Posts Tagged ‘self-help industry’

I just got an email from Jack guru Canfield. It went right to my spam, so I can only assume it was intended for “Recipient,” not specifically “Britt.”

Oh well. I’ll get over that.

Anyway, my good friend Jack begins his email with these three sentences:

  1. Did you know only 3% of the world actually sets goals?
  2. In addition, only 3% of the orld owns 97% of the world’s resources.
  3. I don’t think this is a coincidence; it’s important to set goals to achieve success in today’s society.

Did you get that? The “implication” that is not, apparently, a coincidence, is that if you set your goals, you will become one of the primary owners of the worlds resources.

Jack’s email is a pitch for “free” coaching. Given that these guys typically charge thousands of dollars, you’ve really got to think twice about what this free coaching is all about.

Let me save you a bit of time. Typically, these gurus give a bit and then sell sell sell. And then a bit more, and then sell sell sell.

And how do they hook you? By feeding you your own self-serving biases. As described in a website called Cold Reading 101, self serving biases are our positive beliefs we hold about ourselves, whether they are true or not. Typically, these include the beliefs that:

  • Most people see themselves as more intelligent than average.
  • Most people consider themselves more attractive than average.
  • Most people consider themselves more educated than average.
  • Most people consider themselves better drivers than average.
  • Most people see themselves as more ethical than average.

So you can take pretty well any positive result (like telling your client that they too have the potential to be part of the 3% that owns 97% of the world’s resources) and tell  your client that they have the potential to reach it. First, attend this free coaching session (which is populated with heavy HEAVY sales tactics) and voila! You are special, successful, and wealthy.

Also, should my friend Jack contact you with this incredible faulty logic and offer that will change your life, I want you to ask yourself this question:

What exactly has Jack himself done?

Other than luck into the get-famous-as-a-coach spiel, I don’t really think his resume is that impressive. Has he headed up a Fortune 100 company? Has he changed the world in any meaningful way for anyone not white, male or middle aged? Has he solved any environmental stress issues? Backed the electric car? Fed starving Somalians? Helped pass the American Equal Rights Amendment?

Hmmmm.

One has to wonder how we fall for this time and time again.

Maybe it’s time to start realizing that we are not special, not unique, not brighter than any other particular star in the universe. The Jack’s pitches will become but a wee annoying drone in the background, like that pesky mosquito in the tent who you know you can quash in the morning but for now you’ll just have to put up with it.

Or you can learn more about the art of cold reading. Derren Brown is one of the masters. Learn from him. He reveals his secrets. No charge.

Jack pitches to the 3% of the population ready to make goals. In one of T.Harv Eker’s seminars, a friend of mine was quoted a 5% success rate of all attendees, and this was at the executive level (for which one paid $50k). This translates into a 0.06% chance of success. That’s how much they believe in you.

You’re better off talking to a local businesswoman, partnering with a mentor, and taking it from there.

 

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I was recently challenged by a friend, who made it clear to me that she bases the control of her life on accepting that everything revolves around the choices she makes.

I’ve heard that a lot in Law of Attraction circles, and it smacks to me of blaming the victim. You wouldn’t have been raped if you didn’t wear that dress and didn’t go to that bar. Your father wouldn’t have touched you if you didn’t let it happen.

Yes, life is twisted and shaped because of our decisions. And I’m the last one to advocate blame. In fact, one-third of my book, The Three Strategies of the Unstoppable Woman, is dedicated to accountability. Accountability, summed up, means “owning your own shit.”

Yet, there is a time in one’s life that a line must be drawn in the sand, a line that separates my choices from your actions.

Yes, I wore that dress to the bar. Yet, he’s the one who raped me.

What you did and who’s at fault are two completely different things.

Yes, I let my father continue to touch me. I was stunned into submission and since he was the authority figure in my life, I didn’t know where else to turn. Yet, he’s the one who acted out his fantasy.

What you did and who’s at fault, again, two completely different things.

I think it’s an oversimplification to say that you are responsible for everything that has happened to you as a result of your choices. It’s an easy way out for the perpetrator. It’s a camouflaged deflection of responsibility using counter-blame.

The sweet thing (and the equally frustrating thing) about human beings is our complexity. And when you hear a gross over-simplification, examine it. You might be surprised at what you find underneath.

