Week #17HJ – A dream I didn’t know I had

So several months ago I took a course on how to create low-content books (books like journals, coloring books, anything with less than 5,000 words).  I’ve been formulating, creating outlines, learning software – you know, procrastinating and not getting anything done while at the same time pretending to be busy doing things.

I am pleased to say I have the content finished on the first five of my planned journals, and will be sending at least one to the printers to produce a proof by the end of the weekend!

It’s been a fun and sometimes frustrating process, learning what works and what doesn’t on the design software, incorporating tips and techniques to make them look professionally produced, and of course, coming up with the writing prompts, structure, and background images.  The best part, though?  These first six (still working on the final volume) are meditation journals designed to be paired with Haanel’s Master Keys, so I’ve spent the last week absolutely immersed in his beautifully-constructed sentences and perfectly phrased wisdom.  I’ve also included quotations from other folks on each day’s journaling pages.

And I’ve got outlines for sooooo many more journals!  Cruises – 3-day, 5-day, 7-day and 14-day, each cruise length its own separate book – road trip journals, an airshow journal, hunting and fishing journals, coin collector’s journal (which can then be easily modified to become a stamp collector’s journal), gardening journals…  The goal is to produce one per week this year.  Of course, they still have to meet quality standards – not going to produce junk just to meet a goal, I can tell you that!

But, add the journal work to my sunrise photos and related daily photoblog, and my week has been both full and focused.  Also got some work done on my photo library, sorting through and tagging the candidates for “Minnesota Skies, a 2017 calendar” that I’ll be printing up between June and August this year.

Driving home from Barn Bluff this morning (and it was another colorful morning, which is always wonderful), I was contemplating this growing enthusiasm and skill for publishing design.  And I found myself wondering:  Is this why I could never interest a publisher in my work?  Because once upon a time I ate, slept, breathed writing.  I worked with great joy and enthusiasm, had it all planned.  I was going to write wonderful stories that my chosen publishing company would see as a hidden gem, people would love the books and I’d get to go on book tours and signings and maybe even develop a worldwide following and when I wasn’t writing books I would be breeding and training search and rescue dogs who would eventually be paired with a search and rescue human who suited each other perfectly.  It was planned.  Visualized.  Worked on daily, with always the goal in view of becoming a full-time writer.

None it ever materialized.  Always, my manuscripts were rejected.

Only now I’m learning how to publish for myself from Kristen Joy the Book Ninja, learning techniques for making self-published work look professionally done; listening to her teach the intricacies of the book publishing world, from ISBNs to barcodes to LoC registry and prepping a book for Kindle publishing rather than hard copy…

… and it comes at a time when I’ve been working really hard on myself, too, learning who and what I am and what I truly want and become acquainted with my own power to the extent that I have the confidence to take a leap of faith…

It’s only a gigantic coincidence if you don’t believe in Universal Mind.

Week #17 – As above, so below; as within, so without

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Wow – is it Thursday again already?  Yep, must be – it’s written on my schedule to write and post a blog today.

You know, honestly, I follow along with the MKMMA, I do my best to meet all the requirements, and yet I find I am learning more about myself, what I’m meant to do, how to arrange my life so that I am happy, through my sunrise project on Barn Bluff than I am through the MKMMA exercises and webinars – making the walk, taking the pictures, writing my photography blog.  I suppose it’s partly because there’s lots of time for introspection and contemplation of the world within while walking the trail.  But it’s also that I’m out here doing something that I enjoy.  If you’ve gotten all this way into the MKMMA course, you should already be doing things that support your deepest desires – the DMP, the index card with the Plan of Action and all, should take care of that.

But if you’re not – if you’re still wrestling with who am I really, and what am I meant to do? – then do yourself a favor.  First of all, STOP OBSESSING.  Mental effort defeats itself, remember?  Just… get out of your own head.  Commit to a daily series, whether it be writing a poem a day, or taking a set of pictures, or sketching, or painting, whatever you like to do.  Find the time, find the attention to spare for it.  You’ll discover that the very act of commitment, followed by the activity every day, will accelerate the process of change.

