Posted by: judyallen | May 19, 2013

TimOnTopOfMountain

TimOnTopOfMountain

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Posted by: judyallen | October 19, 2012

FDR’s Second Bill of Rights

The Economic Bill of Rights”
Excerpt from President Roosevelt’s January 11, 1944 message to the Congress of the United States on the State of the Union:

“ It is our duty now to begin to lay the plans and determine the strategy for the winning of a lasting peace and the establishment of an American standard of living higher than ever before known. We cannot be content, no matter how high that general standard of living may be, if some fraction of our people—whether it be one-third or one-fifth or one-tenth—is ill-fed, ill-clothed, ill-housed, and insecure.

This Republic had its beginning, and grew to its present strength, under the protection of certain inalienable political rights—among them the right of free speech, free press, free worship, trial by jury, freedom from unreasonable searches and seizures. They were our rights to life and liberty.

As our nation has grown in size and stature, however—as our industrial economy expanded—these political rights proved inadequate to assure us equality in the pursuit of happiness.

We have come to a clear realization of the fact that true individual freedom cannot exist without economic security and independence. “Necessitous men are not free men.”[2] People who are hungry and out of a job are the stuff of which dictatorships are made.

In our day these economic truths have become accepted as self-evident. We have accepted, so to speak, a second Bill of Rights under which a new basis of security and prosperity can be established for all—regardless of station, race, or creed.

Among these are:

The right to a useful and remunerative job in the industries or shops or farms or mines of the nation;
The right to earn enough to provide adequate food and clothing and recreation;
The right of every farmer to raise and sell his products at a return which will give him and his family a decent living;
The right of every businessman, large and small, to trade in an atmosphere of freedom from unfair competition and domination by monopolies at home or abroad;
The right of every family to a decent home;
The right to adequate medical care and the opportunity to achieve and enjoy good health;
The right to adequate protection from the economic fears of old age, sickness, accident, and unemployment;
The right to a good education.
All of these rights spell security. And after this war is won we must be prepared to move forward, in the implementation of these rights, to new goals of human happiness and well-being.
Americas own rightful place in the world depends in large part upon how fully these and similar rights have been carried into practice for all our citizens.
For unless there is security here at home there cannot be lasting peace in the world.

Posted by: judyallen | August 29, 2012

A Few of the Quilts I’ve Made

Posted by: judyallen | May 25, 2012

New Writing!

Given my present circumstances, while I’m in chemo I decided to publish my Memoir on my other blog, at http://lookingthroughwater.wordpress.com. Tomorrow I will post the Foreword, and will add a chapter at a time as I complete the editing and revisions. In good health, that would be one a day. Right now? Can’t promise anything. But if I have to, I’ll post the chapters without the endless revision I usually give my writing. There will be about 20.

While I began to write this book for my children and their children, it evolved as I began to realize that the times I had participated in were history-making, particularly for women like myself who had managed to build a successful career during a time when women were not as welcome in the world of work, particularly not if they insisted on being on an equal footing with their male colleagues (which I did).

I’m beginning by posting the Foreword. Watch for it, Friday May 25. “Who will teach your children the meaning behind the facts?” (Tammy Drennan). And who will teach them the facts, if not…us? We stand on the shoulders of giants. As do our children. But too often, they don’t know it. I hope that this Memoir will lay it all out for them, from one woman’s perspective–a woman who knew every day that I went to work, that my battles were building a better future and thus, a better world, for my daughters and granddaughters, and thus, for my son and grandsons.

Judy Allen, May, 2012

Posted by: judyallen | April 26, 2012

Late Night Thoughts After First Chemo Treatment

Wednesday, April 25, 2012 First Day of Chemo

So many thoughts race through my head tonight—it’s later than I’ve been in bed for weeks—that even after a half mg of Ativan, I can’t settle down. Probably it’s the steroids they had me take last night, and again this morning, with the other pre-meds, anti-nausea, Benadryl, sedatives, other preventatives. Then a full half-hour IV of anti-nausea drugs. An hour of breast-cancer-fighting Taxol, while a therapist gave me a 25-min. foot massage! I ordered breakfast from a menu, toasted bagel with cream cheese, tomato soup, juices, couldn’t eat much. Jack and Kelley fussed over me until the IV started to run, then went for breakfast on the river. I was loopy, sleepy but steroided up.  Staggery when they turned me loose, and still so. Bogey very worried about the new chemical smells on me, didn’t want to get too close. I had to explain it all, he listened carefully, then settled down and went to sleep. Later, at home, he wanted to be up near me where he licked chemical smell off my hands until it smelled like me again, then tucked his head into my chest while I petted him, and all was well.

