Saturday, April 10, 2010


Okay, you might say. How am I like my books' characters? That's a good question and it has a relatively simple answer. Just like my characters and like anyone else, I have a light side and a dark side. The dark side is that part of myself that I have possessed from which I have frequently tried to run or to deny. The truth can be scary and who likes to have to work at change? That can be scary too!

For those dark aspects of which I've been aware, I've often found myself judging them within others or only to find that they usually boomerang on myself. When I've done so, I've denied the love within me. This is when it's been so important for me to practice self-forgiveness. It's also served as an opportunity to learn from my mistakes, make my amends to anyone I've harmed, and to do better the next time.

When I have come to a place of acceptance around what's been my dark side, I've found that humor is a wonderful way to let go of judgment. After all, I was created perfectly imperfect just as we all are. I am human and I have created characters that are oftentimes contain exaggerations of human imperfections.

Then again, I have encountered a few Priscilla Bunheads in my life. I, too, have been capable of being as nasty and judgmental as she invariably is. I've also loved to give the impression that I'm perfect. Trust me, I'm no saint! The ironic flip side of perfectionism is shame. As you read more of my Sister Mary Olga books, you'll begin to understand where Priscilla's shame comes from.
Certainly I'd prefer to believe that I'm the perfectly holy version of Sister Mary Olga when she teaches her lessons in Advanced Holiness. On the other hand, she is all too human too. She obviously has a problem with alcohol and is addicted to her Marlboros. Well, I once drank alcoholically and I'm currently letting go of an adult lifetime addiction to cigarettes. Letting go of old friends like booze and cigarettes is not an easy thing to do. Yet I don't want to be a slave to them anymore.

I had my last drunk on April 5, 1988. The very next day, I attended my first AA meeting. There I encountered a host of people who seemed so happy. I desperately wanted to find that happiness for myself. What I had to discover for myself is that there's nothing or no one outside of myself who can make me happy. Happiness has to come within. In order to find it, I had to dig deep and do a lot of work on myself. It wasn't easy, but it was worth the effort.

I came to find my way there as I practiced the twelve steps within that program, reaching out for help from others and from God. In time, I was able to help others who wanted the same thing for themselves. It's said that it's no good unless you give it away. Jesus also said it's more blessed to give than to receive. The truth of the matter is that there's a tremendous amount of joy that comes from giving.

That leads to another spiritual principle that Sister Mary Olga would embrace. Her basic notion is that, if everyone followed the Golden Rule, there would be no need for any other commandments; that, very simply, is to do unto others as you would have them do unto you.
This brings us back to the principle of practicing love within our lives rather than letting the judgmental aspect of our egos rule our lives. None of us is any better or worse than anyone else. The challenge is to relate to each other rather than to focus on our differences. Underneath it all, we are the same – spirit contained within different bodies who possess different personalities.

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