Choice

This is not the first time I’ve blogged about “Choice” and its importance to me. This link http://www.carlaryan.com/?s=choice  takes you to a 2013 posting on this site. Current times require that I add a bit more today.

Following the recent reversal of Roe v. Wade by the Supreme Court, many people in this country (the United States of America) are re-examining the right of a woman to make her own choice about safe, pregnancy-related healthcare. Something we’ve taken for granted for nearly 50 years. Something we were told by the newest Justices was “settled law” and a “protected right” in this country. They lied.

What we are discovering is that America is not so much the “United States” about this matter. We (State legislatures and their supporters) are extremely divided on many things and in the manner for which such healthcare should be carried out. However, the bottom line for me is that a woman’s CHOICE about it has been taken away in many states and in many circumstances.

Without the right to choose, she has become less than a full human in a situation she cannot even create on her own! Tell me, what choice has been taken from the men involved in creating the scenario in the first place? What consequence will they bear for their actions?

How is this possible in a “free and independent” society? When did women willingly relinquish control over their bodies to a government entity? For what purpose are such subversive political or religiously-influenced measures being used? What’s the end-game?

Now, more than ever, CHOICE is my #1 value. While I’m past childbearing years, I can exercise CHOICE in what I write, where I live, what I do, who I see, where I go, and how I vote. Those freedoms appear to be still intact and I’m grateful for that. Yet, my political alarm sensors are on high alert. I choose my words carefully both in what I say and to whom I speak. I’m concerned for my children and grandchildren, and their future in this country.

And while, as a minister, I continue to share information about my religious preference with anyone who asks, NEVER in my wildest imaginations would I consider imposing my beliefs on someone else to the point of reversing laws or creating new ones that only make life more difficult for people (women) already in a difficult situation – no matter the circumstance. CHOICE is personal and sacred – whether about my religion or my body. Isn’t that why we founded this democracy in the first place? Freedom from religious persecution and the right to choose our own paths, including decisions about our own bodies?

Choose wisely in all things. It’s important.

C is for Choice… Spirituality A to Z

C is for Choice … and has been my favorite Spiritual aspect of Life for many years. We have so many choices! The only limitations are those we place on ourselves. Even NOT making a specific or direct choice is making one. NOT having a CHOICE is NOT an option. Isn’t that great? That means there’s no excuse not to be involved in what kind of life you ultimately enjoy or experience and how you respond (react) to it. You choose.

When you have to make a choice and don’t make it, that is in itself a choice. – William James

I suppose I could stop there. I mean, really, how much is there to say about Choice? Actually, I can’t say enough about it! It’s been the foundation for my life’s direction and creation for so long – my underlying mantra – my driving force and inspiration – that it deserves more than just a short paragraph. I believe so deeply in the freedom of Choice and live it so passionately, that it’s actually irritated folks I know from time to time. They get tired of me saying, “You can do _____ OR you can do _____ OR ….”

Every man builds his world in his own image. He has the power to choose, but no power to escape the necessity of choice. – Ayn Rand

Mostly, I think, the reason for the upset is because I don’t buy into being stuck…there’s a choice for everything:  job, home, relationship, attitude, religious focus, hair color… the list is endless. There’s no reason to feel trapped. Each experience brings with it the opportunity to make a Choice each step of the way. Each Choice brings with it a consequence (good or bad). One Choice at a time, Life unfolds before us and lays down the path on which we tread.

Every art and every inquiry, and similarly every action and choice, is thought to aim at some good; and for this reason the good has rightly been declared to be that at which all things aim. – Aristotle

Perhaps the biggest Choice to make is what we “think” about anything, especially our attitudes and beliefs. No matter how hard our parents tried…no matter how hard we try with our children or grandchildren… with our spouse or anyone else for that matter… we can’t be told or dictated to about what to think. The mind, if nothing else, is the one sacred space we call our very own. The secrets of our mind are safe behind sealed lips. Let not the eyes betray us. We have the Choice to think thoughts based in positive energy and Universal flow, or to sink to depths that would require lengthy ropes to pull us out. Still, it is a Choice.

We need to teach the next generation of children from day one that they are responsible for their lives. Mankind’s greatest gift, also its greatest curse, is that we have free choice. We can make our choices built from love or from fear. – Elisabeth Kubler-Ross

With such a powerful tool at your disposal, where do you direct your Choice? Perhaps, it’s how you will use your time… what approach you will take to getting well… who you will share your life with… where you will go to school or on vacation… what attitude you will bring to work today… what priorities you will address in any given moment. Does Choice not offer the most incredible opportunities to create a life uniquely your own?

