Practicing Gratitude Increases Well Being

This month’s theme is Gratitude 360. All month long we have been exploring gratitude. The Sunday talks from Rev. Janis have embraced this theme. There are two ongoing Zoom opportunities to further explore this topic. And tomorrow is a whole day devoted to giving thanks

Exploring gratitude practices on the internet, I found two articles from government agencies, the NIH and the VA, that relate how research has shown that a regular gratitude practice increases your well-being. (Links to these articles listed below.) They list several benefits that researchers have identified to be linked to gratitude including recovering more quickly from illness, enjoying more robust physical health and improvements in sleep and energy.

One article states that “Gratitude is both an attitude and a practice.” To experience these
positive health results, gratitude must be practiced regularly on a daily or weekly basis. I found it interesting that at least one study showed that journaling just once a week produced better results than daily writing. The key factor being the “will” behind the action. In other words, putting real intention into the gesture, not just doing it by habit.

Both articles included several ideas of ways to practice and suggested switching it up to keep your practice fresh. A few that were new to me were:

●  Imagine your life without the good things in it, so as not to take things for granted.
●  Setting checkpoints throughout the day to reflect on positive things that have happened that day.
●  Create a gratitude jar to collect pieces of paper on which you write things you’re thankful for and literally “count your blessings.”

 

 

 

I have an empty jar on my desk and found some strips of paper already cut that I’m going to use to implement that last one right now!

 

 

Whatever way you choose to give thanks, do it regularly with a grateful heart and increase your heart health.

Creating a Gratitude Practice – Whole Health Library (va.gov)
Practicing Gratitude | NIH News in Health

–Janet Salese

On the Road With….

I recently drove across country by myself. I do like driving, but this was way out of my comfort zone. My fear would rise, what if I get a flat tire (I know how to change a flat tire and even have an extra length of pipe to put on my lug wrench to give me the leverage to loosen the lug nuts), and what if something happens to my car (which only had 30,000 miles and have kept it maintained), and what if…… And I’m not fond of expressway driving, going 70 miles per hour with lots of cars around me. More what ifs.

I printed out a recent favorite Holmes quote and took it with me.

Divine Wisdom within me guides every act, directs everything in my life, toward happiness, toward peace, toward power; and being the Spirit of Love, It surrounds me with beauty, with friendship and with joy. Being the Giver of Life, every day I receive that which is perfect, abundant, happy, joyful and free. Being that Divine Thing, which individualizes in me, It is entirely individual, personal and unique. I am the expression of my own complete self, and there is no barrier or bar to that self-expression. Being the Spirit of Substance, that Spirit within me is my Source of Supply, and It brings to me everything necessary to my unfoldment, and keeps me in the wisdom through which It governs me now and forever. (Ernest Holmes, The Science of Mind 564.3)

For the first couple of days I took state routes and enjoyed a leisurely pace, drinking in the landscape of acres and acres of corn fields, baled hay. I would have breakfast in diners to get a feel of the community, and spend time with the people that grow the crops that feed me. And I wondered about their faith, faith in rain, and sun, limited pests. Their livelihood dependent on some conditions that are beyond their control. I felt a gratitude for the work they do.

After a few days I could no longer avoid the interstate highways. I finally got on I-70 in Kansas and drove to and around Kansas City, St. Louis, Indianapolis, and Columbus, thankfully not all in one day. When I would feel my fear arise, usually with the traffic whizzing by me at a much greater speed than was posted, I would repeat my mantra, “Divine Wisdom within me guides every act. Divine Wisdom within me guides every act…” and I would calm down.

It was a comfort to know God was my copilot.

–Maria

MONEY – CREATION IN ACTION

The book The Money Keys has been the subject of one of the latest classes offered by CSLT. I really enjoy the subject of money. Money is like the flow of creation. When it is circulating it is creation in action.

Combined with gratitude, it can work wonders in my life.

