A Miracle Healing

By 1995, I had become an avid reader of all the spiritual and mystical books I could find. I visited a nearby metaphysical store every week searching for more knowledge and inspiration. My relationship with my husband was not going well and I was having difficulty in my spiritual life because of my long-standing feelings of anger and frustration.

One morning, I woke up and when I opened my eyes, it felt like dozens of little pulsing needles were poking my eyes! I was intensely sensitive to any type of light. It was excruciating! I asked my husband to close the blinds and drapes and tack up blankets to completely block any light from coming in the windows. I spent all day lying on the couch with a dark towel over my eyes. That evening, I couldn’t stand to have a lamp or ceiling light on or to watch TV even with dark sunglasses on. I had to cover all LED lights on digital clocks with black paper.

For the next few days, all I could do was lie on the couch with a dark towel over my eyes. I had a “poor me pity party” and angrily ranted to God, “What have I done to deserve this? I’ve been reading every book I can find to learn how to be a more spiritually balanced person. Now THIS happens! I feel absolutely useless right now! Oh no, am I going blind? PLEASE don’t do that to me!”

This condition intensified as the days wore on, so I went to my doctor. He said my eyes looked normal but gave me some eye drops. I had an MRI, to rule out a brain tumor as a possible cause, but it was normal. Well, I wasn’t going blind; it was a condition known as Photophobia. It would eventually, probably, go away on its own.

For 3 weeks, I continued my miserable existence on the couch, eyes closed with a towel over my face! I begged, cried and ranted, but my condition wasn’t improving. Finally, one Saturday, I said, “OK God, I GIVE UP! I went out to my car and drove to my favorite meditation spot; a church with a large campus of separate buildings and desert landscape throughout. It was very peaceful there. I walked to the back of the property, went behind a classroom building where no one could see me and sat down on the concrete walkway. I rested my back against the building and in a calm voice, said “God, I do not understand why this is happening to me, so I am here for answers. What is the meaning behind my eye problem? There must be a message for me in this experience and, until I understand and am healed, I intend to remain here, for however long it takes.”

I started to close my eyes, but then, I heard a rustling sound beside me. I looked, and there was a little bird flopping around on the ground. One wing was bent and when it tried to fly, it fell over and rolled. No matter how hard it tried, flight was not an option. I told it, “Believe me! I know exactly how you’re feeling right now!” I felt such compassion for the little bird’s plight that I picked it up and set it in my hands forming a little round nest with my palms and loosely clasped fingers on my lap. It offered no resistance. I gently tucked both wings around its body and softly rubbed my thumb over its head until it went to sleep.

I closed my eyes again. All anger and impatience was gone and only a sense of peaceful surrender remained. I said, “God, there are two of us, here, waiting to be healed. We know you are our Creator, so we have no doubts that you can fix us. We will be patient and trusting. Then, just like a tape recorder started, I heard all the desperate pleas, angry thoughts and words I’d cried out to God in frustration, since the first day of my symptoms. However, I listened to them in a detached non-emotional state. What was obvious to me, immediately, was how many times I had screamed out to God with questions but then never listened for answers. I had been so focused on my physical suffering, that not once, did I ask “What is this about?”

I took a deep shaky involuntary breath and when I exhaled, I let my mind go completely blank. Then, I saw/felt myself as the bird being cradled in a loving hand. I felt like I was a child again, who had fallen down and was now being comforted in the loving arms of my parent who stroked my head and kissed away my tears, saying, “I know you’re hurting, but everything’s going to be OK; I promise.” My entire world of trouble melted away in that complete and unconditional loving moment. Every muscle in my body relaxed and a huge sense of relief came over me when I realized I didn’t have to figure this out; I only had to listen.

The Message: “You do not have to look outside yourself to find answers to your problems. The solution is always available when you go within. I am always with you. Books are a source of information, but I will always have you, specifically, in mind when you ask for help in any situation. Just be still and listen for that guidance – it’s always available.”

With that, I opened my eyes and looked at the desert landscape surrounding me and at the beautiful mountain that loomed in the distance. My eyes were OK, and I no longer needed to squint in the bright sunlight. I looked down at my little bird friend, and its eyes were open and looking around as well. I knew we were both healed!

I set the bird back down on the sandy ground beside me and watched as it hopped up on a nearby wire fence. I cheered it on, “Come on! You can do this! Just go for it!” It fluttered its wings a bit and then flew away as birds with healthy wings do. I felt like a proud mom!