Wes is in the ICU in Coos Bay after a bad reaction to his first chemo, pretty much in a coma, though he is stabilizing some now, kidneys have stopped failing, but it’s touch and go. He sort of wakes up, has lucid periods. I just want to go down and lie my head on his comatose chest because I know from several experiences that people in a coma hear everything and understand it—and tell him all that he is and has been to me, his year-and-a-half younger snotty sister. I so admired him as a kid, because I was tough and mouthy and he was unfailingly gentle, kind, instantly forgiving, apologizing if he thought he had started an argument with me, when it was always me who started it! Then I’d yell at him for that. But he never changed, just kept on being the kindest, least judgmental person I had ever known. When things in his family weren’t going well, he still refused to lay blame or judge or cavil or accuse or argue. Never. All these years, never. He became a minister. Then a teacher, a gentle, loving teacher. Married a wonderful teacher. Retired. Went through prostate cancer.

Prostate cancer is one of the six cancers that are “on” the BRCA-2 (cancer gene mutant) that I inherited from the Shultz side of the family where breast, ovarian, and colon cancer have laid a wide swath, and that I suspect Tim and Anne and Wes have too. Tim died of melanoma in 1996, at age 50. Anne of breast cancer in 2010. Now Wes was diagnosed the same day as I was of pancreatic cancer with liver metastases. Pancreas is also on the gene, as is melanoma. He had his first chemo treatment last Friday, end ended up in the ICU. I had mine today. It went better, in spite of my fears.

My doses are lighter than last time, so easier to take and recover from. Obviously. I have so many loving caretakers, not to mention Jack’s constant attentiveness. But just having Kelley here makes it possible for him to not have to run all the daily errands, banking, library, pharmacy, grocery store, post office. And she takes me where I need to go, stays with me while waiting for surgery and chemo, so Jack can take a break when he needs to. Being in a hospital or chemo room is really hard on him, wears him out. She gives him that gift, give him a chance to play golf when he can. She’s here to look after me, even though I don’t think I need much—though clearly, I do—it’s a very high maintenance thing, this cancer treatment. The weakness and constant appointments and phone calls and followups and changes and such with doctors, surgeons, oncologists, many nurses, even a “nurse navigator” for advice. Reminders before every event, followups after. Loving friends and neighbors call, wanting to help. They bring food, and flowers, and love. Visits can’t be long, not enough energy to maintain, but they are so welcome.

My family circles the wagons, from near and far. Taking turns, because there are other family health emergencies to attend to, also.

And I remember how often I had the thought “it take a village to raise a child but a whole damn city to take care of one frail woman in dementia”—my mother. Except I was the main part of the city. Now I’m the person needing high maintenance. Sucks. But I’m learning to receive. Jack isn’t quite there yet, though he is grateful for the relief Kelley gives him. He still wants to be with me for major events like today, no matter what. And he’ll be there for every chemo, every hospital visit. Always. He’s so tuned into me he can tell the “phase” I’m going through because he’s seen it several times before. He instantly knows when I’m faking, or playing “I’m fine, honey,” and makes decisions he can see I shouldn’t be making. We won’t head for Coos Bay unless he can see me navigating pain-free and lucid and not too fatigued. My oncologist said, “Go, lead a normal life. Just make sure you have plenty of pain meds and Colace and Sennakot with you, and rest in the car.” I can do that. Especially if we make an overnight stop in Newport at my favorite hotel, the Sylvia Beach, sitting in the upstairs library watching the ocean surge, in the evening and again early in the morning, with fresh hot coffee from the nearby coffee room.

Then maybe we’ll just drive straight back, after a short stay with Wes, and seeing Mary and Steve and Aaron and maybe Ken.

My phases. How Jack got to know and catalogue them, and rely on them. They are predictable and expanding.

The first experience was 1979, breast cancer, a red flag that would have precipitated an immediate double mastectomy now that they know about the gene. The first metastasis was  years later, 1983, behind the chest wall (so it was in the lymph and blood channels, moving around). The prediction I was given by 2 oncologists was “less than 5% chance of living 3 years, even with palliative treatment.” I accepted the diagnosis, but never the prognosis. I was too young! Jack and I had only been married 2 years! We had a farm to remodel and work! I had work to do, kids to launch, things to say, books to write! So I fought it hard, had the surgery (still not a complete mastectomy!!), the radiation, then the chemo for nearly two years. And went to work teaching at PSU most every day, except for the summer when chemo started. My first grandson, Jordan, was born that summer, 1983.

When chemo ended, I had a new tumor within 3 months, as predicted, . But by then I had been on an intense spiritual search and study, and had developed some powerful healing tools of my own. I found the ultimate answer to complete healing: healing of the mind through Surrender. What Elizabeth Kubler-Ross called Acceptance, the final stage of dying, I called Surrender, the final stage of getting well. And I did get well. It was 1985, and the tumor went away overnight, the very night of finally Surrendering. The next day when I reported for biopsy, it had vaporized, though it had been hard and fixed (not a cyst) and growing—scar tissue doesn’t disappear. I was well, then, for 23 years, until 2008, when it showed up again in both breasts, and I finally had the double mastectomy I had asked for so many times. This time I had a woman surgeon, the best, who said it was a no-brainer. And my ovaries removed, by a woman surgeon who said it was a no-brainer. My risks of having ovarian cancer at that point were 85%.

