The ‘Art’ of Taking Classes

The Foundations class I’m taking is coming to an end. Four more classes and the last two are the exam and project presentations. This is the third time I’ve taken Foundations. Each time I’ve taken it my peace of mind increases, as does the feeling of Oneness and Unity I find through embodying the principles of the Science of Mind.

My first time, in 2015, was taught by Reverend Donald & Rev Janis. In it, I learned to write Spiritual Mind Treatments. This fantastic tool is something I use daily now and, along with my meditation, consider it part of the structure, foundation, of my spiritual practice. For much of the course, I was working in Phoenix and would leave work and drive to the Center, arriving, hopefully, by 6:30. I would spend the night at my house, awakening early to drive back to Phoenix and arrive at work by 8am. At times, I had to stop at a rest stop and snooze for an hour or two.

The class involves reading the Science of Mind and Living the Science of Mind books. Especially, the first time through, the readings are confusing and circuitous. Now, on my 3rd go-round, I appreciate the clear descriptions and wonderful prose. The first time I read the books, almost all the ideas were new and revolutionary, albeit, confusing. Now I understand and welcome the ideas.

My second time through, in 2018, was taught by Rev Janis. The class was smaller, all women, and even more enlightening. My goal for this course was to change my relationship with money. (I don’t remember the goal for my first course.) The homework for each class is reading the curriculum that we receive on a CD, usually about 10 pages of easy to read loose-leaf documents, readings from the two books, a meditation exercise, treatment on our goal and, often, a supplementary exercise involving self-reflection and activating the observer self. My presentation at the end was sharing two of my favorite poems and a set of glitter gel pens for each of the participants and Rev Janis.

This third time through, the one that I’m in now, made up of 50% my family – Yay! My actual legal family – me, Chris, my husband, and Nicole, my older daughter. Three other participants, one of whom is canine, and Rev Janis comprise our Tuesday evening group. It is especially gratifying to share these wonderful lessons with my daughter who is being introduced to Science of Mind. (She said that it is okay to talk about her.) Learning to access the One Mind and working as a group to support each other in this discovery is so much fun. As my fellow board member, Pat Masters, says – “I usually do better when I’m taking a class.” (Pat said that it was okay that I quote her.) This is so true for me. The weekly connection with fellow students refreshes and invigorates me.

My goal for this course was to approach every activity in my day with enthusiasm. This goal is aimed primarily at my job because, in the past, I felt pressured by my workload. Now I have more breathing space and use practices that help me manage my workload more effectively. I have also accomplished my goal of changing my relationship with money and know more peace and abundance as a result.

The next time Foundations is offered, I encourage everyone to seriously look at attending. The results are worthwhile, effective and you’ll make friends in the class. Maybe even with me if I do a 4th go-round!

— Marya Wheeler

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At Home

By the time this note is published in our newsletter, we will be the owners (with a 15-year mortgage) of our own Office and Education Center. It sounds so simple.

Banks and credit unions don’t like to loan money to non-profits for purchasing property. Typically, they won’t touch it without an individual who has very good credit, and deep financial resources, guaranteeing the loan. They also typically require 30% down payment on the loan amount.

We have been extremely careful stewards of our financial resources over these last several years. Since we were able to sell the 22nd Street property, and the timing of that sale lined up perfectly with us being ‘chased out’ of our old East River Rd Office and Education Center, we were perfectly positioned to acquire our new Office and Education Center.

There have been a bunch of hurdles that we have had to jump to make this happen, but nothing we couldn’t figure out a way to address.

We have a bit of deferred maintenance to take care of in the next six months on our new property, as a condition of our mortgage with the credit union, but that is a small price to pay for a 15-year loan with only 25% down and no guarantor required, and the biggest benefit of all, having a suitable, visible location in which we are actively building equity for ourselves instead of paying rent to somebody else.

We’ve been in our new Education Center less than 2 months. We are already seeing an increased visibility for CSL Tucson in the community. There is more to come.

