Week 16 – The road to a virtuous life

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When I think of the word “virtue”, I think of a perfect saint, someone who is quiet, disciplined, kind, and totally self-controlled, even amidst challenging situations or relationships.  I’m not virtuous, if that’s the definition.  But I’d like to be.  How do I get there?

When I started doing marathons, I remember going to my very first marathon clinic.  I was in the walking group.  We received our training schedule from our coach each week, and the first week went something like this:

Monday, Wednesday, and Friday – walk 30 minutes.

Sunday, Tuesday, and Thursday – rest.

Saturday, walk 45 minutes.

Really????  Walk 30 minutes????  THAT was going to get me ready for a 26.2 marathon???  No way.

But my coach said, just follow what it says and in 6 weeks, we’re going to do a half marathon through Kolekole Pass, a trail which is normally closed to civilians, and was 5 miles straight uphill and 7 miles downhill.  WHAT?????  I’m a couch potato, you want me to walk only 30 minutes 3 times a week, and we’re going to do 13.1 miles in six weeks????  Insane.

So we followed the schedule for that six weeks, registered for the half marathon, and skeptically showed up every weekend to do our long training walks.  (Long being 45 minutes for the first few weeks.)   We trusted our coach and diligently stuck to the schedule, not knowing how we would be ready in such a short period of time.

Week one turned into week two, and we progressively walked longer, more frequently, and farther week by week.  I think the longest we walked was about 8 miles before we got the Half Marathon day.  I know it wasn’t any more than 10 at most.  I thought for sure it would take us at least 4 hours to do that race.

But our coach knew what he was doing, because I finished that race in only 3 hours and 15 minutes!  Walking uphill!!!  When I got to the end, I felt so fresh I could have turned around and done another 13.1 miles!

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How did we do it?  One day at a time.  I don’t know the science behind it, but all I know is that my muscles adapted to the consistent walking, even though I thought it wasn’t long enough to make a difference.

So back to virtues.

Benjamin Franklin, one of the most brilliant men in history, determined to develop his moral strength by improving on 13 virtues.  His plan?  To focus on just one virtue a week, and to be so focused for seven full days that each virtue became a part of him.

In the Master Key Mastermind Alliance course, we have been promised that if we, too, focus on improving or at least being aware of one virtue a week, we will reap more benefits than we ever dreamed possible.  I think it’s appropriate that there are 13 virtues, because this is my half marathon training.  Except that the race I’m in is my life.

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Aside

Week 15 – I am Fran

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I am nature’s greatest miracle.

I believe that I was created for greatness.

I believe that God has given me special talents that make me unique.

I believe that I was put here on earth to make a difference in someone’s life.

I believe that I am special.  There is no one else like me.

I am a child of God.

I am nature’s greatest miracle.

Week 14 – Resolution Revolution

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res·o·lu·tion  n.

1. The state or quality of being resolute; firm determination.
2. A resolving to do something.
3. A course of action determined or decided on.
 
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Happy New Year!
 
In Hawaii, we grew up celebrating the New Year by setting off massive strings of firecrackers at midnight.  Every household in every neighborhood tied these long strings of firecrackers on poles, ladders, trees, anything up high, and then waited for that magical time to light the wicks.   Imagine the entire state of Hawaii, every island, exploding at exactly 12:00am on January 1st.  We loved and hated the noise, the smoke, the rubbish (!) afterwards, because it signaled the turning of the clock, never to go back, with the promise of the new year at hand.  It’s one of the reasons why my husband and I decided to get married on New Year’s Eve.  Every anniversary was a very real celebration of an even better year to come.
 
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I used to make New Year resolutions like everyone else:  lose weight (the same 5 pounds every year), get more sleep, be neater, read more books, blah, blah, blah.  But by January 5, I would totally forget about them and fall back into my same M.O.  Why?  Because I never took the time to ingrain it into my subconscious and really, really take the time to have a plan of action to make the changes in behavior that I needed to do to reach my goals.  So no more New Year’s resolutions.  Instead, I am hanging onto my life’s resolutions to 1.  Seek God first, 2.  create a business that will provide my family with a comfortable life that allows me to give time, money, and love to others, 3.  Be a good steward of all things including my health, my finances, and my giftings.  I may have mini-goals so that I can measure my progress, but they all tie into my life goals.  
 
