Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Dale Carnegie is Right!

Today my husband and I got our drivers licenses renewed. I was prepared to wait for an eternity but surprisingly it wasn't too busy. A man helped us at the information desk and I decided while watching him that I would try some new skills I'm learning from Dale Carnegie's How To Win Friends and Influence People.

He asked us if we knew a gentleman with our same last name. My husband responded that he didn't and the subject seemed to be dropped. But I noticed he was interested in his friend so I said enthusiastically, "I bet his a great guy though!"

The man immediately brightened up and said, "You better believe he's a **** good person." He proceeded to tell us exactly what we should do so that we could be helped the quickest. And then, while we filled out our applications in the waiting area, he came over and gave us numbers so that we would be called next! He totally went out of his way just because I had showed interest in a friend of his. I'm a convert : )

Monday, January 23, 2012

Reprogramming the Elephant

I recently listened to a talk about the concept of the subconscious vs. the conscious mind. In the speech by Orrin Woodward, he refers to the book The Ant and the Elephant: Leadership For the Self by Vince Poscente. I have yet to read the book but it is definitely on the must-read list.

The basic idea is that as humans, we have so much untapped potential in our subconscious minds. The subconscious mind fires something like 4 billion neurons per second while the conscious mind fires approximately 2,000 neurons per second. The author compares the subconscious with all this activity to an elephant while the conscious mind is likened to an ant.

How do we tap into that powerful potential of our elephants? When you think about how much an elephant eats compared to an ant, you can easily understand that our elephants eat everyday, whether or not WE feed it. Our minds are constantly being programmed with images, ideas, scripting, etc. Take for example watching the television. Images are constantly flashing on our mind's eye with words and ideas. Just the thought makes me feel vulnerable.

I remember after serving a mission for my church, some friends took me to a movie. It was one of the "Mission Impossible" movies and I just remember feeling assaulted. It was an overload of visual chaos to me after not having watched any kind of show for almost 2 years.

Media is not the only food we feed our elephants. Each of us has a script running through our minds. We are constantly creating our story by the way we think of ourselves, our relationships and surroundings, etc. Have you ever stopped to think, "What am I thinking?"

In order to tap into the power of the elephant and get him to do what our ant wants, we need to reprogram him. Positive affirmations are one way we can do this. I pay attention to my negative scripting and then rewrite my story according to what I really want. Then I read them to myself at least once a day.

My husband and I also have a HUGE vision board on the wall in our room with images that show our affirmations. We started writing things on our mirror 10 years ago when we wanted to move back to the west to be near my father-in-law who was in poor health. We posted a map with stickers on the cities we would like to live and we wrote on it: "We are back in the west by Oct. 2003". Within a month of that date we were moving into our new house in one of the cities with a sticker on it.

Reprogramming the elephant really works. I want to be in charge of what I put into my mind! Imagine what we can do if the elephant and the ant worked together to accomplish our personal purposes while we are here on earth. I can see the ant riding the elephant right now...I got another image for my vision board!

Sunday, January 22, 2012

A Great Quote

“Woman is God’s supreme creation. Only after the earth had been formed, after the day had been separated from the night, after the waters had been divided from the land, after vegetation and animal life had been created, and after man had been placed on the earth, was woman created; and only then was the work pronounced complete and good.

“Of all the creations of the Almighty, there is none more beautiful, none more inspiring than a lovely daughter of God who walks in virtue with an understanding of why she should do so, who honors and respects her body as a thing sacred and divine, who cultivates her mind and constantly enlarges the horizon of her understanding, who nurtures her spirit with everlasting truth.”

~Gordon B. Hinckley

Saturday, January 21, 2012

The Principle of Preparation

This is a paper I wrote last year. I needed to review the principle so I thought I'd share it here. It's a bit lengthy so feel free to skim...