While attending this book study I was reflecting on another money related course called “Prosperity Plus” as taught by Mary Morrissey. During this course we were challenged to visualize a dream or goal that was out of reach at the time.

Someone in our class said she wanted to write, produce, and sing her own music. This allowed me to remember that I too had musical aspirations.

We were encouraged to share our thoughts, so I expressed my dream of playing music professionally. Not long after admitting to the “world” my dream intentions. The need for a backup drummer at CSLT arose.

Also, I was prompted by a friend to call a number on a bulletin board at a music store. Both opportunities materialized. I played downtown during “Downtown Saturday Night” for several years and I continue to play music at CSLT.

Occasionally this can be difficult when old thoughts challenge my justification and abilities. This is when I remind myself using terminology that I have learned through CSLT and many classes.

Affirmations like: I am rich with unlimited possibilities; I am not at the mercy of fate. Instead, I create my experience by what I choose to think and believe, and I feel grateful; or Change my thinking Change my life.

The Truth is I am rich with unlimited possibilities.

–Chris Wheeler

Imperfectly Perfect by Rev Janis Farmer

In a recent Saturday’s daily morning practice, we got another opportunity to look at, remember, and celebrate, that every individual human, including ourselves, is an individualized personification of the Oneness, as we understand, and experience, it in this moment. And that no matter how badly we fail, or we think someone else has failed, there is no failure. Every bit of that experience is simply the perfect expression of the imperfectly perfect human life.

In a recent daily missive, Fr Richard Rohr used this quote from Brené Brown’s The Gifts of Imperfection:
“It is in the process of embracing our imperfections that we find our truest gifts: courage, compassion, and connection. … When we can let go of what other people think and own our story, we gain access to our worthiness—the feeling that we are enough just as we are and that we are worthy of love and belonging. When we spend a lifetime trying to distance ourselves from the parts of our lives that don’t fit with who we think we’re supposed to be, we stand outside of our story and hustle for our worthiness by constantly performing, perfecting, pleasing, and proving. …

“There is a line from Leonard Cohen’s song “Anthem” that serves as a reminder to me when … I’m trying to control everything and make it perfect. The line is, “There is a crack in everything. That’s how the light gets in.” … This line helps me remember the beauty of the cracks (and the messy house and the imperfect manuscript and the too-tight jeans). It reminds me that our imperfections are not inadequacies; they are reminders that we’re all in this together. Imperfectly, but together.”

One of the sweet spots for me is in remembering that every time I feel judgmental, or judged, it is an opportunity to practice clear seeing, compassion and forgiveness. And every time I feel triggered by something that happens around me, or even something that seems to be happening to me, it’s not the thing that happens in this world of form that I need to fix, correct or change — it’s the way I perceive the situation. This doesn’t mean I always manage to remember any of this stuff in that moment, but I get back to that awareness as soon as I am able.

In working on this past week’s talk, I felt drawn to re-read Ernest Holmes’ ‘Final Conclusions’ in the Science of Mind. You can read them in their entirety on page 423. The sentence that jumped out at me the most was this one, from the second paragraph, “To hold one’s thought steadfastly to the constructive, to that which endures, and to the Truth, may not be easy in a rapidly changing world, but to the one who makes the attempt, much is guaranteed.”

I love that, because it doesn’t mean that if I haven’t succeeded at staying focused on the constructive, I have failed. The notion of ‘doing it right’ is a story that I make up, and that each one of us probably interprets differently. Further, there’s no way to actually get it right, since there is no definitive thing called ‘right’. (I realize there are people who disagree with me about that. And that’s okay too.) What it does mean is that, if I want to play, I have to stay in the game and continue to participate as best as I know how in the moment. And by making the attempt, ‘much is guaranteed’. I can make the attempt, even if I get to begin again a hundred times a day.

As we move into our month of gratitude and gratefulness, and into this period of mid-term elections, it serves me to remember to be grateful for it all, and know that every single one of us is exactly in the right place, at the right time, being beautifully, magnificently, imperfectly perfect.

