Week #14 – Chain of events

(So just as an author’s note – I know our movie reviews are due this week.  I detest anything that smacks of a book report; so far as I’m concerned, it’s nothing more than a way of proving that yes, you actually did do the assignment.  I’ll get it done, no fear.  Thing is, I can actually spot the requisite keys – DMP, PMA, POA, MMA – in just about every movie I see these days; once you’re conscious of the fact those elements exist, you see them everywhere.  But the story below is the important bits of this week.)

I have issues with the concept of ‘give more, get more.’  When interpreted a certain way, the principle seems to suggest that giving is essentially selfish.  If we must give in order to get – and everyone wants to get something – how then are we not being self-serving in giving, knowing we will be given what we desire (so long as it does not take another’s good) in exchange?  It seems to reduce the spiritual choice of giving to a cold, rational equation.  And that, quite frankly, is not why I give my time, my feeling, my thought, and yes, my money, in an effort to find or create gifts other people might like.  And I can’t help thinking that giving  because you can’t get unless and until you give will contaminate whatever the Universe tries to give you.  Intention counts.  Intention always counts.

But.  There is no question that an exchange is taking place.

My buddy Ivan is a great guy; generous, inclusive, supportive.  He’s also quietly imaginative, self-contained, somewhat… hmm… antisocial definitely isn’t the right word; he enjoys being around people who are upbeat, don’t constantly complain, have good senses of humor, but he also very much enjoys solitude – particularly when he’s working on a photography project.  Introverted, maybe… though that doesn’t really ring true, either.

Anyway.  Ivan is the reason I and my brother Ted have a place to go hunting; Ivan invited us both into the hunting group, and his family owns 300+ acres here in southern Minnesota.  Well, Ted found a CD that Ivan has always wanted and gave it to him for Christmas – because he knew Ivan wanted it, and he was grateful for Ivan’s friendship and the long-standing invitation into the hunting group.  Well, like I said last week, Jerry and I (and Ted and Mom and Dad) all went out east to visit family for the holiday; it snowed about six inches while we were gone.  Jerry and I were on our way home, I was fairly sure the township road we live on had been plowed, but I wasn’t looking forward to needing to snowblow the driveway – particularly after nearly a week in seventy-degree temperatures!

But as we turned up the driveway from the township road, I saw that the driveway itself had been plowed, all the way up to the garage.  I was thrilled.  Seriously, there is nothing like that feeling; seeing the cleared area, knowing I won’t have to deal with the snowblower, excitement as I wonder who might have done us such a wonderful kindness!

(Ivan said it was the snowplow fairies.)

Well, as I was shoveling the deck, I was thinking about my folks, still out east until after the 31st.  They live about twenty minutes away, so more than likely their driveway needed doing, too.  I thought about the lovely surprise Jerry and I had been given, and thought, we should give my folks that same gift.

So we took a trip over to their house, only to find their driveway had been plowed out, too!

I’m still going back tomorrow to check the mousetraps, snowblow the sidewalk, and create a path to the propane tank for the LP guy.  Because I like to be kind to the people who deliver the fuel, and if I were them, I’d rather not have to slog through the snow to get to the tank.  And because I know my parents like to have the sidewalks clear and I would rather Dad not have to do it – because he’ll be thinking about needing to do it in ten-to-fifteen degree weather after being out east for a week of seventyish-degree temperatures.

And that is harmony.

Week #13 – Past, present, future

Full moon at Christmas

Not a long post today.  Just kind of a short note.

The whole family is together this year; my sister and brother-in-law are hosting at their new home.  Sixteen of us all under the same roof, and it’s delightful.  There have been many opportunities this week that trigger an MKMMA-related thought, generally regarding the subconscious and its unerring ability to create the exact circumstances that are being focused on.  With so many early birds in the house, I’m trying (with difficulty) to shift my nocturnal schedule.  I need to do that anyway if I’m going to go back to photographing sunrises.

But mostly I’ve been fascinated with my baby nephew Everett, just seven and a half months old.  He is pure potential.  His baby noises make me think of a singer; his wordless prattle brings to mind a public speaker; his constant attention to any and all activity around him suggest he might be a people person, or maybe a scientist examining the world he will live in.  I wonder if he will grow up liking football or hockey, cars or trains, music or art.  When he is yowling with hunger and cuts it off midyell to start saying, “NummMMMmmmm,” as a spoonful of baby food touches his tongue, I wonder if we’re born knowing the syllable for tasty, or if he has just learned it that early.  He fell asleep in my arms today, his ear resting just above my heart.

