Tag Archives: MKMMA

Week 24 – To Thine Own Self Be True

This above all:  to thine own self be true.
William Shakespeare

I must admit, I’ve never been a fan of the Bard’s work.  All the “thee,” “thy,” and “thou’s” just aren’t the easiest things for me to read…or listen to.  In fact, I find it downright painful.

Throughout the MKMMA course, I have learned to be an observer of my own life and the world around me.  Being an observer is an interesting exercise that allows me to look at my life with “fresh eyes” and see where I’ve been unhappy…and, more importantly, WHY I’ve been unhappy.

I wasn’t being true to my authentic self.

In other words, I was in "Lost City!"
In other words, I was in “Lost City!”

When we are true to authentic self, we are focused, driven, and highly productive.  We are living life on purpose.  And when we are NOT true to our authentic self, well…there’s a disconnect that looks like this:

You "know" one thing to be true, but yet you "see" another.
You “know” one thing to be true, and yet you “see” another.

Yep.  Just like a fun house mirror!  I knew my authentic self was in there…it just looked completely different.  Like an Oompa-Loompa.  (Sigh)

The purpose of life is to live a life of purpose.
Richard Leider

I’ve learned that being true to your authentic self can bring great riches, both in terms of personal enrichment as well as monetary rewards.  You just have to invest in yourself first.

I invested in myself when I signed up for the MKMMA course.  It’s brought great rewards to my life in ways I never would have imagined.  As a result, I began re-evaluating and re-defining who I am and what I want to do in my life and with my life.

I am on a journey to my authentic self…to be the best “me” possible.

And I will.  Because that is my true, authentic self.

Week 23 – Love is All You Need Part 2

A few weeks ago I watched the movie “I Am” by Tom Shadyac, and then wrote the blog post Love is All You Need.

That movie and the blog post I wrote apparently made a BIG impression on my subconscious.

My fiancé and I had been searching for a place to get married this fall.  We’re eloping, or having an “intimate wedding for two,” depending on what facility we’re speaking with.

We both wanted something simple…just the two of us…in a vineyard.  Something intimate, romantic, and all about us and the love we share.

Our first choice of location was outside the budget we were comfortable with…$3,200 to hold our wedding for two in the vineyard.  And that was just the fee for the location…everything else, including a required wedding planner, would be extra.  {Sigh.}  We were pretty disappointed to say the least.  Now I needed to find a backup plan.

If the MKMMA process has taught me anything, it’s the importance of having a Positive Mental Attitude (PMA).  So we held our heads high, confident that a location would  reveal itself as the perfect location for us to commit to each other as husband and wife.

The phrases “All we need is love.” and “I greet this day with love in my heart.” kept running through my head, both consciously and subconsciously.

Two weeks later something magical happened.

I saw this image on the Internet:

LOVE at Paradise Ridge

I was IMMEDIATELY drawn to this image, and thought “I LOVE that!  Where is it?  Wouldn’t it be great if it was at a vineyard in California?”  So I did some research, and found an image of a bride and groom with the sign.  “That’s so PERFECT for a wedding!  Where IS this place?  I want to get married there!”

And that’s when it happened.  I found where the LOVE sign is located:  Paradise Ridge Winery in Santa Rosa, California.  In Sonoma County…which is where we planned to elope!

Ooooooohhhh…now I’m getting excited!

I contact them to inquire about their elopement packages and find that the prices are very reasonable — for the location only, as well as the complete elopement package with everything we would need for our big day.

The excitement is building!

And then it hits me…“Hmmmm…How are the wines?”  (My fiancé and I are both wine lovers, so it’s important to us that the wines are good.)  I couldn’t find much information about the wines online.  Everyone raved about the beautiful location, but not much was written about the wine.

A search on my favorite liquor store’s website came up empty as well.  (Their main location carries enough wine to fill 3 Olympic-sized pools, so if anyone would have it, it would be them.  But no…)

I even made a post on Facebook asking if anyone had been to the winery.  But no one had.  Not even wine lovers who lived in the California wine country!  This could be very good, or very bad.

Still keeping a positive mental attitude about everything,  I thought “We’ve found a hidden gem…a winery with good wines that is a well-kept “secret.”