My energy was boosted and I felt like I’d just had my battery charged! I stood up and jogged across the landscape to my car. When I got home, I walked through the door laughing and commenting on what a beautiful day it was. When my husband asked what happened to me, I simply said, “A miracle!” Then I pulled all the blankets off the windows, threw open the curtains and thanked God for my vision. I felt such joy!

This experience taught me that whenever I need assistance in my life – rather than read a book, get angry or struggle to figure things out on my own, I can sit quietly and trust that God will always tell me what I need to know. I’ve experienced several spontaneous healings that most people would consider to be miracles. I know it as God continuing to bless my life.

(I was prompted to write the above story because I recently watched an Oprah Winfrey interview with Dr. Michael Beckwith, of Agape International Spiritual Center. He talked about his book, Life Visioning. One thing he said really hit home for me, “When you struggle with a problem, focusing only on that problem, it will intensify. The only way you can overcome circumstances and situations that are pressing in upon you, is to go within. He said pain pushes until a larger vision pulls. When we ask disempowering questions like, “Why is this happening to me?” all we’ll get is a bevy of excuses. But when we ask empowering questions like, “What message is trying to emerge?” and put our full attention on possibilities of a higher purpose, the process of moving out of the darkness is speeded up. He said, “The good news is that our potential is infinite, and is always bigger than any problem that we face.”)

I have so much to be thankful for this Thanksgiving!

By Serina French

Grateful … For This?

An attitude of gratitude is most salutary, and bespeaks the realization that we are now in heaven. (Ernest Holmes, The Science of Mind 497.2)

Wednesday night following the elections, we had a regularly scheduled Journey class. It was supposed to be about “The Hero’s Journey” and how archetypes color our lives. In a way it was. This election moved each of us through our own personal hero’s journey, or as I like to think of it, the agitation and spin cycles of a washing machine. Ultimately, we come out cleaner, clearer and more focused, and the process tends to be disorienting and generally unpleasant.

Obviously, we talked at length about the election results and our impressions of the particular candidates and our feelings and fears about them, recognizing that we each carry a biased caricature in our individual minds about who these two individuals are, and what they represent. By the end of the evening, most of the individuals present felt less at the effect of the election results, and recognized that this election calls each of us to shift from a sense of complacency into engagement and involvement in some fashion and at some level that is unique to each individual.

Each of us has had experiences, or have read about, or heard about experiences, that reinforce our viewpoint of the state of our country. I know it has been true for me; suddenly, random people seem more rude and pushy and arrogant and unkind. And we know, at least hypothetically, that we can only see what we believe. Is it time to pull out some elbow grease and scrub our pet points-of-view and see what we discover? When we remember, we know we are at liberty to think the kinds of thoughts we choose, and work towards the kind of world that we desire to live in.

No democracy, or organization, works long or well if participants willingly allow others to do all their thinking and deciding for them. Each one of us has to do our own heavy lifting. In this instantaneous information, misinformation and disinformation, age in which we find ourselves, sifting through the noise to find accurate, pertinent and meaningful input to allow conscious, intentional decisions can be challenging, and time-consuming. It’s not a whole lot of fun, unless you really enjoy detective work.

You have heard the quote, “Men are not against you; they are merely for themselves.” It is attributed to Gene Fowler, a journalist, author and dramatist. I think it is fair to say that he was an observer of the human condition. Whether he is a cynic or a realist, I’ll leave that to your interpretation. He is also quoted as saying, “Everyone needs a warm personal enemy or two to keep him free from rust in the movable parts of his mind.”

So now, how do we move from disgust and distrust to that salutary (i.e. favorable, healthful, beneficial, wholesome) attitude of gratitude? How much personal work will it take so that we can find gratitude for the individuals who wake us up from our slumber, and move us back into our active, participative adulthood as members of our lives, and our society?

In The Hidden Power of the Bible, Ernest Holmes reframed the story of the expulsion from the Garden of Eden as the necessary waking up that humanity had to do once they collectively chose to experience a world view that contained duality – good and bad, light and dark – and in that choosing, realized that each was always at liberty to choose, and choose again. Maybe this election has created the necessary momentum for each of us to remember to choose the biggest, boldest, brightest life expression we can imagine, and to step on to a bigger stage than we ever imagined. And maybe it has served as a bold reminder that we are in charge of our life experience, and not be at the effect of something or someone outside of ourselves. I can find gratitude for that reminder, and step boldly into my life.

