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?


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?


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.


Week #3 – Desire, or Addiction?

Late blooming hibiscus, 2014

Late blooming hibiscus, 2014

“You care what your readers think.  You’ve even included SMART goals with publication dates for books one and two.  I can’t see this as anything other than Recognition for Creative Expression.”

So said my guide in his first critique of my written Definite Major Purpose.  I had asked if I absolutely had to have two PPNs, since the only Personal Pivotal Need I saw last year during the exercise matched the only one I saw this year:  Liberty.

Liberty, liberty, liberty!  Freedom to go where I will and do as I choose, and the resources to enjoy fully enjoy the going and doing!

None of the other six even registered in my consciousness in that instant of eyes’ opening after regulating my breathing and centering myself to the sound of Mark’s voice.  So it should have been a relief, for my guide to tell me what he saw in the rough draft of my DMP.

Only it wasn’t.

I have a deep-seated  distrust of recognition in any form.  Too many times in my life it has been a false thing, creating a craving for approval (read between the lines:  addiction), which in turn led to a slavish desire to dance to another’s will, unfair use of my good nature, and eventually mental and emotional burnout… all for the sake of praise from someone I admired and respected.  Yet the desire for Recognition for Creative Expression can’t be unhealthy, or it would not be a Personal Pivotal Need; if it were harmful, how could it feed a person’s soul?

So where is the line?  When does the desire to have your work recognized for the expression of soul and personality that it is, become unhealthy addiction?  And how to recognize the line before you cross it?

I might finally have part of the answer.  A thought sparked through my mind during the webinar, an image of a quote to the effect of “We are constantly teaching people how to treat us.”  Essentially, in every conversation, every interaction, the kind of behavior we tolerate from others towards ourselves tells them what we will let them get away with.  Some folks, if they find that you will let them take advantage of you, they will take advantage… until you finally say “Stop,” and mean it.  (Then, ideally, you’ll drop the user like a hot rock and let them go find someone else to treat as a doormat.)

Similarly, whether we know it or not, we are constantly teaching our own brain how to treat us, with every thought, every experience, every interaction between the conscious and subconscious minds.  You know that little nagging voice inside your head?  The one you can’t shut up?  The one that calls you fat, or lazy, or stupid, or a poor parent, or a lousy, selfish significant other?  The one that predicts ignominious, humiliating failure at the worst possible moment (generally right as someone you admire and whose good opinion you want walks by) – and then laughs inside you when its prediction becomes reality?  The one that can’t let a happy moment pass without some kind of nasty comment or qualifier?  That’s you.  That’s what you have programmed into your subconscious, what you’ve trained your own brain to say to you, with every negative thought you’ve ever let slip past your censors.  And if that little voice, that constant, subvocal commentary inside your head believes that you have no worth if you’re not being constantly praised for even the littlest of things…?

At that point… you’ve probably crossed the line from desiring Recognition for Creative Expression into unhealthy addiction and dependence on someone else’s good opinion of you.

Well.  I say ‘probably.’  So, wherein lies the balance between what’s good for us, and what will kill an otherwise independent, unique, thriving spirit?

  1. In knowing and believing in our own value, therefore giving ourselves the freedom to enjoy another’s appreciation of our work without believing that the appreciation has anything to do with our worth.  (Hey – Liberty isn’t solely external freedom and resources, you know.)
  2. In not silencing the inner voice – that’s impossible.  The conscious and the subconscious are always talking to each other – but in controlling your thoughts so that your inner voice has new, different, better, things to say.
Late blooming hibiscus, 2015

One year later, same plant. Growth happens.

Week #2 – Old self, new self

“Our difficulties are largely due to confused ideas and ignorance of our true interests.” – Charles Haanel, MK-2 Introduction

Some weeks I can hardly type fast enough to keep up with my thoughts.  Other weeks, I wonder what in heck I’m supposed to write about.  My mind is blank, no ideas occur, nothing worthy of recording strikes like a bolt from the blue.

That was this week.  I did my reads – not completely faithfully, I admit.  I worked on my sits – and keeping my mind blank for more than a second or so is hard, hard work.  All the while I searched.  What tidbit could I offer this week?  What part of my experience might be viewed as useful?  What significant insight would be mine?

Nothing occured.  And then I saw this image on Facebook.  Claptrap

My first thought was What absolute self-pitying garbage!  I checked the comments, just to see.  Some comments tracked with what I was thinking.  And some of these folks I seriously wanted to Gibbs-slap and shout at them to get over themselves.  That the only thing making them into ‘that friend’ was themselves, their decisions.  That they were choosing a victim mentality (voluntarily, yet!) and if they truly wanted to see the author of 99% of their problems they had only to look in the mirror.  And by believing themselves to be ‘that friend,’ they hide their own light, their own unique talent, from the world… and the world is poorer as a result.

But from the point of view of ‘that friend,’ everything I said is just words.  They won’t accept a scold, they don’t give real credence to the idea of personal responsibility – everything is always someone else’s fault.  Their parents, their siblings, their friends, their enemies.  Their medical issues, their weight, their financial circumstances, their economic background.  Their childhood.  And never once do they look inside themselves for answers, check their tone of voice when they talk to people, ask themselves about their own behavior and what they might be doing that leads to other people treating them like ‘that friend,’ or even why they don’t search out better friends.  And I know.

