Volunteering, or The “V” word

When I reflect on my life, I’m fairly certain that the first good decision I ever made was when I was thirty-four and checked myself into treatment for drug and alcohol addiction.  But it wasn’t just staying sober that changed my life – it was my introduction to Alcoholics Anonymous.  You see, AA is a spiritual program and I hated all that God and prayer stuff.  Not only that, they told me if I wanted to stay sober I needed to help the newcomers and do ‘service work’.  What?  As a totally self-absorbed addict it was beyond the scope of my imagination to do anything besides try to stay sober.  Plus, I’ve never been one to do what other people think I ‘should’ or ‘need to’ do.  Guilt-tripping me doesn’t work.  I didn’t want to volunteer and no one could make me!

So I simply went to meetings and didn’t drink.  And those kind, truthful, annoyingly helpful people got through my thick skin and I willingly began the volunteering phase of my life.

As a bonus, I found that volunteering in Alcoholics Anonymous gave me far more than continued sobriety – I became part of a community and it felt so very wonderful to truly belong somewhere.  The more I helped in various ways, the better I felt about myself.  Other people’s welfare became important to me, as did the survival of my favorite meetings and the organization itself.  I had found a healthy place to hang out and grow and I didn’t want to lose it.

Fast forward thirty years:  That’s the same way I feel about CSLT.  I am so in love with my spiritual community!  During the two years I lived in Kanab, Utah, the thing I missed the most was my ‘people’, my ‘tribe’.  A year ago when I decided to leave Kanab I contemplated where in the world I wanted to live next – it was a short internal discussion.  I came home.

The ‘V’ word has become one of my greatest pleasures in life…yes, folks, I volunteer and I love it!  I care so much about CSLT and I want us to thrive for me and to be a major, positive force in Tucson, in Arizona!  So I give of my time.  I invest in my incredible community of like-minded souls who count on us to be here every Sunday.  At first I ushered – easy, infrequent, yet I had an opportunity to step outside of my comfort zone and greet everyone who came through the doors.   Then, against every argument to the contrary in my brain, I actually volunteered to be on the Host Team – to be on the stage all by myself and speak into a microphone to y’all!  And no one has boo’d me off yet.  But the biggest commitment (aargh, the ‘C’ word!) I’ve ever made is becoming a member of the Board of Trustees here at the center. I was scared; all those old voices in my head told me I wasn’t smart enough, good enough, educated enough, mellow enough.  But the sane part of me won and I decided to invest my time and energy in what I love and to become a part of the changes and growth I want to see happen around our center.

Yes, I am a volunteer and am richly rewarded in more ways than I have space to write about.  If you’re not yet a volunteer because you aren’t sure what you would like to do or what needs to be done, talk to me.  There are so many choices, some of which aren’t visible to the general congregation on Sundays.  Most ‘jobs’ take up very little of one’s time.  And it feels so freaking good!  I guarantee you’ll feel more a ‘part of’ because you’ve shared some of yourself with something that matters to you. If it worked for a tough case like me, surely it will work for you.

by Renee’ Mezzone

A Clear Plan to Wealth and Abundance in Just 30 Minutes a Day

In today’s economy, it’s more important than ever to get clear about your personal and professional goals—and to commit to a plan that will get you there. Financial abundance can be a game of fun and prosperity, but only when you realize that you don’t have to do everything yourself. Spirit wants to help you. Following is an overview of steps that you can take to allow it to do so:

1. Welcome your new spiritual partner to your financial advisory team and give it a name whose advice you value. I affectionately call my partner the Chief Spiritual Officer, or CSO for short. Create your own name for God, Spirit, Divine Intelligence, etc. which describes the characteristic of the all-knowing power of the universe that gives you advice through intuition, hunches, and other means.

2. Set aside 30 minutes a day to have a meeting with your partner. Follow a clear agenda that combines the force of 3 G’s – goals, gratitude, and God.

3. Establish clear job descriptions for both yourself and your new partner. You will decide what you want with gratitude. The CSO will create the path to achieve your goals and give you one step to take at a time. You will either take the step or ask for another lead. Then, you’ll reach your goal and celebrate.

4. Through this process you will experience a complete shift in your thinking about how financial wealth and abundance is created.

