27 September 2016      

Hello, and welcome to our last issue of September, and our first issue
of our new autumn.  We hope that this season finds you doing well, and
that you're able to make the most of the next three months as the world
goes through its annual series of beautiful, breathtaking changes!

 Take a Deep Breath. . . .
Brian Dickinson

Money as a Reflection
Shakti Gawain

What Do You Value?
tom walsh

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Flowers do not force their way with great strife.  Flowers open to perfection slowly in the sun.  Don't be in a hurry about spiritual matters.  Go step by step, and be very sure.

White Eagle

To try to extinguish the drive for riches with money is like trying to quench a fire by pouring butterfat over it.

Hindu proverb

All prosperity begins in the mind and
is dependent only upon the full use
of our creative imagination.

Ruth Ross


Take a Deep Breath, Decide to Enjoy Life, and Feed the Birds
Brian Dickinson

Time to take a deep breath — a deep breath, then pause. There.  Feel better already, don't you?  Close your eyes. Tight.  Count to 10.  Slowly.  Afterwards — eyes still closed, mind you — think of a particularly upbeat something that you did this year.  Call up an image of this episode.  Why is it memorable?  How long will you remember?

You say this year hasn't been an especially upbeat year for you?  That happens.  No problem.  Go back two, three years — more if you need to — until you come upon an image that makes you smile.  The important thing is to stay in the game.

When in doubt, feed the birds.

Write a letter.  The exercise will benefit your immortal soul and absolutely floor the recipient, who probably hasn't received a letter from anyone since Earl Butz was secretary of agriculture.  Teach yourself to tie a few good knots. While you're at it, knit up the raveled sleeve of care.  Allow ten minutes extra for everything.  When worried, just remember the words of Bernard de Clairvaux:  "Hey, babe, chill. Things could be worse."

Feed the birds.

Listen as the tea kettle whistles.  Watch it steam up the kitchen windows.

Write down Grandmother's recipe for potato pancakes Parmesan, before you lose it again.  Avoid throngs.  Laugh out loud when you feel like it.  For one day, leave your wristwatch at home.  Learn to whittle; throw shavings into the fireplace, where they will do some good.

Break the mold.

Drive a different route to work.  Say "good morning" to those glowering faces in the elevator (don't worry:  Most people don't bite).  Be aware of the fact that that rock salt on sidewalks can kill grass.  Watch dawn arrive; see how many colors the sky turns.

Take a deep breath.

Count your blessings.

Harboring a grudge against someone?  Has it helped?  (Didn't think so.)  Sing, if only in the shower.  Get older family members to tape their reminiscences.  Wiggle your toes.  Next time you make chili, add extra spice.  Whistle while you work.  Go for a good long walk; stretch those legs, including those important Achilles tendons, so easily forgotten in the hectic pace of today's living.

Take the dog.

Remember what my father used to say.  When I was a boy, and about to head off somewhere or other, my father always used to say, "Don't do anything dumb!"

Remember to feed the birds.

Take a chance now and then.  Look for a new friend. 

Telephone an old friend.  Seize the moment.  Believe in yourself.  If you keep kicking yourself, you're going to fall down.  Davey Crockett, he of the long rifle and wild frontier, said:  "Make sure you're right, then go ahead," which put it nicely.  A carpenter says:  "Measure twice, cut once."

Take your choice.

Breathe deeply.  Let your memory slip back to that summer when you were quite small, at the beach with your family, and your father hoisted you onto his shoulders and waded into the lake until his knees were covered.  You had never seen so much water.  You trusted your father totally.

Close your eyes.  Squint hard, relax.  How long ago was that first date with the person you later married — 25 years? 30 years?  More?  Certainly a long, long time.  Just as certainly, a very short time.  How can it be both?

I've no idea.  But it is.

Smile.  Give a loved one a good, strong hug, just on general principles; because we never can tell, can we?

Don't forget to feed the birds.

Think about this for a moment.  Humans are said to be the only creatures with a time sense, including an ability to contemplate such a thing as the future.  Does it follow that humankind is the only species able to deal with the concept of hope?  I suspect that we are. I do believe that the capacity for hope can help us meet stiff challenges.