He’s just about ready to start crawling.  He’ll get up on hands and knees and rock back and forth; he’ll scoot himself along, pulling his belly along the ground with forearms and hands gripping the carpet, toes shoving from behind.   He hasn’t crawled yet with his midsection up in the air.  But, oh, does he already understand the unfairness of letting him army-crawl toward a toy only to move it once he’s almost reached the goal!  His squall of protest is loud and emphatic then!

I wonder what the cement of the world will make of him; I wonder what his light will make of the world.

Looking forward to finding out over the next twenty-thirty years.

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Week #12 – Imagining the future

First of all, since I know you’re going to notice – No, I did not post my Week 11.  You don’t get to see my week eleven.  An honest writing of week eleven (and yes, it would have been a couple days late) turned out far too intensely personal to be allowed into the world at large; and to modify it enough for me to be comfortable sending it into the world would not have been honest.  So some form of compromise was necessary, since this experience is designed to evoke the authentic self.

What I will tell you is that week eleven was spent in various stages of anger.  And I’m okay with that.  Why?  Because once the anger finally burns itself out, it leaves behind clarity.  I welcome clarity.

There is a difference between truth and faith; there is a difference between resisting changing an internal blueprint and denying the authentic self – the key lies in determining where one stops and the other starts – because sometimes the one looks awfully like the other.  Asking questions is critical to figuring out which is which.  And so is listening – sometimes to the most unlikely of sources.

But enough about last week.

This week is not so angry – mostly because of anticipation.  We are heading out to the east coast to visit with family – the whole lot of us (16 people from Mom and Dad all the way down to seven-month Everett!) are getting together for Christmas!

There is a part of me that wonders how well my no opinion, no judgement, no negative thoughts or statements, is going to hold.  Family has a way of knowing the most sensitive buttons to press.  But it is more curiosity than concern, which I reckon up as a good thing.  Seeing as how I have firmly in mind that nobody but me chooses how I feel (even if certain members of the family try to tell me what I’m thinking and feeling in any given moment), I should do just fine.  I shall craft in my head wonderful conversations, beautiful experiences, form them so firmly and thoroughly that the universe cannot help but arrange matters exactly how I imagine them.

The long dark is nearly over – soon the sun rises longer and stronger, day by day!  Each day I create a new low-content journal to publish, each week I rewrite another chapter of my current book; soon I shall be photographing sunrises again!  I have only a year left before we head to South Dakota; and I want those 366 sunrises from the eastern overlook of Barn Bluff!

Week #10 –

“I want to tell you everything, everything all at once.

“I don’t want to be plod-patient, setting it down in sequence:  first the plague, then the cave-in, then the years of Other Business, when everything seemed like a burden to get out of the way before real life could start.  Everyone knows this is real life, it’s all real life, sixty seconds of real life every minute, no one gets less.

“But you can take less.

“…You live through a day, and at the end you grumble, “But I didn’t do anything” …but second by second you did do things, you occupied every second, just as you occupy every second of every day.

“Here’s the thing, the cruicial thing:  your life is full.  And if you don’t realize that… then you’re just like the rest of us, but that’s no excuse.”

-Faye Smallwood

“Vigilant” – James Alan Gardner

What story shall I tell, this week?  Shall I tell of persistence (“I will persist.  I will win.”) and the role it played in winning the NaNoWriMo Challenge (1700 words a day, every day, for thirty days)?  Shall I talk about hunting, and then processing the deer our hunting group took, and how you can find new and unexpected ways to appreciate nature even though it’s an activity that occasionally has people frothing at the mouth over how morally objectionable it all is?  Shall I go further and speak of those differences in philosophy?  Should I relate difficulties, or talk of boredom with the exercises and repetitions and how that very state is yet another example of resistance by the old blueprint?

What story would you like to hear?

Because life is all about stories.  All that life is, really, is stories, each story a crystal drop of memory, shining and glittering, telling you just that little bit more about yourself.  The stories you experience.  The ones you tell yourself, in the silence of your mind.  The ones you collect from other people – because the stories you find appealing or appalling still tell you something about who you are.  The ones you share.

