Week 23a – Least Effort

You’ve probably had some of those aha moments when things fit together and make sense.  Throughout the Master Key course the phrase the whole is greater than the sum of its parts has been used a lot. We have been doing exercises, creating new habits, sometimes doing things that seem mysterious and we have been trusting both the message and the very dedicated messengers and guides:  Mark J, the Fabulous Davene and Trish.

The thing that really clicked for me this week was the Law of Least Effort
1. Acceptance
2. Responsibility
3. Defenselessness

Wait – so what does this all mean?

1. Acceptance – dealing powerfully with what is so.  Accepting things and people just as they are and just as they are not. This allows no space for if only, she should have, I should/shouldn’t have.  It also allows no space for trying to change the people in your life.

How much effort do you spend arguing with the facts? I used to do that a lot.

Today I came home from a trip that included a short visit to one of my favorite organic supermarkets.  I picked up the bag and did something to my keys that made the alarm go off.  Startled, I drop the bag and broke a bottle of soy sauce. So what did I do?  I spent no time in regret or frustration.  I just cleaned it up.  In the past I would have spent some time berating myself and then cleaned it up.  I am amazed at how much less effort and wear and tear on me there is when I accept the situation.  That may seem like a small example, but I see my acceptance of reality often in being with my mom and her lack of short term memory.  It always helps me to realize that my mom is the way she is because that is the way she is, right now.  Would I love to have the mom I loved to hang out with and go shopping with?  Of course I would, but then that’s not one of my choices,

 2. Responsibility. So I am 100% responsible for my actions.  I wasn’t holding the bag by the handles and I dropped it. Period.  Finished.  No drama.  Not much effort involved here once I developed the muscle to take responsibility for my actions.  It’s really easier than it sounds.  It has been said that for a marriage to work there has to be 100% responsibility on each partner’s part.  Marriage is not a 50-50 deal.

3. Defenselessness – Relinquishing the need to defend myself is actually quite a relief and can be seen as a natural result of 1 and 2.  My husband says I missed some things when I cleaned up.  I say, okay I’ll do it now.  No explanation, no I was busy, preoccupied or any justification.  I’m responsible and I’ll take care of it.  Simple, uncomplicated and takes little effort.  I found that the greatest effort came in suppressing my immediate knee jerk reaction to defend myself or justify my actions.  This becomes easier and easier and life becomes easier too.  What I realized over time was that no one is interested in my excuses.  If I late, I’m late, if I missed something I’ve missed it.  Funny thing – even I am no longer interested in my excuses and now there is so much less drama in my life. 

It’s amazing to me how peaceful my life has become.  Is it perfect?  Of course not.  What all this peace has done is created space for me to reflect, be present and get into action in areas that are important to me.

 

Week 22a – In Touch with Myself

Peace is found on the inside.  What a simple and eloquent statement that encapsulates so much of what we have been learning and practicing in the Master Key course.  One of the assignments of week 22 was to spend time in silence, disconnected from our phones, computers, the media and other outside distractions.  As of yet I haven’t set aside time to be alone with myself for an extended period of time, that is at least a day or longer.  What I have been doing is disconnecting in smaller chunks and seeing the difference it has made.

One of the things I stopped doing was turning on the radio when I am alone.  As a rule I only listen to public radio, but I haven’t even been doing that.  Until this week I would have never considered that I was listening in order to avoid being with me.  Just having this additional quiet time has yielded some insights and a lot of peace of mind. I got in touch with some of the things that were missing in my life and started to take action in those areas.  Spending more time in the world within has resulted in me reaching out to more to other people.  It has also quieted a lot of the chatter in my head, you know, that voice that goes on and on.

Yesterday I spent a couple of hours baking Hamantashen for Purim without the radio on.  One of the things I noticed is how much time I talk to myself. Talking to myself can be a way to empower myself and I have been consciously using my self talk to keep me on track and engaged.  I also noticed how much I enjoy baking and making delicious food to share with friends and family.

