apple by writing for teens. I was doing well and Science of Mind was helping although I didn’t know as much as I wanted to.

In my beginning studies, I found Science of Mind very abstract. It seemed impossible to incorporate the beliefs into my ordinary life. The idea that I could be perfect, whole or complete seemed ridiculous, yet I yearned to believe it. Those SOM noon meetings I attended were a Godsend because they helped me bring the ideas into my day-to-day existence.

I started by attending noon meetings at the RSI building in mid-town Manhattan. They were led by a practitioner who read questions from the floor and made comments before she treated. They were rather formal but they helped me.

I soon switched to the meetings Rev. Valerie Seyffert led. I liked those better because we conversed about regular situations in regular lives. Rev. Valerie led her meetings at Quest Bookstore in the Fifties block. Quest was a fabulous metaphysical bookstore. I think there were only two spiritual bookstores in the City. I loved the Quest meetings because anyone could ask a question. They  felt real.

Since it was midtown Manhattan, most of the issues revolved around ambition. I heard some fabulous stories about winning acting roles, selling books, landing singing gigs and achieving amazing corporate promotions. Since I was frantically,writing and selling  it was the perfect  place for me.

Rev. Valerie was also the perfect teacher for me. She had been Staff Minister for Dr. Raymond Charles Barker and when he retired, she started her own work in the National Arts Club on Gramercy Park. Independent churches were rare in those days but she had nerve and a deep belief in the Infinite Possibility of Infinite Mind. Dr. Erwin Seale ordained her.

When I lived in New York City, I was just recovering from alcoholism and on the fast track to writing success. I’ve always been grateful for Rev. Valerie’s ability to help me incorporate theory. She also helped me with my questions about how my 12 Step work could fit in.

She made it all sound ordinary. On the other hand, her life wasn’t exactly ordinary. She’d inherited the permission to rent her studio apartment in the National Arts Club Building from her deceased artist husband. We met there on Sundays and she taught also held classes in that studio. We were usually around thirty or forty. Fabulous space.

The apartment was like something out of the movies. It was one very big studio room, a tiny kitchen and small bedroom with this amazing second floor library terrace that ran around three walls.  Nothing up there but the aisle for walking and rows and rows of books. The fourth side was tall glass open to full Northern light. People said, “I would kill for this space.” It made me wonder…

I was impressed by her apartment as well as her wisdom. I was a bit of a snob so I was also impressed that she a Baroness and a Countess on her Board of Trustees. Another prominent church member was a descendent of the Noble Prize family who spent her days giving away money to deserving causes. All that was heady stuff for this middle-aged girl who grew up in a housing project.

Rev. Valerie was articulate and logical and, after all those years with my hero, RC Barker, she knew her stuff. I also found the space quite inspirational. All that light triggered visions for my future. One day, I had a moment when the light actually seemed to be within me as well as outside in the space around me. That day the world stood still long enough for me to “get it.”

What I “got” was that I was a wisdom teacher in my own right. I “got it” that I might not be original but I valuable.  I was a skilled teacher and writer and that made useful to the world of Science of Mind. I understood I had a brilliant future. The moment passed and I was  back to sharpening pencils and pounding typewriter keys but I was changed. I have tried to live up to that vision. That is why I  continue teaching, writing books, and sending out this blog.

I know now that everyone is uniquely gifted and has something special to give the world. I am so grateful for my teachers. I do my work because people like Rev. Valerie Seyffert were there for me, as Dr. Barker was there for her. Religious Science has grown so much during my term of service because we all reach out and touch so many others.

One of the things life has taught me is that simple ideas are powerful. Our noon meetings will be based on simple but powerful ideas. Everyone is welcome, whether a beginner or experienced in the teaching.

The seed idea for our group came from Carlsbad’s Julia Coleman, who brought up the idea of having conversations about Science of Mind. I agreed if she would be the co-leader. That means, among other things, that at least one of us will be there every Tuesday. Julia, is a brilliant student and she asks great questions, so I know we can keep the conversation rolling.

