Master Key Experience – Week 5 – Ups and Downs

Bad week. Bad, bad week.
I was stuck, stressed, sick, angry, and reached out for help. And I’ll tell you, this ‘tough love’ thing some people are so enamored of is dangerous. All it’s going to take is one suicidal depressive in a particularly vulnerable moment, and the whole ‘tough love’ schtick is going to backfire and do major damage to someone.
Of course, the self-righteous proponents of ‘tough love’ will immediately say that such damage, even a death, has nothing to do with them; it was the person’s own decision. And while it is true that the ultimate choice rests with the suicidal person, it’s equally true that we are responsible for how our words and actions ripple out and affect other people – both the good and the bad. If people who believe in ‘tough love’ are going to claim credit for ‘turning someone around,’ then they also have to accept culpability when the opposite happens.
Fortunately, after two-thirds of a lifetime of coping with suicidal depression, I’m a little tougher than that. If nobody’s going to help me the way I need to be helped, then I’ll just go ahead and do it myself, thank you. Nobody knows me like I do, after all.
And as soon as I made that decision, the weight I’d been carrying immediately shifted and dissipated, and I felt so free.
I became more productive, uploading more products more regularly to my Etsy store. I created a way to batch-edit design files and turn black text to white so uploading a new list of products to my print-on-demand service will be faster and easier than ever before. I slept better than I had in weeks. The perpetual low-grade headache pain I’d been living with for three months cleared up.
And then I got a letter in the mail.
Four years ago, I embarked on a photography project; to take photos of the sunrise from the top of a local landmark every morning for a year. (Well… I started five years ago. Had a couple of false starts.) I completed the project with 367 sunrises in without a miss on January 1st, 2017. And then spent the next year and a half trying to write the book that was supposed to go with it. The book had a few false starts too (five times. Five times I wrote about half of it and then scrapped everything I’d written because it was just coming out wrong). I couldn’t figure out what the story wanted to be.
See, that’s a common dilemma for a writer. Sure, we can sit ourselves down and pound the words out, but stories have a life of their own. And unless we connect in with that, the right words won’t flow and we’ll end up editing those words out. And this story wanted to be something specific.
Well. The book was published on December 31st, 2018, making it the second year in a row I’d published one of my stories (the first revolved around a road trip to view the total eclipse in 2017). And in 2019 I was at the Farmer’s Market with my novelty products and my books up for sale.
One of my customers took the time to write a three-page letter detailing how much she enjoyed the book and what her favorite parts were and how relateable my story was to her own life.
And there is nothing more amazing for a writer than to be told, “I thought I would get pulled away, but I just couldn’t put the book down.”

Master Key Experience – Week 4 – Helpful Thoughts

Between my job, taking care of Jerry as he recovers from heart surgery, and working my business, it’s hard to find the time to devote to the reads and the sit. I know they’re important. I understand the logic in sacrificing some of my business hours – because, frankly, that’s literally the only time I have available since I have no hobbies and don’t watch TV right now; both of those would eat into the few hours I have for building my business to profitability – for the growth of the world within. Just knowing that doesn’t make it easy.
And it’s even harder to see the list of things I don’t accomplish, day by day, getting longer and longer until it eats up my weekends. And yet somehow I have to manage my priorities so that I fit in the reads and the sit and the homework and the chore (oh, yeah. We’re supposed to call it a ‘service’ now. Gods, I detest that word! I have a better ad more positive emotional connection to ‘chore’ than I do to a word that was once habitually used to guilt me into doing things I didn’t want to do). I’m always tired. I go to bed groggy, I wake up groggy, I don’t want the night to be done because if it is I have to get up and do things. When does the payoff come? When will all the sacrifice I’m making of the fun things to do what’s necessary to have the future I desire turn into more freedom instead of less? When will I finally feel happy and energized to wake up, because the day is filled with things I love to do instead of the ones I have to do in order to survive?
I have no answers yet.
But I had a thought this week as I was reading Og. The phrase “today I begin a new life” doesn’t actually refer to the weeks, months, and years stretching out ahead of us. That new life is today. It’s always ‘today.’ And today is always new. Today is always a chance to start over, be a little better than I was yesterday, prioritize more effectively, accomplish more of the important things, be more forgiving of what I don’t get done.
And I’m a little surprised by the realization. When I used to have spare time, I wrote science fiction, and my main characters come of a race who see all times as ‘now.’ So they don’t usually get worked up about past or future, because we are only ever in the present. Sure, the choices we make moment to moment build our future, but that takes care of itself if we make the right decisions in the now.
And ‘today’ is always ‘now.’
Today I start a new life.
In the ever-changing now, I choose. And I can be whatever I will to be.

