MaryLou Hits the Restart Button


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Week 24 — Vacation Time, Not Graduation!

Just as if I were back in 8th grade, I checked out of school before school was actually over, so no Week 24 blog when due. But I had already determined that I would be continuing on with a repeat of this course if offered the opportunity, and have thought about this blog for the whole month of April. As of May 1, with the start of Scroll VIII, my “Do It Now” mantra kicked in, and here’s my belated “final.”

As I’ve already shared with a couple of teammates, I missed a lot during the first go-round. I was struggling to keep qualified to stay in the class, with all the technical requirements I hadn’t done before, so totally neglected my business, and got way behind on the chore/service cards, the make-over tasks, and by mid-February, even the gratitude and good experience daily cards and the daily sit — would “overwhelmed” be an appropriate description?

But I did keep faithfully reading Mandino and Haanel, and I think that’s what kept me going. Especially Mandino’s Scroll VI on mastering emotions, and Scroll VII about laughing. So much down-to-earth, common sense truth here —

“Weak is he who permits his thoughts to control his actions;

Strong is he who forces his actions to control his thoughts.”

It’s funny how that truth jumped out at me while I was taking a break to read one of my “escape” books, when the heroine was feeling depressed and out-of-sorts, and “did not want to smile, but smiled anyway… did not want to mingle, but mingled anyway.” I immediately said to myself (living alone, I do talk to myself every now and again) “there’s Og’s description of a strong character!” Wonder if that author has read “The Greatest Salesman”? I’m continually surprised when I’m reminded of things I’ve been learning start appearing in other parts of my life, like a confirmation that I really am on the right track.

This Scroll VI also reminded me to be aware of other people’s moods and emotions. “I will also understand and recognize the moods of him on whom I call. I will make allowances for his anger and irritation of today for he knows not the secret of controlling his mind.” In the past, I have hesitated (refused) to call someone again if they sounded upset when I talked to them the first time, thinking it was me they didn’t like. Now, as Mandino writes, “…now I know that tomorrow he will change and be a joy to approach….This day he will not buy gold chariots for a penny, yet tomorrow he would exchange his home for a tree.”

As much as I appreciated Scroll VI, my favorite one to date is surely Scroll VII — I will laugh at the world.

“I will laugh and my life will be lengthened for this is the great secret of long life and now it is mine. And most of all, I will laugh at myself for man is most comical when he takes himself too seriously. Never will I fall into this trap of the mind. For though I be nature’s greatest miracle am I not still a mere grain tossed about by the winds of time?…Will my concern for this day not seem foolish ten years hence? Why should I permit the petty happenings of today to disturb me?”

I just had to laugh when I read this because I could hear my own mother trying to console me, or calm me down, when I was having a major teenage meltdown — “What’s it going to matter in a 100 years?” No pity-parties allowed! If she had read Og’s wisdom, she probably would have shortened her advice to his four words:

“And how can I laugh when confronted with man or deed which offends me so as to bring forth my tears or my curses? Four words I will train myself to say until they become a habit so strong that immediately they will appear in my mind whenever good humor threatens to depart from me… This too shall pass.”

These four words have already been imbedded in my mind, and I find myself actually repeating them aloud when some silly frustration presents itself. I’ve also tried reminding others of this truth, but like my teenage self, the thought behind those four words sometimes doesn’t bring the comfort that person seeks. Aren’t tears or rants or histrionics much more satisfying in the moment?  Ahhhh, the frailties of human nature strike again!

Then, his final reminder in this scroll is kind of the frosting on the cake. The truth of it can make such a difference in every person’s life, no matter what the circumstances — even poor in health. As God’s word reminds us in Proverbs 17:22, “A merry heart does good, like medicine.”

“And so long as I can laugh never will I be poor. This, then, is one of nature’s greatest gifts and I will waste it no more… Only with laughter and happiness can I truly become a success. Only with laughter and happiness can I enjoy the fruits of my labor…To enjoy success I must have happiness, and laughter will be the maiden who serves me.”

Remember the Law of Growth — focus on finding something to laugh at each day, and stay in control of those emotions — choose to be happy, and you’ll attract those who will always laugh at your jokes, even if they’re not really funny, just because it’s so much fun to share a laugh. Here’s a start:  What did one bear say to the other when they saw a couple of nudes in a hot tub? “Look, they’re already skinned!”  ….. Sorry, best I could remember at 10:45 pm…. (-:

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Week 23 — Can Laws Make Life Easier?

