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I referred to the spiritual value inherent in the slogan, Let Go and Let God, in the last blog.  I mention it again because it’s so important to free ourselves of stress and any time we try to take the reigns that either belong to some one else or to God, we are going to be met with frustration, stress, anger or, at the very least, resistance.  No one wins when we are intent on trying to be in charge of the circumstances of some one else’s life.  We may even have a very good idea for them to try, but if they resist, we simply must let go.

I have done a lot of thinking and writing about this concept over the years.  I’m sure it’s “called to me” because of my own inclination to interfere with what others are doing or considering doing.  My attempts at control frustrated me in my first marriage and even though I wasn’t successful, I kept at it.  The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting a different outcome.  Needless to say, I was insane.

The end of that marriage didn’t cure me of the defect, unfortunately, but I have improved, thanks to the help I have received in 12 step programs.  But I blog about this today because I keep hearing from others that the concept of letting go is hard to apply and, in fact, elusive for many.  The best way to understand it is to ask yourself the question: is what I’m focusing on truly my business or some one else’s business? I have learned, again in 12 step circles, that there are only two kinds of business: my business and that which is none of my business. This has clarified for me when I need to keep my mouth shut, which actually, is most of the time.

There is so much to be gained by letting go.  We have our peace of mind.  We can get more accomplished.  We maintain friendships more readily.  Our family relationships are far smoother.  We feel a closeness to God because we are turning to him for help in letting go.  Every thing about letting go pays big dividends.  If you aren’t very practiced at it, give it a go tomorrow and let me know how it felt at day’s end.  You’ll rest more easily tonight.


I find great relief in this idea.  I guess it’s because I have had many experiences throughout my early life that made little sense at times.  Simply putting my “unbelief” in the idea aside, as was suggested to me by a woman much wiser than myself a few years ago, opened the door to a whole new way to experience life.  Now I feel great waves of peace just knowing that whom ever I need to meet, I will.  What ever I need to learn will come my way.  That the life tapestry I am weaving is divinely ordained.

Does this seem farfetched to you when you look at your own life?  Far be it from me to insist that any one adopt my ideas as their own; however, it’s an idea that has changed my life in significant ways.  I am a seeker of peace.  In fact, experiencing it has become far more important to me as the years have gone by.  As a result, I have adopted many bits of spiritual philosophy that soften the hard edges of life.   And I don’t think this means I am distorting what is there to be experienced.  Rather it means that I am choosing a “quiet” perspective on the myriad experiences that have claimed my attention.  In this way, I can be assured of a peaceful heart and mind.

When my heart and mind are peaceful, I approach all people more lovingly and since every one who crosses my path has “been invited,” this means I am helping him or her to know greater peace too.

I am convinced there is no greater benefit we can offer the world than to be peace-seekers and then purveyors of the peace we cultivate.

My family has been here visiting all week.  There was a time in my life that I’d have been overwhelmed by anxiety over what could go wrong; how discussions could go awry; how to control the always uncontrollable when it comes to other people, the weather, the news cycles that could lead to tension and on and on.

When I face this honestly, in the far distant past (from childhood on) I was always on pins and needles trying to control what could never be controlled.  I still want “to go there” some times, but I have learned that that door is closed! Tight.  And I consider that a blessing now.  For many years I did push against it  but my attempts were futile.  Now I no longer bruise my shoulder even trying.

Isn’t it a joy to simply let things be?  To let God be in charge of the encounters, the outcomes and the relationship developments?  I know I am not always as willing as I sound right now in this blog to follow my own suggestions, but even letting go once a day gives us a few moments of reprieve.

I did let things be throughout this week.  And actually, when I review the week, there isn’t one change I would make.  Laughter filled out home, great conversations were enjoyed, memories were recalled and new ones were made. What more can a week with family provide than that.

I want to reiterate  before closing this blog: there was a time I’d have contributed to making memories that were not so good.  I’d have encouraged arguments that didn’t need to occur.  I’d have reacted to situations that didn’t call for any reaction at all.  My lack of peace would have sent family and friends scampering for cover.  Thank God, literally, that I have had a change of mind.

May your upcoming family experiences be rife with good memories too.

Perhaps you are wondering what I mean by rightmindedness?  I think of it as the alignment of our mind with the will of God.  Something that I started doing some years ago was asking myself if what I was thinking was what God would want me to think and if it wasn’t, seeking God’s help in changing the thought. This simple exercise has been quite helpful and it has improved my relations with others.  It really doesn’t take more than a second or two to ask the question, and the answer comes ever so quietly but instantaneously.  My job is to listen.

Making the decision to change our thoughts, making them more loving, changes our behavior and when this becomes habitual, as it will, our relationships will reflect the love we are cultivating in our hearts.  I’ve referred to the wisdom of Mother Teresa on many occasions in my writing and workshops because her words were simple and yet powerful.  To paraphrase her, be kind and start with the person standing next to you.  If every one of us made this choice even once a day, the universe would shift.  Seem farfetched?  It’s not.