This metastasis is breast cancer migrating to organs, a first for me. The very first principle of miracles, from Chapter One of A Course in Miracles is this: “there is no order of difficulty among miracles. One is not “harder” or “bigger” than another. They are all the same. All expressions of love are maximal.” So thinking migration to organs rather than the chest wall will make a miracle more unlikely, or thinking my age could be an impediment denies that principle.

Principle #7, same chapter, is this one: Miracles are everyone’s right, but purification is necessary first. This doesn’t refer to hours or days or weeks or months of silent meditation, vegan dieting, fasting, praying, crawling on one’s bloody knees to a chapel with a statue of the Virgin. No, I finally understood that “purification” is the cleansing of the ego mind that believes one is separate from God’s Love, guilty, shameful, unable to heal, unworthy of a miracle, can’t pull it off, and so on. AND, moving one’s feet, taking responsibility to make every step toward healing that they can do themselves, the treatments, the spiritual work, the forgiveness, the love.

So, I surrendered to God’s will then, and I feel it beginning to happen again now, now that all the unknown obstacles have been knocked down: the first ominous X-ray, the diagnostic CT scan, the liver biopsy, the surgical implantation of a port that delivers chemo directly into the heart, the first chemo. The pain, finally under control without pain meds. My thoughts, “Oh, no, is this how it begins? Pain, then more pain?” have gone away. Jack noticed it right away, said he saw it in my face when he brought me the organic juice he grinds for us every morning. He knew I had emerged into the place of peace, no matter what. The place where being in God’s hands in complete trust means I’m in the safest place possible. Surrender. Knowing it will get better, or not, and I’m OK either way.

Now, my conception of “God”–or the entity to which I have surrendered–has changed so regularly and constantly that I find I can’t even define or discuss it with anyone. It’s very private. But I’m going to try. I have been a born-again, a Baptist, an agnostic, an atheist, a Unitarian, all of that. I’ve had many and various conceptions of  “God,” mostly fueled by my childhood religion, which my mother blessedly questioned, and taught me to question everything, too.

Now, and possibly only for this moment, the way such ideas change with intense and very real experience, especially those transcendent experiences that nobody can explain or even describe very well—now, my conception of God is that “it” is my own Higher Self, that part of my mind that is quiet because my noisy ego wants to talk first and loudest, but which will finally get quiet so my Higher Self can whisper the truth after my mind is through processing all its shit. I wait as long as it takes, and Witness the thoughts and busy-ness floating by like leaves on a stream, not engaging and grabbing at them. The mind needs to process the shit, before it can settle down. Then I can hear the voice of my own Higher Self. I conceive of it as my internal connection to a higher truth, the universal creative Source, collective wisdom, unimaginable intelligence, perfect Love. As my daughter Laurie describes it, “dipping into the underground river that constantly flows.” And constantly creates, makes new. And which we are all a part of, whether or not we sense it or believe it. We have become such an analytical, logical, scientifically rational tribe of reductionists, parsing everything into small enough pieces that we can explain it and make sense of it, then the unimaginable happens, and then what?

 ‘Reductionism’ is one of those things, like sin, that is only mentioned by people who are against it. To call oneself a reductionist will sound, in some circles, a bit like admitting to eating babies. But, just as nobody actually eats babies, so nobody is really a reductionist in any sense worth being against.

— Richard Dawkins The Blind Watchmaker (1996), 13. Science quotes on:  |  Reductionism (2)

  Another principle of A Course in Miracles is that Truth is so personal, so un-amenable to “learning” in the traditional sense, that one can only learn Truth from their own experience. Being “told” or “taught” even by an enlightened guru can only be like seeing a finger pointing at the moon, if we then worship the finger rather than the moon.

My experiences with serious, life-threatening illnesses has given me a treasure trove of experiences, and I’m not done yet. This adventure already has proven to be off on its own track, with me hanging on for dear life, mind wide open, trying to Witness it all. So grateful for the love that surrounds me at every turn, and the Love that I tune into in my quietness. Treatment demands many long periods of quietness, when one is too fatigued to move around much. But there is always, blessedly, walking the dog, short visits with friends, being with Jack in so many ways old and new, being with my family in a whole new but familiar way. Grateful. Cancelling out of obligations, even those I treasure and want to keep. Letting go, necessarily. Stripping down. Lightening up. Listening.

I wrote a book about the first miracle, and it sold out, almost all of the first 1000 copies. It’s now been translated to Chinese, and last I checked, was #6 on the most popular Amazon-like web site in Taiwan. I wrote it before I learned to write, so I think I’ll have to write a new one about what I’ve learned in the 20 years since, about healing and about writing. And I’m midway through the sequel to my first novel, and partly through the sequel to the sequel. And working on a memoir. I have lots to do, lots to look forward to. I plan to do it.

That’s a phase, too. Reclaiming that goal. Resolve. Trust. Surrender. Peace.

