Week #13 – Hmmm…

Christmas with family

Today is Christmas Day.  Fun, family, food… presents.

Throughout my life, I’ve had a kind of love-hate relationship with Christmas.  There have been years where I wished that I was completely on my own, so I could celebrate or not, exactly as I chose.  There have been times when I just adored every aspect of the holiday, from crazed crowds out shopping to the sound of tearing paper as I exulted over what family members had given me and had the camera at the ready to capture expressions as they see what I’ve gotten them.  I’ve run the gamut of every possible emotion on this holiday – which rather gives the lie to the beLIEf that I can’t feel.  But there was always a mixture of lasting impressions.

This year’s been a little different.

First of all, I submitted three of my pictures to a stock site.  For those who aren’t familiar, a royalty-free stock photo site allows people to pay a fee, download a photo once and then use it multiple times.  The criteria for getting a photo accepted are pretty stiff.  Since the last time I’d had photos rejected, I’d taken classes, read books, been out for hours with my camera taking pictures, studying the photos afterwards for what worked and what didn’t, combing the stock sites for the kind of pictures that get accepted so I’d have some guidelines for composition and subject.  I learned how to use photo editing software to enhance and tweak a decent photo into a striking one.  And when I submitted the photos I’d chosen, I sent them off with hope and confidence.

Then I started looking more closely at the photos I’d chosen.  I starting finding little things wrong with each one.  I started to think that two of the three would probably be rejected, and the third was maybe acceptable…

And then I remembered I was supposed to be developing and practicing a positivity bias – which tells you how recent this was.  I mean seriously, in retrospect, just sending the photos in was a major achievement, after all the work and effort I put in, work and effort I wasn’t really consciously aware of as being the kind of work and effort that brings success – playing with the camera is fun, and I like taking classes, learning new things, gaining new skills.  And it’s amazing what you can see through the lens of a camera if you’re looking.

So it wasn’t really work.  It was just one step at a time, this is what I want, this is how I’m going to get there.

The day before Jerry and I left on our trip to see our eastern-seaboard family, I heard from the stock site:  All three were accepted!!

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But while I was waiting to hear back, waiting to start the trip east, waiting and anticipating the whole family being together for the first time in seven years, I did my Christmas shopping.

That particular task is not as easy as it might sound.  Two brothers, two sisters, two parents; two brothers-in-law, one sister-in-law. four nieces, two nephews… and only in the case of my older brother Ted do I live close enough to him to be enough of a part in his life that I feel confident of getting him something he’s going to want and like.

I don’t mind getting gift cards.  They’re useful, fun little things.  But I really don’t like giving them.  I feel that they’re a cop-out; that they’re taking the easy way out, instead of working hard enough to find something that will personally suit the receiver.  Of course I asked other family members what who might like, but it’s all hit and miss until you see the expression and know you’ve got a winner.  So I pulled the individual person into the forefront of my mind, and kept the Law of Giving in the back – it may be a compliment, a prayer, a trinket, a flower – and hot damn if I did not get a very sincere “Oh, wow – that’s GREAT” type of comment on every single gift.

Every.  Single.  Gift.

I can’t remember the last time that happened.  And it isn’t as if my family don’t appreciate the thought that went into something, even if it is a little disappointing – there are always, always, thank yous and genuine gratitude… but this year I didn’t read that little hitch of momentary dismay in anyone’s face.  And I’m sure that nobody read it on mine – today was perfect.

Which begs the question – did I hit the mark because of something I’m doing differently, or because I’m perceiving differently?  Because today I was focused on what went right.  Not a word of criticism out of my mouth, but there was plenty of praise.  I slipped and offered a couple of opinions, but they were very mild, almost more suggestions than anything, and I didn’t defend them if someone else disagreed.

It kind of reminds me of how delicate a life’s history can be.  One choice, one tiny shift in perception and therefore direction, and the entire day changes.  And there were plenty of opportunities for me to choose otherwise.

See, one of the secret, gnawing worries that I’ve had has revolved around the Law of Giving and Receiving.  We give without expectation of reciprocity because we are in the dynamic flow of giving and receiving.  And yet, in the back of our mind is the conscious awareness of that flow.  We can’t expect to get simply because we give, and yet we know we will,  because we’ve been told that by natural law such a thing is inevitable, therefore we can expect reciprocity from the Universe even if not from the same individuals we give to, and how does that not logically skew the entire setup?  And I’ve fretted that I’m not giving enough.  That my ledger is out of balance.  I don’t get out among people much during the normal course of things – which is just fine by me – so not a lot of opportunity to be of service except in writing articles for my website or taking stock photos for others’ use.  Yet without being of service first, as in Earl Nightingale’s Strangest Secret, we will not participate fully in the Law of Giving and Receiving.