I have made a definite, penciled-in commitment, beginning 3/19. That’s a big week for me. I am speaking on Sunday, March 17, starting the Conversations on Tuesday, March 19, and giving a workshop with Lynn Guilfoyle on Science of Mind and Twelve Step recovery on Saturday, March 23 from 9 to 12:30. You are all invited to everything.

For the Tuesday noon meeting, bring your topics or questions and a brown bag lunch. You can participate as you like. You can talk or listen. You can skip lunch and  watch others eat. We will  serve tea only. The meeting  is offered on a free will offering. I hope to see you there.

Ask Yourself

Who were my first teachers?

What did I like about my first experiences?

Would I like to check this group out?

If I am unable to attend, because I am out of the area, would I like to start a similar group? (I can help you).

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SkyLark by Carol Carnes – a review

scan004I just read the novel, Skylark written by my friend Carol Carnes and I am delighted and amazed at its depth and power. Creating a first novel worth reading is quite a feat. It is especially difficult for someone who preaches for a living. I was surprised at how good it was, although I’ve known Carol is brilliant ever since I first met her about thirty years ago.

She wrote the original book, Skylark, in a few long sittings back in 1997 and then she put it away. Then, more than ten years later, she edited it for publication. This is a very different book from her best-selling metaphysical book, The Way In, or her daily Science of Mind blog –  cc1inlove@aol.com – that many of  you subscribe to.

Skylark is fiction that takes place over a period of many years, jumping back and forth, from the Fifties to 1998. It traces the story of a very fascinating heroine, Harriet, who is an artist with a witty but sharp tongue. There are a lot of interior dialogs and many of them are laugh-out-loud funny.

The novel is not autobiographical but Harriet has a lot of Carol in her because she simultaneously makes you laugh and think. There is a whole cast of supporting characters, including Libby, her dead friend who was Queen of the Rose Parade, and Buddy,  Libby’s black musician husband.

Like many first novels, it is a bit jumpy in time and setting. That makes it a little difficult to follow in places, but it is well worth reading. Not only do you get a fascinating look at growing up in the Fifties – just before Civil Rights hit the news, but you get a philosophical question and answer interior dialog that will delight anyone interested in New Thought.

Believe me, this book is not one of those simplistic New Thought semi-novels like Jonathan Livingston Seagull, The Shack, or The Alchemist. This is a grown up, fascinating novel that would delight any intelligent reader. There’s a lot coincidence, reminiscent of Dickens, in the plot. That might turn off some critics but in New Thought, we know coincidence is often how the Law of Attraction works so it didn’t disturb me. I don’t think it will bother any of you either.

I loved Harriet and all the supporting characters. It really is a delightful read if you like fiction. It is a serious book and the subject matter includes child sexual abuse, racial tensions, recovering adopted children, and women’s issues in the days before Betty, Friedian, Gloria Steinem or bra burning.

The book really is a “coming into ourself ” tale for the main character  and many of us will identify with the heroine. Harriet has a compelling issue with being “seen”, and accepting success. I was right there with her on that one, as many other readers will also will be.

The glue of the story is the author’s love of jazz. Carol clearly loves her music and she knows every lyric and artist of that era. The pages are filled with references to The Lighthouse, Miles Davis, Billy Holiday and others. Her story is infused with jazz. Her writing style is like a jazz composition. Harriet even has a pet bird is named Coltrane.

It’s always a little scary to read a novel written by a friend. What if you don’t like it? What will you say? I truly liked the book and want to recommend it to you whether you can remember that era or not. It is a window on a time that people thought was peaceful and quiet. Actually, big, big change was right around the corner. Carol has it nailed.

Part of the reason I liked the book so much is that it brought back memories. I can remember when we listened to “race music” on the radio. I’d forgotten all about Hunter Hancock and his radio show but I listened to him in the Fifties. I had also forgotten names of artists like Big J. McNeely and some others who blasted their way into fame. We didn’t all listen to Frank Sinatra or Pat Boone.

I also loved reading about the 1950’s Pasadena days of old money and debutantes. I’m older than Carol but many of our memories coincide. There were several references to trendy clothing styles. When the girls in the book were wearing spaghetti strap dresses, I was the manager of  Taffy’s Dress Shop at the Coconut Grove’s Ambassador Hotel. The spaghetti strap was Taffy’s signature style.

