The way I fly in gratitude

Just back from visiting my family in upstate New York and thought I’d share this excerpt from my first book of forgiveness essays, Extraordinary Ordinary Forgiveness—published in 2011. Hope you enjoy!

Helicopter_hovering_just_above_the_groundLast night I attended an orientation for the International Baccalaureate program my daughter would officially begin as a high school junior next year. The evening started with a presentation on early college planning delivered by the director of Post Grad Education, the part of the guidance department charged with helping students through the college selection/application process. People laughed nervously as the woman described one of the power point slides, a cartoon illustration of a helicopter hovering over a stick figure child, introduced by the caption: “Don’t Be a Helicopter Parent.”

I was familiar with the term. When our daughter hit middle school and my delusion of successful parenting took a nose dive my husband and I attended a series of Love & Logic parenting classes encouraging people to back off from swooping down helicopter-like to manage their children’s lives. Of course, I never did that, my silently smug ego pointed out. I had always given my daughter plenty of choices to encourage her to take responsibility for her own decision-making process and its consequences. But, in truth, as she matured and the stakes rose along with the consequences, I could feel the breeze of the chopper in my head revving for lift-off.

The Post-Grad director shared some specific examples of ways in which helicopter parents, however well meaning, nevertheless sabotaged their children’s growing independence. Some wrote or heavily edited student’s application essays. Others asked all the questions of Admissions Officers during college tours and orientations. One mother actually moved into the dorm with her child for a couple of months before the college could figure out how to evict her. (I am not making this up.)

I squirmed in my seat. Although I had never and would never take such overt measures to secure my daughter’s place in the world I nonetheless had already embarked on a little fantasy of volunteering in the Post-Grad Office, sharing my wisdom with my daughter’s peers while becoming an expert on the subject of rankings and financial aid. Along the way unearthing that jewel of a liberal arts campus I envisioned nurturing my child’s fine mind and approaching future.

The helicopter cartoon jolted me back to my senses. Really, what was I thinking? Anyway, I could not “rescue” my daughter if I wanted to. After all, she had been a virtual no-fly zone from the moment I gently lay her down on her quilt on the carpet at three weeks old, walked across the room to answer the phone, and turned to find her rolling across the room toward the door, already on to bigger and better things. The first day of Montessori preschool instead of seizing my legs and bellowing in terror over our impending separation like normal children she high-fived me and dashed toward the playroom. She was done with bottles, done with baths, done with dolls, done with Mom’s French toast and packed lunches years before I was. For a long time I secretly took her accelerated passage through human development as an affront, fortifying a sense of rejection I had carried all my life. But I am learning little by little, practicing A Course in Miracles, to see (experience) things differently.

My daughter’s refusal to allow me to fix up her world has helped me practice the process of forgiveness at the core of this path I say I want to learn, yet so frequently resist. I am beginning to see that nothing “out there” including my special relationships can affect my peace of mind in any way. Only I can forfeit that, and I often choose to. I choose to in order to reinforce the pitiful story of Susan as the victim of the world she experiences, even though, as my inner ego parent constantly reminds me, my troubles pale in comparison to the troubles of many.

Often, I forfeit the truth of what I am by choosing to reinforce the story of Susan as luckier than others. How many times when people have asked after my daughter have I shrugged and said that in the spectrum of teen problems my worries are few, and for that I am grateful. Grateful I have experienced less pain than others and sometimes grateful to momentarily (at least) have experienced more. Grateful that whatever my experience of suffering or triumph it proves I am really here in this unique body living this unique set of circumstances–better than or worse off than you.

In Lesson 195, Love is the way I walk in gratitude; the Course offers us another kind of gratitude:

 “You do not offer God your gratitude because your brother is more slave than you, nor could you sanely be enraged if he seems freer. Love makes no comparisons. And gratitude can only be sincere if it be joined to love. We offer thanks to God our Father that in us all things will find their freedom. It will never be that some are loosed while others still are bound. For who can bargain in the name of love?” (Paragraph 4)

Who can bargain in the name of love? That would be my mind on ego. I (the part of my mind that chooses between the ego and the Holy Spirit) learn how to withdraw my investment in the heart-wrenching bargains of my special relationships by shifting my perspective from blaming or congratulating you for my feelings of inferiority or superiority, to recognizing the underlying guilt over a belief in separation from love that never happened, guilt that drives me again and again to seek both solace and revenge outside my mind. In the moment I turn my perceptual error over to the inner teacher in my mind for correction I reunite with the one love we are and have never left, and rejoice in true appreciation. I am grateful when I remember from moment to moment through the process of forgiveness that the ego’s dire story of offing God through our declaration of independence is just a murder mystery my right mind has already solved. Then I can smile gently at my daughter’s declaration and my own, and cut the engine on my imaginary chopper.

There is no one out there to rescue or get into college, no one out there to vicariously live through my unfulfilled dreams or spare my numerous mistakes, only my own mind in need of joining with the one love it never left.  I find my ultimate innocence when I recognize with my inner teacher my wish to change my autonomous daughter as my own impulse to protect an autonomous identity that has only brought me pain.

