Groupon and the Farm Box

tomato-9This story could more comfortably become a story I heard rather than something that actually happened to me today. About a month ago, Groupon offered a Farm Box for half the normal price. I had been curious about what local fresh organic produce delivered from the farm to consumer was like. I hadn’t been so curious that I wanted to sign up for regular delivery, so this was a perfect opportunity for me to find out how the FarmBox system worked and what was in a normal delivery. When I went on their website to arrange for pickup of my first (and probably only) FarmBox, I was not happy to learn that they required a credit card, in addition to my Groupon code to actuate my delivery. I communicated with their helpful customer service person about this and how I was unhappy that it really, really looked like I was being set up to be charged beyond this initial purchase, for regular weekly or twice-a-month-ly deliveries. The kind and helpful woman assured me that I would not be, that the consumer had to authorize any change in the program.

So the first box came and the contents were lovely, lively and fresh.  Still I was not inspired to change my subscription to start arranging for regular deliveries. The FarmBox people charge your card at the interval that you designate and if you do not pick up your box, they donate it to an organization that can use the fresh produce. This is a good business practice and good use of resources, since produce is so perishable, they have created a mechanism whereby it is not wasted.

Imagine my dismay this morning when I received an email from them that my credit card had been charged for this next week’s delivery, which I never set up and never authorized, but had been afraid would happen.

Emmet Fox wrote (in Around the Year with Emmet Fox), “When you give your mental assent to an idea, good or bad, you associate yourself with that idea and you incorporate it into your consciousness… It is the mental assent that counts.”

Oh that.

I e-mailed the helpful woman back and she got straightened out immediately. She remembered me from our previous interactions, was terribly apologetic, couldn’t imagine how it had happened, and that it must’ve been human error and wanted to make it right.

I knew exactly how it happened, and I know what to do about it. Shift my focus. Now.

—  Janis

Using Imagination and Will

Having run across this following tidbit today, I thought it very appropriate for consideration given our theme for June: “Imagination and Will”.

“We take our point of view so much for granted, as if the world were really as we see it. But it doesn’t take much analysis to recognize that our way of seeing the world is simply an old unexamined habit, so strong, so convincing, and so unconscious we don’t even see it as a habit. How many times have we been absolutely sure about someone’s motivations and later discovered that we were completely wrong? How many times have we gotten upset about something that turned out to have been nothing? Our perceptions and opinions are often quite off the mark. The world may not be as we think it is. In fact, it is virtually certain that it is not.” (Norman Fischer, Training in Compassion: Zen Teachings on the Practice of Lojong, pg. 63)

How many times have you taken a piece of information and built it into its own false universe, only to find out later that the information you had was mistaken? You thought something happened, and maybe you took offense or felt hurt or diminished by it, when in fact it never happened at all, or it happened very differently than you thought.

Huge suffering can come from a misuse of imagination and will, and no one is exempted from doing this. We all have done it at one time or another. The key to sanity must be in understanding how to do this differently.

While thinking on Fischer’s quotation, I considered some questions:

How might I rightly use my imagination and will?

How can I use my imagination and will FOR my benefit, as well as for the benefit of those around me?

What if I use my imagination and will to “create” a world that works for everyone; where everyone respects differences and looks for connections and relatedness, instead of focusing on the differences. Since we all live in the same human bucket, how might I use my creativity to assist all of us more effectively getting along and finding mutual joy?

The questions continue to help my mind explore, and so far, I only have a few answers. This tells me that more answers are on their way and more joy is unfolding each minute. I think the beginning is to become ever more aware of how I am using my imagination, and how I am applying my will to those imaginings.


Reverend Donald Graves

How to Master Time: 5 Steps to Living a Timeless and Powerfully-Creative Life by Howard Falco

Thinking About Time - Falco

Thinking About Time

It may be time for our idea of time to change.