Week 22 – Tools of the Trade

We’ve been taking a look at the comfort zone, that area in life where we .feel really comfortable and safe. The comfort zone is held in place by emotions like fear, guilt, anger, hurt feelings and feelings of unworthiness. We’ve been asked to observe how these show up in our life and how we can use these as tools.  Tools?? Aren’t these the things we want to avoid or conquer?

I joke that I am a Jewish mother but I don’t give guilt and I don’t take guilt.  As I write this I realize that I am very good at not letting other people make me feel guilty, I can do that very well myself thank you. I have been observing myself feeling guilty when I do things that I know are counter-productive or when I waste my time.  I enjoy playing Soduko on the NY Times web site.  The only problem is I notice that I am solving puzzles when I know I should be doing something else and that thought generates feelings of guilt. Mark says that guilt is anger turned inward, which makes a lot of sense to me.  It takes a lot of energy to be angry, which means it takes energy to feel guilty.  When I observe myself feeling guilty I have 2 options – wallow in my guilt or take that energy and direct it where it should have been directed in the first place.  Guilt becomes my tool when I notice guilty feelings and use the energy to be in action and on purpose.

Another thing I learned is that sadness can also be seen as anger turned inward.  This morning I woke up feeling sad, realized the cause, and after talking with my mastermind partner Stu, I used that energy to take action which completely transformed my day.  Today I am the master of my emotions.  I invite you to be the master of your emotions too.

 

Week 21 – Welcome to My Neighborhood

I live at the corner of

It is a beautiful place to live.  The FB post this came from said, “It’s not happiness that makes us grateful it’s, being grateful makes us happy” – David Steindl-Rast.

I am so grateful for so many things that it is almost impossible not to be happy, even when some things don’t go the way I would like them to go. On one level, I am grateful for the beautiful and enlivening post my friends make on FB.  In the Master Key course we have spent a lot of time and creating awareness of being grateful for the things and people in our life.  One of our assignments is to notice and write down three things we are grateful each day.  Another thing we are doing is noticing and performing acts of kindness. I find that noticing and paying attention to things I might have been doing anyway adds a dimension of richness to my life.

Last night at dinner I was filled with so much gratitude I was almost in tears.  I was sitting at the Shabbat table with my husband and my almost 94 year old mother.  I was moved that my mother was doing really well last night and that my husband is always so willing to get her and takes such loving care of her.  I answer the same questions over and over again because her short term memory doesn’t function very well and that is something I do out of love for her. In the Landmark Forum I learned that love is accepting someone just as they are and just as they are not.  Without that distinction I could imagine myself getting angry or at least frustrated with her.  Instead, i am grateful that I still have a mother who otherwise is essentially well and healthy.

So here’s something to think about.  Did you notice loving what you have applies to you as well as to other people?  One of the challenges of this course has been creating new habits.  Now some of my old habits which do not serve me well are very old indeed.  They weren’t formed overnight and they don’t seem to go away overnight either.  I have been practicing loving my progress and learning from my challenges. I am grateful to notice and celebrate my wins and the victories of others. I invite you to do the same.

Week 20 – Maybe It Is Simple

Hard to believe it is Sunday.  This is the first time in 20 weeks that my post is late.  As I sat down to write this I asked myself how did this happen?  As I asked this question I realized that I was asking it in my role as an observer of me, not out of guilt or any other dis-empowering conversation.  The second question I asked myself is why do I write these blogs.  At this point, the least powerful reason is that it is a requirement of the course.  For me the most important reason is that it provides the opportunity to think about my week and ponder my “Journey of Discovery and Growth” which is the sub-title of this blog.

In the Greatest Salesman I have been reading, “I seal up the container of life so that not one drop spills itself upon the sand.”  for almost a month now.  That’s powerful and a little daunting.  How do I do that, how does anyone do that?  The scroll ends with guidance that resonates with me. “I drink every minute to it’s full, I savor the taste and give thanks…each minute I trade only for something of value.”

