Bye-Bye, Summer!

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Greetings! As you probably recall, I graduated with a Masters of Divinity from Unity Institute and Seminary and was ordained as a Unity Minister June 9th at Unity Village. It was a joyous occasion! I am so grateful for all the support, encouragement, and prayers as I followed my heart and answered the call to ministry. Thank you to all who attended the ceremony and celebrations and to those who showed their love by sending cards and gifts! I am grateful and I know that I am blessed by your outpouring of true, genuine support.

I am currently working at my home church Unity Church of San Leandro in the northern California Bay Area as Associate Minister. Many have asked if I will continue singing. The answer is “Yes!” As a matter of fact, feedback from so many of you re-confirms for me that music is foundational for my ministry and most likely always will be. I am still available for singing engagements as well as speaking engagements.

Music is such a great part of how I express God’s gifts and the message of love and Oneness. I feel like my creativity is waking up from a long hiatus, which probably has to do with the right-brain research part of me working on overtime through school. Now, that the program is complete, there’s some blossoming and re-surfacing of my imagination faculty going on. HeartMath – TM experts say that when we are stressed our creative side shuts down. So I am doing a lot of walking and contemplating. When we access our hearts, our creative side blossoms!

I feel the joy rising!

So, …the eagle (me) has finally landed…I had to massage my cheeks from smiling so much. OH THE JOY! Again, I am so very grateful for all the outpouring of love. Already, I’ve had several opportunities to speak and sing. It is truly a blessing! Life is good!

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The Birdie on the Beach

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On my birthday last year, I sat on the beach watching the waves roll in and out across the white sands of Bermuda. I wanted go some place special for my birthday, and so I did.  I have been divorced for over 20 years, and strangely, I don’t feel lonely. There is a difference between “lonely” and “alone.” I believe life is what you make it, and if we don’t learn to celebrate what’s good in our lives we humans can end up “lonely.”

I don’t have to worry about outrunning “lonely” when I know that I can never really be alone. Everyone who crosses my path, I consider to be some unique manifestation of God’s love. The Presence of God is always surrounding, enfolding, and indwelling me. I did not always feel this way. I had to put some time into developing this awareness – – it took practice, practice, and more practice spending time getting still and quiet enough to receive the love that was pouring into my life. Nowadays, there is so much help to get us spiritually in tune and out of the reactionary, emotionally hijacked states with which we might have been conditioned as we were coming along in our childhoods. For me, spiritual growth has come in many ways and not always in a straight-line progression all the time, but perhaps a curvy line.

So as I took my Bermuda birthday beach walk, I had time to sit and just look at the ocean and the sky. I looked out as far to the horizon as I could, and I felt swallowed up in the vastness of space. I felt so tiny. I felt like I had the whole beach to myself and loved every minute of it. Gratitude welled up in me as I reflected on all the decades of my life, each decade was a huge leap in the right direction with many turns and missteps along the way. But overall, forward progress.

Actually, I spotted about eight of us on the beach that day; I remember two couples and a couple of joggers, and me. And then…I spotted this bird, undaunted by my presence and unmoved by the waves. I watched the bird. The bird seemed very focused on looking for the tiniest bit of seafood in the sand. This led me to focus on God as Infinite Source of everything and  Jesus’ words about considering the lilies of the field  and how they neither toil nor spin. This bird seemed so unconcerned about the possibility of a wave splaIMG_3728shing upon it, or about any joggers coming toward it. Just as a wave would roll in, the bird quickly hopped up just in the nick of time and never got close to being splashed by a wave. “Good instincts!” I thought. Then I thought again, “noooo, it’s more than that; when you know how to fly, you don’t WORRY about the waves!

I think I’ll take a lesson from this little bird and rise up and live as if I have the whole beach of life to myself in joyful freedom and not be worried about the waves of drama, despair, or loneliness. Wow!…all this from a little birdie on the beach. I was in good company that day on the beach.

Classes finished!