The power of one has been referred to by many great philosophers as well as the more ordinary among us. Might you be willing to practice being “that one” today?  Begin with the first person who comes toward you.  Think “God-like” thoughts and then seek to behave only the way God would want you to behave. There is no better work that you could do this day, for these fellow-travelers, and for your own peace of mind.  Be that change you want to experience in this tumultuous world.  And rest-assured, it will be with God’s blessing.

I have thought a lot about the sacrifices that so many men and women make in service to this country.  And men and women have been making these sacrifices for this country since the revolutionary war.  If we were to tabulate the number of those who have died, it would be in the millions.  And if we added to that number those who had been gravely maimed, coupled with the emotional toll on their family members, the number would be in the tens of millions.  Giving a moment of silent prayer and thanks to all of those men and women and their families seems like such a lame offering, but it does help.  Any time any one of us stops, for even a second, to say a prayer of thanksgiving for the effort of some one else, all humankind benefits.

Because it’s memorial day we are specifically remembering the men and women of the military and their families, but I think giving a prayer of thanks to all people, worldwide, who are working on behalf of peace throughout this world we share is of significance.  There are myriad ways to serve.  Programs that are focused on feeding the poor around the world is one.  Participating in the Peace Corp or other programs like that makes a huge difference in the lives of the underserved.  Making donations to one of many microeconomic programs that are springing up in many regions of the world is another worthy way to contribute to peace throughout the world.  I mentioned Homeboys Industries in LA in an earlier blog.  Check their work out on google.  What service they are doing!

We are one another’s keepers, I think, and when we remember that what we do to or for others, we are doing to or for ourselves as well; it gives us reason to pause.  Perhaps on this particular day we should each make the decision to do some thing worthy on behalf of some one else every day for the next 7 days and see how we are changed by week’s end.  If we all did this, if we all “paid forward a kindness,” the world would eventually reflect the change that has registered in each one of us.  Let’s be the change we want to see in the world around us.  Start now.

As I mentioned in my last blog, Joe and I were headed back to MN for the summer months.  We arrived safely yesterday but the trip feels longer and harder every year.  That may be the advancing age and the fact that we travel in a Ford Escape, a great little car but it’s not equipped with all the creature comforts.  We may choose another option for getting it, and us, both south and then north next year.  But sitting down on our dock this morning, watching the ducks paddle by and the sunnies moving through the weeds beneath the dock made for a pleasant beginning to the morning and this opportunity is available for the next five months.  It was quiet, only a few fishing boats to break the silence as Joe and I sat, soaking up the peace that is so available in the stillness.  It got me thinking about  my gratitude.  So many things make me grateful.  Having just picked up my 34 year chip at my home AA group in Florida is just one of the many blessings I feel.  Having a great life partner is a special blessing too.  And so is having a host of wonderful friends both in Naples and here in MN.  And all this has become possible because 35 years a friend suggested that I seek the guidance of Al-Anon and that opened the door to a whole new way of seeing and feeling and believing and best of all, of behaving.

I am still working on the behavior part but I figure every day that I make a choice to walk away from an argument, every day that I make the choice to offer my hand kindly to another, every day that I remember to ask God for guidance; I will be adding benefit to the world around me.  And there’s no greater contribution that I could make.  And I’m pretty certain that’s God’s will for me.  Do you know God’s will for you?

I sit here amazed that it’s been nearly two weeks since I blogged last.  Where does time go?  I love to write and I love doing this blog but I have obviously let “life” get in my way.  Some times we enjoy the quick passage of time; the dreaded dentist appointment, for instance, if we are facing some work we really don’t want to suffer through.  Having it over more quickly than anticipated is a blessing.

But the broken heart will not mend very quickly, no matter how we approach it.  The pain will pass, however.  If we are willing to seek the counsel of others who have walked a similar path already, we will not only get relief but words of encouragement that are guaranteed to soften the blow and heal the wound.   I haven’t had a broken heart for many years but I have experienced periods of darkness. Why they come is any one’s guess; but we can be certain that every one of us will find ourselves in a shadowy place once in a while.

It occurs to me that mine come upon me when I have forgotten to acknowledge the God of my understanding along with the “hovering angels” I believe are personally assigned to each one of us.  I wouldn’t have believed in either of these concepts prior to coming into the recovery rooms and now both ideas sustain me daily if I call on them to.  Life can be so much brighter, so much easier if we allow the “helpers” to guide us on our journey.  Why would we ever choose otherwise?  Indeed, why would we.

I am aware many times every day that I am listening to the louder voice in my mind.  That it speaks first, and quite forcefully, is only part of its appeal.  It’s familiarity and the way in which it convinces me that I AM RIGHT, in far too many encounters with others, seduces me again and again.  It mesmerizes me, in fact.  But I am making progress!  My ego isn’t the whole of me.  I am certain of this.  But it claims my full attention when it can.  Fortunately,  I have learned to take an occasional deep breath, to pause before speaking,  and to seek a shift in perspective.  Then I try to listen for the other also present voice in my mind before making my response when ever an opportunity to disagree presents itself.  I have finally learned that I don’t have to join every argument I am invited to.  I am not a beginner on this path.  I have been a student searching for a more peaceful path for more than three decades, but the seduction of the ego remains strong and my resistance to it takes constant vigilance.