My fiancé and I love the setting, but we’re not quite ready to commit until we taste the wines.  So we decide we’re going to order some.  Their website lists several wines on their “Current Wine” list, yet only a few are available for sale on the website.  So we decide to wait and call with an order, hoping we’ll be able to get some additional choices.

And then some more magic happened.  

We’re at our favorite liquor store, in the wine department, and I turned my head and saw…Paradise Ridge Cabernet Sauvignon, Winemaker Select!

I blink.  I rub my eyes.  I think I’m dreaming!  I read the sign below the wine, and it says that only 28 cases of the wine were allocated for the entire state of Texas.  And there are 8 bottles on the shelf, at $66 each.  (OUCH!  That’s more than we normally spend on a bottle of wine, but I guess we can bite the bullet for “research.”)

My fiancé comes over to see what has me so excited.  And that’s when I notice there was an empty space next to the wine for ANOTHER Paradise Ridge Cabernet Sauvignon…but it was sold out.  (Apparently a great bargain at $45 a bottle.)

One of the employees in the wine department approaches and asks if we need any assistance, and I say “We’re thinking about getting married at Paradise Ridge, but have never tried their wine, so I am excited to see it here since it’s not on your website.”

His response:  “Great choice!  They have some excellent wines, and we get very small allocations.  We also carry their Pinot Noir and Chardonnay, but we may be sold out of those, as well.”   Sure enough, they were sold out of the Pinot Noir, but they had 2 bottles of Chardonnay left on the shelf.  SOLD!

Now we’re BOTH excited.  And a little nervous.  These two bottles of wine have the power to make our break our decision.

So we buy two bottles of Paradise Ridge wines.  Wines that the store’s website didn’t say they carried.  Wines that I wasn’t looking for.  Wines that I just “found” by chance.

And you know what?  They’re very good wines.  Wines that were good to the last sip.

So with that, the decision was made.  We’ll be getting married later this year in our own little paradise — AT Paradise — with LOVE in our hearts.

All we needed was love.  And we found it.  (A pretty big “LOVE,” too!)

 

 

Week 22a: They Blinded Me With Science!

If the subject line sounds familiar to you, you’re right!  It’s a play on She Blinded Me With Science by Thomas Dolby.  (A song on any 80s music fan’s playlist!)

This week we listened to an audiobook of The Science of Getting Rich, by Wallace D. Wattles.  And if THAT sounds familiar to you, it should…I think the book is on just about every list of books that entrepreneurs absolutely MUST read!

“If you have not consciously made the decision to be rich, excellent, and healthy, then you have unconsciously made the decision to be poor, mediocre, and unhealthy.”  Author, Wallace D. Wattles

Now I’ll be the first to admit that I’ve known about the book for YEARS, though I never picked it up.  And many people who HAVE BOUGHT the book haven’t finished reading it.   (I’m guessing they didn’t put it on their service card and promise to do it!)

Thankfully, you can find full recordings of the book on YouTube!

NOTE:  There are several…and some of the people reading the book have such a monotone voice that lulls the listener to sleep…  This one is my favorite, though feel free to find a recording in a voice that speaks to you…literally!:

Don’t feel like listening to the 2 hour audiobook?

Here are some my favorite quotes from The Science of Getting Rich:

On Success & Being Rich

  • Success in life is becoming what you want to be.
  • Whatever may be said in praise of poverty, the fact remains that it is not possible to live a really complete or successful life unless one is rich.
  • No man is kept poor because opportunity has been taken away from him.
  • Get rich; that is the best way you can help the poor.
  • People must be taught to become rich by creation, not by competition.
  • You must get rid of the thought of competition.  You are to create, not to compete for what is already created.

On Desire

  • Desire is the effort of the unexpressed possibility within, seeking expression without through your actions.
  • The desire for riches is simply the capacity for larger life seeking fulfillment; every desire is the effort of an unexpressed possibility to come into action.
  • It is the desire of God that you should get rich.
  • The universe desires you to have everything you want to have.

On Thought

  • Thought is the only power which can produce tangible riches . . .
  • You must never think for a moment that the supply is limited.
  • To think what you want to think is to think TRUTH, regardless of appearances.
  • By thought, the thing you want is brought to you. By action, you receive it.
  • To think according to appearance is easy; to think truth regardless of appearances is laborious, and requires the expenditure of more power than any other work man is called upon to perform.