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It was three years ago, I left my job. My sister and I drove to Missouri so that I could start  seminary. Stopping at the Grand Canyon seemed to signal to me the vastness of the experience into which I was about to leap. My faith said “You got this!” Holding to that faith and that initial still small voice carried me through all the way. And now…
I am happy to announce as of March 10, I have finished all coursework for my Masters of Divinity at Unity Institute and Seminary!  When I returned to California in December, I went to work right away part-time at Unity Church of San Leandro as Assistant to the Minister. It has been a joy to work in this loving spiritual community. Now, the countdown has begun. Graduation is approaching fast on June 9th, and I will be flying back to Unity Village for the ceremony and celebration. I am also anticipating ordination at that time. My heart is full of so much gratitude for the past three years of my seminary experience. I stand on the shoulders of so many great, wise spiritual teachers! So many prayers and words of encouragement kept me marching to the finish line. Thank you, all!  I have come to realize, a finish line is always the start of something new! I’m excited to see what is unfolding in my life as God continues to reveal each step of the way!
 -DC

Ministerial School – I’m Making Progress!

Greetings!

Well, after 4 months, I think I’ve adjusted to the life of being a “student.” We’re all students of life, yes. But I mean, REALLY being a student, like taking classes, doing homework, terms papers (oh my!). For many years, I thought I’d never go back to ANY kind of school. However, it began to dawn on me that if I ever did, it would be something along a spiritual nature. This is where I’ve found the most fulfillment, joy, and valuable tools for life.

 I’ve completed some great coursework already during the spring term – – History of Christianity, Pastoral Counseling, Spiritual Intelligence, and Homiletics – – and two courses just completed during the first summer session:  The Peace Seminar with Dr. Sharif Abdullah, author of Creating a World That Works for All and global peace negotiator; and Advanced Homiletics with Dr. Robert Fish (who I had known years ago when I sang at Unity of Fremont).

 So, HERE I AM, loving it! I’ve finished my second term and I’m now taking summer courses. Oh, and yes, I have had a chance to sing here at a Vespers service in the Fillmore Chapel for the graduating S.E.E. class back in April. I sang “Touching the Stillness” from my CD. They liked it so much they invited me back to sing for their graduation ceremony on Thursday evening! Their theme was “Welcome to Your Awakening.” It was beautiful. So, things are moving along nicely.

It’s funny, in the mid- or late-80s, I had considered getting a Masters of Divinity (M.Div.) when my brother was pursuing his M.Div. at Howard University, but I dismissed it, thinking…now, what would I do with that? At the time, I guess I was mostly concerned with “survival.” Following 11 years of marriage and then a divorce, I went on to carve out a career in Information Technology in the 90s to support myself; but simultaneously, I continued my passion of singing and connecting in a spiritual community so that I could continue to grow and evolve spiritually. I spent many years trying to put my life back together again, that is trying to put together a life – – period. Taking several baby steps in personal transformation, I grew and found a spiritual path that worked for my life, which helped me get back on track and be on my way to expressing more of myself and trusting myself. So, really I have come full circle with an idea that was dropped into my mind over 20 years ago.

 Well, it’s been 4 months since I’ve landed at Unity Institute and Seminary. My life took yet another exciting turn when I finally answered the call to ministry. I’ve always believed we are all called; however, it is up to us to answer and determine what that means for us and how we can best express it. I believed I had answered “the call” in various ways throughout my life, or so I thought, by being more dedicated to my church, or being more loving and serving in my community and family, even by singing. I understood my calling was to accept, live, and be all that Jesus taught us to be… and to be about my purpose. Many of us spend a lifetime figuring out and finding a way to articulate exactly what that is all about. I know it’s a very personal thing.

It was so easy for me to sit back in a conditioned, pre-conceived, packaged form of what my role was supposed to be…afraid to live out loud. But now I’ve come to realize even more of what I sing in my song “Greater Things.” We WILL do greater things when we awaken to our true spiritual identity. We all must find a way to release the imprisoned splendor inside and bring to the world our own unique gifts, which will awaken everyone around us to their divine purpose.