A life lived of choice is a life of conscious action. A life lived of chance is a life of unconscious creation. – Neale Donald Walsch

Choice, when done with Love behind and through it, for the highest Good of yourself and what you can offer to the world, is a gift of God beyond compare! It’s pure, Divine Intelligence speaking to us as that still, small Voice. Listen well…and choose with Love.

LETTING GO… BY CHOICE OR OTHERWISE

Our church recently hosted a special healing event where several alternative wellness practitioners and healers shared their skills and wisdom with curious would-be clients. Healers offered services such as Reiki, SRT, or Yoga Nidra. One gentleman offered his intuitive skills through reading Tarot cards for folks. I was one of them and the last person to sit at his table.

As it was the end of the day and nearly time to start packing up the event, the reading needed to be shortened in some way. I asked him to do just one card. He shuffled the cards. I cut the deck. He fanned the cards across the table and waited for my selection. I used my own intuitive nature to select the perfect card – the 5 of Swords – and with no verbal input from me to offer any clues (I thought), his interpretation began.

This card, in general terms, is about the fear of loss, of losing control…an illusion of its own. With his eyes focused downward to the card on the table, he talked of how I was going through or may soon be going through some sort of loss. His eyes questioned my face as I remained silent and unaware of anything about which I may have felt a sense of loss. My mind was blank…open.

He continued this line of explanation and then reassured me that, while I may be saddened for a time over the loss, this void would open my life to greater expression and possibilities. His commentary and the session came to a close. We all packed up the event. I put the experience aside as something that was fun and interesting. I could think about it later.

Later came sooner than I expected.

Two days following, my husband and I agreed on a new wall-hanging/headboard idea for our bedroom… one that would utilize an embroidered duvet cover I had painstakingly created about 20 years prior and that had become our bed’s covering in the early years of our marriage. As our bed size had changed, and to preserve the memories associated with the piece, we no longer used the coverlet but had stored it away.

The detailed needlework designs on the queen-sized muslin coverlet had taken me two years to complete, with subtle, hand embroidery work that filled the center and ruffled sides. The angelic design symbolized our Divine introduction and enduring Love. It was the largest and most complicated fabric art I had ever done. I knew I could reconstruct the coverlet into a beautiful wall-hanging, a visible reminder of how we met and how our love had matured. I couldn’t wait to get started! I fell asleep with great anticipation for the project.

The next morning I went to the linen closet to fetch the coverlet from the plastic storage bag. It wasn’t there. Each shelf I searched revealed only towels and sheets, but not the embroidered masterpiece. I expanded my search to the craft closet, sewing bins, guest room, dining hutch, boxes of holiday decorations, and the garage. While I located many items that were no longer useful and could be given or thrown away, the coverlet was not among the finds.

Besides my own prayers of resolution and peace, a friend offered prayers to Saint Anthony, the patron saint of lost things. I called a couple of my children to see if it was accidentally packed among their belongings during previous extended visits. I changed my affirmation from “I can’t find it!” to “It’s somewhere in this house and it’s ready for me to see it!” I cried at my loss. The words of the Tarot reader came back with haunting clarity.

I fully realize my sense of attachment to this artwork and the memories I have threaded into the design. Still unwilling to face the loss of this treasure, I’m continuing the systematic search box by box, closet by closet, corner by corner, and drawer by drawer…until I know with absolute clarity what I truly do have as my earthly possessions and if this one accomplishment is among them. I will do a thorough and complete investigation. In the process I will also “release” many other things, more clutter and unused possessions that no longer serve my new direction and the life I now express.

cherub_trumpetIf by some accident the embroidered cherub truly has taken his trumpet and departed my realm, I will let go … by choice or otherwise … and open my consciousness and my interests to richer and fuller experiences. And so it is!

 

ARCHIVE for Spiritual Spiral newsletter

The purpose for the Spiritual Spiral newsletter is to provide information that explores Principles of Religious Science (New Thought) and compares them to world religions.

 

August 1, 2022 – CLICK HERE to view newsletter. Also following are documents referenced in the newsletter.