Recently I learned that our California state legislators have introduced about 3,000 new laws — if only a third of them are actually approved and signed into law by our Governor, that means 1,000 new ways for us to be lawbreakers unaware! I was one of the “unaware” last summer, by allowing my right rear car tire to be about an inch over the double white line in the parking garage, which I rarely use. I challenged the $26 ticket because, (in my opinion) I clearly wasn’t blocking anyone’s access, and there were no visible signs stating this law. All that did was get me an additional fine of $72, which I was forced to pay in order to renew my car license…  Guess if I’d paid attention to the concept of “no opinion” and cheerfully added my $26 to the city’s coffers, my life could have been a bit easier.

But that was just a little rabbit trail off the subject. Over the past six months we’ve been incorporating the Seven Laws of the Mind into our every day life:

Law of Substitution – immediately and totally replacing any negative thought with something pleasant and positive,

Law of Relaxation – to let our minds function at their highest capacity, they have to be in a calm, relaxed state–no effort.

Law of Practice: – Perfect Practice Prevents Poor Performance – always practice the correct things the correct way.

Law of Forgiveness – for our minds to have clear access to our Creator, we must forgive everyone – no remaining anger.

Law of Dual Thought – we can attach any feeling to a thought that we choose – no one else can make us “feel” anything.

Law of Subconscious – when “subby” accepts an idea, it becomes a demand and subby works 24/7 to manifest it.

Law of Growth – what we think about grows — what we ignore atrophies and eventually disappears.

Who could argue that any of these Laws would have a negative impact on our lives? Whether in my own private world or in my daily interactions with the world around me,  it’s easy for me to see how much more pleasant my life has become as a result of  gradually replacing old destructive habits with these Laws. And just when I thought it couldn’t get any better, here comes another Law for us:  The Law of Least Effort!

Now that resonates with my lazy self!  So I’m ready to learn its three aspects:

1. Acceptance – Today I will accept people, situations, circumstances, and events as they occur…My acceptance is total and complete. I accept things as they are in this moment, not as I wish they were.

2. Responsibility – Having accepted things as they are, I will take Responsibility for my situation and for all those events I see as problems. This means not blaming anyone or anything for my situation (and this includes myself). I also know that every problem is an opportunity in disguise, and this alertness to opportunities allows me to take this moment and transform it into a greater benefit..  (Wish I’d known this law last summer, and saved myself $98!).

3. Defenselessness -Today my awareness will remain established in Defenselessness. I will relinquish the need to defend my point of view. I will feel no need to convince or persuade others to accept my point of view. I will remain open to all points of view and not be rigidly attached to any one of them.

This last part of the new Law of Least Effort is more of a challenge to me, having some pretty strong convictions both in my relationship with my Lord Jesus, and as a citizen of America, “the last great hope of the world,” according to one of our earlier presidents. Of course life is much easier if one feels no need to persuade others. I enjoy listening to lots of other points of view, without feeling the need to argue or try to change another’s mind.  However, if I am a passenger in a car whose driver is speeding past a big sign that says “Stop – Bridge Out!” I will absolutely do my best to convince him to accept my viewpoint, hopefully in a loving and respectful manner.

So, has the question been answered? For the most part, I think it’s “yes.” In learning how to regularly apply this new addition to my PMA repertoire, I think it will take a lot less effort to remain positive. I look at the third part as applying to my own personal preferences — I’m reminded of the stories of churches splitting up because some didn’t like the color of the new carpet, or the new music director’s choices for worship, As for the first two parts, it really does take less effort and stress to accept the fact that the line I’m in happens to be the slowest moving one in the store, to admit that I chose it, and to look at the opportunity to get acquainted with another person in line — who knows if it may be my best new client or a friend for life!


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Week 22A — And the Meadowlarks Sang…

This slight tardiness in offering my thoughts is just because I wanted to experience my “silent treatment” before I wrote — and I did it, although not nearly as long as I would have liked. Only about seven hours, including the delightful leisurely, sun-roof-open, half hour drive to and from the riverside deck of a friend’s vacant summer home. Phone off, radio off, hearing only the sounds of the air flowing over the open roof and the occasional joyful song of one of my favorite birds — the meadowlark.