— Dick Laird

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THE YEAR WAS 1969…

“You are an eternal being now on the pathway of endless unfoldment, never less but always more yourself.” This Thing Called You, Ernest Holmes, pg. 108

Later this month I will be flying to Everett, WA for my 50-year high school reunion, and I feel way different than I did for the other decadal gatherings. Mostly, it seems like another lifetime. Everything has changed. And for the first time, I feel like I can join my class as the woman I’ve become, not as the troubled girl I was.

My school years were not the carefree social or educational times that many other kids experienced. My school years were filled with the looming death of my mother, the death of my true-love boyfriend when I was a senior, too many drug-fueled parties and way too much alcohol. I missed 37% of my senior year, and was allowed to graduate with my class only because of the compassionate understanding of my teachers. I graduated in June, left town and never looked back. I hadn’t one single good memory from the years I spent in Everett.

I now know that for every other reunion I’ve attended, I was always looking back to the girl I was there, as I’d been in school, not caring to see or share who I’d been becoming. I still felt insecure, invisible, and unimportant. In order to feel safe at school, I’d needed to keep my world small and walled, so I didn’t remember most of the kids who remembered me. (This and the fact that I was frequently under the influence of mind-altering substances, notoriously bad for the memory.) It blew my mind, when at my 40th reunion, one of the popular boys who had married one of the popular girls told me he’d wondered if he’d see me there. What? Rick S. knew who I was? I had not an ounce of self-esteem.

I feel different this time. I’m actually really looking forward to seeing all the ‘kids’ I went to school with, whether or not I remember them, and I have no fear. Rather than just being excited about reuniting with the small band of boys I ran around with, I want to see the girls, too… the girls I felt I wasn’t good enough to be friends with. The girls who had both parents, lived in nice houses, had enough money for prom dresses, and were in social or service clubs and went to each other’s parties. I am Facebook friends with some of these girls now — they requested my friendship, not the other way around. There is still a wee bit of the insecure young girl inside me who couldn’t quite yet risk asking them to be my friend, even if only on social media.

So, I choose to leave my history, sob stories and ghosts behind, and show up as the strong, loving, worthwhile woman I am. My history does not define me, nor do I regret one iota of it. No longer do I view my school days as pitiful and sad; I needed all of those days and those experiences to become who I am. On August 24th, I will walk joyfully, confidently, and expectantly into a room full of my classmates from 1969 and it will be good.

My gratitude for the programs of Alcoholics Anonymous and Centers for Spiritual Living is immeasurable, because my ongoing transformation began and continues thanks to ‘their’ two Big Books, the people who study and teach them, and the tools they taught me to use.

“I am co-creating with a Universe that does not ever have self-esteem issues or a lack of horsepower or compassion. I am discovering unknown power within myself as I walk into the unknown.”
A Year Without Fear, Tama Kieves, pg. May 21

— Renee’ Mercer

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Killing the Kudzu – Metaphorically Speaking

Part of the pea family kudzu is also called Japanese arrowroot: Pueraria-Fabaceae-Faboideae.

If you’ve lived in the Southeast, you’re aware of Kudzu: an Asian species invited to US lawns as a quick-growing land cover and erosion deterrent. So pretty, so green, such beautiful flowers and so quick to grow. It can be used for Oriental teas and tinctures, it fixes nitrogen in the soil, it transfers minerals from deep soil to topsoil. It also can be used to make clothes, baskets or for animal feed.

What could possibly go wrong? It spreads by runner and by seed. [It] climbs over trees or shrubs and grows so rapidly that it kills them by heavy shading. Which is to say it replaces native plants as well as expensive landscaping, and pretty much anything else in its way. (Thank you, Wikipedia)

And, you might reasonably ask: that has what to do with what?

I’ve been spending this summer identifying the “Kudzu” I’ve invited into my mind and mental space. Those thoughts that are so pretty, so very easy to let take over. So, I am looking under the kudzu flowers for their roots and working to replace the “kudzu in my head” with productive, long-term healthy, helpful thoughts. Which has meant reading, journaling, meditating and talking with people smarter than me about this.