“We have been given everything. If we refuse to recognize it, we are not entitled therefore to our bitterness, and to a self-perception which regards us in a place of merciless pursuit, where we are badgered ceaselessly, and pushed about without a thought or care for us or for our future. Gratitude becomes the single thought we substitute for these insane perceptions. God has cared for us, and calls us son. Can there be more than this?” (From paragraph 9)

And so I became right-minded for a nanosecond in a high school auditorium and gave thanks. Driving home, I asked my daughter if she still intended to run for class president during Student Council elections later that week. She said she hadn’t decided, because she didn’t want to give a speech. She has such leadership potential!  The blades of my inner helicopter whirred. I could share with her what I am learning about overcoming my fear of public speaking, how extensive preparation, rehearsal, and visualization can lessen anxiety, how…

(I hope you’ll excuse me while I take a moment to consult with my right mind. :))

I’m honored to be presenting a workshop at the invitation of Jim Peterson in Portland, Oregon, in March 2015. The subject is close to my heart and A Course in Miracles forgiveness practice: “The Parent-Child Relationship: Transcending Guilt Blame and Need.” To find out more and register, please go to Jim’s site: http://www.alchemical-transformation-guidance.com/SusanDuganWorkshop2014.html and/or check out my Classes/Events page: https://www.foraysinforgiveness.com/classes-events 

The Foundation for A Course in Miracles continues to offer illuminating classes taught by a talented, devoted, truly inspiring staff who shine with the light of living this work! I was so deeply moved and inspired by their presentations at the July and March academies, and can’t wait to return for more! Check out all their current offerings including the newly posted winter schedule here:  http://www.facim.org/temecula-schedule.aspx

I’ll be speaking in interview format, followed by a live Q & A session, at the upcoming Miracle Share virtual conference in October. Find out more about the many speakers and register here: https://www.e-junkie.com/ecom/gb.php?cl=278046&c=ib&aff=279436 Find out about the emphasis of my talk on my Classes/Events page, here: https://www.foraysinforgiveness.com/classes-events  

Enjoyed chatting with Bruce Rawles again in this new video about the ego’s backlash and the importance of not taking ourselves too seriously! https://www.foraysinforgiveness.com/videos

CA Brooks, (host of an ACIM show at 12Radio that airs Friday mornings, 9 a.m., Mountain Time) and I discussed “What Is Salvation?” And “What Is the World” from the Course’s workbook in early September. You can listen to the audio recording at the top of my audio page here: https://www.foraysinforgiveness.com/audios (I’ll be joining CA again, 9 a.m. Mountain Time, Friday, October 10, at 12Radio.)

HALF-HOUR, FORTY-FIVE MINUTE, OR HOUR-LONG MENTORING SESSIONS NOW AVAILABLE: Although A Course in Miracles is clearly a self-study program and the one relationship we are truly cultivating is with our eternally sane and loving right mind, mentoring can help remind Course students having trouble applying its unique forgiveness that the problem and the solution never lie in the difficult relationship, situation, behavior, health issue, etc., but in the decision-making mind. In every circumstance, without exception, we can experience inner peace and kindness toward all, unaffected by the seemingly random strife of a world designed to prove otherwise. By choosing to look at our lives as a classroom in which we bring all our painful illusions to the inner teacher of forgiveness who knows only our shared innocence beyond all its deceptive disguises, we learn to identify and transcend the ego’s resistance, hold others and even ourselves harmless, and gently allow our split mind to heal. Sessions are conducted via traditional phone or Skype (your choice). Please contact me to find out if mentoring is right for you before submitting a payment below. (No one is ever turned away for lack of ability to pay.)

Here’s a link to details about my ongoing Tuesday night class on the text here in Denver https://www.foraysinforgiveness.com/classes-events beginning in May 2014.

My good friend and fellow Course student and teacher Bruce Rawles, author of The Geometry Code http://www.amazon.com/Geometry-Code-Universal-Reminders-Separation/dp/0965640574/ref=la_B003ZZVZVK_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1411567229&sr=1-1, frequently invites me to chat with him on YouTube about the Course and Ken Wapnick’s teachings. He continues to compile lots of great ACIM information well worth checking out at http://www.acimblog.com/

My good friend and gifted A Course in Miracles teacher and writer Bernard Groom has been posting beautifully written, heartfelt essays about living A Course in Miracles for years at http://www.acimvillage.com/. I found his recent, kindly right-minded contemplations there on the death of our beloved teacher Ken Wapnick deeply comforting! Bernard lives and teaches in France with his dear wife Patricia. You’ll find a wealth of information in French on his website http://uncoursenmiraclesenfrance.com/ including recorded talks available for purchase or free download: http://uncoursenmiraclesenfrance.com/audio/.

My dear friend and wonderful teacher Lyn Corona continues to offer classes at the Rocky Mountain Miracle Center through her School of Reason for Course students and teachers. You can subscribe to her website http://www.schoolofreason.org/ to receive information about upcoming classes.

My latest book, Forgiveness Offers Everything I Want is available on Amazon in both paperback and kindle versions. If you read and find the book helpful, I would so appreciate you posting a brief (a sentence or two is fine) review on Amazon. 🙂

Forgiveness Offers Everything I Want, and my previous book, Extraordinary Ordinary Forgiveness, are now also available from the ACIM Store: http://www.acimstore.com/default.asp.

Comments

  1. Great essay, Susan! Aren’t we all ‘helicopter people’? We hover over our fabricated dreams, trying to make sure they behave that we ego wants them to… what a perfect setup for disappointment … as just what the teacher of projected turmoil wanted! We conveniently (applying the throttle or our resistance) forget that it’s only our mind’s decision that allows or blocks peace, while our egos drone (pun intended) on incessantly, seemingly chopping up perfect Oneness. 🙂

  2. Yes, Bruce–we’re ALL helicopter people, our egos droning incessantly on :). And on, and on. Until our futile search-and-rescue routines finally wear us out enough to seek and find a better way!

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