A New Design In Living

Starting on Tuesday, February 7 Mariann and I will be co-facilitating a book discussion group on A New Design in Livingby Ernest Holmes. By being a facilitator, instead of one signing up for the class, it shifts my perception of myself, and is starting a new design for my life.

Many people follow their passion. I have been one to follow the voice, wondering “what are you thinking?” and find the passion later. Sometimes, many times, there is resistance on
my part. This time I told Spirit, I want to move forward with strength, power… with love. I am grateful of the reminder of that I can choose Love (curiosity and wonder…)

Love dissolves all fear, casts out all doubt and sets the captive free.
Love, Like the River of Life, flows through me and refreshes me with its eternal blessings. Love cannot be afraid; it is fearless and strong and is mighty in its works.
It can accomplish all things through the Inner Light of that faith in the All Good,
Which fills my very Being with a Powerful Presence.

Ernest Holmes, The Science of Mind 522.3

It is interesting, meaning I sense Divine Timing, that CSLT is going through “a new design in living,” when this book discussion group will be happening. With Rev Janis moving on to other adventures, we get to decide how our center will move forward. There will be ways for you to participate in shaping our future.

Join us on Tuesday evenings if you would like to share, play, grow in your life. We intend on sharing the readings and applying what we learned to our life, indeed, A New Design for Living.

–Maria

CHANGE

Change like Time continues because it must. The Multiverse exists because, among other things, Energy is inherently not static.

My belief, since we are conscious manifestations of this Energy sometimes called God, is that we are always at choice:

We can be carried along and mindlessly accept the consequences of the operations of the universe.

We can follow the various states of emotion that have been pre-programmed into our subconscious and act or react from a place of an old story that has made its way into our current state of consciousness.

OR we can use our innate abilities of choice to influence our experience.

Change however it initially presents itself is inherently open for interpretation.

Whenever possible I try to move into the vantage point of excitement and opportunity. My desire to experience the universe with Positivity and Joy appeals to me and is conducive to the life experience I am wanting to have. Sometimes when a situation is presenting in a particularly troubling way, making a statement to myself such as “It is all for my good” or going directly to “Thank you” avoids the possibility of a period of unhappiness.

Sometimes my first reaction to a situation is one of emotion. Not always a good emotion, and I can experience pain around events. I find that identifying what I am feeling helps to process the feeling. If it is a feeling that causes discomfort, recognition is the first step to processing the feeling and changing the interpretation of the event.

A phrase that I identify with is “I am doing better than I am feeling”.

Gratitude even for things that do not fit our dominant view of reality can free our receptivity to re-interpret any event and open us to the next changed state of mind.

Rev Janis leaving CSLT is part of the flow of events. Having her as minister has been a wonderful experience for me. For which I am most grateful, and it also brings to mind these words from Dr. Holmes:

“The Thing simmers Itself down to this. Can we in the midst of negative conditions, accept a greater good”. If we can we shall be complying with the law of Life. We shall be giving Life a chance to work for us.

And so It is.

–Chris Wheeler

What Happens Now?

If you didn’t see my retirement announcement on Sunday, or watch it earlier this week, you can watch it here.




“What happens now?” Centers for Spiritual Living (CSL) has a process in place to follow when a minister leaves. We’ve activated that process. Because we have a healthy, functional center, and the luxury of a local structure that operates in an orderly fashion, we are working through our transition plans. This means I’m handing off the tasks that I have been doing and the relationships that I’ve held, and we’re making sure there are good records and instructions for everything anybody can think of. We’ve worked on them intentionally for 2-3 weeks already, and have 6 weeks to complete them. My last Sunday will be February 26th, and I will turn in my keys shortly after that.

Actually, we’ve been working on a chunk of our procedures and processes for much longer than that. When I took the month of May off in 2022, the Board and some of the extended leaders took over many of my regular responsibilities. Some responsibilities stayed with the leadership then, and will continue as is, for a while yet.

“And Then?” The Board of Trustees will assume the running of the business of the Center entirely. Sharon has accepted the task of scheduling Sunday speakers, and making sure that everyone has the content, and context, they need for Sunday services to be educational and inspirational. She will also, with the Board, be the point of contact for any new classes that want to be scheduled. Mariann will continue to coordinate the weekly newsletter, and has taken over the posting of our monthly activities in Natural Awakenings magazine. She’ll also continue to work with our webmaster to keep the website current, and accurate.