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While I think it’s still somewhat on the low side, at least the man is going to jail. I hope to hell he’s counting his blessings. Yavapai County Superior Court Judge Warren Darrow sentenced Ray to two years for each victim. Sadly, the sentences are to be served concurrently (at the same time). And Ray has to repay a total of $57,000 in restitution to the three families. A pittance, I say, a pittance. Especially given that he took in half a million dollars at an imitation sweat-lodge ceremony he led at the Angel Valley Resort, near Sedona in October 2009, that killed the three victims: Kirby Brown, 38; James Shore, 40, and Liz Neuman, 49.

Read the USA Today story here, which includes a video available to those in the US. I’ll be looking for a video for the rest of us. Let me know if something becomes available on Youtube.

I don’t think this will indent the lack of integrity in the self-help industry. It will just help them better cover their asses in case of, um, accidents. And it will make sure they don’t push to the point of death. You needn’t look death in the eye in order to succeed at anything.

James, enjoy your brief stay. Convert a few convicts and help them become millionaires when they get back to the outside. Look for Jesus. Pray that the one on the inside with the homemade blue-ink tattoos on both sets of knuckles doesn’t find you. And stay the hell out of other people’s business for a while. And consider this: if you hadn’t of stalled the process as much as you did, you would have been substantially through your sentence. Instead, now, you are just at the beginning. That’s a small comfort too.

My personal hope is that the judge structured the sentence as he did to avoid appeal. And if you do appeal, maybe the new judge will change “concurrent” to “consecutive.”

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11
Oct

Unthink THIS

   Posted by: Britt    in Bankruptcy, On the Law of Attraction

Oh! if only it were true! If only we could think — or for that matter UNTHINK — things into existence. What a nicer place this world could be!

Here’s what is keeping me awake this tonight: banks and taxes.

Sigh. It’s a brain-full.

I’ll keep this simple, because it’s very complex-yet-simple stuff.

First, the banks. If you are like me, you have heard of the “fractional-reserve” banking system. The way I understood it was that banks could lend out the same amount of money ten (in a 1:10 system) or twenty (1:20) times. I understood it academically. Starting today, I actually began to grasp what it meant.

Let’s say I go into a bank and deposit $40,000.

(…and I haven’t yet wrapped my brain around the notion that banks write money into existence the instant you put your signature on to the promissory note to repay the loan, making this original $40,000 and the resulting $1,000,000 in profits even more insidious…) 

The 10:1 fractional-reserve system requires the bank to hold on to 10% of it (1/10th) and it then allows the bank to lend out the other 90%, or $36,000.

So then the other borrow, the new owner of the $36,000 deposits that loan into their bank. Again, their bank is required to hold on to 10% or $3,600, and it loans out the remaining $32,400.

The next borrow takes their $32,400 loan, deposits it into their bank account, and that bank in turn holds onto $3,240 and lends out $29,160.

This is only the first three layers of transactions. Ultimately, this system of deposit-and-lend can happen about a hundred times. By the time the bank is done laundering my money, it has taken my $40K and churned out another $360,000 in loans.

And then, the magic happens. Yes, there’s more: it’s called Compound Interest. Get out your calculators or just go on basic trust here, but generally speaking, any 20 year loan on 5% interested compounded monthly produces an amount close to 2.5 the original amount. So $40K times 2.5 yields about $120K. And we know %5 is low-balling it.

So the bank, in lending out $360,000 instantaneously now receives a cool million in 20 years of repayments that include principal and interest. Yes, the magic of Compound Interest.

So where does this $960,000 of hard cold cash come from, especially since it doesn’t even exist in the first place? Why, we borrow it from the banks of course. Business loans. Mortgages. Lines of credit. Credit cards.

A self-perpetuating system destined to leave the individual poor and the banks rich.

And you might think it stops there. Well, no. Actually it doesn’t.

There’s the second layer of shit called “governments.” The biggest misconception out there is that governments tax “things” or stuff. In Canada, we have personal and corporate taxes, payroll taxes, excise taxes, liquor taxes, income taxes, gas taxes, sales taxes, estate taxes,  and on and on the list grows.