Carol also does a fine job with the New York City art scene at a much later time. Actually, her characters, issues and settings are all very authentic.  It is a joy to read about a time that you lived in and find the writer knows what it was truly like. I hate reading about those days when the writer was born yesterday. Why shouldn’t they take a leaf from Carol’s book and write about yesterday?

Skylark is a great read, written by one of our finest ministers. If you read fiction, you’ll enjoy the book immensely. If you are a New Thought person, you will enjoy the philosophical discussions Harriet has with herself and her friends. If you are looking for another happy ending you may be surprised.

You can buy it from lulu.com or her website www.carolcarnes.com. $18.95.

Ask Yourself

Have I read any good books lately?


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?


Prayer Works Like Magic

MaryLou feels trapped in a low-paying job and asks for prayer treatment. As a part of my prayer, I say, “All things are possible with God. Since God is all powerful and present everywhere, everything is possible for MaryLou. God is Divine Givingness and Mary Lou’s new job is already present in the mind of God. I accept that her wonderful new job is here now. Thank you God.” Out of the corner of my eye, I see MaryLou smiling.

         Unlike traditional prayer, Religious Science practitioners do not kneel and plead to God. We open our hearts and minds to accept whatever we are praying for. The key to effective prayer is that, “It is done to us as we believe”.

Our process of praying is based on the belief that everything comes from God and God is Love working through Law. When we envision, believe, and accept our desires, God (working as spiritual law) makes a way to bring them into being.

We “claim” rather than “plead”, and we often get marvelous results. The most important factor in how quickly we get those results depends on how and what we believe. If we believe it will be difficult, that will slow us down. So will hidden beliefs about being unworthy or unfit.

Not only must we envision but we must believe before we see the desired changes. We can deeply desire something without believing it is attainable. We can also believe it is attainable but that it requires  struggle and hard work. That slows it down. Good prayer work can speed up the process.

Prayers do work very simply sometimes but you can’t just wish and make it so. You usually have to release old beliefs that stand in the way. We all have limiting beliefs. Try and convince a poor person that he can claim a fortune by thanking God in advance. Or tell a sick person that faith will make him well. These old beliefs can be like the burrs sticking in a hound dog’s ears after a romp in the woods.

Here’s another burry fact. Beliefs may be unknown as well as long-standing. Because they know how complicated the human mind can be, many students of Science of Mind begin to focus on uncovering the reason for the problem rather than envisioning and claiming the solution. They approach their prayer work as though they were Sherlock Holmes .

Sometimes it is better not to have too much information. Years ago our center had a visitor from a bigger, older church with a famous minister. The visitor asked me for prayer after the service. She was a 37 year old woman who desperately wanted to marry and have a child. According to her, she and her minister had prayed and counseled for years but neither could figure out exactly which hidden, frustrating belief was keeping her stuck.

We only had the one session so I didn’t know her well. That turned out to be a good thing because I wasn’t intrigued by her history.  I guided her away from looking for clues and into describing her ideal marriage. The next week she met a young man on the tennis court in her local park. They dated for a short time and married. That greatly desired baby arrived before her 38th birthday party. Last time I heard, she had another child and a very happy life.

Some readers might think that was beginner’s luck. She insisted I knew a magic formula, but neither explanation is true. My advantage was probably because I didn’t have a history of failure, nor did I know much about her. It was not magic. It was spiritual law in action.

As a Religious Science minister, I have seen all sorts of results that might look like magic or miracles to outsiders. Spots on lungs showed up on an x-ray one month only to disappear the next. A “dying” man checked out of the hospital two days later.  A woman climbed a flight of stairs two days after her double knee replacements.

The truth is very ordinary. We are connected to a Power For Good that is Love working through spiritual law. Since this power is unlimited, we are connected to unlimited power. That connection works better when we pray. When we pray we have a trained mind making conscious connections, that focus on the Infinite Power to achieve definite results.