You plant only those seeds that will grow into what you want in your garden.
— Ernest Holmes, Basic Ideas of Science of Mind 51. 1

What’s that mean in living well every day? If all we had to do was plant the right ideas, there would be no kudzu in our lives. Unfortunately, more is required of us if we are to create the garden we want. Because;

In the spiritual realm, Universal Subjective Mind as Law is the soil. [It] functions just as naturally as the soil in the garden. It takes whatever you chose to plant in It, and It produces accordingly.
— Ernest Holmes, Basic Ideas of Science of Mind 51. 4 (emphasis added by Mariann)

…, the subjective-mind soil must be in the right condition all the time. You are always planting and you cannot afford to have the good seeds dropped into soil which contains a mass of weeds. …. thoughts of negations, worries, fears, angers, hates, resentments. [These] will grow just as rapidly as the good seeds and bring forth a crop just as sure and abundant. —Ernest Holmes, Basic Ideas of Science of Mind 53.1

Here’s the tricky part:

…. the soil of the garden has no power nor inclination to reject bad seeds while accepting good ones…. the creative medium of Law, also is entirely impersonal and will just as readily take your negations and produce a crop of illness, poverty, hardship, difficulty or inharmony.”
— Ernest Holmes, Basic Ideas of Science of Mind 53.1

You must learn to rule your own life!
— Ernest Holmes, Basic Ideas of Science of Mind 56 4

He that is slow to anger is better than the mighty; and he that ruleth his spirit than he that taketh a city.
Proverbs 16:32 (KJV)

“Remember, you are always planting!”
— Ernest Holmes, Basic Ideas of Science of Mind 56.6

Wishing you peace and plenty in your garden-

–Mariann

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Sharpening Knives

It’s (almost) always funny to me when I finally see a blind spot I have been unaware of. Most of my kitchen knives are kinda dull. That’s not exactly true, but they certainly aren’t sharp. I have the tool to sharpen them, and I’m actually adept at using it. The old saying about “a knife sharp enough to split hairs”, I can create that with quality steel blades, a little time and a little patience. I have even bought lovely new kitchen knives to avoid having to sharpen the ones I own.

So the mystery, why are my kitchen knives not sharp? I finally realized the ‘reason’ this morning. And perhaps that realization may be as useful to someone else as it was to me.

My ex-husband, Jerry, was a very lovely human being. We were just not a good fit. Or perhaps we were the perfect fit, because our dysfunctions fit together perfectly, until they didn’t. He was an absolute perfectionist, mortally terrified of being criticized, so he almost never completed anything. Sharpening ‘my’ kitchen knives was an exception. Perhaps it was the one task he could control, or keep working at, until they were absolutely magnificent.

I could tell the story about why he came to be that way. And it doesn’t actually matter much. Suffice it to say that he came from a very dysfunctional family that no one, and no thing could ever be good enough. I’m not like that, though I was raised that way, too. It was not possible to be recognized for doing anything truly well in my family of origin, because praise was seldom (never) given. It might make us think too highly of ourselves, or something. My reaction to being raised that way is to swing to the opposite extreme. I’m not quite the queen of “that’s good enough” but I am a long-standing member of her court. That must’ve given him some relief for those 10 years we were together. I didn’t see the dynamic we played out daily until many years later.

Getting back to my knives… So why haven’t I gotten the sharpener out, and done the deed that will take at most 10 minutes per knife? I did so much in that relationship (I told you it was dysfunctional), to do this would be to take away the one thing that Jerry did perfectly. My blind spot was that I didn’t see him as perfect regardless, but instead as someone for whom I ‘had to’ (I actually chose to) do virtually everything for. Accepting all the facets of his perfection, his kindness, his caring nature, his skill, his brilliance at so many things, and also his shortcomings, and finding peace, ease and joy in that for me, and knowing it for him, gives both of us space to develop further. He’s gone on to his next iteration, whatever that means, but I’m still here, working it out on the earth plane.

