Thursday, December 1, 2011

Follow Your Passion


It has been said that to find happiness, you should follow your passion. Quitting your “money job” to follow your passion can be scary, daunting, overwhelming at times – but can also lead to great success.

My good friend, Boyd Wright, is a great example of someone who followed his passion to success.  As a young man Boyd visited his uncle, a banker, who did woodworking in his spare time. He observed how his uncle enjoyed his creative outlet of “making sawdust” as he worked the wood and transformed it into something beautiful after a hard day at the bank. This stuck with Boyd as he embarked on his career at the University of North Dakota.

In 1980, after eleven years in the Political Science Department, he was appointed General Counsel for the University. He enjoyed his work and could easily have stayed in that position until retirement. Over time, however, Boyd found the legal system took far too long for him to see the end results of his cases. He needed something more.

As Boyd’s uncle aged, he gave up his hobby. Remembering how gratifying woodworking was for his uncle, Boyd decided to start a woodworking business of his own.  In 1983 he built a small building behind his home and moved in his uncle’s equipment.

Learning to use all of the equipment proved to be difficult, and Boyd had to borrow many DVD’s and books from the library to teach himself the intricacies of woodworking. He found that developing a piece of wood into a finished product took much less time than waiting for legal decisions, and also provided instant gratification.  Within a year he enjoyed his “pass-time” business so much it became his passion and Wright Made Products became an official part-time business.

Like most home-based businesses, Boyd started small. His “marketing program” consisted mostly of hand stuffed mailings to both wholesale and retail customers. If Boyd had free time, he spent it developing his business. The resulting growth was exciting and by 1990 he needed to decide whether to continue building Wright Made Products or devote his energy to serving as General Counsel at the University. With the support of his wife, Lillian, Boyd followed his passion and devoted himself full time to his woodworking.

Boyd’s dedication and enthusiasm motivated him to keep up with technology.  With the advent of the web, Boyd expanded the scope of his company by marketing through several on-line resources. If one approach didn’t work out to his satisfaction, he tried a different one. By keeping up-to-date on available resources and evolving trends in social networking, Boyd developed his business internationally. Quite an accomplishment for a home-based business!

When asked what advice he has for others, Boyd gives his top three tips. “1. Be prepared for hard work and long hours with no safety net.  2. Be open minded and realistic about what you are doing; if it isn’t working, change it.  3. Learn from anyone and everyone you can; there’s a lot of talent and ideas out there, and most people are willing to teach or help you.”

Boyd is thankful for the help he received. He has teamed up with his neighbor who runs the local office of the SBA, and together they conduct seminars and classes on starting and growing home-based businesses. He is also a member of SCORE, a nonprofit association dedicated to educating entrepreneurs and helping small businesses start, grow, and succeed.  By giving back to his community, Boyd shows his appreciation for the help he received along the way.

In 2010, Boyd received the North Dakota Home Based Business Champion award sponsored by the SBA. He also won the Region VIII award and was declared the National Home Based Business Champion by the SBA for 2010. This was the first time a North Dakota based business won the national award.  Boyd told me “I never expected to win these awards. I just enjoy ‘making sawdust’ and learning new ways to market my products.” In other words, he just followed his passion.

Follow your passion and you, too, will have fewer regrets and will lead a more fulfilling life.

Be sure to check out some of Boyd’s beautiful products at http://www.etsy.com/shop/wrightmade.

Originally published in Meta Arts Magazine, November, 2011.

Saturday, October 1, 2011

Manifesting on Demand

Ramona and I were having a difficult day. We were faced with placing my mother in an assisted living facility.  Our grandson borrowed our car and had a fender bender. And in the process of backing up Ramona’s cell phone there was a power surge and some of the information was lost.

We called the iPhone support line to see if we could retrieve her lost information. Using our home speaker phone we were connected with Mark, who turned out to be a great and knowledgeable customer service agent. For Mark to fix the problem, he needed remote access to Ramona’s computer, so I downloaded the recommended software.

 Looking over Ramona’s computer from his remote location in Oregon, he noticed several down-loads of Abraham-Hicks Publications. Mark said, “I have been practicing the Law of Attraction for years and love the teachings of Esther and Jerry Hicks.”

