Master Key Week 13 – The Adventure Takes a Holiday

Time to Regroup

This blog-post is very tardy.  I could give all kinds of reasons/excuses, but why it’s late is really irrelevant.  I started this post back in December and managed to get sidetracked.  Suffice it to say that life happened and now I am playing catch-up – which is one of my old patterns.  I AM getting better about Doing It Now, but obviously I have room for improvement!  So here is another brick in building my castle as Og Mandino would say…

Time to Reflect

It’s week 13 and we’ve reached the halfway mark in our Master Key Adventure.  And what an adventure it’s been so far!

We’ve learned about how everything begins with a thought, that thoughts impact our emotions and the two together determine our beliefs.  The three taken together form our blueprint.

From there, the actions we take are determined by the beliefs we hold and in turn, those actions create the results we see.  For better or worse, “That’s Life!”

Is it Fate or Choice?

So it’s easy to see how we fall into thinking that life is out of our control – that things just “are the way they are.”  And it’s true – when we don’t know that we are the ones that created our blueprint in the first place, we are left with little choice but to “go with the flow.”.

Of course we had a little help along the way creating our old blueprint – help from (mostly) well-meaning parents, teachers, aunts, uncles, cousins, churches, TV, newspapers, magazines, etc, etc, etc…

But by this point in the MK course, it is obvious to us that WE are the ones who created our own blueprints.  Yes we had help, but NOW that we know that we, and we alone are the guardians to the originating thoughts that are the seeds of our blueprint, we have a choice.

We know that by changing our patterns, by changing our thoughts and infusing them with emotions, we can reset our beliefs – creating a whole new blueprint that is a more accurate reflection of who we are at our core.

Blog Continues

The previous part of this post was written in December – it’s now January 24th – Oops…  The past few weeks have been a whirlwind of ups and downs for me.  The holidays were wonderful – and not so wonderful at the same time.

I love Christmas – the music, the lights, the colors, the food, family and friends.  It has taken on a much more emotional aspect the past couple of years since I had a brush with death.  On the one hand it is easy to be grateful just to be here.  On the other hand it brings back the most poignant memories, not all of them pleasant.

But the truth is, life goes on either way.  And we can decide on which aspects to focus our attention.

Good News

My readers know that I like to share good news – here you go!

We recently learned some great news – that the negative things in our lives, our problems, the things we worry about – have no vitality of their own.  They draw their life from the attention we give them.  It’s been said that 95% of our worries NEVER HAPPEN!  Worrying is like paying interest on money that we never borrowed…

The even better news is that the things that resonate with and reflect, our passions, our gifts and talents, DO have their own vitality.  So giving attention to those things will multiply them until they dominate our thoughts, feelings, beliefs and actions.  And, obviously, the results that we create will be totally different!

Gnome in SnowNo matter where we find ourselves, there are good things and bad, positive and negative.  Like our little friend in the picture shows us, you can be happy, even when you are up to your neck in stuff!

So let’s pay attention to where we focus our attention.  Let’s focus on the good things – it makes a world of difference…

As Mark J says – “When we change the way we look at things, the things we look at change…”







Master Key Week 12 – The Adventure Gets Into the Swing of Things

Golfing as a Learning Place for Master Keys?

Golf is something I’ve enjoyed ever since I was a teenager and first set foot on a golf course.  Actually, even before that I guess.

When I was around 11 or 12 years old, my brother and I collected coffee cans – remember those? – and buried them around the lawn and played “golf” with baseball bats and some old tennis balls.  We had a nine hole course and we played it over and over!  The course wasn’t particularly well manicured, but we had fun.

The first time I got to play on a real golf course with real clubs, I was about 16.  The feel of the professionally kept greens under my feet was amazing.  That was the beginning of a love/hate relationship with playing the game.

Early Challenges

After I graduated high school in Chateaugay, NY, my summer job was as a greenskeeper at the Ausable Club in the Adirondack Mountains.   What a cool gig!  I soon became best friends with John, the caddy master, whose Dad was the teaching pro at the club.


It was amazing to watch John play the game – he made it seem so easy and effortless.  He hit the ball long and straight, pretty much every time.  I (huge understatement) did not…  That was tough, because I had excelled at almost anything I’d ever tried.