But what it really boils down to is that “things” are NOT taxed. What is really taxed is the movement of money. If you have a $20 bill in your pocket that is 20 years old, stop and imagine for a moment the number of transactions this piece of paper has seen in its two decades. Consider how long it stays in your wallet. A week? Maybe two? If a $20 bill sees even just 10 transactions in a year, assuming a taxation rate of 15% (which it’s not, it’s more like 50%), it will have generated $15 for the government in taxes in one year. And $300 in twenty years.

(Consider just one transaction. You buy a thing for one dollar. Immediately, there’s sales tax. Let’s say 7%. Then with this one sale, the owner has earned an income. So there’s income tax. Let’s say 25%. So without even considering import/export  and employee taxes, 33% of this dollar has immediately gone to the government.)

Again, it has generated more than it’s original value for the government.

It’s really quite depressing.

And how does this all lend (haha) itself to the law of attraction? Simple. One of the biggest mantras of the gurus is: It’s a sin to sit on money. As quick (!) as you earn it, so must you spend it. In fact, if you don’t have enough money it’s because you refuse to spend enough money. You are tight-fisted and obsessed with holding on. And as long as you hoard what you have you won’t be free to get more.

But really, this multi-billion dollar self-help industry keeps money in circulation; and this, my friends, means more loans,which in turn means more taxes.

Depositing the money in the bank means more loans, more debt. Which in turn puts more money into circulation which in turn means more taxes.

But here’s the real crime of hoarding: If you put $40,000 of bills under your mattress, you have “robbed” the banks of a million dollars AND “robbed” the governments of the taxes that they would have earned with this extra million in circulation. And yet, sadly, you yourself cannot transform this $40K into a million.

Do you get this? While each and every one of us (capable of reading this and comprehending it) will be dead in the next 100 years, the system will survive. Taxation is thousands of years old. Fractional-reserve banking is about 300 years old. And we, the individuals cranking out our debt-ridden lives to climb to the top of this mad pyramid scheme, are all enslaved to this.

So given even this scratch-the-surface level of economical understanding, do you really think we can think our way out of this?

It is well enough that people of the nation do not understand our banking and monetary system, for if they did, I believe there would be a revolution before tomorrow morning.
– Henry Ford

Problem is, who’s getting it? And of those who get it, what in hell can be done about it? Our national wealth — and indeed our entire economy — depends on this house of cards being upheld.

Is a storm is blowing our way?

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The Train

Imagine this. It’s 1:34 am. A moonless night. For whatever reason (every story needs to start with an unknown trauma behind you), you are beside a railway track, just a foot or two to the side.

You have infamously fallen and you can’t get up.

In the ghostly distance you hear the ghastly hoot-hoot of an oncoming train. You struggle to get unstuck. No luck. A brief minute passes and you no longer just hear it: you see its ominously-deadly headlight doggedly lurching toward you. Chugachuga chugachuga choo-choo. This is it. Your big moment. The grand finale.

Admittedly, you’re being dramatic. For you are not square on the railroad track. You’re off to the side. You are also somewhat smart: you also know that trains are typically wider than the  track they run on. But visions of your own demise dance in your head. You are the train wreck. Soon to be the wreckage.

So you do the only thing any normal human being would do. You pray. Your life flashes before your eyes. You do a quick-and-nasty inventory of what you can do without and offer it up.

And, here’s the fun bit, you get to chose your own ending.

Option 1

Miracle of miracles happen. Before the train can hit you, it rumbles to a stop. Why? probably because you prayed to your god. A hobo comes along, gets you unstuck and helps you up. And you live happily ever after.

Option 2

Miracle of miracle happens. The train passes you by and you don’t get a scratch. You get a bruise. A big black-and-blue, ache-to-the-bone nasty bruise on your right upper arm. Because something happened, something incredible. Someone threw a bagful of freshly bundled unmarked bills out the window and it smacked you right there. Why? probably because you prayed to your god. A hobo comes along, gets you unstuck and helps you up. And you live happily ever after.

The End

All fairy tales end with that promise, aka Happily Ever After. It’s a lie, by the way. It gets a lot more complicated. But that’s for another tale. Let’s (ominously) stay on track.

Here’s what really happened. You think you discovered the secret. It’s called god. But now elevated to God. Intermingled with the glory of self wallowing and the new realization that this entire Universe is all about you. Thoughts are things, you realize. You control the Universe, as evidenced by the recent near miss. As evidenced by your very own life.