We shared the stress of our day with Mark and chatted for a couple of minutes about how the Law of Attraction put us together with him.  He said he was at the end of his shift, but assured us he would fix the problem before leaving work. His calm demeanor and obvious knowledge of the iPhone was exactly what we needed at the moment.

Then Mark shared a story with us.

Shortly after he relocated to Oregon he became frustrated, probably due to loneliness. He thought about the friends he missed, especially Karen, a lady he liked but with whom he had lost contact. Mark had been searching for her a long time without result.

One day he didn’t ask the Universe to locate her, he DEMANDED it. He literally said “Universe, I am lonely and miss my friends.  I especially want to reconnect with Karen and bring her back in my life. I have been manifesting her for thirty years.  Now I DEMAND you find her for me!”

I have to admit my first reaction to Mark’s demand of the Universe was shock. Is it proper to demand anything from the Universe?

Ramona explained that Mark’s intention was pure.  He no longer had any resistance to the concept. He was releasing his intention and leaving it up to the Universe to make it happen. The strength, purity and energy of his intention could not be ignored by the Universe. 
           
“How did that work out for you?” Ramona asked.

“The very next morning, while checking my Facebook account, I found a friend request from Karen.  It turned out she had been looking for me, too.”

Ramona was right. The universe only hears the genuine intent, and does not distinguish between asking and demanding.
           
“So are you Facebook friends now?”

Mark laughed. “She’s at home in the kitchen preparing dinner as we speak. This morning before I left for work, I left a note in her coffee cup telling her how much I love her. At lunch I received a text from her with a similar message. We have never been happier!”

The power of the Universe!  Manifesting.  Asking.  Demanding.  This challenging day had led us to Mark and his story.  And a story like this was just what we needed to get back into the vortex. Our day was instantly better.

Never underestimate what the Universe can do!

 Originally published in Meta Arts Magazine, October, 2011.

Thursday, September 1, 2011

Why Worry?

Ever since I saw my first copy of Mad Magazine, I cannot forget the image of Alfred E. Neuman, the magazine’s mascot, famous for his motto “What, Me Worry?”  The magazine is a parody of whatever the editors want to expose, criticizing anyone from comic book characters to the actions of public figures, and satirizing the wars we’ve been involved in, cold or otherwise.  No matter how serious the issue, Alfred’s motto has never wavered.  And in my view, that’s a good thing.

My father was a worrier. He worried about every noise he heard coming from his car. Would there be enough money to pay bills? What if the back yard flooded in a rainstorm? He agonized over everything.

I must have inherited his propensity to worry. A friend pointed out to me that I often say “I’m worried that…” or “I’m concerned about…” It came so naturally I didn’t recognize it in myself. Another friend added “Mike, worry is interest paid on a debt that may never need to be repaid.

Wow!  That started me thinking. Was I really a worrier? The answer was so obvious, yet I couldn’t see it. I had a wonderful wife, great kids, a nice home, and a good job. What did I fear?  I tried to remember what had concerned me in the past and the eventual outcome of each situation. None of my significant worries ever came to pass. There really wasn’t anything worthy of complaint.

Then I read an article on the Law of Attraction. The basic premise is that “Like Attracts Like.” If I worry, I will attract more to worry about.  Really? Think about it. If we are happy we attract happy people to us. If we act sad and grouse about life, we attract other sad and miserable people. (Think about water cooler conversations at work.) Could there be something to the Law of Attraction?

Worried that my Dad worried too much (ha, ha), I thought of a clever tactic. One day as he was expressing his fear du jour, I asked him what he had been worried about one year ago that day. He couldn’t remember. I said “Dad, if you can’t remember what concerned you one year ago, it must not have turned out to be a big deal, so why worry? Just relax and enjoy life.”

Worry can lead to feelings of anxiety or even cause illness, often referred to as dis-ease. Do not agonize over problems involving money, love, health, or career. No amount of worry will help you solve these issues. It is much better to ignore those feelings and replace them with happiness. Bad things happen to everyone. No amount of worry can prevent them or solve them.

