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Week 14 -The Present

Christmas has come and gone, but the fond memories of the holiday will last a lifetime. If you celebrate Christmas, I hope it was magical and filled with much joy, good food and great conversations with those you hold most dear.

The tall green triangular Christmas tree that stood with grace and purpose in our living room, with its glistening round red bulbs adorning its branches and the blue rectangular presents that sat beneath its boughs were a daily reminder of all that we’ve been working towards in this course. It was the perfect symbolism for our newly formed associations.

As we close off 2016 and we reflect on all that we’ve learned in the first half of the course, I find myself enjoying my time with my family even more that I had in years past. This course has helped me live in the moment and let irrelevant things slip into the distance without affecting the holiday.

Although we had the norovirus in our home for 3.5 weeks leading up to the holiday – which put me behind schedule on this course, all holiday related plans and a project I recently took on for a client – I seemed to have less stress than I did in years past. Perhaps it was because I let go of things.

I learned that…

One of the best presents I received this year is the one I gave to myself…and that was learning to live in the “present”. It is a gift that does not require wrapping and it is a gift we all have within us…and once we learn to unleash that “present” that exists within us, it will continue to give to us in unimaginable ways. Best yet, it is a gift that will last a lifetime!

blue-presents

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Week 11 – The Talking Stick

Taking this course is about more than simply creating better habits for myself and ensuring I fulfill my life’s purpose. It’s also about positively influencing the lives of those around me and who better to start out with than my children!

My husband began incorporating many of the newly applied skills into our household last year when he took the course. I must admit, he’s been a better influencer than me in this regard and I’m grateful for his persistene and devotion to us.

When your children are 2 and 5 years old, they are tabula rasas – open and receptive to new ideas and eager to do well – which makes applying these skills easier than one would anticipate with an adult who has had years of blueprinting, so in this regard we’ve been quite fortunate, but the question remained…

How much information is being absorbed and are these concepts too advanced for a child?

Well let me tell you!

We now have a two-year-old who recites each day, by her own free will: I am whole, perfect, strong, powerful, loving, harmonious and happy! To make it even more beautiful and touching, she also tells us and her older brother, numerous times every day, “YOU are whole, perfect, strong, powerful…” and then ends by giving us a kiss on the forehead or a hug.

This simple act wiped away any doubt that sharing these teachings may be too advanced for the kids.

We then began thinking about other skills that would be beneficial to the children, as a parent, one of the first thongs that came to mind was ACTIVE LISTENING!

So we came up with a plan and it was brilliant!

During dinnertime we sometimes play the “Talking Stick” game with our children. Our talking stick is new to our home. My husband received it in his kit from a Stephen Covey course he took. It is a beautiful beaded stick that is made of wood and has a stand. We treat it like a sacred item. It is not a toy. It is a tool.

Here’s how it works. The person holding the stick is the only one who may speaK and they must be sharing a story or asking a question while speaking. The others must listen. They may raise their hands if they have a question or comment and the stick gets passed to them, giving them a turn to add to the conversation.

My hope?

That they fine tune their listening skills and grow a fond appreciation for the spoken word and the thoughts of others. I also hope that they learn to respect the power of words and learn to choose theirs wisely.

As they grow older and issues arise, as does with all growing children, I hope to use the talking stick for family mediation.

Listening is a lifelong skill that should always be valued and put to use.

 

 

 

 

 

Weeks 9 & 10 – Giving Thanks

Catching up….

We had the previous week off for the American Thanksgiving weekend. I used that time to catch up on some much-needed tasks and it felt great to cross them off my “service” list.

As I think back to Weeks 9 and 10, I feel a sense of gratitude for the break. It was needed and is appreciated!

Since we’re on the topic of being thankful, given that the break was for Thanksgiving, I would like to dedicate this blog to just a few of the many things that I’m thankful for and I’m going to write this extemporaneously.

What am I thankful for?

I am thankful for being able to write this blog on my computer (not only the physical aspect of it…having a computer and internet connection, but also the mental aspect…the fact that I’m able to string together my thoughts and translate them into written words).

I’m thankful for my whole family who fills my life with so much joy. I have some of the best parents, relatives, and friends in the world! You guys are awesome!

I am thankful for my new cozy flannel sheets that keep me warm on chilly nights…and for the roof over my head for I cannot imagine what life would be like on the streets.

