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

The Way It Is

“Life is not the way it is supposed to be.  It is the way it is.

The way we choose to cope with it, is what makes the difference.” –Anonymous

I went to Ojai, California, recently to attend a memorial service for a dear friend.  I had not been there for almost two years, and was concerned about how much damage remained from the Thomas Forest Fire that raged there last winter.  Although the damage was evident in both the town and the surrounding areas, I was very surprised and pleased to see green growth sprouting up from groves of trees blackened by the flames, and wildflowers blooming in the meadows. Many homes and outbuildings that had been ravaged by the fires were being rebuilt.

In Native American culture, forest fires are welcomed as a natural cleansing of the forest where they occur. In fact, fire is necessary to heat the pinecones that release the seeds that create the new trees. I watched from my house in PineTop as members of the White Mountain Apache tribe used controlled burns to keep the undergrowth cleaned out so both the trees and the animals that live on the reservation could thrive.

Most of us view fire as a destructive force.  I watched the news coverage of the fire, and felt afraid for my family, friends and other residents, when they were required to evacuate.  No one was sure what they would find when they were allowed to return.  Some did lose their homes; most were lucky, as the firefighters fought successfully to save their property.

On my drive back to Tucson, I thought about the difference in attitudes about forest fires in general. I found myself thinking that while the fears were very real about the possibility of lives and property being lost in the record-breaking fire that lasted so long and covered so much acreage, long-term damage was small in comparison to what could have happened. Most deservedly, the firefighters were hailed as heroes.

While I was in Ojai, most of my friends were glued to their television sets to watch the Senate hearings to confirm Judge Kavanaugh to the Supreme Court.  I like to figure out what I can learn in any situation that might help me in another.  I saw the parallels between the massive fire last winter and the political climate we are in right now.  I heard friends lamenting,  “This is the worst time our country has ever experienced.  We are so divided.”  Part of the reason I believe this seems true is because we know instantly when anything happens anywhere in the world.  In our 24-7 cable news world we are bombarded by facts, opinions, hidden and obvious biases, and blatantly inflammatory vitriol. (Mary Morrissey calls CNN Constantly Negative News.)

While some see very little good that can come from this heated interaction, I believe that this is a cleansing time for us a nation. I see individuals getting involved politically who had never been involved before.  More people are registering to vote for the first time, paying attention to party platforms, and women and minorities are running for office in record numbers.  I see a firestorm of political change, and I believe that is healthy for us as a nation.

— Pat Masters

The Road Less Traveled

Robert Frost wrote a famous poem about taking “the road less traveled” and how it “made all the difference.” It describes my experience since becoming a Religious Scientist; taking the road of deliberate consciousness. Examining and questioning my default thinking, knowing it manifests my life experience, has become my practice. I was raised in a fundamentalist religion where I was taught that I was a victim to an outside negative power, the Devil, who was literally out to get me. I have worked to unlearn that pessimistic and helpless belief and I have felt joyful when optimism more often was my default. I have strived to embody the teachings of Ernest Holmes and the ideas represented in the poem by Christian Larson that Reverend Janis distributed in September. In that poem are the lines:

To be so strong that nothing can disturb your peace of mind……

To think only of the best, to work only for the best and to expect only the best…..

I drive a new car today because of this effort to think differently.

In 2016 I became the owner of a 2013 turbo-charged red VW Beetle. I loved my little car, especially the peppiness of its turbo-boosted take-off from red lights. But several months ago, it began showing me the red Check Engine light on the dash. I was told I had a classic VW issue with fuel injectors and my car would require over a thousand dollars in repair. I took a second option of putting special chemicals in my gas tank to try to clean out the car’s system. But then, a few days before Labor Day, another red light appeared on my dash, this one signaling low coolant. I shrugged this one off and simply had the coolant levels topped up and scheduled a service appointment for more maintenance work. But 24 hours later, the same red light came back on, and I could see the minimum coolant level had dropped quite a bit. I consulted a knowledgeable friend who used mysterious diagnostic terms like “blown head gaskets” and said I was looking at more serious engine trouble. Between my two red warning lights I was looking at repairs of thousands of dollars.

The fact of the matter was that I did not possess thousands of dollars to fix my car and I wasn’t sure what to do with it. In the past I would have instantly begun to worry and agonize. Indeed, one family member muttered “it’s the Devil.” I instantly rejected that comment because I know the Universe is always for me, not against me. Someone suggested it was the Labor Day weekend and there might be car dealer sales going on. I was skeptical, however, that I could trade the car after only two years paying down my loan, without also having a down payment. But I reminded myself there are infinite possibilities in Spirit, and I went to my favorite dealership. I met a new salesman of only two weeks and told him I was investigating the feasibility of trading my car (with two red dash warnings) for another used vehicle. He did his best to find me a car within my budget and chose a nice one even older than my VW, but it was fine, and I liked it.