On Gratitude

  • The whole process of mental adjustment and atonement can be summed up in one word, gratitude.
  • Many people who order their lives rightly in all other ways are kept in poverty by their lack of gratitude.
  • The more gratefully we fix our minds on the Supreme when good things come to us, the more good things we will receive.
  • Gratitude will lead your mind out along the ways by which things come.
  • There is a Law of Gratitude, and it is absolutely necessary that you should observe the law, if you are to get the results you seek.
  • Without gratitude you cannot long keep from dissatisfied thought regarding things as they are.
  • The grateful mind is constantly fixed upon the best; therefore it tends to become the best.
  • The grateful mind continually expects good things, and expectation becomes faith.

On Being Specific

  • You must form a clear and definite mental picture of what you want; you cannot transmit an idea unless you have it yourself.
  • You can never get rich, or start the creative power into action, by sending out unformed longings and vague desires.
  • All you need is to know what you want, and to want it badly enough so that it will stay in your thoughts.
  • The more clear and definite you make your picture then, and the more you dwell upon it, bringing out all its delightful details, the stronger your desire will be.

On Faith

  • The man who can sincerely thank God for the things which as yet he owns only in imagination, has real faith.
  • It is faith and purpose in the use of the imagination which make the difference between the scientist and the dreamer.
  • Hold to the FAITH that the imaginary is being realized, and to the PURPOSE to realize it.

On How to Focus Your Attention

  • Think and speak of all the things you have asked for in terms of actual present ownership.
  • It is easy to understand that the nearer we live to the source of wealth, the more wealth we shall receive.
  • It is by your will that you determine upon what things your attention shall be fixed.
  • To permit your mind to dwell upon the inferior is to become inferior and to surround yourself with inferior things.
  • To fix your attention on the best is to surround yourself with the best, and to become the best.
  • The science of getting rich does not require you to apply power or force to any other person, in any way whatsoever.
  • To get rich, you need only to use your will power upon yourself.

Week 22 – Yoga and the Comfort Zone

Throughout the MKMMA course we’ve been challenged to get out of our comfort zone.  For those of us who have been even remotely faithful to the exercises, we can all attest we’ve been out of our comfort zone too many times to count over the past 22 weeks.

Now that I’m engaged and looking at getting married in the next few months, I’ve adopted the “bridal frenzy” that is “I’ve GOT to lose weight for my wedding!!!”  (OK, truth be told, I wanted to lose weight for ME…but hey, the whole wedding thing is a good excuse to kick my efforts into high gear.)

So what do I do?  I step out of my comfort zone and into…BAH-BAH-BAH-BAH…the Fitness Center!  Now let me just say that I’m one of those people that doesn’t visit a gym unless I’m dragged in.  But now I don’t have an excuse…it’s included in our homeowner’s association, so I want to take advantage of it.

The fitness center has a “motto” of sorts on all their shirts:

If it doesn't challenge you, it doesn't change you.

And they I see they have Zumba classes.  “Woo-hoo!  I LOOOOOVVVVVEEE the Zumba DVDs!  I’m gonna do THAT!  That’s easy!”

OK…so my first step is a baby step outside my comfort zone:  going to the fitness center.

What I’ve learned is that the classes are very different from the DVDs.  VERY different.  I felt like a fish out of water.  And I have to admit it was slightly uncomfortable being the only person out of about 30 who didn’t know what the heck was going on.

But I had fun!  So I went back.  And so far I’ve been to Zumba 3 times…and I’m starting to feel a little more comfortable.

Time to expand the comfort zone!

OK…step 2:  a class called “Cardio Strength.”  It’s an “anything goes” type of class.  The first time I went the instructor was leading a “cardio kickboxing” class for the first time.  Man-oh-man was it a challenging workout!  And yet because no one knew what was going on, I almost felt like I had the upper hand because I’ve had some experience kickboxing.  The workout was challenging, and I had a blast!!!  (And I was sooooooo sore the next day from throwing all those punches!)

That was a bigger step outside the comfort zone!

So I went back.  Unfortunately, this week’s class was running…sprints, up and down the hill, etc.  Due to an injury, I can’t run.  So it wasn’t just that it was outside my comfort zone…I could do permanent damage.