Masterkey Experience Week 3 – Ick.

I hate this. Hate it, hate it, hate it.
I’ve been through this before. I’ve failed at this point before. I’ve written my DMPs and refined them according to my guide’s suggestions, and by the time I was released on my own recognizance, the DMP I was reading was no longer ‘me.’ It wasn’t even the me I wanted to be.
It was inauthentic. So what good does it do me, to incorporate all these suggestions about phrasing and adding feeling and stupid numbers that are completely made up off the top of my head, when I can’t relate to the finished product? All I’m doing – all I ever have done, every time I’ve been through this course with a guide – is change what I’m saying to something I think will please someone who doesn’t live inside my head. And I hate it.
First, this whole thing about feeling. Intellectually, I get it. I do. I understand the relation of thought-feeling-belief. But I don’t feel. I don’t want to feel. I’m content with muted emotions. I’ve spent years suppressing them to the point where they aren’t overwhelming because I had to in order to retain some semblance of sanity. I am an empath. I have always been an empath. And the more I feel my own emotions, the more I’m assaulted by the emotions of the people around me, AND I DON’T WANT TO KNOW! I don’t want to be constantly inflicted by what others are feeling! Partly because it becomes really hard to tell what’s me versus what’s coming at me from the outside, and unless you’re an empath too you have no idea, none, what that’s like. People at work who are unhappy, stressed, amused, angry, bitter, and ALL OF IT CHANGES YOUR OWN MOOD AND EMOTIONAL STATE WHEN YOU WALK BY THEM.
Sure, sometimes it’s helpful. On a couple of occasions I was able to sense when someone else was depressed to the point of thinking about suicide and for once found the right words in the moment and got them to ease off themselves to the point where they weren’t thinking about ending their lives anymore, but that’s rare. People don’t usually react very well when someone brings up what they were thinking or feeling. They’re instantly suspicious, like I’ve been spying on them somehow because ‘empathic powers aren’t real.’
Only they are. And people aren’t wrong to be suspicious, because this ability of mine is a straight up invasion of privacy, one that I can’t help but do because you would not believe how much people radiate! It’s like that commercial where people are shouting out their internet search history, only for me it’s their feelings I hear. All. The. Time.
And you know what else? One of the things my guide said in her suggestions for my DMP was that I can’t control what others do, and to change the phrasing. Which, frankly, isn’t true at all, because if we’re putting money amounts in the DMP, those funds have to come from someone else or lots of someone elses, which means we are dictating what other people will do when we say we’re going to have X amount of money by Y date, and I hate that contradiction, I really do, most particularly since it seems I’m the only one that sees it. But it’s untrue for another reason too. My empathic gift is projective as well as receptive. So yes. I can, if and when I exert myself, make people feel what I want them to.
And I don’t want to be that kind of monster again. Even if my intentions are clean, my motives pure. Because if knowing what other people are feeling is an invasion of their privacy, how much worse is the fact that I can impose my will on theirs whenever I choose with them completely unaware of the fact? By and large people don’t notice when their bioelectric field is interacting with someone else’s, so exerting influence goes completely unnoticed. I might say it’s for their benefit, like when I exerted calm on my entire work team on a particularly bad day when everything was going wrong and people were snapping at each other and starting to escalate into saying genuinely hurtful, personal things. But it’s still me imposing my will on another, without their knowledge. A worldly tyrant can be resisted, with courage and the stubborn refusal to bow. But my gift is a sneak, insinuating itself so that my voice appears to be coming from your own heart in a way nobody can defend against, even if they were aware of what was happening.
So I can write the words, whatever words my guide says are the most effective. I can recite them three times or more a day, exactly as we’re supposed to. But actually letting myself feel? No. Feelings in my hands are weapons. And I don’t always know who they’re pointed at.