I had packed snacks to last for the day, and brought along Og Mandino and the MasterKey binder, but never opened either. It was just so much fun to sit in the perfect temperature, with the stillness of the flowing Sacramento River broken only by a pair of ducks on the opposite shore squabbling now and then about whether to take off or stay put…plus the background melodies of many other birds, including California’s state bird, the quail, and the soft cooing of doves. All in all, the perfect setting to put into effect the Law of Relaxation!

As I have read of the experiences of teammates who have already done real silent retreats, I noticed a common thread — the time it takes to let the mind empty itself of the endless chatter and I am reminded of a seminar I participated in years ago where we were challenged to sit quietly for several minutes and then tell what we were thinking about. As I listened to others of the 20 or so participants relate their multitudinous thoughts, I felt weirder and weirder, so I said nothing. Finally the leader asked if I wanted to share, so I had to admit that I really hadn’t been thinking about anything in particular — just wondering what I was supposed to be thinking.

Not much has changed in my mind since then, I guess, because I had to ask if we were supposed to have some agenda to consider while on this retreat from noise — and was told there was none. So there I sat in that comfy glider on the deck, wondering how an artist would capture the shimmery slate of the river’s surface as it lazily swirled past, reflecting the hazy clouds. Or what the ducks were saying to each other, or to the visiting crane that disrupted their happy home for a few minutes. Or whether the scattered raindrops dimpling the mirror surface of the river would increase, or disappear as the sky started to show off more of its spring-is-coming blueness.

I tried a “sit,” focusing on one of our recent lessons, but I guess I wasn’t there long enough to get tired of watching, listening and enjoying my new surroundings. I wanted to explore, to see what was along the river bank, to eat a fresh orange off the tree–“take all you want” invited my friend–and to just sit or stand still and do nothing.

After about five hours, having enjoyed a couple of snacks, I started to feel guilty that so much of my quiet time had gone by without my mind doing anything, I decided to try an exercise. Ever since starting this journey, I keep hearing that I have to attach “feelings” to the thoughts or they won’t be effective, but I have kept my “feeling ability” so buried that I really haven’t been successful. So I just started thinking, and then writing down, questions of “How would I feel if…” or How will I feel when…” I started out with broad generalizations, then kept narrowing down to details, and asking my brain to remember what I had felt in the past. Little by little a small feeling would pop up, like the fish after the fly, then disappear in the depths again.

All too soon, the sun was not trying so hard to shine through the increasing clouds, and my watch confirmed that it was time to lock up and head back home. At that point, I knew I would soon take up my friend’s offer to spend a couple of days in that lovely place, and let the meadowlark’s song take me way back to those times that felt so good.


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Week 22 — Be Still … Can I?

“Be still, and know that I am God; I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted on the earth!

As the temple assistants in the Old Testament received this command from God, it was meant to comfort His people. It came in Psalm 46 after the assurance that He had promised to be their refuge and strength, “a very present help in trouble.” This promise enabled them to declare they would not be afraid, “even though the earth be removed,” and “the nations raged, the kingdoms were moved,” and even when the earth melted as He spoke!

I don’t know about you, but I think it would take tremendous faith to remain still when such catastrophes struck. Yet sometimes that’s the only alternative people had — and still have today. As God’s people in our safe and comfortable environment, it seems hard to imagine such challenges. Yet Jews and Christians in other parts of the world face horrors daily that we can’t even imagine. Can they take comfort in this ancient promise? Could I if I found myself in their shoes?

And what does Psalm 46 have to do with our MKMMA assignment for this week? What’s so important about “being still” today? Perhaps our new Scroll VI from Mandino plays a part: “Today I will be master of my emotions.” As he points out, our moods often change from day to day as surely as the seasons come and go. Could starting each day in stillness enable us to decide to make “every day a happy day, and a productive one?”  By taking time to understand what mood awaits us as we open our eyes, we can make use of the Laws of Dual Thought and Substitution, using some of Mandino’s suggestions as a starting point:

  • If I feel depressed I will sing.
  • If I feel sad I will laugh.
  • If I feel inferior I will wear new garments.
  • If I feel uncertain I will raise my voice.

But this isn’t the last application of “Be Still” this week. Now we are challenged to expand our innocent little 15-minute “sit” that we have been practicing daily since this course started in October, to hours, even days of totally removing ourselves from all the distractions of our busy lives. To “unplug” from all forms of media and communication with others, not even books or music, (or my knitting) and just Be Still.