I’m thankful for my crazy cat who attacks my feet more times each day than I can count, for when she snuggles into my neck at 4 am and purrs in my ear I know she loves me as much as I do her.

I’m thankful for my husband who makes me laugh at the simplest of things and gets my dry sense of humour…and best yet, finds it as funny as I do. I’m even more grateful for the years to come as he and I walk hand-in-hand through this magnificent journey called life.

I’m thankful for the sun that rises each morning, the moon that lights the darkest of nights and the oceans that connect us from one end of the world to the other.

I’m thankful for you. I hope you know how much you mean to the people in your life. Do something special for someone today just to let them know you thought of them.

Lastly…I’m thankful for my children. They are a blessing. I’m so proud of who they’re becoming and I’m loving every moment of their early lives. I hope to do you well and I hope you grow up to be proud of the people you are…so that when you’re old and you look into the mirror, the guy or gal staring back at you is someone you recognize, love, trust and respect.

giving-thanks

Week 8 – How Wolves Change Rivers

“It’s the little details that are vital. Little things make big things happen.”
~ Coach John Wooden

This week we connected the dots!

I better understand how the simple, child-like tasks we learned in the first few weeks fit into the bigger picture, into helping us live a life of purpose motivated by our heart’s true desires…our personal pivotal needs.

These tasks, in two month’s time, have become routine. They’re the good habits that replaced older, unproductive habits; for as we learned from Charles Haanel, one habit cannot be successfully phased out without  a new action to fulfill its place.

In life, “most of our difficulties are largely due to confused ideas and ignorance of our true interests,” says Haanel. When we have a clear vision of our innate desires, and we apply an earnest effort to a proven plan of action, then manifestation and materialization will occur.

All of the little things we’ve been doing are compounding into something profound; something so magnificent that change is inevitable…for once you’ve reached this point, there is no turning back.

As we begin to understand how the mind works, and the role the conscious mind plays on the subconscious mind, our newly found knowledge creates a funnel for empathic listening and exemplary behavior.

Ultimately, we live to fulfill a dream. We’ve been dreaming about the future since we were young. We have every reason to continue dreaming, but don’t stop there…make that dream a success!

What constitutes success?

John Wooden said it beautifully!

“Success is peace of mind which is a direct result of self-satisfaction in knowing you did your best to become the best you are capable of becoming,” said John Wooden.

It’s all about you!

What do you want? What do you define as your life’s best? What are you capable of becoming? Only you know the true answers and only you can make it happen, but first you must listen…listen to yourself, it will speak to you.

Tying it all together…

The little things we do today have a compounding effect on our future selves. This applies to the universe as a whole. The effects of simple actions can be monumental!

Just like we saw at Yellowstone National Park, one simple addition to the ecosystem can have compounding effects beyond the imaginable. See for yourself in the video below.

Have a great week and continue doing those “little things”…they matter!

Week 7 – Visualization

To visualize is to create a clearly defined mental image of your future, much like an architectural blueprint of a structure that is yet to be constructed.

In this process, you “see the end before a single step is taken,” as described by Charles Haanel in Part Seven of the Master Key system.

Part 1: Visualization

Before planting seeds in the field, a farmer knows what the harvest is to be. The end is within sight before growing season has begun. This is visualization.

Part 2: Manifestation

The fields are then tended to with care. The seed is not disturbed. It is left to root so the bounty can take shape, but the farmer pays close attention to external stimuli; adding more water to the soil as needed, and clearing the field of weeds which can compete for root space. This is the manifestation of visualization in action.

Part 3: Materialization

At the end of the season, the farmer reaps the benefits of a successful growing season which could not have been accomplished without the early visualization and pre-planning. This final stage is known as materialization.

This process happens every day whether you want it to or not.

With clear mental images and concentrated thought, you can be whatever you will to be. A perfect example of this happened in my own backyard – literally!

A personal story about visualization…

pergolaA photo from my vision board used as inspiration for our backyard.

My husband and I purchased a newly constructed home a few years ago. The builder placed sod around the property, but nothing more. There before us was a tabula rasa, a blank slate of green in desperate need of landscaping.

At first, I had no clear image of how the backyard should look; what the end product should be. For months I thought about how our family would like to use that space. In my mind, I drew many pictures but they were fuzzy. I had ideas, but nothing concrete…until one morning when I awoke early and there before me I saw it all!