Master Key Experience Week 2 – Linking, Schminking

What to talk about, what to talk about… where did I succeed this week? Where did I struggle?
I don’t like the shapes and colors. I really don’t. But I suspect my dislike is mostly because I’m not good at it. I’m used to catching onto things quickly; I’m immensely adaptable and I learn as easily as I breathe; it’s a quality that’s stood me in good stead throughout my working career, as I moved from job to job – learning, building relationships and skill, creating a comfortable place for myself… and then growing bored and moving on to the next job, the next challenge, the next team. The only time I’ve needed more than a week to learn how to do what I was hired for was when I apprenticed as a spring winding technician.
(I still miss spring winding. I probably always will. I was happier there than I’ve ever been at any other point in my varied job history, though my present job comes reasonably close. But driving an hour or more to get to work had gotten hard on the pocketbook, and staying with my brother in the cities during the week was hard on my hubby (and our cats). So I gave it up. And part of me has always regretted that.)
T’any rate. I latch onto numbers, not shapes or colors. And although during a prior iteration of the course I was able to force myself to notice blue rectangles, that’s all they were. They didn’t mean anything.

Until this week. I was at work, setting up a run on the CNC (these days I machine plaques, letters, and signs in aluminum, bronze, brass, and some stainless steel), and I noticed the control panel. I mean, I look at them every day, multiple times a day; reading the information, the numbers on the display, interpreting them, making adjustments or assessing the condition of the metal or tools or coolant flow. But on five of the machines, the main screen on the control panel is segmented, the background colors of three of those segments – you guessed it – blue rectangles. Seeing that, and consciously noticing that not only is it a shade of blue, it’s rectangular, I suddenly realized I hadn’t said “Do it now” 25 times for the second time of the day.

I quickly rattled them off as I completed the setup and started the run, then went to the next machine. A tool needed changing, and I suddenly noticed that the cabinet we get the tools out of is a tall, free-standing rectangle bordered in blue. Within the display window, some of the tools have long and narrow blue casings; others are nestled snugly in blue envelopes a bit taller than they are wide. And I think, I need to set aside time to clean the upstairs bathrooms on Saturday. Which, you might guess, is my chore for the week.
So why is it finally working this time around?
Don’t know. Don’t really care. I just know that for the first time in six years, since my first time through the MKMMA, I’m linking properly instead of pretending to do it.
And that’s pretty darned cool.

Master Key Experience Week 1: Am I Crazy?

Oh my dear and precious gods, what was I thinking? I just changed schedules at work AGAIN so I’m already constantly tired, we’re slammed with orders so overtime is a regular occurrence, I have to put in consistent effort to getting new novelty products up for sale every single day, with Jerry still recovering from heart surgery I’m the only one keeping up on laundry and dishes and the finances, we have to get to Jerry’s cardio rehab sessions three days a week and that takes two and a half to three hours, and oh, crap, I have to make time to write a blog, WHERE ARE THE 30 HOURS MARK SAYS I’M SUPPOSED TO HAVE?!? I am crazy to think I could do this, why am I putting myself through it?!

Such was the racing of my brain on Thursday. And then an odd thing happened. From deep inside came a little voice saying, “Hold on a second. You did your morning reads, all three of them. You started moving through the last set of design uploads looking for errors, and corrected five of them. You created a new .csv to bulk upload and meet your daily goal of new designs. You read the Key. You made sure Jerry has an easy-to-reheat meal for his dinner when you’re at work, and you’re on schedule to leave at two and stop at the store to pick up salad for your work lunch. You’ve accomplished more than you think you have in the last two and a half hours.”
But I didn’t finish reviewing the last design set for errors! I silently protest. I ran out of time because I had to de-prioritize that or I wouldn’t have gotten the Master key read or Jerry taken care of or the new file prepped so those designs could upload while I’m at work…
“You don’t have to finish it all at once,” my inner voice reminded me. “You just need to do a little bit every day. It’ll be done in no time.”
And you know, inner me was right. I had accomplished a lot in a short time. And there would be time on breaks to do my midday reads, plus almost two hours after work to reconcile a month’s worth of backloaded finances, get the sit in, and do my final reads of the night before falling into bed. So why the frantic rush?
Because this is my pattern. Overwhelm myself with my to-do list until I feel justified in feeling angry and put upon, and then feel justified in doing nothing so that I can binge watch a favorite show because I have ‘no time to get anything done.’ But the truth is, there’s always time. Everyone has exactly the same number of hours, minutes, and seconds in the day, and we all fill that time, moment to moment. The only question is, what are we filling it with? Excuses and emotional justifications? Or little things, done consistently, that add up to big things over time?
Time to break the pattern of rush-rush-rush-I can’t get anything done because I haven’t the time, and replace it with, I do a little bit on the important tasks every day, and over time, everything that needs to gets done.