Time is our most precious resource, yet each year, we seem to have less and less of it as our lives get busier and busier. Every day, we have a new set of tasks to complete and there are now so many distractions, and there is so much information coming at us on a daily basis, it’s no wonder we have lost that precious state of just enjoying the moment. A whole world of people now have their heads buried in their cell phones for most of the waking day and more than they’d like to admit during the wake-filled night. We have become digital information junkies. The result is a stressed-out, energy-drained state of mind, body and spirit. As a result, we have lost a big sense of peace and contentment with ourselves and the world around us.

What if you looked at time not from the perspective of time being limited but rather from the perspective of time being unlimited? What if you came to realize that your experience of time and how things all come together for you are actually rooted in how you interpret yourself and the world?

Mastering time is about learning to understand and trust the process of life. Faith is the word that comes to mind — except this is not a religiously-defined faith or a blind faith I’m talking about here but rather a faith in a universe that has literally birthed you into existence. Through endless years of evolution and trillions and trillions of transformations of the atoms and molecules in existence, you are the magnificent and perfect result.

How can you not trust that the universe will continue to support you on your journey?

The way you answer this is a big part of mastering time. A greater trust with life allows you to go through life with less fear and a more peaceful faith, so all you need, from the standpoint of your awareness, will be provided as you journey towards your creative intentions. This does not mean you do not take action towards your intentions each day, but rather, you do so from a state of less pressure and more peace. You act from a state of mind of less anxiety around the question of “when” to more of a state of knowing and trusting that life will guide you. By using this mental approach, time is no longer seen as limited, but rather, each moment is seen as an opportunity to work with life and learn from all the challenges that come your way.

This is a powerful state of mind to be in, and it has a direct positive impact on your experience of time.

With this approach, what once seemed like a struggle to achieve actually becomes easier. Rather than feeling like you are swimming against the current each day or feeling pressed for time, you live from a more trusting, faithful mindset that puts you in more of the flow of life. You may then marvel at how what you want to have happen comes to you more naturally and without you having to force it or pressure it to occur.

If you knew how powerful you really are you would never stop smiling.

The way in which you look at yourself and life is really what has the biggest impact on your daily experience of it. In order to truly master time, you must be willing to open yourself up to a new way of looking at it.

Below are five steps to living a more timeless and powerfully creative life.

1. Immediately stop living in regret. Eliminate the lies of “woulda, coulda and shoulda” from your mind and your vocabulary. Stop worrying about what you did yesterday. Instead, accept who you are now in this moment and focus your creative energy on honoring this newfound acceptance.

2. Trust that there is a reason for every challenge and circumstance. Even if you don’t understand why, allow the space to embrace the notion that things are happening for you, not to you. There is a certain timing to everything that comes into existence. Having expectations of the universe for what you want and when you want it actually works to add time to your journey.

3. Be present as much as possible. Every person, situation and moment has a message to offer you. If you aren’t present or you are moving too fast, you are going to miss this valuable information life is presenting you and thereby stretch your learning curve — which in turn stretches time.

4. Learn to act on your initial instincts. These instant thoughts are usually providing the fastest way from A to B as it relates to what you want. Don’t resist this knowing when it arises, thereby, giving your mind time to think twice about it or talk you out of it. Utilize your instinct more and learn to have the faith to just go with it.

5. Build the faith to see time is never wasted. Each moment has purpose. Realize that even when nothing seems to be happening, below the surface, in the places you cannot directly see, things are moving in your favor. This helps dissolve fear, resistance and pressure and increases the crucial energy of faith. The more you can come to embrace that for this moment this is exactly where you are supposed to be on the journey, the more powerful you will become.

Mastering the precious commodity of time is not as much about the organization of time, but rather, it’s much more powerfully about the attitude you hold about yourself and how this attitude affects every happening in your life. Awakening to see the sacred connection between these two things by slowing down enough to be more present is ironically the beginning of a new and much faster way of putting time on your side.