HOW YOUR THINKING CREATES YOUR LIFE

by Rev. Denis Moore

One of the great truths is that human beings are co-creators with God.  In the human world, God creates through human beings.  We are part of the creative process.  This is true all the time, whether we are aware of it or not.  However, when we realize how this process of creation is taking place through us, we begin to understand that our experience is not something that happens to us from outside forces, but is something that comes from within us – through our own creative power.

The way life seems to work is that something happens “out there” and then we react to it.  A momentous discovery occurs when we finally realize that this is a great delusion – that life actually occurs from the inside-out (rather than the other way around, which is the way we usually think it works).  We are actually creating our experience moment by moment through the power of thought.

The great mystics and spiritual teachers have always known this.  The Bible says, “As a person thinks in their heart, so are they.”  Jesus said, “Out of the heart proceed the issues of life.”  The heart is the source of thought from which everything else in our experience flows.  We never experience anything without thinking about it, and every perception of the world around us is an interpretation of that world that has been created and shaped by our mind and our thinking.  By the time we perceive anything, it has been altered by what we brought with us in our minds to that experience.

Once you and I recognize the creative power of thought that we have been given, we can begin to appreciate its effects and understand how we go about creating our life from moment to moment.  Then we no longer feel victimized and at the mercy of outside forces and other people, but we know that how we experience life and the people around us is up to us.

Two people go on vacation.  For one person, it is a time of relaxation and renewal.  They kick back and enjoy every moment of new places and new experiences and new discoveries.  Another person, taking the same vacation, may feel anxious because they are not used to slowing down, and so they spend their time worrying about what’s happening at home or at work while they are away.  Their body is on vacation, but their mind is not, and so they feel tense or bored or nervous.  Now what is the difference between these two people?  It’s not where they are physically.  That’s the same for both.  It’s where they are mentally – on the inside.  One person knows how to enjoy the moment for what it is, and the other person does not.  They think about it differently.

A Course In Miracles (a self-study spiritual development resource) teaches us that we see what we want to see.  It’s not that seeing is believing; rather – believing is seeing!  We see what we are looking for.  Perception is not a passive act, but a profoundly creative one.  Modern physics tells us that we actually create the world we experience by perceiving it.  Perception is an act of creation.  We also learn that we all perceive the world differently.  No two people see things the same way.  Each of us brings our own creative touch to the world we see.

What is alike in each of us is not the world of our perception, but the fact that each of us is creating our own experience all the time through the power of thought.  In the same way that no two fingerprints are the same, but everyone has fingerprints, we all have this creative energy within us, but we each use it differently.  Everyone laughs, but no two people laugh exactly alike.  It is as individual as a fingerprint.  Similarly, no two people think the same; the content of our thoughts differ, but the capacity to think is the same for us all.

It is quite simple:  We never have an experience we don’t think about. When I am unable to think about something, it does not exist for me in the field of my experience.  Conscious experience is created moment by moment through thought. Now do we understand better why the Bible says, “As a person thinks in their heart, so are they”?  Or the words of Jesus, “Out of the heart (the inner mind) are the issues of life”?  This is the creative source of our lives.

When the light goes on and a person realizes how they are creating their experience through the faculty of thought, people sometimes feel, “Oh my God!  You mean that I’m creating all this stuff in my life – even the things I don’t like?  I need to start working on my thinking.”  This is a common reaction, and people want to go to work on themselves, trying to change the content of their thinking.  We may do affirmations and try to practice positive thinking or try to change our “self-talk”.  There are many methods to attempt to change one’s thinking.  However, most people find it difficult to change their thoughts.  We’ve spent a lifetime creating thought patterns that seem to resist change.  Thinking is like breathing – we do it all the time, and most of the time, unconsciously.  If we had to think about breathing every time we needed air, most of us would have died long ago.  Breathing and thinking are something we do automatically, without thinking about it, so to speak.  We don’t think much about our thinking, and we don’t want to.  We just want to go about the business of living.

It is a relief to discover that all this effort to change one’s thinking is not necessary.  Our thinking can be transformed easily and effortlessly, once we realize that we don’t have to “work on our thinking” in order to change.  All we need do is to understand that we are creating our moment by moment experience through the power of thought and our thinking will begin to change on its own – without strain, without effort, without even trying.  It is understanding that changes us, not effort.

Our problems in life occur because we assume life is happening to us from the outside – somebody or something out there is “doing it to me.”  It is true that life is happening around me, but the way I experience what is happening is through my thoughts about it.  That’s the way life really works!  Once I get it, once I figure it out, once I really know it, the quality of my thinking begins to change and shift.  If I enter the tilted room at Knott’s Berry Farm, I will feel like I’m falling over when I’m really standing straight up.  But if I allow my experience to be created from the inside-out rather than the outside-in – if I close my eyes and let my body tell me from within how I am standing – my sense of equilibrium and balance will return.  Our outside-in orientation throws us off balance in life, and we are fooled by the world of appearances.  But once we understand where we create from and how our experience is created and shaped by our thinking, the world begins to right itself again.