Including a blog post.

Week 3 – Complain or Compliment?

“You have found that the Individual may act on the Universal, and that the result of this action and interaction is cause and effect. Thought, therefore, is the cause, and the experiences with which you meet in life are the effect. Eliminate, therefore, any possible tendency to complain of conditions as they have been, or as they are, because it rests with you to change them and make them what you would like them to be.”

I LOVE week 3! The first few lines are my second-favorite Haanel quote EVER.

The tendency to complain is a very human thing. We complain about work, about our families, about the lines at the grocery store/department store/car wash/DMV, and everyone around us understand the complaint and is willing to complain in turn. We connect through our complaints, and can share a moment of unity in a world that seems to be sliding more and more into division.  That’s especially true on social media. People share their gripes; other people respond with either sympathy, or a similar plaint.


What are we really bonding over? Think about those social media posts. Once people start chiming in with their own gripes, you now have a conversation of people, all talking about something that ‘makes’ them angry and upset. Each person’s response then reinforces the complaints of the others. They feel validated, but instead of calming down or letting the irritation go, they get even more grouchy as a result. And what do you suppose then happens to the folks who are merely reading the thread, hm? I don’t know about you, but when I read those threads, I get upset too. Maybe what they’re complaining about isn’t the specific thing about the situation – whatever it is – that I find upsetting, but if I’m not paying attention then my emotional state still shifts just reading the vitriol.

How does it help to connect with other people over negativity? (And how many of us excuse ourselves, once we notice the complain-fest – i.e., pity party – and its results, by saying, “Well, everyone does it.”)   And how do you suppose that affects your subconscious mind?  Your internal blueprint?

Complaining is contagious, to ourselves as well as to others. And then we trap ourselves into a circle, feeding on our own anger and that of the people we’re talking to, as we each complain in turn, and eventually we believe that the world is a sewer and it’s never going to get any better.

What kind of effects do you suppose those thoughts will cause?

Jerry’s gotten into a habit recently of complaining every time he opens his mouth to say anything. There might be a sentence or two mixed in where he’s asking a question or actually saying something that isn’t negative, but most of it is a complaint. He’s tired, he’s in pain, the people at work don’t know anything and if they’d just listen to him then they could improve everything, he shouldn’t have to work at all… and so on and so on and so on.

I don’t like it. I work second shift, he works first. So most days the only time we have are the ten minutes of my half-hour lunch I set aside to call and talk to him. I don’t want to spend that entire time listing to a rambling litany of complaint, for several reasons.

But what to do? It falls upon me to change those conditions, not whine about them. And yet, I can’t simply dictate to Jerry that if he can’t say anything nice just don’t say anything at all. (Okay, yes, I could. But that would cause effects that I probably wouldn’t want; a henpecked husband, a resentful husband, a husband who would feel negatively judged and then not talk to me because he’d feel like he couldn’t say anything right. He’s got a mind and will of his own, you know.)

So what in my own behavior will encourage him to respond with fewer complaints and more positivity?

Well, when I’m on the phone with him at break, I don’t gripe. I talk about the things that have gone right, or relate the funny instances with coworkers that happen almost every day.  As soon as he complains about something, I ask a question like, “So what was the best part of your day?” or “What made you smile at work today?” or “So did anyone do anything kind for you today? Did you do something kind for someone else?” And I’ve collected some of my favorite memes from social media to print out and hang around the house – positive things, you know.

Don’t snort. They exist.

