Month: October 2015

Master Key Week 5 – Lessons from a Grimm’s Fairytale and Other Insights

All right, I’m duly warning you readers that this is going to be long. Put your feet up, grab a pack of Skittles, and prepare.

So. This week we are forbidden to express or even to have opinions. It’s fairly easy for me to stop myself from expressing negative opinions, but I have a habit of expressing positive opinions. I’ve been watching my adjectives and adverbs, and instead of stating what something is, I state my feeling. For example: instead of saying, “That’s a great idea!”, I say, “I like that idea”. Also, usually I go around complaining about the temperature in the fall, because I get cold easily. But now instead of stating that “it’s cold”, I say “I’m cold”. I find myself making less blanket statements and thinking a little more about other perspectives – which I sometimes have to do to realize that the statement I’m thinking is actually an opinion. You know, this trash bag feels gross to me, but a starving person could see it as a source of food.

I also had an instance where someone asked me to do something that I don’t particularly like to do. So I mentally rioted and thought I don’t want to do this, I don’t like doing this…and because I don’t like feeling akin to a toddler throwing a temper tantrum either inside or outside my head, I asked, Well, why don’t I like doing this? I figured I would justify my dislike and make myself sound reasonable instead of infantile. Because it’s [this] and [this] and…WHOA. Hello, no opinions, remember? Now, why don’t I like it? Well…I have no opinions. And my opinions were the basis of my dislike. Humph. I guess I just don’t like it. But my dislike is unjustified now, so I’ll just view it as something that needs to be done that I’m going to do regardless of how I feel. BAM. (Just to clarify, I was going to the do it anyway – just with mental complaints.)

Here is the first of two epiphanies. On the webinar on Sunday, Mark talked about the (general) different thoughts and dreams of men and women concerning time. He said that men usually think and dream about the past more. Old girlfriends, old experiences, etc. True in my experience with the men in my life – most of the men I know loooove to tell stories about their past! Mental check mark for that. Then he said that women usually think and dream about the future and relationships more. Yup! I’m a girl! So true for me! Next, he said that although both past and future are valuable, it won’t really do us much good to focus primarily on them. Well, I still didn’t get it, so I sat there thinking, “Ok, so should women think about the past more and men think about the future more so there’s a balance? No, that doesn’t seem to fit because he said neither past nor future was what we needed…so what do we need to think about???” And then he says, “the present”. Me: “OH!” *light bulb* But it’s SO true! I think and dream about the future all the time, but a lot of times I don’t focus on really living my best in the present. I tend to look forward to things more than enjoying the present – unless the present is something that I’ve been looking forward to.

And here is the second epiphany, which came this afternoon. Below is a scene near the end of a book that is a compilation of various Grimm’s fairy tales into one unified story

There are two children, Jorinda and Joringel – brother and sister – who have been through many harrowing adventures. Their father died at their birth (yes, father, not mother), their mother was scared of making mistakes in their upbringing so she barely interacted with them, and their stepfather hated Joringel and killed him. (Reminder for those of you scratching your heads and wondering what on earth you’re reading this is a fairy tale.) At this point in the book, the siblings are encamped in a fort in a forest with an army of children. An evil king who hates children is besieging them. It’s night. At daybreak, they all know that the king’s army is going to attack with catapults that they cannot win against. No one can sleep. So Jorinda and Joringel told their story. And they kept telling it even as the sun rose and the enemy captain yelled one last time for their surrender. But when they got to the present, they didn’t know what else to say. They didn’t know what would happen next. But their mother (whom they had been reunited with) urged them to continue telling their story. Irritated, they spoke of the strong, seemingly invincible army that lay right outside their wall. They told of the soldiers readying the catapults, of the release of the flaming boulders. And as they spoke, their words came into being. A boulder landed on a chunk of the wall, and a little girl was wounded. “Keep telling your story!” cried their mother. “What happens next?” Still confused, the two children again spoke of the inevitable: the catapults that fired and dropped their deadly missiles into the camp. Again, their words came true. “What happens now?” cried their mother again. “You’re telling the story! It’s your story!…Make something new!” And then, the children understood. So they changed their story. Instead of telling of their doom, they told of friends (ogres, ravens, and a giant-disgusting-smelly-stupid-wonderfully good-natured-kind salamander) that came to their rescue. They told of their triumph and of the defeat of the army. And once again, their words came true.

