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

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

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

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

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

Curate Your Life

One of the big ideas that arose in last week’s ongoing Wild Mind class was this notion of  “Curate Your Life”.  It’s an interesting idea, one that alternately teases and encourages us to identify, decide on and choose the kind of life experience we desire.  If we are totally delighted with all aspects our lives as is, no change is required. If we’re not, and we wish to step into fuller self-expressions in any area of our lives, this idea requires us to recognize that we may have to change how we think about our lives, and how we choose to live.

This notion can be problematic if we are resistant to change, or we believe we don’t have the power to make a change and have it stick.  Most of us have a lot of evidence (and a lot of experience) about how hard it is to change habits.  Sometimes it seems easy to feel that we are powerless over our own life choices and life experiences.  This is not the truth of who we are, and may very well be our entire awareness, based on our past experiences.

How do we move from living from what-we-have-always-known into a different future?  Willingness to step into a different life experience, and to adjust or modify our thinking and actions accordingly, are just the first steps.  The next step is to persistently reapply and re-implement this new decision as many times as it takes, until it becomes the new habit.  Challenging? Yes.  Impossible? No.  Persistence is key, and not shaming, blaming, or guilting ourselves when we fail.  What would it take to just keep getting back up and moving ahead?  This shift of mindset is probably the most difficult, because we have all been acculturated into believing that we have to discipline, or punish, ourselves when we fail, or that we are stuck with what we know.  What if neither of those things are true?

An additional thought from Dr David: “I’ve rediscovered the valuable distinction between change and transformation. Change gives me the liberty to revert back to what I changed from, i.e. change my mind, change my habits, or change my job. Change leaves me a window of opportunity to return to the old thought, habit or action. Transformation does not. Just like an oak tree cannot return to being an acorn, one who is a conscious transformationalist sheds labels, patterns and even identities to align with their inherent ever-expanding nature. Devotion to transformation doesn’t include comfort seeking. Its intentional prayer passes from our heart to our lips by saying, ‘Onward, along the path of my soul’s greatest expression.’ Personally, I feel that the time for such devotion is needed more than ever. I consciously shed limitations, excuses and loyalties to people and things that are not congruent with this universal beckoning.”

…………………..

As far as I know, the idea of ‘curate your life’ originated with Dr David Ault.  The image in this post is his.  Dr David, most recently Senior Minister at one of the three CSLs in Atlanta, recognized that his spiritual path, and the paths of those who work with him, was best served by him leaving that position.  He, and his ongoing work, can be followed at www.davidault.com. If you join up to receive his e-newsletter, you will also receive access to his free e-book/training program, How to Sand Your Rusted Thinking, A resource guide to learning tangible actions for increasing self-awareness and living the life you want.  Sounds like a great tool to use in learning how to Curate Your Life more fully, should you be interested in that.  Happy exploring!

–Rev Janis Farmer

Just Doing It . . . Later

One of my favorite ways to deal with change is as follows:

First: I hear or read something fabulous,
Second: I realize “I get this!” It is something I need to do.
Third: I can do this
Final Step: And I will – just as soon as I’m in a better place or not so tired or have cleaned the house, etc.

Reading Howard Falco’s TIME IN A BOTTLE has pushed (more like shoved) me to seriously acknowledge how I procrastinate really well on the more important things like change. And, how assiduously I hang onto the history I keep trying to learn from.

  “Regret has no positive value. …. {Regret} will poison your mind, body or soul in another area of life. …. Subconsciously regret limits what you feel you are worth…. must be dissolved to release the limits it imposes on you.
         Howard Falco: TIME in a BOTTLE – 55.3

  “Change is the dirty word here. Fear often fills in the space that opens up when change is on the horizon. …. the mind has found a way to protect itself from the idea or perceived threat of annihilation. This innate process…can become very dominating…and be a big reason that you may be unable to take the necessary steps you desire. “
         Howard Falco: TIME in a BOTTLE – 58.3

How often have I felt the immense uplift of reading or hearing something which creates a huge AHA moment, only to let it slip away in the comfort of routine and the ease of habit: reading the pleasantly written, happily-ending novel rather than the mentally-stretching, different point-of-view work sitting on my bookshelf. Or, not going to my computer and actually working on creating the photography I sometimes see in my mind’s eye. Because what I am ‘seeing’ is ‘not what I do’. When I let this different form of creativity call to me, asking to be made real and actual, I am intrigued and challenged. But it is so much easier not to work through the learning to work differently. Not now, tomorrow.