Perhaps the most amazing thing about playing with John was his patience with my lack of skill in contrast to his comparative mastery.  The other amazing thing was his frustration with himself, even though he was lightyears ahead of me.

I never really gave it too much thought until recently, some 40+ years later.

What Can We Learn?

One of the things I’ve been learning recently is the only comparison worth much of anything is to compare how I was actually doing to how well I was capable of doing.  Was I doing my best?  That was really the only question – not how did I stack up to John, or Susie or George.

Comparisons are just opinions dressed up in fancier clothes.

Another thing is to enjoy the journey, the process, instead of being so focused on the immediate result.  Sure, we all have times we’d like things to move a little faster.  We’d like to be a little better at something.  To be more “successful.”

But what is success?

Success is such a subjective and relative term.  What yardstick do you use to measure it?

Two years ago, I was so sick that I wondered if I would even survive, much less play golf again.  Or do any number of things that I had taken for granted for so many years.  So, just being alive is a major success for me!

But when I did get strong enought to play golf again, the whole game had changed.  It no longer seemed to matter very much how far, or how straight I hit the ball.  Just being out on the course was a victory.

Do I feel still frustration when I hit a “bad” shot?  Sure – for about ten seconds.  Then gratitude for being outside in such beautiful surroundings, with good friends beside me, sweep over me like a wave, and nothing else much matters.

Do I feel exhilaration when I hit a “good” shot?  Absolutely.  The joy in hitting a golf ball exactly where you want it to go is so delicious that the non-golfer can’t usually relate.  Just ask my wife Terri when I come home and regale her with my latest exploits.  She listens patiently, and she takes joy in my joy – I guess that’s a success of sorts too – but it’s not the same as my experience.

The Good News

The good news for the week is this.  Success is an inside job.

Whether it’s how you hit a golf ball, how many sales you made, how you did with your spouse/kids, or how you did ____ (fill in the blank) compared to all those other people who did even more/better/bigger than you, the only true success is how you see the guy or the gal in the mirror.  Did he or she give it their best?

Etowah North Reflection

As Og Mandino says – “Only a habit can subdue another habit…”  Perhaps the most important habit of all, and life’s greatest success, is to be grateful for each day, and to live it to its fullest potential.

And, of course, to hit it longer and straighter off the tee!

Two Balls Etowah 4thNorth.jpg



Master Key Week 11 – The Adventure Picks Up Steam

All Aboard!!

The Master Key Express is leaving the station.  And it’s picking up steam.

One of the things I’ve been noticing for the past couple of months is how often people, events and things from “outside” our class are completely in alignment with what we are learning “inside.”

For example, one of the things that Mark talked about a week or two ago was the Negativity Bias.  Guess what came up in the minister’s talk that same Sunday?  You guessed it.

I have shared some particularly poignant sections of Haanel with my wife and then she shares with me the latest recordings she’s been listening to that say exactly the same thing.  Pretty cool.

Like box cars all linked to the same train.

I Think I Can, I Think I Can – Casey Junior


I can if I will I can.  One section of my DMP statement (Definite Major Purpose) refers to the connectedness of things.  So guess what – now I’m getting bombarded with examples like the ones above showing exactly that.  Probably a coincidence – NOT!

But those examples were nothing like a commencement address Jim Carrey gave in 2014 that a friend shared with me today.   It blew me away.  I’ll share a few quotes excerpted from it with all of you.  The link above will take you to the full address if you like.  (after you finish this blog of course!)

Coal for the Engine – Jim Carrey Quotations


“You can fail at what you don’t want so you might as well take a chance on doing something you love.”

“My Dad told me I wasn’t a ham – I was the WHOLE pig.”

With regard to our ego (old pattern) when we tell ourselves that we are not enough:  “How tricky, to tempt us with the promise of something we already possess.”

He talked about praying for a bike his family could not afford and coming home to a new bike won in a raffle a family friend had entered him into.  He says that that type of thing has been happening ever since.