Report from our October 2 2022 Annual Meeting by Rev Janis

Apologies to the 6 folks, and any others, who tried to join on zoom. The sound was working when we tested it, so I don’t know what happened after that. Nothing changed, and apparently, something changed.

We had 14 people in the room. Maria ran the meeting. Each board member talked about their area of specific connection to our greater community. More on each group, team, and topic, are included in our Annual Report, which is linked elsewhere in this newsletter; specific details are shared in the monthly Board minutes. Board minutes are included in our weekly newsletter a couple weeks after each board meeting, and are made available on the website, under About Us, under Organizational Documents.

One question was raised about the number of major donors we have. Janet’s answer was a good one. We track that information by quarter, and report it to the Board, without attaching any names to the donation amounts. The information is also recorded and presented in the Board minutes. For the second quarter of 2022, we had 14 contributors who donated 80% of the monies that came in to our center. During the first quarter of the year, 80% of our donations came from 18 contributors. These are considered our ‘major donors’ and we especially celebrate them. We also acknowledge and celebrate all contributions of time, talent and/or treasure, in whatever form they occur. Generosity abounds. And as Rev Karen said last Sunday morning, “Money loves rhythm, … and flow.”

When I spoke about last January’s Community Envisioning, I mentioned that one of the desires of the community was to have more social activities. I reiterated that suggested social activities must arise from within our community. Board members can suggest activities, but they are not the only source of potential fun things we can do. These can be formal activities that take a bit of preparation and planning (see the next paragraph for how to do that), or more casual activities, such as going to Willcox to pick fruit, caravanning down to see the sandhill cranes, enjoying music and a meal at the lavender farms, or going for a hike or bike ride, or getting together to see a play at LTW, live music or a sporting event. Examples of other fun classes we have held in the past, tangentially related to learning, had to do with folding peace cranes, and coloring mandalas. Both of these are sneaky ways to expand each individual’s repertoire of meditation practices.

I didn’t mention it at the meeting, but we have an event proposal form on our website (under Organizational Documents). If someone were interested in proposing a big event, such as having a booth at the Tucson Pride Festival that happened this past weekend, this would be how they would do that. In the past, we’ve had a booth at the Tucson Festival of Books. There may be other events in town where we could have an identifiable presence. What are they?

In addition to the classes that I’ll be teaching, some of which will be certificated, Noreen Poli intends to offer an in-person, Wednesday afternoon book study on Emmett Fox’s Sermon on the Mount in January. You may remember when Noreen offered this book study four or five years ago when our office was still on E. River Rd. Also, Ethel Lee-Taylor intends to offer a book study on Brene’ Brown’s Braving the Wilderness in February. More book studies and assorted classes will arise, as other facilitators step up.

The last thing on the agenda was electing new board members. We had two seats available that had remained unfilled during the Covid years. No one rotated off the board this year. Linda Bullock expressed an interest in serving on the Board, meets the qualifications (as specified in our bylaws), and attended a board meeting to see what she was agreeing to. She spoke a few minutes to those assembled in the room, and was unanimously elected with cheers, and thanks.

We remain grateful to every single individual who participates with, and supports, this center. It is your active participation and engagement, as well as in the sharing of your time, talents and treasures that we become a more effective place of learning and growth, connection and community. We are grateful for you all.

GOT FRIENDS

I have always had a wealth of friends and have always valued my friendships. As I am joyously approaching my 60th Birthday, I think back on my life and am overjoyed with all of my friendships. I know, I have attracted just about everyone of them to me. My friends have been with me through my hardest times and the best times of my life. I have always felt deep gratitude for the love and abundance of my friendships.

I started to think, who was my first friend that I could remember? That would be Andrew. Andrew is my only sibling and is five years older than me. Most might not consider a sibling a friend, but a friendship has developed over the last 60 years. My mom told the story that when I came home from the hospital, she was so excited and proud to show me to Andrew. Andrew ran up to the car, took one look at me and was disappointed. He said, “Oh darn! I wanted someone I could play ball with!” Off he ran to go play. Andrew may have been disappointed at the time, but he got over it.

