When was the last time you learned something new?

“When was the last time you learned something new?” was a question I used to ask candidates interviewing for positions when I was working in Human Resources. It was amazing to me how many people were stumped by this question. It was not my intention to stump anyone; rather, I was seeking out  people who have a zest for learning, are open-minded, can change their minds when presented with new information. The Vice Presidents and CEOs that I supported insisted on these qualities in the people we brought on board.

I  love learning new things and having my mind-set challenged by contrarian views. This week I was so challenged.


Prashna asked me if I could  provide transportation to West Springfield High School to one of her 4th grade classmates who is also in the band. The Elementary School band is performing at the West Springfield High School. Prashna is in the school band; she plays the trombone. “Sure, no problem”, I say.

I picked up the young girl at the house that Prashna directs me to. Her Mom comes outside. I get out of the car and introduce myself, assuming that the Mom must be concerned about the person who is driving her daughter to and from the school for the evening performance. I also give the Mom my business card so she knows my name and has my telephone numbers and somehow I think it makes me seem more legit.

She doesn’t give me her telephone number which would be more practical, should some situation emerge regarding her daughter. I don’t even know her last name.

She is Muslim, wearing the traditional dress and head covering. She is petite and quite beautiful. She seems stressed and explains that her husband works many hours and at night. He works at a restaurant. I ask if she has other children. Yes, an infant and a three year old, one of whom has Down’s Syndrome. She takes my hand and we say good-bye.

Zmrda is a lovely 10 year old girl. She is well-spoken and poised. She too wears the traditional head covering of Muslim women.


Later, Prashna asked if I can provide transportation for Zmrda, if she gets accepted in the GOTR program.

Girls On The Run is an after-school program for girls that focuses on fitness through educating them and preparing them for a lifetime of self respect and healthy living. The ultimate goal of GOTR  “is to provide the girls with tools and resources that develop their ability to think critically–a skill that will serve them well for a lifetime.”

Prashna gotr

Prashna let me know that Zmrda was accepted into the GOTR program. I contacted the school coordinator and let her know that I would be providing  Zmrda transportation from school to home and asked if the proper clearance was given by the parents so as to avoid any problems when I pick up Zmrda  later in the afternoon.

Ms. O’Brien returned my call and said “yes” the form had stated “Mrs. Susan” [that’s what Prashna and Zmrda call me] as the ‘responsible party’.  Ms. O’Brien wanted to be sure that meant me and she had confirmed it with Zmrda’s Dad by telephone.

I enjoy seeing the girls two afternoons a week. They have become friends and listening to their conversation is always enlivening.

This past Tuesday, I brought Freddy along for the ride as I would not be making any other stops along the way. [On Thursdays, I bring Prashna to Girl Scouts meetings, after we drop off Zrmrda.]  As Prashna is approaching my car, she sees Freddy and Freddy sees her and they both are very excited.

Freddy in the car

As the two girls tumble into the car, Prashna tells Zmrda Freddy’s name and says that he is a good dog and says how much she likes him. She is petting him and Freddy is wagging his tail uncontrollably. Zmrda sits back and says her Mother does not allow her to touch a dog. I ask why and she says “because dogs are dirty and they have germs.”

Uh-oh, did Freddy hear that?


“Say what?”

Islam forbids Muslims to keep dogs, and the punishment for that is that the one who does that loses one or two qiraats from his hasanaat (good deeds) each day. An exception has been made in the case of keeping dogs for hunting, guarding livestock, and guarding crops.

Most Muslim scholars agree that in Islam the saliva of a dog is ritually impure and that contact with a dog’s saliva requires one to wash seven times. This ruling comes from the hadith:

The Prophet, peace be upon him, said: “If a dog licks the vessel of any one of you, let him throw away whatever was in it and wash it seven times.”

Prashna’s response to the situation was: “Zmrda, pet him and then you can wash your hands and your Mom won’t know what you did.”

Yes, she did say that and I did admonish her for it.

The Nepalis have their own rituals about cleanliness, washing, food and what one can and cannot do with their right and left hands.

I am uncomfortable with beliefs, superstitions, traditions, and rituals that have no basis in what is True. I know I am wandering into dangerous territory here. It just doesn’t sit well with me that parents let their child get into a car with a woman they do not know, yet the same child cannot pet the women’s dog. Which, the stranger woman or the dog, poses the gravest potential danger?

I heard a commentator on television the other day say that “it’s not that Trump doesn’t know anything, it’s that he doesn’t learn anything new and he is not open to learning anything new.”

Religions need to question and revise their man-made interpretations of Truth as new knowledge and insight unfold. Religious dogma cannot remain steeped in the past with all of its cultural backlog and baggage, if it is to be meaningful and relevant to today’s generation.