I had in my mind a clear mental image of how the backyard should look. I could see the deck, the patio, the fireplace, the outdoor kitchen, the pergola with a sitting area, the focal features in the garden…it was real in my head and I felt in my heart that it was real.

I visualized our children growing older and what their needs would be over the year. I visualized how the trees, shrubs and plants would look as they took root and flourished, and how their colours would change with each passing season. I visualized where the sun would shine as we enjoyed dinner outside with our extended family. I visualized early morning coffees outside and evening cocktails under the pergola with the ambiance of chirping birds. I visualized so much more, thoughts beyond what I can explain in one blog.

From all of these visions, I created drawings of the yard. They are blueprints showing the dimensions, materials and colours of what is to be constructed. These are the drawings that will lead to the manifestation of my vision.

This is where I am now with the project, the manifestation stage. I am sourcing suppliers, selecting materials, making adjustments as needed based on the curvature of the land, by-laws, etc. This is me tending to the soil, just as the farmer did with the crop.

Next, which will be in Spring 2017, will come the part I look forward to most…Part 3…materialization!

Seeing a project through from beginning to end is rewarding. Being able to live in what was once a vision in your mind is powerful and it applies to all aspects of life, not just landscaping.

I think the greatest reward is pride in a job well done. My ideal future is different than yours. My ideal backyard is different than yours. We are unique and so too are our goals, passions and plans, but if you put your mind to something, give it your all and see it through to the end, that is when the magic happens!

Go out there, live life to the fullest and make every day matter. Enjoy!

Week 6 -The Power of Thought

Thought is the product of Mind. Results are the product of action. Concentrated thought is the stimuli for fruition. 

 

As Charles Haanel explains in Part Six of The Master Key system,

“the power of attention can be more readily understood by comparing it with a magnifying glass in which the rays of sunlight are focused; they possess no particular strength as long as the glass is moved about and the rays directed from one place to another; but let the glass be held perfectly still and let the rays be focused on one spot for any length of time, the effect will become immediately apparent.”

If your thoughts are scattered and your mind jumps from one idea to another, the potential power of thought dissipates, much like the energy of the sun’s rays through a magnifying glass. On the other hand, “if you focus this power through attention or concentration on any single purpose for any length of time,” the possibilities are endless, says Emerson.

sun-through-a-magnifying-glass

Did you know that every thought we have sets brain cells in action?

In Week Four we learned that through the workings of our nervous system and our frontal lobe, our neurons have tiny branches that reach out to other neurons to form a neuron net. Thoughts and memories are integrated into the connecting point of the branches of the neuron net.

Hence the phrase, “thoughts that fire together wire together!”

How fascinating is that!

Ideas, thoughts, and feelings are all interconnected within this neuron net and are the result of associative memory. Our experiences and how we chose to perceive them influence how we think today and will affect who we become tomorrow.

We’ve all heard the term “practice makes perfect.”

When neurons fire together over a prolonged period of time, those branches within the brain form a strong bond. Actions that are repeated become seemly effortless over time and new habits are formed, new skills are learned and/or new thoughts are accepted into the subconscious mind.

What’s most fascinating is that the subconscious mind has the ability to makes things happen, but it does not have the ability to reason. 

Our conscious mind – which is located in our frontal lobe and controls our thoughts, beliefs and decisions – is like the gatekeeper to our subconscious mind.

By actively exercising our conscious mind to think a certain way and to only accept beliefs that are harmonious and positively associated with our true self, whom we will call the “I”, we are putting our mind – and the omnipotent energy of the universe – into action.

Emerson says that “the brain is an embryonic world, ready to develop at any time as necessity may arise.” Control and mastery over one’s thoughts is key to living a happy, harmonious life.

Week 5 – The Balancing Act

Ralph Waldo Emerson, an essayist and theorist from the mid-19th century, whose work continues to positively influence modern times, wrote an in-depth piece of literature on compensation.

I’m on a mission to understand the meaning behind his words, as I’ll have to admit, one quick read was not enough to grasp what he was saying. I’ve heard others speak about how profound and empowering and enlighting this essay is. I want to understand what they now know and experience what they felt.