I haven’t been doing it for long. But I’ve already noticed a slight change in how he talks. And of course I’m happier, too. Because positivity is also contagious!

Week #3 – Principles are universal

“It is evident, therefore, that all we have to do is let our light shine; the more energy we can radiate, the more rapidly shall we be enabled to transmute undesirable conditions into sources of pleasure and profit.” – Charles Haanel

So for some time now I’ve been learning how to create and publish low- and no-content books.  You know, like grownup coloring books, journals, workbooks.  Going to be expanding now into activity books, like mazes and find-its and other fun stuff like that!

It’s been a blast learning about the publishing world.  And the lady I’ve been learning from is absolutely amazing.  I’m a member of her mastermind group, and she recently forwarded a theory she’d been working on.

In essence, if you were to turn on the tap to fill a glass with water, and the glass begins to overflow, turning off the tap because letting it run is wasteful is an example of scarcity thinking.  If you’re thinking properly, she says, you get a bigger glass.  As each glass fills, you pass it around so everyone can have a drink.  When there’s nobody else to take a glass, and the one you’re holding begins to overflow, you get a bucket.  When that fills, get a barrel.  And then when the barrel overflows, you get a firehose and start spreading that water around.

I know she’s never studied Haanel – I asked her.  And yet, her own self-development has led her to the same ideas.  Like in Og, “…experience is comparable to fashion; an action that proved successful today will be unworkable and impractical tomorrow. Only principles endure and these I now possess…”

Amazing what connections you can make, once eyes and ears and mind are open!

Week 2 – What is a thought?

Now be perfectly still as before, but inhibit all thought. This will give you control over all thoughts of care, worry, and fear, and will enable you to entertain only the kind of thoughts you desire.”

Okay.  No thinking.  I can do that.  How hard can it be?


Inhibit all thought.  Drat, I should have taken off my shoes.  The edges of the soles are not comfortable.  Stop.  Inhibit all thought.  Owwwwww, there’s a metal sliver digging into my kneeeeeeee.  Stop it!  No thinking.  Silence.  The sound of birds chirping.  Firefly, meowing and pawing at the door.  Go away, kitten…  “Pen-pineapple-apple-pen, i have a pen, i have an apple…”
Blast it.  Thanks a lot, Becky, now I have an earworm.


Okay, comfortable  clothes, comfortably seated, start the timer and…  No thinking.  Heartbeat.  Breathing.  Silence, peace.  Oh, how lovely…  Wait.  Was that a thought?  Crap!  Even if it wasn’t, that was!  Well, I’ll be all right if I just don’t…  “apple pen, pineapple pen, ahhhhh!  Pen-pineapple-apple-pen…”


Okay, so, it’s obvious what the exercise is intended to do, right?  I mean, our world without is created by our world within, and the world within is controlled by our thought, specifically the habits of thought within our subconscious mind.  But until we can control the thoughts that get in, our subconscious is going to be contaminated by all the stray bits we’ve allowed in while we weren’t watching.


Is hearing the sound of birds, and dry leaves rattling in the breeze a thought?  Is is thinking, to focus on breathing and feeling the rhythm of a heartbeat?  What about hearing music – not lyrics, but only music – inside your head?  Is that thinking?

Google defines thought as being “an idea or opinion produced by thinking or occurring suddenly in the mind” and has a second definition of “the action or process of thinking.”  Which is… not helpful at all, really.

What is a thought?  And how does it differ from awareness?

Week 1 – A more detailed map

A September sunrise

A September sunrise

Week one again!  It’s thrilling – I’ve missed the webinars, the wisdom, the automatic companionship with other MKMMA members.  It’s intimidating – working full time plus, in addition to a daily photographic project and related blog, will I remain faithful to the exercises?  Haven’t always been so, in the past when my schedule was easier, though I’ve muddled through, muddled through.

And it’s promising.  Because it’s a human truth that if you don’t know where you’re going, then

  1. any road will get you there, and
  2. you won’t actually know when you’ve arrived.

After two years of asking myself, over and over, what do I want?, two years of retraining myself to believe that I can have what I truly and deeply want, the answer is crystallizing.  I know myself better now, understand more of what my gift to the world actually is… and how to most effectively give it away.