And you know what…I was sad when I left without a workout.  Hopefully next week’s class will be something I can physically do.

Time to expand the comfort zone again!

Next up:  yoga.  I already know this will be the most challenging of the classes for me.  Back in 2006 my doctor encouraged me to take up yoga for stress relief, strength, and weight loss.  I got a whole 5 minutes into the DVD and wondered how much time was left.

So here we are, 9 years later.  I’ve changed.  My body has changed.  Time to give this another shot.

The class moved slowly (to me…especially compared to the high-energy classes like Zumba and kickboxing).  I was physically able to do all the poses, though I had to exit the pose early on a couple occasions.  But I got too comfortable in one of the poses…and I fell asleep!

Apparently that’s the REAL danger of the comfort zone…you can get SO comfortable that you don’t have to pay attention…and then you get results you didn’t want.

Yoga, silence, and the comfort zoneSince I was told that wasn’t a “typical” class I went back for another yoga class today.  While this one was slightly more active — and I did NOT fall asleep — there was the issue of the silence.

Here’s what I mean:  the yoga class is quieter than most libraries.  And then you get into a pose and hold it for 30-90 seconds.  That doesn’t seem like a long time until you’re holding a pose for that long.  And then it can seem like forever!  And while I was in these poses, I found my mind wandering to all sorts of things.  And that’s when the instructor said:

Concentrate.  Focus.  Balance.

That was a “lightbulb moment” for me, because the reason I was so UNcomfortable with yoga is BECAUSE of the silence.  I had nowhere to be but in my head.  I was directed to concentrate, focus, and balance.  These things are not natural to me, and they are REALLY uncomfortable in silence!

So…while I don’t see yoga as my “thing,” it might be just the thing I need to expand my comfort zone.  Get inside my head.  Get comfortable there.  And then see what NEW experiences take me out of my comfort zone.  After all…

If it doesn’t challenge you, it doesn’t change you.

 

Week 21 – Love Is All You Need

On a cold and rainy day, do you ever just feel like curling up on the couch, lighting a fire in the fireplace, popping some gourmet popcorn, and watching a movie?

Well…that was definitely me today!

What shall I watch today…comedy?  No.  Action?  No.  Drama?  No…

Nothing seemed “just right.”

And then I saw these two little powerful words that spoke to me:  I AM.

“That’s it!”  I thought…I AM.

I AM is a documentary by Tom Shadyac.  You may or may not know his name, but you’re probably familiar with his movies, which include Ace Ventura, The Nutty Professor, I Now Pronounce You Chuck & Larry, Patch Adams, and Bruce Almighty, (to name a few).

And then he suffered a “nasty concussion” as a result of a biking accident.  During his recovery, he began to question his life, his priorities, and the world around us.   So he set out with a film crew of four to interview authors, journalists, historians, scientists, and academics in search of answers the following questions:

  • What’s wrong with our world?
  • What can we do about it?

There are several lessons to be learned in this documentary.  These are the ones that really spoke to me:

Together or Separate?

There is something fundamentally different between machines and life…you can disassemble a piece of machinery and put it back together and it works just fine, but you can’t disassemble a living thing and put it back together and have it work just fine.

Yet we are running our society as if we are pieces of a machine…and the world is a machine.

TRUTH MOMENT:  I spent years on the hamster wheel that is corporate America.  Going to work day in, day out, just doing my job…just another cog in the wheel.  Many days I felt like a robot could have done my job…and I’m probably right.  There was no heart…no soul…in the job.

Wealth AND Happiness vs. Wealth OR Happiness?

Iconic Slogan by Barbara Kruger
Iconic Slogan by Barbara Kruger

Our society places a high value on “stuff.”  In fact, wealth and happiness are in many ways synonymous in our society.  Yet “stuff” doesn’t make us any happier.

Think about it:  have you ever noticed how many people are UNhappy in heir lives, even though they seem to have it all?

At any given point in our life we have a certain amount of stuff.  If we had 10x more stuff, would we be 10x happier?

