600 Bucks for Nothing… and Everything

Posted: May 27, 2008 in Your Health

My 2-Bits: A good friend recently had an amazing realization in his life and has asked me to post his experience. I do so with great pleasure and happiness for the new-found love he and his family have gained. I hope you find this story to be as poignant as I did: it reminds me of what is really important in this world (hint: it isn’t money or a big house). Read on:

I spent the last three beautiful sunny days inside a crowded room sitting on a very uncomfortable chair from 9 a.m. until 10 p.m. 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, and all the employees are requested to attend.

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 (and not just 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 and 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, always 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.”


I popped like a popcorn. For the next ten minutes I wasn’t listening… I was rolling the film of my life back to the year 2004 when my daughter was 12 and I first noticed how much 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 the 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 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 if people were staring at us (Coal Harbour seawall on a sunny Saturday afternoon). I didn’t care about our 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!


Zeljko's Family

  1. mandycat18 says:

    Wow…if only everyone in this world could focus on those truly important things in life. This is a great inspiration on what life is (and should be) about. Thanks for sharing Zeljko (and canuck).


  2. canuck99 says:

    Too true, MandyCat. Just take a second to imagine a world where the money we spend on bombs went to stuff like this instead.

    (This is where you pause to really imagine this world where billions of dollars are spent not on killing each other, but connecting with each other.)

    Are you imagining it yet? I am. I’m serious. Just try imagining this world. Of course bad stuff still happens, but no more all-out, unjustified, bombing, no more state-sponsored, deliberately-inflicted mass killings.

    Instead, serious money is spent on seminars like this all over the world where people share, laugh, cry, connect, love. I don’t think this is unrealistic: it is totally possible. We just need to will it.

    Wow. If you’re imagining what I’m imagining it would really be A Wonderful World.

  3. John says:

    My wife, daughter, several of my family and friends and I have participated in The Landmark Forum. The results have been positively life altering.

    The Landmark Forum is an inquiry into what’s possible for human beings. In the Landmark Forum they distinguish blind spots that once distinguished gives you the access to whole new realms of possibility that were not available before. The Landmark Forum is for healthy and successful people whose lives are working well and who are committed to excelling at what is next in their lives. The promise of the Landmark Forum is anything you want for yourself or your life is available out of your participation.

    The following is a link to a Harris Interactive independent survey of health professionals and educators who had participated in programs offered by Landmark Education. http://www.harrisinteractive.com/news/newsletters/clientnews/2007_LandmarkEducation.pdf

    Harris Interactive found that survey results showed that the vast majority of respondents held very positive views regarding Landmark Education programs as more than nine of ten agreed that Landmark’s programs were responsibly and professionally conducted, produced practical and powerful results, and made a profound difference in their lives. Moreover, nearly all respondents (96%) agreed that Landmark Education Programs provided great value.

    Dr. Raymond D. Fowler, Executive Vice President and Chief Executive Officer American Psychological Association, who participated in The Landmark Forum with his wife, who is also a psychologist, published the following. http://www.sinus-ffm.de/lec/landmark/fowler.html

    Top Expo 100 Adventures rates participating in The Landmark Forum as their #2 Adventure, http://top100expo.com/index_expo_world.asp, http://top100expo.com/ListFromTo.asp?from=001&to=020.

    ABCNews.com focuses on Landmark/Top100Expo – ABCNews.com writes about the phenomenal results of Landmark Education and about the influence it has had on Top 100 Expo. ‘Transformation’ in a Weekend? http://top100expo.com/zoomitem.asp?ID=7445

    Expert Opinions http://www.scooponlandmarkforum.com/ExpertOpinions/index.html

  4. Alexis says:

    Thank you for sharing this with us. It is an amazing sentiment that I have passed on to all my loved ones (and also posted to my Facebook profile for the masses to enjoy!)

    I thank you for your courage and your generosity and look forward to more breakthroughs in your family’s future.

    PS: If you think the Forum was good, wait until you take the Advanced Course. THAT’S where the gold is!!! Thanks again. 🙂

  5. Zeljko says:

    Thank you for your thoughts. Advanced course is a sure thing in my near future. I want to run with what I learned at the Forum full throttle for the rest of the year.
    Even though I wish to be unreasonable and just do it, I have to accept it as what it is, and what it is – is our travelling through Europe for a month (which will drain our savings and we’ll need couple of months to recover). As I said, the possibility of being present at the Advance Course is a sure thing.

  6. Zeljko says:

    Site above (comment 6) is the exact one I mentioned in second paragraph of my story.

  7. ericschleien says:

    That’s beautiful!

  8. buck says:

    i truly understand this experience cause i had the same type of experience happened to me when i did my landmark forum,i just wish that everyone on the planet could have that experience of realizing that everyone deserves to live the extraordinary that we aRE ABLE TO LIVE NOW BECAUSE OF THE LANDMARK FORUM ,it was definitly a life altering experience,and here i would like to say register and start living the life you deserve,and thank you landmark education for truly making a difference!

  9. Zeljko – Thank you for sharing your story and congratulations to you for taking on a level of honesty and communication to transform your relationship with your daughter. It’s beautiful~ Jaime K.

  10. Melinda says:

    So, so beautiful! Thank you a million times for sharing. May your new life be created exactly the way you want, full of all that love and affinity you didn’t know you could have. Congrats!

  11. Catherine says:

    I attended in January and followed up with the Advanced course in March. Just being able to recognize the parts of my life I have allowed to hold me back for 49 years (I am 49 and 1/2) was such a GREAT insight. The best thing I got out of this is a first time communication and relationship with my sister that has NEVER been! My 24 year old son will be attending this month also and I so look forward to him “popping”!!!!

  12. Michael Rauch says:

    Landmark Forum needs to raise their fee…… this experience several months ago has enabled me to give up one of my stories which I have used to shackle my life into mediocrity with losses of esteem, relationships and countless opportunities….. I am already creating a life without bounds…. I Can Do Anything….truly one of the most profound experiences of my entire life of 53 years. Just do it!

  13. julia flores says:

    thank you for sharing and for the inspirations to better our life every day

  14. Jilene Chivell says:

    Thank you.

    • Jilene Chivell says:

      Landmark Education is not for everyone. You must be willing to go into this with an open mind and absorb as much as you can and apply it to your everyday life. If you can do this, you can do anything. Seriously, $600 Bucks is cheap for getting a road map for your life.

      I had a very positive experience during both The Landmark Forum and the Advanced Course.

      • I DISAGREE!!
        I went into the Landmark forum (which I just finished yesterday) with a VERY closed mind… and had some of the greatest moments of my life!! And I’m spending another $600 for more nothing at the Advanced Course next month.

  15. Jilene Chivell says:

    Today is it. Here we are, this is it and it”s perfect.

  16. Jilene Chivell says:

    Here you are. This is it. Help is not coming.

  17. Gaile says:

    Beautiful. I can feel the opening to love and LIFE (right now!) that you created in the Landmark Forum. Way to go!!!

  18. kenia says:

    Endless possibilities!!!!! Life can only get better!

  19. mary says:

    wow thanks for sharing a wonderful story. i have been around this education for 30 years and I am grateful for it everyday. Have your daughter do the teen formum don’t make her wait until she is a grown-up

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s