This is the month to enroll in Science of Mind classes to train your mind to pray more effectively. You can learn how to do positive prayer work in a local Center For Positive Living or take classes online. You can even begin by reading. My book, Science of Mind Skills covers the basic ideas. Anyone can train his or her mind to achieve powerful things.

Today, I’ve written a snapshot of how affirmative prayer works. But it is only a snapshot. There are many sayings that offer shorthand descriptions. One phrase you hear in every Science of Mind Center is “Change your thinking and change your life.” Another way to explain the process is to say, God mirrors our beliefs.

I’ve see so many dreams come true in my 23 years in the ministry. I’ve seen amazing successes for people in every area of their lives. These ranged from finding a job as a substitute teacher to building a huge business depending on the goals of the person involved. For the Creative Power of the Universe, one success was as easy as the other because God can do anything.

I’ve seen dying bodies healed, dying relationships recovered, money earned, a million won, grade averages raised and homes refinanced. You name it, you envision it and prayer can accomplish it. God is simply unlimited and says yes.

I was a true believer long before I became a minister. I built my own very successful writing career (80 teen books as Jane Claypool Miner & Veronica Ladd) when I was a beginning SOM student.  I saw prayer work like magic because I wrote unsuccessfully for ten years and then I started to pray. What was an impossible goal all those years became as easy as pie. I achieves “overnight success”!

I didn’t go down on my knees and beg. Instead. I spent my time and energy opening up a new level of acceptance. SOM practitioners know that God is the Creative Energy of the Universe and can create anything we can envision, believe and embody in consciousness.

The trick is to find ways to accept more and there are lots and lots of ways to do that. Increasing our level of acceptance is the true purpose of classes. Whether it is a basic Science of Mind class that teaches how God works through spiritual laws or a background class on Emerson and the Transcendentalists, the aim of the teacher is to help students open up to more good in their lives.

Ask Yourself

Do I know how to pray?

Do I want to take a class?

Do I want to read a book?

What more do I desire in life?

What do I believe about that desire?


Treasured Connections

A good friend has been away for three weeks and I was very happy to talk with her this morning. She is a treasure who has been in my life for at least twenty years. A far-away friend is visiting next week; she is a treasure I have known even longer. I consider all my friends – new and longer – true treasures.

I’m not the only one who thinks her friends are treasures. Louisa Mae Alcott said, “A faithful friend is a strong defense; And he that hath found him hath found a treasure.” I have no idea what Louisa Mae was defending herself against with her friendships but I do know how my friends enhance my life in many ways.

Good friends bring me joy. When I am connected at a heart level, I can actually feel joy for their blessings and achievements in life. I can participate in my friend’s delight because her daughter is gets into a good college. Good friends enable me to embrace a wider world.

They also make me stretch and grow. I can be thrilled when my friend’s book makes the bestseller list. Good friends enable me to dilute that grizzly old error of competiveness.

Another blessing that good friends bring me is a window on the world. Often, my friends and I have very different backgrounds, experiences, ages, and histories. I have several friends who grew up in upper middle class families and went to prep school and Ivy League colleges. They help me understand an American experience that is very different from my beginnings.

I also have friends who are immigrants from England, Poland, Canada, Mexico, Peru, China, and Korea. They help me see the United States in its very best light. My treasured friends make me less insular in my world view.

Having friends with very different backgrounds requires me to accept them as they are and not waste time wondering why they aren’t exactly like me. I don’t look for agreement. Like Walt Whitman, I contain multitudes.

I have been blessed with good friends all my adult life. It started in high school when I gave up trying to be “in” with the most popular crowd and began to choose own friends. One of them was a girl of Japanese-American background who had just left an internment camp. She showed me what meticulous ambition could look like and she went on to be head nurse at Presbyterian Hospital. She taught me a lot. When you look back at your early friendships, can you see how they helped you learn new lessons?

Of course, friendships blossom and wane. There were many wonderful people in my past who are no longer on my active friend list. Times change. People move away or die. Interests disappear. It doesn’t mean I treasure them less, just that I don’t see them as often.