Follow Howard Falco on Twitter:

(This content was first published on 4/24/14 on the Huffington Post)

“NO” and “YES” by Janet St. Marie

Well, this week I was given a gift that I didn’t even know was being handed to me. It all started February 9th, in the message about Love of Self, when Reverend Donald Graves told us of that two-letter word which is so important in self-care – “No.”

The NO required in self-care.

The NO required in self-care.started February 9th, in the message about Love of Self, when Reverend Donald Graves told us of that two-letter word which is so important in self-care – “No.”

“No.” That’s it? “No?”

Just that very word shut me down. I am a master at saying “No”, since all my life I’ve said it– but mainly to myself. Everyone else got a “Yes.” And consequently my boundaries, if they even existed, were devastatingly ignored.

Reverend Donald’s emphatic call to use the word “No” in our practice of self-care was urging us to absolutely and unequivocally halt the disrespect of anyone’s self-appointed judgments violating our personal boundaries; and that this is an act of love for ourselves. I got that. I really did.

But I wanted to hear how THAT particular “No” to the judgments and demands of others was really a “Yes” to the truly most beautifully powerful Self that we are…how THIS “Yes” frees us to be the boundless expression of the great and mighty God that we are.

I have heard Reverend Donald say it before, that there’s a “Yes” behind every “No”; that our “No” helps to redirect the way something is going, and keeps our “Yes” the priority. If I truly say “Yes” to life, my “No’s” to destructive behavior keep me on track in choosing life and living.

I wanted to hear that “Yes” part again, but it didn’t come in that morning’s message. So I had to find it for myself. And that was the gift. It took a good five days. And my disappointment (no judgment on my part. Oh, no, not me!) at not being spoon fed that nugget was the impetus I needed to strive for that nugget; to seal it into my consciousness, and to begin living my life from there.

What a wonderful process it was – very much like unwrapping a surprise gift.

And now I’m feelin’ the love.

Thank you, Reverend Donald.

Suffering is Not God-Ordained

If the statement is true that, “The Christian religion gives more value to the individual life than do most of the others and that is why it has made such an appeal to the more vital races of the world, then the conjunction of Christianity and the African peoples was inevitable.

While the initial contact turned tragic; fortunately, over time, through its emphasis on the individual life, the peoples and descendants of Africa are beginning to rise sphinx like from the ashes of colonization and slavery.

Both movies, Django Unchained and 12 Years a Slave are psychologically significant, because they effectively captured and portrayed the spiritual aspirations of a people long oppressed. Oppressed in the sense that we were ignorant of our true nature and prevented from learning how to read and write. One film illuminated a mind set that had to be destroyed and the other illuminated a mind set that must be kept alive and vibrant.

Ernest Holmes goes on to say that, “Being what we are there are certain responsibilities that go with our natures-certain obligations; if our thought is creative and if we are unfolding to a discovery of our true nature, which must already be perfect, then the obligation and responsibility of this nature could impose freedom or bondage upon us temporarily, but our bondage cannot be real from the standpoint of the Absolute.” Our enslavement was not real from the standpoint of the Absolute. As one of African descent, having chosen to identify with the Absolute, bondage exercises no power over my soul. Incrementally, the world is moving towards identification with the Absolute.

Had the Science of Mind been written prior to the slave trade, and read throughout the entire continent of Africa, the road to self-discovery could have been a conscious one, and who knows, maybe in harmony with the aspirations of the white races, because suffering is not God-ordained.

The world has learned all it should from suffering.

Keith A. Gorley

Confusion is a place we hang out when we don’t want to let ourselves know what deep down we really do know. Because we don’t want to have to do what we have to do if we let ourselves know what we really do know. –Mary Morrissey

This is the Season

This is the season when many find themselves struggling with how to get on in life. Maybe the holiday season brings up past negative memories, or maybe there is simply a lot going on. It’s been said, “Trouble comes in three’s,” and sometimes, it seems like Trouble doesn’t stop there.