We are created to be co-creators with God.  God creates through the creation, and we are part of that creative process.  Every action we do in the world is simply a reflection of our thoughts at that moment in time.  We live our thoughts.  We feel our thoughts.  The world we experience is created and mediated through thought. A person who can’t think can’t experience.  It’s that simple.  Once we realize this, we start to shift to a whole new way of being.  We recognize that we are creating the world in which we live through the experience of our thinking.

When this connection between thought and experience has been made, the words of the New Testament begin to make sense:  “Be transformed by the renewing of your mind.”  “We have the mind of Christ.”  “Let this mind be in you which was also in Christ Jesus.”  All of these statements are based on the understanding of how we create our moment-by-moment experience through the power of our thought. This is a very liberating idea!

When we mistakenly but innocently assume that life is happening to us and that we are at the mercy of outside forces beyond our control, we get insecure and we engage in insecure, fearful thinking.  In order to survive, we try to defend and protect ourselves, and we try to use memories of past experiences to fortify us against the future.  This is a spiral that leads us into increasingly negative emotions and dysfunctional patterns of living.

The moment that we realize where our life is actually coming from – from inside rather than from outside! – it becomes easier and easier to drop our insecure thinking and reliance on defenses from the past, and simply be in the moment where thoughts become inspired and effortless.  Every one of us has a place within us where inspired thoughts arise.  “We have the mind of Christ,” as St. Paul tells us.  This is not about being a religious fanatic or living isolated from the world.  This is about what Jesus called “being in the world but not of it.”  We have found our Source, the true “fountain of youth”, the place where we can “be still and know” that we are in God’s Presence and that God is present in us, right where we are in this very moment.

Nothing outside needs to change.  Life still does its thing – full of variety, rewards, challenges and blessings.  When we understand that the fount of our experience is within, our whole world changes in the twinkling of an eye.  This doesn’t take time; it takes understanding that we create our own experience moment-by-moment through the power of thought.  When you know this truth, it will set you free!

What Our Feelings Tell Us

by Rev. Denis Moore

Meditation:

“At each new moment we are at a fork in the road which points toward our health or toward fear, and we create which we see and therefore which path we go down.”  Jack Pransky

A rocket wouldn’t get very far without an internal guidance system.  It needs a way of knowing when it’s off course and a way of self-correction.  Every successful rocket has a system of inner correction that guides to it toward its goal until it is reached.

As human beings, we have a similar guidance system, only we often don’t know what it’s for.  Every person feels things and experiences emotions.  We feel, but we don’t recognize what our feelings are trying to tell us.  Feelings and emotions are messengers from deep within our psyche that tell us when we are on course and when we are off course.  If our goal is to live a life of spiritual, mental and emotional health, it is important to understand that our feelings are giving us the feedback we need to tell us when we are on track and when we are not.

When we are on course, we have feelings of serenity, optimism, humor, compassion, self-esteem, and confidence.  We see “the big picture” – we see things in a wider perspective.  On-course living produces a sense of well-being and a quality of wholeness, integration and humility.

When we are off course, we are insecure and have feelings of anger, irritability, fear, worry, anxiety, boredom, and upset.  We spend time indulging bad habits, finding fault with other people, and we have busy minds that do a lot of thinking, most of it negative thinking.  The purpose of these negative emotions is not to make us feel bad.  Their purpose is to send us a message:  You have moved off course.

What happens to us when we are in off-course thinking is that we tend to get very serious, because negative emotions feel serious.  This is often the time when we think:  “Now I need to deal with my problems or have that talk with my spouse about what I’m angry about or make a decision about my job because I’m unhappy there.”  If we understood our feelings better and the message they are trying to bring to our attention, we would respond quite differently.  We would know that our feelings are not telling us anything about our circumstances or about other people.  Our emotions are sending us a message that we are suffering from off-course thinking that is taking us away from our sense of serenity and inner well-being.

When we are in a low mood, our thinking is not trustworthy because the thoughts we generate in a low mood will be simply more of the same that got us there in the first place.  We’ve all had this experience.  We get in a bad mood.  It all feels so serious.  We decide we just have to do something about it.  We act out of our low mood and our disordered thinking and create a huge mess that we spend more time trying to get ourselves out of, or we simply sink deeper into the muck and mire of it all.

Even in the midst of our lowest moments, there is a core of health in us that is trying to reach the surface.  Sometimes we simply have an epiphany where we see! – the big picture looms before us and we suddenly see things in a wider perspective.  And then we wonder why we were so stupid.  We can begin to laugh at ourselves, or we want to heal things and clear things up.  Or we just get an insight about how to go about things in a better way.  This is the health in us that is finally surfacing, after being buried under the activity of our busy mind, just waiting to have a chance to make itself known to us again.