The answer to excessive worry is to develop a happy state of mind. For example, when someone agonizes over not having enough money, I suggest they take a dollar bill into a 99 Cent store and say “I can buy anything I want here.” It changes their vibration from lack and want to one of abundance. With bad relationships I recommend concentrating on the qualities that attracted them to that person and the attributes they have come to love. If that doesn’t change their current relationship, I remind them that Like Attracts Like. Their new state of mind may help them attract someone who does meet their expectations. That’s how I attracted my wife.

As for me, I remember that all my previous worrying was a waste of time; it had no effect on the outcome. I just relax and enjoy life. And guess what - everything always turns out all right. That’s why my mantra is “What, me worry?”

 Originally published in Meta Arts Magazine, September, 2011.

Monday, August 1, 2011

The Joy of Missing a Flight


It was bound to happen some day. And it did - last March.

My wife, Ramona, and I were picked up for our trip to the airport. We allotted enough time to make our flight on a normal day. On this day, however, there were two accidents on the freeway. One of them slowed down traffic; the other closed the freeway for what seemed like hours.

Our driver tried valiantly to find alternative routes, but traffic just could not be avoided. We worried the entire way that we would not make our flight. Our minds were consumed with the thought that we would not make our flight. When we got into line to check in, there were only thirty-five minutes remaining before departure. “We’ll never make it” I said.

Maintaining the cadence of the freeway, the line to the check-in counter moved slowly. The counter agent looked at her screen and told us we were too late to check our bags. Plus, all remaining flights were full with only standby available. Airline rules did not allow baggage to be checked unless there were confirmed seats for the passengers. After some discussion and a lot of smiling on our part, she said it was against the rules, but she would place the bags on the next plane. If we made the original flight, we would have to return to the destination airport to claim our bags when they arrived. We thanked her and ran to security.

Again, the rhythm of the day prevailed. When TSA was satisfied that Law of Attraction in Action wasn’t code for “terrorist,” we ran to the gate. The gate agent told us the flight had been closed and our seats given to someone else. We missed the flight and would have to see a customer service agent for rebooking.

Our manifestation had come true. Missing our flight was on our minds, and that’s what the Universe gave us.

Heading off to the customer service desk, we knew how a dog must feel with its tail between its legs.  The agent greeted us with a smile and asked how she could help. We asked her name. “Lois, as in Lois Lane” she said. We laughed and said “Good. We need a Superwoman to help us.” Admitting it was our fault for not allowing enough time, we told her we needed to get to Michigan today. “Why are you going to Michigan this time of year? Don’t you know it’s cold there?” she quipped with a smile. We explained we had just made a presentation on the Law of Attraction in California and were flying to Michigan to conduct one there.

Try as she might, Lois could not find two seats for us on the same flight. She looked at several options and made phone calls to move things around so we could get to our destination. While on hold, she asked us about the Law of Attraction. We explained how we conduct our workshops and mentioned it is our way of giving back for the wonderful life we enjoy.

Lois asked if she could share something with us. She too has always believed in giving back. Her favorite charities are children’s hospitals. Two months ago, after a five-year hiatus, she played the lottery and won $40 million. Her coworkers expected her to quit work and live the life. But Lois is continuing to work and staying active. She enjoys being a customer service agent and helping people. And what was really exciting to her about winning the lottery was…now she could give real money to her favorite charities. The first thing she was planning to do with her newfound wealth is present St Jude Children’s Hospital with a large donation. Her pure intention brought tears to our eyes.

Through Lois’ diligence and determination, she obtained permission to place us both in confirmed seats on the same flight as our luggage. The whole experience left us energized. We thanked Lois, gave her a hug and wished her well.

The Universe works in mysterious ways. Ramona and I had never met a lottery winner before Lois. If we had made our flight, we would not have had the joy of meeting Lois. What a wonderful woman, well grounded, with a wonderful purpose in life. Thank you Universe and thank you Lois for being the wonderful, caring person you are.

Originally published in Meta Arts Magazine, August, 2011.

Friday, July 1, 2011

Flip the Switch


Very early one Monday morning during my freshman year in college, I was working feverishly to complete a term paper due at 9 that morning. The professor had assigned the paper six weeks earlier. Being a smart guy I had prepared an outline of what I wanted to present and picked up a couple of resource books on the subject from the library. Being not so smart, I saved the research, composition and typing until the weekend before the deadline. Of course it took longer to read the books and complete the paper than I had allowed, resulting in my typing the term paper at 3 AM. When I finished, I read the paper and knew before handing it in that the grade would not be good. I started wondering why I had postponed the assignment until the weekend before it was due. There just wasn’t a good reason.