There are a lot of moving parts, many of which I have handled for more than a decade, and so there will be some balls that get dropped. Do your best to be kind, helpful, involved, engaged and supportive.

In the (slightly) longer term, you all will be asked to participate in a ‘Co-Creation Process’ to figure out what the community’s vision for CSL Tucson actually is. Then, and maybe concurrently, a ‘Selection Committee’ will be formed of community leaders, practitioners and members. This group, with help, will create a video or powerpoint presentation that describes what CSLT desires from their next minister, and what CSLT, and the enchanting environment of Tucson, offers to their next minister. The presentation will go to the designated person at Home Office who will share it with ministers who have an interest in becoming pulpit ministers, or moving to a new pulpit. After a period of time, that point of contact will send resumes of ministers who are interested and qualified back to the ‘Selection Committee’. They will recommend to the Board which candidating ministers should be invited to Tucson to speak and give a workshop. You will have the opportunity to hear what they have to say, engage with them, and express your perceptions and observations.

Since we know everything happens in Mind before it happens in the world of form, a group of individuals have already started doing Spiritual Mind Treatments knowing the ‘right and perfect spiritual leader for CSLT’ already exists, and is open and able to join the community here. Since many of you also know how to do this, you are welcome to join them. If your strength is visualization, you can use that technique as well.

“Why?” Why am I leaving? Because it’s time for me to retire from CSLT and do something different. 13+ years is the longest I have ever stayed in any one place. I’m complete here. In the last year (or so), I have not felt that I was effectively inspiring, supporting or encouraging you all to engage with your own spiritual growth opportunities, and to support connection and the experience of belonging in your spiritual community.

Since that was my ‘why’ for being your spiritual leader, it’s time for me to move on to my next adventure.

That’s the bigger ‘why’. Because it is time for this beloved community to become the shining beacon that it is capable of becoming — to grow, and flourish and to empower yourselves and others to live expansive, joyful lives, in community, that you are all worthy of.

–Rev Janis Farmer

SPIRITUAL GROWTH IN THE NEW YEAR

“I used to start diets, too. I hated to mention this to my then therapist. She would say cheerfully, ‘Oh, that’s great, honey. How much weight are you hoping to gain?’ I got rid of her. No one talks to me that way.” Anne Lamott

I’ve never appreciated the practice of New Year’s resolutions. Change involves action. The Twelve Step program has taught me that if you keep doing what you’re doing, you’ll keep getting what you’re getting. I’ve been chubby at best all my life and have the baby pictures to prove it. Every year in adulthood I have known that I should lose weight but wouldn’t declare weight loss as a goal. I knew I didn’t have the willpower to make the changes that would result in my dropping pounds. Before CSL I knew something of Cause and Effect. I also came to understand that I didn’t love myself enough to develop healthy eating practices. The idea of healthy change is appealing, but the follow-through is often non-existent or short-lived.

I’ve learned that part of the problem is that the word “lose” connotes deprivation and lack. (Woe is me; I’ll never get to have ice cream ever again.) Like so many of the issues of our human incarnation, the solution is a spiritual one, often involving inner, emotional work. In the above quote, Anne Lamott is joking about firing her therapist and goes on to state that over time this therapist “helped lead me back home to myself, to radical self-care, to friendship with my own heart and body…. I hate to say it, but only profound self-love will work…only kindness and grace.”

Kristen Neff, in Fierce Self-Compassion, encourages women to practice self-compassion, to be kind to ourselves, care for and support ourselves even if we fail. She cites Carl Rogers, “The curious paradox is that when I accept myself just as I am, then I can change.”

In The Science of Mind, Ernest Holmes affirms, “I am determined to use my mind consciously and constructively to improve my health and my conditions… I shall dwell only on “what is true, what is worthy, what is right, what is pure, what is amiable, what is kindly, on everything that is excellent or praiseworthy. I believe these attitudes of mind, when persisted in, will bring to me greater peace, happiness and health…”

For me spiritual growth has involved confronting Truth and identifying my doubt and lack of faith. For example, do I really believe it is done unto me as I believe? I know faith can be increased. How do I ‘use my mind consciously and constructively to improve my health and my conditions’? Having daily practices are beneficial to my having and maintaining a positive attitude. These are some resources I can access on a regular basis:

  •  Daily morning practice at 8:30 am, accessed by our second Zoom link in the newsletter.
  • Meditation and Affirmative prayer
  • Reading the Daily Guides in the Science of Mind magazine, Guide for Spiritual Living.
  • CSL Daily Affirmation Mobile App. This is a new daily affirmation app for IOS and Android, available through the Apple store and Google Play store. It is a replacement for Facebook daily affirmations.
  • Attending CSLT services
  • Taking classes and book studies offered through CSLT.