You set out to share the news with others. You know everyone is seeking this secret. This Secret. You know that people generally undervalue what comes to them freely (after all, you too payed the ultimate price of adrenaline). And so you charge them for this information. And you write books on how to think the right thoughts and have the right mindset. And you give seminars. Oh sure your seminars are free to start, but you give no real secrets away on these freebies. Just incentive. Motivation to move up to the next level (for $1,000). And the next (for $5,000). And the next (for $30,000). And you capture it all onto audio. So that you can continue to spread the word. At a significant cost of course.

Why gosh! you have become a guru. A Guru.

And in the shadows of Truth, with the layers peeled back, here’s what really happened.

Option 1

There was a train station. You were so wrapped in the drama of your own demise that you failed to make out its unlit shape in the shadows. Your sweet God actually had nothing to do with it. The train station, on the other hand, had everything to do with it.

Option 2

A  bank robber’s sleeper car was just about to be searched. He was tipped off by the bus boy (do trains have bus boys? No idea. Hey, it’s MY story about you. I’m the one telling it here), who has had a long standing crush on this swarthy and dangerous frequent flyer. Or rider rather. The bank robber made the split-second decision to trash the loot and live to steal another day, so he opened the window and tossed out his single (but incredibly valuable) bag of bills.

You were so wrapped up in the drama of your own demise that you failed to realize that this was a perfect example of opportunity, where luck meets preparedness. Preparedness had everything to do with where you were physically located in that moment. It had nothing to do with who you were or how hard you worked to get there (because face it, you didn’t).

Your sweet God actually had nothing to do with it. Another person’s story, which had nothing to do with you, had everything to do with it.

Epilogue

The Law of Attraction is taken to these same ridiculous extents. Oprah did not pray her way into her career. God did not reward her for her visions. She happened to be the right person with the right attitude, at the right place, at the right time. Dastardly end of sentence. Strike me down now or for ever hold your peace.

Well what do you know… I’m still typing.

When they (the ominous They) tell you that if you can conceive it you can achieve it, they mislead you. What they really mean is that if you can see it you may achieve it.

Think of yourself as an Olympic athlete running the hundred yard dash. In the moment that marks the beginning of the race, when that gun goes off and each of you pushes off, you are all the same. An athlete with a goal. You can all see it. You can all conceive it. But only one of you will achieve it.

Will it ever be you?

I don’t know. Are you persistent? Are you will to accept a personal best as a win? Or must must the entire universe revolve only around just you? Perhaps you didn’t think enough happy thoughts then. Or not in the right sequence. Or the smile on your face was actually fake. Never mind that the winning runner was faster….

In these times of extreme financial hardship, it’s only natural that we turn to those who have succeeded. Financially. Only you need to realize that the entire financial success of many (most?) of these Gurus depends not on the god they chose to pray to, not on their prior dramas, but on the fact that you are willing to dish up the dough that sustains them. They depend on your financial struggles to fill their coffers.

So give your head a shake. Get clear on what you want. Seek the council that directly addresses your path. (HINT: Getting rich is not it. That’s a dream, not a goal.) If you want to write a book, for goodness sake speak to authors. If you want to open a store that sells shoes for the hard to fit, for goodness sake talk to other niche store owners. If you want to work in a German deli, talk to the boss. Stop throwing good money away on gurus teaching you something as stupid as how to win the lottery.

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19
Aug

Fear the teacher with nothing left to learn

   Posted by: Britt    in On The Secret

Rhonda Byrne has written a follow up to The Secret, called The Power. In it she claims to have discovered “the most powerful force in the universe” and that her readers will develop the ability and skills to manipulate this “Power” to make all their dreams materialize. The power she is talking about is “the power […]

Above is an excerpt from Yakaru, blogger of the site aptly named, “Spirituality is No Excuse.” As usual, he hits the nail on the head. Read, and follow.

One of the biggest commonalities among LOA “teachers” (term used incredibly loosely here) is the LACK of accountability. Their positioning is that they know everything and you know nothing, and all you have to do is open your mind to their right-ness.

Socrates once said, “All I know is that I know nothing.” The sign of a becoming a philosopher was the deep knowledge that you know nothing. A debate was in fact an exercise in listening and learning, not an exercise of positioning and proving.

