Week #9 – Needing to nurture the right seed

What a week.  It seems I go from utter success, keeping up with my schedule and committments, and then the week following I can’t do a doggoned thing on time.  I have to keep reminding myself that it’s just my old blueprint resisting, and I need to keep making the right choices that will build the correct habits and then strengthen them.

50,000 words, five days early!

On the plus side,  I met the NaNoWriMo challenge!!  Oh, yes.  50,000 words on November the 26th!  I am whole, perfect, strong, powerful, loving, harmonious, creative and happy!  Now it’s just a matter of finishing the rough draft, and going back through it with a fine-tooth comb to make sure my characters stay consistent, that I don’t emphasize to death certain details, finesse others, and that the storyline follows the plan and doesn’t interfere in what’s already been established in a book that takes place at a later time (which I wrote first).

“And if you do not intend to finish a thing, Do. Not. Start.”

But on the days I fall behind, it’s hard to remember that I’ve had successes to build on; on the days I do well, I celebrate and then think “why exactly did I do that, when it’s not really that big a thing?”  This, despite knowing why celebration for seemingly minor things is not just important, but crucial, to the building of good habits.

And all the while I’m wondering, am I doing the things that will further my DMP, or is this distraction by a bright new shiny toy, even though I’m accomplishing things?  What’s my priority?  How much time should I devote to writing, and how much to photography, and how much to writing about photography?  I have to start producing income, but if I focus on that, it’ll never happen… at least, not the way I want it to.  It’ll become prison instead of freedom, if it’s all about the income.  At the same time, I can’t just be giving my time away by not working on income-produding activities.

And then I see my favorite plant, in residence in my office window again.  Or I use Haanel’s meditation from MasterKey 9.

Hibiscus in residence!

 

This is my hibiscus.  Jerry got him from Menards a few years ago and planted him in front of the house.  Now, Jerry said he checked with the folks at Menards, and that the plant is a winter-hardy variety… I still don’t know if he is or not.  That first year, I pulled him inside just after the first frost (left it almost too late – this was a couple of years before the ‘do it now, do it now, do it now’) and spent half the winter looking at those pathetic, crisped and dead leaves on lifeless branches, worrying that I’d killed him.

Then he started budding new greenery again; just a slight swelling of a branch-notch at first, becoming a sudden sliver of green, unfolding and pushing outward toward the meagre winter sun coming in through the window.  Then more leaves, all up and down every stem but one, and the dried dead-looking sticks themselves began producing new growth the color of the dark greeny-brown of life.

I was thrilled.  He didn’t bloom again until late the next fall, after I’d pulled him back into the house for the winter – the night of the lunar eclipse.  The flower was a healthy thing of the palest pink, bigger across than my hand.

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He flourished through the winter, though, growing leaves that were darker and larger, the stems becoming so tall I started to wonder if I should take cuttings and grow new plants.  Never did.  I had enough on the sill!  Four tomatoes and the hibiscus.   And then next spring I made a mistake of terrible timing; when I was hardening the hibiscus to the strengthening spring sun, I left him out about four hours longer than I should have, and burned (almost) all his leaves off.

First freezing, then burning.  You think he’d just give up, wouldn’t you?

Nope.  I watched for days, checking the moisture level in the soil obsessively, scrutinizing each stem for new growth…

He recovered again, my hardy tropical hibiscus, growing and thriving in the sweltering summers and frigid winters of southern Minnesota.

Now, I figured with all the energy he spent in regrowing his leaves, if he bloomed at all it would be late, and the flowers few.

How wrong I was!  He set a good dozen flowers starting in late July, each one as big and beautiful as the last – and a much darker pink this time around, almost a fuscia, rather than a blusher pink.

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Again, thrilled.  Enjoying every stage of every bloom, from late July to September.

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I brought him inside again when it started getting colder at night, the days shorter.  And then he surprised me again by setting a second set of blooms!  Seventeen of them.  In the month of November.