Your job?  “Letting the Universe know WHAT you want and working towards it while letting go of HOW it comes to pass…”

And my favorite:  “My soul is not contained within the limits of my body.  My body is contained within the limitlessness of my soul…”

Good News

The good news for the week is simply this:  The more I’ve been striving to create a new blue print, the more things keep showing up to demonstrate how the world without is a reflection of the world within.

I can’t wait to see what’s around the next bend in the tracks…

forked curve

Master Key Week 10 – The Adventure Leads to the Emerald City

What a Ride

There have been so many times I’ve wanted to give up.  Wouldn’t it just be easier to pack it in and go home – whatever that means?  To lie down in the poppies and just go to sleep.  PoppiesThe trouble is, “home” doesn’t fit anymore.  Too much has changed to ever go back.  I’ve seen the wizard (my old pattern) and I now know that he’s a man just like me.  A man with insecurites and gifts.  With doubts and certainties.  With strengths and weaknesses.  Who knew that I was the wizard all along?

The truth is, I now know that I alone am responsible for my happiness and prosperity.  I am the only one who can take actions to move my life one way or another. YBRoad Sign R That I alone can guide my thinking away from the reefs of despair and towards the deep water and the trade winds that will take me to where I’ve always wanted to go.  That I can be what I will to be.

It Starts With Thought

wizard-exposedI know that my THOUGHTS can and will shape my feelings and my beliefs.  I now know that I get to choose where I focus those thoughts.  I now know that the resulting beliefs lead to the actions I take which create the results in my life.  Just like the wizard pulling all of those levers and pushing all those buttons, I can change what my subby (subconscious) sees and hears.

And subby is defenseless against the power of my voice.  It believes whatever I tell it.  “Good” or “bad.”  It is like a computer – it does not care how I program it – it will run whatever program I load up.  GIGO usually stands for garbage in, garbage out.  But I now choose for it to mean Goodness In, Greatness Out!

Freedom Found

Knowing this “simple” truth makes all of the difference.  But simple does not equal easy – the old patterns scream for their peptides.  But, once again, as Og Mandino tells us, new habits can subdue old ones.

YBRoad SignL

With the support of Mark and Davene, other Master Key classmates and our guides, we are forming new habits.  We are shaping new thoughts that are reflective of our PPNs & DMPs (Personal Pivotal Needs & Definite Major Purpose)  BuddhaWe are linking our thoughts to numbers, sounds, shapes, colors so that they are continuously being reinforced.  Little by little, the concrete jacket on the Buddha is cracking and the gold beneath the surface is beginning to shine through.

Good News

As always, I like to finish with good news.  Once we have seen behind the curtain, no amount of tugging, pulling, protesting, shouting, kicking or screaming by the wizard will ever provide a secure hiding place for the old patterns.

Og Mandino’s 3rd scroll in the Greatest Salesman teaches – I will persist until I succeed;  I will build my castle one brick at a time; & one step at a time is not too difficult.

I am replacing my old concrete blueprint with with a shiny golden new one.

I will persist.  I will win!



Master Key Week Nine – The Adventure Turns Reflective

There Were Some Dark Times

We have been learning how the world within creates the world without.  In other words, what we see, sense and experience has its roots in the thoughts we think and the beliefs we hold.  I have had some experiences that show this to be true.  Including times when the clouds seemed about to blot out the sun completely…

A little over two years ago I found myself dealing with some extreme health issues.  My awareness that I had something going on started in the spring of 2013 with some lower back pain.  It kind of came and went, but each time it came it got a little bit worse.  I chalked it up to a kidney infection or some such.

Pretty soon it was uncomfortable to even sit down because the pain had moved into my butt – the pressure of my own weight on my bottom was becoming unbearable for more than a few minutes and the back pain became nearly constant.

By October, even I had to admit that I was in bigger trouble than I could deal with on my own and I finally – reluctantly – went to a doctor.  I was told I had a Stage 4 Prostate with a PSA that was completely out of control.  The doctor said he could make me comfortable, but that I didn’t have too long…

I told him that I was going to beat it and get through it all.  He asked how I proposed to do that and I shared a couple “alternative” things I was doing and he nodded his head and allowed that those “couldn’t hurt,” but it was clear that he was less than impressed.