_MG_5284And along the way, you’ll inevitably find yourself answering the questions of who you are, what you want, where your life’s purpose lies.  Because meeting the demands of that daily series is very like another type of meditation; you’re focused; you’re present; you’ve opened the door to that secret, creative part of your mind and heart and you’re listening to what it says.  It’s… like studying the reflections in the water in order to understand what they’re an image of.

And I’ve discovered that in making the walk up to the top of Barn Bluff, in taking pictures of the sunrise and being aware of what’s around me, the Master Keys and Og and the exercises all make so much more sense.  I can apply the principles to my actions, my thoughts, my plans.  It’s a connection that I just don’t feel in the Alliances or during the webinars.  I read, I listen, I understand… but I don’t feel.  And I see blog posts and shares in the Alliances, people who are manifesting exactly what they’ve always wanted, which feeds belief and enthusiasm, which accelerates the change, which in turn fuels greater belief and enthusiasm, and those folk are radiating gratitude and appreciation of Mark, Davene, and the guides… and sometimes I wonder what’s wrong with me, that I continue to view the people and the process with the eyes of an outsider, an observer, a non-participant.

On the other hand, maybe some of that is how it’s supposed to work.  We start out dependent, feeling our way into the power of the world within through the help of Mark, Davene and the guides, taking uncertain steps into the darkness until we find our light – following the gurus, however little they want to be thought of as such!  But then, because we’ve been openly and yet subtly retaught how to think for ourselves, we graduate to forging our own meanings, our own interpretations:  Haanel, Og, Campbell, Wooden, Allen, Hill, as their wise words apply to us, specifically, instead of a more sweeping, generalized, one-size-fits-all outlook.

The principles remain; solid, unchanging.  But the details of the application become more personalized, tailored to our own uniqueness.

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Week #16 – A shield of uniqueness

So, some of you know that I’ve embarked on a year-long photography project; capturing 366 sunrises in a calendar year from the same spot – namely, Barn Bluff in Red Wing.  Each day is a blog post with accompanying pictures; each blog post details an experience, a photography tip or technique, a story.

This morning, I had one of those terrible human moments.  It centered around an email that I’d gotten yesterday from a group that I follow; Great Escape Publishing.  The newsletter is titled “The Right Way to Travel” and featured an interview with a gal who had built a passive-income website that this year was allowing she and her husband to spend eight weeks away from a Chicago winter.  Connie Reed is a fun writer, she enjoys what she does, she’s good at describing events and places.  Her website is organized, pretty, and while there are ads they aren’t overwhelming.  The problem?  The title she chose is the Midwest Wanderer; my travel website is the Midwestern Wanderer.  And as I was paging through Connie’s site and thinking how nice it looked and how mine was… well, was basically a reflection of me:  sloppy, inconsistent, focused on stories instead of conveying information about places and events, and I thought, what do I have, what is it about my writing and my chosen niche that are good enough for me to think I can attract a following?

Photography blogs are a dime a dozen; travel sites even cheaper.  And fitness blogs?  Hah!  Everyone and their sister has a fitness blog.  What about me is so unique that people would come to my website and share their story, read and enjoy the stories that are there?  In what way would I ever stand out, other than the fact the articles were written by me?  And who – other than me – would be interested in reading a thing that, essentially, is all about me?

What possible justification could there be for me to have a website at all?  Not an expert, no area of great skill, no education beyond a year and a half at what amounted to a trade school, what about me is so doggone interesting that it would ever leave a mark on the world?

What if there’s nothing left behind to remind anyone that I was ever here?

Fortunately, it was snowing lightly in Red Wing; the slippery stuff had already coated the ground.  And as a wave of cold terror rolled over me, the truck skidded pulling up to a stop sign.  I was reminded very sharply to pay attention to the here and now, and let the there and thereafter take care of itself.  And sitting at the stop sign, waiting for my heart to slow back down to a more normal rhythm, Og’s Scroll IV sprang to mind:  I am nature’s greatest miracle.

And it occurred to me that these new phrases that we are pounding, pounding, pounding into our brains are more than just new habits of thought and repetition that we’re using to create the future; they’re also a shield against the old and more destructive patterns of the past, springing to mind in our new self’s defense whenever the old habits rear up to strike at us from out of the darkness behind our eyes.