When I was asked to offer some words of encouragement by someone who is facing several life-challenges simultaneously, the following suggestions flowed onto the page. Over these many years, I have found that all of them work, but whether they “land” for you, Dear Reader, based on however much is roiling around in your mind, only you will be able to say. If you can implement all of them at once, you’re probably not as bad off as you think you are. Just pick one per day, or one per hour, or one that resonates with you in any given moment. Even that much can make a big difference.

Keep breathing. Nothing can change if we are not around to help change it. That’s the reality of this existence. Tough times go away, if we participate in their going away. When we bail, they stick around…and usually follow us wherever we go.

Keep loving. Which means, keep talking, keep hugging and keep nurturing those around you, starting with yourself. How to do that? It depends. First, we have to know what we really need. This may take some time to figure out, but it’s time well spent. Second, we need to realize that needs can change, moment to moment. Long-range needs matter the most, but the “needs of the now” are important, too. Third, we have to be able to accept whatever feeds that need if it’s given, because if it is offered, we have to let it in, in order for that need be filled. Ask for a hug, if that’s the need. Ask for quiet time, if that’s the need. Ask for what you need when you need it…and this may take some practice.

Eat. Nourishing the body is vital, while it helps us do the inner work. During tough times, food may be tasteless and uninteresting. However, the body needs air, light, fuel and water. It’s another of those realities of this plane of existence. Feed and water it. It doesn’t have to be anything spectacular, but eating is important.
Rest. I won’t say, “Sleep,” because sleep may not come easily in difficult times. But rest is as important as food and air and water. Rest is in the baseline of Maslow’s hierarchy for a reason.

Keep talking. Let the words that are inside come out. Sometimes they may be garbled; sometimes they may be brilliant pieces of wisdom. Sometimes they reveal the reality of whatever is going on in such a way, that it becomes obvious that things aren’t so bad. If talking with someone is not possible, talk with yourself. Write. Write down the conversation that needs to be spoken. Write down the conundrums that bubble up. Getting whatever’s inside out, is as important as evacuating the bowel. When we “plug up”, we dam ourselves. Keep the flow flowing.

Get outside. Take a walk. Breathe the fresh air. Feel the sun on your face. Gaze at the stars or watch the moon for a while. Nature nurtures. We are part of Nature, and to the degree that we physically connect with It, It will nurture us, because we are part of It.

Do something. Anything. If any or all of this is too hard, mop the floor. Clean the toilet. Rake leaves or rocks or dirt. Do something, and then acknowledge that you did that something. We only believe we have the power to do anything, by doing something and recognizing that we did that something. The mind is a funny and tricky companion, and it’s important to use it the way it works. Do something and acknowledge even the little things accomplished, and the mind begins to think differently about itself. Think something positive, even if you don’t really believe it when you think it. Think it enough, and sooner or later, that thinking becomes believable. Doing and thinking and feeling are all connected, and by realizing this, you will begin to feel the truth of it…and then one day, seemingly all of a sudden, the light is brighter, and there is an awareness inside that this ‘Tis the Season of Joy and not something else.

Rev Donald

Entering the Eye of the Storm and Embracing the “I” of the Storm

By Anna Mello

Recently I sang a song called “Eye of the Storm” by singer/song writer Jen Hajj, who was a guest musician at our center a couple of months ago. I mentioned that this song had a profound effect on me, and I said that I would share this experience in writing. Although there are many musical selections that touch my soul deeply, the timing of this song literally brought me to my knees and evoked overwhelming emotions.

Some people know this about me, but there are many who still don’t. Although I have become a regular volunteer singer at CSLT over the last couple of years, the fact is, that for many years I did not join a choir or sing in front of large groups of people, even though I loved to sing, knew I could sing and wanted to sing. For some reason I didn’t feel like I was a good enough singer to be in a simple high school or church choir, and even when I finally did, it took me awhile to really allow myself to fully share what was inside at that time.