Best, Rev Janis Farmer

Double Down and Flip

by Holly Baker

Double Down – to become more tenacious, zealous, or resolute in a position or undertaking

By the time you are reading this article, without any threatened delays and, fingers double crossed, we’ll finally know the outcome of the 2016 presidential race.

Jangled nerves, a neck and back achy with complaint, my body, mind and spirit hunger to end my election year bender, a self-imposed bonafide media binge. Like a gawker passing a horrifying car accident, I couldn’t stop slowing down to look again and again.

No matter how repulsed, I’ve been fixated by this year’s election cycle – following all major newspaper coverage, missing not one minute of all three debates. To my glee, the latest IOS update for iPhone displays “Breaking News” on the opening screen. The words “double down” entered my awareness and vocabulary for the first time.

In this season of an in-your-face, all-persuasive feeling of separateness, even vitriolic hate – an us-versus-them atmosphere on steroids, how do we embrace our Oneness? How do we “double down” on our Truth?

In CSL’s “The Power of your Word”, an 8-week certificated course, weekly homework starts with the popular news – each student picks a current news story that triggers them, pushes their buttons, or repulses them.

The initial task in this course designed to teach students to formulate and use Spiritual Mind Treatment for themselves and others is to identify the God Quality in any situation, and then “flip” the perceived condition to a positive, an expression of Wholeness.

We learn everything we experience demonstrates a God quality. Behind every fear is a God quality. Knowing Wholeness, knowing Perfection, knowing it’s all God is the first step. There is no evil just a misuse of good. Science of Mind does not deny any circumstance; we deny it has power over us. Pain lets us know we are alive. We’re not supposed to put up with it, but change our mind about it and then it can change. We choose our consciousness. We bring every trigger to ourselves in order to develop mastery.

During this divisive time as we begin our lives under new controversial leadership, how do we remember and apply the principle that we are ONE? What are the God qualities you can see?

Double down on knowing Oneness, double down on knowing Perfection, double down on knowing Love. Flip whatever angst you are feeling and “double down”. The source of peace lies within us.

My eyes behold the complete and perfect in all Creation, “In all, over all and through all.” I see the perfect; there is nothing else to see, and no suggestion of otherness can enter my thought. I know only the perfect and the complete. I am perfect and whole, now. I see the Good.
–Ernest Holmes

Come On In … The Water’s Fine

While volunteering as a Chaplain at the Veteran’s Affairs Hospital in Salt Lake City, a Protestant Chaplain shared his motto with me: “Comfort the afflicted and afflict the comfortable.” Intuitively, I resonated with the wisdom of this guideline, and when I shared it with peers or other chaplains, their heads always nodded in agreement.

The objective of an effective chaplain is to help people confront their demons so that they can deal with them. “Afflicting” is not about irritating. It’s about awakening to the truth of the situation and to a deeper truth beyond the conditions. It’s about bringing one to themselves, so they can bring out more of themselves.

An American proverb offers: “People are like teabags. They find out what they’re made of when they get into hot water.”

Just like with the chaplain’s point of view, when most people hear this proverb, they nod in agreement. What many don’t say, and more probably believe, is that “hot water” can be a bad and painful thing; that hot water is undesirable. Who wants to suffer? On the other hand, most believe that we need to hurt to wake up, and after being around this world for more than just a few years, this belief seems more regularly experienced than not. However, I don’t believe that life has to be this way, and neither does it need to remain this way if it has been up to this point in time.

When I think of hot water as a method by which a tea bag can bring out the tea’s true nature, its true essence, it becomes analogous to the hot water in a “Hot Tub”. Hot tubs can be therapeutic. They help us cleanse, feel refreshed and feel like a cooked noodle in a good way. The hot tub can help to bring out health and vibrancy, just like the hot water helps bring out the essence of the tea.

Hot water can help us birth our greatness, our magnificence, our true essence. In the same way, afflicting ourselves into a recognition of reality, can facilitate our awakening to the obstacles we have place in the way of that greatness and help us to choose differently.

Consciously or unconsciously, we create our own suffering. Consciously or unconsciously, we also create our own metaphoric hot water.

I think it is more difficult to experience personal magnificence, when we believe we have to suffer in order to get there. That would mean we could not experience greatness while having an ecstatic experience; that we have to suffer in order to awaken instead of enjoying the journey. This is absurd.

