Explore James' Teachings and Insights on All Things Spiritual


Sep 4, 2021 | JVP's Blog

A Guest Blog by Julia Schoennagel

I hope you’ve been enjoying the guest blogs from my advanced mediumship students as much as I’ve enjoyed reading and sharing them. As we head into the back-to-school season which will be followed by the holiday season, I hope you’ll keep Julie’s words in mind and make sure you honor yourself, your spiritual gifts, and your creativity – no matter how busy you are!

Love and Light!


I’m sure you’ve noticed there’s a lot of hype currently about being authentic, about being true to oneself, about honoring ourselves.  And if we are honest about it, this is really a problem for most of us.  We’re so caught up in the busy-ness of our worlds—get up, get ready for work, get the job done, get home, feed the husband and cat, answer our emails, text our boyfriend—that we don’t have time for US.  Women are particularly pathetic at doing anything for themselves, because they’re almost always putting others first.  And being single doesn’t allow us any more time for ourselves; even solo folks have long lists of must-do-for-everyone-else.  Sound familiar?  Guilty as charged, right?

Lately I’ve been thinking a lot about the fifth principle of Spiritualism:  personal responsibility.  To a large extent, we take it to mean that we are accountable for everything we do, for how we act, for what we say.  But can’t we think of it in this way, as well: personal responsibility is responsibility to our own person, that is, our own Self?  (Yes, you can spell that with a capital “S” if you like.)

Try to imagine a world in which each of us puts our Self first.  Oops—can’t do that—that would be selfish, wouldn’t it?  But is it really?  What if putting our Self first meant that we do truly honor our Self, that we look at what we would really like to do instead of what we have to do?  What if we decided to get up one morning and, instead of putting in a load of laundry and then hosing down the driveway, we sat down with a cup of our favorite java and wrote a poem?  What if we left cleaning out the garage and the ironing to go spend the afternoon with our grandkids and their new puppy?  What if we sat in meditation first thing in the morning and last thing at night, giving even a few words of gratitude for the day to come and the day that has been?  What if we agreed with our self to write three pages, every day, of that novel we’ve promised to do “someday”?  Why can’t “someday” be right now?

I know what you’re going to say:  writing a poem isn’t going to pay the rent (well, maybe not right now; it might one day hence).  I’ve gotta go to work!  And I say to you, what about your lunch hour?  Your coffee break?  Your ride on the Skytrain?  What about journaling as you travel?

Many years ago, when I was struggling with life and money and unfaithful boyfriends, an artist friend said that art was the most important thing, and that if I painted, then everything else would be taken care of.  At the time, I didn’t understand what he meant.  I do now.  He was talking about being true to myself, only in those days they called it fulfillment.  It does make sense that if we are fulfilled, we’ll be happier, we’ll do better, we’ll thrive, we’ll earn more.  Even become more spiritual.

Perhaps this is part of why we are here on this earth:  because we want to learn a little more about being spiritual.  Consider this:  If we’re too busy to use our gifts and thus neglecting our Self, does this mean that we are less spiritual?  Or, like the eventuality of composing our symphony, are we going to put off being spiritual until a future date?  That doesn’t make much sense, does it?

So focus on yourself and be in the now.  Ask yourself whether you are really doing what you want to be doing.  Are you honoring yourself?  If you are wonderful with children, where are the children in your life?  If you are a healer, are you healing?  Are you helping the animals you profess to love?  Will you be making your dearly loved partner your marvelous mile-high lemon pie for dinner tonight?  Do you sit and play the piano, or the guitar, more than once in a while? When was the last time you, the great listener, called your grandma, or your grandpa, or that sick friend?  Were you truly listening to the person who was trying to tell you something?

If you answer “no” to any of the above, then consider that you are not practicing your gifts, not employing those presents from God.  You are denying your Self.  And when we deny ourselves on a constant basis, we cannot possibly be happy, and we cannot possibly expect to grow and develop in Spirit.  What’s so difficult about, “To thine own self be true.”?

But if you choose instead to do the thing you love, to draw on your gifts, what do you suppose will happen?  Remember, success is loving what you do.  Unquestionably as we start to utilize these God-given talents, or “gifts” if you prefer, then we are naturally expressing God within us.  Surely it follows that as we acknowledge the Spirit within, we will acquire a tranquility, a personal peace, an inner radiance, because we will be establishing a closer attunement to Spirit.  Consequently, we will be filled with joy, and the joy will overflow and spill on to everyone around us.  And by becoming this newly joyful, serene person, we will become rich in Spirit, and thus a co-creator of a kinder, gentler—and very much simpler—world.

Surely this personal peace and inner radiance will be brought into our mediumship, a gift we share in service to others.  As we develop a deeper, stronger connection with Spirit, having more trust and appreciation that Spirit—the divine source—is always with us, we can also strengthen the bonds between those who have gone on before and those who remain behind.  Thus our readings, whether private or on the platform, will have a greater depth, and the evidence we bring forth will be more tangible and credible, while the messages given to the recipients will be more meaningful.

A friend of mine suggests that using our talents doesn’t need to have monumental expectations around it.  In fact, we may be totally unaware of how our gifts affect others.  Imagine, she said, a night janitor working in a school.  As he sweeps the floors every night, he sings his heart out, for he has a magnificent tenor voice and he sings songs of love and longing, praise, and joy.  And every morning, when the doors open and the kids run in, they rush into the wonderful energy he has unwittingly created the night before and the vibration of his songs touch their souls.

As you see, there is greatness in small things.

I’d like to end with some thoughts likely authored by the late Elizabeth Stanley Anderson, then mangled and re-written and often attributed to Ralph Waldo Emerson, one of my favorite authors.  In any case, for me, the re-write sums up what Millard Fuller was reminding us of, that we are co-creators with God, that we are to take what we’ve been given with thanks, and make it grow, which brings us a successful, happy existence.  We needn’t merely tiptoe through life.  We can be the best we can be, every minute of every day.

You may have heard these words before.

To laugh, often and much,
To win the respect of intelligent people
and earn the affection of children,
To earn the appreciation of honest critics
and endure the betrayal of false friends,
To appreciate beauty,
To find the best in others,
To leave the world a bit better
whether by a healthy child,
a garden patch
or a redeemed social condition,
To know even one life has breathed easier because you have lived—
This is to have succeeded.

So—in big deeds or small, are you being true to your Self?  Are you being the best you can be?  Are you living in gratitude?  In simplicity?  Remember the night janitor.  Sing.  Stop tiptoeing and start living and be thankful for the gift of life.