Open the bedroom window a crack at night; sleep in fresh air.

Take a time-out now and then as a way of reducing stress.  It works for sports teams, long-distance truckers and troublesome toddlers; so why shouldn't it work for you?

Seize the moment.  Make it your own.  One never has quite enough moments, although we don't know this when we are young.  Then, if we look ahead, we see an endless stream full of moments, so many that we could never count them, and all of them ours for the taking.  Before we know it, though, the stream has shrunk dramatically and the available moments are growing scarce; and we wish that we had gone after them more assiduously when the stream was full.

So, we say again:  Seize the moment — while you can.

As long as you are seizing moments, use the opportunity to divest yourself of all that residual guilt you're carrying around.  Guilt gives us warts and yellow teeth, among other things, and never did anyone any good.  Gather up your guilt, wrap with care and send it Federal Express to my cousin Pearl in Bayonne, who can never get enough of the stuff.

Forgive.  Smile.  Walk.  (Oh, do walk when you can.)  Share.  Reach.  Laugh.  Teach.  Learn.  Run.  Believe.  Lift.  Climb.  Understand.  Explore.  Give.  Appreciate.  And, since you can never do it all, savor the small moments that, aggregated, become great.  Stay in the game — oh, and do remember to look after the birds.

* * * *

Brian Dickinson was a Providence Journal editorial writer who stirred thousands of readers with his masterful, elegant columns long after Lou Gehrig's disease left him with the control only of his eyes.  He died at the age of 64.  For nearly a decade, helped by a series of remarkable computer devices, an array of medical machines and the constant attention of his family, Mr. Dickinson worked at his writing daily, even though he could neither speak nor move his arms, hands or fingers.  To read a feature on Dickinson written during his last days, click here.
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Money as a Reflection
Shakti Gawain

Everything in our lives reflects our consciousness.  Our beliefs, attitudes, expectations, feelings, and emotional patterns are all mirrored in the circumstances and events of our lives.  For example, if I am very critical of myself, I'm likely to attract and be attracted to people who mirror that internal process by being critical of me as well.  The more I love and support myself emotionally, the more likely I am to attract loving, supportive behavior from others.  If I feel that life offers me few opportunities, I'm likely to find that to be true in reality.  If I have confidence in my abilities, on the other hand, I will probably discover many opportunities to use them.

Money can represent many things to us:


Our financial circumstances will reflect how we feel about the qualities we consciously or unconsciously associate with money.

If on a deep level we feel unworthy of success or happiness, we may unconsciously prevent ourselves from having much money.  Or, if we are deeply insecure, and money represents power and status, we may be compulsively driven to accumulate wealth in the hope that it will bring us the security and validation we yearn for.  Yet, at some point, we may lose it all.  Seemingly a disaster, this may in fact be our soul's way of setting up an opportunity to become conscious of our deep feelings of inadequacy so we can heal them.  Money, or the loss of it, can be a powerful catalyst for our growth and healing.

How does this differ from the popular New Age idea that if we become aware of our negative thoughts and beliefs about money and change them, our financial circumstances will shift to reflect our changed consciousness and we will become wealthy?

First, I am not talking about simply "changing our thoughts."  For a real shift to take place in our lives, we must become aware of our core beliefs and our deep emotions--especially the ones that have been unconscious.  We must be willing and able to heal ourselves, not just on the mental level, but on the spiritual, emotional, and physical levels as well.

Healing ourselves on the spiritual level involves developing a strong connection with our soul.  We heal ourselves on the mental level as we become aware of our core beliefs, release those that limit us, and open to more supportive ideas and greater understanding.  Emotional healing takes place as we learn to accept and experience the full range of our feelings.  And we heal ourselves on the physical level when we learn to honor and care for our bodies, and for the physical world around us.

Most of the limiting patterns in our lives are rooted in deep emotional wounds that require a certain amount of time and attention to heal.  Even more profound is the spiritual emptiness many of us feel when we experience disconnection from our soul.  We can only heal this emptiness by finding a way to reconnect with our spiritual essence.