Because he doesn’t care overmuch about freezing, burning, gradually-depleting soil; he grows:  He doesn’t obsess over what goes wrong; he grows:  He doesn’t worry about where his benefits are going to come from or how to earn them; he grows.  He soaks in the sun and the rain and makes leaves and flowers and (if fertilized) seeds.  He doesn’t think about the Law of Growth, he lives it.  Silently.  Naturally.  Of course, since he’s a potted plant he needs a bit of help now and again.  Like being inside in the winter, and getting watered and occasionally fed a bit of nutrients, because what’s in the soil doesn’t last forever, cut off from the ecosystem like it is.

He has a goal; produce blooms that will draw in the pollinators which will allow him to set seeds.  And so he simply grows, obeying the requirements of nature and his own genetics.

Although now I’m getting a bit concerned by how big he’s getting.  He likes the ceramic pot he’s in, but if he gets much bigger I’m going to have to prune him, or transplant him, and I’ll need to go to a plastic pot instead of ceramic – much more soil and plant in a heavier pot, I’m not at all sure I could carry him indoor to outdoor safely.  I was also getting curious – if I planted his seeds, would his progeny also be pink?  Would they grow as big, have as healthy leaves?  It’s always a question, with hybrids.  You can never know the offspring will be exactly the same as the parent.  And would his seeds even be viable?

So I decided to pull some seeds from his last blooms of the year – I did try planting what I thought were seeds, but turned out they hadn’t gotten fertilized.  So I took a feather from one of the cat toys and ‘painted’ the pollen on the pistils.

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So now the seed pods are growing, hidden and protected by the same sepals that once sheltered each tiny flower bud (I carefully move one sepal aside on each every now and again, just to see how the pods are growing – I love to watch things grow!); and still the hibiscus is simply, quietly, inexorably, growing.

And soon there will be seeds to plant, nurture, and watch grow, without obsession or fanfare, but naturally, as their sire does – accepting the gifts of sun and rain and soil-based nutients, never fussing about the parts that don’t go quite right.  Just growing.  Because that’s what plants do.

Can you guess what my model is, for visualizing the exercise in MasterKey 9?

Sorry for the lengthy post.  Just one final thought or two; probably not even profound ones, for folks who have made it to week 9 in the MKMMA:  Growth is inevitable, inexorable, undeniable.  Whatever thoughts we plant will grow; whatever action we choose will produce seeds.

Plant your seeds and just… grow.  Give them sun and rain and a bit of nutrients every now and again.  And don’t obsess about the parts that don’t go right.  If you don’t like the results of what you planted, then plant different seeds and just… grow.

It’s so simple, once we get out of our own way.

Week #8 – Holy Cow, was that an epiphany?

Exercises, daily.  Practice, practice, practice.  Work on linking-linking-linking, colors to shapes to words to ideals and visualizations.  When does it start getting automatic?  When do I start seeing colors and shapes instead of belatedly realizing my eyes just skipped over them again?  Why is this so hard?

Stay away from the TV.  Delete Netflix from the iPad – it doesn’t serve me.  Minimize Facebook perusal – not a lot of time spent there, but too much negativity.  Deconstruct battleships in my mind’s eye, over and over – what’s the purpose?

And always the search – what do I want?  Am I on the right track?  Am I being authentic?  Am I loving what I’m doing even when it’s tedious and frustrating?  When will it start paying off?  Dear gods, are we going to have enough funds to pay the bills this month?  What if we don’t?  Oops, was that a stray negative thought?  Stop it!  Start the mental diet over again.

Then I came across this meme:

Stages of enlightenment

I’d heard of the five stages of grief, of course – who hasn’t, these modern days?  But this… it was a sudden, sharp shock to the brain.  A splash of cold water to the awareness.  And subby reached out to grab my conscious mind; HEY, YOU! THIS IS IMPORTANT!!

I scrolled back up; was this an MKMMAer?  Nope… they were referring to how hard it is to get up on Monday mornings…  Why is it important?

