(On Sunday September 1, 2013 at the Community Miracles Center in San Francisco, CA, there was a special Sunday Service. It was Labor Day weekend, and as the CMC likes to do on holidays, we invited six people from our community of Supporting Members to give short talks all around a theme. We call these services, "Community Voices." The theme this year was "Applying *ACIM* in the Workplace – The New Vision of Labor Day." What follows is a lightly edited transcription of those six shares.)
Rev. Alicia Albahae:
I've been at my current job for twenty years, and I've been studying A Course In Miracles for fourteen. I'm really grateful to have a spiritual path that I can use in a practical way regarding work, because work is certainly a challenge.
In the place that I work, it's very common for people to work there for a very long time, which is really great.
About seven years ago they restructured my department and my director changed. The woman I had been working for was very, very generous. She really appreciated her employees and did really lovely things. However, the new person we got was very, very different. So, it was really challenging to work for her. She worked in a way that was very opposite to the way I worked. I had lots and lots of resentments, and she had very, very high expectations of the people that were working under her, and she didn't quite know what these people were doing. I had a really tough time.
About three years ago an incident happened. I don't remember exactly what it was, but I found out that I was blaming her for things that really weren't her fault. (laughter)
It amazed me. (laughter) I really thought, "Wow!"
So I had to turn around about that. I had to truly use the Course and realize what I had done. I had been in a lot of fear, and blamed her for things. I had to take a look at me and what I was doing. I realized that I needed to change a lot, especially knowing that I was not going to be leaving this job, and I had to interact with this woman on a daily basis.
I realized that I had actually liked this woman on a personal level, you know, kind of schmoozing with her – not too much on a work level but ... whatever. I really changed this relationship around immensely, which I never thought I ever would do. I complained about this woman to everybody. I talked about how much I hated her. (laughter) Seriously.
One of the principles of the Course is seeing how my ego was telling me things about how I needed to be in fear about her, about resentments. Also, there was something read, in the reading earlier, about making judgements, and how I don't know the big picture even though my ego thinks it knows everything. I only know a very small part, but my ego wants to run away with knowing everybody's story, and how I'm treated unfairly. It was a great lesson for me to learn that I only know a very little bit.
It's really up to me to know when I am feeling fear, or anything other than love, that I need to be in touch with my Higher Power, and Holy Spirit, and find out exactly what is happening and what it is that I am doing. If I'm not coming from love with people, than I am definitely on the wrong track.
I'm really grateful, now, that the lessons are coming to me from Rev. Tony every day via computer-smart phone. I can just look it up. It's really a miracle. I can be restored to some sanity, and not listen to my ego.
That's my share. (applause)
Rev. Linda Chappo:
Good morning everyone. It's good to see you all. Thank you for coming out on the holiday weekend.
For those of you who don't know me, I operate a small hair salon in Mill Valley. My job is as a hair dresser for a large retirement community. Overall my job is really great. The residents are all in their eighties, nineties, one hundreds, and they appreciate me. They love my work. We have a lot of fun together. I do my best to, no matter how bad they feel, help them to at least feel better about themselves. They look good in the mirror when they're going out on the stretcher, or whatever. (laughter)
However, it also has its challenges because I have to maintain a schedule, and it's very busy there. When you're working with the elderly, as you'll all find out sooner or later, they loose their memories. It's a little bit challenging, because some don't show up at all, or they show up the next day, or the next week. When they come there, they don't see. Some of the residents don't see, and others don't hear. I'm putting hearing aids in and out and talking loud. Overall it's not too bad, but it does have it's stresses. I often think of it as sort of an emotional roller coaster, not only in my work life but also in my personal life. I think it all carries over.
I find myself using a lot of the A Course In Miracles Workbook lessons like, "I could see peace instead of this" (OrEd.WkBk.34) when things are kind of chaotic. Like when they're moving at a snail's pace because they're on walkers, pushing, coming in late, and I'm looking at my watch thinking, "How am I gonna make it through the day?" I use Course quotes to help me through that.