The one you become.

And whether or not we are proud of our story ultimately depends on how closely we come to match the siren call of our true selves – our inner ideal.  The explosive and confident imaginings of a child, tempered by life and inattention of the Guardian at the Gate into vague underpinnings of dissatisfaction and a feeling that something’s just not right.

What is the result when a dynamo is generating electricity, the circuit is cut off and there is no outlet?  The Dynamo stops.

It will be exactly the same with you, if you entertain thoughts which are not in accordance with the Infinite and cannot therefore be polarized…”

Master Key 10:19 and 20 – Charles Haanel

And yet abundance will not simply drop out of the sky – you have to identify what it is you want and then make the application – you have to work for it.

But really, what is the point of drawing imaginary shapes on the wall and manipulating them in orientation and color?  What does that have to do with finding and creating the life you’ve wanted all along?

What’s the point of a child finding shapes in the clouds?  Just random play?

Not likely.  Like the exercise, finding shapes in the clouds sharpens the imagination; sharpening the imagination allows us to more clearly define our vague desires into a whole that is clearly seen, intricately mapped.

And yet it’s an elusive exercise, this one – oh, it’s easy enough to run through the entire thing with eyes closed, seeing the figures with visual internal imagination; but with eyes open?  Seeing with the physical eye as the mind’s eye draws it?

Impossible, you say.  It’s imaginary; how can I possibly see it when it doesn’t exist?

How do you see your future, when it doesn’t yet exist?  How do you see figures in the clouds?  How do you see the imaginary lines that create constellations out of random stars?  For that matter, how do you see intangibles like wisdom, courage, strength, freedom?  Yet you know those exist; as, perhaps, Santa Claus and the Easter Bunny do not.  But as Terry Pratchett pointed out in the Discworld book Hogfather, we start out by believing in the little lies so as to prepare us to believe in the big ones like freedom, like justice – because you can’t show me an atom of mercy; you can’t sift down the substance of the world and locate a grain of hope.  But you know they exist.

And yet it’s all tricks of the mind.  Just like seeing an imaginary figure with physical eyes.  How sharp will you let your imagination become, in your quest for your future?  How much will you play at seeing shapes in the clouds?  Because that’s a key component to it, too; working hard to force it to come will get you nowhere but frustration – employ the law of relaxation and just play.

I still can’t see the whole figure yet; three adjoining lines is as far as I’ve gotten.  But I will persist.  Like NNoWriMo, it’s just a matter of doing a little a day, every day, until the cumulative effect is felt.

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.’

Week #5 – The difference

Brandt Lake

Had this week’s blog all planned out – an exploration of opinion vs. fact vs. truth – when something happened that underscored some of my internal changes, hitherto unrecognized.

I like warm climates.  I really do.  I don’t like the cold, I’m not really fond of wind (although breezes are nice), and I would be quite content if the only snow I ever saw was on the Christmas cards sent to me by family and friends.

So why, you ask, do I continue to live in Minnesota?

It gets better; Jerry and I are contemplating moving to South Dakota.  He’s tired of paying Minnesota state income taxes, and he wants a lake to fish on.  And me, I want a place that’s away from light pollution but near water so I can photograph the stars, sunsets and sunrises, and the Northern Lights.  But I don’t just want the Aurora dancing across the sky, with its bands of white and orange and green and purple; I want to capture them dancing across the sky above and the water below.

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So, South Dakota it is.  At least for a while.  And if we find the right place, the place I’m seeing in my head more and more clearly with every read of my DMP, I’ll also have enough space to create self-sustaining garden plots and experiment with aquaponics.

Who doesn’t like to watch fish?

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Of course, these aren’t the kinds I’d pair with a vegetable garden – the salt water would wreak havoc on the plants!  And these guys aren’t likely to do well in a South Dakota winter.  But they illustrate the point.  I could watch fish swim and interact with their environment for hours.

So Jerry and I started looking for houses with a few acres in South Dakota – not too townish (I don’t want to see my neighbors, and I especially don’t want them living in my back pocket, you know?) but not too terribly in back of beyond (Jerry likes company and socializing); not too expensive, but not too much a fixer-upper, either.  Ideally, I want property – forty acres or so, maybe on or near a wild bird game preserve – with the potential for building or putting a house in.  Nothing wrong with a modular home, or even a trailer-style on a permanent foundation.  Jerry gets lake and marsh, I get early morning walks and reflections of the skies, and we won’t have to worry about an old farmhouse starting to need extensive upkeep or repairs.

