Week 1- Déjà vu All Over Again

We lost a great man in September with the passing of Yogi Berra. images3The legendary Yankee catcher was known not only to baseball fans, but to all who remember his funny and infamous sayings like, “It ain’t over ‘til it’s over,” or “When you come to a fork in the road, take it.” I thought of Yogi at the start of this Master Key Experience. Last year I was new and found the course a real challenge. This year would be different; it would be easier.  After all, I’d read all the material and done the exercises. This year, as a guide, I am privileged to work with some incredible members who, like me, want to change their lives. I was right about this year being different, but not exactly easier as I had imagined. When the DMPs started rolling in, I was knee deep in the process and thought of Yogi.  A new challenge,   “It’s like déjà vu all over again.”
He was a funny guy.  I wonder, would Haanel agree with Berra’s, “Baseball is 90% mental and the other half is physical?” How better could I have expressed the importance of specificity in smart goals than saying, “You’ve got to be very careful if you don’t know where you are going, because you might not get there?” Everybody knows practice makes perfect.  “In theory there is no difference between theory and practice. In practice there is.”

Yogi was a great champion, but we too are heroes heeding the call; taking the journey. Armed with our DMP, the exercises, Haanel, Mandino, and making our future self our new best friend; we are optimistic and rejoice in the knowing that now, finally, our lives will change for the better; or as Yogi said, “The future ain’t what it used to be.”
Thanks Yogi

Week(s) 21, 22 & 23 – Frère Jacques

I was writing about Haanel’s Part Twenty-One when he called.

I was saying that this chapter could stand on its own as a powerful essay. If I were to read only one chapter it would be this one. I had highlighted so much:…think big thoughts…The real secret of power is consciousness of power…whatever we become conscious of, is invariably manifested in the objective world…mind is extraordinary in quality, limitless in quantity, and contains possibilities without number…it is well to hold ideas large enough to counteract and destroy all small or undesirable tendencies…one of the methods of organizing victory…He thinks big thoughts…we find that our lives are simply the reflection of our predominant thoughts…if you do not like the pictures, destroy the negatives and create new pictures…continue to hold the picture in mind until results are obtained…Do not hesitate to aspire to the highest possible attainments in anything you may undertake…think of the ideal as an already accomplished fact.

As I said, I was writing about Haanel when I received the call from Jon.Frere-Jacques

To the European reader, in the U.S. the song Frère Jacques is not so much about Brother Jacob, the monk who overslept and was urged to wake up and sound the bells for matins. It is sometimes called “Are You Sleeping,” and is about a sleeping brother named John, or in this instance, my brother, Jon.

The day before the call: Suffering abdominal pain, Jon had driven himself to the hospital, feinted, was transferred to a more advanced hospital and underwent emergency surgery for what was believed to be an infection or other complication from a year-old appendectomy. When he called, I didn’t understand him, but knew I was talking to the narcotics. I also knew that he was alone.

Jon has a home a ways east of Columbus, Ohio in the town of Nashport. Scarce local employment opportunity has him managing an auto repair shop in Cleveland, over two hours away where he keeps a small efficiency apartment. He’s been there a year and knows exactly four people; all mechanics. Its all work until he drives home for his days off. He’s in Ohio, I’m in Minnesota, and our sister, Janis, lives in New Jersey. After a second confusing call with Jon, Janis and I spoke and decided I’d go to Cleveland to find out what’s what. I packed for five days and stayed for sixteen.

When I arrived the next morning, the surgeon had just been there and told Jon he had colon cancer. At 53 he’s still the baby of the family and these things don’t happen. What followed were complications, a second surgery, NG tubes, wound vacs, and generally painful and very unpleasant things. Jon and I, having both lost women to that damnable breast cancer, witnessing the lengthy process, know what may lie ahead for him.  He is frightened. He’ll undergo chemo at least, but how much more is speculation at this point. How I wish he understood the power of visualization. It is pointless to attempt a crash course, but I can continue to feed bits of helpful information.