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I watched a movie yesterday called October Sky.  In it, a young high schooler named Homer Hickam saw the Sputnik satellite float through the sky and resolved to build rockets that everyone around the world would see at the same time.  He lived in a little coal mining town in West Virginia, the kind of town where generations of men were coal miners because that’s all there was, unless you were a football star.  But Homer Hickam was no football star.  So he had to dream another dream.  His dream was to go to college and build rockets that would change the world.    His plan of action?  To mastermind with the geekiest kid in the school and teach himself to learn advanced math so that he could build a rocket that would go straight up into the sky.  He was ridiculed by his friends and family, because he had no money and no means to get the supplies he needed.  But by putting their heads together, and keeping a positive mental attitude, they scraped up enough money to build several test rockets.  With the support of just two adults who believed in them, Miss Riley and Mr. Bowlin, and with a persistance that just wouldn’t quit, the 4 high schoolers made their way to the National Science Fair and won their place in history.  Because of Homer Hickam, America has seen space.
 
When asked why he wouldn’t just quit under all of his failures, Homer said, “I can’t.”  And he didn’t.
 
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So, back to resolutions.  New Year’s Resolutions are doomed to failure.  But life resolutions, now that’s worth living for.
 
 
 
 

Week 13 – Shhhhh! It’s a Secret!!!

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I worked in the hotel industry for almost 40 years.  31 of them was at the same company.  I saw lots of renovations, from bedspread changes to a complete overhaul of an entire street that went from having 5 old hotels on it to one beautiful hotel surrounded by gorgeous grounds and resort shops and restaurants.  It totally revitalized Waikiki.  Because I was in the Sales and Marketing Department, I saw the concept drawings for that entire resort area, including the new hotel .  The details were staggering, and to watch each piece come to life was a fantastic experience.  To think that SOMEONE had to CREATE the concepts of that resort area in their mind before it was ever put on paper, is literally mind-boggling.  But until they did that, nothing could have been built, and Waikiki would still be old and unattractive, and we would not have the beautiful Waikiki BeachWalk that millions of visitors now enjoy.

We are down to the last few days of 2013.  It’s time for me to get a fresh new sheet of paper and draft out what my 2014 will be like.  2013 was a transition year for me.  I left my job of 31 years to become a full-time entrepreneur.  Giving up my “secure” job was a decision I didn’t make lightly, but I had my goals set, and leaving my job allowed me to reach some of  them.  One goal was going to Europe “someday”, and I checked that one off my bucket list when I went to Italy in September.   Another goal was to make enough money to allow my husband the choice to leave his job.  He left in August.  So all in all, it was a successful year.  But it’s not enough.  

In “The Strangest Secret”, Earl Nightingale says that only 5% of the population writes down their goals.  That means that 95% of the population are going through life with no direction.  He also says that in order to be successful, we need to not focus on the money, but instead focus on the service we can give first, and then there will be no limit to the abundance and prosperity that awaits us.  That speaks straight to my heart.  2014 will be a year of service for me.  Service to my team, to my church, to my family, to my God.  So here I go!

 

Week 12 – Lions and Tigers and Alligators, Oh My!

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When my son Lydell was very young, he hated brushing his teeth.  He would cry, act like he was gagging, try to get off the counter.  So I started to play a game with him.  I’d say, in my little mommy singsongy voice:  “What do I see in there????  I see a little alligator!  Let’s get him!!!”  His eyes would get big and then he would open his mouth and let me get that little critter out of there, while he would laugh and laugh.  And every night, I’d think of another little beast that appeared in his mouth.  I don’t think he ever had any cavities because he was so careful to get rid of all the monsters lurking in his little mouth.  (Moms are so sneaky, aren’t they?)  I guess I didn’t know that I was only following the Laws of Dual Thought and Substitution.  You cannot think of two things at the same time.  You also can’t be angry and happy at the same time.  

As I wrote in last week’s blog, we are renovating our house.  I’ve heard it said that one of the biggest causes of divorce is home renovations, and now I know why!  This is actually the second home renovation we are going through, but it’s been extremely long and stressful.  Though I would never divorce my husband, today was one of those days where I would have been happy to take a vacation without him!  But as I was driving, and found myself feeling angry, I decided to search for that happy memory that would make me smile and replace that angry feeling I was having.  I searched deep, and remembered our first date.  He was so handsome, all dressed up, even though we weren’t going out anywhere.  And then he sat down and played a song from Phantom of the Opera on the piano for me.  Oh my!  I love musicals and I particularly love that song.  In an INSTANT, my heart melted, and I felt myself remembering how much I loved listening to him play, and how gifted he was.  It was like magic!

