Tag Archives: positive mental attitude

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 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.

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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 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.

 

Week 16 – A “Kind” Makeover

I’ve had plenty of makeovers over the years…

Several different makeup looks, different hairstyles, new wardrobes…

These makeovers are typically passive.  By that I mean you just show up and let the experts work their magic on you.

But the 13-Week “Total Personality Makeover,” is COMPLETELY DIFFERENT!  This makeover requires awareness and action…it’s anything but passive.

Our makeover is modeled after a concept in Benjamin Franklin’s autobiography about heightening your virtues by becoming aware of these virtues, both within ourselves and the world around us.

You can read how Benjamin Franklin conducted his “makeover” – in his own words – here, or just read on for our “new and improved” version:

Make a spreadsheet with the days of the week across the top as column headings and each row heading will be a characteristic or trait to focus on for the week.

Now, pick a characteristic or trait to focus on for the week.  For this week, everyone in our group was focused on “kindness.”

Are You Ready? … Get Set … GO!

Put your antennae up and recognize every time you exhibit that trait or observe it out in the world.  The thought is that the more you see and do an act of kindness, the more you will receive, and kindness becomes a more natural part of who you are.

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Every time you perform an act of kindness – or observe one – you put a dot in the square for that day.

Do at least 2 random acts of kindness a day…without getting caught!  (It’s not as easy as it sounds!)

I made a game out of it to increase my numbers every day (I’m pretty competitive).

If you go through this process with enthusiasm and treat it as an experience rather than an experiment you will notice some wonderful things happening both within – and around – you.

I had three main takeaways this week:

  • The more acts of kindness I performed, the easier – and more exciting! – it was to perform more.
  • The feeling behind the kindness lasts far longer than the act itself.
  • An act of kindness rarely exists in a vacuum.  It may set off a “chain reaction of kindness” with the recipient “paying it forward” to another.  Or it may inspire someone – especially children – nearby to do the same.

What’s one example of an act of kindness you performed or observed this week, and how did it make you feel?

Week 14 – Cool Runnings, Mon!

This week we had an “assignment” to watch a movie and then observe and report the 4 Tiny Habits that create persistence.

Oh, no!  Watch a MOVIE???  Don’t throw me in that Briar Patch!  😉

I’m somewhat of a movie junkie…I’ve even been known to quote movie lines in everyday conversation…OFTEN.

So I chose the movie “Cool Runnings.”  It’s based on the true story of the 1988 Jamaican Bobsled Team.

Now, if you’re thinking “Jamaican Bobsled Team?  WHAT???”  Then you’re right there with me when I heard about the story.  If you’re familiar with the story, then I guess you were paying attention to the Olympics in 1988.  (I, however, was in my first year of college, and lived in what was affectionately known as “The Baylor Bubble” where only select information made it through to us students…)

But I digress…

THERE ARE 4 TINY HABITS THAT CREATE PERSISTENCE

  1. A Definite Purpose, Backed By a Burning Desire For Its Fulfillment
  2. A Definite Plan, Expressed in Continuous Action
  3. A Mind Closed Against Negative and Discouraging Influences (A Positive Mental Attitude)
  4. A Friendly Alliance With One Or More Persons Who Will Encourage One To Follow Through With Both Plan And Purpose

HABIT #1
A DEFINITE PURPOSE, BACKED BY A BURNING DESIRE FOR ITS FULFILLMENT

Derese was a track star and Olympic hopeful whose dream was to compete in the Olympics.  He “knew” he would make the Olympic team at tryouts, yet his dreams of running in the Olympics turned to dust as a fellow Olympic hopeful tripped and took down two additional runners…including Derese.

Yet Derese didn’t give up.  Far from it!

He was inspired by a photo of his father — a fellow track star — standing next to a man who was an Olympic Gold Medal Winner…in the Bobsled.  This gentleman wanted Derese’s father to be a bobsledder, as he believed that sprinters would make the best bobsledders.  Yet Derese’s father stuck to what he was good at…running.

With just 3 months until the Olympic Games, Derese set his mind on a new goal:  representing Jamaica in the Olympic Games…as a member of Jamaica’s first bobsled team.  And he convinced his friend Sanka — “the best push cart driver in all of Jamaica” — to join him on his journey.

Derese located this man, Irv, who, conveniently, lived in Jamaica, and “stalked” him until he agreed to coach Jamaica’s first bobsled team.  Derese then held a meeting to find teammates, and Irv did everything in his power to convince the attendees NOT to join the team.

Somehow they found two teammates (the other two Olympic hopefuls who lost the opportunity to compete in track and field), and a team was born.

The odds were stacked against them:

  • They were track stars…they could run…on LAND.  But what about running on ICE?
  • They didn’t know what a bobsled WAS…three months before the Games.
  • They didn’t have the ability to practice in the snow.  (Forget “snow”…they didn’t even know “cold!”)
  • They had a reluctant coach.
  • They didn’t have a bobsled.
  • They didn’t have the money to get to Calgary.

But they had the BURNING DESIRE to get there.  Each of the team members had their own burning desire, and their combined desire led to their living their dream.

HABIT #2
A DEFINITE PLAN, EXPRESSED IN CONTINUOUS ACTION

These young men knew NOTHING about bobsledding.  They had to start from the very beginning learning the fundamentals of the sport…with just 3 months until the games.