 

July 1, 2022 – CLICK HERE to view newsletter. Also following are three documents referenced in the newsletter.
  • Spiritual Spiral special attachment [JULY 2022] – PRINCIPLE:  FREEDOM – Essay entitled, “Agreements to Personal Freedom” a talk/sermon for contemplation and discussion. July 2022–Sermon–Agreements to Personal Freedom-Ruiz book
  • Spiritual Spiral special attachment [JULY 2022] – CHILDREN’s WORKSHEET:  “Tigers & Freedom”   July – Spiritual Lessons for Children – Tigers and Freedom
  • Spiritual Spiral special attachment [JULY 2022] – INTERFAITH VOTER GUIDE:  This reflection guide is intended to spur discussion and discernment. Whether you use it at a kitchen table, in a house of worship, at a community forum, or at an event with political candidates, we hope it helps you navigate the urgent moral questions raised by this election.  Click on the link provided to open and/or download the 8-page booklet, including discussion questions for your group and the candidates.  VoterGuide-Interfaith-8pgs-Summer2022

 

 

 

 

Meanings

I love words! I love discovering new words, hidden meanings, pronunciations, dialects, and inspirational quotations. I enjoy playing word games as well. Learning to read at an early age opened a multitude of worlds for me. It still does. I’m happy to share new learnings with those around me, whether in conversation or through my writing. Two word lessons came up this week that caught my attention.

While practicing Tai Chi in my living room via a video instructor, he was explaining the type of early instruction he received from a Chinese master several decades ago. Basically, the master would demonstrate a movement and then expect the student to replicate it and continue practicing until it was perfected. All without any type of correction or feedback.

He called that type of instruction “chi ku” style, which means to bear hardships or eat bitterness. In other words, the master expected the student to suffer toward the perfection of the Tai Chi movements, to struggle through it with difficulty until the student got it right, to figure it out without any additional guidance. Heavy meaning for two small words.

Fortunately, the video instructor did not endorse that style of teaching. He discovered that, when he began teaching Tai Chi in the United States (the West), his students didn’t appreciate that type of instruction. They wanted feedback, correction, input as they were doing the movements.

The second lesson came from a Scrabble™-like game app. I spend far too much time playing this app on my phone, so I was pleased to recognize a valuable spiritual lesson in the process of playing.

Aside from the strategy involved regarding placement of the letter tiles on the board in order get the highest number of points, I love the challenge of creating words – as long as possible – with the tiles given to me by the program. Rarely do I “swap” tiles. I simply work with what I have and, usually, it’s enough. My current stats show I win at least 60% of the time.

The thing is long words are harder to place on the board. If you have a connecting tile available, there’s usually only room for the placement of longer words near the beginning of the game, when the board is relatively open. By midway through the game, even though I might be able to create a five-to-seven-tile word, oftentimes there’s no place to put it. If my intent is to score the most points, I have to let go of the word I created and find shorter words, fewer characters, to place in strategic positions on the board.

It’s the idea of disassembling what I’ve created that causes me angst. I’m faced with recreating a word or vision for what I WANT to do in order to make progress (points) so I can have the best outcome (win the game, if possible).

How often are we faced with that challenge in our lives?

We work and plan and save and strategize to create something in our lives, a dream or goal. And sometimes, by the time we achieve it, the dream or goal no longer suits us… at least, not all of it. We might be able to salvage a piece or a different version of it. Like changing majors in college to fit into an emerging industry. Not everything we’ve done is wasted, and not everything we take with us into the future is what we thought would happen, but there we are… making adjustments to our plans.

The gift I often receive is that the new, shorter word and its placement on the board is usually worth more points than the long word I struggled with and couldn’t find a spot to place it.

We can suffer over it, feel like it’s an undeserved hardship, express our angst… or… we can smile about how we’re able to shift gears, change direction, adapt, and stay in the game. Our response is always a choice. I’m smiling a lot these days.

Cell Phone Blues

My ongoing quest to reduce living expenses, especially for items that I consider basic tools for living (AKA needs), has now impacted my choice of phone plans and the phone itself.

About two and one-half years ago my husband and I migrated from one major cell phone provided to another. This change, plus our “senior” age category, allowed us to go from $149 per month to $79 per month for two phones (unlimited talk and text, and sharing about 3GB of data per month). It meant we also had to buy new phones for the new provider system at a cost of about $600 per phone. We use Android phones.

Due to what I often refer to as “planned obsolescence,” my cell phone started dropping calls a few weeks ago – a phone less than three years old! I did make the trip to the cell phone store to see if they could resolve the issue; it worked for one phone call.