Self-pity and choiceBecause ‘that friend’ used to be me.  I had one person willing to call themselves my friend in the latter years of high school.  I was never invited to dances or parties, even if I wanted to go.  I was always on the outside of conversations, events, groups, just hovering and hoping to be noticed.  And for years I took the way my peers treated me as license to feel sorry for myself, to tell myself stories inside my head about what the people that hurt me were thinking, feeling, believing… which in turn justified my personal pity party and growing resentment of them.

What people forget – what they might not even know – is that feeling like that, thinking in that fashion, is both choice and habit.  It’s habit in the sense that we react the way we’ve always reacted, because we’ve conditioned ourselves to react that way.  It’s choice in the sense that we don’t have to react in that knee-jerk fashion.  We created the habits over time with the way we chose to feel, what we chose to think… and most of all with the stories we told ourselves inside our heads about the reasons we were being treated like ‘that friend,’ stories that might not even resemble reality.  And we can choose to change our habits of thought and reaction the same way we developed the first ones.

Because that is our great power.  We decide what to think.  We decide what we feel about a conversation, an encounter, an incident.  We choose the story we tell ourselves, in the darkness behind our eyes.  We can say, “oh, wow, I just got interrupted again – I guess they’re really excited about what they’re saying and they don’t realize I’m just as excited about my thoughts.”  And then we can choose to repeat what we were saying, or just let it go.  We can tell ourselves either, “they must really think I’m worthless, they always keep going when I ask them to wait for me,” or we can ask them, “hey, didn’t you hear me? I asked you guys to hold up a second.”  We can ask ourselves, “why is it so important to me that I don’t feel left out by these people?  Am I really being left out, or have I behaved in such a way that people think I’m not interested in this sort of outing?  If I am being deliberately left out… then why am I so desperate to be hanging out with these particular people that I would put up with this?”  Suddenly the same event ends up with a whole different connotation, simply because of the filter we choose to look at the world through.

Even people who are ‘that friend’ don’t have to be ‘that friend…’ unless secretly, deep down, they choose to wear those particular chains, addicted to feeling sorry for themselves.

Because it all comes down to choice, confused ideas, and ignorance of true interests.  Define who you are.  Define what you want.  And then wake up and employ the slumbering guardian of your subconscious mind so that the only thoughts about your friendships, your goals, your life, are the ones you want inside your head.

I didn’t have to be ‘that friend.’  You don’t, either.

Week #1 – Answering the Important Question

Pathway into the fog

And so, here we are – full circle to where I started.

Well, sort of.  Growth actually occurs more in a spiral rather than a circle, so long as we’re learning.  We come back around, but not to the exact same point, because with the addition of experiences, we are no longer the exact same person.

But I am facing the exact same question.

What do I want?

Last year, on my first trip through the MKMMA, I never answered this question; not fully, not truthfully.  The DMP and getting it in on time was an assignment, something I had to do in order to maintain my scholarship, whether it was right or not, true or not, complete or not.  I wrote down what I thought I should want, based on the person I had been about fifteen or twenty years ago and what that person had wanted for her life.  I thought, if I could just force myself to become that person again, my life would be back on track and I would be happy and successful.

It flopped.  Big time.  And for obvious reasons; there’s too much time, too much experience, too many life- and mind-altering events between the person I was and the person I am now for me to ever be her again.

So what do I want?

I’m reminded of two scenes, one from the movie Field of Dreams, the other from the TV series Bablyon 5.

In Field of Dreams, Ray (Kevin Costner) and Terence Mann (James Earl Jones) are at the ball park and after kidnapping Terence Mann to take him to a ball game, Ray asks what he wants, and Terence says, “I want them to stop looking to me for answers, begging me to speak again, write again, be a leader. I want them to start thinking for themselves. I want my privacy.”  And Ray says, “No, I mean what do you want?” and motions to the concession stand.  An honest answer, to a question that wasn’t asked, but it becomes clear through the course of the movie that it isn’t true – writing and speaking are what Terence does, it’s who he is.

Then there’s Bablyon 5, where the question that was asked is answered, but in a moment of frustration, anger, and pain.  An undead agent of The Shadows, Mr. Morden, goes around to all the ambassadors and asks them the same question – “What do you want?”  The only ambassador to give him an answer was Londo Mollari of the Centauri:  “Do you really want to know what I want? Do you really want to know the truth? I want my people to reclaim their rightful place in the galaxy. I want to see the Centauri stretch forth their hand again and command the stars. I want a rebirth of glory, a renaissance of power! I want to stop running through my life like a man late for an appointment, afraid to look back or look forward. I want us to be what we used to be! I want… I want it all back the way it was. Does that answer your question?”  Londo’s answer has unintended and far-reaching consequences, for him and for the people his decisions affect, and once he has what he said he wanted, he discovers he’d really wanted something a little different… too late to prevent or correct the damage he’d done by pursuing the wrong answer.

What do I want?

It’s a question that requires soul-deep honesty.

What do I want?

It’s a question that’s dangerous to answer if you get it wrong, and equally dangerous to a person’s soul-born purpose not to answer if you get it right.

What do I want?

It’s a question that shouldn’t be answered in the throes of emotion, and yet must tie in to strong desire, or it’ll never happen.

What.  Do.  I.  Want?