The belief that we have to be the wounded healer; that we have to limp along from the wounds of past experiences in order to step into greatness, is a horribly limiting way to go through life. And I say this, even though I have lived much of my life with this approach. However, just because we have lived our lives in that way up to this point in time, does not mean we have to continue in this manner. Maybe it’s time to consider doing it differently.

I think it’s time to celebrate the magnificence within us. I think it’s time to glory in and share the Power, the Intelligence and the Presence that lives within all of us, AS us, with each other. I think it’s time we climbed into the hot tub of magnificence together. I think it’s time to jump into the boiling pot that brings out our greatest selves.

Together, let’s steep in our magnificence and create a brew worthy of drinking and sharing. Together, let’s allow the Divine Tea (Divinity) to come forth from ourselves and share it with each other.

In case you have not started before now, it’s never too late to begin. Come on in. The water’s fine.

Many Rich Blessings On You…

Experiencing Connection with All of Life

Lynne and I have been co-facilitating a non-certificated class the last four Tuesday evenings. The class, entitled “Care of the Soul”, is about our awareness and connectivity with our personal experience of our life. After each one of us becomes aware of where we are, we are more easily at choice if we wish to change or deepen this experience. It has been a great joy to play in this experience each week with the intrepid and adventurous souls who have shown up for our class.

In the readings for one of the classes Lynne and I are taking for ministerial school, I found this quote. The book is called Will and Spirit; the author is Gerald May. The quote from page 43, is a tad long, but worth it:

“Human consciousness is the capacity to perceive and appreciate not only various stimuli but the ongoing process of being, and the mystery of that process. This sensitivity far transcends the simple observation of events and occurrences. One may sit by an open window, quietly noticing all that is there within and around oneself. Hearing a bird chirp, feeling the breeze, sensing the aroma of afternoon air, one is not only aware of these things, but can also sense that one is being aware of them….

Even more subtly, but just as solidly, one can sense and appreciate the process of one’s own thinking. Sitting by the window, increasingly relaxed and quiet, a thought comes, and it is noticed — as it is happening! One can even begin to perceive how thoughts form, how they seem to come into awareness. Many people have so busied themselves with the contents of their lives and minds that they may fail to appreciate such subtle processes. But utilized or not, the capacity for such open appreciation is present and accessible, within each human being….

Somehow these direct perceptions also include an immediate appreciation of being as a dynamic ongoing process. And somehow this in turn involves a person with all that exists in the cosmos, not just in terms of being related to it, but at a level of intimate communion and participation.”

I celebrate the experience of connection, within and throughout my life and in the lives of each person I come in contact with. Would you join me?

— Janis

I Love The Now

Every time I hear Jimmy Buffett sing “I Love the Now” I remember that I always live in choice. I, like everyone else, have the perpetual opportunity to live in this present moment, this right now, or to live in the past and operate as though the experience I am in the middle of right this minute is exactly the same as something that happened before. Its easy to relive a memory and say “this is the same as that” because our minds like to pigeonhole events, circumstances and occurrences. It’s easy to do that. Some would say it is even natural and appropriate. If you are trying to avoid getting eaten by a saber-toothed tiger, or stomped by a Brontosaurus, it makes some sense to remember how one set of circumstances seems very similar to a previous set of circumstances. In fact, even subconsciously translating or projecting from someone else’s story might save your life if you are operating in survival mode.

Our bodies react to our memories exactly as though they are actual real-in-the-moment events. There’s no difference. In the Spiritual Thought from this past Sunday, Ernest Holmes (from A New Design for Living, p. 130) says “In whatever aspect of living we desire a betterment – be it in respect to health, abundance, or happiness – we have to know that it is ours now. We establish the pattern now, we accept what it is now, we know that it is our experience now. There is no difference between thought and thing. There is no time element in Mind, nor need there be in out mind. Whatever good we desire must be accepted as the present reality of our experience. Only now can it exist.”

If I create a fear situation in my mind, my body acts fearful, releasing adrenaline and cortisol, and my body gets ready to fight, flee or freeze. Basic physiology again. The bad news, according to the physicians and psychologists who study such things is that this internalized fear state, which may have been created by something completely imaginary, causes an internal physical-chemical stress on the body, and has a long lag time before the body can even begin to come back to its own balance, equilibrium and well being.

What if “this is not that”? What if this apparently threatening situation isn’t really inherently threatening? What if the Universe is predominantly a safe place and that all the events in my present experience can be viewed from a positive and supportive perspective? This doesn’t mean I’m going to be stupid and step out in front of a bus to see what happens, but it can mean that I don’t automatically interpret a conversation, and impression, or a look as antagonistic from the start.