Perhaps I now have the advantage of being born in the middle of the last century! I still forget to look at my cell phone for messages, I haven’t had a TV for years, I’m just now learning how Facebook and Twitter work, and with all the negative, depressing news, I rarely even listen to the radio or read my favorite news sources any more. The hardest part will be leaving behind the latest historical novel or biography that I enjoy when not working with my business associates. But I look forward to what I will hear from God and His Universe, once I allow my mind to relax in His presence.  Stay tuned!


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Week 21 – Whose Side Are You On?

When Albert Einstein was asked why most people live such unsuccessful lives, he reportedly answered, “Men simply don’t think.” Earl Nightengale then offered a possible explanation: it’s human nature not to value what costs us nothing. We are born with the blessing of our physical body, with all its attributes that allow us to see, hear, smell, feel, etc., and with our mind, capable of far more than we can imagine. Unless we lose them, we tend to take for granted all these gifts from our Creator, which have cost us nothing.

Instead we focus on the physical things that cost us in time and money — like our cars, homes, and businesses. We use them to make ourselves seem successful, to indicate to our world what we have achieved. Yet we can lose them in a moment of time. We rarely take the time or opportunity to learn how our mind works, and how much better our lives could be if we learned the Seven Laws of the Mind. As long as a person’s mind is functioning normally, and he understands these Laws, he can bring all these material things into being if he so desires.

But the marvelous thing is, he doesn’t need anything material to satisfy that desire for achievement or significance. All these outward appearances of success are meaningless if he has no peace, no joy, no meaningful relationships. When our Creator came to earth to walk among us as a man, He didn’t come with all the material trappings of a king — he had no home, he walked everywhere, he wore simple clothes. But He promised that we would do even greater miracles than He performed if we only believed — used our minds to see the possibilities, and then acted in faith as if they were already accomplished. He focused on the inner world – “the kingdom of God is within you.” (Luke 17:21) He gave us the specific directions on how to do it: “But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you.” (Matthew 6:33)

In the Master Key 21:20-21, this concept is further explained:

The real battle of life is one of ideas; it is being fought out by the few against the many; on the one side is the constructive and creative thought, on the other side the destructive and negative thought; the creative thought is dominated by an ideal, the passive thought is dominated by appearances. On both sides are men of science, men of letters, and men of affairs.

On the creative side are men who spend their time in laboratories, or over microscopes and telescopes, side by side with the men who dominate the commercial, political, and scientific world; on the negative side are men who spend their time investigating law and precedent, men who mistake theology for religion, statesmen who mistake might for right, and all the millions who seem to prefer precedent to progress, who are eternally looking backward instead of forward, who see only the world without, but know nothing of the world within.

As I watched the movie “The Butler,” which showed the civil rights battles of the mid-1900’s, it was easy to see the negative side at work — the political leaders who “mistake might for right,” the millions who “prefer precedent to progress.” How easy it seems to be to fall into that trap of “we’ve never done it this way before.” Jesus fought that mindset with the religious leaders of His day. Maybe it would be a good idea to use our minds today to see which side is more appealing to us?


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Week 20 — Guilty! … or Innocent?

In week 19, Haanel’s Master Key talked about the different names we give two parts of one whole. In the physical world, there’s the North Pole and the South Pole, heads and tails of the coin, inside and outside — names given to two different parts of one quantity. These really aren’t separate entities, just ways of describing the extremes of the whole.

Okay, that’s a fairly easy concept to get my mind around, so the next step is seeking to apply the same idea to the mental world, A little bigger stretch!  How about knowledge and ignorance? Ignorance, a negative condition, is just an absence of knowledge, not a principle in itself. You can learn and grow knowledge to defeat ignorance — can you learn ignorance to defeat knowledge, a positive condition?  (Well, this could be argued, given the sad condition of our current USA school system — but that’s another story.)

Then let’s try the moral world. How about Good and Evil?  According to Haanel (Week 19:8)

We speak of good and evil, but Good is a reality, something tangible, while Evil is found to be simply a negative condition, the absence of Good. Evil is sometimes thought to be a very real condition, but is has no principle, no vitality, no life; we know this because it can always be destroyed by Good; just as Truth destroys Error and Light destroys Darkness, so Evil vanishes when Good appears; there is therefore but one principle in the moral world.