“Superstition is to religion what astrology is to astronomy, the mad daughter of a wise mother. These daughters have too long dominated the earth.” Voltaire

Jesus, the Nazarene, reminded the Pharisees and the high priests of the day that their religious practices on cleanliness missed the mark when he was asked “Why do your disciples break the traditions of the elders?  They don’t wash their hands before they eat.”

Jesus replied, “And why do you break the command of God for the sake of your tradition?”

Jesus then taught the people, saying “it is not what you touch or put in your body that defiles it; for what you put in your mouth goes into the stomach and then out of the body. Rather it is “the emissions of your hearts, your thoughts, words and deeds that cause you to be unclean. But eating with unwashed hands does not make you unclean.” Matthew 15

Petting, touching or kissing a dog does not make you unclean.


To read about Prashna and my involvement with a Nepali family, read a previous story:







Pennies from Heaven

Do you have a prosperity consciousness?

I do.

Prosperity means enjoying peace of mind, health, happiness, financial success, and perfect self-expression.

Consciousness means the state of being awake and aware of one’s surroundings; the awareness or perception of something by a person; the fact of awareness by the mind of itself and the world.


The other day I was in a parking lot when I saw a penny. I picked it up and said “Thank you God. Now, one million times this comes to me, for my personal use, under grace.” Then, I saw another penny. I said the same affirmation. Then, I saw a third penny and said the affirmation again.

I’m serious.

The reason I do this is because I want to show The Universe that I accept all gifts from God, small and large. It has been said that “Thank You, God.” is one of the best prayers you can pray. I believe it and practice it.

Gratitude unlocks the fullness of life. It turns what we have into enough, and more. It turns denial into acceptance, chaos to order, confusion to clarity. It can turn a meal into a feast, a house into a home, a stranger into a friend. Gratitude makes sense of our past, brings peace for today, and creates a vision for tomorrow.  Melody Beattie

My father taught me to have a prosperity consciousness way before I started reading and learning from the great spiritual teachers such as Catherine Ponder, Eric Butterworth, Emmet Fox, Depra Chopra, Charles and Myrtle Fillmore, Florence Scovel Shinn, May Rowland, and others.

Joe used to say to my mother all the time: “Give Susie whatever she wants.” I grew up believing I could have everything I wanted. And, you know what? I do. I always have. I cringe when I hear parents tell their children that they can’t have everything they want.

Peace be within thy Walls and Prosperity within thy Palaces.  122nd Psalm

One year, my tax accountant shook his head and said “I don’t know how you do it.” I hardly had any income, I was in grad school full-time, yet I managed my home, wore nice clothes, took care of myself in a nice fashion, vacationed in Aruba. The thing is God, our heavenly Father, provides for me and for you.


“The Lord is my Shepherd; I shall not want.” 23rd Psalm

I also practice The Power of Ten. This means when I have a financial transaction, whether I am buying something, paying a bill, or receiving any money, I affirm: “Thank you God for this bounty. Ten times this amount now comes to me freely, quickly, and for my personal use, under grace.”

The Power of Ten also includes Tithing one tenth of one’s income to the spiritual organization or person from whom you get your spiritual inspiration, on a regular basis. If you give sporadically, you will receive sporadically.

Jesus said “I have come so that you will have life and have it abundantly.”

I have never felt needy or in need. I have wanted, desired certain material things and I have worked and saved for them.  I came into this world with certain God-given skills and talents and you did, too. Remember the biblical story of the man who gave money to his three servants. Two of them spent or invested the money and the third buried his money. The master gave more money to the two who used the money and he took away the money squandered by the third man.

The meaning I take from this story is that we all have been given gifts and it is up to us to make use of what we have been given, to the best of our ability and we will be rewarded, “with the kingdom of heaven” as God promised.

“Your diamonds are not in far distant mountains or in yonder seas; they are in your own backyard, if you but dig for them.” Russell H. Conwell

I have desired intangible things, too, and I have prayed and worked towards those desires and goals. Health, happiness, loving relationships. I suffered with depression for a long time. I  am now relieved of that heavy, dark burden. I have always enjoyed good health. However, I practice healthy habits and strive for a positive outlook. It took me a long time and many prayers for Bruce to come into my life. Spirit is never too late. “Thank You, God!”

I even prayed for a dog to come into my life after Casey passed in 1999. Freddy, the best dog in the world, came to us in 2013. We tell Freddy we love him all the time and add “And more importantly, God loves you.”


I keep on praying until what I want comes into my life and I try not to worry about time. I have faith that the best will come, in the right way and the right time. The longer your good is in coming, the greater it will be when it arrives.

“And it shall come to pass, that before they call, I will answer; and while they are yet speaking, I will hear. Isaiah 65:24  This means that every good and perfect gift is already awaiting your recognition.

I want to know about you–Do you have a prosperity consciousness? Do you thank God for EVERYTHING? What is your prayer life like?

Please share your thoughts in the comments section.