I stayed with him from seven in the morning until ten in the evening. I was only comfortable when he slept. Dormez-vous ? or is it tu? With unreliable internet and the regular commotion of hospital procedures I was unable to think of myself, the blog, my DMP, or any of it: I wasn’t getting emails. I was out of the Master Key…for a while.

Later, when he started watching TV, I couldn’t hold any constructive thoughts in my head. The History Channel and Discovery Channel have nothing to do with either. I can tell you all about mining gold in Alaska, homesteading in Alaska, pawn brokers in Las Vegas, searching for the lost Dutchman mine somewhere out west, restoring 60’s muscle cars, salvaging trees out of swamps by people that still have a few of their teeth, and other topics I have thankfully forgotten. I felt my IQ steadily drain by about 30 points. It’s his room. It’s his cancer. I kept thinking of the extraneous TV time I’d given up for my DMP…but this wasn’t about me. I was truly out of it.

With the “C” news, Janis drove out from New Jersey. Being a nurse practitioner, Jon was comfortable with her being there when the doctors gave us updates. I convinced her to leave after about five days to keep her scheduled flight to Finland. I would stay as long as I was able. Going on her vacation would also signal to Jon that she thought things were OK.

Thirteen days after I arrived, after several setbacks, Jon was finally released and I drove him home. I stayed with him for three more days then drove home myself.

You’re probably asking what this personal story has to do with my experience in the Master Key course. The short answer is nothing and everything. I said I was out for a while. I wasn’t reading Og or Haanel, flashing cards, verbally claiming my DMP, or any of that. Yet…everything was “colored” by this experience. I don’t know how else to explain it. I was always thinking of it. So many times I remember thinking, “I wish he knew about…” I listened to what the doctors and nurses said and reflected on how it fit (or didn’t) into this way of thinking. I missed reading Haanel. I was aware and concerned about falling further behind (and knew I would have to pay for it catching up), yet still found it difficult to move. I visualized for him.

Looking back, had I pulled out the Franklin makeover I could have filled it with so many check marks in those couple of weeks. What sticks strongest in my mind are thoughts of courage, kindness, and gratefulness. Courage everywhere: Jon, definitely the nurses, and even at times, me. Kindness = nurses. There are so many things for which I’m grateful: A terrific new hospital. The quality of medical care and professional personnel. The facility near his home to send nurses out three days a week to change his wound-vac dressing. I’m grateful that Jon took the advice of his older brother to consult his headhunter about quitting his current job. Jon was looking to change jobs. A headhunter had contacted him and sent him on a few interviews. One company looked so promising that Jon was going to quit his job to have a little time off before starting the new job. I said it was a bad idea. Janis said it was a bad idea. He was about to quit anyway. I suggested he contact the headhunter to get her opinion on his being unemployed in the event this deal fell through. She said it was a bad idea. That was about four weeks before the operation. He kept working.  The deal fell through. I am so grateful that Jon is insured and has a job to return to when he is able. I don’t want to think about what two operations, seventeen days in the hospital, and all that is to come, would look like to the uninsured. I am so grateful.

Frère Jacques, frère Jacques,
Dormez-vous ? Dormez-vous ?
Sonnez les matines! Sonnez les matines!
Ding, dang, dong. Ding, dang, dong.

Week 20 – What else?

I frequently hear how busy people are, how hard they’re working, and how they just don’t have time to do what they want to do. I have friends call me from work and talk as if they had all the time in the world, while telling me how many hours they’re working. People I see in a parked car, or in a grocery store or library are talking on the phone, texting, checking email and Facebook. Techno toys have complicated our lives. These conveniences come with a heavy price tag – time. I think they consume more time that they save. Any PC owner who caught a good virus (raise your hand if you haven’t) knows how much time is wasted trying to fix the problem. This is coincidentally a good time to upgrade the PC.

I’m not suggesting we change anything, but rather accept that we are willing participants and partly responsible for the hectic lifestyle we lead.

