The Landmark Forum: Before it began

PS (Pastor Sue) had said The Landmark Forum would begin working before I even went to my weekend-long “conference”. What did she mean?

As I suspected January was crazy busy for me and my family. With sicknesses and snow storms, February was even more intense. February 26, 2014 I received an email from Pastor Sue: Do you wish to stay with me over the weekend so you don’t have to drive so far each night? We have an extra bedroom and bathroom and I would certainly get us to class on time.

Fantastic, I thought. The Landmark building is forty-five minutes from my home. If I stay with Pastor Sue I won’t have a long drive by myself, and I won’t have children or my husband or dishes or laundry waiting for me when I get home. And, it won’t cost my family a bunch of money like staying at a hotel would. I wrote back: Thank you PS! I would love to spend the weekend with you during Landmark.

Then I called my mother-in-law to make arrangements for my children to spend the days and nights that I would be attending The Landmark Forum with their grandparents. It was possible my husband wouldn’t be working that weekend, but just in case he was, I wanted to have a plan. Any time I’m away, knowing my children are safe, being loved and having fun, allows me to “be in the experience,” as the man on the telephone said.

March 5th, 2014 I sent a note to PS saying I am so so SO looking forward to Landmark. A weekend with adults meeting new people sounded wonderful. She responded telling me that she was looking forward to the weekend, too.

That night I received another call from Landmark to confirm my weekend and answer any questions I may have. This call came from a gentleman equally as excited about The Landmark Forum as the first man who called.

To begin we discussed the necessary details of wanting to wear comfy clothes and layers, and how long the sessions run: 9 a.m. to 10 p.m. Friday through Sunday, 7 p.m. to 10:15 p.m. Tuesday.

“Pack a lunch and bring snacks for the weekend sessions,” the man said.

I made a note: snacks/lunch – bring it.

Similar to the first man, this man asked: “So, what are you hoping to get out of your experience?”

Uh, that question again. I had made some notes after my previous phone call and had a list going, but of course, at that moment, I couldn’t find the list.

“Well just tell me off the top of your head what you’re hoping your weekend will accomplish,” he said.

I thought for a minute. “I guess I’m hoping to get some ideas for a career. I’m a stay-at-home mom who writes and takes pictures and I’m trying to plan for when my kids are both in school full-time,” I said.

“Really,” he said.

“Yeah. I’m working on a book with a man who has ALS right now, and I have this 34,000 Lives project,” I said.

“What’s 34,000 Lives?” he asked.

And that’s about the time our conversation went from being a few minutes to over an hour. “Typical Heidi” I imagine my friends saying (smile). I honestly cannot help but be curious about people. I love to hear who they are, where they are from, and what they are loving about life. And I love to share that type of information, too.

I explained my goal of sharing stories in hopes of positively impacting 34,000 Lives, and how having a positive impact on others has become even more important to me since the passing of my father.

“If I teach my children only one thing, I want to teach them to do what they can to help others, ” I explained.

“Wow,” said the man.

“And I’ve always loved to take pictures and write,” I said.

“What you’re talking about – taking pictures and telling stories – that’s what I do, too.”

“Oh really?”

It had been a few years since this gentleman had had his Landmark forum experience. Before he went to the forum, he did not have his own photography business, but he had always wanted to be a photographer. Now, at the age of twenty-six, he had become a professional photographer. At 12:12 p.m. December 12, 2012 his photography business became official. He told me that’s because of the forum. I’m one of those girls who still makes a wish if I happen to see the clock at 11:11; I mailed my wedding invitations on St. Patrick’s Day because I thought it would be the beginning of a lucky and memorable marriage; and I’m about to take this Landmark forum. I loved that this man began his business at 12:12 p.m. December 12, 2012 because of this “experience” he had. I had to know more.

We talked about photography and writing, and his travels in 2011 to Japan where he witnessed the tsunami and acted as a reporter working with the media.

“How awesome,” I said, remembering Michelle Pfeiffer reporting from inside a prison in one of my favorite movies: “Up Close & Personal”.

I could tell from the enthusiasm in the man’s voice that he loved doing that type of work, and I could feel myself getting excited talking to someone who “gets it” – that joy and thrill and love of telling a story in a way that another individual feels they are right there smelling the dirt, seeing the sky, feeling the air on their skin.

In regard to experiencing new and different places and people I urged, “Yes, do it while you can before you begin your family. It’s different after that. It’s harder.”

“I know. I will,” he said.

And after we discussed the fact that there are 86,400 seconds in a day where we can choose to create anything we want, and that he was creating the opportunity of possibly moving to Los Angeles, and my friend PS had created an opportunity for me by inviting me to check out Landmark, this young man asked if I would be interested in allowing him the opportunity to take my picture sometime and do a small profile story about me, my 34,000 Lives project and/or how I came to check out Landmark.

“Absolutely,” I said.

I know firsthand how fun it is to talk to someone unexpectedly and have this desire to share a little of their story, and I was proud that he was brave enough to ask me; I’m always honored when someone takes an interest in my life.

“Let me check with my friend to see if we can all meet,” I said.

“Okay,” he said.

I sent a note to PS and she agreed we could all meet. However, schedules were a bit complicated and it didn’t end up working out. Yet.

What the man on the telephone didn’t know is that PS has a son who is a professional photographer in Los Angeles. I didn’t mention that. But when I contacted PS, I did mention that this young man who is a part of Landmark is going to California to explore his opportunities as a photographer. I wondered if her son might have an interest in having lunch with him. To be going somewhere to explore your opportunities as a photographer and find out you can spend some time with a fellow professional photographer who recently had his work printed in People Magazine – wouldn’t that be the best? I thought so. Plus I just love to surprise people. Unfortunately, PS’s son was not going to be in California when the man would be visiting. That particular opportunity didn’t work out. But, I tried. And there is, my friends, something to be said for seizing the moment and doing what you can to put it all out there and giving it a go. There is definitely something to be said for trying.

Seven days before my forum would begin I was trying. Trying to figure out foods for snacks and lunches. Trying to figure out clothes for kids. Trying to figure out where the heck I was at with my book project. Trying to complete writing assignments for my writing group. Trying to make sure the bills were paid, the dishes were washed, the dog was cared for and my husband was good to go before I left all my responsibilities at home heading out the front door for three days all to myself to learn and explore. I was trying. And I was excited – after speaking to this man on the phone, this fellow photographer – that I might do something I didn’t think I would; that I might discover a way to make my own dreams come true. So what, other than an incredible life with my loving husband and amazing children, was I dreaming about? What are my dreams? I went to find another piece of paper.

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