I seek to experience that profound self-love that enhances my spiritual growth.

–Linda Bullock

Gifts

A few years ago, my sister started including books from Dynamic Catholic with my Christmas goodies. (I haven’t asked, but I imagine she gets them from her deacon husband.) The first time I got one I hadn’t looked in the bag until I got home. When I found the book, I rolled my eyes and tossed it aside. I had no interest in Do Something For God, Essential Teachings of Mother Teresa: 365 Daily Reflections. I thought it would be a good regifting for one of my Catholic friends in Florida who I still needed a Christmas gift for. But as I was packaging it to mail off, an idea hit me. If I got another copy for myself, my friend and I could go through the book together and share our thoughts on the readings with each other. So, I did and we did. We communicated more that year than we had in a long time. It turned out to be a great gift after all! The gift was not the book, but the deepening of a friendship.

Last year I got I Heard God Laugh. I loved the title, but it was another Dynamic Catholic book. I tossed it aside once more as I had other spiritual books I was more interested in reading. Recently I ran across the book again, so began to peruse it. I don’t agree with all of it, but the book does have some really good passages and concepts not dissimilar from our teachings: Embrace your best, truest, highest self; Make prayer a daily practice; Find a joy independent of external realities; etc. I went through the book highlighting passages that resonated with me. I intend to bring it with me next time we have lunch and share it with my sister. Again, the gift was not the book, but the conversation it will bring about.

I used to criticize my mother who would find fault with my presents to her before thanking me for them. I realized I was doing the same with these books from my sister. I did not verbalize my dissatisfaction as my mother had, but it was there. But now reflecting upon the real gifts these books have given me, I graciously accept this year’s edition. It will be interesting to discover the true gift Mother Teresa; In My Own Words has in store for me.

Did you receive a present this holiday season you’re not thrilled with? My stepmother taught me that once a gift is given it is yours to do with as you please. You have no obligation to the presenter to keep it if you don’t like it. You could regift, donate or toss it out. Just don’t do so angrily or with dissatisfaction, but with appreciation for the person who thought enough of you to give you a present. And, before disposing of it, see if you can find the real value in it first.

–Janet Salese

Lost in Translation

When I was in New Orleans earlier this month with an old friend from high school, she talked about how much her little town, which used to be a sleepy backwater sort of place, has grown in the last 20+ years. When she and her husband bought their place, it was out in the country. You had to drive for miles and miles to get to any sort of services – even grocery stores or gas stations. Now their little subdivision is surrounded by oodles of other subdivisions, all sorts of commercial buildings and retail areas, and traffic on the two-lane road is horrible. Her husband is a curmudgeonly, often sarcastic, homebody who really, truly hates change of any sort.

One day when he was grumbling about the traffic, the noise, or the increased number of people, she asked whether he wanted to move further out of town. He said, “No, I just want all those people to go away.” And she said, “That’s not going to happen. What do you want to do?” His totally irrational reply, “Nothing. They just need to go away.” Obviously, that conversation had nowhere (useful) to go. She just dropped it.

The Buddha is quoted as saying, “Life is suffering.” I don’t think that’s a good translation of what he actually said. I have a sneaky suspicion what he actually said was something more like, “Life happens. When we want it to be different than it is, that’s when we suffer. It’s our attachment to our expectations that leave us feeling the most dissatisfied, and disappointed, in our lives.”

Somewhere on my trip back from New Orleans, I lost my keyring with all my house, car, mailbox and office keys on it. (I’ve never done that before.) I discovered this when I was waiting for the off-site parking shuttle to take me to my car. I felt a moment of true panic. I’d hoped I’d left it on the dresser in the hotel. Apparently not. I could have thrown myself a pity-party and suffered because I lost my keys somewhere, but then Reason took over and I worked my way through what I needed first. And then next, and next, and next, and next.

When I asked myself where I wanted to grab supper, I got an answer that delighted me. I hadn’t enjoyed a meal at Zinburger since before the pandemic. When I arrived, I told the young man who was seating people about my dilemma, and he asked me if I’d used the ‘Hotel Tonight app’ to find a hotel. When I looked puzzled, he explained that when he used to travel for work, and got delayed overnight at airports around the country, he’d looked up local hotels on this application. He’d always had a good experience, and recommend I look them up. After I placed my dinner order, I pulled up the app for Tucson, and the first hotel that popped up was one pretty close to my house that I’d been curious about, and the available rate was less than the published rate. I also realized, after I had parked myself in that newly-remodeled, and quite comfortable, hotel, that I had been wanting to re-key my house, but had never gotten around to it. When I met the locksmith the next morning, he was an amazing human being. All in all, losing my keys was an okay experience.

