[I wrote most of this in 2006 with a bit more added today…a reflection of Emerson’s essay of the same name. ]

When I’ve thought of self-reliance in the past, it’s always been in the form of survival, of doing what needed to be done and usually without anyone’s help. I learned to rely on certain skills to live my life and care for my children – skills such as: my ability to work and learn, intellect, communication, to “read” people, humor, to get back up no matter how much I was beaten down, to adapt, to change. These are the tools that kept me alive, fed my children, and allowed me to build a life. I’m proud of what I’ve accomplished and the challenges I’ve overcome. My abilities served me well.

mirror_imageHowever, there were times when I did not trust my own judgment. I occasionally lost touch with any sense of God-presence and many times turned to my human abilities or the words of others rather than rely on a Higher Power. I was self-reliant, but with a small “s.”

Emerson’s self-reliance offers a different perspective. He defines it as “a new respect for the divinity in man.” This interpretation has me thinking of it as Self-reliance (with a big “S”). I now view the term as, not what I can do to live, but what I can be to express who I am in this life.

I agree with Emerson on a number of points he made. I can believe in my own thought; I can trust myself. As a living expression of God, I must find courage to fully express my uniqueness, my talents and abilities, without hesitation. There is no reason to imitate someone else in order to find fulfillment in my life – “imitation is suicide” and it kills the core of who I am. If I believe that “infancy conforms to nobody,” then why would I choose conformity as an adult and allow society more control over my life? “My life is not an apology, but a life.” I must and DO live it to the fullest capacity I can muster. Emerson states: “Do your work, and you shall reinforce yourself.”

Well, I know how to work, and am finally doing the work I’ve been called to do. I’m also learning to be the person I always dreamed I was – a unique expression of Spirit. May my actions express the greatness I feel inside me, without apology. “I must be myself.”


Praying from a Different Position

Every once in awhile we’re given the opportunity to see into the future, of what a situation might be like, if we’re only willing to open our eyes to see it. Such was the case as my husband and I made our way upstairs to our room at the end of a very long and busy day.

He walked up the steps in front of me, slowly, one step at a time. I followed close behind, clutching the back waistband of his jeans and the thick belt wrapped around his waist. I very much needed his strong momentum and the pull up the stairs as a recent injury to my knee hindered my mobility, gait and strength in climbing toward bed and a night of much needed rest. My leg was swollen and throbbing with pain.

Half-way up the stairs I made a flippant comment about not expecting this type of ascent to come so soon in our lives; I thought it would be at least 15 to 20 years before we would have experienced this episode. Our laughter turned to tears. We were supporting one another in a very physical way, but also an emotional one. We hugged as we victoriously completed the last step. We were both keenly aware that we needed to make a concerted effort immediately to achieve and maintain our individual physical strengths so that this assisted stairway climb would be an anomaly and not the norm anytime soon.

It was a minor accident. The heel of my shoe got caught in a small hole. The shoe stayed stuck just long enough for my leg and knee to hyper-extend. Before the jerk from the forward thrust could pull me to the ground, the heel came free from its prison. I maintained my balance, readjusted my shoe, and continued through my day. In the middle of the night, several hours after this incident, I was awakened by throbbing pain around the knee. The joint was seriously injured. I sent a prayer request to my “spiritual brigade.”


After two days of wrapping, elevating and icing the swollen knee, my husband convinced me to see my chiropractor (who specializes in sports injuries, too). Naturally, I did my own research before the appointed time, forming my own diagnosis. The doctor came to the same conclusion through his examination of my limb that I was able to discover on my own. I love validation! However, because the knee tissue was still quite swollen, any further MRIs or testing would have to wait a couple of days more. More ice. More rest. More prayer.

The injury was perfectly timed. This is my “spring break” from teaching classes. Also, I’m fortunate to be able to work from home. Most of my work is computer-based and I can sit on the chaise or at my desk with my knee wrapped, iced and propped in a somewhat comfortable position…and still be quite productive. By having limited mobility, I maintained focus on pressing projects and am ahead of schedule. What a gift

The prayer support and messages from friends lifts my energy and helps me stay focused on returning to full functionality as quickly as possible. I’m grateful for my husband’s loving attentiveness and his willingness to collect my things from one room to another. My dog monitors my every move, content to stay close by in case I need something to cuddle. I’ve even begun replacing my shoe wardrobe with safer, sensible and knee-friendly styles.

My attitude is one of gratitude and positive focus. I choose to be well. I choose strength and health. And I know that I already have it right now within my mind and soul. It’s just going to take whatever time is necessary for the healing to manifest as a fully functioning knee joint.

Meanwhile, I’ll say my prayers from the sitting position, knowing they are answered just as easily.