My study of Emerson’s compensation essay will continue as the weeks go on and once I come to an understanding, I will share my thoughts with you, but I’m not at that point as of yet.

This has been the first challenging week for me since starting the course. I’ve fallen off the wagon as the old saying goes. For the last four weeks, I’ve shifted my attention towards the course because it was new and exciting…don’t get me wrong, I’m still very excited about what’s to come, but it has been labour intensive.

I’ve reached a point where the tipping scale shifted too far to one end and I couldn’t keep up with my daily life. I had to select where I would focus my attention outside of the course and as always, my family came first. Other projects, some of which have important due dates, are not yet complete so I am writing this week’s blog extemporaneously.

By the way, “extemporaneous” was one of my favourite newly learned words during my post graduate studies. It means to speak freely without advanced preparation. In terms of public speaking, one should be prepared with speaker notes, but the speech itself should flow freely from the mouth of the presenter.

Back to Week 5…just as the world naturally achieves balance and every act has an equal compensating act…so too does my personal life. So I will leave this week’s blog as is so I can get the arms of the tipping scale back to even keel this week.

I also leave you with this fabulous video showing the mastery of balance and concentration…watch it through to the end…you’ll be glad you did! Enjoy!

Week 4 – An Act of Kindness

Please watch this video before reading any further.

k

As Aesop said, “No act of kindness, no matter how small, is ever wasted.” Kindness is a universal language; spoken from the heart and felt by the soul.

As Deepak Chopra so beautifully explains, the universe operates through a constant exchange of energy. Giving and receiving are two elements through which energy flows.

As we know from the Law of Attraction, what we give is what we get in return. It is through our willingness to live as grateful givers, without the expectation of reciprocity, that the dynamic flow of giving and receiving manifests.

What does this mean for us?

It means that to live a life of abundance, one in which you are truly happy and grateful, you must graciously receive and acknowledge all the gifts that already enrich your life and graciously give to others on an unconditional daily basis.

These four simple steps will help you live a life of abundance:

  1. Wherever I go,  I bring a gift. I may bring a compliment, a flower, a prayer, a trinket…and I promise to give something to everyone I encounter. So doing, I circulate joy, wealth, and affluence in my life and in the lives of others.
  2. I promise to be a grateful receiver for all the gifts that surround me, pausing often to notice nature, kindness, smiles, and compliments; to which I gladly receive with a “thank you”.
  3. I promise to give hope for joy, affluence, kindness, and love, consciously with every encounter, regardless of the brevity. I keep wealth circulating in my life by giving and receiving life’s most precious gifts: the gifts of caring, affection, appreciation, and love.
  4. I promise to give, without expectation of reciprocity, from the channels I enrich because I know I am in the dynamic flow of giving and receiving.

The key is to make these acts of kindness a habit. Before you know it, you will unconsciously be living a life of gratitude. Happiness and prosperity become a natural daily occurrence.

This doesn’t mean that life will always go as planned. We all experience highs and lows, but how we see challenging circumstances and our chosen path for action will change. The result will be a clearer, more positive thought process. You will begin to see the silver lining on even the darkest of clouds.

May peace, joy, good health and prosperity be with you!

Only by giving are you able to receive more than you already have ~ Jim Rohn (1930-2009)

Week 3 – Do It Now!

“Do it now!”

I’ve said these words aloud 25 times, twice a day for over a week now.

“Do it now, do it now, do it now, do it now, do it now…,” became a rhythmic chant that over time somehow became calming and therapeutic in nature.

Counting each phrase with my fingers, I first did it because I had to, so says the course requirements for MKMMA. It seemed silly and childlike.

“Of course every grown person knows that doing things immediately, without procrastination, is a direct path to success,” I thought; yet, for some reason, although I held that belief, I didn’t fulfill the action and that was a hard reality to face.

I began to reflect on my daily life and I realized that sometimes I missed out on opportunities because I hesitated to participate. Other times I put off important tasks which forced me to make them a “top priority” as the due date approached. This is a risky move, for it doesn’t allow any leeway, and it forced me to put other more enjoyable things on hold.

Not wanting to miss out on another opportunity to do something fulfilling, I set out to live life to its fullest this past Thursday. On Wednesday night I messaged my husband saying, “Clear your schedule tomorrow! I have a surprise.”