One of the ways to do this is to be really present in your life.  People talk about multitasking and before this course I might have said that I was pretty good at that.  The opposite of multitasking is focus. Doing one thing at a time and giving it your entire attention.  To me that is one of the keys to not spilling a drop on the sand.  That is what I have been experiencing in that last couple of days.  I had a very focused conversation with a very good friend of mine and the result was that would both had aha moments that made a difference.

On Friday I needed to get ready for a birthday dinner for my 6 year old grandson.  On the way I had other things that needed to be handled.  In each part of the day I found myself focused on the task at hand and things happened with remarkable ease.  Turns out that my grandchildren and their parents stayed overnight unexpectedly and spent Saturday with us.  Although there were things I needed to accomplish, like dinner for 10 Saturday night I (perhaps unconsciously), gave myself and them the gift of being present in the moment and not worrying how it would all work out.  Particularly delicious was having my granddaughter cuddle with me for about 15 minutes while she fully woke up from her nap.

Maybe one of the keys to life is as simple as this –

Funny thing.  I started to write this while snacking on pistachio nuts.  Right, focus on the blog and eat pistachio nuts??  When I saw that I laughed to myself.  Time to finish this post and have my snack.

Week 19 – The Olympics and Me

This week I’ve been mesmerized by the Olympics.  I was a little sick and tired so the path of least resistance for me in the evenings was to watch the Olympics.  Some of the things I have been studying with Mark J and Go90Grow came crystal clear for me and empowered me.

The first and most obvious lesson is PPPPP which could be read as Perfect Practice Prevents Poor Performance or to be more positive – Perfect Practice Produces Powerful PerformanceThe amount of practice and passion that goes into being an Olympian boggles my mind.  It also reminds me how I come up short in practicing the skills that could enhance my performance in many areas of my life, in my Viridian business, when we’re sailing or in life in general.

Another thing I saw in the Olympic performances was the Law of Relaxation in action.   This is one of the 7 Laws of the Mind we cover in Go90Grow.

The Law of Relaxation: Mental effort defeats itself ~ exactly the opposite of physical effort. A relaxed, calm state of mind, is the only doorway to progress mentally. Relaxation of thought is the only access to Infinite Intelligence.

So how does that apply to the Olympics?  The events I have been most fascinated by are figure skating and the amazing men and women who do loops and tricks in the slope style snow boarding and skiing, events I never really watched before.  During most of the award winning performances the commentators would often say, look how relaxed, he, she or they are.  They are going with the flow of the music or the event.  During performances that weren’t going so well they would comment on the athlete being stiff or seeming stressed.

My take from this is to practice, practice, practice and then be in the moment and trust that you have trained your brain and your body to accomplish the amazing feats they were performing.

The other thing that became crystal clear to me was that while I was watching all these amazing performances I was not present in my own life.  Between being tired and feeling a bit sick I gave myself permission to slack off in the practices and habits that have sustained and energized me in the past months.  I was reading the Scroll Marked V in a new way thanks to all the great comments I got on my previous post.  I was reading that every day is precious and being exhorted not to waste a single minute of it.  And what was I doing?  I was wasting hours watching TV, watching other people live their lives to their fullest.  No wonder I was feeling sick.  My body and brain, that old subby, were engaged in a battle over me.  At one point I even said to myself, I’m not doing the work, I should just throw in the towel and quit, which I almost did.

Last night I while I was reading Kim San Kuan‘s post I saw what I was doing to myself.  I literally snapped out of it, did the things I needed to do and began to feel perfect for the first time in days.  I am happy to be back to living each precious moment as if it was my last.

I invite you to treasure each moment and treat it as a gift.  Happy Valentine’s Day.

Week 18 – Words Create

This week I have been very conscious of the power and energy of words. I did the Landmark Advanced Course in 1993 and one of the things I remember about it is the phrase words create our world.  In the Master Key course we spend a lot of time on words.  We create a statement of our Definite Major Purpose (DMP).  We hone it carefully and the construction of our DMP is liken to building a bridge. It has to be definite and specific because it is the blueprint for our future. Our words create our worlds.