Then I realized:  It’s a metaphor.

Part of you hears the call to greatness, the summons to the hero’s journey.  The rest of you says,

Denial – What, me?  There’s nothing special about me.  I don’t have anything to offer the world.  Greatness is about people with special talents, like <favorite historical figure> or <favorite sports player> or <personal hero>.  It’s not for people like me.

But maybe you accept the call anyway – there’s something missing from your life, something that would fulfill you, might make you great/wonderful/rich/successful/popular.  You sign up for the MKMMA in great spirits, thrilled and excited and eager, vowing that this time you’ll finish what you start, you’ll see it through, you’ll stick it out, you’ll follow every single requirement ’cause anything’s better than what you have now.

Then you discover that creating a dream requires work, that old, easy pathways through your brain have to be rewritten from the ground floor up, and suddenly:

Anger – How can they expect all this work out of me?  I have a life!  I have a job/kids/comittments/activities/things I enjoy and don’t want to give up!  WHY ISN’T THIS EASY?!?

But you slog through.  You want that promised payoff.  But the exercises are eating away at your time, and every week there’s something more you have to add – recitations, meditations, recordings, posters, OH MY GODS, WHERE AM I GOING TO FIND THE TIME?  And you start saying:

Bargaining – Well… maybe it won’t hurt to skip the sit just this once.  I need that twenty minutes to fix supper, and I’m supposed to put my family first, right?  And darn it, I missed my midday reads today – well, I’ll do ’em twice tomorrow.  That’s the same number of times, so my results’ll be the same, right?  You know, and when am I going to start seeing the proof that this is going to work for me?  Before I put any more effort into this, I want to see it work.

You might stay faithful to the letter of the exercises; you might not.  You might get focused on how hard/tedious/boring/overwhelming all this is and lose sight of the reason you started in the first place.  You might even quit.  If you don’t, it’s because the glowing possibility of what could be, the ethereal wisp of a dream, the insistent feeling that you were meant for something better, something more, remains and that keeps you hanging on, even if it’s by no more than a fingernail.

But your whole heart isn’t in the work anymore.  In spite of the promises made by the guides in the MKMMA, you can’t see how what you’re doing will ever lead to what you want.  And that leads inevitably to:

Depression – what am I doing?  Why am I sticking this out?  It’s obvious it’s never going to work for me… where did I go wrong?  WHY IS THIS SO HARD?  Doesn’t anyone else have this problem too?  What am I supposed to do?

You feel alone and lost and helpless, sunk deep in the mire of your own negative thoughts, the spiral of dark energy and habits that led you to place your hope, your trust, your fledgling faith, in this MasterKey process in the first place.

Maybe someone reminds you of that.

Maybe, once you’ve hit the bottom of that black pit, you remember one key phrase from the early weeks that meant something to you, something that calls you back to your dream.

Maybe you have what you think is your first small success, and that causes you to recall another, and another, and another… and you start to realize, dimly, that the process has been working for you the entire time, exactly to the extent to which you allowed it to and you wonder how much further along you’d be if only you’d not focused on what was wrong but rather on what was right…  You start to understand what ‘personal responsibility’ actually means

And then it blossoms in your mind:  What you want; the steps you need to take to get there; the kind of effort it’s going to require.  You find your hope, your determination, your faith, renewed and you go back to the exercises, catch up on the ones you missed and decide that’s not going to happen again.

Acceptance.

Five stages of grief.  Five stages of waking up.

Five stages of enlightenment…?

Week #7 – Marvelous Machine

It’s been a good week.  Maybe not such a productive one, but a good one nonetheless.

Firstly, I’m over the 25,000-word mark for my NaNoWriMo novel!

2015-11-13 NaNo words!

I’ve been getting back into the swing of silencing my inner editor and just write, write, write.