Around 2002, I was involved in a spiritual book study group through Unity, and it was revealed to me that I was supposed to solo. I was so nervous, but I shared this with the facilitator and the group. The facilitator, who was an Arizona State legislator at the time and involved with Toastmasters, firmly, yet lovingly told me to get up and sing for them right then, and she didn’t care how long it took me, or if I had to stop for tears or whatever, but she assured me that I was going to finish! Well the tears did come, and I did finish; however the tears that flowed did not only represent my fears, but was a sense of release or the birth of something that was supposed to come out and express. The next step for me was to sing by myself for the whole congregation. I was extremely anxious, more so than most people ever fully knew. In fact, I started to realize and notice that I would try to avoid the anxiety by sabotaging myself and physically getting sick. When I started to honestly take a look at this, I had to admit to myself that I had done this before, in other areas of my life and with things that I said I wanted to do, but didn’t because having an excuse for not doing them was more comfortable than facing my fears of being vulnerable.

After talking through this with a few trusted people, I decided I was going to solo for my birthday and it was going to be the gift to myself from myself! Well of course, all of the physical obstacles came up, but I committed to this challenge and told myself I was going to do it, no matter what! As I worked through my own habits of resistance and mind chatter, an original song “Come Within” emerged with the starting lines being, “Oh my child, say the WORD and you are healed. Come within and know that we are ONE.” I continued moving through my physical and emotional healing and finished writing the song and actually did fine on my first solo, despite the nervous ticks, wobbly legs, and the need to remind myself to breathe. I continued to solo at least once a year on my birthday at Unity, and started to take on challenges in other areas of my life as well, and began reaching some of my big goals that I set out to accomplish. Since I’ve been here at CSLT for almost four years now, I continue to grow in many areas, but I honestly feel like I am on WARP speed in allowing some new changes to emerge from within, and I feel like I am at an increased level of awareness with everything and everyone around me. In addition to our Sunday services, I undoubtedly, know that this is a result of taking the offered classes, and making a commitment to use the spiritual tools that are taught in this philosophy. All of the classes I’ve taken have been very meaningful for me, but Foundations and Visioning have been my favorite so far, and have opened me up so much! I know this is a result of stepping into the practices whole heartedly, and loving myself enough to allow my full potential to continually unfold and express. In doing this I am finding that sometimes that means having to pick up my oars and point my boat right towards the “storm”, AKA “the scary stuff” or the excuses I make up to keep myself small and comfortable. The problem with playing small is that it keeps me from getting to the “eye” and “I” of what is truly desired in my heart.