When I coached people I was very aware of the power and the energy of words.  When my clients would sat something is hard or difficult I would ask them to see if saying it is challenging made a difference for them.  For me, hard is, well hard to do and gets me down.  Challenging on the other hand challenges me to rise to the occasion.

The power and energy of words hit home with me this week.  We started The Scroll Marked V in The Greatest Salesman in the World, on the first of February and I have found it to be very challenging.  I almost don’t want to read it. The theme of this scroll  is “I will live this day as if it were my last“.  You can probably imagine a lot of it.  I am alive today but maybe not tomorrow.  My loved ones are here today but maybe not tomorrow. The moral – use this day wisely and well for it is all you have and be grateful when you live to see the day.  All very good advice to use this day to the fullest and never waste a drop or precious second.

So what’s my challenge with this scroll? For me it is energetic.  I have lived long enough to have lost dear friends very unexpectedly and early in their lives.  People who lives were huge contribution to others, people who were so full of vitality that it is hard, and I do mean hard, to believe they are no longer with us.  For me the sound advice in the scroll is overwhelmed by a lot of negative energy, engendering feelings of sadness, of lack and scarcity.  It is all I can do to get through it.

This is the first scroll that has not energized me.  When I look back I find almost the same message delivered with great positive energy.  The first scroll says “Today I begin a new life” and talks about creating new habits and sets out a blueprint for change.  Am I energized? Yes!

The Scroll Marked II talks about greeting the day with love in your heart and talks about challenges and overcoming obstacles.  We shall overcome with love in our hearts.  Do I feel energized and inspired?  Yes!  I am similarly energized by Scroll III that talks about persistence and reading that “I am natures greatest miracle” in the Scroll Marked IV. Given that I am nature’s greatest miracle I will use my gifts and talents and concentrate my gifts on the task at hand.

So my assignment is to persist in my reading of Scroll V till the end of February.  Thank goodness it is a short month!  My challenge to me is to somehow shift the energy and have this chapter be a contribution to my life and others as well.

What are your thoughts and insights?

Week 17a – As January Ends

Today is the last day that we read the scroll that begins, “We are nature’s greatest miracle.”  I see the scroll as call us forth to be the best that we can be. It’s been a roller coaster of a month.  Sometimes I have been incredibly focused and sometimes not.

I spent a week with the rest of the MKMMA dwelling on kindness, observing kindness and performing random acts of kindness. (Read my insights on kindness).  It sometimes amazes me the little things that show up when you are sensitive to them.  Yesterday I was on the 6 train (MTA) on the way to sit for my grandchildren.  The woman across the aisle kept pointing at me and said something about paper.  I looked on the seat beside me and realized that a used tissue had fallen out of my pocket when I took out my gloves. I smiled, nodded my head in thanks and picked up the tissue so I could throw it away when I got off.  Saved from littering by an observant and kind woman.

So how else was I impacted in January? I have a heightened awareness of being in the flow of giving and receiving.  I have met some remarkable people this month who have already enriched my life and I hope I have done the same for them.

I am looking forward to February and the unfolding of the nature’s greatest miracles in you, me and the people in our life.

Week 17 – Organization

What if someone said to you: rate yourself on the following list?  Number 1 is the virtue requiring the most improvement, and number 11 being an area where you are very effective.

  • Self-­Control
  • Discipline
  • Enthusiasm
  • Courage
  • Persistence
  • Specialized Knowledge
  • Imagination
  • Decisiveness
  • Well-­Organized
  • Taking Initiative
  • Pleasing Personality

That was the assignment a few weeks ago.  This week we are to observe and be conscious of the number 2 virtue on our list.  Last week if you read my post the virtue we were concentrating on was Kindness, You don’t see it on the list because last week instead of picking from our list of virtues we all concentrated on kindness and shared how it showed up in our lives.  Looking for kindness both in our actions and in the actions of others has become a new awareness and background conversation in most of our lives,  That awareness has enriched my life on many levels.