By Thanksgiving, I was too weak to go to dinner with friends and family.  A part of me wondered if the doctor was right.

And Some Even Darker Times

By mid December I was in the hospital because I had been losing a lot of weight and couldn’t keep much food down.  I went home briefly on Christmas Day only to return a few days later.  This time, they put me on some serious pain relief, and were painting a picture of immanent doom and gloom.

One of the doctors came into my room one day to “inform me” of my prognosis.  He said, “Mr. Russ, you have a very aggressive form of Prostate Cancer and this is how it will progress.”

yin-yang-tree-1736525My two word response was “Or not.”

He said in an even stronger tone, “Mr. Russ, this is how this disease progresses.”

My even stronger response was, “Or NOT!”

He very sternly told me that I had to face “reality” and I told him that he had to “Get the #^&#@% out of my room!  That is NOT my reality!”

Soon after, I was pretty doped up and was then transferred to another facility.  They had told Terri that I had two days to two weeks, but I knew nothing about that…

It Starts Getting Lighter

I had been in the new place for about four or five days before I found out that it was Hospice.  My first thought was that there must not have been space in a rehab facility, but they needed the bed in the hospital.  OK, that’s fine.

YinYangLightWPPretty soon I asked for the tube to be removed from my nose so I could go to the bathroom on my own.  They told me that they would not put it back in once it was out, and I told them that was OK.

I started eating.  Pretty soon they brought in a “trapeze” and I started doing “pull-ups.”  Then  they brought in a physical therapist.  I started walking the halls – I was getting myself ready to go home.

After ten days, they brought me out to our van and Terri took me home.  The nurse who wheeled me out told me what a miracle I was and I told her that we are all miracles.  She looked surprised and told me that I had been expected to die in that room.  That was the first I knew of their expectations – they obviously did NOT match my own.

Once back home, I slept in a hospital style bed for a couple of months.  I continued my pull-ups and, though I was weak, I was able to walk to the bathroom on my own.  I finally asked the visiting hospice nurse if I could get off the morphine I was taking since my pain seemed to be manageable.

Weaning off morphine was not the most fun experience that I have ever had.  Terri asked the nurse why she hadn’t warned us of the withdrawal symptoms and she said that all of her home hospice patients wanted MORE pain relief, not less.  Makes sense I guess.

And Lighter Still – Thanksgiving and Gratitude

Early Light

So, here we are, two years later.  My PSA, while still somewhat elevated, is down over 98% from where it was.  The rest of my blood work is not just normal, it’s perfect.  My right kidney, which had been totally shut down, is fully functional and the partial blockage of the left one is gone.

I’m not all the way back to where I intend to be, but the trends are in the right direction.

I could not have done it without help.  Terri’s advocacy almost certainly saved my life.  The care of the nurses and the entire Hospice Staff was filled with loving kindness.  The support from friends and the prayers of strangers were amazing.  With the exception of the original doctor and the one doctor in the hospital, nobody told me I was going to die, though, looking back, it’s obvious that several people expected that outcome.

I even waivered a few times myself, but through it all, my expectation was that I would get better and have 20-30 more productive years.  So far, so good.

I am whole, perfect, strong, powerful, loving, harmonious and happy!

And as you may imagine, it’s also pretty easy to be grateful…


Master Key Week Eight – The Adventure Gets Bumpy

Old Habits Can Be Insidious

This week has been one of ups and downs for me.  My mental diet (no negative thoughts) was going great for a few days and then, seemingly out of nowhere, doubt raised its ugly head.  Thoughts like “What’s the point Eric?  You’ve tried to change things so many times before and just ended up where you started” or “this may work for others, but nothing ever works for me.”

tragedy-comedyWPWhich of course, IS exactly the point.  The same old habits and thought patterns reinforce old beliefs which result in the same actions (or inactions) which in turn create the same old results.  As I’ve quoted Og Mandino over and over, “Only a habit can subdue another habit.”

The Good News

In spite of the struggle, there is good news.  The truth is, a lot of things ARE working better since we started the Master Key course eight weeks ago.  Money is moving more easily, some of it from unexpected places.  My health is improving.  Terri (my wife) and I are laughing more.  Lots of things.