I am writing about this, because of my own frustration of not accomplishing more every day. Wanting to know where the time goes I started logging my days from waking to climbing into bed. When I decided to do something I did five other things first. When I started in earnest, I constantly took side trips to see if I had any new Twitter followers, or new emails or whatever. Sometimes I was only doing fifteen minutes of productive work in an hour’s time. Not a pretty site.

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No surprise this week’s word in the Franklin Makeover was “discipline.” The real surprise was I actually thought this was something I was good at! I thought I had laser focus. I probably do, but apparently my laser overheats and operates only in short bursts! I’m actually pretty happy about this discovery.  A new project.  I’ll stick with the log which is both frustrating and motivating.  Without knowledge there’s no progress.


Hannel- All great things come through recognition.
I wonder. What else am I pretending not to know?

Week 19 – Give More

 

Give more-get more. Give more in order to get more. It sounds a little like bartering.

  th

I recently had an experience that changed my view about giving. I was able to help someone which resulted in them feeling happy and appreciative. I felt great. Reflecting later, I realized I hadn’t done it to “get more”, yet I did get a wonderful feeling. Without promise of reciprocity, it simply feels good to give.

I was reminded of the saying “It is better to give than receive.” Immediately followed by the thought, “Yes, it certainly is.”  Then I started actually thinking.  Why does one have to be better?  Why the unnecessary comparative; the limiting belief that receiving is “less” than?  How do we achieve/receive what we want, believing that doing so is pursuing a “lesser” virtue? How does this belief affect the subconscious mind working to manifest our desires?  I decided the saying no longer served me well and so modified it to read, “It is wonderful to give and fabulous to receive.” If I want abundance, I have to be open to receiving it. It’s all good!  We’re in the flow.

Speaking of abundance, we can never run out of things to give. There is no limit to our capacity to give warm smiles, thanks, hope, hugs, compliments, a helping hand, encouragement, love, give peace a chance…

So I’m still good with “give more – get more”, but I’m also OK with just “give more,” without reason, without thought of receiving…just because it feels good. Give, but don’t give UP.  This far into the MKMMA course, give yourself permission to see it through to the end.dont-give-up

Week 18 – That must be the abyss

Confusion

The question I’ve wrestled with all week is how to deal with the confusion. I like Haanel, but so many statements are nonsensical. He cites theories as factual certainties, but anyone who appreciates the scientific method is shaking his head. I value his lessons as a very positive and helpful philosophy. I truly enjoy reading the chapters, but have to slip past a few sentences, pretending I hadn’t seen them. (I can hear someone saying that I’m refusing the Hero’s Journey.)

Confusion

I am here in part because of the desire to build a very successful business. A very successful business. I want the business because I desire a certain lifestyle. I want the lifestyle to include spending summers living aboard and cruising my sailboat in Europe. The last, along with other things not mentioned, is my true definite major purpose. Should it not be a burning desire with zero regard for the methods to attain it? If so, why do I focus on the business? Is the business not a method? I came here wanting the business (method) for the income for the lifestyle. If the lifestyle is the compass is not the business the clock? Am I living life backwards?

ConfusionSea-Beach-Cloud-Dark-Clouds-Storm-1080x1920

There is a storm brewing and I’m headed for the middle of it. No matter if I change course, I will still be affected. I and two friends were delivering a sailboat to Norway. En route to landfall in Ireland, the route planning service available via sat phone told us to keep south of 48 degrees. There was a storm of near hurricane strength developing northwest of Ireland. They recommended we head for Portugal. We had no charts for Portugal. The next day they recommended we head for Brest. We had no charts for Brest. The next day they recommended we head for Lands End. We had no charts for Lands End. We were headed for Ireland where we had detailed charts of the safe havens as well as the hazards. According to Haanel, although I thought I wanted fair weather, my thought energy influenced electrons manifesting a storm over Ireland affecting us, hundreds of other vessels, and thousands of people on the west coast. Who knew?

Confusion

At the moment I’m lost in the Hero’s Journey. I’m in one of three places. I’m at the threshold going into the unknown (although I feel this is the unknown). Or I’m in a challenge (duh!). Or I’m looking into the abyss. Not really looking forward to the death. There are so many discrepancies. I am seeking to understand, but fear that is too much to expect. One might say that it is just my old blueprint? One interpretation.  I’ve lived with the question.  Where are the answers?

