Landmark Education and the Landmark Forum

April 10, 2009

Reconnecting with Family

Filed under: Breakthrough Results, inspiration — Tags: , , — landmarkeducationinaustralia @ 3:31 pm

Sometimes I come across something on the net that is so heartfelt, so moving, that it reminds me why I started this blog in the first place. I won’t ruin it by saying too much – Just read parts of it below. And, needless to say, check, out the whole ‘Love one Another‘ blog post.

Love one Another

Do we know the people we love?    We say we  do, we say we love them,   we feel love when we think about them – and often, those real moments of love in which we can feel the love itself – are hidden in the folds of daily life,  the worry that permeates our world in these times,  the routine of automatic communication that leaves no room for the beauty of what love truly is.

When I first started in transformation education at Landmark Education, there was a course I took in which we had to create a “map” of our closest circle – those people who are in our lives on a regular basis, with whom we interact daily, or at least weekly, who create the fabric of our lives.

My map was virtually empty – my son and my ex-husband and a sprinkling of friends around the country.  I realized that I didn’t have a circle – I didn’t have a community, I didn’t have many people with whom to weave a rich, textured fabric in my own life.

In that moment, I took a stand that my family would be what I would transform for myself – I would get in communication, I would learn about their lives, I would be there for them, I would love them.

So, let me tell you about my brother, Ralph. He is strong and dependable and has always been there for his family. He’s not quite a year younger than I am – something we joke about, that we are the same age for four days out of the year. He’s married to his high school sweetheart and has four girls, Nicole, Tiffany, and the twins, Jacki and Julie. He is an engineer by education and worked at Rohm and Haas for all of his working years, retiring in January of 2007.

And he never talks. Not that he can’t talk – he doesn’t talk. Or he didn’t talk to me, anyway. To illustrate, I was in a car with him for a long ride about 10 years ago, babbling away in the seat beside him until I realized he hadn’t said anything for a quite some time. I said, “My jaws hurt from talking so much! It’s your turn. Tell me what has been going on with you.” After we laughed at the strange injury to my jaw, I shut up and we continue driving.

We rode in silence for 15 minutes. Finally, the silence was unbearable!  I turned to him and said, “I can’t stand it any longer…! Aren’t you going to say anything?” We both laughed and that was the end of that.  We continued on and I talked the entire time.  I never did know anything that was going on for him.

I had rarely seen or spoken to him since.

I took my stand for love and family.  I started calling my brothers and sister… and little by little, I was invited to family events and dinners. The summer after, I was invited to my brother, Ralph’s, house in Avalon with his family for their yearly summer vacation.

Before I left, I actually thought about who I would BE in the presence of his family — I didn’t want it to go the way it’s always gone – a lot of automatic interactions, a lot of opinions and defenses, a lot of awkward moments – and my brother, once again silent in my presence.   And so, I created myself as being Love, no matter what came up, no matter what anyone said — I would not babble, I would not lecture, I would not talk all the time – I would not defend my opinions or positions about anything. I would just let it all be the way it was and simply love them.

The week was beautiful — the grandchildren were there – Sophia, Luke, and Olivia — and so it had that magical quality that young children always bring to a space… laughing and running around and giggling – running into the waves at the beach and getting sand all over us — I let myself get carried away with it all.

Finally, on the last day I was there, everyone else had gone to the beach and my brother and I were talking at the house about the plant he had just finished building in Shanghai. He had spent almost 2 weeks out of every month traveling to China for the three years prior to his retirement. He mentioned that he had pictures of the plant.

Ordinarily, I wouldn’t have asked to see them. My Goodness! It was a plant for  — I didn’t even know what kind of products! This time, I heard something in my brother’s voice…. I asked to see the pictures. He seemed surprised but pulled out his laptop and started showing me hundreds of pictures of this project in Shanghai that had consumed his life for all this time.

The more pictures he showed me, the more he spoke — he pointed out the glass walls, the interior details, and the “water element” that the Chinese people believe is good luck… how challenging it was to create this side of the building or that pond….  I heard his admiration for the Chinese people and his love of their country.

I was looking at the pictures and I was glancing at my brother’s face… how animated he became as he spoke of something that he had devoted his life to over the past three years…!  I realized that this was the first time I had ever truly listened to him.  He had a whole life I never knew about – a passion that excited him and was a driving force in his life – all hidden from my view!

I was overwhelmed with love for him.

I was suddenly sorry that this had only come up on the last day.   I wanted to sit there and listen to him for hours more…   I didn’t want this time to end.

Soon, it was time for me to leave to take the bus back to Manhattan.

I gathered my belongings and positioned my suitcase by the door. I walked back to where my brother was sitting, now watching one of his favorite car races on television. I leaned over and kissed him on the cheek, “I love you so much,” I said and turned to go. I heard his voice as I walked away….

“Same here,” he said.

May 27, 2008

600 bucks for nothing and everything – A Landmark Education Review

Filed under: Breakthrough Results, inspiration — Tags: , , , — landmarkeducationinaustralia @ 6:23 pm

I just read a story on a website that reminded me of why I started this blog, and why so many people take part in this profound education. It’s about a man’s experience in the Landmark Forum, and while it’s extraordinary, I don’t think it’s unusual. If you want a review of the Landmark Forum, here it is:

600 Bucks for Nothing and Everything

I spent the last three beautiful sunny days sitting on a very uncomfortable chair from 9 am until 10 pm and still can’t feel my butt. I attended the Landmark forum that teaches the curriculum of living, and registered for the forum because my wife wanted me to. The management of the company where she works sees the benefit in it.