But, I reckon that’s a question for another day.  For today was a perfect day.  I chose my family’s gifts well.  I helped with making the dinner, and cleaning up afterwards.  Tonight, the Gal in the Mirror and I are very pleased with each other.

Time to celebrate success in my dreams, and let contentment flood my mysterious source that never sleeps.

Week #12 – On the edge

One of my all-time favorite movies is Disney’s “Meet the Robinsons.”  A twelve-year-old genius named Lewis wants very badly to be adopted; wants it as badly as he wants to be an inventor.  He’s wicked-smart, he has a burning desire to build wonderful things that will improve the lives of everyone in the world, he works constantly on his creations – which, sadly, never function.  In fact, most of them blow up in his face, leaving him apologizing helplessly, convincing prospective parents that he wouldn’t be a good fit for them.  And after 124 adoption interviews go wrong, he decides he’s had enough.

The head of the orphanage tries to encourage him, knowing he’s special – they just haven’t found the right family yet.  Lewis figures if he could just find out what his mom looked like, if he could just see her face that rainy night she anonymously left him on the top step of the orphanage, he can find her and they can be a family again.  So he invents a memory scanner, studying the brain exhaustively, working and refining to the point of keeping his roommate up all night – events that ripple forward in unexpected ways.

Enter the science fair, a thirteen-year-old boy named Wilbur, and a skinny, sinister man wearing an intelligent bowler hat that sabotages the scanner, causing it to fail spectacularly, and a cascading chain of events that culminates in Lewis needing to repair a time machine about thirty years in the future so he can restore the time stream to its original path.

At first he balks.  What does he know about time machines?

After his failure in the garage he swears off inventing forever (again).  Then at dinner with Wilbur’s family, Lewis is volunteered to fix a PB&J gun.  He fails yet again… but the Robinson family reaction is different from any he’s ever encountered.

I’ve read a lot this week about fellow MKMMAers being worried about the phrase in Og, “I must fail often in order to succeed only once.”  Success is great – I sure like it a lot better than failure – but like Billie says, we don’t learn anything from it.  Too much of yesterday’s success, and we are lulled into today’s complacency.  Failure should be celebrated, not feared.  (Speaking strictly for myself, of course, that concept, like celebrating tiny successes, is a new thought that I need to develop receptive brain cells for – but I’d be willing to bet I’m not the only one.)

And yet, in order to keep moving forward – in other words, to keep growing and progressing – a person has to let go.  Not only of grudges and resentments, forgiving ourselves for people we’ve wronged and others who have wronged us, but also of past successes and – most importantly – who we have been up until that moment.

Even if we don’t really like who we are, it’s still a sacrifice to give that self up – that self represents what’s comfortable.  Safe.  Known.  But it’s impossible to progress if we’re still clinging tooth and nail to who we’ve been.

After submitting my survey, I read Mark’s blog for Week #12.  He talked about surrender – in his case, surrendering to the freedom of his own creativity.  Reading the post got me to thinking, and I asked in the comments if he reckoned that we all have a different point of surrender, given that we’re all such very different people, even though we’ve all been shaped by many of the same false beliefs (we’re not good enough, we have to rely on what’s outside ourselves to feel worthwhile, we do not and can not create our own reality, especially not a reality we design because life just doesn’t work like that… you know the drill).  He answered in a very emphatic affirmative – “Yes, no question about it Ellen…some people have surrendered BEFORE they even got here…..others it is a process while still other’s its an epithany …. VIVA LA DIFFERENCE !!”

In my own studies this week I came to realize that I know, understand, accept and rejoice in my own creativity.  I know that I am a luminous being of power who creates her reality with thought and the belief that the thought has already happened.  I’ve always known – at some times in my life, I’ve known more consciously than I have at others, but I’ve known.  What I have never been able to accept is the necessity of letting go of the fear.

My entire life, I’ve been afraid of my own power.  And I’ve clung to that fear in order to hold myself in check.  After all, how could I know what I would do with it?  I might abuse my abilities.  I might become a bully – and why not?  How often are we shown as children that might makes right?  The bigger and stronger you are, the more of your will you can impose on others.  Why shouldn’t I use what I can do to get even with the people who have wronged me?  And you know, even if I didn’t outright abuse my personal power, even if I didn’t seek vengeance, it’s easy – so terribly easy – to rationalize what I want to do so that it seems like the right thing to do.  No.  If I can even entertain the thought that I might do wrong with it, obviously I can’t be trusted with power.  So I locked it away behind the fear… and felt virtuous in doing so.  Protecting others from the monster I would become if ever I fully accepted what I am.