 This summer, may you have all the fun and excitement, joy and relaxation that brings a smile to your face and satisfaction to your soul…as your spirit continues to soar!

 Love & infinite blessings,

 

Dinah

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The Eagle Has Landed…And Taking Off in a New Direction!

Here we are at the Grand Canyon!Greetings! I’m happy to report I have arrived in Lee’s Summit, MO, to attend seminary! Yes, I’m entering THE ministry. I have been singing all my life and will continue to sing. There’s just been this “slight” shift. I left California on March 19 and began my 4-day road trip traveling east with my oldest sister Bertha Young. It was quite an adventure!! We stopped at the Grand Canyon (the South Rim). We had great weather all the way through Arizona, New Mexico, Texas, and Oaklahoma. Upon our arrival in Missouri, however, there was snow (very funny!). It felt a little weird to be scraping snow off the car again. It’s all melted and gone away now.

I MUST thank everyone who came to my send-off party at Unity of San Leandro on March 17th or sent me good wishes before I left California.  Thank you, Rev. Diana McDaniel and Rev. Ken Murdock for being my mentors. It was a little sad leaving Kaiser (my old job) and the many friends I made there, but I know that I am following my heart. Please feel free to keep in contact with me – – I am so “findable” on Facebook and Twitter.  Also, you may enter your email address in the subscription box on this webpage and keep up with my travels and progress through ministerial school.

Have a wonderful SPRING!!!

Love and infinite blessings,

Dinah

 

Announcement – Here, Here!

I know it’s been quiet on my blog lately, but that’s going to turnaround soon! This is why…..

I am pleased to announced I have completed all requirements for becoming a Licensed Unity Teacher! My spiritual journey has been full of surprises, and I have met many new friends along the way.  It has been very rewarding to explore and deepen my spiritual experience, awakening to my divine purpose and calling more and more each day.  I look forward to teaching workshops and classes in the Bay Area and beyond as well as singing. What an exciting time! I wouldn’t take nothing for my journey now! Thank you all for your prayers and for supporting me through this process with your love and encouragement. Blessings, peace, and love always,

Dinah

The Year in Review (2011)! Happy New Year!

Happy New Year! Here’s a re-cap….of 2011.

Last year started out for me very busy – – I had started recording my new CD in late 2010 and that project carried over into 2011. At the same time I was completing my Unity teacher practicum that called for teaching a class (Teach Us to Pray by Charles Fillmore) and at last, graduated from the Unity Leadership Program in April 2011. In the midst of all this, let us not forget I was and am still working a highly demanding full-time information systems auditing-type job, which called for me to travel to Atlanta, Washington, DC, and Cleveland within a month’s time (March-April). The fast-pace of constant auditing schedule continued all year long.

In 2011, three friends of mine passed away at my church, and in my own way, I could sense a change was coming in how I would approach and live my life in a more mindful way. Our days are truly numbered here on this planet. So, whatever it is we’re doing, we need to make it count for something and really be about our purpose.

Also in 2011, I also attended Prayer Chaplain training in Sacramento and helped train eight new prayer chaplains. I also took on developing a new member class for church as I continued to record the rest of my CD. I released my new CD “Rivers of Living Waters” in July and kicked off the release by introducing it at the Sound Connections music conference in Lee’s Summit, MO. The celebration was capped off at my CD release party at Tommy T’s Comedy Club in early August. For those of you who attended, all I can say is “WOW! Thank you. My cup runneth over.” You gave me wings to help me fly.

Hats off to all of you at Jai Josef’s Saturday songwriting workshops, of which I was a member over the last year. You all helped me improve my songwriting skills, and I know that I am still growing. So, thank you!