Isn’t that beautiful? Jorinda and Joringel reshaped their future. They told their own story. At first, like most of us, they only told of what seemed inevitable to them. Heck, can you blame them? They were defenseless against those catapults and fighting against a merciless evil king. Death seemed the most logical outcome. But it didn’t have to be. Why? Because they used their imagination. They hoped. They had the power – like all of us – of making their story come true, and they finally realized it and used that power for their good.

The point is not that we should try and conjure up the Eidechse von Feur, der Menschenfleischfressende (the giant salamander) to our rescue. It’s that we need to tell our own story not the way that may seem to be predetermined, but the way that we want it to be told – because whichever way we tell our story is the way it will be.

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Master Key Week 4 –

Well. *yawn* I seem to have finally gotten down a rhythm for all my MKMMA actions: the readings, the sits (which are soooo nice this week), the index cards, etc…which is ironic because this week has been my busiest and most exhausting week of both the MKMMA course and the school year. It’s been a wonderful week! – just very tiring.

I’m enjoying the sits this week. We have to relax physically and then eliminate all negative feelings. This was fairly easy for me the first part of the week, but it’s gotten a little harder here near the end of the week, because I’m thinking of all the things that I need to do and when I have to do them…and ohmygosh I’m going to DIE because I have to do this and this other thing is due on Saturday and oh SHOOT! – I still need to do this…calm down, chill out, no negatives, I’ll manage, I will succeed – remember no failure, failure’s “alien to my life” (thanks Og Mandino), somehow you always manage to get everything done, and that will be the same this week…but I either move on from the negative thought that I’m having or I find a way to solve it – so I don’t dwell on it. And I’m thinking that’s probably a good way to live life too – if there’s a problem and you can fix it, fix it; if you can fix it but you don’t know how right at that moment, let it sit for a little; if you can’t fix it, move on or deal with it.

Hmmm…Serenity Prayer anyone?

“God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change; courage to change the things I can; and wisdom to know the difference.”

Another thing that I’ve discovered and been applying is the power of reading aloud. Every night before bed I read a Psalm. In the past I usually read them silently – unless I was memorizing one – but this week I’ve been reading them aloud, and I find that I can feel them much more. The Psalms have a lot of present first person structure. 😉

Master Key Week 3 – Colored Polygons and Grammar

Well, it’s week 3 and I’m continuing to have fun with MKMMA.

Last Friday I still had not done my self-assigned chore. I was supposed to do it on Monday, but something came up and I wasn’t able to, so I figured I would do it on Saturday, as the rest of the week was very busy. However, I sat down to watch a history video on Friday afternoon…and I went to do my chore instead. Why? Because two-thirds of the screen with the video was a BLUE RECTANGLE! My mom was sitting across the table from me, and this is the conversation that occurred.

Me: “Ok, I’m going to watch a history video, so don’t talk to me.”

Mom: “Ok.”

1 minute later

Me: abruptly pulls out earphones, gets up, and stomps out the kitchen. “Forget this! I’m going to clean the stairs.”

Mom: “What? I thought you were watching a video.”

Me: “I’m going to clean the stairs. The stupid screen is a blue rectangle, and I am not going to stare at a blue rectangle for an entire half hour.”

So I accomplished my chore of cleaning the stairs, with some annoyance but great amusement. (And yes, I did eventually watch my history video – in peace, this time!)

As for this week, the coolest thing so far has been the shift from the future to present tense in the Greatest Salesman. It sounds so much more powerful when I read! The first time I read it out loud, I enjoyed the novelty of it – it was in a different tense, sounded different – felt different…but when I got to the last page, when it says that “the few moments spent each day on this new habit are but a small price to pay for the happiness and success that will be mine” and read it (changing future to present by eliminating the “will”) as “the happiness and success that are mine”, it was a really poignant moment. It had a two-fold effect. I had just read my DMP, so I had that in my mind, and that phrase of the “happiness and success” being mine made my DMP come to life just a little bit more. The second effect was to make me consider my current life, and be grateful because I am very happy, and I am fairly successful. So it made me thankful for the present and made the future that I am creating seem more real.