Do you see the missing piece?  That tiny, yet significant bit of Truth that renders the argument invalid and reveals my fears as the growth-stopping illusions that they are?

It’s impossible to use the creative power of the One in order to do harm to another – who is in turn another projection of the One.  As soon as you try, it rebounds on you, and the power slips through your fingers, as ethereal as mist.

And so now I’m asking myself – since I have the knowledge… have I the courage to dare, and the faith to do?  Do I have the nerve to reach inward and claim the power we were all born with, surrendering myself  for once and always to trusting in the system?  Will I employ natural law consciously, choosing to have “whatsoever I desire as I pray,” secure in the faith that if I “believe that I receive, it shall be mine?”

Jury’s still out on that one.  Easy choice, really, at least intellectually – why would I want to be limited, particularly at my own hands?  And seriously, I wouldn’t be in the MKMMA if I didn’t want the change, right? – but even though the choice is an easy one, and putting it into practice is no harder than I decide to make it be, there’s still a part of me that doesn’t want to sacrifice what we are in order to have what we might be.

In that, even at the age of twelve, Lewis is more evolved than I am.

We can have any future we envision.  All we have to do is make the right choices… and keep moving forward, one step at a time.

In truth, one step at a time is not too difficult.

Week #11 – Connections

Eagle outside my window

I paused in my schedule to appreciate nature yesterday (Wednesday).  Could have been snow; more likely it was heavy fog, condensing and freezing.  But it made the trees just so pretty…

So I took out my camera and went for a drive.

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Now, being able to take my camera out was caused by my brother helping me to get my desktop (photo-editing, photo storage, audio-transcribing, internet research) computer in working order again – first the operating drive burned out, then the o/s crashed on the new one.  Once Ted fixed it, I was able to get my photos backed up onto CD and I was okay with reformatting the compact flash cards my camera uses.

Perfect example of the ripple effect.  If not for Ted, I wouldn’t have had the space on the camera card – I have three, each one holds about a thousand pictures (I shoot in RAW – more color information to play with in Lightroom), and all were full of the photos from our Ensenada trip at the beginning of November, which tells you how long the desktop has been out of commission – I would have missed some lovely pictures, and spent at least part of the day whimpering to myself in longing to be out.

I hope the Universe gives him something very nice for that.  He is totally my computer guru, but I try not to call on him very often because I know that while he’s perfectly willing to share his skill it isn’t what he wants to be doing with his life.

Oh, and you know how I’ve mentioned from time to time that I’m still waiting for the ‘I begin to awaken each morning with a vitality I have never before known’?  Mark mentioned it again in last Sunday’s webinar, saying that if we aren’t leaping out of bed in the morning something’s not right with our goals, our DMP, our focus.  I could excuse myself as I have before, saying that I’m just not a morning person.  But an excuse is all it is; I could be a morning person.  I just don’t have a reason to be.

Or rather, I didn’t.  My guide, on my last iteration of my DMP, wanted me to expand on how I’m going to achieve spiritual growth.  Study?  Pilgrimages to holy places?  Daily meditation is fine, but won’t serve the purpose by itself, and merely becoming ‘an eager student of the Universe and the Source from which she sprang’ isn’t specific enough.  So I started thinking, and my eye was drawn to my esoteric bookshelf.

Ellen's booksThere was a time when I wanted to spend much of my life in study.

There was a time I wanted to be an expert on comparative religions, searching out the threads of Truth they all had in common.

There was a time when I wanted to be so deeply connected to the world around me that I became truly wise.

And there it was.  I tweaked my DMP to reflect the beginning steps I was taking to start growing that wisdom, and this morning (Thursday) when I woke up I was excited.  I get to get up and study my Qabalah! was my first thought.

Ripple effect.  Because if I hadn’t paid attention when my buddy Don told me of the MKMMA and encouraged me to apply, if I had chosen to dismiss it as ‘one of those things,’ – which, yes, was in the back of my mind as I watched the first and second videos – I wouldn’t be on this path back to my true Self.

(Hope the Universe has something really really special in mind for Don and Leanne for that particular act of giving.)

Ooh – and my studies give me a couple more places in which to use my functional  bookmarks!

The deeper we get into the Master Keys, the more I’m amazed at just how much of myself I truly understood when I was younger, before I let the world distract and squeeze the knowledge from me.