When I was a young mother, my best friends and I shared our love for our children and our concern for their growth. I learned from them all – the mothers and the children.

I learned a profound lesson from a friend I didn’t really think was a very good mother. She had a drinking problem and I’m happy to report that she eventually gave up alcohol. After her daughter was grown, she told me that her daughter said, “You don’t need to feel guilty, Mom. You gave me the greatest gift of all – you showed me that people can change.”

We can all change and that is one of life’s greatest lessons. I have made plenty of mistakes over the years and I have leaned on that story. I assuage my guilt by reminding myself of my friend’s experience. Have you learned any profound lessons from your friend’s problems?

Do you have friends that share your dreams? When I was a beginning writer I belonged to a group that met weekly to share their hopes, dreams and writing experiences. They were very, very good friends for several years and then I moved away and I also lost interest in writing young adult books.

I found my some of my strongest, and longest friendships when I got sober. I will always be grateful to my Twelve Step friends. They were there for me when I most needed a friend. My sponsor was such a good friend that I still miss him although he’s been gone for at least eight years. There were many others.  I treasure their memories because they saved me from my very worst self-destructive self. What more could anyone ask of a friend?

Most of my current friendships are people I meet in the ministry. Some are members of my own center. Others are ministers and former ministers I know through the Religious Science organization. We all share an interest in using Science of Mind in our lives. That makes us mutually supportive and lovely to be with. No gossip. No rivalries. No “ain’t it awful” conversation.  My Science of Mind friends help me remember that God is Love.

Actually, all my friends have taught me that God is love, and that life is good. I cannot imagine going through life without good, strong friendships. We all need to be connected to others. We can actually experience the concept of God as love when we are with our friends.

One of the most important things that religion provides is a sense of unity with life. Whether it is sitting on a park bench with other parents watching our toddlers play or holding the hand of our friend who has received bad news, we feel connected when we are with friends. We treasure that feeling of togetherness.

Friends are important. We need to reach out, nurture and consciously grow friendships with others. It is wise to be wise to be pro-active about friendships. I have observed, over the years, that many people feel isolated. When others reach out to them, they say yes, but they don’t always make the initial invitation to friendship.

If you want more friends, you need to put aside any old beliefs and be assertive. Why not make a few overtures yourself?  Why not ask someone to go out for coffee after the meeting? Why not make a phone call to someone you haven’t seen for a while? Why not introduce yourself to the church newcomer? Those are all simple first steps anyone can take.

Ask Yourself
Do I treasure my friends?

Is there an old friend I want to reconnect with?

Is there someone new I’d like to know better?


Poco A Poco

I got sober in Mexico many years ago. Although, my Spanish was poor, I listened intently to the proffered wisdom from my peers. There was one man with large handlebar mustaches who used to smile broadly and say, “Poco A Poco, nos vamos lejos”. That translates (more or less) as “Little by little, we go a long way.”

         I have repeated that piece of simple wisdom to myself many, many times in the subsequent years. As I began to put my life into shape, I would sometimes despair at how much there was to do. That little saying helped me to achieve my goals. It still helps me.

In New Thought, we believe, as we pray, that instant healing is happening, but many goals take time to achieve. It is good to keep the vision of the completed goal in mind but it is also important to move toward our dreams on a daily basis.

You can’t lose a hundred pounds in a weekend. Nor can you build a financial empire in a day. It usually takes time to change our consciousness enough to get what we want.  In that process of change, it is important to remember that if we give up and stop trying we will not acieve the goal.

We have all had the experience of making a New Year’s resolution and then reverting to our old behavior by Valentine’s Day. That’s when my friend’s expression, “Poco a poco, nos vamos lejos,” comes in handy. Staying the course is the best way to get where we want to go.

Mark Twain has a famous quote about how easy it is to give up smoking and then he says, he knows it is easy because he has given it up so many, many times. That is funny but it is also pathetic. How many times do we let our impatience discourage us?

I am an expert on accomplishing big dreams despite inner and outer obstacles. In my lifetime, I’ve worked my way though college, had successful careers as a teacher, writer and minister. I’ve written over 80 books and many shorter works. I’ve quit drinking, smoking and eating obsessively. None of these things were exactly easy but some were much easier than others.