I can feel my old blueprint fading away week by week.  I think maybe this will be the week that I can go for more than a day on the Mental Diet without starting over every hour!   I know the trick now!

Week 11 – The Gift of Faith

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I never believed in Santa or the Easter Bunny.  But I believed in the Tooth Fairy.  With my whole heart.  For real.

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It was always such a thrill to lose a tooth because no matter where I hid that thing in my pillow case, voila!  The next morning, there was a shiny new dime!  I don’t remember ever believing in something with more faith (other than God), than that beautiful Tooth Fairy.  I’d never caught her, ever!  I never saw even a flash of her wings, though I KNOW she was THERE!  After all, WHO ELSE would know exactly where I had hidden that itty bitty tooth???  She was as real to me as real can be.  I BELIEVED.

If anybody had told me that she wasn’t for real, I would have defended her to the death!  I BELIEVED.  150%.  Until I was 14.

I remember losing a tooth and not telling my mom, but placing it under my pillow anyway, KNOWING that the awesome Tooth Fairy would pay me a visit that night.

But she didn’t.  Maybe she didn’t find it cause I hid it so well this time?

So I gave her another chance.

The next morning, nothing.

So this time, I told my brothers about it, how I hid my tooth so well that the Tooth Fairy couldn’t find it for the time in my life.  When they burst out laughing and said, oh you’re so gullible!  (Remember, I was 14, so they were also teenagers, and you know how teenagers are!)  I was devastated!!!   How could it be???  The Beautiful Tooth Fairy, not real????  I was so broken hearted over the end of that dream.

But, unlike many, I didn’t give up having faith.  For some, that would have made them jaded against any faith at all, in anything.  Faith has always been one of the gifts God gave me.  I believe in His Word that says “Therefore I tell you, whatever you ask for in prayer, believe that you have received it, and it will be yours.”  (Mark 11:24).

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When I wrote my DMP, I initially wrote that I would be in my house in June of 2014.  My Sensei challenged me to change that date to December 31, 2013.  What????  Let me explain.  We bought this house in June of 2007.  It wasn’t an old house, but my husband didn’t care for the design, and completely gutted it with the intent to renovate and be in the house by Christmas 2007.  One thing led to another, and before you knew it, we were 3 years in.  4 years in.  5 years in.  6 years in.  I had completely given up hope that we would ever be in the house.  It depressed me to be living in a studio for 6 years, having no kitchen and no space or privacy.  Don’t get me wrong, I am completely grateful that we had a roof over our heads, but I NEEDED A HOME.  But it just wasn’t happening.  Between disappearing contractors, lost access to our backyard, unavailability of skilled workers, we were going on 7 years, and I had given up hope.  But when Sensei told me to change the date to December 31, 2013, I sighed and changed it.  Whatever.  (Such a stinky attitude yeah?)

That’s when the real work started.

I had to go on the belief that God was in control, not me.  And if He wanted us in the house by December 31, 2013, He would make it happen.  I gave it up to Him.   And that’s when my faith kicked in again.  Total, 100%, Tooth Fairy-like faith, that we would be in the house by December 31, 2013.  I showed my husband my new DMP in October, and he said, I don’t know, honey, I can’t promise you that will happen.  But I said, it’s on there now, and I’m not changing it.

I read my DMP with gusto every day.  I recorded it to a song that meant a lot to me and I read my DMP as a prayer.  I do not believe that God is the Tooth Fairy, but I do believe that He will hear my prayers and see my faith.

There was so much left to do.  And there is still so much to do.  But I’m clinging onto that faith that we will be celebrating our anniversary in that house on December 31, 2013.   Stay tuned.

Week 10 – Step by Step

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I was a latebloomer to exercise.  I was always one of the last to be picked for the school sports teams, and let’s just say that I’ve been kissed by more dodge balls in the face than a cute little girl should!  So for me, the safest form of exercise was walking.  I walked everywhere.  Up and down Waikiki on Kalakaua Avenue.  Up and down Kaimuki from Granny’s house to the library and theatre.  Up and down my hill from the bus stop to my house in Manoa.  I loved to walk!  The longer the distance, the better.