Society would make us believe that’s the case.  Oh, and by the way, I’m a marketing professional…I’ve been making people believe they need stuff for DECADES!  But I’m not alone in that venture…

  • In the movie Wall Street, Gordon Gekko says the famous line:  “Greed, for lack of a better word, is good.”  
  • George Carlin had a whole sketch on “Stuff” that’s pretty funny (and not safe for work!)
  • When many people get depressed or upset, they opt for “Retail Therapy.”
  • And even a whole movie about consumerism, and “Keeping Up With The Joneses

TRUTH MOMENT:  I must admit, I watched this documentary right after a shopping trip to Costco…home of the “gotta have it now, and gotta have lots of it now” stuff.   Even if that “stuff” is food and cleaning products my family uses on a daily basis…and some wine.  🙂  But now I’m thinking about all the times I’ve said to myself “If I only had ____, I’d be happy.”  And I wasn’t.

Have a Heart!

3314737024_4ea1f1671f_zMy favorite part of the documentary is learning that we – as a human race – are HEART based.  By that I mean that the heart is the access point to our higher self.  What’s interesting is that the heart just might be able to predict the future.  [Studies have shown that the heart knows what’s going to happen 3-5 seconds into the future.]

Because we’re all interconnected at a fundamental level, our thoughts and emotions affect the thoughts and emotions of others.  What we do as individuals affects the global environment…the world we live in.

And that means that everyday acts — even small acts — can build up over time into a great movement.  If you change your perceptions the world changes.

TRUTH MOMENT:  Throughout the MKMMA course, I’ve been experiences changes that have been small, incremental, and nearly imperceptible (at least to me)…but the grand sum of ALL these changes has been noticed by the people closest to me.

Love is All You Need

Tom Shadyac may have set out to discover what was wrong with the world…but instead he learned what was right with it.

  • The science of connection and unity.
  • The universal nature of compassion and empathy.
  • The mystery and magic of the human heart.

What’s wrong with the world?

I am.

[Yikes!  That doesn’t feel good, does it?]

So how about what’s RIGHT with the world?

I AM.

I love that!  And…

All You Need Is Love.  Love Is All You Need.  John Lennon

 

Week 20 – Finding Stacy…in Finding Joe

I feel like things are coming together in a natural progression.

Last week I wrote about how we should Live This Day as if It’s Your Last.

So how fitting is it that I watched the movie “Finding Joe” again, and heard these words:

No matter how long you live, life is ultimately short.  It only matters how you showed up, and how courageous you were.

I am usually reminded of how short life is when I lose someone I care about.  And now I am reminded that because life is short, we must show up and be courageous…it’s how we live that matters most.

Finding Joe is one of those movies that you will gain new perspectives with each viewing.  It is filled with thought-provoking concepts, as well as stories of pain, encouragement, and inspiration.

HeroesjourneyIt’s about The Hero’s Journey, a concept popularized by Joseph Campbell, which is the blueprint for nearly every movie ever told.  And it’s the outline of nearly every story…including the story of YOU.

It’s better to have a story than an explanation…it’s richer.

If you watch the movie with an open mind and an open heart, you will find yourself in Finding Joe.

I certainly did.

Here are some of my favorite take-aways from the movie:

  • Being the hero of your own life means being responsible for your own adventure.
    When standing in the face of adversity, you can surrender to victimhood, you can give your responsibility to someone else (i.e.:  ‘tell me what to do and I’ll do it’) or you can say “I have a choice here, and I’m responsible.
  • “Death moments” in stories don’t necessarily mean the end of one’s biological and physical existence…it’s an indication that change is taking place.
    If there is no death, there is no life.  If there is no death, there is no transformation.  If there is no death, there is no change.  We must get rid of things in our lives that do not serve us, and make room for things that will help us grow and thrive.
  • When you follow your bliss, the universe will open doors where there were only walls.
    Joseph Campbell tells us to “Follow Your Bliss.”  What IS “bliss?”  Bliss is listening to your heart and following the truth.  It is the thing you can’t not do…it is your authentic journey.  But how do we FIND our bliss?  We find our bliss by reflecting on what we are passionate about…by what activities we get involved in and HOURS pass away.  Our bliss is what we love to do.  It’s not about money.  Ask yourself:“If I had all the money and time in the world…what would I do?”