With that recognition, I think I’ll get the sharpener out and take care of my kitchen knives. <3

–Rev Janis Farmer

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Choosing Positive (Yes, I know that’s grammatically incorrect)

“There is nothing good or bad in the world, but thinking makes it so.”
(William Shakespeare Hamlet Act II scene II)

I have stopped being surprised at the synchronicity between what I decide to do and how the world shows up to support my decision. I had decided on the topic of this article Saturday, and smiled as I realized the substance of Rev. Janis’ talk this week was the same. All things do, indeed, work together.

I have a saying taped up in my kitchen that I read several times a day. I displayed it in my classroom over 20 years ago, and have long forgotten where or when I first encountered it. It resonates each time I read it, staying fresh and vital in my mind because I know the truth of it:

LIFE IS NOT WHAT IT IS “SUPPOSED TO BE.” IT IS WHAT IT IS.
THE WAY WE CHOOSE DEAL WITH IT IS WHAT MAKES THE DIFFERENCE.”

One important lesson we have all had the opportunity to learn (if we are older than 12) is the harder the situation, the more valuable it becomes as we figure out what we have learned from it. My family moved from Arizona to Texas when I was in the tenth grade. I had never had to make friends before because I was raised in the area where my parents and grandparents were born and had lived since they were children. I made myself (and my parents) miserable for a year while I decided how to navigate the newness of living in Texas. I have never forgotten that time in my life, and later as I went to college, married a man whose job required us to move every four years, and then, later, as a widow moving to Tucson on my own, I knew I could make friends and where I had to go to find them.

I laughed often when Rev. Donald shared the analogy of the young child who opened a door and found piles of horse manure piled everywhere. The child exclaims, “Yahoo!! I know there must be a pony in here somewhere!!”

Like everyone else, I have navigated many life struggles: the suicide of my young brother-in-law; the death of my parents; the long illness and death of my husband, John; the sudden illness and abrupt death of my husband, Phil, have each forged an understanding in me of what is truly important. Grieving is hard work, and as I have gotten through that process so many times, I have very little energy or will to get upset over things that really do not matter in the long run.

I know we experience the world through the filters we create based on our belief about the world. Years ago I had a student say to me, “This world is so F–ed.” I said, “My world isn’t.” She really heard that, began to change her attitude about her world and as a result changed her life. She got sober, studied hard and earned a Ph.D in molecular biology. Today she is a teaching professor at a medical school in Colorado.

People with positive attitudes experience their world in a positive way, and the opposite is true. The Universe supports whatever we believe about the world and our place in it without bias or judgment.

Someone recently said to me, “You lead such a charmed life.” I thought about that and realized I change that statement (in my mind) to “I create such a charmed life” because I act on my belief that the world is, indeed, a positive place.

–Pat Masters

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Can’t? Or Won’t?

If you missed this past Sunday’s talk from Rev. Janis, it was not recorded, and the topic was “The Experience of Freedom”. What freedom to be means to me is that I don’t have to stay stuck in a world that has been defined for me in the past by my parents, teachers, experiences and my life’s choices.

The wonderful thing is that we can give our past stories up, and move forward in a more open, expansive way. What really hit me right between the eyes was Rev. Janis’ statement, “If you say you can’t, what you really mean, is that you won’t”. After reflecting on that, and thinking about the many ways I have remained entrenched in my own story, and the stories that have come from outside myself that I have agreed with, I had believed those stories defined me, and what I could or couldn’t do.

I told myself just last week, when I realized it was my turn to write this Newsletter article, that I just couldn’t do it, that I can’t write very well, and have always had trouble putting my thoughts on paper. I discovered after this morning’s talk that my “I can’t” thinking only keeps me entrenched in my belief about my inability to express myself.