I did my first long charity walk when I was 12.  My dad and I didn’t train (at least I don’t remember training), but we walked the 23 miles of the Walk for Mankind, from downtown to Hawaii Kai.  I didn’t even realize it was that long and I don’t remember thinking it was a big deal. Ah, youth!  (I wonder how my dad felt, though???)

So when the Honolulu Marathons started 2 years after that, I always knew I was going to do one eventually.  I had to wait until I was 41 to make that happen.

I joined a marathon training group and trained diligently for six months.  I was never a runner, always a walker, but had a pretty good pace of 12 minutes per mile.  As the race grew closer, I felt strong and ready.  And then I got rear-ended while driving one week before the marathon. My car was totaled.  I should have gone to a doctor, but didn’t because I felt ok.  Silly me!

So I still did the marathon.  The first 6 miles was okay.  But by the time I was at the half, my back was in spasms.  Thankfully, my walking partner was a physical therapist, so we pulled onto the side and stretched for 15 minutes.  Yes, I lost time, but there was no way I could have gone on without that stretch and some Advil.  

I will persist until I succeed.

The rest of the race was tough.  I wanted to give up because my back was hurting.  

The prizes of life are at the end of each journey, not near the beginning; and it is not given to me to know how many steps are necessary in order to reach my goal.

My friend kept telling me, we’re almost there! Just keep putting one foot in front of the other.  We’ll make it!

Failure I may still encounter at the thousandth step, yet success hides behind the next bend in the road.

I saw people in pain or sick on the side of the road.  

Always will I take another step.  If that is of no avail I will take another, and yet another.  

And then, we came to Diamond Head, only 1 mile out from the finish line.  There, we came across my walking coach who was bent over in pain from a pulled groin muscle.  I forgot my own pain and instead turned into the encourager for that last mile of the race.

In truth, one step at a time is not too difficult.

Come on, you can do it!  We’re almost there!  Just a few more feet!  Look, look!  The finish line is RIGHT THERE!!!  Let’s finish together!  WE DID IT!!!!

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Week 9 – Color by the Numbers

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One of my most favorite things I loved doing as a child was coloring by numbers.   I had entire books filled with black and white drawings that were sectioned off in such random sections.  In each section was a number.  And then there was a legend at the bottom of the page.  1 is yellow.  2 is orange.  3 is red.  4 is blue.  5 is green.  6 is purple.  All I had to do was find all the 1’s and color it yellow, then move on to the next color.  I am not naturally gifted artistically, so it always made me feel so excited when I saw a beautiful picture emerging like magic!   I would color every single picture in my coloring books and feel like Leonardo Da Vinci!  Even today, there are adult parties where you can paint by the numbers (with a glass of wine nearby!), and these parties are a hit!  

These last 9 weeks have been like coloring by the numbers for me.  The concepts have been difficult for me to grasp, but I’ve been doing the exercises anyway.  Mark and Davene talked a lot about trusting them that this would create a beautiful outcome.   What I am finding out is that I’ve been sleep-walking through most of my adult life.  I thought I had goals and dreams, but now that we are thinking about them every day, I’m learning that I’m still dreaming someone else’s dreams for me, and what I thought was important is not bringing me peace.  I don’t really want anything material for myself.  I want to give as much away as possible.  So my dream of going on a cruise or having tons of money in the bank feels yucky to me now.  Time to go back to the drawing board and see who the real Fran is.

Aside

Week 8 – The Secret to Perfect Cheesecake

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ImageI really like to bake.  Cheesecakes, cookies, pies, layer cakes, and ooey gooey brownies made with my secret ingredient are my specialties.  Years ago, I made a to-die-for chocolate cheesecake and brought some to work (cause although I love to bake, I loved to share even more, and I couldn’t afford all of those calories!), and one of the new guys in the office had a piece.  (He was totally GORGEOUS, by the way!)  He said he would take it home for later, which he did.  The next day he came in and I asked him how he liked it.  He said, let me put it this way:  if you have a clone, I’d like to meet her!  O-M-GEEEE!!!!  Three years later, I married that man!  ❤

I still bake for him, but of course, not in the same way.  We have become more educated on ingredients, so now I use organic eggs instead of regular, almond milk instead of cow’s milk, and unsweetened applesauce or pureed mangos instead of oil in his favorite banana bread recipe.  Those kinds of substitutions are easy to make.  Other kinds are trickier, like using agave nectar instead of sugar.  If you don’t measure it right, you could ruin the whole batch.  So I’m very careful about what I can and cannot exchange in my recipes, cause we want to keep the hunky hubby happy, you know!