Jen Hajj’s song was so profound for me, and literally had me on my knees in tears when I heard it the first time, because a couple of weeks prior to her being our guest musician, one of the symbols and messages that I received during a visioning class was a tornado and the words “eye of the storm”. At the time, I just allowed the vision to be what it was and didn’t analyze or try to figure it out, since the process of visioning is to surrender to Divine Mind and trust that what needs to come forth will reveal itself naturally. When Jen Hajj showed up the following Sunday, it was the first time I had met her and heard any of her music. Afterwards, I introduced myself and bought a CD, but didn’t really take time to even look at it because I had another commitment to rush off to. I put it in my binder and forgot about it. The next week, I was needing to make some final choices on some significant job changes and was getting uncomfortable with taking the leap that I knew I needed to take. I decided to take a break and work on choir music, and when I took out my binder, I saw the CD that I had forgotten about. On the front cover, the name of the CD read “I of the storm”, and one of the songs on the CD was “Eye of the Storm”. At that moment, I recalled my visioning and I played the song. The words were EXACTLY what I was feeling and needed to hear, and while I was so grateful for recognizing the synchronicity with my visioning, it was also extremely overpowering for me, and stirred up those anxious feelings once again. I was excited AND nervous because I knew I had to face some more of my fears and expand from “the box” that had become familiar, knowing I had outgrown it and didn’t want to be in it anymore. I reached out to one of our practitioner’s Lynne Heygster, who was teaching the class, to help me get grounded in spiritual truth and we shared a spiritual mind treatment together. I even made an appointment right afterwards with our own Zach Saber from Wellness First, to help me release some of the physical pain that had shown up as well. So now I have at least made peace with getting into “the boat”, and I’ve started rowing once again towards another “storm”, committed to facing my doubts and fears as I row into the “eye” to get to the “I” of this new storm. The “I” is my authentic Divine self, the self that shines as bright as it can, without the need to receive 100% approval from everyone and without worrying that allowing myself to shine might be taking away from another’s light. In this moment, I know and live from the truth that Divine light is inherent to everyone, and expresses in each one’s own unique way, and I encourage others to shine their light BRIGHT and bless us ALL! I am continually inspired by witnessing people around me step out of their comfort zones and allowing their lights to shine brighter and brighter. It is my sincere hope that we can lovingly honor and truly support those in our spiritual community and all around us, who are taking chances and moving outside of their familiar places to discover their Divine potential and passions. It may not always appear “perfect and polished” on the outside to everyone, especially at first, but I hope instead of criticizing, we can appreciate the bigger accomplishments that are springing forth and interact with loving kindness to one another. And, as we step out, when we do come across those critical experiences in our lives, may we remember that we can choose to lovingly look at what we can learn from them and then remember the sacred “I AM”! Can you imagine what we would each look like, what our Center for Spiritual Living Tucson would look like, what Tucson and the world would look like, if we all rowed into the “I” of our own made up storms and allowed our authentic light to shine as bright as it can and then share it and encourage others to do the same?! WOW!!…… Let’s get out our sunglasses!!!!

If you’re interested in the artist and song mentioned, you can check her out at

Self Determination – It was up to me and it’s up to you too

Have you ever had people want you to share information about another person; information which was that other person’s story to tell? Recently, I had the opportunity to be reminded of the power of love, and the marvelous way God works through us. I find whatever experiences I’ve gone through in life, it’s been well worth those experiences to have and feel AH-HA moments.

Recently, I watched a woman friend go from sheer fear in her eyes to being relaxed, calm and ready for whatever would happen next. I saw her change her mind from thinking it was time to leave us – to being prepared to return home and live more.

Some people tried to ‘pressure’ me (as though it was up to me) to share information about my friend, or to give them permission to go see my friend, or to tell others about her condition based on what I knew. I didn’t give into the pressure. I stood my ground by remembering I was supporting her. I helped her to stand her ground by doing as she had asked. I insisted that others understand it was not within my right or theirs to alter her experience to influence her right of self-determination. What was happening was hers and hers alone. It was my responsibility to honor the word I had given to her; and to help her honor her wishes for herself. It wasn’t a personal decision against anyone; it was the right decision for me and for my friend.

Priorities were messed up. What I saw were some putting their “but we must show our concern” in front of “but we need to be respectful of that persons request.” There seemed to be an underlying belief there was an obligation to “do for” others, rather than to allow them ‘to do’ for themselves, especially when they ask for that freedom. I wondered why some seemed to think they knew more or better than the individual. Honestly, I think sometimes we forget it’s not our obligation at all to replace our judgment for another’s.

Our obligation, in my opinion, is that we assist others in finding their own voice, in feeling respected for the choices made even when we don’t understand them and by remembering; it’s not ours it’s theirs. Self-determination can be challenging to bump up against when individually, we have a different opinion of the actions an individual chooses.

I am grateful for my extended family at CSL Tucson. I believe that as my extended family, I choose to be available to assist when I am able; when I am asked. I choose to extend my love and compassion to each of you and to do what I am called to do, when asked, in a way that assists you, but which does not decide for you. I trust others to appreciate that as well.

Zach Saber

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

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