I use the analogy of a roller coaster, an emotional roller coaster. At times there are peaks, and there are valleys throughout the day. That's kind of challenging in a work environment, but I also think about a real roller coaster. When I was just a young child I had a ride on a roller coaster, and I was pretty scared. I never took another ride until I was about twelve years old. I saw my friends going on the roller coaster and they were coming back happy and excited while I was in fear, standing there watching them. I had a shift at that point. I thought, "No, I'm not going to let fear hold me back. I'm going to go on this roller coaster and I'm gonna do it!"
It's kind of funny. Ever since then, I've been in love with roller coasters. It's amazing how I'm so thrilled to ride a roller coaster. It's the thrill of the ride. The peaks – you know, you're going up high, the first thing to come along is going down at a fast rate. You know what's coming up, and you look forward to it. Yet in my work life, a roller coaster doesn't seem so exciting a time. But when I'm riding a roller coaster, I'm holding on to the bar. I feel pretty safe when I'm doing that. I know that I'm strapped in and it's highly – I know that some roller coasters do go off the track – but its highly unlikely that's going to happen. So I hold on to the bar and I feel fairly safe.
Now, at work I do kind of the same thing. I'm not holding on to the bar, but I'm holding on the Course because I know it's a tool that I study that can get me through the day. It can keep me, or return me, to a state of peace whenever I venture away. So I think about what Rev. Dusa Althea said during her prayer this morning. It's about letting go, working to not judge. Letting my frustrations go, the stress that I feel. Just knowing that everything is going to be okay, because by the end of the day, it is all okay! Even though I come back the next day, and it's the same thing. It's the same roller coaster ride. I finally always come into that coast at the end of the roller coaster ride. It's all over. Your hair is windblown. You're happy. For me, I've got money in my pocket and it's a smooth sailing ride to the end.
I also remember that it's really about the love. It's about being truly helpful. That's what I'm there for. I'm there to give and receive love and helping people to look better and feel better about themselves. I do my best to be an inspiration and use the Course to help make everyone else feel good about themselves.
That's my talk today. (applause)
Rev. Rudy Colombini:
Good morning. There's a little thing that we read today that talks about how we shift and how we move. It says, most people usually go through a very fairly slow process. I think that's probably where I belong, but I do measure some success. I can see some success.
A couple of years ago, my former wife, who I'm back with, said to me after a very long ... um, what would you call it, "a heightening of tension"? (laughter) ... However, I was having no reaction. She said to me, "Who are you?" because I had changed. "Who are you?" So I know I can make very big changes in my life. This is good. My personal relationships are great.
By-the-way, this topic is a perfect thing for me, this morning, to be here telling you about. This last month has been heavily work focused. I'm a junior real estate mogul, (laughter) and I took on another hotel downtown. We've remodeled the hotel, literally, in less than sixty days. I don't know if it's actually thirty days or sixty days. And this has been bringing up a part of me that I am not as familiar with, which is the "asshole." (laughter) It comes out; it just shows itself.
I walked into Starbucks today, and I hadn't thought about what I was going to say. I saw something up in there that said, "Stories we tell ourselves." It's right on the wall in the Castro Starbucks. I thought, that's going to be the title of my talk, "The Stories We Tell Ourselves."
I am also an entertainer. There is this rock star thing going along, with the real estate mogul thing.
Last night I was at a show. I've done very professional shows. I've played on stages where Frank Sinatra has played, Willie Nelson. There's a highly professional crew. Well, the place where I was last night was no professional crew. I probably knew it before I got there. There is a situation where you arrive on stage and you need to set the monitors. Every musician needs to set a monitor for themselves, and it was just going crazy because there was no expertise in the direction. It's actually one of the most maddening situations, because if a person does not have their hands on the right knob it could create that real high screech, and you know how I feel about that. The situation is the crowd is out there. We're doing our sound check. The sound man doesn't even take responsibility for the fact that the knob he's turning up is the wrong one. So, I'm trying to explain that and I call that, (Rev. Rudy point to his notes) ... says here, "provocative situation."