Thoughts are kind of like that.  You might be having a great day, and then something happens that seemingly ruins the rest of it.  Last week, we were asked to be on a Mental Diet, and if a negative thought came into our head, we were to substitute it with a constructive thought.  I struggled with it last week because I was so nervous about leading worship as the Worship Leader (not as my normal backup role) at my church, and I didn’t feel prepared and kept imagining the worse.  We didn’t have a lead musician, and I’m a singer, not a musician, and we were only able to rehearse once, and it was a really rough practice since I could not communicate how I wanted the musicians to play the songs I chose.  We didn’t have time to get it right, and one negative thought turned into an avalanche of negativity.  Panic, panic, panic!

My Sensei (mentor) told me that God would not let me fail if I left it up to Him to guide the team.  So I used the Law of Substitution and focused on the vision of my team doing a perfect worship set that would bring honor to Him and bless the congregation instead of my self-centered worried thoughts.  I imagined us in perfect harmony and time for every song.   I “heard” my own voice in perfect pitch and full of emotion.  I “saw” the congregation lost in the worship and not focused on me at all.

I prayerfully sang my little heart out at a Women’s Conference on Saturday and 2 worship services on Sunday.  My Sensei was right.  God took over and so many people came up to me after each performance and said they were totally blessed by our songs.  I was so humbled.  The Master Key says that it is the Law which makes the Universe one grand paean of Harmony.  Totally agree.

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Week 7 – Carrot and Celery Sticks

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4 years ago, I had a severe case of eczema that covered over 80% of my body.  The itch went deep down into the layers of my skin, down to the bone.  I could never get relief.  I couldn’t sleep more than a few minutes at a time, and most nights woke up to rub my skin with ice to numb the itch for a few hours.  I looked like I had leprosy.  It was horrible.  

As a fitness coach, this was catastrophic not only for my business, but for my mental health as well.  So I sought out a highly recommended naturepathic doctor who diagnosed me as having a bad case of candida, and put me on a super strict Anti-Candida Diet.  I had to cut out dairy, soy, corn, flours, sugar, vinegar, nightshade vegetables, grains, and all kinds of other things that left me wondering what the heck I COULD eat.  But I was desperate to heal my body and get back to normal.  So, for over 9 months, I followed the Anti-Candida Diet to a T, never deviating or cheating once.  I took my supplements as prescribed, gave up my favorite health shake and fruits (I have beautiful mangos and bananas that grow in my yard, and I couldn’t have any of them!), no ice cream or cupcakes on my birthday, and ate plain salad and sashime everytime we were invited out.  It was one of the hardest things I have ever done, and yet, I did it gladly because I could see in my mind how my skin would look like when my eczema was gone.

Because fitness is my business, diet is a big part of the support I give to my customers.  It’s not easy to change your lifestyle, and unless you were faced with a situation like mine, where your diet affects your mental and emotional health enough for you to do something about it, most people just accept the way their lives are.  

So this week, we were asked to go on a Mental Diet and fast from all negative thoughts for an entire week.  I cannot allow myself to dwell for a single moment on any kind of negative thought.  Not for a single moment!  If I give in, I must start all over again.  Tough stuff!  I am learning that I need to not only not dwell on a negative thought, but I must REPLACE it with a positive thought.  That’s the only guaranteed way to kick it out of my mind.  It’s been a hard exercise, and I start over every 5 minutes.   But I MUST learn to do it.  Emmet Fox, author of the Mental Diet says:

I cannot be healthy; I cannot be happy; I cannot be prosperous, if I have a bad disposition.  

If I am sulky, or surly, or cynical, or depressed, or superior, or frightened half out of my wits,

my life cannot possibly be worth living.

I’ve caught myself several times.  My ego gets in the way and I have to start over again.  Sigh.  I know I’ll get it. I am envisioning my mind as healthy, clean, pure, happy, and lighter.  It will happen.