Honestly, it’s very much along the same lines as the initial steps we were walked through by Haanel; first relaxing and centering, then emptying the mind of care, worry, and all extraneous thought.  Then you’re free to focus on what you choose – in my case, the continuing story of Darron Qelrysan ar-Biren in his quest to study – and perhaps reproduce – the matter transmission device that belongs to the Guardians, and Kina and K’Tytha of the Guardian people’s quest to save their people from extinction by a genetic code now too concentrated to sustain viability (well, almost).

MK 5-29 – ” At first, you will find yourself thinking of everything under the sun, except the ideal upon which you desire to concentrate. But do not let that discourage you. Persistence will win, but persistence requires that you practice these exercises every day without fail.”

The Guardians are very much creatures of emotion and instinct; the Orocnians (that’s Darron’s race) are all the way on the opposite side of the spectrum – logical, rational, focused on the development of superior technology that they can patent and market to the lesser races (their words, not mine).  So there’s a bit of a culture clash going on – which is lots of fun to write about!

But that doesn’t mean it doesn’t need a lot of focus and concentration to get the words out of my head and onto paper.  And everything is a distraction at first – including the thought that I shouldn’t really be writing for fun, I should be writing another article for my websites, or out taking pictures, or prepping photos for sale and loading them onto the stock sites, or, or, or…

Just like the sits.  And just like the sits, it gets easier with practice, as the neural pathways are built, and then reinforced, over and over and over.  Run the path enough times, and the powerful mechanism that is our brain will create the desired state automatically.

I love MasterKey 7 – Idealization, Visualization, Manifestation! It’s so very much like what a storyteller does – I’ve even remarked to a friend and mastermind partner that this story has been giving me trouble because I can’t see it, and if I can’t see it, then I can’t write it.

Rather like writing one’s own biography, from today forward, one day at a time.

I think I’ve finally worked out a schedule that will keep me productive, not burn me out, and still touch all the bases – writing for the website, photography, writing my novels, creating low-content journals and grownup coloring books.

Airshow journal cover(Oh – speaking of, here’s my first draft of my first low-content book; an airshow attender’s journal!)

Though that brings up a question that’s teased at my mind ever since the first time I heard Mark say “Live by the compass, not by the clock!”  I am something of a slave to the clock.  My time has to be apportioned correctly or I don’t get done what I need to, so I start a timer when I sit down to work:  Research and taking notes for an article is an hour; an hour to write the article; an hour to tweak and refine the photos for the article, create the SEO, do all the social media stuff, and publish.  Now, everything I do is designed to further the ideal life I want to create, but the time I spend has to be rigidly arranged, or I could spend hours alone on the research or the photography or getting the writing just so and meanwhile the article isn’t getting done… so is that living by compass, or clock?

Yes, I do love questions simply for the sake of asking questions; yes, my mind is very much geared for the whimsical, the philosophical, and sometimes the just plain obstructive-ical.  Makes for good stories, those big-little words “I wonder if…”

Week #6 – Finding the right handle to grab

It’s been an exciting and illuminating week.  And yet, it’s closer to remembering than anything.

NaNo stats

First off, it’s NaNoWriMo!  National Novel Writing Month, where writers of all stripes vow to write 50,000 words in 30 days.

MK 4-12 “If you do not intend to do a thing, do not start; if you do start, see it through even if the heavens fall; if you make up your mind to do something, do it; let nothing, no one, interfere; the “I” in you has determined, the thing is settled; the die is cast, there is no longer any argument.”

On the surface of it, NaNo’s not a hard thing, really – I’ve met the challenge the last three years in a row; you need only write 1,667 words per day.  (I aim for 1,700.)  It’s wonderful fun, seeing a new story take shape under your hands.  And it’s challenging; you have to muster the self-discipline to write those words, always advancing the story, developing the characters, regardless of what else might be happening in your life – work, family, good things, bad things, time-eating things.  And it’s fiendishly difficult, especially as you get to the 40,000-word mark and inspiration runs dry and there is only the word count, the incessant word count that must be met; a huge, gaping maw that must be daily fed, else the mouth becomes ever larger, demanding more and more from you just so you can stay even…

My first NaNo year (2012) I wrote a story that had been percolating in my mind ever since the idea had bubbled to the surface in a dream.  I had the outline, the major characters, the significant events, all inside my head, and the novel flowed.  It was beautiful.  Magic, even.  It confirmed that I had  been born to be a writer.