  “Creation happens only NOW. If you are mentally living in the past, you cannot simultaneously create something new and more positive.
         Howard Falco: TIME in a BOTTLE – 55.3

The problem with NOW is that it seems so — ephemeral – here and then gone. And, there will be more of “NOW” tomorrow. The trick to NOW seems to be a matter of actually being present to whatever I’m doing. The issue with that is what I’m doing frequently seems to be learning, practicing, making mistakes, learning from them and repeating those steps. It seems to take a lot of that before l ever get to the part where change actually occurs. I don’t remember signing-up for that. Even though when I do that process – it works. It carries me down the road to where I want to go. I just really hate not knowing everything – already.

   “I have something more important than courage—I have patience. I will become what I know that I AM.”
         Michael Jordan – courtesy of H Falco: TIME in a BOTTLE – 131.3

So, I work on acquiring patience, and doing the practice and learning to see what I want to become as Reality.

And,

  “To overcome fear is the greatest adventure of the mind of man.”
         Ernest Holmes: SCIENCE OF MIND – 404.4

–Peace, Mariann

This Stuff WORKS!

For as long as I can remember, I’ve been looking for something that I couldn’t even name.  I thought it was love, then maybe happiness, then self-forgiveness or acceptance or something I didn’t have.   Then one day last week, I actually found it and it changed my whole world.  Here’s what happened.

I’ve taken most of the classes CSLT offers at least once, many of them twice, and am currently in Meditation class for the second time.  Right teacher, right classmates, right me – it’s been so very good.  At the end of every class we hold hands in a circle and declare what we are willing to have more of in our lives.  I’ve usually stated the ‘usual suspects’ – you know, love, joy, prosperity, peace.  But two weeks ago, the words, ‘self-love’ popped out of my mouth from who-knows-where.  I felt a little weird and even selfish about it at the time but I let it be because it kinda hadn’t been my idea, you know?  (Right… remember God through me/as me?)

A couple days later during meditation I had an image that felt so good and was so beautiful – I was in front of a roaring fireplace in a huge, stony room of a castle – it was dark except for the fire and I was alone except for a couple of cats lounging on the hearth rug.  It felt as though everything would be perfect as soon as…. as soon as what?  When I came out of the meditation, I realized I’ve been waiting for something my whole life, pushing away love, joy, peace of mind until… when?  I realized I’ve been waiting for my foot to get better so I can walk again and enjoy the outdoors, waiting for my favorite aunt to transition so I can grieve and get on with life, waiting to meet my perfect someone so I don’t feel alone anymore, waiting for my body to get in better shape so I feel healthier, etc. etc. ad nauseum.  Life suspended.  MY CHOICE.  Wow.  This was a pretty big AHA, but God through me/as me wasn’t done yet…

Later that same day I was surfing through Facebook posts and a wonderful woman who had been my practitioner at Center for Spiritual Living Seattle shared something that felt like the answer to every prayer I’d ever had, which it was, really… and a manifestation of my declaration after Meditation class of being willing to accept more self-love.  After much therapy, AA, self-help books and classes, I had been unable to stop punishing myself for my past, but I hadn’t given up on the possibility that maybe one day, somehow, I could step into my life in the Big Way that I intuited was possible.  And then I read this, and crumpled into a soft, sweet, tear-soaked puddle of self-forgiveness, self-love, gratitude and relief.

I don’t know who wrote it, but it was posted by Empaths, Old Souls & Introverts.  Here it is, my Big Magic:

‘Forgive yourself for not knowing better at the time.  Forgive yourself for giving away your power.  Forgive yourself for past behaviors.  Forgive yourself for the survival patterns and traits you picked up while enduring trauma.  Forgive yourself for being who you needed to be.’

And the walls came-a-tumbling-down and I was free.  I mean it, FREE.   I re-wrote it using ‘I’ language and put it on my refrigerator.  Finding myself filled with love for pretty much everything, things began to shift as I now feel worthy of living my life, because it really is okay to be here.  And right away it became clear that regardless of the paperwork hassle, I have some more old skin to shed; my last name which was an ex’s name and it no longer serves me in a positive way.  I’m quite excited!

One last thing from Jen Sincero’s book, You Are a Badass:

‘To shy away from who you truly are would leave the world you-less.
You are the only you there is and ever will be.
Do not deny the world its one and only chance to bask in your brilliance.’ 

Now let’s do this life!

–Renee’

Getting After “It”

“Oh, this is going to be good!” exclaimed Reverend Donald Graves. It was Monday, January 29, 2017 after I had relayed how my morning had started with a run, then yoga, then being laid off/fired from my position as an auditor at the firm where I had been working for the past 2.5 years. I told him that I had kept visualizing going in to my boss that morning and resigning because I had another job. The other job had not come through but leaving their employ had materialized.