You can’t have fear and faith at the same time. Easier said than done. This morning I woke up with another subconscious gift about that phrase. Thank you, God! Rather than approaching fear with the aim of a stealth bomber or well-rehearsed mantras, a more reasonable and achievable approach might be to transcend fear or whatever else is holding you back from living a rich and full life. This means, in general terms, to “go beyond…rise above…or be greater than.” How would we put this into practice?

“We gain strength, and courage, and confidence by each experience in which we really stop to look fear in the face… we must do that which we think we cannot.   Eleanor Roosevelt

First it absolutely takes awareness, active consciousness, to notice and identify what is keeping you from expressing as your highest self, your God-Self. This can be accomplished in the wink of an eye or after years of self-evaluation, therapy, classes, emotional pain, and contemplation.

After you achieve the ability to do this a couple of times, recognition of lingering issues and fears usually comes much more quickly. Yes, it means to do what Eleanor Roosevelt recommended (above quote)…and more. You not only “look fear in the face”; you go beyond that fear to a place where it has no power over you. The strength that builds within you comes from a Divine Intelligence and Source of Love. Old reactive habits are replaced with new responding behaviors. Such changes result from recognizing what no longer brings you peace, through spiritual classes and teachers, or past positive experiences upon which you can model future changes.

In the Science of Mind textbook, it says this: “There is, then, no limitation outside our own ignorance, and since we can all conceive of a greater good than we have so far experienced, we all have the ability to transcend previous experiences and rise triumphant above them; but we shall never triumph over them while we persist in going through the old mental reactions.”  (SOM p. 147.4)


We can apply this transcending process to health challenges, time constraints, and fears of all kinds. Every time we adjust our thoughts about some previous fear or difficulty, letting the fear dissipate through acceptance of what is – given we’ve done everything we know to do to that point – we transcend the negative energy of that situation. It becomes less fearful, less worrisome, no longer intimidating. We move beyond it. And just like the creative nature of a spiraling universe, or the spiraling design of our DNA, our consciousness expands upward and outward in an ever greater expression of Life.

“A man sooner or later discovers that he is the master-gardener of his soul, the director of his life.” – James Allen

My greatest application of transcending something particularly significant was when I applied it to the fear of death. My childhood religion had convinced me that, no matter how I behaved, it may never be ‘good enough’ to enter the gates of heaven. Years later, after decades of life experiences, a fresh interpretation of biblical verses, and a mature acceptance of God, forgiveness, and the energetic Spirit that expresses as me… my fear of physical death has transcended into what will be just another experience of Life. Not something to be feared. And not something to be hurried into. But something to anticipate with awe and wonder as I focus on and complete what I must do in this physical existence before the transition occurs.

“In such degree as we contemplate the Spirit of Livingness, It becomes manifest.” (SOM p. 336.3)

As long as my focus is on: living Life to its fullest; serving others to the best of my ability; loving myself and humanity, animals, the world; expressing as my authentic God-Self for the highest and best Good in all situations; and contemplating Spirit with increasing awareness and active consciousness…as long as this is my focus, my life will be well-lived and my time here will have served a greater purpose. There can be no fear in that. Only Faith. Only Love.


Stay and Grow

I recently watched a movie (The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel) that had a profound impact on me. It initiated a discussion with my husband in which I became aware of hidden beliefs about where to live that even I had not recognized before. While it is not the desire of either of us to move to India, moving homes has come rather easily to me. My best estimate is that I have lived in at least 47 locations (homes) throughout my life. I’ve never regarded any of them as a permanent residence, including my current home…up until now. And THAT realization is a bit unsettling for several reasons.

I realized most of my life has been built on chaos and transition, always looking forward to a better job, a better marriage, a nicer place to live, more time for me, always striving for improvement, etc. I’ve spent years examining my beliefs about most of these issues and applied various methods to resolve them. 

  • First, I’m happy to say this is the BEST marriage of my life – the most fulfilling and the longest! What has been key for us is having a spiritual base in common and lots of honest and respectful communication.
  • Second, the job as a minister is the most satisfying career for me, utilizing all the skills and experiences gained in every position previous to this one…yet providing ample opportunity for personal and spiritual growth. I love what I do!
  • Next, by addressing my workaholic tendencies, I now create time to do things I enjoy without the guilt; taking mini-breaks throughout the day (e.g., lunch on the deck); even taking one day off each week (hey, it’s a start). In the process, I’m actually getting more done than I was before.
  • Lastly, my house is a work-in-progress…like me. The house has been my primary artistic expression for the past 15 years. It inspires me. And I’m more ‘me’ here than anywhere else. We got married in this house, watched our kids grow up here, and modified parts of it to meet our particular needs and space requirements. I also really like living within walking distance to the center of our small town.

