What Can You Do When You Realize You're Not in Kansas Anymore?
I’m sure you’ve seen the movie, The Wonderful Wizard of Oz. You’ve already traveled down the yellow brick road with Dorothy and her friends, but you have never gone on this journey.
Others before me claimed that Frank Baum’s tale was a political satire. I understand why such theories existed, but I don’t buy into a mere double meaning. Frank did write a children’s book. And it’s possible that Frank wove political satire throughout that book. It’s also conceivable that Frank Baum cloaked a more meaningful message within this tale. My theory? He hid a treasure in the pages of his book, and HACK into OZ and Get the M.O.st Out of Life uncovers the mystery that leads you down your golden road.
Before Dorothy followed her yellow brick road, she had to get out of Kansas. Things were getting a bit intense there. She was scared and wanted to be anywhere other than where she was. Have you ever felt like Dorothy?
Escape was seemingly the answer, but Dorothy would face other challenges on the other side of that rainbow. Like Dorothy we tend to whirl into our own unknowns and when we land, we find that the new locale is less than perfect too.
Go on this adventure with me, and let’s Hack into OZ. Once we are in, you’ll find your treasure. You will run into a few of life’s twisters along the way, but they are well worth the spiral. Adventures aren’t adventures without an exciting journey.
Journeys can be scary, even exciting ones. Just ask Dorothy.
I know you are probably thinking, “I have seen that movie so many times, I know it by heart.”
Do you? I had seen the movie at least 10 to 15 times. I also thought I knew every line. But I did not. I saw the Wizard of Oz through a different lens and realized I had to share my theory.
If you don’t like traveling with strangers, you don’t have to worry. Your iconic friends are joining us as we revisit Oz. They are famous and I am not which is why I invited them. I thought if I asked them to come, you would be more receptive to re-exploring Oz in honor of its 80th anniversary! In 2019 Frank Baum was at it again!
Much like the movie we will leave the black and white world to explore a new land that’s full of color. But this time, we will not miss anything. I’ll uncover the most important meaning, and share implications that far outlast political satires. It is so significant it will change your life.
Dorothy, the protagonist of the story started out in Kansas. The tale revolved around her as she was transformed during her visit to Oz. Dorothy had a furry best friend, Toto, and they were inseparable. Well, inseparable until Ms. Gulch showed up. Ms. Gulch, the local socialite, was angered because Toto had bitten her. And that bite started all the trouble in Kansas.
Ms. Gulch used her status to take Toto away from Dorothy. You remember the bicycle scene. Gulch threw Toto in a basket, speeding off on her bike to rid of the furry pup forever.
But, much to her dismay, Toto escaped, and Dorothy was reunited with her dog.
Dorothy was scared. Really scared. Why? Because Gulch wanted to get rid of her beloved pet. Her flight or fight response activated, and she was ready to get out of Kansas. But before she left the farm she was inspired. She sang about a faraway land. A place where she and Toto would be free from Ms. Gulch. You know the tune, “Somewhere Over the Rainbow.”
The lyrics are eerily familiar to our state of wishing. Do our wishes become our reality? Do we have to travel to a distant land to find our inner strength? Do we wish upon a star and hope the clouds will clear?
Dorothy fled the farm. Turns out running away got her into more trouble. Her first encounter was with Professor Marvel (aka: The Wizard), the trickster in this tale. While visiting him, she peered into his crystal ball and saw that Auntie Em was in trouble. Marvel wanted Dorothy to go back home, so he tricked her. He made her believe that Auntie Em was in jeopardy.
The same fear that cause Dorothy to flee was now sending her home. Dorothy ran back to the farm, but something sinister was in the air. It was a terrible storm. A twister. The twister symbolizes life. And like Dorothy, we must be courageous and fight for what we love in the middle of our storms.
Dorothy returned home and was frantically looking for Auntie Em and Uncle Henry. She couldn’t find them. She ran in the house calling for them and while in her room, she was knocked out and fell to her bed. That knock on the head was her ticket out of Kansas.