My eyelids pop open with the realization that today promises to be an impossible day. The tasks before me loom like an ominous, dark cloud and that familiar feeling of dread begins to creep into my being. My feet barely hit the floor before to-dos tumble around in my mind: home school, chores, morning routine, laundry, Liberty Girls, basketball practice, drama class, and the decision of what to make for dinner that would be easy, quick and healthy, knowing we have little food to work with because I need to go shopping. Just the thought makes me want to lie back down and pull the covers over my head.

We’ve all had those days where it is not humanly possible to squeeze in all that we think we need to accomplish. Yet there are people who seem to pull it off. Mr. Gilbreth in Cheaper by the Dozen achieves record time as his family prepares for an outing or when all twelve children are dressed, the morning routine done like clockwork. What is the difference? Why can some seem to accomplish so much in little time while others scramble to keep their heads on straight?

Some may argue that having systems in place ensure the Gilbreth family success with the to-dos in a family of fourteen. While certainly systems account for their time breaking records, I wish to explore an even more fundamental level of his accomplishments—preparation. In Webster’s Dictionary the word “prepare” is defined as “to make ready beforehand for some purpose, use or activity” and also “to put in a proper state of mind.” The motion study expert and father of twelve had to identify what end result he desired and then prepare a system that would answer that end. He spent time teaching and drilling the children to respond quickly when asked. His whole profession involved an in-depth study of the most efficient way to carry out tasks and then spent his time preparing his subjects to execute at that level.

The definition “to make ready beforehand for some purpose” calls to mind another large family on the other side of the globe. Imagine for a moment that you are in the countryside surrounding Salzburg, Austria in the early 1940s on Easter Sunday. “This morning, when the families walk to church, you see them carrying bundles large and small. On the Sunday of Sundays even the food which will be on the table later for sumptuous Easter breakfast is blessed [by the priest]. The father carries the big ham, the mother, the artistically baked Easter bread with raisins popping out all over, and the children are entrusted with the basketsful of Easter eggs and little dishes of salt.” In The Story of the Trapp Family Singers, Maria Augusta Trapp details how all this food is then blessed by the priest.

In our day and age we would scoff at all that extra work while chiding to “keep it simple”. However the longer I consider the Catholics in Austria, the more I realize the “extra” work they did was a form of worship, a way to adore the Lord for His ultimate sacrifice. They spent the beginning of Easter holidays in “feverish” spring cleaning mirroring the internal cleansing that occurs during Lent. Everything they did during the Easter season symbolized their adoration for the Lord.

The Austrian Easter ceremony caused me to reflect on the scriptures. What does God have to say about the topic of preparation? The entire mission of John the Baptist was to “prepare” the way of the Lord. Why was his calling so important? What would cause the Lord to say to the multitudes about John, “But what went ye out for to see? A prophet? yea, I say unto you, and more than a prophet. For this is he, of whom it is written, Behold, I send my messenger before thy face, which shall prepare thy way before thee. Verily I say unto you, Among them that are born of women there hath not risen a greater than John the Baptist…” (Matthew 11:9-11)?

These questions lead to more which in turn lead me to the answer for which I seek. What if John the Baptist never came? What would have happened when the Lord came into the world? I can imagine that the people would not be, using Webster’s words, “put in the proper state of mind.” There is that theme again, anticipating or preparing for the Lord is part of worshipping him. The people needed to know he was coming so they would be ready to accept him as their Savior.

Another prophet spent a good portion of his life preparing. “By faith Noah, being warned of God of things not seen as yet, moved with fear, prepared an ark to the saving of his house; by the which he condemned the world…” (Hebrews 11:7) Not only did he build the physical structure, he gathered two of every animal, seeds and food, not to mention preparing his family for the impending journey. Noah showed his great faith by acting when the Lord commanded. Each act of preparation must have been for Noah an act of faith, a way to worship God.

