21 September 2015: As I sit here in the VIP lounge in Los Angeles’ International Airport, I wonder if she’ll be here early enough for us to have a good talk. I’ve been told that she doesn’t like to talk much about herself, so I’m wondering what kind of questions would work best. She told me she’ll be wearing blue jeans, a blue flowered tee-top, comfortable walking sandals, and carrying a big red purse — she should be easy to spot, being 6′ tall, slender, with short, curly salt-and-pepper hair (more pepper than salt, she said).
I have done my homework – she grew up in a small Northern California town in the 1940’s; her middle-class parents owned an up-scale gift and garden store, and she is five years older than her one sibling, a brother. It appears that she wasn’t very interested in getting through college, having attended four different California schools, in Oakland, Chico, Fresno, and La Mirada, and finally graduating 10 years after her classmates. Wonder if I can discover what influenced her to take so long?
Oh, here she comes — yes, she’s spotted me… her brown eyes sparkle and her smile lets me know that she’s glad to see me. Her easy stride as she crosses the short distance between us belies her 75 years, and her firm handshake conveys a sense of confidence in who she is. I quickly glance at the large clock on the wall behind her and see that we have over an hour before she boards her flight, destination Portugal for a river cruise, one of her dream vacations she had told me. There is so much I want to learn about this amazing woman — I’m sure an hour won’t be nearly enough, but we collect our drinks (my Starbucks latte, her pink lemonade–she treats), find a quiet table in the corner and get started.
So, Bill, she starts, Are you from around here? … What got you interested in doing interviews like this?
Ooops — I thought I was the one doing this interview, but then I remember the warning that she would rather hear your story than tell her own. So my work is cut out for me. I answer her questions as briefly as I politely can, and start with my own:
May I call you MaryLou? It seems less awkward now that we’re face to face. She nods in the affirmative. Thanks! Then she makes my life a bit easier, maybe sensing my slight discomfort. What would you like to ask me?, she responds. I dive right in with my first question: In preparing to meet you, of course I did a little homework, and noticed that you had attended several colleges before graduating from CSUC. Could you tell me a bit about the intervals between? She laughs and admits that her parents wondered the same thing, since their goal for her was to graduate (they would pay for it all) and get a good job, preferably teaching. In the 1950’s that was what single women did if they didn’t just get married right out of high school.
But she had different dreams – she had lived for the day she turned 16, so she could run away with horse and dog to some far away ranch. Parents didn’t go for that, so high school was finished, two years of college completed, before she finally got a job on a ranch in northern Wyoming for the summer — a dream come true! But when it came time to load up horse and dog to return to school, she had a revelation — she was now “free, white and almost 21” (not politically correct today, but worked back in 1960’s) and she found a job in that little Wyoming town and fell in love with life in the Rocky Mountain west. However, she still had the Viking spirit of her Swedish grandfather, and decided to begin experiencing life in all the states west of the Mississippi River. In between stays in Colorado, Texas, Montana and Nebraska, she would return to California “at the nagging of her parents” to complete another semester or two of college. What finally brought her back to California permanently was her beloved grandparents’ request to be there while her younger brother (their only other grandchild) flew helicopters in the Viet Nam conflict. Once he was safely home, she found herself settled back in her home town, and, much to her surprise, teaching high school!
That only lasted a few years — she was no more enamored of school as a teacher than she had been as a student — but she relishes the impact she seems to have made when her former students tell her today how much they learned and enjoyed her classes.
One thing has bothered me all the while she has been quickly summarizing the highlights of her “distant past” — relationships? This attractive, personable, lively lady has not mentioned one outside of her family — why? How do I ask such a personal question? It seems that once again she reads my mind, and rescues me: You’re probably just as curious as everyone else I meet – where’s your husband, why aren’t you married, do you have kids, grandkids, etc., etc. Short answer — I had one life-changing true love in Wyoming, an unconditional human love that revealed to me how God loves me — unconditionally, and I gave my life to Him at that time. That decision forced me to leave the only man I have ever felt that way about (he was already married). I really expected God to give me a new soul-mate, but after experiencing just one disappointing relationship after another, I decided I enjoyed life on my own much better. But, she says with a chuckle, I’m not dead yet!
Now I’m really curious — why is she here, waiting for her traveling companion to join us just before departure? I glance at the clock and see that we don’t have much time, so I plunge ahead, feeling more comfortable with our relationship. I just blurt out: Okay, now I am curious! You told me you’d be meeting your young companion at the end of our interview, but you’ve not mentioned any children or grandchildren. Can you tell me more?
Her eyes really light up. Yes, I’d be delighted to, since that’s the point of this meeting with you. I wanted to let others know why and how my life totally changed, even at this late date, and that it’s never too late for anyone to see their dreams come true! You see, I had what I call a divine appointment with another business person at a networking meeting last fall, and he introduced me to the Master Key Master Mind Alliance, or MKMMA. With our short time here, I won’t elaborate on the process, but I immediately got involved, because my business was not growing as I planned, I was living hand-to-mouth, and this six-month intensive program seemed to hold great promise. I was determined to succeed, in spite of years of allowing myself to think negatively.
I don’t know what to say, or think — I can’t imagine this vibrant woman seated across the table living like that just a year ago! I urge her to go on – I am fascinated by her experience.
Within a month, I can’t explain how much my thinking changed. One of the exercises we were required to do involved discovering our DMP, or Definite Major Purpose in life. I have struggled with this for years, and could only come up with getting out of debt before I die — not a very motivating purpose, wouldn’t you agree? I have also learned that whatever we focus on, we get more of – a vicious cycle that I am determined to help others avoid! This is one of my goals in my financial coaching business, which I’ve just proven to myself isn’t my DMP, but only a vehicle to help me reach what I now believe God has given me to do.
She continues that another of their exercises was learning to sit without moving for at least 15 minutes daily, obtaining complete mastery not only over bodily movement, but also over what the mind is thinking. The object of these two activities is to allow one’s subconscious to be directed by the conscious mind, which will then only let in thoughts that are positive, uplifting, and encouraging. At the end of the first month, she discovered that her real DMP was actually reflecting what she had dreamed of when she was in the seventh grade: creating a home for boys that no one wanted.
Now I had the motivation to succeed, she explains, and in three months, I was earning more than the goal I had set for the end of the six-months! I had achieved being financially stable enough for a modest start of my childhood dream by establishing a home for two youngsters who had graduated out of foster care and had no place to go. This decision was based on another key concept that we learned — we are simply to be open channels for God’s bounty, so in order to keep receiving, we must keep giving, and let me assure you, it’s a joy to do!
You’ll be meeting Jacob shortly – a marvelous young man who has survived terrible difficulties with courage and honor. I’m encouraging him to expand his horizons by taking him as my assistant on this exciting river cruise in Portugal. We’ve been studying about all the places and things we’ll see. My other young protégé, Marcus, is staying at home to care for our mini-farm of chickens, dogs, and a huge garden, something he is just about convinced is his own Definite Major Purpose for his life. I don’t question him — after all, mine started at age 14!
As she glances toward the lounge entrance, I see a handsome collegiate-type catching her eye, grinning, and starting toward us. Bill, she says, I’d like you to meet Jacob, my terrific assistant that I just can’t do without. Thank you for taking the time to record my story. I’ve enjoyed our time together, and would love to hear your story some day. And please check out the Master Key MMA: someone reading this story needs the opportunity to experience this rebirth!