Confusion

Week 17 HJ – Reflections

heros-journey-cycle1

What began as the desire to refine my definite major purpose in life in order to grow my business, changed into the desire to grow me. Perhaps what changed was my perspective. I think I see the DMP as something outside of myself whereas I’m now drawn to look within. The personal pivotal needs may be what connect these differing views. Maybe they represent the focal constant which remains unchanged as goals are achieved: the goals being milestones along the path. The burning desire to achieve is intact and I see personal growth now as the end as well as the means.

Certainly I was influenced by the lesson that we don’t achieve in order to become happy, but rather become happy and then achieve. More than this, however, I was influenced by the daily routine.

At four months, these routines should be habit, but…how easy would it be to revert? I can see how one could take a break and never get back. Not for me. That is the old blueprint: there lies the danger.  I fear the loss.

I’m fine keeping one sentence from each of Mandino’s scrolls without continuously rereading the book. Haanel, on the other hand, has much to offer by digging deeper. I think his science is shaky in spots, but I believe in his message. I am always slightly uncomfortable moving ahead to the next chapter, feeling  I haven’t fully digested the current one. He’s a keeper.

The meditation is fantastic. I have practiced it on and off over the years. Being nudged by the sit back into its practice reignited my interest. With all the lessons learned in this course, I’ve developed a greater understanding of, and appreciation for what meditation gives me. I believe it is my most valued new habit. It feels good and gives great insight. I am so grateful being led back to it. (I have to write a card.)

I am also grateful (another card) that we have two more months on this journey before being turned loose. I know my habits will be (if not already) permanently changed for the better. My thinking process has certainly been altered. For those of us that have made it this far, we’ll never see life’s challenges quite the same. This has been a wonderful, awful, challenging, gratifying, frustrating, rewarding…harmonious and happy experience.  I believe completing this course will evidence that we’ve all accepted the call to action, stepped into the unknown, and embarked on the Hero’s Journey.

Week 17 – Unsettled

questionmarksjpgI’ve struggled more this week than previous weeks to settle on a subject to write about. Unsettled actually describes me well. I have not so much a feeling of lagging behind but rather, of hoping that I’ve done enough; that the effort I’ve made (which seems enormous) will be sufficient to manifest the changes I desire. Mark was right about sliding.
Sunday’s webinar got me thinking about the challenge and frustration of not doing all the assignments perfectly. I can do my best, but at the expense of some things not getting done. Am I using imperfection as an excuse to hold onto the old blueprint? Is this resistance to change? I don’t know, but have decided to treat it as such, to stop giving it energy, and just keep moving forward. I came up with a visualization that I believe will help, which is to see the frustration, conflicts, questioning, and general imperfections of the process as the glue binding the cement to my golden Buddha. I want to eliminate the glue.
Although there are wonderful goals in my definite major purpose in life, I’m seeing a single overriding goal emerge: the ability to control my thoughts. I’ve read Mandino and recited affirmations realizing my mind had strayed to other things. Familiarity led to wandering. I restart with increased fervor to focus. By the fifth time I say, “Do it now. I can be what I will to be. I am whole, perfect, strong, powerful, loving, harmonious and happy,” I’m focusing on the number five instead of what I’m reciting. Next comes six and so on through to the end of the affirmation count.
I’m working on an idea to help refocus when I drift. It involves visualization. I’ll write about it later this week. Stay tuned.
In the meantime my thoughts are on controlling my thoughts and dissolving the glue…and staying focused.

Week 16 – Kindness

coverI imagine kindness is the topic of many entries this week.  I wonder though how did I learn about kindness as a child?  To be absolutely clear, I decided to consult the highest authority on proper behavior: The Boy Scout Handbook.

On page 90 in my 1959 version I found the answer:

a Scout is KIND

If you have a dog or other animal pet of your own you are probably already kind to it. You want it to love you and you know that this will happen only if you take good care of it. You have to understand when it needs food and water and shelter and special attention. If you live on a farm you know how well poultry and livestock respond to good care.