  • If you bargain your life away for security NOW, you will NEVER find your bliss.
    Your bliss may not always lead to a financial success…but it WILL lead to a personal success.  And the very fact that you’re LOOKING for your bliss means that you’re in the process of GETTING to your bliss.
  • We all have gifts, talents, hopes, dreams, weaknesses, and lessons in our lives.
    Start looking for your gifts and talents.  Try things you’ve never done before.  If there are things you wish you’d done, but never did, go do them.  Take different routes to work.  Talk to different people.  Put yourself out there.  But don’t anticipate what you’ll find.

  • People don’t follow their bliss because of fear.
    Fear of what people will think of us is the biggest inhibitor of people finding their bliss.  The reality is that YOU make the DECISION to hold yourself back.  We all have a choice, and we must remember…
  • Opportunities to find deeper powers within ourselves come when life seems most challenging.
    When we are challenged, we are being presented with a “dragon” we must slay.  These dragons make us feel like we can’t have or can’t do certain things.  When we are face-to-face with these dragons, we are face-to-face with our fears…and we must conquer them.
  • We must have the COURAGE to proceed in the face of fear.
    Courage is knowing what you need to do…and doing it.  Courage is getting up and trying again.  Courage is exploring the unknown and expanding our comfort zone.  Because when we can SEE our fears, the death of fear becomes certain.  It’s OK to be scared…as long as you DO the thing that scares you.
  • The best, most rewarding moments come after a struggle.
    When we are in an uncomfortable situation, all we can think is “how do I get out of it?”  The answer is to surrender.  Stop fighting the situation, and face it.  You can slay your dragon and come to terms with the fear…or you can LOVE your dragon.  When you love your dragon, you’re no longer engaged in the fight and you’re open to the rewards that are coming to you.
  • The privilege of a lifetime is being who you are.
    It’s about loving and accepting yourself for who you are.  It’s about healing the gap between your unlovable self and your lovable self.
  • We can ALL be heroes.
    The Hero’s Journey is a never-ending cycle.  What the hero brings back is a story…which becomes an invitation for others to take the journey.  Giving back the essence of the journey is the ultimate end to the hero’s journey.

Speak through your life…your life is the story…you’ll change lives.

Week 19 – Live This Day As If It’s Your Last

SO many things have been coming together this week…

In our reading of The Greatest Salesman in the World, we read:

I will live this day as if it is my last.

There is so much power in that statement!

We are also reading obituaries, studying their photo, reading their story, and thinking about what they might be willing to trade for just one more day on this earth.

And there also happened to be a 60th birthday celebration for my dear friend, Brett Elliott, who was taken from this earth WAY too soon, on March 30, 2009.

StacyANDBrett
Brett Elliott and Stacy Ryan, circa 2008, at one of our many visits to La Vista, enjoying good friends, good wine, and warm brownies.

 

There are many pieces to the puzzle that is our life.

In re-reading Brett’s obituary, I read of his surviving family members, a select listing of professional accomplishments, and a small glimpse into his loves:

He loved music; from loud rock to punk to blues to jazz. His favorite pastime was attending concerts and music venues with his many friends, and then burning a CD of the playlist to present as a cherished gift.  Most of all he loved his family and good friends from all walks of life.

(I am a proud owner of some of these CDs, and they truly are cherished gifts.)

What the obituary doesn’t say, is that if you ever met Brett Elliott, you were immediately drawn in…he had the ability to make you feel like a long loved friend…even your best friend…even if you’d only known him for five minutes.  Brett was special in that way.

His memorial service was “SRO” (Standing Room Only…a fitting description of a service for someone who loved music and going to concerts.  (I have fond memories of seeing Jonny Lang, the Rolling Stones, and Sammy Hagar/David Lee Roth together…as well as some “private, unannounced concert appearances” that only someone “in the know” would know about…and he did)

Brett’s memorial service is also the only one I’ve been to that had an “after party” … complete with SWAG … hosted by the advertising agency where he worked.  The after party was a chance for us to celebrate Brett’s life and cherish his memories…and indulge in some of his favorite things.  Like Rodney Strong wine, chocolate covered pretzels (or “Brettzels” which were Christmas gifts of pretzels “lovingly hand dipped into the chocolate with chopsticks” which were given to friends.)

Brett loved life.
He loved music.
He loved his friends.
He was a world-class copywriter.
He enjoyed mentoring students.
He believed in giving back.
He never missed an opportunity to make you smile or laugh.