When looking for a REAL teacher, it’s vital that your teacher is constantly learning. When someone claims ultimate KNOWING, let that be your first indication to turn and run (as fast as your little legs will carry you) into the opposite direction.

Rhonda Byrne immediately positions herself as all-knowing. Good marketing says to talk from the perspective of the buyer, which, as this blog shows, has been done with incredible effectiveness.

So from a business perspective, great marketing; from a mentor perspective, run baby run.

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Meryl Davids Landau, author of the new spiritual women’s novel, Downward Dog, Upward Fog, writes an article asking the ultimate (I’m being facetious) question: Does the James Arthur Ray Trial Mean There’s No Law of Attraction?

I was shocked to discover that her answer to the question is a simple, No, of course not!

Wow. This was not at all what I expected to read from the Huffington Post. Quite the opposite indeed.

The few in this world who succeed to the point of having multi-millions and even billions of dollars at their fingertips find the concept of random circumstance too frightening. It ignores the ego. The notion that is has nothing to do with your goodness or greatness is inconceivable.

Believing that they were/are special is much more comforting than believing they got lucky. Indeed, our ego hungers to believe it received because it believed, making it exceptionally special. Godlike. As a species, we’ve spent thousands of years mimicking the gods in attempt to get close to what they’ve achieved. So when we achieve it, we believe we’ve arrived at that secret formula. So why not package and sell it? The rest of us also hunger for that validation. (The foundations of solid marketing here.)

Yet, there are far more Willy Loman’s in the world (Death of a Salesman, fellow who believed if he could just walk the walk and talk the talk then he too would become successful – a fundamental “belief” at the core of the so-called “Law” of attraction) than there are Oprahs. But LOA advocates easily rip this point to shreds by mindlessly stating that the Willy Lomans simply do not think, feel, or believe the right things. Akin to blaming the victim.

LOA is landmine of destruction. Sure, there are a few towering trees (a favoured LOA metaphor) that loom over the masses in the forest, but statistically most saplings will die before they can even cast a scrawny shadow. Not because of their thoughts, but because of the random placement on this earth, in this universe. Their potential for growth was doomed by a larger cast shadow. Or some random hungry cow. Whatever.

Statistically speaking, the popularity of motivational speakers increase in times of economic upheaval. The Great Depression launched Dale Carnegie’s career. Depressions, recessions, and natural upheavals invite the human hunger to know (and tap into the power of) God.

A fire here in Alberta recently wiped out one third the entire town of Slave Lake. Norman James’s house was left standing amidst the ruins, and he quickly commented that there must be a higher power looking out for him.

“All I can say is if anybody believes in God or a creator or whatever, I believe it’s a miracle,” said James. “I believe my house is still standing because of a higher power.”

What that blissfully simple  statement pleasantly ignores is that that same God finds James’s neighbours unworthy of the same level of protection.

Yes, it’s easy to believe in a God when you’re succeeding. Our ego craves this. And it’s easy to cling on to the notion of a God when your desperate to find your way out of disaster. It’s called Hope, and it’s there for us all. But to charge money for that, and then to blame Willy Loman for not thinking the right thoughts is where, in my books, an ethical line is crossed. When lives are lost, it becomes criminal. I think the people on the jury– not God — needs to find James Arthur Ray guilty.

Luck is random and subjected to the whim of time, place, nature, and the influence of others. Governments, banks; family and neighbours. Success is being prepared when an opportunity (should the opportunity arise) crosses your path. You can’t think that opportunity into existence. You can’t justify it into existence, using the exception (ie Oprah) not the rule (Willy Loman) to back it up.

Huffington Post, you’ve seriously let me down.

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Like many others, I’m avidly following the case of James Arthur Ray. Whatever the courts find will have an impact on the billions of dollars currently being “earned” by the Law of Attraction gurus. Okay, so it might just make a tiny dent in the big picture. While I think the likes of Canfield, Robbins and Katie are avidly glued to their sets, I don’t think the typical student is even aware.

When I “fell” down my rabbit hole and landed in state of bankruptcy, my “teacher” (earlier referred to as Missus) made it clear that I was fully accountable for my own outcome. On the surface, I agreed with her as no one held a gun to my head and forced me to make the bad investments that I did. But something underneath bothered me. And slowly it boiled up and now it’s spilling over.