I don’t recall the topic of the assignment, but I do remember the lesson. In the wee hours that Monday morning I vowed to never again wait until the deadline to complete a project. It was like flipping a switch. I went from procrastinator to doer. I became obsessive about completing assignments immediately. This trait has stuck with me and I have not missed a deadline since. Like a Boy Scout, I am always prepared.

This flip the switch technique has been applied to other areas of my life. When I get up on the wrong side of the bed, so to speak, I take a couple of minutes to determine the cause for my mood. Once identified, I think about something I love and appreciate, and how blessed my life has become by simply applying the laws of attraction. These happy thoughts allow me to flip the switch and release the issue to the Universe thus freeing my mind. They also bring a smile to my face. It’s really difficult to be in a bad mood and smile at the same time.

When I encounter someone who talks down to me, I have an interesting way to let them know their insecurities are showing. I flip their switch. For example, when someone says “I can’t believe you don’t know that” I jokingly respond “That must be one of the seven things I don’t know. Now there are only six.” There’s really not much they can say in response. Usually they get it, realize what they have done, and smile. If not, I remind myself not to downgrade my vibration to theirs.

When another driver cuts me off, my initial reaction borders on road rage.  I catch myself, flip the switch, and let it go. Maybe that driver has an important reason to get to his destination…one car sooner anyway.

One common theme is that I always end up smiling. And it’s hard to be sad, depressed or feel bad when you smile. By always thinking good, happy thoughts, we can keep our vibration high. When negative things happen to positive people, it’s best to flip the switch and regain the vibration that keeps the Laws of Attraction working for us.  And don’t forget to smile. 

Originally published in Meta Arts Magazine, July, 2011.

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

What's in a Name?

My wife, Ramona, and I are naturally happy. We like to surround ourselves with people who have similar high-frequency vibrations which, in turn, feed ours. By putting on a happy face and asking the people we meet a few questions about themselves, we attract other high-frequency people. After all, the basis for the Law of Attraction is like attracts like.

When we encounter wait staff, customer service representatives and clerks in our day-to-day activities, we are friendly and find out a little about them. By asking their names and a couple of questions, we expose a little of who we are and, more importantly, show our interest in them. Several wait staff have told us that we are the first to ever do so. That’s a shame. When we ask their names, it tells them we care. By showing we care, they naturally take better care of our needs. That’s not the reason we do it. We just like to be friendly. Many times our friendliness gets us more than we ask for.

The inspiration for this article came as we were flying on Delta Airlines to make a presentation on the Law of Attraction. We usually get upgraded to first class, but that cabin was full. Instead, we sat in our favorite coach seats, the exit row across from the flight attendant’s jump seat at the main boarding door. There are only two coach seats in that row and it has more leg room than any first class seat.

During takeoff we spoke with Greg, the flight attendant in the jump seat. We asked his name, how he was doing and where he was from – just general information about him. As the flight continued we discussed mutual destinations and what we liked about each. During one exchange he asked if we drank red or white wine. We said we drank red, but not while flying. Later he brought us a bottle of red wine in a bag.  “I don’t usually do this” he said. “Most people don’t talk to me other than to ask for something. You folks are so nice, got to know me and asked for nothing. Please accept this bottle of wine as a thank you for being great customers of Delta Airlines.”

Because Greg lives in another part of the country, we probably will not see him again unless we are on one of his flights. We wish we lived closer because we both genuinely like Greg and could envision a friendship developing. And it started by asking his name.

Sometimes these encounters can develop into something more. One of our favorite restaurants is Granville located in Burbank, California. Among the many fine wait staff is one with whom we really clicked. Charles is a single father who loves his daughter Naima more than anything. Charles’ face beams with excitement at the mention of her name. We share photos of our family in exchange for pictures and stories of Naima. Because Charles wants to share his family, he invited us to attend her dance recital as if she were our granddaughter. It was a great experience. This chance encounter with a waiter turned into a true friendship. And it all started by asking his name.