Writing and scholarship.  Learning and knowing.  Having the freedom to do both.  Is it possible to imagine where I would be now, if I hadn’t allowed myself to become negative and sidetracked then?

Two-Medicine Lake, Glacier Park Montana

Yes, it is.  Press Release!

And yet, I know from reading this week’s Master Key and from taking up my studies again (and oh, my – I’m already coming across certain critical concepts that are the same in Qabalah and in Haanel – all Truth is indeed One!) that a certain amount of care has to be taken.  Because while I am not responsible for anyone else’s choices, I am responsible for the various outcomes of mine, whether I forsee them or not.

At the same time, it’s marvelous to be part of a system which provides its own checks and balances.  I can’t inadvertently take someone else’s good;  I can share in it, I can add to it, but I can’t take it.  I’m part of them, they’re part of me.  Stealing from them is stealing from me, and the whole suffers; doing harm to someone else is doing harm to me, and the whole suffers.  And if I try to apply the Law of Attraction with negative intent (as in, “I will have it because I want it and I have the power to take it regardless of anyone else’s needs, wants or desires”), that in itself will skew the result.  The only way to receive untainted good is to be in harmony with the natural Law of Giving, which operates constantly and independently.  The Law of Attraction can’t be used effectively by a power-hungry bully.

Which means I can be powerful beyond measure without worrying that I will abuse that power simply because I’ve become accustomed to getting what I want and need by asking for it and believing I receive it; the system itself, which requires development of character and a balance of giving to receiving, prevents corruption.

I find that very comforting.

Gray Girl inside the window plastic

Gray Girl inside the window plastic


Week #10 – Relax

Ooh, tricksy!  It’s tricksy, my precious!

This week’s sit is to picture a black square against a blank wall, with a circle inside and dot at the center, which is then pulled out to become a cone.  The lines are black until we change them to red, to yellow.  Despite the difficulty of basically meditating with my eyes open, seeing this figure in my mind’s eye was fairly easy.  I could throw the shapes together, change the colors of the lines, make each line a different color.  Easy-peasy, especially when I pretended that the square and circle were from my shapes-and-colors chart.  And it didn’t take anywhere near fifteen minutes.

Then I spoke with a fellow MKMMAer – what was the point of the exercise? I wanted to know.  He said he was actually trying to convince his physical eyes to see it, there on the wall, and then pull it off the wall and rotate the geometric figure in the air, seeing from all angles and with all colors.

That… put a very different complexion on the exercise.  Seeing something imaginary with my physical eyes, like an afterimage?  How, without staring at a physical image first?  But what he was saying felt right, in as far as the spirit of the exercise was concerned, and it definitely sounded challenging enough to hold my attention for fifteen minutes or more.

Oh.  My.  Word.  I stared.  And stared.  And stared.  Forget a whole square, I’d settle for just the first line!  I can picture it in my head, but my eyes stubbornly refuse to see anything other than the speckles on the ceiling (all of my walls in my office, where I do my sits, are full of books and shelves – well, you’ve seen pictures in previous posts).  There isn’t a square there, my eyes insist.  Just random speckles from the roller that created them.  No pattern.  Certainly no black.  And the harder I concentrated on trying to see that line, the sharper and more distinct the random speckles became.

Then the back of my mind got bored and started playing with a passage in one of my books.  My main character is learning a new skill, and her teacher keeps saying, “Again.”  “Do it again.”  “Not good enough.  Try it again.”  “Again.”  (I will persist until I succeed…)

Playing with that passage led to another story I’m working on, and the back of my head started working on the next scene in the book, all the while I’m trying to drag it back to the matter at hand until I gave up, and just let that part of my mind play.

And there it was.  On the ceiling, a bluish-black square, like an afterimage when you stare at something for a minute and then glance to a white wall to see the negative.  It was oriented like a diamond in my eyes, but it was a square and it was there.  I blinked before I could draw the circle and the image disappeared, but I had seen it!  How?

And I remembered the Law Of Relaxation.  Mental effort is self-defeating.  If I hadn’t been lying down I probably would have kicked myself.  As it was, I just sighed and apologized to that part of myself that is wiser than my conscious awareness.

And then I tried again.

Today being Thursday the sit will be about my Press Release, but tomorrow…  Ah, tomorrow I have the way of it.  Let the forefront concentrate on what I want to see and let the back of my mind play wherever it will,  even though it sounds contrary to developing that laser focus the magnifying glass embodies.

Perhaps it has something to do with the concept of relaxed intensity.