I had found the Science of Mind and CSLT in 2013 and had experienced a radical change in my level of happiness and peace. From taking classes to Sunday services to working with Rev. Donald, I had embraced the change. Now I had another opportunity to spread my wings and fly.

Although I did not have another job, I received 2 weeks severance plus my last week of pay. It was enough to carry me as I started my business, CPA Check Up. I had been a CPA for 3 years, having received my certificate at the age of 54. Experiencing lay-offs twice after long-term employment, once after 10 years at a savings & loan and, again, after 18 years at a large catalog company, I wanted to have a profession where my livelihood wasn’t dependent on One Big Customer. But with little accounting experience, I had been working for small CPA and accounting firms and had experienced the ups and downs of small business, working for 7 companies in 10 years. The shock of leaving a job involuntarily is difficult. I live my life with my co-workers, establishing friendships and caring relationships with friends and clients. I simply could not look for another job and, again, be at the mercy of another boss.

That first year I filed taxes for a handful of clients sitting at my friend Mo’s children’s computer. He was kind enough to let me e-file through his firm, as I was not set up to e-file. I have been working from home for the last 2 years, starting in a bedroom equipped with my computer, a desk and an easy chair. Last September I moved into a space that had previously contained my husband Chris’s drum sets. In November, I hosted an open house on a Wednesday morning for my new office space. About 50 people attended, including Rev. Janis, two fellow Foundations class members and a number of networking friends and colleagues.

As far as flying goes, it has been a mixed bag. I have come to find out that I do not like working for someone, being under someone’s thumb. And, for me, I am embarrassed to say that I need very regular praise and support and I have never found an employer that has supplied the level of engagement and Way To Go support that I need. I’ve also cried in my car due to financial fears. But with the loving support I’ve received from my family and the SOM philosophy and a 12-step support system to stand upon, I know that what I’m doing aligns with my higher self.

As far as manifesting my greater good, I have experienced great abundance, recently starting a contract where I earn more than 4x the amount of money per hour than my last job! I have had 4 clients that stressed me out and none of them are still with me. They left of their own accord although I am learning to, perhaps, not attract people that stress me out.

I grow in my sense of connection to the Divine and I learn to feel the Divine breathing me when I meet with clients and when I sit with situations to which I don’t know the answer. As I research and as I do my job, my capacity to live in love, as love, grows and my life improves.

So . . . Rev. Donald was right. This is “going to be good.” It has already been good, and as I become more practiced at spreading my wings, it, along with my life, continues to improve.

–Marya Wheeler

Staying “Home”

We look too far away for Reality.   — Ernest Holmes, The Science of Mind 41.3

I grew up on a farm four miles outside of a small Oklahoma town and was seemingly okay with that, except in my head I was a million miles, several continents and frequently universes away.

I forgive myself for that, because it was after all pretty boring. It certainly seemed so at the time.  I was the one at High School graduation most definitely not in tears over leaving – but in glee about finally getting out-of-town on a semi-permanent basis.

Somehow though I think Dr. Holmes is talking about a different kind of “far, far, away…”

Spiritual evolution should make the Infinite not more distant but more intimate. — Ernest Holmes, The Science of Mind 89.2

And isn’t that the challenge?!?  Becoming more intimate with life as we live it.  More aware, more present to each moment, more here and now with every breath.  I still find my self flying off, off & away, though now I’m learning to make it a round trip ticket with a very short visa.

To find in each moment the perfection of that moment, of myself, and of all the world I live in.  Truly actually living in it.  Strangely enough after decades in big city business, I’m walking away from “focus clearly, sharply, specifically on whatneeds to be done”, and learning it is more about presence. The special art of being present to NOW, being aware of the energy-in-flow, aka the complete picture.  The important stuff is happening inside of my head.   It is happening and I pay attention to the swirl of people, places and energy that does give the color and depth that too frequently I’ve tried to find by looking for the “juice” in other people, a different job, a new title.  Or in any of those far away places.

And my extreme surprise and delight is discovering that the more I open to Presence as a learning experience – not a scene to be directed or controlled – but the more I allow myself to listen honestly and to see clearly, the more I come into seeing and knowing the Truth of my own being.  This is not surrender, submission or any version of “whatever”.  It is living from my core in the world around me.

…. The higher the sense of Truth, the greater will be the realization of the uniqueness of individual character and personality… Individuality means self-choice, volition, conscious mind, personified Spirit, complete freedom and a Power to back up that freedom.      –Ernest Holmes, The Science of Mind 332.4-5

And the true beauty for me is to be right here, right now claiming every bit of perfection and power, every morsel of learning from living a life that is HERE. And NOW. And it is so, especially when I remember to stay home.

–Pax, Mariann

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