In your life as a scout…

I thought I’d find something about helping an old lady to cross the street.  Maybe this wasn’t the kindness I was looking for…or was it?  I’ve had dogs: golden retrievers.  I took good care of them.  I understood when they needed food and water and shelter and special attention.

I want to be treated like I treated them.

Perhaps if I learned to treat myself half as well as I treated my dogs, I could learn to be kind to me.

There’s a wealth of knowledge in that book.

Week 15 – Living in harmony

giant_stepsWhat is harmony?

As a student I studied harmony relative to classical music and as an adult, jazz. The rules are as long as your arm and once learned, it’s pretty noticeable when one has been violated. The trained ear hears a lot.

On the other hand, to live in harmony with natural law, the rules are fewer, simpler, and of profound importance, yet not always as easy to see when violated. Recognition comes from observing our world “without.” The question is: how do we train the emotional ear?

Maybe it’s the red pencil syndrome, but we often judge the good not for what it is, but by the absence of bad; positive by the absence of negative. Not hearing a wrong note does not make the music inspired. Lack of pain or disease is no assurance of health. Lack of emotional discomfort is no testament to a life lived in harmony. Apathy, dullness of thought, distraction, or moral slumber can distance us from recognizing signals barely glimpsed in the fog.

Where I seek health, I look to eliminate symptoms. My barometer for harmony indicates only foul weather, not fair. It’s raining and I want it to stop.

Haanel…as thought changes, all outward or material conditions must change in order to be in harmony with their creator, which is thought.

If you wish harmonious conditions in your life, you must develop an harmonious mental attitude.

I know I’m not becoming more negative, but rather increasingly sensitive to infractions of the mental diet. The heightened awareness allows me more frequently to burn off the fog and see discord. Perhaps this is the correlation to the ear training done so many years ago. I’m not yet writing a symphony, but merely hearing more of the wrong notes. Perhaps that is the path: to start by overwriting the bad notes with sonorous ones and move one step closer to a life of true harmony.

Now, when I see I challenge, and my thought is:

This is not what I want.

Overwrite this with a positive thought.

Do it now.

I can be what I will to be.

I am whole, perfect, strong, powerful, loving, harmonious and happy.

Week 14 – I’m OK after all

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The day after Christmas I drove up to spend a week at my cabin in northern Wisconsin. Reading the suggested movie list, I realized I should have researched this before heading off to the woods. A search through the Crackle app on my iPad revealed one of the chosen was available: Rudy.

What a break for me. I loved the movie and watched it twice. It demonstrated much of what we’ve learned in this course to date. DMP, PMA, POA, and with a priest and roommate, MMA. Rudy’s DMP was very clear. He was going to play football for Notre Dame. The perfect example of “with zero regard,” he was too small, not a good athlete, didn’t have the grades to get into the school, didn’t have enough money, had the encouragement of only one friend, everyone else said it couldn’t be done.

He suited up, played one play, and sacked the quarterback in the last game of his senior year. He did the impossible.

I was humbled by his accomplishment. Then the emotional roller coaster began. I was at first so thrilled for him to achieve such a goal. Then I felt a little inadequate, striving for what seemed to be a lesser goal. My DMP was just for myself instead of something greater, not so grand. I challenged it for a day. After watching it the second time, I realized his goals were just for him. He wasn’t trying to fix the world or right a wrong. When he explained to the priest why this was so important, it came down to proving to his family and others that he could do it. He wanted to show them they were wrong.

Yet although it was for him, the effects were much greater. Although not his goal, his example was a service to others. None from his family had previously attended college. Following his example, five of his younger siblings did. He was a constant example to his teammates for always giving his best. His success led to the movie, which influenced thousands of children and adults to reawaken the goal they may have put aside. He is an example to us all.

I started to feel good about my DMP again, which led to considering how my accomplishment might be of service to others. Who might I influence or encourage along the way? I decided I’m OK after all.