When he returned home from work the next morning, I asked him to take the convertible out of the garage and we set sail for a drive through the country with the top down. The autumn foliage was in full colour and the sun rays were pelting down upon us. As we drove past the farms I could smell the cows and horses. As we drove through the forest I could smell the crispness of fall. It was a whirlwind of senses and it was beautiful!

fall-foliage-in-ontario

About 40 minutes later we arrived at a beach on the southern shore of Lake Simcoe near Jacksons Point. I looked into my husband’s eyes and said, “We’re going swimming!”

He must have thought I was crazy! You have to understand, autumn in Ontario is typically cold, but we had a rare week of warm, summer-like weather. It isn’t often that we get 24′ C heat without wind (felt like 29′ C with the sun) leading into Canada’s Thanksgiving weekend.

This was our opportunity to fulfill my “bucket list” wish of swimming in a lake in October, which I’ve had since watching the movie, “Indian Summer” back in 1993. Now was our chance. We had to “Do it now!”

And we did!

It was a fabulous swim! The water was crystal clear, the grains of sand on the lake floor were still and the small waves on the surface of the water rolled toward us ever so gently. The water was cold but not much colder than it can be in some lakes in the summer. In the distance, a flock of geese flew in harmony and then landed with synchronization.

I said to my husband, “We’re swimming in October!” and he laughed then said to me, “No, we’re wading in the water!”

Hmmm! How can I write this off of my bucket list is someone is already arguing the point that we’re not technically swimming even though we’re waist deep in lake water? It was then apparent that we needed to set some terms.

  • Month…must be October (check)
  • Swimming definition…must have both feet off the ground and be in a vertical position (alrighty…let’s make this happen)

So we did it!

We both swam with two feet off the ground and it felt incredible! The cold water was revitalizing! We enjoyed a fabulous day together (without kids!). We managed to do our final drive of the season in the convertible and we swam in a lake in October! This is what memories are made of!

My thoughts for you…if there is something on your bucket list, or even just a task that needs to be done, say to yourself “Do it now!” and then make it happen.

You’ll be glad you did!

Week 2 – The Golden Buddha

The Story of the Golden Buddha

Ten years ago during our travels through Asia, my family and I visited a tiny, nondescript temple in Bangkok, Thailand.

We seemed to be one of the few foreigners visiting that day, which was contrary to what we experienced at the King’s Palace earlier in the week. Although this temple lacked grandeur in comparison to the Palace, it was instantly apparent that what it contained inside was of great significance.

Stepping in from the bright hot sun, it took a few seconds for my eyes to adjust to the dimly lit room. Once things came into focus and I began to navigate the subtly uneven floor, I was mesmerized with what I saw; and even more so, with what I learned.

There before me sat a 5.5 ton solid Golden Buddha.

He sat with his legs crossed, his shoulders relaxed and his hand opened in his lap, as if ready to receive offerings. I was overcome with peacefulness.

The Buddha’s sheer size and the fact that it is cast of solid gold is magnificent, but the fact that it was covered with plaster over 700 years ago to conceal it from the enemy who was then invading Thailand is awe inspiring.

When the people who concealed it died, so too did its value.

It 1957, when the “plaster” Buddha was being transported from a deserted temple to a new home, a piece of the 1″ thick plaster fell off revealing the golden gem beneath.

Ten years later, through the MKMMA course, my mind is joyfully whisked back to my travels in Asia, and as a result of what I’m learning through the course, my experience with the Golden Buddha is even more meaningful to me today than what it was before.

Relating it to you and I, the story of the Golden Buddha can be seen as a representation of the child within; that young being who is full of hope and aspiration. As society helps form our thoughts and beliefs over years of influence, dreams start to fade and adults often get stuck in the rut of daily chores, forgetting what it was like to live a life with endless possibilities.

It is as if those hopes have been covered by plaster — much like the Buddha — and what remains is the form of the fully-functioning being; yet, buried within that beautiful being is that passion for life that inspires dreams. It is stuck behind the plaster as if locked in a shell, and all that it needs is for someone to chip away at it and unleash the gem within.

Today the Golden Buddha sits in a grand temple that is laden with gold. Its beauty is no longer hidden and its value is even more significant than before. Worshippers and tourists visit every day. It is a story of hope. A story about breaking through and becoming the person you are destined to be.

golden-buddha