In my book, The Path to Wealth; Seven Spiritual Steps for Financial Abundance, you’ll also learn to go deeper into the practice to gain insight about your purpose, gain tools to successfully navigate financial ups and downs, overcome the fear of failure, as well as eliminate old beliefs and behaviors that have kept you from experiencing the success you really want.

Best of all, you will learn how to develop your own financial intuition, which is key to noticing and pursuing the opportunities that will present themselves once you are on this path.

Your spiritual advisor wants to help you. Make the commitment to begin your new partnership today!

May will be our guest author at our booth (#160) at this year’s Tucson Festival of Books on Saturday, March 14th between 11am and 3pm and will be speaking on Sunday morning, March 15th, during our Sunday Celebration Service at 10:30am and holding a workshop at our Office and Education Center from 1-3:30pm. Tickets for the workshop are $20 and can be purchased by contacting the office.

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May McCarthy has cofounded and grown six successful companies over her thirty-year career, with the largest growing to over $100 million in annual revenues. She credits her success to the spiritual new thought principles described in her book, and firmly believes that financial success and freedom are available to anyone who is willing to apply them. Visit her online at www.maymccarthy.com.

“Stupid hurts, and it should.” (Graves’ Law #97)

“This Is How It Works”

“Stupid hurts, and it should.” (Graves’ Law #97)

When we do something against the Laws of Nature, or against our true nature or values, we suffer… and we should. This valuable feedback gives us the information, and possibly the motivation we need, to change.

What’s interesting to observe is that the hurting escalates if we don’t pay attention.

Initially, we get feedback from our emotions and/or feelings. We feel emotional discomfort or upset, and this could be as vague as an internal “stirring” or something more specific as anxiety.

If we don’t listen, then it escalates, and we get feedback in our environment: in our affairs, at home, at work, in the world around us, etc. It shows up as “noise”, chaos, “failure”, defeat, resistance, etc.

If we don’t pay attention and listen, then it escalates further, and we get feedback in our body. It shows up as chronic and/or acute pain, disease, sickness, and/or with other physical symptoms. The body is the first and the last place where the Universe gives us both our first and our last chance to wake up to the thinking that is out of whack. If we continue and do not listen to the feedback of disease, we move into an even deeper phase.

Since the Universe “loves” us and gives us to ourselves so totally and continually, It is willing to kill the body and let us start all over again. The Universe escalates the feedback until we get it, up to and including our getting to “start over”.

Paying attention to this process can encourage all of us to pay more attention to the various kinds of feedback presented to us, and therefore, help us to find ways to live more congruently and joyfully.

I trust you will choose to enjoy your process.

Reverend Donald Graves
(Excerpted and expanded from Graves’ Laws: Aphorisms to Live By, by Donald Graves)

The Power of Receiving in a Season of Giving By Amanda Owen

Cover_Power_of_ReceivingHalloween is the coming attractions preview of the holidays. Those little witches, ghosts, and goblins will soon morph into angels, wise men, and reindeer, and the candy you gave in October will give way to more expensive gift-giving in December.

While the old proverb tells us it is better to give than receive, countless people bemoan the absence of grateful receivers. Thank you letters seem to be a relic of the past and expressions of gratitude are often drowned out in a sea of complaints about what is wrong with the world.

When you get back nothing or little in response to what you give, it’s natural to feel mystified or even resentful. Interestingly, our culture spends a lot of time on the value of giving, while little attention is paid to receiving. Yet, for every giver there is a receiver. And when something is not received well—whether it is candy, a gift, or a compliment—we notice!

With a little time left before the holiday season arrives, it’s not too late to strengthen your ability to receive and help your children brush up on their receiving skills. Here are three simple steps that will help you receive as well as you give:

1. Notice what people do for you and thank them.
Don’t think for a second that a lack of acknowledgment or a refusal to receive is not noticed by the person who gave! When we don’t receive graciously, we thwart an opportunity for connection and prevent a mutually satisfying transaction from occurring.

The simple expression of gratitude is one of the ways that we give back to the giver. It feels good for our giving to be received and it makes us want to give again! Here are a few ideas to help you practice saying thank you:

• Thank the grocery clerk for putting the food in the bag.
• Thank the bank teller for saying, “Have a nice day.”
• Thank the driver who waves at you to go first at the stop sign.
• Thank the waiter for bringing you coffee.
• Thank your cat for using the litter box.
• Thank your coworker for saying, “Have a great weekend.”
• Thank your houseplants for their beauty.