But some of the old patterns are hanging on for dear life.  It’s clear to me that there is a part of “me” does not want to let go or die.  It’s also clear that the strategy of bombarding the subby (subconscious) in multiple ways and linking my PPNs and DMP (Personal Pivotal Needs/Definite Major Purpose) to familiar shapes, to colors and recording them in my voice and putting them to music is working – little by little – but it’s working.  The new habits are gradually subduing the old.

There are times when my mind says I should just give up – old pattern.  But then I realize that it’s just the old belief trying to assert its “authority” and I know I can never go back there.  That it’s time to step into the real me – to live my life fully.

As Og says “It’s time to greet this day with love and succeed!”



Master Key Week Seven – The Adventure Rolls Along!

The Autumn of My Old Life?

Most of the leaves are gone off the trees here in the Blue Ridge.  A few are hanging on.  Same thing with some of my patterns.  I am doing better on my exercises and some of my old patterns are still hanging on for dear life.  They can be insidious at times, disguising themselves in amazing ways.

BuddhaThe good news is that I am more efficient at noticing when they kick in and then using the Law of Substitution to replace that thought or action with another that I choose deliberately.  It’s getting easier and easier to just notice without putting as much importance on my opinion or judgement.  The cement is chipping off the Buddha…

Yesterday I was at the Post Office and it felt like the clerk was taking forever to figure out a tiny difference in cost for the customer ahead of me.  I realized that my perception was an opinion. In the not too distant past, I would have stood there and been steamed, or been extremely impatient at best.  This time, I noticed the annoyance creep in, but almost immediately recalled the Scroll from Og Mandino – silently and to myself, I looked at them both and said “I love you.”  When it was finally my turn, the clerk turned out to be one of the sweetest people I met all day.

New Blueprint

The idea of creating a variety of passive ways to keep our DMP in our conscious mind is proving to be very effective.  From our daily readings, to linking shapes and colors to our PPNs (Personal Pivotal Needs) to writing a “Press Release,” we are constantly bombarding subby with images and descriptions of our future selves.  Or, more accurately, our true selves that have not fully emerged as yet.

This week we added a recording of us reading our DMP (Definite Major Purpose) to ourselves with a background of music we love.  Part of my DMP includes making music, so I decided to play the chord progression of Pachobel’s Canon on my guitar.  It feels amazing to listen to the result!  I think this is the best method yet for me to replace the old blueprint with a new one, building on all of the others.

A Hot Day in SoCal

A few years back when I still lived in Southern California, I did some classes with a man named Martin Sage.  As a result, I experienced some major shifts, one of which was reconnecting with the importance of music in my life.  At age 40, I picked up my guitar in earnest, started writing music, lyrics and poetry and began performing.  Wow – it was amazing!

One very hot day a song came through, though I did not recognize it as a song at first.  Initially, while I was driving in my non-airconditioned van, a single line that I thought was pretty good came to me.  “The shadows of our minds create the shutters on our souls…”  When I stopped, I took pen and paper to capture the line and a complete poem came tumbling out.  When I got home at the end of the day I decided to record it.  As I started to recite the poem, music attached from somewhere and I sang it instead.

I was excited about sharing my newest song with my Mom who lived on the East Coast.  So I called her.  I dialed.  And I dialed.  And I dialed again.  The line was busy, busy, busy…  I was frustrated, but in the midst of it all, another line came a long – “The sharing of a song is a very loving thing…”  I thought, hmmmm, not too bad, so again, I put pen to paper – and the pen just kept moving…  Here is the result.

The Sharing of a Song
by Eric Russ

The sharing of a song is a very loving thing.
If you’d like to sing along, just go ahead and sing.
Just open up your heart and let it glow for all to feel,
and we’ll have a brand new start as the world begins to heal.

The therapy of singing is an ancient human art,
gently soothing and thus bringing peace and joy into your heart.
And as peace and joy come into you, they also radiate,
into everything you do – into all that you create.

As you do your work, the work you love – it soon becomes your play.
And the thing that you’ll be dreaming of is a longer working day.
Your work becomes your song. Won’t you sing that song for me?
So then I can sing along and share your ecstasy…