Then I lost touch with the source of the words, and writing became… painful.  And I don’t know how or why.  I suppose it doesn’t really matter.  The odd part is, I’ve never given up thinking of myself as a writer, however little I wrote.  The decision was made, the die was cast.  And that’s a connection I didn’t make until this past week.

imageSo this year’s NaNo novel is one I’d written about half of, years ago.  I’d set it aside when I lost my words, and since then I’ve lost touch with the people who are my characters.  But it never occurred to me not to enter a NaNo novel, and this felt like the story I should write.  But November the 1st came and I had no outline, I couldn’t quite remember all the major events I’d planned – or their order – so it was a really rocky start.  Took me four days to catch up and be in the green on the NaNo site; because of course you can add onto an existing novel, but you can’t count any of those words in your total.  The 50,000 have to be all new words.

But even in the back of my head, there’s no thought that I will not finish – even though I have awful habits throughout the rest of the MKMMA, even though I met none of the dates I posted in last year’s DMP and movie poster.

Now I just need my subconcsious to work on reconnecting me with the words that used to flow effortlessly!

Because I’m a writer.  The die is cast, there is no longer any question or doubt.

(Of course, the next step is to actually do something with all my stories!  Can’t have Recognition for Creative Expression if I don’t publish, huh?)

Now, running side-by-side with my writing has been my photography.  Just a hobby, really.  Something I do because I enjoy it – I’ve had shutterbug fever for half of forever.

I’m not a real photographer – or so I’ve been telling myself.  Real photographers work in studios and have their own darkroom.  Real photographers have been to school.  Real photographers spend hours setting up a shot and then get it right on the first try.  Real photographers have bags and bags of fine equipment, with expensive lenses for all occasions and business cards and special lighting devices and stacks and stacks of filters and the most recent version of the top-of-the-line camera body…

Astonishing, isn’t it, the kind of lies we tell ourselves when we’re resisting – for whatever reason – the knowledge of what we’re here to do.

So, fine.  I’m not your standard-variety version of photogapher, because the one thing I don’t do is people.  And I’m okay with that.  Because I’ll stand outside all night capturing the stars in the faint hope I might get the Northern Lights or a meteor.

Or both.

Big Dipper, Aurora Borealis, and a shooting star

Cool, huh?

Funny thing about the photography, too; that also crystallized this week.  I’ve had a blog that I haven’t done much with – I couldn’t find the right ‘voice.’  I had no idea who I wanted to talk to or what I really wanted to say, and for two years I’ve been giving too much credence to someone who reviewed my site and said basically that it was too ‘me’ focused, that readers don’t care about me, they want to know what’s in my article for them.  And that might be true.  And that’s okay.  But that one remark has colored every attempt I’ve made at a blog post ever since.  So this past week I wrote two photography posts, one about night photography and one about the photographing the Northern Lights.  And I’m talking to my reader.  And I’m sharing what I’ve learned – not to professionals, but to other people like me, who aren’t quite beginners and aren’t really pros but love their cameras and what they can do with them.

I’m not a writer.

I’m not even a photographer.

I’m a storyteller.  I’m a channel of words and images, from the undifferentiated aether of Source into hearts and minds and spirits.  That’s how I’m of service.  That’s how I show my love of the world and what’s in it.  And it was there in front of me the entire time, quietly waiting to be acknowledged.

And maybe… maybe that’s how I lost the words.  I never shared them.  I would write, and rewrite, and re-rewrite, and re-re-rewrite because they were never ‘just right;’ resistance, again.

Well, no more.  Time to share words and images and not care if my words are ‘too me-centered.’