"Tell them about the provocative situation." Well there it is. Provocative situations are, for a person like me describing myself .... I can't handle them all. I'm easily annoyed. I have a very strong will, and I want what I want when I want it. And I do my thing well. You should do your thing well too. That's how I feel. And that's the story we tell about ourselves.
Another minuscule provocative situation, and then I'm going to say how to handle them. Rev. Tony was taking a picture of us this morning. (it is on the cover of this issue of *Miracles Monthly*) And I would just do it completely different. Tony is very analytical. He's very .... He wants to get .... He wants to see the right shot. Well, I don't really do it that way. I just try to create the right shot from over here. He wasn't doing it the way I wanted it done. So I was saying, "Hey come on, okay! Take the picture." Again, it's a little minuscule provocative situation.
Where this thing always needs to head is, we never, we never really know what we're thinking. We do not know anything. It's that humble place that somehow needs to be. The provocative situation needs to be robbed out of the ego's hands – the ego's idea that it actually does know anything at all. It's only at that moment that we could ask for the direction. The direction is always the harmony of the universe. It's here, always here, always waiting for us to actually slip the universe into our mind, because our mind is ready, willing, and able to handle any thought. And our mind created all the thoughts and all the situations, all the concepts that are seemingly out there.
So we are God. At the end of the day, at the end of it all, we are creation. We are the Father, we are the Son, and we are the Holy Spirit. I live in God and God lives in me. (applause)
When Rev. Dusa Althea called me, and said this is about applying A Course in Miracles to the workplace. I said, "How did they know?" (laughter)
How do they know that work is my biggest issue? It's the dragon. It is the dragon in my life. It's more so than any other aspect in my life. So, the dragon in my life is not health, it's not finances, it's not family, it's not parents, it's not my kids, it's not my partner – or lack there of. It's my work.
I have worked for forty years in corporate America. That's forty years of forty hour weeks. Forty years of sin, guilt, and fear from my ego. My ego's judgement, if I let it go, if I run with my ego it says, "Why haven't I figured out retirement? Why didn't I think ahead? Where are all of the relationship of all of the people I've known all these forty years, and worked with? Why didn't I find a rich man to take me away?"
Well I did, but then I wanted to be independent. (laughter)
Then on the other side my ego says, "Yeah, but this is the way to stay vital. You're still contributing to society. You're working in high tech. Come on, you're working with twenty and thirty year olds." Then the other side of my ego says, "Yeah, but do they want to work with their grandmother?" (laughter)
That's me. That's my dragon. This is about the workplace. My ego sees, as it sees society and as it sees others over these forty years – and there's only the present moment but still – it's been so unfair. Look at the wage inequality. It's much worse than it was before, from my ego's standpoint. Look at the lack of work life balance. From my ego's standpoint employment balance in the world is worse than it used to be! There's just really no guarantee, no security at all. I see that in others; I see that in myself. Next Friday they could tap me on the shoulder and say, "Oh, we've reorganized."
So I blame, when I'm in my ego, the government for not legislating. I blame corporate leaders for not caring. I've got some guilt that I could have spoken up back in the ‘70s. On Channel 7 they have a clip of me holding a placard with a number of other women, for women's rights. So, when Rev. Dusa Althea called, on one hand it was, "Wow, how did they know this is my dragon?" On the other hand there's some enthusiasm and optimism because I have been applying A Course In Miracles, and it has changed. I really have. I'm at work because I'm supposed to be. I am meeting all of these people. I'm seeing the light in them. It's perfect. This is the way it's supposed to be. I am so grateful.
So what is the Holy Spirit's guidance? Well the world is not out there in my work. It's in my mind. I have been, and am, projecting what I see out there. That's the metaphysics of the Course. Also, the Holy Spirit helps me recognize that my ego speaks first. It speaks of separation. It speaks of vulnerability. It speaks of sin. I've really messed up, and others have too. The approach that works better and better all the time – it's wonderful, I'm so grateful – I ask to see it differently.