Just as God commanded Noah, He has given us commandments that if we heed can allow us to show our faith in Him. In Doctrine and Covenants 85:3 it states, “He may tithe his people to prepare them.” How is living the law of the tithe preparation? By sacrificing we learn to a small degree to be like the Savior who sacrificed His life. We will also be prepared to live the law of consecration. God teaches his children in Doctrine and Covenants 38:30, “If ye are prepared ye shall not fear.” We can find comfort in preparing for emergencies, storing food, saving money for a rainy day and doing our family history. Many of God’s commandments share an element of preparation since the scriptures tell us that “this life is a time to prepare to meet God.” (Alma 12:24) By preparing we can show our love and devotion to God. We are promised that “eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, neither have entered into the heart of man, the things which God hath prepared for them that love him.” (1 Corinthians 2:9)

We get a glimpse of these blessings in the temple. Everything we do in the temple has to do with preparation. The ordinances help prepare us and others to return to live with our Heavenly Father. Once while living in New York I arrived just in time, but rushed to a temple session. My mind was racing with everything I needed to do before I could enter the endowment room. Later as I sat pondering how I treated a trip to the Lord’s holy house, I was struck by my lack of devotion. My mind was not clear and ready to worship or receive much needed revelation. I vowed to be better prepared when attending the temple. Around that same time, a sweet, elderly sister taught us how to care for our temple clothes. As I did as she had taught and washed my temple clothes, I was again struck at how even preparing to enter the temple is a form of worship.

Formally worshipping the Lord in the temple obviously shows our faith and devotion, but does the principle of preparation apply temporally? How does the Gilbreth children executing record time in anticipation of an outing show adoration to the Lord? Everyone is given the same amount of time in this life. We are stewards over that time. H. Jackson Brown, Jr. counsels, “Don't say you don't have enough time. You have exactly the same number of hours per day that were given to Helen Keller, Pasteur, Michaelangelo, Mother Teresa, Leonardo da Vinci, Thomas Jefferson, and Albert Einstein.” By using the time we have been given wisely, we can in effect show our respect to the Giver of the gift.

Attitude and awareness are the defining elements. The manner in which I prepare a meal for my family, prepare clothes by doing the laundry, or prepare my children for bedtime can show my adoration and faith if I do so with an attitude of devotion. Making time for each activity throughout my week creates space: space to love and play with my children, space to pray, space to hear and act upon promptings. This space can potentially eliminate impatience, hurrying, tardiness, frustration and the destructive effects to relationships and our personal state of being these negative experiences can cause. By using the time God has given me in an efficient way, I can show my gratitude and respect. I will become an instrument in the Lord’s hands available to His inspiration and guidance. No longer will I crawl back in bed defeated, I will welcome each day with peace and confidence. It’s about time.

Friday, January 20, 2012

Bad Frogs

Do you remember the scene in "Bedtime Stories" with Adam Sandler where he's reading story books to his niece and nephew? I can't remember the titles exactly but the books were something like Chipmunk Wears a Bike Helmet and Larry the Alligator Recycles. Under his breath he remarks that he refuses to read these socialist books. It's what causes him to tell his own story.

Yesterday I came home from running errands and my little ones were purposely trying to be naughty. The older kids explained that while I was gone, my mom had read a library book one of my children randomly chose from off the shelf. It is entitled Bad Frogs by Thacher Hurd. These bad frogs do everything possible wrong including kissing their girlfriends late into the night.

Usually books with naughty characters have a redeeming ending. Much like the story of The Best Christmas Pageant Ever by Barbara Johnson, the Herdmans are an unruly set of siblings who terrorize the neighborhood only to end up stars of the local church Christmas pageant. It was a touching version of the Christ's birth that gives the reader a different perspective of the age old history.

Bad Frogs had no such redeeming value. These bad frogs slurp, burp, wear bad hats, smell yucky, talk crummy, make messes, spill water out of the bath tub, never say please, never say thank you, and it goes on. Pretty much everything we painstakingly try to teach our little ones not to do everyday. The truly alarming thing is how well it works. My children copied every behavior possible.

It appeals to the natural man disregarding conscience and morals. About this book the author says, "This has been a fascinating experience for me; to create a book about pure, unadulterated froggy joy."

When preparing a lecture or writing a paper, I've been taught to ask the questions, "What do I want my reader/listener to know as a result of my presentation? What do I want them to feel? and What do I want them to do?" I frequently ask these questions about the books I read so that I can uncover the author's message. These questions reveal to me a scary agenda now infiltrating literature meant for the rising generation.