From Ernest Holmes, The Art of Life 6.1, “God is life; not some life but all Life. God is Action; not some action, but all Action. God is Power; not some power, but all Power. God is Presence; not some presence but all Presence. God is pure Spirit, filling all space. This pure spirit animates your every act. There is a real you which lives in a real God, and the two are one. To know this is to understand the secret of life. To realize this is to understand your relationship with the Divine Presence. To realize the Law of Good is written in your own mind is to make available to you a power which can meet your every need.”

And from Rev Karin Wilson, author of the daily readings in the Science of Mind magazine for December 2022 (December 24), “Today I give myself kindness, knowing the Universe supports me, even when the sands of time feel rough beneath my feet.”

When we work with the river of life, rather than fight against it, or wish it to be other than it is, we can enjoy the ride. And what an amazing ride it is!

–Rev Janis Farmer

GOT LAUGHTER

As 2022 is coming to an end I am ever so grateful for a year filled with lots of laughter. It has been proven that laughter improves health, helps fight disease and is also a great form of exercise. Exercise? Yep. Every time I laugh my insides jog. My outsides jiggle. My eye and cheek muscles gain another laugh line. I always feel better after a good laugh. Google says the average person laughs 17 times per day. Google also says one who laughs for 15 minutes per day is getting an equivalent of 2 hours of sleep. Laughter is so good for us and I’m always ready to jump right in on it. I tend to attract the type of friends who quickly get me laughing, and I love that.

I have such kind, loving friends that their kindness to me warms my heart so but yet at the same time, just makes me laugh. Let me tell you about this past Christmas dinner and the pictures that are included.

Those that know me, know that I do not do the cooking in my home. I do know how to cook but would rather not. I cook for Easter, Thanksgiving & Christmas. My Keith does all our cooking, so we are well fed. I decided to cook a whole turkey breast so naturally there were no wings or legs. I also wanted to stuff it. It was positioned wrong in the pan but that was the only way it would stay balanced, so I just cooked it that way.

When it was all done, I laughed and laughed at my turkey. (It did taste delicious though, I must say.) I had to post about it on Facebook. “Make sure you check out this year’s turkey! It’s my pride & joy. (lol)…. This is a masterpiece. A culinary delight.” As I posted this, I thought for sure my friends would know I was making fun of my cooking. I thought I was going to get hilarious comments (my friends are funny) teasing me about my cooking skills.

Much to my surprise my friends were so kind to me. I really think they thought I was serious and they didn’t want to hurt my feelings. That’s the only thing that made sense to me. Their comments went like this, “Looks good. Everything sure looks good. What a spread. Hotel style turkey breast. Yum. This looks amazing. What is on that turkey! …Ummm…Did the stuffing explode through the breast?” They were so gentle with me, I’m sure they did not know how to approach their critique of my turkey. The laughter in our home has been nearly continuous since the turkey was revealed. I’m sure I’m caught up on all my sleep now.

As I end this year with laughter, I look forward to sharing the New Year with you in love and laughter. I hope you join us this Saturday evening on Zoom for Endings and Beginnings with CSLT. Happy New Year!

 

Madeline Pallanes

Best Day EVER!

A few weeks ago, there was a link in the newsletter to a post by Chris Winfield, “How to Have the Best Day of Your Life (No Matter What Happens). He starts his day saying, “Today is going to be the best day ever!” A few years ago, I was on a trip with friends, and I remember Lyle standing in the small kitchen of a little cottage in the English countryside, and she exclaimed, “This is the best day ever!” She uses the phrase regularly and is a joy to be around.

Reading the article, I decided to take on the habit (the article was also about creating routine and good habits). Now as I am waking up, the words resonate in my head. As reinforcement on the top of my daily Google calendar in bright yellow are the words, “Best Day EVER!”

While driving in Rosey (my car), the song “I Have Confidence” from the Sound of Music came on. It is the first song on my playlist “Morning Master,” that was created when we listened to music on a Walkman. Maria sings/asks

What will this day be like, I wonder What will my future be, I wonder.