I’m now of the mind that education is a two-way street: The student agrees to be open (hence vulnerable) and the teacher agrees to contribute genuine knowledge delivered in the best interest of the student. The very nature of learning, after all, is suspending your disbelief and trusting your teacher.

Back in the day, I was a motorcycle instructor, and those two aspects (genuine knowledge and student safety) were embedded in our teaching philosophy. For example, some students were terrified of revving their engines. As teachers, we had genuine knowledge to the contrary, and consequently required the student to suspend her disbelief. Trusting us was imperative to her learning.  And we had to respect that trust and ensure safety, so we taught in in a safe environment — the parking lot — at relatively slow speeds. We had to minimize the potential for harm. (And should harm befall them, we were all trained in first aid.)

When a student could not perform effectively as a student (ie he couldn’t suspend his disbelief and rev his engines), we as teachers were then required to act in that student’s best interest and discontinued him from the course. It was our job as good teachers to monitor their safety. It was not their job as a student to choose their own situation. If we let them do that, we’d loose our job. They did not yet know what they didn’t know (to state the obvious) so they couldn’t make a sound decision in their best interest.

When CBC’s Marketplace found the Robert Kiyosak course practicing questionable teachings, it was because the contracted instructors were claiming false experiential expertise (claimed a tract of land was earning them passive income when in fact it was a dead investment) and consequently were not acting in the best interest of the student. Following their teachings could land them in the same dire straights as their teachers (who were, it seemed, using teaching as the tool to dig themselves out of financial despair).

I do agree that it was a tragic accident. It was never a planned event. However, categorizing it as an accident does not eradicate accountability (and landing it in the laps of the dead students is a travesty — and a slippery escape from accountability). I hope true accountability lands in the lap of James Arthur Ray (JAR). The students job is to be open; the teacher’s job was to protect their safety (this usually goes without saying) while imparting genuine knowledge.

Becoming a teacher is serious business. It can’t just be a money-making factory. It can’t just be loaded with “good intentions” (which, BTW I think JAR had). It also requires a tremendous amount of expertise that goes beyond the experiential background of just the teacher her/himself. And it comes with a very high degree of responsibility.

So while my “financial” teacher, Missus and her snake-oiled partner were teaching with good intentions, they lacked the expertise in BOTH their own experiential background and in light of the entire financial industry. I am responsible for signing the document, and they are responsible for putting the option in front of me in the first place, and for guiding me to the “learned” belief that these were good investments (they all failed, one by one by one).

The awful reality comes down to this. When it comes to dealing with the results, that lands squarely on the shoulders of the student. It is only me who can step forward with my current financial reality. The teacher remains untouched. Untouchable. I think the James Arthur Ray case is an attempt to make an ethically bad teacher (ie he failed to keep his students safe, and he failed in being genuinely knowledgable) be responsible for the outcome.

I wonder how many people, like me, sit in financial despair because of the teachings of the gurus. I don’t think that litigation is the answer. And I also don’t think regulation is either (since when is the government truly representative of the people?). I think  the real answer lies in awareness and education.

And this blog is my small kick at that big can.

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December eighth. A perfect day. I launched my book online, secured “Amazon bestseller” status, and I watched my daughter’s school’s Christmas show.

Then came the phone call.

“Your mother’s in the hospital,” were the first words out of my step-father’s mouth. I just listened. Turns out she almost died, and we were lucky to still have her with us.

Here’s the short version. My mother is a very strong, fit and stoic woman. She doesn’t complain much. So when she does, you know it very deep and very real.

A few days before December 8th, she complained of cramps. She and her husband when to the clinic in their small town. They poked and prodded a wee bit, then sent her home with Tylenol 3s and a pat on the back. The T3s didn’t help. The cramps worsened. Back to the clinic. Back home with the instruction to wait it out. The the pain got so severe that they headed for the hospital, an hours drive away. At the hospital they did a CAT scan and they determined she had an bowel obstruction. Twelve hours later (yes, it actually took that long) she was under the knife and they removed three feet of dead bowel tissue.

They figure (meaning, they are guessing) that this dead bowel tissue was a slow cellular deterioration that might have began as early as when mom got her tubes tied about four decades ago. The surgeon remarked that had they not removed it when they did, my mom would have died.