2. Accept compliments.
When people pay you a compliment, do you downplay what they are saying about you? Or do you thank them? If someone wants to do something for you, do you say something like, “Oh, you don’t need to do that! I can handle it myself!”

Many people are uncomfortable accepting compliments and then wonder why people aren’t kinder or don’t help them out more. Receiving something as simple as a compliment is a huge statement about your willingness to receive the good things in life.

Even if you are uncomfortable accepting a compliment, kind words, or a gift, note that feeling and receive it. But still say, “Thank you.” Here are a few ways to graciously respond to a compliment:

• Thanks!
• It’s so nice of you to notice!
• I really appreciate that!
• How sweet of you to say that!
• It’s great to hear such encouraging words!
• How lovely of you to acknowledge that!
• You made my day!

3. Start a gratitude journal.
To be grateful is to be receptive to life’s abundance. Gratitude is a state of mind, a way of seeing life, of noticing and relating to life. There are those who have an overall attitude of gratitude. Conversely, some people are rarely grateful—even when people bend over backward to give to them.

Appreciation and gratitude come from inside a person as a way of looking at life, as a way of being in life. It is completely independent of external circumstances. Start a journal where you can record every day at least five things for which you feel grateful.
Here are a few ideas to get you started:

• I am grateful for my morning coffee.
• I am grateful for the beautiful tree in my front yard.
• I am grateful that my husband received a job promotion.
• I am grateful for the recommendation my friend gave me for a massage therapist.
• I am grateful that my sister is content in her life.
• I am grateful for my home.
• I am grateful that I have been feeling better

Someone once said, “Life is a marathon.” Through all of life’s peaks and valleys, there are people who help make the journey a little brighter and a lot more fun.

When you express your appreciation, when you respond graciously to compliments, offers of help, gifts (and candy!) you not only strengthen your relationship bonds, you create a life where people want to give to you as much as you give to them. You create a two-way street, giving sometimes and receiving at other times.

This holiday season, receive from the people who give to you. Listen to what they say, notice what they do, and most of all, respond with a sincere ‘thank you!’

Amanda Owen is the guest speaker at our Sunday Celebration Service on October 12, 2014. Join us. She is also the author of The Power of Receiving and Born to Receive.

Spiritual Oneness Through Music

How wonderful it is to observe and think about the many different ways people may walk a spiritual path, and the different places along that road where one can find oneself. This is not an either/or proposition, but rather an opportunity to exercise the power of choice among the many options available. Depending upon what someone needs at any given moment, different approaches can fill that need.

There are times on the journey when one needs inspiration or guidance or a change in perspective, or maybe a deeper realization of love while working through a life situation. Sometimes what’s missing is the mystical and transcendent experience of oneness: that deep realization of truth where everything shifts and one experiences everything as perfect, as divine, as God in everything and everyone.

As each spiritual center, church, synagogue or mosque finds their unique way of talking about and fulfilling these human needs, more people can experience a depth and richness in the teachings and feel invited into a deeper acceptance and understanding of the Infinite.

Music is one of the most effective tools in facilitating the spiritual journey, and it is a powerful avenue by which all teachings and philosophies can find common ground and provide inspiration, a deepened realization of love, joy and peace and sometimes, between the notes and lyrics, that transient experience of the mystery comes, joining everyone in the divine. What a sweet place that is…especially when shared with others.

Three spectacular and unifying musicians, David Roth, Jana Stanfield and Richard Mekdeci, will offer the first Tucson emPower Music PosiPalooza Concert, from 6 to 9 p.m., September 21, at Donald R. Nickerson Performing Arts Center, in Tucson.

Admission is $20, or two for $35. Concert location: 3231 N. Craycroft Rd. Buy tickets at empowerma.com/upcomingevents or at Center for Spiritual Living Tucson, Unity Spiritual Center for Peace and Unity of Tucson on Sundays.

Blessings, Reverend Donald

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.

BestBlessings,

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: www.twitter.com/howardfalco

(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

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