While this is extremely annoying, I had fortunately purchased a “burner” phone ($60) from a big box store several months prior on a pay-as-you-go plan (no contract, $25/month for unlimited talk, text and 3GB data PLUS Wi-Fi ready). I reactivated the plan when I started having issues with my primary phone. Thus, if I was on a call and it dropped, I would simply call them back on my burner phone. Even this became annoying.

The time had come to replace the dysfunctional phone, but I didn’t want to change my number. I’ve had it for years. It’s tied to all my rewards and accounts. I like it.

I “chatted” with a customer service rep (more than one, actually, just to verify) from the no-contract company about buying one of their more expensive phones ($149-$249) and transferring my number to it, and then being on the basic phone plan. After that, I could just cancel the burner phone plan, but keep the phone. They confirmed that this was possible and offered FREE delivery via Federal Express to “order online today.”

While that was a much more reasonable price, and moving from our current discounted “senior” plan is possible without affecting my husband’s line (which is also his business phone), it won’t really save us any money on a monthly basis now. However, it will be easier to track his business phone expenses separately from mine… AND… I will be the test case with this “simple” provider prior to his eventual retirement and transition to a less expensive plan, too. I told the “chat” rep I wanted to think about it overnight.

I also wanted time to transfer (back-up) all my photos to my cloud account and be sure I was ready to shut down this pricey paperweight.

I woke up with a new idea! What if I transferred my long-time phone number to the burner phone I already had in my possession? Just deactivate that existing number and replace it with my own? Then I wouldn’t have to buy a phone at all right now. I liked that idea a LOT! So I got back on “chat” with another rep, presented my questions, and YES, it was possible. (NOTE: I had asked staff at the big box store about doing this and they said it could not be done. Glad I kept asking.) The chat rep finally gave me their customer service phone number to contact them directly and for someone to guide me through the process.

I’ve come to believe that making changes to phones and phone plans is like buying a car. It takes hours to go through the process, and is sometimes frustrating with the slowness of how it’s done and all the details you have to have available and the voice permissions from the other account holder to leave the account and on and on and on. Finally, after nearly THREE hours on and off the calls, my favorite number was transferred to the $60 phone I’ve been using as backup. The text, talk, and internet tests succeeded, too.

The “new” phone pretty much has all the features of my former, expensive phone. It’s perfect for the way most of our family communicates anyway (via text). Some of the maneuvering buttons are in a different screen position, but no big deal. I had to reinstall some of my favorite apps and review the notification permissions, but I have limited them considerably to what I allowed before. The phone is lighter weight and slightly smaller in size. I can always upgrade to one of their more expensive phones – but still FAR cheaper than what we’ve been paying.

The next day I went through their automated phone service to re-establish my auto-payment account (to lock-in that $25/month plan), since the payment details on the account I had got wiped out when they deactivated the burner number. For some reason, I can’t seem to reactivate the online (internet) account like I had before. Perhaps I need to wait a few days for the system to catch up with my plans.

Meanwhile, I’m content with the transition to this new phone and provider and I look forward to reconnecting with family and friends.

 

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Up & Down the Rabbit Hole

One of the gifts of going through challenging circumstances – ones that sometimes feel like we’re falling down a deep, dark hole – is to discover what we’re made of. How do we react or respond in those situations? Do we come from fear or do we meet the situation with wonder and curiosity and resolve?

As I drove my large SUV down the highway one evening recently, a weird noise started coming from the front part of the vehicle. At first I was curious. I didn’t go into panic mode until it sounded like something was falling out in bits from the engine and bouncing away under the vehicle. A roadside inspection revealed nothing – no leaks, no obvious broken parts, no damage to the truck. Yet each time I pulled back onto the highway, there was a new alertness in my being, waiting for the sound. It did not disappoint my expectations.

Fortunately, I was able to make it home safely that evening and get the SUV to the mechanic’s shop the next morning. Apparently whatever has gone wrong is deep within the mechanisms of its driving functions. It’s fixable, of course. It will just take time, money, and someone else’s expertise to make this right.

While I wait for the quote on what the repairs will cost, I’m grateful. Grateful this situation didn’t happen just a few days earlier when I was traveling across the country and on some rather remote roads, with no cell coverage. Grateful it took place at a time when traffic patterns were light and easy – not during rush hour nor while on the way to some important engagement. Grateful our family includes an auto mechanic who is willing to help diagnose the problem on a holiday evening and be a liaison for us through the repair process. Grateful that, while I’m not particularly fond of paying for large (or small) vehicle repair bills, at least I have the resources to do so if needed. Grateful that my trip down the fearful rabbit hole was quite shallow this time. Grateful I can surrender the situation and know there is a higher purpose at work here.