Oh, the sights that she saw. Ms. Gulch became the nemesis of this tale. The not so friendly neighbor started out riding her bike, but as the cyclone intensified, she ended up on a broom.
What was happening? This twister was out of control!
The house landed with a thud. Dorothy was unharmed, but I can’t say that about everyone. Dorothy mustered up her nerve and opened the door. Dorothy and Toto escaped the black and white world of Kansas and ended up somewhere over that rainbow. She had accidentally killed the Wicked Witch of the East when she landed. Was this where she wanted to be?
Dorothy realized they weren’t in Kansas anymore, but she didn’t know where she was. Her new environment was very different, and she wanted answers.
Can you relate to Dorothy? Have you experienced dissatisfaction in life? Have you felt fear and wanted to flee? Perhaps you stayed behind to fight through the fear. I imagine most of us are like Dorothy. Sometimes we want to flee, and at other times we are up for a fight.
Perhaps you wish you could go somewhere magical. You need to get away. Do you have a nemesis like Ms. Gulch in your life? Is your house twisting out of control? Did you arrive somewhere new and think everything was wonderful, only to find out the contrary?
Dorothy went on a journey and that experience transformed her. She was keenly aware that things were very different in this land. Munchkin Land was colorful, that’s for sure. It was also the place where she had the pleasure of meeting the Wicked Witch of the West. More trouble. Big trouble. Dorothy had to prepare for the challenging experiences that lay ahead. She would learn how to handle the stress of landing in Oz and much more.
Did Dorothy learn by choice? No. She learned like most of us. She literally fell into the situation. We often fall into situations that teach us lessons. We may or may not invite the circumstance, but when we land in our own Oz, we make the best of it. Sometimes we struggle through and other times we develop a plan. Whether we are struggling or planning, we take action that causes change. In Dorothy’s case, the changes she made finally got her home.
Change is hard. We hop and skip down our yellow brick road and do not want to deviate from our path. We build ruts, not just paths. Those ruts are in our brain and they help us with routine tasks. Our brains are very accommodating in that way. You don’t tell yourself to breathe each day and you probably aren’t commanding one foot in front of the other when you walk. Our brains learn these daily routines, so they can free up space for more important work. What kind of work? The kind of work that generates our paychecks or helps us write a book. The kind of work that helps us learn a new sport or how to play a musical instrument. Any type of work required to achieve a desired outcome.
We all want something. We want positive outcomes. Do you understand what makes you do something or what makes you not do something? Do you know why certain things seem so natural to you and others are forced? Understanding these fundamental truths require curiosity. What will you do when you know the truth?
Action turns wishes into reality. If Dorothy had stayed in Munchkin Land, she would have remained a hero, but that’s it. There would be no happy ending and no morale to the story. What actions do you take to turn your wishes into your reality? Dorothy ventured down the yellow brick road. Let’s deviate from the “magical” terminology for a moment. How do you get the outcomes you desire? I’m not just referring to taking dream vacations or buying a Lamborghini. Both would be nice. I’m referring to wishes like:
“I wish I could lose weight, but…”
“I wish I could get ahead in my career, but…”
“I want to eat healthier because….”
“I want to learn how to better handle stress…”
“I want to communicate more effectively…”
You wish it. You must want it. But do you really want it? Or are we all like Dorothy? Do we just want to get out of Kansas? Do we follow the yellow brick road only to realize the Wizard is an impostor? How much time do we spend wishing instead of doing? How much time do we spend chasing one wizard or another only to find out that their blueprint doesn't work for us? Have you ever turned a wish into a reality and then it vanished before your very eyes? Are wishes and outcomes a sustainable reality?
You must decide.
And while you are thinking about wishes becoming reality, I’d like to ask you how familiar you are with your own mind. I’m referencing the command center that sits on top of your neck and resides in your pretty or handsome little head. That sounds like an intrusive question, doesn’t it?
After all, it’s your mind. Not mine, but, I’m serious. Are you aware of how hard your mind works each day? I know you work hard, but you don’t do it without help. Your brain is your master control center and it’s giving orders all day long. It’s not your heart. Although, that is a nice sentiment. It’s your gray and white matter, sitting up there in your cranium. That busy network needs direction and redirection. Your mind depends on you to navigate its thoughts. Are you up for the task?