When I was about 5, he informed me, that Santa wasn’t real. (a story for a another article maybe?) We grew up and I always felt that his presence protected me. He was my Big Brother. Once our parents passed away, (dad in 1985 and mom in 2002) we’ve both felt like orphans. We had that common bond feeling and our friendship developed deeper. I am proud to call my brother, my first friend.

Tommy Carter was the boy across the street I played with. I was about five and he was four. I came running in the house one day and when my dad asked me why, I said, “I don’t want to share my Slinky with Tommy.” I don’t remember the exact words, but I went back out and shared my Slinky with him. Gratitude to my dad, nearly 55 years ago, encouraging me to share.

Then there was Lady when I was eight. We often would sit on the front porch steps together side by side, my arm around her back. I could talk to her about anything. She would just sit there and listen. Sometimes she would come up to my bedroom and play. Sometimes she’d sleep with me, always happy to be by my side. She was my friend. She was my first St Bernard.

I continued to attract friends throughout my life. Long lasting true and enduring friends. I know I am a true extrovert and friendships fulfill something in me. The same is true for CSLT. The friendships I gained through CSLT are of true beauty. I am so grateful for you. Yes YOU!

I have always loved to be around people. One of my dearest best friends told me today, “In the middle of friendship is love and you exude love. If you’ve got love, you’ve got friends.”

• “The one who has learned to love all people will find plenty of people who will return that love.” Page 297 Science of Mind Ernest Holmes

• If you want to attract friends, I recommend reading the whole section on “Attracting Friends” Pages 297-299 Science of Mind Ernest Holmes

• “The only way to have a friend is to be one.” Ralph Waldo Emerson

• If you are reading this, and don’t know me or are a stranger to me, I learned something many years ago. “A stranger is a friend you haven’t yet met.”

So, as I’m preparing for my 60th Birthday Celebration, I am thinking about the joyous feeling I will receive as many of my friends gather together with me. I want to just stand back, absorb all their energy, watch and hear the laughter amongst my friends, knowing I am the common thread that brings us all together. We are all One.

“You’ve Got a Friend” – James Taylor is the perfect ending to this newsletter article. Sing along with me as I turn 60.

–Madeline Pallanes

Hollyhock Magic

Coming home from my walk I see a man in a black SUV parked in front of my house. I know exactly what he is doing. He has been called by the hollyhocks. I am surprised by his stopping because the flowers have not begun to bloom, but the leaves are a big beautiful green and there are a lot of them clustered together. Hollyhocks take two years to grow into plants that bloom. They are also independent, hearty plants that do not need to be covered when it frosts, nor do they need to be watered.

            Still curious about his stopping, I say, “You look in deep contemplation.”

“Are those squash plants? I’m putting a planter in my friend’s backyard and am looking for some vegetables to plant.” I tell him the plants are hollyhocks. We chat a bit, then he pulls out his phone and wants to show me pictures of the work he has done. We are still in the middle of the street. I suggest he puts his car in park, and he does. He shows me the photos and where he is working a street to the north. In the photos I notice beautiful iron work on the wall where he is putting in the planting beds. When he says they have similar ironwork on the wall around the front of their house, the one with the pontoon boat, I know exactly which house he is talking about. It’s a beautiful yard, with two big Mesquite trees with flowers around the base of the trees. We marvel about the trees together. I learn his name is Hector, and Joe is the friend he is helping out. “What’s his wife’s name?” I ask. He closes his eyes and thinks about it, then remembers “Judy. Joe and Judy.” In my daily walks around the neighborhood, I have greeted Joe, now I can do it with his name.

            Hector tells me of his arthritic hands, the cancer that is remission and about his kayaking and upcoming 77th birthday. But mostly he tells me about the importance of staying busy.