We are unlikely to achieve real prosperity, financial or otherwise, until we are able to feel comfortable in our physical bodies and know how to operate in the material world, as well.

So there are many aspects to the healing process.  This kind of transformation is no simple matter.  In fact, it is a gradually unfolding process that lasts our entire lifetime.  For most people, it is not enough just to say positive affirmations about prosperity, although that may be one very good step.

I have a problem with the idea that if we only believe it possible, we can all have unlimited wealth.  Perhaps this is true in some ideal, theoretical way.  I believe, however, that our souls choose to come into physical life in order to learn and develop in certain ways, and that each of us has a unique journey.  Some of us may have chosen to experience extreme physical limitation in this life through an illness or disability, in order to deepen a certain aspect of our strength and wisdom.  Similarly, some of us may choose to experience financial limitation at times in our life, or for an entire lifetime, in order to develop certain other aspects of our character.

Often these choices are made on a soul level and we are completely unaware of them.  On the level of personality, we might feel quite frustrated and unhappy about the circumstances of our lives until we've done enough healing and consciousness work to begin to understand how our soul's choice is serving us.  Remember that no matter what our level of income, we have the opportunity to develop an experience of true prosperity.  Generally, both our relationship with money and our experience of prosperity will develop as a reflection of our healing and growth on all levels.

Personal-growth pioneer Shakti Gawain presents her definition of prosperity:  not bankrolls and material possessions, but rather a fulfilled heart and soul.  She challenges the Western tendency to equate money with happiness, encouraging readers to examine their longings honestly, follow them to their roots, and separate them from false desires or addictions.  Gawain shows readers how to create true prosperity in satisfying relationships and the kind of happiness not dependent on possessions or circumstances.


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We need to find God, and he cannot be found in noise and restlessness.  God is
the friend of silence.  See how nature--trees, flowers, grass--grow in silence;
see the stars, the moon and sun, how they move in Silence. . . . The more we receive
in silent prayer, the more we can give in our active life.  We need silence
to be able to touch souls.

Mother Teresa



What Do You Value?

I like the word "value," for it's a pretty strange word when all is said and done.  We use it for shopping, of course, and who among us doesn't try to find "a great value" when we go out to buy things?  Advertisers tell us that we can find the best values at their stores or with their products.  The word also implies worth, as in being worthwhile, or being worthy, and being of higher quality.  A cheaper product is of no worth to us if it breaks apart an hour after we buy it; therefore, the more expensive product probably would have been the better value (though experience tells me that higher price almost never automatically means higher quality).

But the word is also a verb, which we use when we want to say how much we appreciate and care about something.  When I say that "I value his friendship," it means that the friendship is very important to me.  If I change the wording slightly and say that "I value him as a friend," then I'm acknowledging his importance to me--he is what I value most greatly, not necessarily the friendship.


Authentic values are those by which a life
can be lived, which can form a people
that produces great deeds and thoughts.

Allan Bloom

It's when we use the word as a verb that we truly can get an idea of ourselves and other people, for when we understand what people value, we understand much more about them as people.

When I find out that someone values honesty very highly, I'm attracted to that person, for I've learned through experience that I can trust such people quite deeply, and trust is very important to me.  And because I value trust, a person who values dishonesty in his or her life isn't at all attractive to me--I'll always keep such a person at a bit of a distance.  It's a protective instinct that causes me to do so, since I don't want to end up being a victim of another person's dishonesty.  It's happened before, and I want to try to avoid allowing it to happen again.

But what are the qualities that we truly value?  And once we find them, do we truly live by what we value?  If I value peace of mind but I constantly put myself in situations that rob me of that peace, am I allowing myself to live my life fully?  Or am I creating cognitive dissonance, a feeling inside that something isn't right, a lack of comfortable connection between what I know to be right for me and the reality I'm experiencing?

Our society's values are being corrupted by advertising's
insistence on the equation:  Youth equals popularity,
popularity equals success, success equals happiness.