So why my distress over whether to move or not…yet again? What I recognized is that I have held the belief that in order to “grow” into the person I am to become, I need to expand in the physical realm as well – like a larger house or in a location with acres of woods and walking trails where I can contemplate with God. Where did THAT come from? Simply… race consciousness… comparing to others. Enough already.

I’m ready to stop the transitory lifestyle and mental chaos, the endless search through real estate ads for the “perfect place” that will never match up to what I already have and now truly appreciate. It’s time to unpack my office boxes, hang the towel bars and the photographs, organize the nightstand, and create my own personal space because finally I recognize that I’m worthy of having it. Some might call this putting down roots. True. This feels good… resolved… and is how to truly grow strong and confident in one’s own abilities.

No matter how many times I’ve gone away, I’ve always wanted to return here…to THIS house. I’m grateful we listened to the Spiritual voice that nudged us back to this place, one of creativity, security and love… my home. Now I can focus on what really needs to change and grow – me.

Catch-Up…or Not

Ever since we moved back to our family home earlier this year, there has been a line of boxes waiting to be emptied. One room after another, items have been put away, given away, or tossed away. The artwork is finally going up on the walls. The heavier drapes are being hung in time for the cool nights of autumn. Life’s activities continue one day after the other amidst a stack of this or pile of that. Still, some boxes remain, with contents patiently awaiting a return to usefulness or the trash bin.

Occasionally I declare that it would only take a few days to “catch up” with all of it and things would be back to normal…that I would no longer need to look at these cardboard containers stacked around my office. When I tried that approach – taking a couple of days to unpack files into drawers, books unto shelves, and knick-knacks into corners – the other part of my life fell into panic…the deadlines and projects that I needed to pay attention to came due with amazing speed and stress. I traded one irritation for another.

The truth is, this IS normal…for as long as I can remember. There have always been boxes sitting around in some corner, filled with memories…numerous photograph albums, school papers, childhood gifts, and tidbits from relationships. Throwing these things away seems sacrilegious – all are parts of me. But every once in awhile, when we move or I need to get to something in the far back corner under the bottom of the pile, I’ll look through a box and determine that at least SOME item is no longer necessary to whom I’ve become. I’ll toss it into the wastebasket or ask one of my adult children if they want it. They never do. Why would they?

Frankly, I’ve come to accept that there is no “catch up” either. Time is time. We can’t save it up to use it later. We can only spend it as we live each day…fixing meals, working, hanging pictures, creating art or crafts, playing with grandchildren, working, visiting with friends, sleeping, driving, cleaning, recreation, working, studying, reading, writing, working, etc. (If you’ve followed this blog, you already know that, for me, working is a priority.) But sometimes I can empty a box or two.

I think the reason I resist the boxes is because of their contents. I want to explore each container indepth…look at each piece of paper to determine its value…fondly remember the goings on in my life at the time the item was gifted to me and by whom…make sure I throw nothing away that I’ll regret  later for having done so. No one can really assist me in this process. It’s a solitary endeavor. I’m the only one who can decide what stays and what goes…or how important that piece of paper is to my current existence. For example, reviewing the several small boxes of greeting cards received for all those special occasions during the past few decades from my loved ones. My husband has his own collection, too. We finally agreed that maybe it would be okay to reduce our “collections” and keep only a few of the most precious of these cards…when we have the time to look at them.

I know, eventually, all this will get sorted out. I’d just like to do it while I’m the one still making the decisions and so my children don’t get stuck with it. However, it’s not ALL going to happen today. And for now, I’m okay with that.

Many Hats…One Design

During a recent prayer session with a practitioner student, I was gifted with clarity into a behavioral habit I’ve developed rather consciously over the past couple of decades. I’m happy to say that the inspiration from that session included a resolution to make significant changes…to create and live a new way of being.

My approach to life has always been to have a backup plan. In this way, I have a “back door” escape, just in case the idea fails, plans don’t work out, or people let me down. What this has done, however, is to keep me from FULLY engaging in life. I participate, but only at a surface level. Sometimes it even allows me to hide out from life. Since I’m not totally engaged, there’s less chance of getting hurt, feeling failure, or even taking full responsibility – good or bad – for whatever the results might be. This approach, I reasoned, protected my heart and feelings from pain and disappointment of my own shortcomings or those of other people involved. Fortunately, I’m not operating from this perspective any longer.