If I haven’t totally lost you by now, at least you are probably wondering what all this has to do with my title for this week. Our assignment was to choose an element that is holding us prisoner in our comfort zone — and figure out how to turn this negative condition into something positive that we can use to push us out into the place where we can start to realize our dreams, goals, purpose for our lives. We were offered five big ones — fear, guilt, hurt feelings, anger, and unworthiness.

A little background before the explanation. Growing up in the 1950’s, with business-owning parents, my younger brother and I always ate breakfast and dinner with them — no radio on during meals, no TV in the house till I was in 7th grade, and evenings were for uninterrupted time to relax (parents) and do homework (kids). The worst thing that could happen would be a ringing telephone. It better not be some salesman barging in on our a happy little family, or one of our school friends when we were supposed to be studying!

Think that might have something to do with the guilt I feel when faced with making evening calls?  Rationally I recognize that now families rarely eat together, and we are so used to distractions and multi-tasking (yet another story to be told)  that evidently, for most people, interruptions are no big deal. So my challenge was to see the innocence, or positive, condition of guilt and negate the guilt.

Of course, true guilt is probably a positive condition if it leads to a positive change — a person feels guilty of an actual crime, confesses, pays the penalty and seeks forgiveness. But the false guilt that subby lays on me to keep me “safe” must be destroyed. I choose to see my sales calls as what they really are – truly seeking as my primary motive, to bring a good result into the lives of those I am contacting . That truth allows me to be innocent of simply bothering others to make a personal gain — and only being guilty when I don’t call, of denying them the benefits I am offering them .

Okay, is this simply a rationalization, and if it is, does it matter if it still fulfills the purpose?  I’m curious to see how it works out.


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Week 19 — What’s next?

Just when I get almost comfortable with a challenge, Mark J and his intrepid team throw out a new one.  Now that I’ve quit pretending (Week 17.1) here’s the latest: ” What would the person I intend to become do next?”  Combining this question with the subject matter of Scroll V kind of sent my mind into a pause mode. .(Remember? “I will live this day as if it is my last” — which I have finally made myself read now and then.)

So, I chose to extract from Scroll V the thoughts that help to answer the “Next” question. The first is my favorite: “I will waste not a moment mourning yesterday’s misfortunes, yesterday’s defeats, yesterday’s aches of the heart…” I don’t know about you, but I have suffered for years from the “should’ve, could’ve, shouldn’t have” disease. Of course, what we focus on grows, so all that garbage from yesterday just kept multiplying — No More! Learn, Forgive, Forget!

The second gem worth focusing on: “Should I concern myself over events which I may never witness? Should I torment myself with problems that may never come to pass? No!” Once again, what we focus on grows.  Over 7 years ago, when I was recovering from major surgery to remove part of my intestines that doctors convinced me could be cancerous, a well-meaning friend, (who was recovering from her own cancer issues and has since died), brought me a copy of her “Cancer” magazine. Before I even knew much about the “focus=growth” law, I not too politely asked her to get that out of my sight and never speak to me about cancer again. Funny thing is, I was informed last year that my name isn’t even in the national cancer registry, so who knows?

On to the third value I found in this Scroll: “I will avoid with fury the killers of time. Procrastination I will destroy with action; doubt I will bury under faith; fear I will dismember with confidence. Where there are idle mouths I will listen not; where there are idle hands I will linger not; where there are idle bodies I will visit not.”  Okay, maybe not to the extent of “destroy, bury, dismember,” because, having attained senior citizenship, I think I deserve to be cut a little slack, as the saying goes. If I want to keep the friendship of most of my retired friends, I may have to be around some level of idleness. However, the continuous act of repeating “Do It Now” since this MKMMA course began has pretty much destroyed the procrastination!

So I continue to seek out those who are actively involved in different areas where we share interests. My “adopted mother” at age 95, is still so much fun to visit to talk about politics and world affairs, as was my own mother at 97. And I am so excited about my crusade to help more families become financially independent that I just added a physical wellness business to my ongoing financial wellness coaching one…so now I get to be around even more energetic, enthusiastic young people. I am carefully studying the leaders of both companies to find out what to do next to become such a leader–I am not at all interested in thinking about this as being the last day of my life. If it turns out to be, praise the Lord, because I am totally ready to relax in His loving arms, but if not…what’s next?