Once I asked for help and stopped drinking, I was fortunate because I never slipped. I suppose that was an instant healing but I had to change a lot of social habits and patterns of thought to keep from slipping. Nevertheless, I am very grateful it went so well.

Not all people find it that easy. I had a dear friend who went to meetings off and on for fourteen years before he finally got a full year of sobriety under his belt.  When he shared his story with me, he said he was ashamed it took so long and I remember thinking he was one of the most courageous people I’d ever known.

It is difficult to make a goal or resolution and fail but we should never let that be the end of the story. What we need to do is pick up the dream, dust it off, and start again. Little by little, we will discover whatever it is that we need to know in order to get what we want.

I gave up smoking after a truly insane week as the nicotine worked its way out of my system. I do not exaggerate – my physical addiction to cigarettes was very powerful and the craving continued for quite a while. I have never been tempted to smoke again because I never wanted to go through the pain of withdrawal again.

Two healings of addictions went well. On the other hand, it took me myriad attempts to heal compulsive eating. I did manage to lose a hundred pounds but it took many years. I’m still working on losing more. Over those years of diet struggles, I went to Overeaters Anonymous, Weight Watchers, and nutrition classes in the local hospital. I failed and failed and failed again.

I continued to pray and struggle. I read several books on dieting. They all had different food plans and ideas and I suppose they all would have worked if I’d stuck with them. Eventually, I decided just to count calories and that worked. Very slowly – but it worked. I’d write my calories in a notebook each day, and total them at the end of the week. The next week, I’d start all over again. Little by little, I went a long way and that was because I never gave up.

Not all goals are so difficult. However, many of our best dreams do require perseverance. You can eventually achieve most of them if you stick with the vision over the long haul. Steadfastness is the key.

One very important thing to remember as you pursue your dreams is that you must do so, one day at a time. It is good to have a big goal in mind, but very, very helpful to cut your goal into small sections. Keeping the dream alive is wonderful and there are pitfalls if you insist on only focusing on the final result.

I have found it is better to pray to stay on my eating plan this day than to tell God to give me a perfect sized  body NOW. If I starve myself for a week and discover I’ve only lost two pounds, I don’t want to fall into despair and start binge eating.

I learned the one day at a time method in 12 step rooms but it works for everything – not just addictive behavior. For example, if you sit down at your desk to write a book and begin by reminding yourself that you have to write at least 50,000 words before it will be finished, you will paralyze yourself before you start. I suggest you aim for a certain number of hours working on the book each day. Or you can set a goal of 1000 words a day. Above all, don’t let lapses in achievement be the reason for quitting.

One thing you can do for yourself that will truly speed up your progress is to pray for your goal on a daily basis. You can also spend some time visualizing how it is going to feel and look when you have arrived at your destination. Systematic prayer and visualization is an important part of any achievement plan.

What are your desired dreams? Do you want to make more friends? Improve your golf score? Get more exercise? Learn a foreign language? Paint beautiful pictures?  You can achieve your desires, poco a poco while you are enjoying life. Just be sure to stick with the dream.

Ask Yourself

Is there an old dream I want to dust off and begin to work on again?

Is there a way to split that goal into smaller increments?


Following Instructions

The idea that, Dreams Can Come True, a book I wrote in 1981, inspired a woman who is the new host of the Today Show is fun but not really surprising. Spiritual Laws are always working and everything we do has consequences.  We are connected to Life and to each other.

My fifteen seconds of fame on the Today show brought an invitation from Rev. Beverly Molander to be on her internet radio show. You can listen to it by going to http://www.unity.fm/program/AffirmativePrayer .

In preparation, I looked up my books on Google and discovered that many of my teenage romances are still out there. In some cases, you can buy used ones for as little as one cent. I found a new one that was called “collectible” and listed at $118 but I’m not convinced that anyone will buy it.

Dreams Can Come True was one of the first in the Scholastic Wildfire Series and it was my biggest seller. The heroine uses journaling and visualization plus hard work to get what she wants in life. Over the years, I have heard that it inspired many young women. It was lightweight but it was a good read.