As we learn to respond more wisely, we recognize the true function of our emotions – to send us a message about whether or not we are on course in moving toward our goal of living in spiritual, emotional and mental well-being.  Unpleasant and negative emotions do not mean that we are bad.  They mean that we have forgotten how life really works – from the inside out!  The more deeply we understand that our experience in life is being created moment by moment from the inside, our whole life takes on a more peaceful ambience.  We take things less personally and with more humor and kindness.  When we forget, we let our feelings remind us that we’ve forgotten, and the simple recognition of “Oops! I forgot” begins to turn things around and direct us back toward our true goal.

If we look at children, we can plainly see that curiosity, love of life, and love itself are the natural state of a human being.  We move away from these deeper feelings of well-being as we allow our thinking to get conditioned by the world around us.  In place of that open, resilient, optimistic view of life, we close down, our mood lowers and we get gloomy or fearful or anxious or filled with negative emotions like hate or jealousy.  We’ve lost sight of the simple childhood trust that made us happy in the first place.

The good news is that these feelings of well-being can be regained by anyone.  There is hope, no matter how far we have slipped into being sullen and serious and unhappy.  But we will never regain our equilibrium by trying to change circumstances and other people to suit ourselves.  That is the sure prescription for more unhappiness.

There is another road, a more excellent way.  It is the way of understanding ourselves and how we function as human beings.  Life is not happening to us; we are creating it from the inside out all the time.  Our feelings and emotions are giving us completely accurate information about whether we are on course or off course in where we are trying to go.  That’s all.  They aren’t punishing us or trying to tell us we are bad or good.  They are just giving us honest feedback.

As Jack Pransky says, every moment we are at a fork in the road.  One way says, “This way to health.”  The other says, “This way away from health.”  Our feelings tell us which road we took, if we didn’t bother to read the signs when we took it.  After paying attention for a while, we begin to notice which road we are about to take and we make better decisions from the outset.  When we forget, our feelings will let us know.  Then we can make a correction, which is to let our busy minds relax, savor a more peaceful frame of mind, and allow our wise self to reveal a more loving way to deal with things.

Because we are at this fork in the road all the time, every moment, once we realize it we can make a new, wiser choice at any time.  It gets easier once we know this choice is available.  Sometimes, when we realize we’ve gone down the wrong road and are suffering because of it, we think we have to completely retrace ours steps and start all over again.  We unfortunately don’t realize at the moment that we stand at a new fork in the road, with the same choice being offered to us again.  If we need to revisit something, we will come across it on the new road of serenity and well being.  Things have a way of appearing at just the right time when we learn to live in our wise self.  Serendipity and coincidences have a way of becoming everyday occurrences.  Flashes of insight and powerful new levels of understanding open up, and all of life takes on a new hue.

What a great gift our feelings are.  They are constantly giving us the feedback we need to direct us toward our goal.  When we know this, our mood rises and we feel better automatically.

Posted by: judyallen | March 9, 2012

Dementia, Love, Loss, Grief, Guilt and Relief

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/lee-woodruff/dementia-grief-and-guilt_b_1231581.html

This is a moving article by Lee Woodruff, whose husband Bob recovered from a traumatic brain injury he received while reporting in Iraq. But this article isn’t about that–it’s about aging parents, and caregiving.

Posted by: judyallen | August 18, 2011

ACIM: Following God’s Will

by Judy Allen (circa 2000) 

     I’ve just finished reading Robert A. Johnson’s new book, Balancing Heaven and Earth. After paying overdue fines at the library, I finally just bought the book—in hardback!—so you know how lovely I felt it was. The book is a memoir of the life of this remarkable man—a Jungian psychotherapist who never finished high school. As a child he had a near-death experience and from then on he followed what he calls the “slender threads”—God’s Will. We follow the slender threads, he says, while letting the ego operate not as decision-maker but as data-gatherer. Once we gather all the data, Johnson says, we wait for the decision to be “revealed to us.”

       Of the ego, Johnson says:  “…the events of my life follow a slender thread while the details are my business. Nobody but me will balance my checkbook…or keep my house tidy. Those are the appropriate tasks for the ego. The little decisions belong to us, while the great things are like the weather sweeping us along. Yet most modern people spend a majority of their waking lives worrying about larger issues that the ego cannot really control. The small and limited ego is not the proper human faculty for such issues. The ego does not belong in the driver’s seat. In fact, the ego often gets in the way of being attentive to the slender threads. We must learn to humble and quiet our egos so that we may follow the slender threads…”

 God’s Will

       Johnson says that there is always only one right decision to make in any given moment of time (God’s Will.) If you are in that action, then you are happy, peaceful, and fulfilled. If you think you have a choice, you are not seeing the truth, which is that the Will of God is always singular. So much for free will.

       T8.IV.6 “…nothing God created can oppose His will…If you want to be like me I will help you, knowing that we are alike. If you want to be different, I will wait until you change your mind. I can teach you, but only you can choose to listen to my teaching. How else can it be, if God’s Kingdom is freedom?”