I'm doing the lessons. I share about this in groups, and it's more prominent for me throughout the day. It's really joyful and wonderful when I can be on the Holy Spirit's side, be guided by the Holy Spirit's side. To do that, I ask to see it differently. It's not the little Susan that's sitting at the computer, but rather recognizing that we're all part of the Sonship. Seeing the light in everyone, the Christ Mind, that we're all a part of God, the Oneness.
Another way is recognizing that the world is not real. The Course asks me to change my perception of the world. With the Holy Spirt, and with A Course in Miracles, it doesn't ask me to change the world. It asks me to change my mind about the world. So in our lessons, and the enthusiasm for me is that out last three themes in Part Two have been perfect. The third theme which we're just doing now, is "What is the world?" (OrEd.WkBk.SpTp.241) A quote is, "The world is false perception. It is born of error, and it has not left its source." (OrEd.WkBk.SpTp.241.1) which is my mind.
I've been sharing in groups. I have a mantra that just came to me a couple of months ago that I've been sharing in groups. It just keeps coming up for me all the time, which is, "It's a loving universe." If that's in my mind, then I'm projecting that out, and I'm seeing that coming back at me. It's amazing. I have missed out on all sorts of problems. There was a big issue one time. I had gone to the bathroom, missed the whole thing. (laughter) It seems like, I'm not to change the world, but I'm seeing a reflection of love and I'm seeing the reflection of reality in the world.
The first theme in this part of the Workbook is forgiveness, "Forgiveness ... is still and quietly does nothing. ... It merely looks and waits and judges not. (OrEd.WkBk.SpTp221.4)
When I'm faced with, at work sitting at my computer, not getting recognized, not included, feeling fear, feeling resentment, looking at the guy next to me who doesn't come to work very often .... No judgement. (laughter)
Be in the present moment. See the light. See he's really trying hard. Everyone's trying hard. We're all calling for help. We all have light in us. Seeing that makes all the difference in the world. The other thing is to trust. I've always been taken care of. I've worried and worried and worried, but I've always been taken care of. The other is I'm projecting this. I'm making this all up. I'm recognizing that more and more and more.
Instead of sin, guilt, and fear, my ego – I find that I'm more loving at work. I step back, do nothing, be in the present moment. I have faith that I'm doing this for a reason. I'm listening to the Holy Spirit guide me. I'm seeing everyone else as trying very hard. I trust that when I do have the Holy Instant, when I can recognize my job, that others have the light, and I recognize that. They're trying really hard, that we're all in this dream. That's the answer. That's all I have to do. Don't have to do anything more.
So thank you. (applause) And how did you know? (applause)
Rev. Peter Graham:
Thank you Rev. Tony. Good morning everyone. ("Good morning.")
As I was preparing my share this morning I, of course, remembered the theme from Rev. Tony about labor and work and A Course In Miracles. But I also got that I was to incorporate my mom into the discussion. I prepared for that. Here, I have a picture that I just found two days ago. I'll pass it around. In that picture is my mom at my high school graduation, and my great-grandmother. So as I speak look at that.
That was thirty years ago. We've all changed a little.
It's actually funny how I connected the two themes. I grew up in a family that was very matriarchal. The women ran the show and my mom was quite the worker. This is how I connected it. For most of my life, I grew up in a single family situation with my mom being the provider. She worked in industry, in warehousing industries, and making, some of you may remember, Fleischmann's Margarine. You might remember that. She worked at a company called Standard Brands in various functions. Then she moved on to a large convenience store company on the East Coast and she rose up there.
The thing I remember about my mom in my formative years, in teaching me about work, was that she took a job that was about an hour away, and didn't move us closer, because she wanted me to continue in the schools that I was in, myself and my brother. She would get up at five in the morning. She would actually, I believe, be leaving at five in the morning so she could drive an hour. At that particular place she would work four days a week. So she worked ten hour days, and then she would come home, put something together for dinner. Then she would study. She studied. She went back to school. She earned her college degree in night school, her Master's degree and then her Ph.D. So she did all that over about twenty, twenty-five years. She stuck with it. So, I feel like I was given, by my mother, this tremendous work ethic, that it was important to work, to apply yourself, and to improve yourself. I think that's miracle minded, that we keep trying. We keep showing up; we keep on. There's all these ideas in the ego about, "Oh, take it easy. You don't have to do that. Just accept where you are, blah, blah, blah." However, I think there's some very miracle minded thoughts about trying to do the best that you can and take on those challenges in your life.