Navigating strange lands can be fun and dangerous. The same is true of our minds. I’m sure you are familiar with terms like mindfulness, mind management, mindfulness- based- stress reduction and growth mindsets. Some people practice mindful awareness and mindful meditation and they’ve done so for years. Others think they have too much to do and could never calm their mind. They see no purpose in pausing and calming the mind. They are simply too busy. I used to be one of those “too busy” kinds of people. Yes, that was me. Looking back, it’s sad, but true. I spent too much time either re-living the past or hoping for a brighter future. I did not realize I wasn’t optimally “living my dash.” I went through each day and was often reactive. That was until I accidentally tripped up on meditation when addressing back pain.
I did not want to take pain medication, so I took it upon myself to learn more about yoga. I had many misconceptions to include thinking yoga was a bunch of weird poses and chants. I was wrong. Yoga, to this day, is a life saver for me. I still have back pain, but I mostly manage it with yoga.
What did I learn when I became mindfully aware? I learned to breathe and notice my breath in yoga. I noticed I wasn’t as stressed. I became more curious. That curiosity led me to courses about meditation. I studied the practice and the scientific proof of meditation and its benefits. I studied from the masters in the field. Yoga and meditation became my epiphanies.
There is an interesting and obvious side-note. I do not experience the benefits of either practice if I don’t “do” something. I must commit to both in order to reap the benefits.
The same is true if you want to turn any wish into your reality. The same is true if you desire to achieve a certain outcome. There is a secret. You’ve got to do it your way!
I’m not sure what outcomes interest you. Maybe you are curious about what the Hack into OZ has in store for you. Maybe you want to climb Mt. Everest or run a marathon. Whatever you want to do, trust me you can learn from revisiting Oz. Put on your mindful hat. Tap into your intuition and let’s find out what Baum is teaching us this time around.
This time, we will not miss any details. This is quite an adventure, and an adventure worth the exploration.
Dorothy landed in Oz after a sudden and tumultuous ride. She should have tapped into her state of mindful awareness and suspected her trip wasn’t going to be all poppies. Maybe her mind was telling her something she was ignoring. It was clear cut to me. Something wasn’t quite right when those little people started singing “Ding, Dong the Witch is Dead” Yes, that spelled trouble, for sure.
Dorothy wasn’t oblivious to her new surroundings, but she wasn’t entirely in tune either. Granted, I wouldn’t mind inheriting a magical pair of ruby slippers, but not at the cost of a possible involuntary manslaughter charge just to obtain hero status. I don’t think so.
Like Dorothy we often suddenly realize we’re not in Kansas anymore. If we were, when life got twisted, we wouldn’t struggle in that strange land. Do we prepare ourselves for the cyclones or just hope for the best when we get swept away?
We seem to manage the mundane, monotonous, did that yesterday and the day before rather well. But generally, we struggle in the storms. How do we maximize good moments and minimize the bad? How do we tune into the cyclones of life without allowing them to twist us completely out of control? Mindful awareness is the key and it lies at the center of your wellness and productivity.
Mindful awareness is not some weird, outlandish, mystical mystery. It’s when you are in tune with your environment, your body and your reactions. Mindful awareness allows you to be present now and not later. It creates the space for you to truly listen to a conversation, because you aren’t thinking about your to-do list. You play the lead role in mindful awareness and your mind is your sidekick. It’s as if you are Dorothy and Toto, the dynamic duo. Those two can handle anything Oz throws at them if they are together.
Pair up with mindful awareness and when things get a little twisted, you’ll do more than notice. You’ll be equipped to weather the storm. Cyclones are inevitable and landing in Oz can teach you a lot. It’s your journey, so please enjoy the trip. I promise you; you know the way back home.
 The Wonderful Wizard of Oz, Director, Victor Fleming, MGM, 1939 Film
 Harburg, E.Y., lyricist & Arlen, Harold, composer, “Ding, Dong the Witch is