The other related behavior, and which I have become very good at carrying out, is “changing hats.” I can speak to one person about marketing projects and deadlines, another about financial administration or team communication, another about massage and wellness tips, and still someone else about options to their spiritual path. In each case, I would put on “my hat” for each appropriate role (marketing professional, business manager, massage therapist, or minister and teacher, respectively), and then spoke from that perspective. I began to notice that my voice tone changed depending on which “hat” I was wearing or what needed to be addressed. I projected different personas. Many of us do this; there’s nothing really wrong with this communication technique. It’s just not the way I choose to express who I am any longer.

The truth is, I have all these capabilities bundled up inside this one magnificent being of spirit, brain and body – known as me. I’ve lived long enough to accumulate academic education, worldly knowledge, and wisdom from life experiences that give me some expertise in certain matters.  What I don’t know about something I can learn or rely on experts to advise me. I know that I don’t know all there is to know – and I’m okay with that.

The change I’m making – and what I’ve recently been inspired to do through powerful prayer and meditation practices – is to come from Source in all situations…to lead with the heart, with love. This means coming from my authentic, spiritual, heart-centered, compassionate, and strong nature God-self. I have all the Power of God available to my every thought and prayer, as much as I’m willing to accept. I trust with absolute certainty that the life I’m living is filled with Good and Love, no matter how it might look in the moment. I know the person I’m becoming will continue to evolve through all eternity, in one form or another. The only way I can hurt is if I let outside circumstances dominate and control my thinking.

A change of hats is no longer necessary. There is no need for a backup plan. I AM the plan.

Choosing Oneness

In recent days I’ve become aware of a practice I find very disturbing. It appears our American society regularly practices the habits of labeling, profiling, discriminating and separating various segments of our culture into smaller and smaller pieces. This practice, of course, only serves to position “us against them” and cause discord on many levels. I have not paid much any attention to this, until a comment was made at my church. I will stay quiet no longer.

The first nudge began with an article that came across my desk, comparing the characteristics between introverts and extroverts. Fortunately, it was a very positive piece, written to show the qualities each personality provides. Unfortunately, I don’t remember where I read it and can’t find it for my reference here. However, another website I discovered today ( provides something similar, though highlights more the benefits of being an introvert. Both personalities are necessary to our world; one is not better than the other.  Each has strengths to compliment and support the other. Balance is created when both are accepted into an organization or society.

The next unsettling bit of news came from a congressional bill that aimed to protect a familiar segment of society – those who wear leather jackets and ride motorcycles. The bill is/was an attempt to protect such folks from discrimination (as is done for gender, age, religion, etc.) by businesses or access to (commercial) property and refusal of service simply because of what they are wearing and what they drive [my interpretation of the bill].  I wasn’t even aware such fear and bias existed to such a degree, in my state of residence, in this century! To refuse service because of bad/offensive behavior, that’s more reasonable as it stems from the Universal Law of Cause and Effect.

Having personally experienced various degrees of discrimination myself – due to nationality, gender, age, and religion – the idea that I could be refused service because I rode a motorcycle and wore a practical, heavy coat against the wind and elements – just seems barbaric in today’s world. So I have to ask, does my being an introverted, female minister and a working, educated professional over the age of 55 who also likes to ride on the back of her husband’s motorcycle and wear black leather jacket, boots and chaps…am I a threat to your business? Really? I’m having a hard time expressing how ludicrous this is. What happened to “One nation…under God”? What happened to accepting our differences? What happened to Oneness taught in ALL major religions?

One of the things I preach EVERY Sunday is the acceptance of ALL people who come through the doors of our church and live in our world. We honor all paths, all faiths, all forms of prayer and worship…because at the core root of most religions, the same principles are found and we all worship the same God. Each religion teaches there is ONE God, thus, we are all praying to the same entity.

We are all members of the same family – the human family – and as such, I strongly discourage labels that even hint at separation thinking. For example, I prefer congregants over members – when referring to those who attend our spiritual community, so that everyone is included. It takes every one of us to create a welcoming and friendly atmosphere. But it only takes one fearful person carelessly expressing a personal bias against a certain group of people to damage the efforts of so many loving and open hearts. Whether in jest or in sincerity, words that separate do little good. Perhaps those thoughts, those beliefs, need to be examined and replaced.

Obviously, I have more work to do within my own church family. Apparently, I need to be more of a living example of what I’m expressing in these words. And, yes, I am more than willing to discuss the concepts and practices of Acceptance and Oneness with whomever is still living in fear of these ideals or does not yet understand the damage done through indiscriminate labeling and name-calling.

Based on the situations I’ve encountered just this week, I’ll be busy for quite some time. Won’t you join me in loving consciousness…for expanded acceptance of one another … for our human family? … for our Spiritual Oneness?

All thoughts and prayers are welcome.