As I listened and sang along, the words became

What will this day be like…. The Best day EVER

What will my future be… The Best day EVER

And the wonderful thing about life, is the ability to change. I can shift my life to make it better. Take what is given and give it a tweak. A couple of days after starting, “Best Day EVER!” I came upon Michael Gott’s, “There is only Love

It’s amazing how Spirit supports me in wanting to have the best day ever. Now along with my old morning play list, I have a new song in which I marinate. So, before getting out of bed, I know I’m going to have the best day ever, and that there is only love.

–Maria

Retirement

It began with my desire to increase my involvement in playing music with a new band. Ok practice a couple of days a week for 3 hours, work at home on songs for a few hours.

Then there are home projects, home maintenance, gardening, time with the dogs, cleaning laundry, yard work, tree trimming, meeting with people and keeping connections.

After retiring I had agreed to donate time and be on the CSLT board, concerts, travel for various reasons, puttering, about and fixing things that just appear and suddenly need fixing. Not to mention exercise, something that I have come to believe needs to happen every day.

What about learning? Read publications that are precisely in areas of my passions, videos, practice the drums, get a better handle on other instruments, something that has been self- promised for a lifetime, what about the bucket list??

Health care visits to keep apprised of my health. Travel time, what about art? I have a couple of canvases waiting for attention, the forge has yet to be fired up.

Is there any wonder I have problems staying organized? Let’s not venture off into dreams of accomplishments. What about a little binge watching there are tons of material that warrants attention.

Wait, is this simply life at the break of the 21st century? Where are the robots that are coming to help with all the tasks that qualify as boring? Meditation two times a day for 20 minutes. Drive my daughter across the country to her new school. Oh yeah so as if I wasn’t busy enough, I decided to start the process to become a Pilates instructor.

At least one thing has become clear….

Life Just keeps getting better and better. This teaching really makes a difference in my life because without it I would not know that I can change my mind and that changes my experience.

–Chris Wheeler

Rituals of Our Lives

We all have rituals and use them. It has always been so. Even though I have trouble wrapping my mind around this, archeologists claim to have discovered evidence of human ritual practices dating 70,000 – 80,000 years ago, and there is some disputed evidence that is older than that.

Rituals must serve us, right? They’ve been part of our human history for as long as we’ve been identifiable as humans. Why do we do rituals?

They can remind us of who we are, and how we fit in the bigger picture of our family or cultural traditions. We can use them to improve our quality of life and the quality of life for those around us. We can engage with them out of habit, duty or obligation. We can repeat them to quell our anxiety, or create an experience of order in a disordered, chaotic situation. They can help ground us in the present moment. They remind us of seasons past. Sometimes we do them because we love them; they encourage our feelings, emotions and experiences.

We’ve entered one of the seasons of the year that can be seriously ritual-heavy. I encourage you to look at the rituals you participate in. Engage in them with discernment, consciously aware of why you choose to continue the ritual practices that you observe.

Even if you don’t get all that much value out of some of the rituals that you do, but you do them in conscious and intentional service of another, they can add depth and quality to your life as an intentional act of service, but notice how much of your life energy you are spending in this way. Decide if you are okay with that, and choose accordingly.

In addition to any seasonal rituals that you might have with decorating, cleaning and clearing, sharing food, fellowship, gifts or song, or with renewing connections with people who you don’t normally interact with, this article suggests three ritual practices you might find useful.

www.inc.com/jessica-stillman/the-3-types-of-rituals-everyone-should-incorporate-into-their- day.html

Read the article if you are interested, otherwise, here’s the list:

  • Savoring. Taking a moment to appreciate what is already good in your life. If you share this feeling of appreciation with another, you appreciation is multiplied. Even if you are ‘only’ writing your appreciations in your journal, you’ve become more aware of the goodness that surrounds you.
  • Starting. This one sounds a little like “Let’s Make a Deal” except you are making a deal with yourself that after you do something enjoyable for a finite period of time, then you will start on a task that wants to be done, and you will start by doing this one thing. Steven Pressfield, in his classic text The War of Art, has an elaborate ritual that he follows every day before he sits down to write. Once the ritual has been completed, his mind is much more willing to drop the resistance and begin putting words on a page.
  • Making ourselves luckier. Since we experience what we believe, if we truly believe that wearing our favorite shirt on game day will make us play better, then wearing the lucky shirt will increase our confidence and focus, and we will probably play better.How can you use ritualized practices in service of your goals and dreams?

–Rev Janis Farmer

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