The virtue (some would call it a trait), I focused on this week was being well organized.  Turns out with the snow and preparation for the snow I didn’t go out much and didn’t get to see this trait in others very much.  What I did see was why it showed up near the top of my list.  The very fact that I am writing this on Friday night after dinner instead of being with my ever patient husband is testimony to some lack of organization.  Our assignment is to write a weekly blog entry before midnight Friday in Hawaii.  When I am being well organized my blog is written by Thursday at the latest.  Need I say more?

Many of the things I did see were positive.  Our snow blower was tuned and operational before the first snow of the season.  Last year we discovered it had a flat tire the first time we tried to use it.  That’s what they make shovels for?

A couple of weeks ago I made a first pass at dealing with the chaos in my office.  This week, motivated by the thinking about organization I had another go at it and have made some real progress. I even discovered a list of participants from a program I coached years ago and figured out the connection with someone told me I looked familiar but we couldn’t figure it out. Now I know.

I did come to appreciate some areas where I am actually well organized. In this light it was gratifying to realize that when I went to bake bread today I had all the ingredients I needed and remembered to make sure the ingredients that needed to be at room temperature were at room temperature when I was ready to bake.  Why did I mention this and the fact that we were prepared for the snow?  What I have been learning is that when we reinforce the correct action our sub-conscious gives us a mental high five which helps us keep growing.  The areas we put our attention on grow so the more we notice the positive the better we become.

I always like to illustrate my posts with a quote or two.  I just found this one and when I read it I said wow.  I had never thought of the benefits of being organized in this way before. I’m all for creating a better quality of life.  Are you?

 

I also found this little gem when I was searching for inspiration.

Maybe what I needed all along were some simple guidelines in a judgement free context. Way different for me than getting advice from my mother or from my much neater husband after I neglected to put something away!  Looks like I have my marching orders and inspiration for the next few weeks.

I can just feel those new habits starting to be formed.

 

 

Week 16 – Kindness – It’s the Real Thing

The virtue of the week is Kindness.  It has been said many times in many ways that what we concentrate on and think about appears.  While our brain is great at filtering out noise to keep us from sensory overload it can also be directed to pay attention too.  I had a great week this week because I spent it looking for kindness in others and finding opportunities to perform acts of kindness myself.

I experienced kindness on Sunday when I tripped coming out of the subway and people stopped to make sure that I was okay.  I saw people waiting to board the subway standing to the side to make room for the passengers exiting the cars and it registered as kindness.  I saw a man give up his seat for a person who walked with a cane.

I did things that I would have done anyway like pick up trash and a discarded newspaper on the seat in the train and the subway, but because I was thinking about kindness I saw that as kindness too.  I normally let cars into a lane which I regard as courtesy, but this week courtesy also appeared as kindness.

When my husband sat for our granddaughter so I could attend a seminar I saw that as an act of kindness.  He’s about to go and pick up my mother to bring her here for dinner which is an act of kindness I appreciate very much.

Then there are things I just take for granted that I saw differently this week.  I saw the things my husband regularly does like clean the kitchen and unload the dishwasher as kindness.  As I am writing this I get that when I put things away and leave the counters clean, I too am performing acts of kindness.  Looking at it this way inspires me to be neater and therefore kinder to my dear husband who likes it when things are neat and orderly.

I also did some things that I wouldn’t have done, like add time to an expired parking meter or give away a metro card with not much on it to someone buying a new one so they could save the $1 new card fee.

People even told me about kindness they performed without me even thinking to ask. My dental hygienist told me that she tosses the paper upstairs for an elderly neighbor on a regular basis. The reason she told me about it was that she hit her hand on the door while doing it and her hand was a bit sore. If not for that she wouldn’t have mentioned a kindness she does every day.

Amazing what you see and what happens when you are looking for it.

As I was going to sleep the other night an advertising jingle was came to mind and I decided it needed a little tweaking.

I’d like to teach the world to sing in perfect harmony,
KINDNESS – it’s the real thing!

Wishing you a happy, harmonious and kindness filled week.