Apparently, I needed to be reminded again that I can always, always, change my mind, my thoughts, my dreams and intentions. I am already equipped with all I need to do anything that I put my mind, heart and soul into. I am a creation of the One and only need to focus on whatever I choose to do. Oh, and practice, practice, practice. 🙂

So, I choose to give up some of the old restrictive stories that have programmed me over the years, and move forward in a totally new and free life, one that has always been mine to choose. I intend to continue to study the principles of Science of the Mind, continue to go to classes, continue to pray for inspiration and direction, and see what happens. While it may be easier to stay “in my rut of familiarity and safety”, I miss out on all of the wonderful opportunities that life has to offer if I am willing to step out of who I think I am, and become who God intended me to be.

Namaste, Janie Hooper

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Update on the Move to 911 S. Craycroft Rd

We have completed our move from 4200 E. River Rd into our new Office and Education Center at 911 S Craycroft. There are so many people who helped with our move, and so many more who volunteered to help, but for a variety of reasons were not able to participate in the experience itself. I don’t want to start naming names, but I don’t want to leave out anyone who helped. There were dozens of people who helped in various ways. I also want to thank those who contributed financially to our move.

I especially want to thank those who came out to move the irregular items and unsealed boxes, artwork and fragile items that we moved before the hired help came on Saturday the 22nd to move file cabinets, book cases, lawn furniture, tables, desks and boxes of books.

I want to thank those who uninstalled the bookshelves at 4200, and those who re-installed them at 911, those who took apart desks, and those who patched the drywall where we had taken things down. I want to thank those who hauled off the extra trash when the trashcans were full. I want to thank those who boxed up the kitchen, and those who figured out how to make best use of our new breakroom and snack area. I want to thank those who packed the boxes of books, and those who unpacked them. I want to thank the clean-up crew at both locations. I want to thank everyone who hauled items to other non-profits in town for re-distribution of items that we no longer needed, wanted or had a place for.

We aren’t completely settled yet at 911, but we have continued all the normal Center operations, both administration and education, as we continue settling in to our new space. There are always kinks to be worked out, and we are handling them as they come up, one step at a time.

–Dick Laird

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Getting Excited about Our Upcoming Youth Program!

FREE TO BE ME – Expressing the Love Within and Make Today Great. Keep reading to see the themes for weeks 1 & 2 of the curriculum for our Youth program that will roll out this fall.

The Spiritual Truth for Expressing the Love Within is “Love”. Love is one way to prove the Law of Circulation. It is in the giving of it, that it is returned abundantly. The easiest love to circulate is the kind of love that God is – the unconditional kind.

The Spiritual Truth for Make Today Great is “Enthusiasm”. Enthusiasm means “Filled with The Divine”. It is being filled with Spirit. And isn’t that the truth of what and who we are, Spirit incarnate? Enthusiasm is contagious. It is God’s way of encouraging us to put our attention on the good all around us.

“All people are individual expressions of the one God. Our consciousness creates our own reality. The goal of life is freedom from all discord of any kind and this goal is sure to be attained by all” is the Science of Mind Declaration of Principles that is the overarching theme for the month.

What a blessing – to be guided by these loving words, and to be allowed to share them with children from preschool – grade 5. The activities include reading, singing, charades, Duck-Duck-Goose and arts and crafts.

Don’t we all wish we’d learned the Science of Mind when we were children? What a gift for us to be able to share the Science of Mind philosophy with kids. And what a gift to be able to welcome families with children.

The requirements be a teacher are:
• You must have completed the Foundations class
• You must pass a background check
• You must pass a fingerprint check
• Be available to teach 2 Sundays per month and to attend a once monthly Team meeting.

To provide continuity for the children (and their parents), each person will volunteer 2 weeks in a row, serving one week as the helper and a second week as the teacher. For 4 teachers, the rotation will be 1-2, 2-3, 3-4, 4-1. For 5 Sunday months, we’ll ask for a trained volunteer to serve that extra Sunday.

Curricula are available for Preschool through grade 5. We will start our Youth Program with 4 teachers and 2 subs. Our goal is to have 6 children attending by Christmas and to be conducting 2 sessions – preschool – Grade 1 and Grades 2-5. The teachers will be supplied with the curricula for the classes, the supplies for the arts and crafts projects as well as the books to read aloud and music to play. There will be monthly team meetings to receive curriculum, supplies and to review how the classes are progressing.