He lived every day as if it was his last.

He is an inspiration.

Brett Elliott in his "old man suit" at his 50th birthday party.
Brett Elliott in his “old man suit” at his 50th birthday party.

At his 60th birthday party, he continues to make me laugh, through stories shared by his family.  Apparently when Brett was a young boy he had a toy that shot smaller toys out of it.  While playing with the toy outside, one of the toys that he shot landed on the roof of the house.  Brett promptly marched into the house and announced “Houston, we have a problem!”

Even at an early age he knew just the right words for the situation.

He may be gone from our world, but his memory lives on…both in the hearts of those who knew him, and through student scholarships in his name.

What would Brett trade for one more day on earth?  A better question would be what all of us who knew and loved him would trade for one more day with him on earth.

Peace.  Love.  Wish You Were Here.

Week 18 – Choosing Happiness

If happiness is on the other side of success, your brain never gets there.  ~Shawn Achor

Yikes!

Once again the MKMMA lesson of the week hit me over the head like a ton of bricks.

I’m talking about Happiness and “Moving the Goal Post.”

I’ve always set goals.  And usually I achieved them.  But rather than be happy about the achievement, and celebrating my success, I set the next goal.

And then I’d be happy…when I achieved that.

I know what you’re thinking…“Yeah, right!”

And I agree.  Now I know that by continuously “moving the goal post” and setting new goals, without celebrating the achievements and successes, I was setting myself up to be UNhappy, and didn’t even know it.

Now, to be fair, I wasn’t exactly UNhappy.  I just wasn’t truly happy.

Nothing was ever good enough.  I was never satisfied.  I always wanted “more” or “something different.”

I’m hearing Charlie Brown exclaiming “Good grief!” in my head right now…

Though I’ve heard it said many times that “You have to BE before you DO and HAVE.”

I guess the words went in one ear and out the other, or perhaps I didn’t know what I didn’t know…

And that is that happiness comes from within, and it MUST come first.  You have to BE happy…FIRST.

I’ve become a MUCH happier person as a result of the MKMMA Experience.  And to take my happiness to a new level I decided I would create a list of 100 Things That Make Me Happy.  Not just things I’m grateful for…but things that make me happy.

The first 25 or so were easy…the next 25 were more difficult…and then it got harder.  I would have to put the list down and do something else, which would ultimately lead me to an “a-ha” moment that sent me running for a pen and my list.

When I completed the list of 100 Things That Make Me Happy I was stunned.  I stared at the list in disbelief.

There were things on the list that I had full control over, such as:

  • Spending time with a friend
  • Watching the Minions in the Despicable Me movies and wishing I had my own
  • Watching a funny movie I’ve seen 100s of times
  • Volunteering
  • Champagne (what’s NOT happy about champagne???)

What stunned me is that many of the things that made me happy are external, and beyond my control…but when they happen they make me happy:

  • Enjoying a cup of Butter-Nut hot chocolate and having the hot chocolate trigger fond childhood memories.  Of course, that requires being able to actually FIND the Butter-Nut hot chocolate!  (And no…other hot chocolates just don’t trigger the memories…)
  • A beautiful, colorful sunset…which requires a sunny day, the right clouds, and the right weather conditions.
  • Making a sale.  Hey!  I’ll admit it…it’s fun to make money.  Yet I’m only one party to the transaction…and it takes two (or more!) to tango!
  • Hearing my fiancé hum while he cleans or does the dishes…it always makes me smile!
  • Receiving a compliment.  (Yes, I could demand someone give me a compliment, but that would defeat the purpose now, wouldn’t it?)

So the question becomes “What is the definition of being happy within, or being happy first?”

Do I need to have control over these things that make me happy?  Or is the fact that I appreciate things, and the process of appreciation is the happiness within?  Or both?

All I know, and all that matters, is that I’m happy.

Happiness is a CHOICE, and I CHOOSE happiness.

And speaking of Happy…

I gotta end this with the Minions.  Because no matter WHAT mood I’m in, they always make me HAPPY!

Week 17a – I’m Dying a Little

It’s been a crazy couple of weeks.  I’ve been struggling to keep up with the group in MKMMA.  I had trouble doing all the daily exercises.  And for some reason I felt alone, sad, and even a little lost.