As summer came to an end, I turned my attention to singing and marketing my CD and closing out my teaching practicum, (making sure I completed my 10 toastmaster speeches and final book reports!).  It was time to have even more FUN! (I must say, when you are doing your passion and purpose, it’s usually fun anyway…doesn’t feel like work!)  Some really fun times with my family culminated when we all gathered for the festive celebratory event of the year as my niece Vanessa got married October 8. We were all so excited for her, and the icing on the cake (wedding cake) was seeing and being with family….sharing moments of conversation, laughter, photo-snapping and all! I was SO proud of my dad who took his first flight at age 80 to come to the wedding!!

Right after the wedding, I got news of a dear friend’s passing (God bless you, Zelma), four weeks later a friend since childhood passed away at 59 (God bless you, Vickie) and three weeks later my uncle (my mom’s brother) passed on at age 61 on December 7 (bless you Uncle Larry). My emotions have been on a roller coaster, or so it seems. Here I was at the end of the year thinking we need to make our moments count. I wrote a song on my CD called “Make a Life.” Let us not get so busy making a living that we forget to make a life. So, this past Christmas my focus was on “I am LOVING the ones I’m with! right here, right now.” I would encourage you to share love, share peace, share yourself, your dreams, your hopes, your vision with the rest of us. The LIGHT that has come into the world is still shining in each of us if we let it. Go in peace. I wish you every happiness this year (2012) and always. Have a wonderful year.

And have a wonderful Martin Luther King, Jr. holiday. Over the Christmas holiday I traveled to Washington, DC and was able to see the monument. There I am in the photo bundled up in my coat.  It was beautiful.

Blessings, peace, and joy!

Dinah

Sunday Morning at Unity of San Francisco – Dec. 4th

Rev. Sonya Milton and me

I was up and at ’em early last Sunday morning to arrive at Unity of San Francisco early enough to do a sound check before the service. I received a warm welcome and was embraced by this  jubilant congregation. Thank you, Cinder Ernst and Uma Maedke for helping to make this singing opportunity happen for me. During her talk, Rev. Sonya Milton reminded us to think on being filled with that hope and expectancy in the coming weeks that something wonderful is happening within us.  “Something truly worth waiting for” is the realization of our Oneness with GOD. The dawning of this LIGHT in our minds and hearts is happening all the time. That light within us is the CHRIST light… oftentimes, just awaiting our recognition of it.

My heart was truly overflowing with gratitude to be able to deliver my message in song, which is… we are loved with a HUGE MAGNIFICENT LOVE that is everlasting and connects us all in a beautiful way. “Beloved,” which is track 9 on my CD “Rivers of Living Waters,” is fast becoming a favorite of many. It speaks of the unique, rare quality that we all have.

We all have gifts we have been sent to share with the world. Our LIGHT shines so brilliantly for the entire world to see and to share. I encourage you to LET your LIGHT shine. YOU are the one we all have been waiting for. Your gifts are the blessed heavenly gifts that we all have been waiting for. So SHINE ON, my beloveds! YOU ARE the BELOVED child of GOD. Do you know how special you are? Has anyone told you lately? If not, please find a nice quiet spot and let me sing it to you…. Love and infinite blessings to you this week and throughout this joyous season!

Love, peace, and joy!

– Dinah

Uma Maedke and Michael Grossman

 

Exciting News and BIG fun in Thousand Oaks!

On November 5th, I flew into Burbank and hopped on over to Unity of the Oaks in Thousand Oaks, CA, just in time for an all-day retreat/workshop on self-care. It was just what I needed!  We learned how to take care of ourselves – – everything from mindful eating, prayer and meditation, to restorative yoga. Americans are busy folks, and we need to learn to slow down and take time out to sooth the soul and body. It was perfect timing. After a lovely dinner at the home of my friends, Marti and Dom, I turned in for some good ol’ sleep so that I could be up and at ’em on Sunday morning to do a sound check at 9 a.m. before the Sunday service. My heart is still overflowing with gratitude, and I am still floating on a cloud of love thanks to all those good vibes from the Unity of the Oaks congregation. Thanks again to Rev. Molly Rockey, Senior Minister, and my musical support team at the Oaks, Zach and Brynn Spencer.