We found a couple we liked, and sent a request through the website to see those places.  The realtor who responded asked what our requirements were and offered to line others up for us to see, if we cared to stay overnight (as he said, ‘his treat’) instead of making the five-hour drive, looking at two, and then making the five-hour drive home.

Not going to get too much into the disappointing aspects of the trip – Falls Park, and the Sertoma Butterfly Garden and Marine Cove, made the journey worthwhile all by themselves.

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But the house-hunting didn’t go swimmingly.  We saw one we liked, a couple that were possible, and were looking forward to seeing more.  Our second morning there (yes, we stayed two nights, both on our dime, since the realtor found arranging viewings of all the houses he’d selected for us to be ‘too difficult’ to arrange in one day, despite having a week to get it done) he insisted that we see his niece, a loan officer at a local credit union, to get preapproved for whatever amount our income could bear; houses in the area, particularly with acreage, apparently go so fast “you almost need a purchase agreement in hand before you make an offer.”

I don’t believe in living outside our means.  We have financial resources, though they’re somewhat unusual.  I’d like to explore the possibilty of keeping our current house and renting it out as extra income.

But the end result was the realtor refused to show us any more places on that day after basically talking us into staying a second night, because “there’s no point in wasting time and money and gas today when you’re not set up to buy anything.”

Was I upset?  Yes, very much so.  But I didn’t figure out exactly why until we’d been on the road home for an hour or so.

It was backwards.  Remember in the beginning, when Mark was talking about how people live life backwards, by allowing their method to inform their intent?  A person wants to go to Paris, they look at their bank account and say, “I can’t afford it,” so they never go to Paris?  Well, WHO CARES what the bank account says?  It’s the intent, held in the mind and back by strong feeling, sent out to the universe via the subconscious mind, that will cause the universe to send us the methods by which we are to accomplish said intent!

Needless to say, when we do find the place that screams, “HI!! I’M YOUR NEW HOME!” we won’t be using that realtor to secure it.  Because when we find it, the methods to claim it will also be there – unless Jerry and I allow the backwards nature of the rest of the world to sabotage what our subconsciouses creates for us.  But I took the experience as a positive sign that my new programming is finally taking effect; even without knowing it, I’m starting to notice and eliminate influences that aren’t to be part of my new, self-created reality.

Cool, huh?

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Week #4 – Philosophy or Resistance?

Just a couple of thoughts this week – nothing really profound.  But as I sit contemplating what I’m thinking, there’s a part of me that’s wondering – if the “I” is telling me what I think, then when I’m thinking about what I’m thinking, who’s thinking that?  And then who thinks about what I think about what I’m thinking when I’m thinking about my thoughts?

Yes, I probably could go round-about like that all day.  But it illustrates the point, because even if I did go round-about all day, I still couldn’t come to the point where I could say, “Yes.  That’s the point where my mind/spirit/body becomes my “I.”  The “I” has an infinite recursive capacity for observing what I’m thinking and then thinking about what I’m observing and observing what I think about that, and so on.

Like that really cool drawing of a hand drawing a hand drawing a hand drawing a hand…

Could mind-boggle you to the point of being overwhelming if you’re not careful.

This is a difficult week for me.  I came to the realization that if I do not generate enthusiasm (which is necessary to create success under the thought charged with feeling becomes belief process) then I am not truly the master of myself.  If I were, I could choose and generate any feeling I wanted.  If I can’t, then any self-mastery I thought I had achieved is illusion.

And every reason I have for denying myself enthusiasm is merely an excuse so that I don’t have to do the work of remembering how to be enthusiastic – not momentarily excited; that’s easy.  But it’s also brief.  Enthusiasm is kind of the marathon version of excitement.

The other reason this week is difficult is the whole concept of “Everyone quits.”  See, it is in fact possible to complete this course without giving 100% best effort – I proved that last year.  And the gods only know how far I set myself back simply because I was enjoying being contrary.

So why not do it right this year?  Throw myself into it wholeheartedly, and see what kind of different results I can create?

Which brings me right back around to the necessity of generating enthusiasm, and my current lack of self-mastery.

Bleah.