Well, come to find out that’s NORMAL!

Lately I’ve been seeing my unique flaws more so than my gifts.

What I didn’t know then — and I thankfully know now — is that these “flaws” are my call to greatness!

My feelings of isolation, sadness, and loss are a result of the “old” me dying on the inside, and my subconscious struggle to let go of that “old” self and allow space for the “new” self to enter.

But that transformation isn’t easy…I am subconsciously hanging on to my “old” self and resisting change.  My “old” self wants to fight for self-preservation…even though I consciously want the changes to occur.

And so, the struggle begins.

There are 4 Stages of Death:

  1. Denial
  2. Anger
  3. Grief
  4. Acceptance

Throughout the process, I have never felt anger, so that’s not it.

In the past few weeks I have felt sadness and loss, so grief may play a part.

But I am stuck in Denial.  I know this because I haven’t been as committed to the exercises as I have been in the past.  To be here — especially at this point in the game — and NOT be here 100% is to be in Denial.  And, since harmony is a requirement, I must commit to change.  And I commit to that change consciously…and just have to wait for my subconscious to catch up.

There’s a story about how to catch a monkey:

You put a banana in a jar with an opening just large enough for the monkey to put his hand in.  When the monkey grabs the banana, his fist is too large to remove his hand and the banana from the jar.  So the monkey is “trapped” by the banana and gets captured.

Just like the monkey, we humans can get “trapped” by our thoughts and beliefs.  We get stuck and don’t see a way out, when in reality all we need to do to get unstuck is to change our thoughts and beliefs.

If we wish to change our thoughts and beliefs, we must give ourselves permission to be happy, and we must learn the art of forgiveness.  Forgiveness relieves depression, anger, and hate.  Forgiveness frees the mind.  So if you can forgive then you can be free.

Drop the banana.  Be free.

story_monkey_jar

Week 17 – Being YOUnique

Now that we’re in Week 17 of our 26-Week Master Key Journey, we are nearing our “destination” of a new self.  And we’ve been advised that temptations may arise to slip back into our old habits.

As a result, Paul Simon’s “Slip Sliding Away” has been running through my head all week.  I haven’t been able to get it out of my head!

Perhaps it’s because we ARE nearing our destination, and perhaps it’s because it has been a challenging week for me on a person level.

While there is much to be thankful for about my present, recent events have reminded me of feelings of sadness, loss, and isolation…especially because I’ve been reading:

Since the beginning of time never has there been another with my mind, my heart, my eyes, my ears, my hands, my hair, my mouth.  None that came before, none that live today, and none that come tomorrow can walk and talk and move and think exactly like me.  All men are my brothers yet I am different from each.  I am a unique creature.  I am nature’s greatest miracle.
~ Og Mandino

These words have spoken to me this week.  Not in a subtle, quiet, whispering voice, but a loud, booming, in-your-face voice that forced me to stand up and pay attention.

Why?

My whole life I’ve felt out of place.

Different.

As a young child I wasn’t allowed to play with the kids in my neighborhood because we “lived in a bad part of town.”  I went to a private school, and none of the kids that went there lived near me.  (I refer you back to the fact that we lived in a bad part of town.)

So I was isolated.  I was alone.  Books, music, and TV were my friends.  (Perhaps that’s why I think in songs and movie quotes, and tend to sprinkle them into conversation often.)

Even though my family later moved to a “good” part of town, I never got past those feelings of isolation and being different.  (I also never got past quoting books, music, and movies…but that’s not the point.)

Throughout high school, college, grad school, and even to this very day I’ve always felt like “there’s no one like me.”

I think different.

I act different.

I AM different.

I could have embraced my uniqueness…

…but I didn’t.

Instead I felt left out.  Isolated.  Alone.

Many times I was made to feel like my uniqueness was odd, weird, or just plain wrong.  To quote a “classic” phrase from my youth, I felt like people were essentially saying:

Well, because these feelings have been bubbling up this week, I’ve been flipping through my “flash cards” more often, and you know what?

It’s made me realize I Don’t Give a Damn About My Reputation, because I am Whole, Perfect, Strong, Powerful, Loving, Harmonious, and Happy.

I am ME.

And I am UNIQUE.