       Yet, we do have freedom of choice, free will: we are free to follow the slender threads or not. We are free to listen for God’s Will, or not.

       As a man who has spent his life following the slender threads, Johnson says, “Following the will of God isn’t about resignation or sipping a can of beer and watching TV or passively ‘going with the flow.’ Rather, it means applying the ego to gather as much information as possible to serve as the eyes and ears of God. But for the major decisions of life, [we] must learn to listen to the heart to hear what is the right thing to do.”

       Applying the ego to “serve as the eyes and ears of God” doesn’t sound very Course-appropriate. But think about it. If I—my Higher Self—is in charge of my mind, I can direct my ego-brain-mind to gather data, and then dismiss it. My Higher Self can then turn to my heart to hear what is the right way to use the data I’ve gathered.

       For example: Frances and I had to find a place to hold our once-a-week Teacher Training classes beginning in January. Frances got a call from a hotel facility wanting to sell space to non-profits for meetings, and knew that it was guidance from the Holy Spirit. I, on the other hand, having received no such guidance from the Holy Spirit, set my ego to work gathering data. I researched space availability in the Portland area, called many places, visited several, and finally agreed to commit to the place Frances wanted. Nothing else was as appropriate, in the end. My data gathering showed me that. My own guidance tells me now that I can be confident we have the right place. And my heart tells me that if Frances’ guidance leads her to that place, then that is the right place.

       God’s Will for me is perfect happiness.

 Projecting the Villain and the Hero

       Jung taught that “one does not become enlightened by imagining figures of light, but by making the darkness conscious.” In other words, we project the unwanted parts of ourselves, our shadow, onto others, and thereby keep ourselves separate. He’s being a tyrant, I’m just a victim. I would never be a tyrant. He is not a part of me.

       Oh, but he is. I have an aversion to tyrant behavior, so that’s why I have someone else acting it out for me. Somehow, I too have a tyrant within. Maybe I just berate myself. But that part of me wants to come home, so it keeps presenting itself as someone else, always in my face. It is that missing, disowned part of me that wants to be taken back in so I can become whole. When I accept and own all parts of myself, I can release the behavior I hate, and retain the strengths of that disowned part.

       In dream work, I can often see the people and symbols in the dream as disowned parts of myself. A very powerful dream for me was one in which a prostitute saw that I was bleeding to death, and yelled it out in a very rough and uncouth way: “Hey! There’s blood all over in here!” I recognized the dream as an important warning to change my life—and did so—but I was embarrassed and unwilling to accept that the prostitute was a disowned part of me. A therapist friend pointed out that I needed that part of me. First, the prostitute saw clearly what was happening, which I was unable to do on the conscious level. Second, she called my attention to what was happening, which I was also unable to do on the conscious level. And, my friend added, the prostitute was street-smart, wise, strong, savvy, a survivor, and had nothing to lose by being honest. She also was a good “discerner,” not easily taken in by scam artists. And she was willing to live a life “of service.” All attributes I could and should re-own. I didn’t have to own the sex-for-pay part. Yes, this sharp and responsible hooker was a part of me. And I needed her back.

       Johnson calls our attention to another aspect of projection: “Our projections of the hero onto others always represent where we are headed…[We] can no longer house our souls in another person or thing; we must learn to house them in ourselves and find the highest value within.”

       In other words, “Seek not outside yourself.” Do you want to know where your soul is headed? Who do you admire? Who do you see as being where you wish you could be someday? That is projection: you are projecting your vision of “what I could be” onto another person. See it as a hopeful sign. You will be that person someday.

       I applied this to myself. I usually have one or more teachers at any given time. I can see attributes in myself, now, that I once saw only in a teacher. Looking at my current teachers as images of what I will be when I am ready gives me great hope. And I can choose to take back my projection at any time—the hero can be me.

 Heart Intelligence

       Another book I have enjoyed recently is The Heart’s Code: Tapping the Wisdom and Power of Our Heart Energy, by Dr. Paul Pearsall. The book reports on new research that uncovers one of the most significant medical, social, and spiritual discoveries of our time. The heart is not just a pump; not only does the heart love and feel, but also thinks, remembers, communicates with other hearts—even beyond time and space…in other words, the heart has an intelligence that is even more important to us than our brain intelligence. Pearsall recounts amazing stories of heart transplant recipients who experienced profound changes in their lifestyles, tastes and even memories. The heart remembers.

       So when Robert A. Johnson says, “[we] must learn to listen to the heart to hear what is the right thing to do,” he isn’t just being sentimental. The heart has intelligence.

       Pearsall has tested thousands of Westerners and also hundreds of Polynesians. The Polynesians, who see the heart and not the brain as the center of a very relaxed state of consciousness, have a very low incidence of heart attacks. The Western group, however, seemed to have high levels of chronic emotional reactivity to minor and unexpected stressors, free-floating hostility, and impatience.