This book skips socialism and goes straight to promoting communism. If there are no morals, no religion, and everyone seeks to please #1, then we will need a government that controls with a heavy hand. Our key to freedom is self-government and as we drift from that ideal, government puts more laws in place to keep order. Benjamin Franklin said, "[O]nly a virtuous people are capable of freedom. As nations become corrupt and vicious, they have more need of masters."

Let's borrow a page from Adam Sandler (never thought I'd say that ;-) and write our own story. I told my children the true story of Bad Frogs and they keep looking over my shoulder as I write this post. I can to appeal to my library and write a letter to the publisher. My own story will be fighting for freedom, even in the small and simple things like a seemingly harmless children's book...

Thursday, January 19, 2012


It's 8:22 am, I haven't finished my Morning Routine from my previous post, and I'm rushing to write a post so that I can begin our Morning Devotional on time. I take great comfort in a journal entry by John Adams recorded on July 21, 1756:

I am resolved to rise with the sun and to study Scriptures on Thursday, Friday, Saturday, and Sunday mornings, and to study some Latin author the other three mornings. Noons and nights I intend to read English authors....I will rouse up my mind and fix my attention. I will stand collected within myself and think upon what I read and what I see. I will strive with all my soul to be something more than persons who have had less advantages than myself.

But the next morning he slept until seven and a one-line entry the following week read, "A very rainy day. Dreamed away the time." (McCullough, John Adams, p. 41)

He became a great statesman so I am hoping there is a wide margin for error : )

Wednesday, January 18, 2012


Aristotle said, "We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, then, is not an act, but a habit." What kind of habits do we have? Are they leading us toward excellence or mediocrity?

In Noah Websters 1828 Dictionary, habit is defined as "a disposition or condition of the mind or body acquired by custom or a frequent repetition of the same act. Habit is that which is held or retained, the effect of custom or frequent repetition."

I take heart in this definition since the "condition of the mind or body" are faculties over which we have control. We do not have to become victims to our default habits. We have power to create habits that will lead us to success.

How do you know which habits to make? That may seem like a simple question, but LEMI offers a whole conference call on "Forms". A form is a model, system or pattern. Simply stated a form is the way we do things. Once I learned about forms, all of a sudden they started to pop up all over the place.

We see different ways to govern, ways we handle the preparation of food, ways we get up in the morning, ways we clean the house, etc. The reason this is so crucial is because seeing forms allows us to proactively create success-leading habits. First we need to define what kind of form we are operating under. For example, how do we govern our homes and family? If we find ourselves yelling and ordering everyone around, then we can zoom out and realize the form of government we are following is akin to a dictatorship. Once recognized we can align our behavior with the form of government we desire in our home.

Since I'm in love with Fly Lady's system, I will use that as an example. What she does in essence is give those willing to be mentored a system or form for cleaning our homes. She has created a Morning Routine (to which I added some of my own) that I follow everyday (or almost everyday ; )

Morning Routine:
Read Scriptures & Pray
Exercise for Well Being
Get Dressed from head to toe, including make-up and brushing teeth
Swish & Swipe (1-2 minute wipe down of bathroom)
Check Calendar
Unload Dishwasher
Reboot Laundry (sort, wash, dry, fold, put away one load)

After following this routine for 4 months, it has started to become my own. I realized this morning that these habits I am creating help set the proper tone for my entire day. They are habits that lead me to success.

As I develop these success-promoting habits, I naturally turn to my children to help them establish good habits of their own. Then it hit me! That is really the Core (yes as in Core Phase : ) of a Thomas Jefferson Education. We are not trying to fill their minds with all sorts of facts, we are teaching them excellent habits that help to create the inspiring environment that will ignite their fire of curiosity and learning.

If you don't like the way your morning goes or how you handle the dinner hour, simply zoom out and recognize what form you follow. Then choose which form you would like and begin making the habits that lead to success! I'm off to practice what I preach : )