Whether it develops into a long-term friendship or remains a chance encounter, the result is the same. By maintaining a positive vibration, we have attracted like-minded people who realize the purpose of life is to be happy. And the best way to be happy is to surround ourselves with other people, places and things that make us happy. This could include anyone we meet during the day.  And it all starts by asking their name.

Originally published in Meta Arts Magazine, June, 2011.

Sunday, May 1, 2011

Good Vibrations

The first Law of Attraction is Like Attracts Like. If we feel sad, we will attract sadness. If we feel happy, we will attract happiness. Since my wife and I believe the purpose of life is to be happy, we do all we can to maintain a positive vibration. We surround ourselves with people, places and things that make us happy. Our home is one of those places.

Situated high up on a sand dune, our home has a breathtaking view of Lake Michigan. It is a calm and restful setting filled with wonderful energy vibrating up from the lake.

Each morning we walk down the fifty-five steps to the beach to begin our daily walk along the water’s edge. Once down on the beach we remove our shoes, step onto the bleached white sand and enjoy our three-mile trek, listening to the waves lap against the shore. It is a lovely way to get our daily exercise.

Our very first excursion on the beach was not as picturesque. From our perch up on the sand dune, and even as we descended the stairs, the beach looked pristine. As we walked, however, we noticed cans, glass and plastic bottles, candy wrappers, baggies, fast food containers and cups from drive-through chains, and a host of smoking materials. The beach was littered with trash!  

We decided to do something about the mess. That afternoon we took a couple of small bags from the supermarket and started picking up trash. About halfway through, our bags were full. The next day we each took a larger trash bag, but they still filled before we completed our journey. About a week later, the drudgery set in. It became aggravating picking up someone else’s trash.  We started grousing about being the only people keeping the beach clean.

As I picked up an empty soda can, an instant video from my childhood played in my mind. I visualized our family outings to the beach. While my dad was gathering the blankets, towels, sunscreen and kids, my mom would make sandwiches, pack them in a reusable container and place them in our ice chest. The sandwiches would be joined by some fresh fruits and vegetables. She made lemonade from fresh squeezed lemons and poured it into our gallon thermos. Our picnic basket already contained reusable cups, plates and utensils. My dad would load the car and off we would go. And everything we brought to the beach was either consumed there or brought back home because it was reusable. We left nothing behind.

That’s when I realized all this trash is our own fault, and the collective fault of everyone who purchases prepared foods in convenience packaging.  Most of us don’t pack picnic baskets for outings any longer. We go to the store and buy prepared foods in ready-to-go containers, or purchase fast food from a drive through chain on the way. What happens to those single-use wrappers and cups?  Most of it goes to landfills; but some ends up on our beaches. And there we are, picking it up, still perturbed at having to clean up after another’s disregard for our earth.

Then my wife said “Maybe we are picking up this trash because of karma for transgressions in this and prior lives.”  Her comment started me thinking. After a few moments I said “What if we were to picture each piece of trash as having a value of one karmic dollar? We could pay down our karmic debt, one piece of trash at a time.  And with the amount of trash that accumulates on our beach, we could pay off our karmic debt in no time and build a significant balance in our account at the Karmic Bank of the Universe.” “I like it”, she said. “Let’s try it and see what happens”.

That did it. Our outlook changed from cleaning up after others to having fun finding karmic “money”.

Our happier demeanor must have shown because something wonderful began to happen. A man we didn’t know stopped us and said we were an inspiration to him. From then on he would make sure his beach and those of his neighbor’s would be cleaned every day.

The owner of a B ’n B thanked us for our efforts and said we could leave our filled bags there for disposal. Her neighbor placed a bunch of plastic bags in a hidden container in case we needed more bags.

People we passed on our walks thanked us for our efforts. Then we saw other people starting to carry bags and pick up trash along their walks.

It was an excellent example of The Law of Attraction in Action. By adjusting our attitudes we changed our vibrations making the activity fun. And since Like Attracts Like, others have started to care.  Now our beach is clean and beautiful and a match to the peaceful setting of our home. We have good vibrations once again. And so does the pristine beach.

Originally published in Meta Arts Magazine, May, 2011