Master Keys Week 2 – “Crazy” Dreams

It’s week 2 of the MKMMA course, and I’ve made the first revision of my DMP. And you know what? It’s great…but it’s so crazy, because in it I’m living my dreams, working my dream career so that it doesn’t even seem like work, and generally having a wonderful and fulfilling life. Why is it crazy? Because so many people push their dreams to the side for work that they often don’t even enjoy..and here I am planning my life like Mark Twain recommended:

“Find a job you enjoy doing, and you will never have to work a day in your life.”

I had just as much fun creating my DMP this week as I did last week, but this week when I read it out loud it’s so wonderful that I can’t believe it. My brain is finding it very difficult to accept it. It’s rather ironic that I thought I would have difficulty coming up with a concrete and specific life- my difficulty now seems to be accepting the possibility of this wonderful life! But I want it so much, because it is so wonderful! – so I will continue to read it out loud and get it into my subconscious so that it will come true. Having now put my dreams, in detail, down on paper, I cannot now back out and allow the old saying of “it’s too good to be true” rule my life.

As for the readings and the sits this week, I love the new lesson – it feels very practical and I’m really enjoying it. The sits are a different matter, because my brain babbles, so it’s a bit (translate: a lot) difficult to “inhibit all thought”. The first time I did the new sit, I focused so much on not thinking that I grew frustrated with myself for thinking about not thinking, and then I wanted to move! But I’ve found that turning off the light and being calm is a great help.

As a sort of side note and update about last week – one of the sits really influenced my DMP for this week, because I suddenly thought of exactly what I wanted to accomplish in one of my dreams! It was SO wonderful. That was probably my favourite 15 minutes of the week!

Master Keys Week 1 – What’s Up

I think it’s the sudden commitments that have led to some of the most rewarding activities of my life. It was the switch to a new piano teacher after the teacher I had studied with for 7 years felt that she had “taught herself out of a job” that has made my piano playing improve immensely. It was the quick offer of a work-study for ballroom dance lessons that have made one more day a week filled with absolute delight in learning to tango, waltz, rumba, etc. And it was the sudden commitment to a mock junior audition day at James Madison University that enabled me to see the campus, meet some of the professors, and get positive feedback from those professors on my playing that boosted my confidence!

MKMMA was also a sudden commitment. It came about from driving with my mom last Thursday evening as she was listening to the third qualification video. Since she had it on speaker, I had no choice but to listen. When we got home, I said to her, “This sounds kind of cool. If you do it, maybe you can share the readings with me.” That’s when she told me that I could do it too – it was a scholarship. “Ok!” was my response. Then she told me that we had until midnight to qualify. So I stayed up until midnight watching the three videos and applying. My mom, who already had Twitter and WordPress accounts and who had already watched the videos, was kind enough to set up my Twitter and WordPress accounts for me. I submitted my application and prayed that “this thing” would be worth the loss of two hours of sleep.

Thus far, it has been. I enjoyed the first webinar, and I am enjoying the readings and the “sits”. I once attempted to read something similar to the first scroll every night for 30 days, but with no accountability and no knowledge of whether it would actually work, I grew bored and stopped after a week. However, the first scroll in the Greatest Salesman of the World is interesting, and I enjoy reading it aloud. It’s easy to skim it (I don’t) when reading it silently, but when I read it out loud before bed and try to make it come to life, I find myself emphasizing different ideas each night. First it was the section on experience, next it was the section on my career being “laden with opportunity…yet fraught with heartbreak and despair” (so true for me as a musician), and then it was the section on not allowing failure in my life.

I’m also having a wonderful experience reading my DMP out loud. One part of it is “I feel very proud to have purchased outright my house and Steinway grand piano.” Now, purchasing a house outright was fairly obvious to me, so I thought about what else I’d like to have. “Oh, it would be cool to have a Steinway”, I thought. So thought, so written. When I read it silently to check it over, nothing really stood out. However, when I read my DMP out loud for the first time and got to the Steinway grand piano sentence, I laughed. This was not an incredulous, “I’m completely crazy for even thinking of this” laugh. Instead, it was a laugh of pure delight. “How many people do you know who have a Steinway?” I asked myself rhetorically. I actually couldn’t read for about 30 seconds because I was grinning from ear to ear.

So far, I definitely think MKMMA is worth that sacrifice of sleep.