Banners at the top of the curriculums illustrate the expanding change in focus as the children attend the classes.

Preschool – One Life, As Me
Kinder-Gr 1 – One Life, As Me, Creates
Grades 2&3 – One Life, As Me, Creates, Celebrates
Grades 4&5 – One Life, As Me, Creates, Celebrates, One Life

As our Center grows, I am excited to be involved in offering resources to families with children and I am also pleased for the opportunity to teach these loving words. Reading the curriculum is soothing and I believe helping to support and teaching these lessons will address each teacher’s inner child, allowing us to receive as much, or even more, support from the classes as the students.

If you are interested in participating in our Youth Program, please call me at (520) 270-1279.

— Marya Wheeler

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I KNOW WHERE I BELONG

“ This is the whole secret, a complete mental acceptance,
and embodiment of our desires.”
—– Ernest Holmes, The Science of Mind 398.3

Having grown up a gypsy child, moving and changing schools frequently, I never felt like I belonged anywhere. Since we were poor, as well as having no parent-figure(s) around to ‘raise’ me, I had the resultant low self-esteem and either just kept to myself or ran with the kids I probably shouldn’t have been. I was a very lost little girl and even my own skin didn’t feel like it belonged on me.

Enter drugs, alcohol, blah blah, blah, until I ended up in Alcoholics Anonymous. These were my people telling my story; I had paid my dues and, for the first time in my life, I had a sense of belonging. It was delicious, and I gave it my all. I did service work, sponsored newcomers, went to meetings, worked the steps, and reaped the rewards – I stayed sober.

Because of my thorough self-examination in working the twelve steps of AA, I began to heal and to feel like I belonged on the planet and that to live in my own skin might be an okay thing after all. Life marched on but it wasn’t really fulfilling until I found the Center for Spiritual Living Tucson (even though I’d attended and taken classes at CSL Seattle for a few years, I never felt like I belonged). This is my center, though it didn’t start out that way…

When I first walked through the doors and heard Rev. Donald Graves speak, I felt the effervescent energy and knew I wanted to be a part of it. But being an introvert and not knowing anyone, I didn’t know ‘how’ so I just kept showing up on Sundays. I made myself talk to strangers and tried not to be too star-struck when someone who had clearly been around for a long time would sit at my table during the potluck. I know it sounds silly, but such was my desire to be one of ‘them’. When the opportunity arose to take classes, I signed up and again started from the beginning, Foundations. Taking classes was a great way to get to know people because as we learned each other’s names, we learned each other’s stories. I began to feel a sense of belonging, and I added to it by volunteering to usher; then I asked if I could be a host, and before I knew it I was on the Board of Trustees filling out a term of someone who had retired. Since our classes are always inspiring and changing, I show up for them. And come this fall, I will be signing up online for Practitioner 2 studies. I’ve delayed it long enough and it’s time to step into my calling and let my light shine! (Yep, I said that.)

Belonging. I am so grateful to belong to this center that so obviously is experiencing the manifestations of our awesome collective consciousness — in one week, we are moving into our own education/office building! We will be paying a mortgage, not rent, while we establish equity and grow closer to realizing our intention of one day having a center that is all in one place. Do you realize how many things had to line up for this office purchase to transpire? It’s mind-blowing! Even when the road was rough and rocky over this last year or so, we declined to be discouraged and stayed our course, knowing without fail that in spite of appearances of lack, we move in abundance and everything is right on track, bringing our good, as we wish. And here it is!

Bottom line, if you want a stronger sense of belonging at CSLT, show up! Join teams, take classes, stay for potluck, talk to people you don’t know but think you might want to. We’re a positive, growing, inspirational, and inclusive community of people who are aware enough to know we do experience a better life, more abundance, better health, and all the good stuff as we are able to allow it. So, come on, let’s do this thing called ‘Our Center’ together! There’s no doubt in my mind. You belong, too!

–Renee’ Mercer

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