What’s unique about my websites is me.  Nature’s greatest miracle, like no other before me and never again to be repeated.  My fellow Midwestern storytellers will find the site whenever the Universe decrees the time is right for them to do so; they’ll share their tales, with me and with others that frequent the site, and fond memories will be preserved on the ‘net for all time.  And maybe I’ll put ads for passive income on it and maybe I won’t – right now, I’m leaning toward ‘not’ no matter how big the site gets.  The farthest I’ll go would be affiliate marketing for the specific hotels that I’ve stayed in and can favorably recommend.

Because that is part of my uniqueness that I place on display.

Week #15 – Getting Organized

2016-01-04 Sunrise

2016-01-04 Sunrise – Pretty, isn’t it?

Since I work from home, I’m not in the world much (I might have mentioned that before).  So during the weeks of the Franklin Makeover, most of my results will be from Jerry, myself, and the people whose webinars I regularly attend (Tony Laidig.  Kristen Joy.  Dom of Elite eCoach.  And of course the MKMMA).

Once upon a time, the files here at home were meticulously kept, bank statements reviewed and logged regularly, and any piece of financial information could be located in less than a minute.  The last year and a half, that’s no longer the case.  And the longer the papers were in that condition, the easier it got to put off organizing it again, because facing the mess they’d become was too, too depressing.

Well, it’s tax time again.  And having that information organized and readily to hand is now vital.

Can you guess what virtue fills the first blank in my Franklin Makeover?

So I got myself a day planner – because using a notebook to plan my days wasn’t cutting it, and nor was the scheduling of reminders in the iPad.  The first three days were experimental; I filled them in with what I wanted to get done and guesstimated how long each task would take.  (Just as a side note, I did awesome at keeping up with the schedule those days.)  The evening of Sunday the 3rd, I sat down with a pocket notebook and the day planner and asked “What do I want to get done this week?”  Wrote a list.  Sketched in how much time each would take, then added a bit.  Checked with Jerry – was there anything special he wanted to do this week?  Looked at his medical stuff – yep, one appointment at Mayo on Wednesday that would take a goodly chunk of day.

Day plannerDrew up the schedule.  There have been some hiccups; some modifications, a couple of regular weekly items I missed writing down, but all in all the week has been enormously productive (if a bit lacking in sleep).  I’ve posted every day of my sunrise blog, complete with pictures.  I have my very first low-content book, a meditation journal, on schedule to be ready for publication by Saturday evening.  And I’ve gathered every paper unfiled and out of place and have them sorted into stacks on the kitchen table.  Next step is to sort the piles into chronological order, then scan them to a searchable file with my printer/scanner (that is so cool – did you know some printers can do that?  If your scanner has the right software, you can tell it to create a searchable document, where it recognizes the text and you can sort and run searches by keywords!); third step (third week of January) is to file everything away in boxes; fourth step, the last week of January, is collating all the business-related financials and filling out the taxes.  After that, of course, is to maintain the proper organization and collation of information as the year passes, rather than waiting for the end of the year to do it all.

And you know what?  Apparently this part of the MKMMA is contagious; Jerry’s been organizing the basement.  He built a closet in a patch of odd space, and in that is to be stored towels and washcloths for the downstairs bathroom, plus games and puzzles and my sewing bins of fabric and tools.  Bookshelves have been shifted, reorganized, and repopulated.  The basement is starting to look magnificent, and I’ve told him so several times.  (Of course, that was between scolds to stop lifting things that weigh more than twenty pounds!  He has an inguinal hernia; the surgery is scheduled for the 21st, and I don’t want it strangulating before then!)

I should have taken the picture during the day, but you can still see his winter leaves!

I should have taken the picture during the day, but you can still see his winter leaves!

Oh, and hey, check this out – my hibiscus is still flourishing, and you can tell the difference between the summer and the winter leaves!  The winter leaves are the lighter-colored larger ones that have rotated themselves toward the window, so the greatest surface area is facing the winter sun.  Law of Growth!

Gotta go.  Time to get more paper sorting done.