So, I first registered for the forum and then googled it to see what others think about it (as always, looking for the negative comments). What I found were the stories about brain washing, cult, scam, etc. In spite of all this, for the love of my life I decided to go (instead of buying a home theatre at Costco). Actually I wasn’t completely happy with some areas in my life, so I was curious to see if I can learn something that could possibly help me to make some changes.

I was probably the biggest skeptic among the 118 people in the room (not only because I am 6′4 and over 240 pounds). The instructor started by briefly telling us what the forum is about. Then he said that we paid $595 for nothing, at the end of the forum we are going to get nothing out of it. (??!!) Then he added that those who want to leave will get their money back. Dead silence for 30 seconds. Nobody left (I was thinking about that home theatre for a sec…) He continued by telling us what was going to happen over the next three days plus one evening is similar to how the popcorn is made in a microwave: first you have heat only, than you hear pop, then heat and sporadic pop, and then pop-pop and pop-pop-pop, and then pop-pop-pop-pop-pop-pop-pop-pop-pop-pop-pop-pop, and then again pop-pop , and pop, and nothing for a while and then one more pop. It turned out that each of these pops was somebody’s breakthrough in different areas of their life. I was listening and crying and listening and crying again (I always thought I had no emotions, sometimes I was actually afraid of that thought).

I came to the forum thinking that my problem is a burden that I have been carrying on my back for five years now: the burden of not buying our first home or investing the $40,000 we had saved for a down payment before the real estate market went crazy. On the second day of the forum one of the assignments was to write a letter to a person with whom you think you need to improve your relationship. I wrote a short letter to my 15-year-old daughter Paloma. Then I shared the letter to a partner sitting beside us. I read the letter to an Asian girl named Cindy (one of the most sincere persons I have ever met). When I read the sentence: “I don’t want to be a father who is just commanding and telling what you did wrong, and how it is supposed to be done” Cindy added with a smile: “That’s exactly how my father behaves.” I felt the heat from the microwave for the first time.

Later in the afternoon Cindy took the microphone to share her life story with all of us. She said that she had not talked to her parents for a long time. The conversation with the instructor went something like this: “When did you last talk to your mother?” “A year ago,” she replied. “When was the last time you saw your parents?” “I live with my parents.” “The last time you spoke with your mother, what did you tell her?” (pause) “Hi.”

POP!!!!!!!!

I popped like a popcorn. For the next ten minutes I wasn’t listening; I was rolling the film of my life back to year 2004, when my daughter was 12 and I noticed that she had changed. That year she met a girl in her class who quickly became her best friend, and they spent most of the time together. She stopped listening to what I was telling her and did all the opposites. I was angry with her almost every day, and all our conversations consisted of me yelling and her apologizing. I blamed her new friend for everything. For the next four years all our conversations were me telling her what to do, what not to do, what she did wrong … I see now that I was blind to obvious: that she was entering puberty – that she wasn’t a child anymore. The frustration and fear of losing my child blinded me so much I could not see the beautiful young woman she was becoming right before my eyes! (She is my first born. I hope–I actually KNOW–that I will not be so blind when our younger daughter reaches that stage of her life.)

On a first 30 minute break I called her and she happened to be just three blocks away at her friend’s place. In five minutes we met outside, sat on the grass and after a minute of trying to catch my breath (I don’t want to say crying and weeping) I told her in detail what I had just realized. She replied “I was hoping you were going to say that…” It turns out she knew I was at the forum and knew what it was all about. For the next ten minutes we talked, cried, laughed, and then cried again. I didn’t care that people starred at us (Coal Harbour seawall on a sunny Saturday afternoon). I didn’t care about my investments. I didn’t care about anything. I GOT MY DAUGHTER BACK INTO MY LIFE.

We had ice-cream, and I walked her back to her friend’s place. I kissed her and told her I loved her. And I told her that I’m saying that because I feel that way (and I feel it with all my heart).

What I went through in those three days of the Landmark forum was the best experience in my life. It totally shifted my life. I closed the chapter of 41 years of my life, and I’m starting a new chapter with a blank, white, clean sheet of endless possibilities.

I paid $595 for “nothing” and in return I received “everything”. What I got is priceless.

I never tried Red Bull, but I must tell you that on the last night I didn’t walk back home. Yes, I got wings!!!

I have to stop here. I emptied the Kleenex box.

I’d like to thank my wife for asking me to participate in the Landmark forum (and for seeing the things that I wasn’t able to), to give a huge thanks to the Landmark staff (especially to Roger Smith, who is truly an extraordinary man), and to also thank Malcolm Cairns (the owner of the company where my wife works) for recognizing the value of the Landmark forum and sharing it with his employees. And I’d like to thank my friend Vince for helping me to share this story to all of you on the Internet who’ve just read it, for recognizing my excitement and happiness (and fixing my grammar mistakes). And finally, to the 117 other people who attended our forum (especially you, Cindy) I feel touched and honoured to have shared, encouraged, laughed, and often cried, about those powerful, intimate emotions–thank you all so much!

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