Feels like a happier way to live to me. How about you?

— Janis

I Think I Can, I Think I Can, I Think I Can…

We each remember the story of The Little Engine That Could, that we first read as children and then some of us read it to our children (and some even grandchildren) with the not-so-very hidden message that no matter what the obstacle, if I think I can overcome it then I will put my muscle and mind into it and I will succeed. We tell ourselves and our children this story, and it is a true story.

Holmes tells us this again and again. It is one of the main operating principles in the Science of Mind. “Law of Life is a law of thought — an activity of consciousness — the Power flows through us. The Spirit can do for us only what it can do through us. Unless we are able to provide the consciousness, It cannot make the gift. The Power behind all things is without limit, but in working for us it must work through us.” (SOM 141.2)

The way I read these words, and ponder that dear old childhood story is that I recognize that I choose what and how I wish to experience my life. We all do, whether we know it or not.

Patanjali said, “When you are inspired by some great purpose, some extraordinary project, all your thoughts break their bonds: Your mind transcends limitations, your consciousness expands in every direction, and you find yourself in a new, great, and wonderful world. Dormant forces, faculties and talents become alive, and you discover yourself to be a greater person by far than you ever dreamed yourself to be.”

I’m going for an ever yet greater, more expanding, joy-filled life … and I ‘think’ I can. How about you?


Graves’ First Law: “Use It All”

Driving home after potluck today and pondering all I had heard during services this morning, I reflected on a comment that Rev Donald made during his talk. Graves First Law: Use It All. That would have to include the good, the bad and the very ugly. The good is pretty easy, unless you are like my stepdad who doesn’t think he deserves a fabulous life. He does, but he has to own that realization, and since he doesn’t, it is done unto him as he believes and his life is less than wonderful.

The bad and the ugly take a bit more work. So let’s see what I can do with this. The other morning I woke up with an intensely sharp pain in both my right wrist and my right ankle and I knew I hadn’t done anything particularly physical that would have created that specific effect, so I got really quiet and asked the question “What’s this about?” The almost instantaneous response was that I was feeling severely limited in my movement and my choices. That’s what was manifesting in my physiology. Once I named and owned the feeling, the physical sensations disappeared within moments and have not returned. It didn’t have to be a big, gut-wrenching deal; it was as simple as a change of heart-mind. If there’s no baggage or history that needs to be shifted or cleared (that has more stamina than the present awareness), then it really can be that simple.

What about the very ugly? What about someone misrepresenting me and disrespecting me to others? That’s pretty ugly. And it happens. What then? Well, obviously to tell the truth and clear the air, cleaning up the mess as best I can without thrashing or trashing the other, because that doesn’t serve either. But then what? Forgiveness? Oh, that. If I carry around and magnify a hurt, then I’m the one hurting myself. The other isn’t hurting me, though they must be hurting pretty bad to do and say those things about me. To forgive another who seems to have wronged me can take a good bit more prayer and journaling work on my part, because there’s a part of me that would like to have a gigantic pity-party and play victim. The Adult of God in me, as me, knows that I’m never a victim. I’ve chosen to participate in this game for some unknown reason and I may never know exactly why. And that doesn’t matter either.

Taking the very ugly further, Rev Donald clarified his First Law by adding, “It’s all there for our good, so use it. It’s either there for our awakening, or for our joy.” Rev Donald suggests another possibility: “Look for the gift in it.” Finding the gift in misrepresentation and/or disrespect takes me even deeper, to see what I’m calling to myself, furthering my journey along my path of awakening and expansion. Maybe it’s to recognize that I have an old belief that I need to be punished. Perhaps I just need to further clarify my boundaries in my interactions with others.

That’s my take on the idea. What’s yours?

— Janis

Where I Look From Determines What I See

Say what?

When riding to a work site with a colleague, he was bemoaning how nothing was working the way he wanted it to and how unfair life was. It was his favorite litany, his well-worn groove, describing how he experienced his life. The next thing I knew, a sparrow fatally dive-bombed itself into the windshield of our rental car. Startling to say the least, it reinforced my colleague’s perception about everything wrong in his life.

While stopped at a red light today, I saw a single dandelion growing in a sidewalk crack. It was perfectly formed, tall and proud. Glorious. It brought to mind an incident with the homeowners association (HOA) where I used to live. Texas was having a drought then too; we were on water restrictions.