            I tell him he must come by when the hollyhocks are in bloom, he assures me he will.

            During the time we had our conversation in the middle of the street, no cars came by. It was a scared time of communion and grace.

–Maria

Got Cash?

I have hesitated on writing about this topic for quite some time. It can be a touchy personal topic for some, and for others almost taboo to talk about. Money. I think to myself, ‘who am I to write about money especially since no one is even asking?’ I answer myself, ‘My name is Madeline Pallanes and I am a woman of power.’ (I learned that affirmation from Edwene Gaines.) Sometimes I believe it, sometimes I don’t. ‘Money flows to me easily & freely.’ I’ve been repeating that affirmation for probably 20 years. I always believe it.

Today, I have a loving healthy relationship with my money. It hasn’t always been that way. Yes, it’s a relationship. A relationship that has had its ups and downs over the years. I wanted a healthy relationship with money. I have made many blunders with my money and when I did, I later sought out help.

I attended Dave Ramsey’s University of Financial Peace.

Stacy Johnson with Money Talks News is also one of my sought-out helpers.

I have taken many Prosperity classes offered though CSL. Edwene Gaines, “The Four Spiritual Laws of Prosperity” is probably the one I have absorbed the teachings and practice the most. One of the Laws is tithing and giving. Through the years, whenever I would show up at a church (CSL or any other one I may have stopped into) I had a standard amount of cash I would donate to the church for the service. If I couldn’t donate that amount, I wouldn’t go. That was my tithing practice. That was how I thought one tithes. It was also standard practice for me to donate to many non-profit organizations. I have always been generous with donations. If I had it, I gave it and if I didn’t have it, I didn’t give it.

A few years ago, an interesting thing happened. I learned the definition of tithing. Tithing is giving 10% of your income to where you receive your spiritual guidance. That really made me think. Was I actually tithing? Tithing 10% of my income to where I receive my spiritual guidance? It probably totaled up to 10% with church and other non-profit donations, but I know I wasn’t receiving spiritual guidance from Salvation Army, the local food bank, or local animal shelters. I made a decision right then and there, to give 10% of my income to where I receive my spiritual guidance. In addition, I give 5% of my income to charitable giving. Later, I also decided to save 10% of my income. This loving relationship practice I have with my money continues to grow stronger and healthier each day.

Recently over the past couple months, I decided instead of tithing 10% of what I received, I would tithe 10% of what I want to receive for the month. I’m tithing in advance knowing this increased income is coming to me easily and freely. “My income is constantly increasing.” (Yet another affirmation I frequently say.)

This year I decided to start a “Five & Dime savings account” and I’m having a lot of fun with it. I’m not spending any 5-dollar bills that flow through my hands. I put the $5 bill into a zip lock bag and put it in my underwear drawer. I’m also not spending dimes. I have a dime bag sitting on my dresser. That is my Five & Dime savings account. Currently I have already saved $120 in 5’s, along with 32 dimes. Cha Ching!

The idea for the $5 savings plan came from a friend who saved every $5 she received for a year. This is what she had saved at the end of the year, without any hardship.

And this is my dime bag. 🙂

If having a healthier relationship with your money interests you, I know you can have it! Start with where ever you are now. For me, starting with tithing 10% of my income to where I receive my spiritual guidance, was my biggest jumpstart to access my prosperity & abundance.

–Madeline

Beyond Beyond Gratitude

Rev. Janis just concluded her Beyond Gratitude class this week. The homework for week 1 included doing a gratitude practice of listing three things you were grateful for each day. “Okay,” I said to myself. “I’ll start a new journal. Again.”

Like many of you, I have started such a practice many times. I keep it up for a few weeks or months, then record less frequently until I stop altogether. I think of 3 things I’m grateful for and list them, trying not to repeat myself. Once again, I began making my list of three things that I noticed each day for which I am thankful.