The finance folks shook their heads, telling me I lacked equity in my VW, and that the red lights were a big concern, so I needed many thousands of dollars down to qualify for financing on a car. I was leaving the dealership and my sad salesman when a manager whispered to him a solution. It was Labor Day weekend and there was thisonecar on the lot with a hefty rebate attached. They could apply the rebate, give me a bit extra in trade on my car, and see if financing would work. He drove up a 2018 base model Hyundai Elantra for me to test drive. I couldn’t believe my eyes. A 2018 Brand New Car? Yes please! It still took six long hours for the finance folks to find a funding source, but I was approved. I had arrived in a 2013 car in dire condition and drove away in a brand-new car with a platinum 8-year warranty and security system included. To top it off, I discovered the next day from my insurance agent that they updated my policy, keeping my coverage the same, yet saved me enough money on premiums to offset the small increase in my car payment!

Sometimes the Law exceeds my expectations.When those red lights on my VW dash began to multiply I did not want to sink into the bog of lack and limitation and despair. I knew only that there existed some solution for me to have reliable transportation, so that I would either find the cash to fix my VW or I would find another car. I went into the dealership hoping to buy something used and came out with something far better. When I trust in my Good, I am blessed!

by Leah Hamilton

Steps On The Journey

One of my all-time favorite Zen-based lessons goes as follows.  Two monks must travel together from their monastery to a distant place which involves crossing a fast-running river.  Upon arriving at the river, they discover a woman standing on the banks unable to cross on her own.  One monk simply picks her up and carries her across, depositing her on the other side.  All go their separate ways.  That evening, when their rule of silence is released – the second monk attacks the first for “touching that woman.”  The first monk replies – “I only carried her across the river, you’ve carried her all day.”

Oh my. How much time is spent carrying (if not nurturing) events, exchanges, actions that have no need to be remembered, much less retained, as emotional traumas?  I know that I do it way too often.  And, I know as well, that not only is it not good for me, it is truly bad for me.

Retaining, remembering, and hoarding those emotional upsets prevents me from being present to the actual Truth of Now.  The actual being aware and awake to my life as it is.  And let’s not even visit what neuroscientists say about how much easier it is for us to go to those bad, unhappy, defensive places.  Even without our practicing and reinforcing the choosing of unhappy.  We can of course blame those Neanderthal ancestors for constantly being concerned with food, fight, flight, sleep, and then leaving those emotions as primary in the genetic memory pool.  But, I digress.

One of my preventative measures is to write every morning.  It started a year ago as an “assignment” I gave myself from Julia Cameron’s book The Artist’s Way.  It has become a must-do practice that allows me to discover, and frequently release, events both old and current that have lodged themselves in my state of being. Astounding how some long-ago (seeming) rejection feeds a current self-doubt. How a goal not met in the past, defines how freely, and how high, I let myself aim today.

For me, letting the pen go across the page has produced descriptions of sh*t that I thought I had long ago forgotten let alone released.  So why retrieve those memories?

Because I’ve learned I have a decades long habit of saying – this doesn’t matter, just let it go – when it really does matter. Or I go to — I won’t think about it – or worse yet I stuff it into a dark storage space and never let myself feel the Truth.  Every time I hide something, I add a layer to the walls blocking my growth, preventing my learning what I need to know, and I keep myself from being aware and present to the different choices I can make now.

Every time I do acknowledge something, historical or current, that hampers my focus on what’s happening now, I recognize that acknowledgement as the first step to releasing it.  Every time that release happens, I open space in my being to allow choosing the good.  I create the space to grow the opportunities – the options – to become more.

Our thought does not go out to influence persons or things. What it does is readjust our own consciousness, our own thinking, to include a larger and a more harmonious field of action. We learn that when we get our own consciousness straightened out, things in our external world adjust themselves to meet our new and better inward awareness.”      Ernest Holmes, Living the Science of Mind 204.3

We can only be in charge of ourselves, but we can be in charge if/when we choose to be so.   Peace.

by Mariann Moery

At The Effect Of ….

I’m writing this the morning of the March 1st full moon, after being awake an unusual amount last night … and also the night before. Common hour thinking, also known as collective consciousness, default thinking, or race tendency to those of us who study and strive to live into the precepts of the Science of Mind philosophy, would have me claiming that I was feeling the effects of the moon that becomes completely full at 5:51 MST tonight. Part of me knows this is simply what-everybody-believes-and-not-the-Truth, and part of me sure does seem to believe that I am at the effect of this particular experience.

When I was driving home from the CSL Convention in Irvine CA last Friday, I had 8 hours of drive time. One of the things I thought about while I drove was the number of labels that we accept for ourselves, defining the truth of who we are. As we know, if we believe those ideas and labels, they show up as the truth for us. I’m also very aware of the impact of default thinking during the on-line “Contemporary Applications of the Science of Mind” class that started last week. We get to decide how we are going to see our world, every single day.