John Arbuthnot Fisher

Once I identify what I value, it's very important that I try to create situations and conditions in which I can allow those things to be guiding forces in my life.  If I value honesty but hang around with dishonest people, then I'm not allowing the thing I value to be an integral part of who I am.  If I value solitude but never give myself a chance to be alone, then I'm sabotaging my chances of experiencing something that's important to me.

For example, one of the things I value the most in life is being well rested.  I know that I work better, I feel better, and I relate better to others when I'm not tired.  Because this is something that I value very highly, I'm more than willing to sacrifice other things to make sure that I get rest when I need it.  That's not to say that I don't go all out when I do things--I often work 14-16 hour days as a teacher and coach.  But when I feel the need for rest coming on, I honor that need because I value it so highly.

Unfortunately, one of the places where we often pay the least attention to our values is in the field of relationships.  How often are we willing to compromise on our values because we care for someone?  If I value honesty and I'm having a relationship with someone who doesn't, then I have to admit that something that is very important to me is being pushed out of my life by my own decisions.  We see over and over again how people are willing to push their values aside just for the chance to escape loneliness, starting relationships without the benefit of shared values, and these relationships very often are toxic.

Values are principles and ideas that bring meaning to
the seemingly mundane experience of life. A meaningful
life that ultimately brings happiness and pride requires
you to respond to temptations as well as challenges
with honor, dignity, and courage.

Laura Schlesinger

Which things do you value highly?  Here's a good starting list, compliments of Michael DeBakey:  "Real success requires respect for and faithfulness to the highest human values--honesty, integrity, self-discipline, dignity, compassion, humility, courage, personal responsibility, courtesy, and human service."  Here he's using these words as nouns to indicate values, but are you able to say "I truly value personal responsibility"?  If you are, then you're taking these nouns and making them important parts of your life.

It's almost impossible to live our lives fully if we're not aware of what we value, and if we don't allow ourselves to live up to those values.  It's very easy to get caught up in life and spend our time reacting to things that happen to us; it's more important that we take the time to identify what we value, and do our best to make sure that we create situations and conditions that are favorable for living up to them.

More on silence.


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Children learn about the nature of the world from their family.  They learn about power and about justice, about peace and about compassion within the family.  Whether we oppress or liberate our children in our relationships with them will determine whether they grow up to oppress and be oppressed or to liberate and be liberated.

Desmond Tutu


Relief Is Just a Pivot Away
Carol James

You’re tense, tired, edgy, perhaps even angry, hurt or feeling abused.  But before dealing directly with the source of whatever provoked your feelings, get yourself into a more balanced and resourceful state of mind.  Then you will be able to see your situation more objectively and work on a more permanent solution. Here are four easy ways to pivot:

Take a Break. No matter how difficult the situation may appear to be, a change of pace can help you open up new ways of looking at the problem.  Stop what you’re doing and find something else to do.  Focus your mind on anything but the cause of your stress.  For example, if you’re working on a stressful task, find another task to work on.

Practice Deep Breathing. Breathing!  It's one of the simplest yet most effective ways to manage stress's effects on your body.  When you’re stressed, you have a tendency to breathe more shallowly and rapidly – some people even hold their breath – depriving your body of vital oxygen.  To promote a relaxation response, breathe slowly and deeply.

Work It Off Physically.  Physical activities like stretching, walking or yoga can help relax both your mind and your body.  Even a five- or ten-minute movement break can go a long way toward helping your body reduce the tension caused by stress.

Appreciate What’s Working.  The more you focus on problems, the more stressed out you’ll feel.  Likewise, the more you dwell on what’s working, the better you’ll feel.  Review in your mind or make a list of everything that’s "right" with your job.  You may discover that you can’t be in a stressed out state and an appreciative state at the same time.  For this reason, appreciation can be one of the most powerful tools for easing tension and feeling better immediately.

You may find that once you release the tension and take your focus off the problem, the solution will magically appear.

* * * * * 

© Copyright Carol James  
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The silence of prayer is the silence of listening.

Elizabeth O'Connor


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