Two days later, now out of the Intensive Care Unit (ICU), mom’s biggest physical achievement is to walk past two doorways without dropping. And her highest item on her list of things to do is pass gas.

On any given day, some experts estimate that anywhere from 10-25% of a doctors diagnosis is accurate; the rest is guesswork. [1] I’ve heard it said that your family physician is guessing about 50% of the time when she or he has to diagnose a patient. I’m now starting to think that that is a very kind and generous estimate. Given the advancement of science and technology, these claims are astounding. And, sadly, they also appear to be true.

Anyway, this post is not meant to be a diatribe on the abysmal state of current medical practices. (That’s just a pleasant aside.)

Really, what I’d like to point out is how my mother’s breathtakingly close flirtation with death has caused me to notice something.

The observation, in a nutshell is this: If I were to freeze-frame this moment in time, upon examination I’d have to say that it’s pretty good all things considered. That’s an assessment based not in what this moment contains (objects, status, achievements, financial acquisitions, wealth and so on) but rather based on what has not yet been taken away from me. My mother is still alive. My daughter. My still-smoking-one-pack-a-day brother. My other brother who teaches overseas and has first hand accounts of tsunamis and floods that have killed thousands. I still have a roof over my head. I’m not hungry or thirsty. I have no chronic pain. My muscles all work. I can still breathe.

If I move beyond the moment, if I contemplate what tomorrow might bring, the pain of living returns. Imminently looming financial destruction. Marital disintegration. Neighborly discontentment (gossip, rumors, higher-order catty exclusions, trickling down to our daughters). Women not reading my book. Women reading my book and hating me for it. The fear of dying obsolete without impacting anyone else’s life, without making a significance difference when I know that I have it within me to do just that. Personal and professional rejection (inevitable when you’re marketing anything; and more hurtful when that something you are marketing is your own sweet self).

And beyond tomorrow’s truly insignificant and topical fears (those I just listed) lie the deeper ones that touch the very core of our being. For it is inevitable that my parents will die,  that some of my siblings will pass before I can make the grand exodus myself. And in the news are constant reminders that there are times that our children die before we do. A greater pain I cannot imagine. I don’t know how parents survive such a sadness.

Life is the great gift, and the knowledge that it will end in an unannounced death is the great tragedy.

My mother did not will death upon herself. Louise Hay would solomly state (without even cracking a smile) that mom has a fear of letting go. That’s what  Hay would quack. Her diagnosis would simply be a the affirmation, “I freely and easily release the old and joyously welcome the new.” Mmm. Let’s see. A fear of letting go. Of life. Yep, I think we all do. And, no, contrary to the stupidity of some LOA advocates, we are not eternal beings; neither she nor I will live forever[2]. Two conflicting truths exist simultaneously. This moment is all that we have; and this too shall pass.

When someone tries to sell you happiness-dressed-in-green (millionaire status), packages it in promised ease, sells it as your inherent universal birthright, and then ultimately charges you thousands upon thousands of dollars, give your head a shake. Jump aside. Fast. For the lights you see are not the divining graces awaiting your long overdue arrival at the end of some dark tunnel. It’s a freakin Mac truck baby, barreling towards you at full speed.

Don’t freeze in the headline. But do freeze just this moment. Look at what you have. Look at it in terms of the big sadnesses that have not yet struck you. This helps you see what you have. And in that, you might be able to say that in this moment, I am actually happy.

Most of the time, though, we miss it.

You don’t need a guru to wake you to it. Save your money. Put it back in your pockets. All you need to do is notice this very moment. And then stop. That’s all. That’s the real secret.

NOTES

[1] http://www.businessweek.com/magazine/content/06_22/b3986001.htm. Surgeon Dr. David Eddy  states that “The problem is that we don’t know what we are doing.” The article goes on to say that “[a] great many doctors and health-care quality experts have come to endorse Eddy’s critique. And while there has been progress in recent years, most of these physicians say the portion of medicine that has been proven effective is still outrageously low — in the range of 20% to 25%.” Dr. Eddy is calling for a new medical model, one  that is evidence based. Evidence-based “is a term he coined in the early 1980s, and it has since become a rallying cry among medical reformers. The goal of this movement is to pierce the fog that envelops the practice of medicine — a state of ignorance for which doctors cannot really be blamed. “The limitation is the human mind,” Eddy says. Without extensive information on the outcomes of treatments, it’s fiendishly difficult to know the best approach for care.”