So, for my mom, and for all the women in my family, they were all workers, and they passed that along to me. So I guess that's my first miracle that I received from them, this belief that work was important, and how we went about improving ourself was important.
Now in terms of my own application of A Course in Miracles in the work life, it is quite interesting. Some of you know that I work in special education. I'm department head of a big San Francisco public high school, two-thousand students, and there's about two hundred and twenty five students with disabilities ranging from a learning disability to very severely impaired folks. I have sixteen teachers and twenty-two paraprofessionals that are working under my authority, and just thinking about those numbers, you can get a little overwhelmed. Then this year, I took on the responsibility of being the head football coach at the high school. Now I have fifty plus boys, who have lots of testosterone, running around. I'm in charge of them, and all their goings on. In case you hadn't noticed, the adolescence in this era are much more dramatic then when I can remember being an adolescent. So there's a lot of drama involved in all that.
Every day I wake up and I have this reality of a lot of people that I'm responsible for, and so the ego thoughts that I have around this are, "I have to control all of this. I have to be in charge. I'm responsible for everything that happens." I have those thoughts, and I also have thoughts that say, "I'm incompetent. I can't do this. I'm not really qualified for this. I don't have enough time." That's a big one, "I don't have enough time." I struggle with this but what A Course In Miracles, has said to me is delegate. "Delegate, Peter. Delegate." For me this is a trust issue. The truth of the matter is I have a lot of people that work with me in accomplishing these tasks. I have teachers who are really wonderful. Many of them are really wonderful beings who are working with kids in very challenging situations. A lot of times my job is just to keep their spirits up.
With the football coaching, I have given a lot of authority to my assistants. I hired people that I felt were very capable, and I give them a lot of leeway. I provide an over-arching vision. Now, I'm challenged by that, because as I said, I want to be the guy that's in charge all the time. My ego wants to make all the decisions. My ego wants to be important.
However, the Holy Spirit side of me tells me, "This is a learning situation." This is accepting lessons that God would have me learn.
When I'm in that frame of mind, like yesterday when we were getting beat 40 to 8 (laughter) in the fourth quarter (laughter), and I'm sitting there thinking, "Hmmm. What am I going to say to these guys after the game?" That's where it's at. That's where we bring in the Course. The truth of the matter is, what I said to them after the game was, "Look guys, you never really lose a game." I said, "The only time you lose a game is when you don't learn anything from it. We have to learn from this experience." That's totally out of A Course in Miracles, right? You learn, and what does the Course tell us to do? You have your lesson, and you learn your lesson if you remember to make the correction. You choose again. Okay? So, we have to learn from the game. We have to learn from our work and when we're not in peace, we make the change and we choose again. That's my talk. (applause)
Rev. Dusa Althea Rammessirsingh:
Good morning again everyone.
How do I apply A Course In Miracles in my work? Well, as many of you know, I'm a body worker. Not a mechanic, a massage therapist. (laughter)
Body worker, massage therapist, this means that you extend to do a variety of different kinds of work. In A Course In Miracles, there's this particular theme about what is your purpose? What is your purpose? If you don't have a purpose, then whatever outcome comes, you won't be able to figure it out. I like that. What it says is, "What do I want to come of this?" (OrEd.Tx.17.4) That's the first question. In my practice I say, "I want to help this person's body feel better, not only physically but mentally and spiritually." And what is it for? It's for the world, not just the two of us. If each one of us feels well and good, we will express it with a lot of joy and happiness.
