Building Your Spiritual Home
Get a Life
I was 37 when Laura, my older daughter was nine, I can remember
getting ready to go upstairs with her for “nightly”,
which meant handsy-facy-teethy-peepee and story. That was
always a sweet time in my day. But this night, Laura was not
very interested, and I realized, for the first time, that
this child of mine no longer thought of me as the center of
her world, as she was the center of mine. This moment was
my wake up call. I stood at the bottom of the stairs, and
said to myself that I had to Get A Life. I realized that it
would be bad for my daughters and for me if they remained
my emotional focus. I started to think about how I could shift
I needed to have friends and interests in the bigger world.
Building and nurturing the nest as a full time job was over.
I started with the intention of investing more in my professional
and social life. Gradually my world seemed to broaden. In
that year, I accepted the presidency of the board of a local
counseling center that had just formed. I got involved with
Transcendental Meditation and began a life long interest in
developing my inner world. At the clinic, I began to train
myself and my team in family therapy and developed and accomplished
the goal of having no waiting list for treatment. I started
reading Carlos Casteneda about his encounters with a Mexican
sorcerer, books that forever changed my notions about the
nature of the world. I began writing poetry. I began keeping
journals, and paying much closer attention to both my inner
and outer lives.
Each of these beginnings has blossomed into a highway throughout
my adult life. The counseling center has grown and been a
major force in my community. It, and my friends from the board,
have entrenched me in community work, and I continue as a
consultant to the staff. Meditation has been a lifelong practice
that has shaped my personality, my health, and certainly my
view of the world and of my relationship with the Divine.
Professionally, the training I did at my clinic has lead to
a career as a teacher, with special interest in family and
short term therapy. I have written many articles and spoken
or consulted at scores of clinics across the country on issues
of therapy. This role as teacher has defined my professional
identity, but it began as I redefined my scope from therapist
to trainer in that first year.
My interest in learning about the world of the spirit, begun
with Casteneda, continued and spread. I have always sought
out books, training and friends involved with psychic and
religious interests. I am currently a member of a psychic
group and also a spiritual reading group. My relationship
with God is a center of my life. All this has connected with
my practice of meditation, and also my journalling. The journals
have been a record of my emotional, but also, my spiritual
As with so many life changes, I sometimes become aware of
going too far. Just before Laura’s graduation from High
School, she developed a herniated disc in her back, and needed
to go to her graduation on a stretcher. She graduated on a
Monday afternoon, at five, just after I was due to finish
my golf game with my foursome (which formed during the year
when I was “getting a life”). I arranged for the
local fire department ambulance to provide transportation
for Laura, and came separately. Even worse, that night was
my golf partner Phil’s 40th birthday, and we had planned
to celebrate. After we got Laura graduated and home, off I
went again, in loyalty to Phil, to celebrate. My wife was
furious. I got a call from my younger daughter: “Please
come home”. Our family was in a crisis too awful to
describe. I did finally get it that my first priority needed
to be family. Ten years previously, I knew that, but those
ten years of pursuing a life had changed me.
A similar reminder came some twenty years later when my
wife Linda was laid up with a bad back. I got her settled
and fed each morning, brought lunch and did supper, but I
kept all my clinical appointments and evening commitments.
By the end of those two weeks, I was frazzled, grim and tight.
Linda was furious, feeling neglected. My daughters, both mothers
of young children, were resentful of my calls to them requesting
that they look in on her, requests made with my tense, bossy,
overwhelmed voice. After it was over, we had a family meeting
at which it became clear to me that, again, I had overvalued
my commitments to patients and meetings, and under responded
to the needs at home. Two years later, when Linda needed shoulder
surgery, I canceled the better part of two weeks of my schedule,
and was able to provide care without either of us stressing
Another part of this issue of growing and changing is clearly
getting and using feedback. Left to my own devices, I am likely
to go overboard in my zeal to follow my own decisions. But
with a little help from my friends, I am now at a new place.
I do have a life, and I know I need to be more flexible about
my pursuit of it.
QUESTIONS TO CONSIDER:
1) Are you happy with your life?
2) Do you feel you have created your life or fallen into it?
3) Think of three things you might do to broaden your life.
4) Do you think you have the time, energy, resources to make
5) How many hours of TV do you watch in a week?
GET A LIFE
THE JOY OF A DEPRESSED
OPENING MANY DOORS
THE PATH OF MEDITATION
GIVING UP CONTROL
MARRIAGE AS A CHANGE
STRUCTURES THAT SUPPORT
VERMONT AND NATURE
TO HELL WITH DIGNITY
COMPANIONS ON THE ROAD
WHAT SHAPES LIFE
MAKING FRIENDS WITH GOD