One November day, I got a nasty-gram from the HOA about the weeds in my front flowerbed. I looked. It did need weeding, so I did. In December I got another nastier nasty-gram on the same topic. That letter I ignored, because I had weeded and thought it looked pretty good for a flowerbed in winter. In January, I got a very irate nasty-gram which said that they were going to send someone out to weed my flowerbeds, and send me the bill, because obviously I was ignoring them.

So I went outside and looked again, determined to see what they saw. Eventually it hit me. They weren’t recognizing my flowers as flowers because they were different than everyone else’s flowers. What I was recognizing as native plants, they saw only as nasty weeds. I went inside crafted a letter, letting them know I wasn’t ignoring them, I had in fact weeded in November upon receipt of their first letter. I also explained that I had worked with a horticulturist who specialized in native plants that could prosper in the absence of supplemental irrigation, since we had been limited in our water usage for a while. I offered to have this horticulturist speak with them about plantings that would be better for the environment, if they were interested. The silence deafened.

I also recognize the truth of this viewpoint when it comes to interpersonal situations. If I believe someone is basically on my side, then I am more likely to take any apparently challenging comments as useful and if I believe someone does not have my best interest at heart, I am much more likely to take it badly. Its just human nature, and at the same time, its a decision over which I have huge choice about.

As Master Teacher Jesus said, and Holmes so often quoted, “it is done unto you as you believe”. It is this perspective that I strive to look from and my belief about the world and how it works that determines what I see in my world.

Is this true for you, too?

– Janis

Sunday, 3:11am – Shut Up and Drive

In the wee hours this morning I was reflecting on a conversation with a friend when I blurted out “Shut up and Drive”. It wasn’t intended to be offensive. I wasn’t even intending to say it. I thought the quote “Shut up and Drive” was from the movie ‘Thelma and Louise’. It isn’t. It’s the title of two very, very, very different songs, neither of which I ever remember hearing. I feel like somehow we are each being sandpapered and polished to do *great works* that only we can do. And only we can each do them. I don’t like that thought and yet, at the same time on some level, I feel like its time. And it’s right.

It sounds incredibly big-headed, too big for my britches and some part of me just wants to shrink over to the corner and vanish into the wallboard instead of doing *this thing*, whatever it is. There are times that I feel that Marianne Williamson quote (about being frightened of our own light, our own brilliance) taunting me, chasing me down the street, pointing and laughing. I don’t like it at all and I’d just as soon go iron a shirt, clean a toilet, or something incredibly, routinely and safely, mundane.

And yet…

One Sunday morning some years ago, I spoke at a Spiritualist Church in Houston. A friend had asked me to speak on the Harmonic Concordance and I said, “Sure, why not?” I didn’t even know what it was, but I figured I could pull stuff together. I had taught 7th grade earth science for two years, I could certainly do this. So I started reading and studying and thinking and gathering information and nothing, absolutely nothing would come together. There was no flow, no form, and no sense. As the date got closer, I intensified my striving. Finally the weekend of the talk rolled around and I still had nothing but jumbled words and I was beginning to really sweat over it. The night before the Sunday morning talk, I had only the barest hint of anything and I felt like it was garbage. The morning of the talk, I cobbled together some things, disjointed but adequate and I went and did the talk. I was only relieved when it was over.

And then, being a Spiritualist Church (a completely unknown commodity to me), the host, my friend, asked if anyone had received any messages for anyone else. Several people stood and delivered messages. I became fascinated, completely curious, about what I was observing. Then this diminutive man in this three-piece brown polyester double-knit suit stood up with a message for me, the speaker. So i stood up, as I had seen others do and he said something to the effect of, “You had three angels standing with you when you spoke; the biggest guardian angel I have ever seen, a scruffy drunk Irishman angel and a little blue haired fairy angel. The Irishman angel was shaking his head sadly and said something like, ‘she’s never going to just trust and speak, that she will always have the words she needs.'” I sat down dumbfounded and wrote his words down precisely. I still have the feeling in my body. Holy cow. I heard that challenge, and responded. Never again did I massively prepare a talk – even technical ones. I’d do the charts and graphs and the ubiquitous Powerpoint slides, so I could show people what I had seen, but I never, ever wrote another talk. And it has always worked.

Two owls are hooting outside with each other at this moment. The cadence: one-and-two, three four … who are you not to be? As soon as I write these words, they stop talking to me. This feels like a similar challenge and I don’t know presently where it is headed. With a knot in my stomach, I say ‘yes’.


— Janis

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