I’m discovering how much easier life is when I accept the “what is” of any holey situation (pun intended). It doesn’t matter if it’s a broken vehicle, an injured relationship, or a resistant attitude. There’s no need to label the situation positive or negative. There is so much of life we have no control over or even influence about, except for how we will respond (react) to it. Sometimes surrender is the only wise option.

In those situations where we do have control or influence, I endeavor to make my choices from a place of strength, courage, peace, and love. We always have the choice to detach any emotional response from what we’re facing and see it for the cosmic experience it is – an opportunity to grow. How difficult the experience becomes is up to us. Suffering is optional.

As I become more successful at staying near the surface of life’s holes, I’ve noticed that they are definitely not as deep nor as scary as they used to be. Some are even totally avoidable unless curiosity takes over. Others are just a passing shadow and warrant only a smile and a wave good-bye…just in time for the arrival of the next growth experience.

 

F is for Faith or Fear… Spirituality A to Z

A wise friend once told me, “You can’t have Fear and Faith at the same time – choose.”

Yes, you get to choose. And to the degree you focus on one or the other, your choice determines how you will fare through any situation or decision.

What I’ve discovered as I contemplate this equation is that it takes very little Fear or Faith to tip the scales in the other direction, depending on the situation.

Fear-Baby-2The seed of Faith is and always has been present, waiting to be nurtured, cultivated, and allowed to grow to fuller expression. The weed of Fear has always been with us, too, although it was initially in our infant make-up only as the fear of falling and loud noises. All other fears developed as we grew, coming from those around us and society in general, especially through the media. Fear is a learned characteristic.

It takes a concerted effort to not get caught up in the hysteria of news events and tragedies that bombard our psyche on a daily basis. Yes, sad things happen. Yes, some of those acts are brutal, senseless, and unforgiveable. As long as we continue to view and share and repeatedly talk about such cruelty, that is what will continue being created in our minds and our world… and Fear will maintain its foothold in our race consciousness. We need to stop replaying the tapes or teaching these fears from one generation to the next. There is another option.

Be selective with what you fill your mind and thoughts. Be informed and be objective, yet learn to be non-attached to the form of negative experience. If the acts of violence you see projected through the media are too much, then turn off those programs!

Let me clarify, learn to separate your awareness from the act itself…to look beyond it…and focus on the person or people behind it. While it may take some effort and a change in your own beliefs to accept it, that person or those people are just like you and me – human, God-beings in physical form.

For whatever reason, they are coming from a place of Fear, brought on by misguided information, erroneous instruction, habitual cultural or religious teachings that have gotten off-track at some point. When you react with Fear…rather than responding with understanding, love, objectivity, non-attachment, or forgiveness – and a Faith in the God within …then you and I only perpetuate the cycle of Fear and it becomes stronger in everyone involved.

While this level of Fear may describe a global situation or local tragedy, and be perhaps a most difficult challenge to address with Faith and Love, you can apply the same awareness in your everyday life. For example, a toddler has complete Faith that his parent or grandparent will catch and protect him from falling when he throws himself backward in their arms. The only time Fear may eventually appear is if no one catches him…time and again…and trust is broken with that person and caution takes precedent in future behavior.

You move from Fear to Faith when you try again after a failed relationship. No matter how bad it was before, you believe and trust that it MUST be better next time. There’s a time for healing and renewal, eventually leading to a rebirth of Love.

There might also be Fear about changing jobs or starting a business. Previous experiences of non-success (AKA mistakes or failures) may slow your decision-making process to the state of paralysis, making NO decision for long periods of time…until, finally, you MUST listen to that voice of Faith and take at least one step in the direction of your dream simply because the voice of Creation won’t be quiet.

When properly recognized, Fear can be a useful tool as an early warning system within our psyche. Acknowledge it. Look at it. Reveal the love-floating-heartssource causing it and resolve to move beyond it through Faith in a Higher Power, Unlimited Intelligence and Eternal Love.

Grow within you a belief that everything DOES eventually work out for the Good of Life overall. You can stay in Fear…or move forward in Faith and watch your world change. You choose.