When I start a session, I always say a prayer. I first started doing this at the time I was studying Mahikari, which is a type of Japanese energy work. I used to pray in Japanese all the time for years and years, even after I started A Course in Miracles. Then one day, Rev. Tony said to me, "Why are you praying in a different language? What does it mean?" So I shifted. Now when I pray with a person, when they first come in, I might say, "How are you? What's going on?" They'll say, "Oh, I feel disjointed." "I don't feel good," or "I feel angry." So in my prayer I will say, "Okay, let them be ‘jointed,'" or I'll make up something funny to relax both of us. Most of all, it's to make us present. That, to me, is what I'm trying to do, to help the person be present right there in the moment.
It doesn't matter what has ever gone before, or what's going to happen in the future, we just have to be here. There isn't any other place but here.
Yesterday, I had one of those unusual experiences. My client calls me at 3:30, and she's perfectly on time. That's unusual, because she never is. So, I'm standing at the door waiting for her to come. She doesn't come. I get on my phone. I call and say, "What happened to you? Aren't you here?" She says, "Yeah. I'm stuck in your elevator on the third floor."
"Oh my God" and my heart started to beat. Oh, what can I do? I hope she's not stuck in there for an hour like I was one time. But, what can I do? I can't do anything. I was really powerless. So I walked out to the elevator with my cell phone, talking to her. And she's still there, and we're pushing on the buttons. I hear the fireman coming, because that's who they call first. The fireman come, and she's still on the third floor.
Somebody on the second floor pushes the button. The elevator goes down, the door opens, and she gets out. She was only in there about twenty minutes. And so she comes up by the stairs. I thought she was going to be frantic, because she tends to be a little – how do you say it – high energy? She's very clear about what she wants. If my sheets .... she tells me my sheets smell of fragrance, and I say, "But I don't use Bounce. I don't use anything. Everything I use is without scent." So she used to tell me these things, but for a while she hasn't. I noticed. She has shifted.
When she got off the table she was happy, excited, she had let go of the whole elevator experience. In fact, people in the building were still running around, and someone knocked on the door and wanted to know if everything was okay. And it was okay. I don't know why this happened. What was its purpose? I'll never know. But it is what happened.
Now, there is always a variety of clients. Those who come in with all kinds of things. I have one client who's been a real lesson for me. When she comes in she says to me, "I hurt here and here." She'll twist her body all around telling me where it bothers her. And then she says, "Now don't you make me straight, because I stand like this." I can never bring her into alignment. I have to make sure she doesn't get into alignment, because if I do put her in alignment, she'll tell me about it. What I feel, what she really gives me, is she really understands her body. Even though I don't always agree with her, I have to do what she wants. I can't do what I was taught to do. It doesn't make sense, because I know she'll see three practitioners in a day. Now can you imagine that? She'll come to me, and she's already seen two other people. So I can't feel insulted. I can't say, "We'll, I'm not really helping her," because she always comes back no matter what. She's been a great lesson, for I really do not know what is in my own best interest or in her own best interest.
We just have to go for guidance. And that's what I try to do, always go for guidance. I ask my clients when they ask me questions, "Why don't you go within? Why don't you turn within yourself and see? Where does it take you? Where do you go?" I cannot say, "Well, you better do this, and you should do this." Yes, I give them exercises, yes, physical stuff. I give them neck exercises, hand exercises, things that I call "bridging the way" for the next time that I will see them. "Here, this will help strengthen the neck muscles. It will help strengthen your arm, or shoulders," whatever it is. But spiritually, I feel the most important thing is to get them to be present, have them go within for whatever is bothering them.
So to me, I find that the Course has been very helpful. I like this Workbook, Lesson 24, "I do not perceive my own best interest." (OrEd.WkBk.24) I remind myself that I do not know what's in my client's best interest either. I keep in mind my purpose is to be always present. I'm very grateful for the Course, because that's what I need to be. Just be present. Just to be here, and I ask all of you to be present so you can experience the love and joy in the world.
Thank you. (applause) ♥
2269 Market Street
San Francisco, CA 94114
This article appeared in the October 2013 (Vol. 27 No. 8) issue of Miracles Monthly. Miracles Monthly is published by Community Miracles Center in San Francisco, CA. CMC is supported solely by people just like you who: become CMC Supporting Members, Give Donations and Purchase Books and Products through us.