I mean honestly, does my Enneagram type (with wing sub-types), my astrological sign (including rising sign and moon sign), my life path number (according to numerology, and/or Dan Millman’s The Life You Were Born To Live), my Chinese horoscope … define who I am, really?  Clearly they can suggest potential tendencies, and biases that I could opt into, if I were operating unconsciously, or chose to accept as part of who I think I am.

Even such things as readings with divination cards, coins, tea leaves or I-Ching sticks, which I do enjoy playing with, because they often show me what I am unconsciously thinking, do I take them as the definitive truth? Not if I’m paying attention to my life, and my own experience of Reality. There’s a story told about Yogananda studying astrology in an ashram in India who, frustrated by the whole process, goes up to the guru and erupts with, “Master, the stars don’t control me.” The guru replied, “Very good, Yogananda, they don’t, when you are awake.”

So what do we know, as students of the Science of Mind? Simply, “It is done to us as we believe.” Again and again Holmes says this, in a hundred different ways. So, if I truly believe I am at the effect of any collectively held belief then I am most certainly entrapped by that belief, until I ‘wake up’ and change my mind about it.

We joke about the old superstitions about black cats crossing our paths, the dangers of walking under ladders, or spilling the salt. Do we hold our genetic pre-dispositions or family medical history as lightly? How about our precious beliefs that we are victims of someone else’s action, or some group’s action? Here’s the challenging bit. If we believe we are chained, then we truly and profoundly are chained. When we can clear our heads, our hearts and our minds, and we can deny that we are limited by anything outside of our own divine awareness, affirming out freedom, we have an opportunity to free ourselves from those limiting thoughts, and the guaranteed limited experiences. It’s not easy, necessarily, because those collectively held beliefs are … collectively held, and have a lot of perceived power, and a lot of historical precedent.

One of the workshops I attended at the Convention was lead by Dr David Alexander, spiritual leader and senior minister of the New Thought Center for Spiritual Living in Lake Oswego OR. He spoke about what it means to be for every individual to be a conscious leader. He included each individual, because we all lead in our own way, in our own lives. He spoke about a book he used in his Center, The 15 Commitments of Conscious Leadership by Jim Dethmer (and others). The first commitment: “I commit to taking full responsibility for the circumstances of my life, and my physical, emotional, mental and spiritual well being. I commit to support others to take full responsibility for their lives.”

When I remember this, I can’t honestly blame the moon or ‘my stars’ for my life experience, can I?

— Rev Janis Farmer

Aging Well

Everything I know about the world can be summed up in three words: it moves on.  (Robert Frost)

I just returned from a trip to Escondido, California to celebrate the birthday of one of my childhood friends.  He was six and I was three when he moved in across the street from us.  He knocked at our door one morning, asking if someone could help him get his boots on because his mom was sleeping.    I have no memory of that, of course, but I do have years of shared memories as we each graduated from high school, attended college, got married, had children, and continued through our parallel life journeys.

As one of the few out-of-towners in attendance at the large birthday bash, I had the chance to sit back and observe people of various ages.  I was struck by the differences, especially in the older people in attendance.  Some of them were quite vibrant and socially interactive, meeting new people easily and engaging in conversation that was stimulating, amusing, and interesting.  Others, not so much.

As I drove back home on Sunday I kept thinking about what made the difference in what I referred to as “aging well” and “aging not-so-well.”  Those who were doing well were interested and involved in a variety of activities.  They volunteer, they belong to organizations, they travel, and they attend dramatic and musical events. They live multi-faceted lives.

I had an extensive conversation with one gentleman who was a retired high school science teacher, and he seemed adrift and lost.  His identity had been “Educator,“ and after he retired, had not found a place to put his time and attention where he could create a more current role for himself.   He was quite happy to find that I, too, was a retired educator and wanted to exchange classroom war stories.  I shared a few amusing ones, but was not too interested in relating to the past only.  I am far more interested in Now.  It felt sad to me because he did not seem to know how to live Today.

In my experience, I have learned that the people who stay the most vibrant are the ones who choose to change with the times, who have a positive attitude about the world in which we live, and who are willing to change their minds about what constitutes “the good old days.”  They stay interested in the world in which we live, they stay involved with family and friends, and they embrace new experiences.  They know what is going on NOW.  They see the past as what it is:  the past.

At a memorial service for a beloved teacher’s aide, a friend of mine was talking about what a delightful person Susanne was.  Another friend said, “The older she got, the sweeter she became.”  The first friend said, “I have noticed that as people age, they become themselves.  Only more so.”  I have thought a lot about that statement, and I find it to be ever more true.  The sweet people become sweeter, and vice versa.

I drove home Sunday feeling enriched by all of the people with whom I interacted during the weekend. But I am even more grateful for the people here, and now, at home who continue to enrich my life so thoroughly and so regularly.

by Pat Masters

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