The historical ones in the Scholastic Sunfire Series are still the most popular and they deserve to be because they were instructive and well researched. I wrote books set in the Johnstown Flood, Pearl Harbor, Lowell Mills, and a one room school house.

The consistent favorite seems to be Roxanne, which was set in 1930’s Hollywood. My personal favorite is Corey, because the heroine was an escaped slave. It was a breakthrough book because it was the first of the series with a heroine of color. Although it’s simplistic, black history wasn’t as well known in those days.

My search was instructive.  Apparently, some women collect them as though they were Storybook Dolls. It seems over-the-top but at least they are admired. Others criticized them because they were exactly what they were – teenage romances.

I moved on to other things many years ago so while I am happy enough to claim them, I don’t pitch my tent there. For me, that phase of life is over. I am writing other things now, but I am glad that those books were positive and they probably did help some girls because  of their “can do” attitude.

When I wrote them, I was delighted that kids were reading for fun. They actually bought the books with their own money and, as a former reading teacher, I thought that was pretty special.

During that time period, I worked on an adult non-fiction book about successful second marriages. I interviewed about 200 women who had been divorced or widowed and then went on to establish healthy relationships. Although the book was never published, I personally learned two important things I want to share today.

The first was that women who made successful second marriages had the goal of a good marriage in mind when they began the search. This struck me as quite different from my friends and my quest for a “perfect man”.

Most of my friends were women with successful careers who said they wanted to be married but they never seemed to manage their relationships well enough to get there. Our quest  for that one ideal man simply wasn’t working.

The women I interviewed for the book didn’t talk about ideal men but about partnerships. They believed marriage could be a comfortable, normal state. Mostly, they embarked on a sensible search for happiness as a part of a couple.

It may seem like a subtle difference, but I could discern it clearly after those 200 interviews. They were taking more responsibility for their lives than my friends and I were. We might be better educated, but we weren’t as smart about getting what we wanted out of life.

The other discovery turned out to be even more important for me. I learned that books actually do change lives. Time and time again, I heard women tell their sad story and then say, “And then I read such and such book and I did what it said to do.”

The key to changing their lives was that they followed the book’s instructions. It’s fine to read about making friends but if we don’t get out of the house and smile, we will never achieve our goal.

Inspirational books nearly always offer good information but the reader must act on it. There is always that crucial decision to follow instructions. The author cannot jump out of the pages and do it for you.

When the publishing company which gave me the advance for that second marriage book decided not to publish it, I was disappointed. However, I learned two valuable and humbling lessons that changed my life.

Almost immediately, I gave up hunting for that ideal man and chose to seek my personal happiness. So often we think we need a raise, a partner, a weight loss, a new job or whatever to be happy. What we really need is to change our consciousness and decide to be happy right here and now

I read and reread the brilliant book, The Power Of Decision  by Dr. Raymond Charles Barker. I love that book and I have tried (with demonstrable success) to follow his instructions.

I truly appreciated, Dr. Barker’s way of writing. He wrote his paragraphs with topic sentences. The first sentence delivered his thought and the following paragraph backed it up. I began to understand that it all started with decisions. Actions were more important than luck.

Dr. Barker is my mentor because he thoroughly understood and communicated this teaching. In my blog and in my books, I try to do the same. Barker and others have convinced me that consciousness always comes first. I try to “embody” or “become” whatever it is that I desire to attract.

Now I am a New Thought writer and I seek to be as clear as I can. My experience as a writer has helped me communicate simply. Science of Mind Skills is a classic in its own right.  You can find it listed on this website.

I learned from others and I followed their advice. Now I only give advice that I can follow myself. I know it is important to be integrity. I know everything I write will return to me in some way. We are always connected in God.

You and I are connected as you read this. I wish you only goodness and light. I hope you find some of what I write useful. I hope you will read a good, inspirational book and follow instructions this week. Have fun!

Ask Yourself  

What do I want?

What do the books that I read say to do?

What am I doing today to achieve my dreams?