I’m reminded of Vince Lombardi, who was passionate about the fundamentals:

Gentlemen…this is a football.

These men had to start with the fundamentals:

  • What is bobsledding?
  • Who are the team members, and what are their roles?
  • What is a push start?
  • The importance of cold weather endurance.
  • Running…on ICE.
  • The responsibilities of the Driver.

On top of the fundamentals of the sport of bobsledding, they team also had to raise the money to get them from Jamaica to Canada.  In the movie, the team raised money by street performances, arm wrestling, a kissing booth, and selling a very expensive car.  The first-hand participation in the fundraising events is proof of the BURNING DESIRE these men had to attend the Games.

The team — especially Derese, as the driver — continuously visualized their goal.  Derese studied photographs of the turns and mentally went through the motions of navigating the turns.  And the entire team went through the turns sitting in a bathtub.

Nobody had that much fun in a sled since Santa Clause!  ~ Sanka

HABIT #3
A POSITIVE MENTAL ATTITUDE

Everyone laughed at these men for being the pioneers from their country in the sport of bobsledding.

They were different.  People are afraid of what’s different.

But they never lost sight of their vision…competing in the Games.  Representing their Country.

Other teams laughed at them.  These men brushed off their negativity, because they had a BURNING DESIRE to achieve their goals.  They KNEW they could do it.

Rise and Shine!  It’s Butt-Whipping Time!

HABIT #4

A FRIENDLY ALLIANCE WITH ONE OR MORE PERSONS

Sure, these men had a BURNING DESIRE to achieve their dreams of competing in the Olympics, but they couldn’t do it alone.

They needed the support of others.

They supported each other as teammates.

Yul to Junior:  

I see pride! I see power! I see a bad-ass mother who don’t take no crap from nobody!

They returned to their roots and expressed their authentic selves:

 All I’m saying, mon, is if we walk Jamaican, talk Jamaican, and *is* Jamaican, then we sure as hell better bobsled Jamaican.

When they became JAMAICAN bobsledders, they released their TRUE power.  Ah, the power of authenticity!

They changed their push-start lead-in from “eins, zwei, drei” to…

Feel the rhythm! Feel the rhyme! Get on up, its bobsled time! Cool Runnings!

That’s more like it!

Their bobsled was named “Cool Runnings,” which translates to “Peace Be The Journey.”  (Hmmm…talk about being in harmony with MKMMA!)

Even though the team lost control of their bobsled and never finished the race, they still won.  While they may not have won their medals, they won the respect of the world that watched.

WHAT’S IT ALL MEAN?

The bottom line and moral of the story is summed up in this quote from Irv:

A gold medal is a wonderful thing.  But if you’re not enough without one, you’ll never be enough with one.

It all starts from within.

Cool Runnings, mon.

jamaicabobsled

Week 13 – Persistence: Cause or Effect?

When I was a little girl, my dad would go out and ride his bike.  Like most little girls who wanted to spend time with their daddy, I would want to go bike riding, too.

My dad was older than me (obviously!), stronger than me, had more experience riding a bike than me, AND he had a ten-speed bike.

I, on the other hand, was young, inexperienced, and had a one-speed bike…MINE.  My bike would only go as fast as my little legs could peddle.

Together we rode up and down hills that left me red-faced and huffing and puffing trying to keep up.  Dad would always ask if I wanted to stop and rest, and I would always refuse.

I can do it!  I can keep up!

Dad always said I was quite a “stubborn little girl.”

As I grew older, he began referring to me as a “determined young lady.”

Whatever terminology he used…I always considered myself to be persistent.

Persistence is defined as:  firm or obstinate continuance in a course of action in spite of difficulty or opposition.

Yep!  That’s me!

I refused to back down, admit defeat, or request special treatment.

I will persist until I succeed.
I will persist.  I will win.
~Og Mandino

I have read these words as directed in The Greatest Salesman in the World, and I’ve been thinking about how I have persisted in my life…and how I have quit…and what that has cost me.

And I’ve recently changed my thoughts about persistence, because in the MKMMA we learned that persistence is a HABIT.  Persistence is not the CAUSE of success, but rather the EFFECT that is created as a result of four tiny habits:

  1. A definite purpose backed by a burning desire for its fulfillment.
  2. A definite plan, expressed in continuous action.
  3. A mind closed tightly against all negative and discouraging influences, including negative suggestion of relatives, friends, and acquaintances.
  4. A friendly alliance with one or more persons who will encourage one to follow through with both plan and purpose.

Hmmm…

So…to develop the HABIT of persistence, I must first have a definite purpose, a definite plan, a positive mental attitude, and a friendly alliance.

Where I have succeeded in life, I have had a strong grasp on the four tiny habits.  Where I have quit, I have lacked one (or more!) of the four tiny habits.

We are only halfway through the MKMMA course, and I KNOW I am strengthening ALL of these habits…

…and the RESULT is the HABIT of persistence.

To create this new habit, I am reminded that I must start each day anew with my habits:

I forget the happenings of the day that is gone, whether they were good or bad, and greet the new sun with confidence that this is the best day of my life…
…If I persist long enough I win.

I’m still that little girl:  stubborn, determined, persistent.

I’m just creating new habits.

I persist.  I win.

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