On Veteran’s Day, I thought I should put veterans on my list, but I had already recorded three things. I looked at the three items to decide which one to take off and substitute with veterans. I didn’t want to replace any of the items with veterans. This made me look at why I included items on my list. Each of the items I included made me feel something. That day I wasn’t feeling any particular emotion related to any veteran in particular or veterans in general, so they didn’t make it to the list. The next day I meditated on what it was about veterans that I was grateful for. Now I had a feeling to go with the thought and veterans made it on the list that day.

Instead of just making a list I’m currently keeping an actual gratitude journal. I write down three things, one at a time. Then I write down why I’m grateful for each one and how each makes me feel. This has given my gratitude practice more meaning.

Also during that week 1 class, Rev. Janis suggested we include things from three different categories:

1 – tangibles. (what you can see, touch, taste, smell, hear)
2 – invisibles, but tangibles (like oxygen/air, lungs/breath, kidneys, spleen…)
3 – intangibles (like safety, contentment, creativity…)

Previously, the things that made it to my list were mostly from the first category. Thinking about and including things from the other two categories has broadened my practice in another way.

As suggested by Dr. Karmen Smith and reiterated by Rev. Janis, to take my gratitude practice to an even higher level I reflect on difficult experiences and try to find a reason to be grateful. Knowing that all happens for my good, I ask to be shown the good. Often this is not possible to see while experiencing the situation, but recalling events from the past that are over and done with I am usually able to find something there to be grateful for if only that it is in the past.

Taking this class has allowed me to take my gratitude practice beyond anything I have done in the past. I think I will stick with this practice longer this time around because of this.

I love that our Center offers a variety of classes on a regular basis. Participating in the classes, I always discover something that I can incorporate into my daily life to make it fuller, deeper, bigger, etc. If you haven’t taken a class lately, I encourage you to do so. Allow yourself to go beyond.

–Janet Salese

Got Turkey?

“Appreciation, gratitude, and thanksgiving — the motive power which attracts and magnifies the hidden potentialities of life.” – Ernest Holmes The Science of Mind 637

I think in most homes the idea of the Thanksgiving revolves around being grateful and appreciative of the blessings we already have. The idea of dinner revolves around the meal being prepared by the matriarch of the home. In my home, this dinner consists of a feast that I have prepared and is enjoyed by my family and friends. Preparing for this feast can take quite a bit of planning to present the perfect meal.

I appreciate two of my dearest friends. At least a month ago they notified me that there is an apparent turkey shortage and that I’d better get my turkey now! They were sincerely concerned that I wasn’t aware of this shortage and what would I do if I didn’t have a turkey to serve? They were right. I wasn’t aware of the apparent shortage. However, I immediately thought — what are they talking about? Don’t they know we live in an abundant Universe and that Source is always providing for us?

Often at Thanksgiving my mom would tell this story. One year back in the early 60’s, my parents couldn’t afford to buy a turkey for dinner. They bought a 39-cent chicken, stuffed and roasted it. My brother thought it was the best dinner ever. They were grateful.

A thanksgiving memory I hold happened back in the mid 80’s. I had bought a turkey, my mom bought a turkey, and my grandmother won a turkey. We had 3 turkeys to cook that year. Thanksgiving morning, we all woke up and no one felt like cooking a turkey. My mom suggested we go out to dinner at a restaurant my grandmother used to own. They were open and serving a lovely Thanksgiving dinner. We were thankful. The next day we cooked turkeys.

“Thanksgiving is a grateful recognition of past benefits and the activator of blessings yet to come. Thankfulness stimulates a continuous flow of blessings. If, in your life, there is a paucity of blessings, it may be that your practice of thankfulness has grown weak and inactive. The attitude of gratitude is important in achieving wholeness in life. Only by enumerating the many blessings bestowed upon us can we fully appreciate the generous bounty of God.“

— Norman Vincent Peale

With appreciation & gratitude to you, Happy Thanksgiving.

Madeline Pallanes

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