I am glad I am not striving for perfection.  I am striving for greater peace of mind, however.  And being a committed student of a course in miracles, coupled with the Twelve Steps, has allowed me to gather a few moments of peace every day for many, many  years.  And I think that any time any one of us lives in and responds from a place of peace, we are helping to create a more peaceful world for all of humanity, an endeavor worthy of every one of us, I think.  At the very least, I know that when my response to any situation comes from a peaceful place, I feel that God is pleased and that, in turn, pleases me.

The first three decades of my life, fear dogged me constantly because I was always trying to be what I imagined some one else wanted me to be.  Or the converse; rebelling against the expectations of others.  The love I sought felt conditional so my behavior was always a reaction to some one.  Letting others define us, or determine our thoughts or behavior in any situation, never results in a life free of fear.  Unfortunately, this had become my well practiced habit from childhood on, but in 1971, while teaching a writing class at the University of Minnesota, I read a book by John Powell: WHY AM I AFRAID TO TELL YOU WHO I AM, that gently planted a seed for a very different perception, one I knew had the ring of truth to it.

Powell spoke of his friendship with Sidney Harris, a New York journalist, and their frequent early morning strolls down the busy streets of the city.  They often stopped to buy a paper from a vender, generally the same one every morning.  While Harris was always friendly to the man, tipping him without fail, the man was gruff and ungrateful, morning after morning.  Powell finally asked, “Why are you kind to some one who is so rude?”  Harris‘ answer definitely got my attention.  “Why should I let him decide what kind of day I am going to have?”  I realized at that very moment that I had a lifetime of experiences where I had allowed my behavior to be controlled by others and not one experience that I could recall where it reflected who I wanted to be.

It wasn’t until I had been in twelve step meetings for some time that I developed the capacity to be the woman I actually wanted to be and, I believe, was meant to be.  I had to commit to a daily practice of turning my life and my will over to the God of my understanding and I also had to practice the simple, but ever so wise, principles for living a life uncluttered and unaffected by the myriad opinions of the others I walked among.  Finally, I was able to adopt the words of Sidney Harris as a guideline I could live comfortably with.  Finally.

It’s with great relief that I can say to others that their journey need not be as bumpy as mine was.  From my own experiences I have discerned many tiny shortcuts that are certain to open the door to peaceful, fearless relationships.  There is no earthly reason for others to struggle when they might benefit from what I learned.  That’s been the purpose for most of what I have written over the years.  What follows are a few simple suggestions that I know, if applied, will change every relationship you have.

Be kind in every instance no matter what.

Give up trying to change another person.  Simply honor them.

Do no harm.

Before speaking, ask yourself if what you are about to say improves upon the silence.

Remember that every person in one’s life is there for a reason.

No disagreement requires resolution.

Recognize the fear behind all attacks.  Respond to them all with love.

Pray daily.  Even when you’d rather not.

Every lesson we are here to learn is offered within a relationship.

Judging others keeps us stuck and fearful.

There is so much each one of us can do for the betterment of all humankind.  I hope that you are inspired to choose one of these suggestions as a place to begin changing your life.  As we change, so do those who look to us.

I became “a student” of A Course in Miracles more than twenty-five years ago.  Along with the twelve steps, which I laid claim to in 1975, my life is quite peacefully guided every moment of the day if I adhere to the principles each offers as the blueprint for contentment.  Alas, if only I’d adhere to the principles.  They are quite simple, really.  Live and let live.  One day at a time.  Let go and let God.  Seek forgiveness for the times we have injured others.  Pray and meditate as if our lives depended on it.  Claim our powerlessness over others and be grateful for it.  Recognize that all expressions, words or deeds, are reflecting love or fear.  There are no coincidences.  We do meet who we need to meet.  Every relationship can be holy and peaceful if we invite God into it.  Any one’s attack is their cry for healing. And there are two voices in our minds: one is loud and always wrong.  It’s the ego.  The other is soft and peace-filled.  It is always right.  It’s God’s voice. Which we listen to is our choice.

Even after all these years walking the path, I choose the wrong voice at least once daily.  Some days many more times than once.  But there is always another choice that can be made.  There is no shame, at least no lasting shame, in making the wrong choice.  It simply means we live less peacefully for that moment or that hour or that day.  With each breath a new opportunity presents itself.

Having a spiritual set of guidelines is so important.  It offers such comfort.  It eliminates the angst that can so quickly come over a person when faced with a dilemma.  One need not choose the path I have chosen but finding something to believe in that comforts you is a search so worth making.  If you haven’t found your “blueprint” yet, I wish you good hunting.

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