More Exciting News! I have been on two Unity.FM internet radio programs in the past couple of weeks. On November 1, 2011, I joined Rev. Paulette Pipe on “Touching the Stillness,” and on November 10, 2011, I was guest on “Receive your Life” with Janice Campbell. You may check out both programs by going to Unity.FM  and downloading the podcast (type Unity.FM in your browser and scroll on the right to locate the programs).  Both programs played songs from my new CD, “Rivers of Living Waters.” I am so blessed and so very grateful for these awesome opportunities. Please tell your friends. Spread the word. Thanks, Rev. Paulette! Thanks, Janice! 

Blessings to you all – – Peace & Love,

    – Dinah

(Photo L to R – Rev. Molly, me, Zach, and Brynn)

“Touching the Stillness” – The Backstory on the Song

This is the story of how the song “Touching the Stillness” came about. It is Track 2 on my new CD:

I met Rev. Paulette Pipe during one of my trips to Unity Village to take S.E.E. (Spiritual Education and Enrichment) classes. She is the founder and host of an internet radio program called “Touching the Stillness” on Unity.FM.  I LOVE her pioneering spirit that calls us to come apart from our daily activities to focus on stilling our minds and having quiet time to go within.

One day last summer while I was out for a walk, a little melody popped into my head as I began to turn my walk into a meditative walk. I began to think on how much meditation means to me, and words began to flow out of me that reflected my experience with meditation.

My deepest heart’s desire was just to sing and share a soulful, spirited ballad about my personal experience that would in some way call others into this beautiful, sacred experience of meditation. I knew the title was not original, but I always believed that there was an instant connection when Paulette and I met. And I believe this song came “through” me as an expression of a shared joy and appreciation for meditation.

Personally, the biggest leap in my prayer life came when I learned to meditate. I felt it deepened my prayer life tremendously. It was the mid-80s, and I was coming to a crossroads in my life. Everything was falling apart it seems. But that’s when I knew I was headed for a break-through to another level. Prayer and meditation carried me through it all. Meditation was all new to me back then. I didn’t really know how to get quiet and still the incessant mind chatter that was going all the time. The grieving of a divorce, having to start all over, finding new employment and a new place to live was all given over to the living, indwelling Presence within.  Somehow my darkest days turned bright as I just let go and sat in the Silence, and just listened for the still small voice guiding me, loving me, and strengthening me. Old patterns started to break up, and I started to see the reality of Truth living in, as, and through me, instead of me trying to pray and make things happen. I started to love myself more and started to see the radiant, brilliant light of God’s Love even more by meditating. By spending quiet time, my sense of worthiness grew. I could see the pattern of “looking for love in all the wrong places” was starting to wane.

Each and every moment is so precious in meditation. Contemplating God’s infinite love was how I began, if only for 5 or 10 minutes….and then I moved into sitting quietly acknowledging my Oneness just as Jesus did (I and the Father are one), not asking for anything (15, 20, 30 minutes….or whatever; it’s not about quantity but quality)….just being there, being fully present made all the difference. What was significant was to just DO it; it felt weird at first, just sitting and doing nothing??? But after a while, things started to shift and unfold. I knew something greater than my little ‘self’ was working and creating my NEW life, renewing me, re-shaping, re-inventing, etc., and it’s STILL going strong!

So, this song is not about some fad or passing fancy, but it’s about something I have lived for over 20 years now. And it has made all the difference in my life. No matter where you are and what you are experiencing, there is a place you can go….within yourself… and find peace, love, and the true joy that’s always been there waiting for you to tap into it. I pray that this song, “Touching the Stillness,” will be a blessing to you and a blessing to the world! May your life blossom and spring forward as never before!

Love & infinite joy,

Dinah