The Northern Lights

The Northern Lights under the Big Dipper

And to think the realization had its roots in a chance comment of mine, that once I wouId have paid no attention to, a comment I wouldn’t have been in a position to even make, if not for the past two years of studying Haanel and Og and Emerson.

Since January the 1st, I’ve been taking pictures of the sunrise from the eastern overlook of Barn Bluff in Red Wing, MN.  Barn Bluff is a local landmark overlooking the mighty Mississippi; from the easternmost point of the bluff, you can see for ten-twelve miles – which is a feat in southeast Minnesota, let me tell you!  By the end of the year I’ll have photos of 366 consecutive sunrises, all from the same spot!

And word’s been getting around; I was recently interviewed by a writer from the Rochester Post-Bulletin about the project.  One of the questions he asked was why.  Why the project, why Barn Bluff, why every single sunrise for a year.

“I want to show people how pretty the world is,” was what I said.

It was a flippant, off-the-cuff answer meant to sound good for the interview… and yet it resonated with every layer of my being, from conscious to subconscious.  _MG_0682The voice of my deepest self seized an unguarded moment and spoke clearly.  We miss so much of beauty, particularly in our own back yards, because we never look up from our technology and stress and hectic schedules long enough to notice what’s right there – the liquid ice sculpture of a dew-covered spiderweb in the morning sunlight;  the first flowers of spring, poking up through a late snow; the constantly-shifting, fathomless patterns in the clouds on a stormy day; a baby’s laugh; the warm and steady rumble of a cat’s purr.

Beauty everywhere.

Time to get all these new realizations down in my DMP!

Week #19 – Do the unexpected

Okay, those of you following the daily sunrise posts on my photography blog know that I had a bit of a shock this week.  Rather than going over it again here, I’ll post a link:  2016-02-12 – Writing copy… exposing weakness, underscoring strength

On the plus side, I managed to avoid an argument and get Jerry to modulate both his voice and his emotional state this week.

Years ago, a family of friends had a dog named Cinder.  He was a German Shepherd-type, though being taller with a narrow, deep chest there might have been some greyhound in his background, and he went to become a police dog.  He washed out of training – a bit too high strung; he broke out in hot spots.  When he came back, he was still the same energetic dog, but he’d developed a quirk; you couldn’t put your face down near his.  He’d tolerate it for a few seconds, then he’d develop this strange, almost feral, look in his eye, and he’d lunge for you.

One afternoon he tried it with me.  He wanted a walk in the worst way, and he shoved his muzzle up to where it was almost touching my nose to plead silently.  As our gazes met and held, I watched his expression change, then – just before he would have lunged – I turned my back on him.  Mom Terwilliger laughed and said later his face was something to see as he tried to work out what had just happened and what he should do.  I let him make friends with me again after about five minutes of him circling around, whimpering and poking at me with a paw.

So this week, Jerry’s been in a temper most of the time.  He shouts, throws tools, and congratulates himself for ‘getting it all out’ so he ‘won’t turn into a wife beater.’

First of all, I have a serious problem with that phrase.  Basically what it means is that he’s content to not be a bad person, rather than wanting to work on improving himself to that he can be a good person.

There was a matter we had to discuss, and he wanted to shout and engage in hyperbole and empty threat rather than talk.  I was tired of his volume, I wasn’t going to start shouting in return; imagine my surprise when I found myself turning my back on him, given that I’d all but forgotten that incident with Cinder.

And like Cinder before him, Jerry didn’t quite understand what was happening or what he should do about it.  When he stopped shouting, I said over my shoulder that I wasn’t interested in discussing anything with someone who couldn’t use a conversational tone.  Twice more he started shouting; twice more I turned my back until he stopped. We eventually got the burr under his saddle talked out in a reasonable fashion.

It felt good.  No muss, no fuss, no anger feeding back on itself and growing into massive proportions.  And it was satisfying, too, because for weeks I’ve resented (while trying to choose otherwise) the fact that because of the MKMMA and the Franklin Makeover, he could say anything he wanted, however inflammatory or hurtful and I couldn’t.

I’m starting to suspect I need to spend less time around him, as long as he’s determined to be anxious and angry.