[2] one friend of mine actually believes he can pre-determine the date of his own death. He’s picked a number, and he’s adamantly going with it. What the hell, I say. If you believe you can pick a date, then why not choose never?? Our blessing, our one true blessing is life itself; our curse, our one true curse, is knowing that it’s temporal. It’s this curse which continues to sow it’s misery and sorrow throughout mankind in the bitter-sweet disguise of faith aka religion. Don’t get me started.

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Remember this famous quote?

Morpheus from the Matrix: You take the blue pill and the story ends. You wake in your bed and believe whatever you want to believe. You take the red pill and you stay in Wonderland and I show you how deep the rabbit-hole goes.

What “The Secret” gurus, the so-called self-proclaimed “Law of Attraction” experts have been selling you is actually a blue pill that they’ve dipped in red dye. Sometimes that red dye may be some of that stuff left over from Easter; other times it may be actual human blood. Metaphorically speaking. Yes, life can get that complicated.

You go to their seminars. You-the-container who is hungry for the wealth that has so-far eluded you in life, choke down these gigantic (blue) pills (painted/tainted with a brilliant red). “I won the lottery in life. It happened to the untrained me, it can happen to you.” Somehow you miss the small print: “Results not typical.” And, “My big money maker is actually selling this junk/jism to you.”

You wake up in your bed. And you believe whatever you want to believe. Like, say, that you can become rich through the mere act of thinking. Like, say, that you create the universe and thus you can shape it entirely to your liking. Like, say, that abundance exists entirely for your ego (the part of you that wants to acquire things).

The red pill is actual quite different. First, it’s free. Second, it’s quite small.

The real Law of Attraction works like this: when you become open to a possibility, you start to see the existence of that possibility around you. But (and here’s the key) to see that possibility, that possibility has to first exist in the universe beyond “you.”

I had a roommate, Karen, who once bought a new car. It came in a new selection of colours, a metalic bronze. She’d never seen it around before and wanted to assert her uniqueness to the world. Funny thing happened though. After Karen bought this car she started to notice that this car colour was already out there. There were a few. Quite a few actually. She felt as if she literally couldn’t turn the corner without seeing her car colour reflected in another car.

Same thing happened to me when I got pregnant. Suddenly, there was an abundance of people out there on the streets (women actually) who were as big-bellied as me. So many that I actually wanted to start doing the “motorcycle wave” (like waves to like) to the others in the street.

Same thing happens to drivers of Volkswagen vans. Parents of twins. Job seekers with University degrees. Name your category.

The peddlers of the blue-pill-painted-red would have you believe that that you have created these entities. And likewise, you can create money. Just stick a million dollar bill in your wallet, and “feel the joy” at least twice a day. Do a vision board. It will come to pass. You can create your universe.

Wrong.

In noticing, you can become aware of what is, what has always been.

Accept for a moment this: Each of us is essentially invisible. We can only become visible when something causes us to be noticed. Pretend for a moment you are a traffic cop stationed on your local highway. A million cars pass you by every day. You “see” them in that they are right there before your eyes. But you don’t really notice them. Thus, they become invisible. What you do notice is the occasional speeder or the occasional person not wearing a seat belt or the occasional person talking on their hand-held cell.

In other words, you notice what it is you are looking for.

So, you can set your sights (continuing with the traffic cop metaphor) on cars with babies in the back seats, or cars pulling trailers, or cars with bicycle racks. And then suddenly you will notice them, those that have previously invisible while you were attuned only  law-breakers. And you will notice them not because you have created them but because they actually exist out there on the road. They were there before you noticed them, and they will continue to be there after your shift is over.

But, dammit, you can’t start suddenly seeing trains on that same stretch of highway. I don’t care how much you “feel it,” how many such trains you’ve slapped on a vision board, or how many trains pictures you carry with you in your wallet. If they ain’t there, hun, you’re not going to see it or receive it. Believe THAT, baby.


The origins of this blog entry are a springboard from another excellent blog article from RoosterMoon. Thank you, Michel Fortin, for the example of the vehicle purchase and your excellent blog article!

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