       He found five brain fallacies in those who rely on the selfish, controlling, reactive nature of a brain left free of the heart’s moderation: 1) The Outside World is Working Against Us; 2) Chronic Blaming or Victimization; 3) Hard Work Always Pays Off; 4) I Can Change People; and 5) Frustration Means Aggression. Sounds like an outline of the ego!

 Making Choices

       Does the Course have a simple, straightforward way to decide with the heart, to follow the slender threads, to know God’s Will? Of course it does. Are you at peace? If not, you have lost touch with your heart, with the slender threads, and with God’s Will. So now you must recognize…

  “…that you have actively decided wrongly, but can as actively decide otherwise. Be very firm with yourself in this, and keep yourself fully aware that the undoing process, which does not come from you, is nevertheless within you because God has placed it there. Your part is merely to return your thinking to the point at which the error was made, and give it over to the Atonement in peace. Say this to yourself as sincerely as you can, remembering that the Holy Spirit will respond fully to your slightest invitation:

I must have decided wrongly, because I am not at peace.

I made the decision myself, but I can also decide otherwise.

I want to decide otherwise, because I want to be at peace.

I do not feel guilty, because the Holy Spirit will undo all the consequences of my wrong decision if I will let Him.

I choose to let Him, by allowing Him to decide for God for me. Text, 5.VII.6

Posted by: judyallen | July 6, 2011

ACIM: Closing Down the Slave Quarters

A line from the Course prompted a picture in my mind. The line was

“The full awareness of the Atonement, then, is the recognition that the separation never occurred.” (T 6.II.10)

The full context for this line is as follows:

“Since the Holy Spirit is in your mind, your mind can also believe only what is true. The Holy Spirit can speak only for this, because He speaks for God. He tells you to return your whole mind to God, because it has never left Him. If it has never left Him, you need only perceive it as it is to be returned. The full awareness of the Atonement, then, is the recognition that the separation never occurred. The ego cannot prevail against this because it is an explicit statement that the ego never occurred.”

Read this paragraph carefully, as I did, and you will perhaps have a vision similar to mine. I saw my mind as filled with the Holy Spirit, a large and glorious mansion, if you will. This is the true and actual state of my mind. I, however, see the home of my mind as split, a mansion with a shabby lean-to attached to the back, unpainted, in disrepair, with dirt floors and no windows, cold wind slipping in through the cracks in the walls. This shadowy and unkempt part of my mansion is the ego. It is where I keep the “slaves,” the disowned parts of myself that I have judged unacceptable and banished to the dark and dingy slave quarters. They are the invisible workers who run my mansion and maintain the status quo so that my life in the mansion can “look good” to the outside world. The “face of innocence,” if you will.

But my dirty little secret is that I am ashamed of harboring these shadowy figures, and am filled with guilt because at some level I know they are a part of myself. They are the part of my mind that believes it is wrong, sinful, guilty, and forever banished from the holy Presence of God’s Love. These disowned parts of myself I usually project onto others and then see and judge as “bad” or “wrong.” They deserve to live in the slave quarters.

As long as I keep the slave quarters attached to my mansion, I will believe I am separate. There is only one remedy: board up the slave quarters. Invite the “slaves” to move into the mansion. Give them a home. Acknowledge that what I had judged as “not part of me” is indeed a part of me, and is completely innocent and deserving of love.

Example: I am critical of critical people. I’m not critical, and I don’t like it when other people are. Especially when they criticize me. But I don’t want to notice that sometimes—often!—I am critical, just usually not out loud. I’d rather keep that idea back in the slave quarters. It can creep into the mansion of my mind occasionally, to help me sort and organize people into their proper places, but then it has to go back into the shadow.

What would happen if I throw open the doors of the slave quarters and invite Critical Me to move into the mansion, and give it love while it recovers from all the years of pretending it didn’t exist? Critical Me has strengths I need and can use with love rather than shame and guilt.

Here are the sentences immediately preceding the segment I quoted above:

“Although perception of any kind is unreal, you made it and the Holy Spirit can therefore use it well. He can inspire perception and lead it toward God. This convergence seems to be far in the future only because your mind is not in perfect alignment with the idea, and therefore does not want it now.|.. The Holy Spirit uses time, but does not believe in it.  Coming from God He uses everything for good, but He does not believe in what is not true.”

The Holy Spirit knows how to use Critical Me on behalf of my own awakening. Everything in the mansion is now under the healing vision of the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit knows my complete innocence has always been present and true. Now that C.M. lives in the mansion and eats at the dining room table with the rest of the family, I no longer need to project it in order to see it. I therefore no longer experience or see Criticism in others. The true innocence and strength of what I called Critical Me are now available to me to use in discernment and love. What had been a dark shadow has been transformed by Love.

Eventually, if I continue to reclaim the disowned parts of myself and see them in their innocence and humanness, I can allow the slave quarters to disintegrate into a little pile of debris, eventually to disappear altogether into nothingness. The Civil War, the war against myself, is over. The slaves are free. The mansion is all there is, or ever was.

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