Alchemy’s Mysterium Coniunctionis: Union of Opposites

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Carl G. Jung found that his archetypal studies–whereby he personally engaged in active imagination to engage with his ‘persona archetype’ figures within his own personal unconscious domain–could be linked to Alchemy.  Just as alchemists aimed to combine or mix chemical elements to produce a higher order of integration metaphorically described as the process of creating gold out of lead, archetypal psychology or Depth Psychology as Jung referred to his process aims to explore the character or properties of one’s internalized archetypal persona forms so as to integrate them into a greater harmony within the mature, individuated Self (or, Soul). Jung called the ‘sacred marriage’ of integrated archetypes within the Self, or more ultimately, of Self with ‘Divinity’ , a Mysterium Conjunctionis:

Likewise Joseph Cambpell, writing of the Hero Cycle we all undergo time and again as we work through our self-developmental passages within our individual Story, speaks of the ‘sacred marriage’ as “the Ultimate Boon” (in The Hero with A Thousand Faces ([Bollingen, MJF Books, 1949], pg 190) :

“The agony of breaking through personal limitations is the agony of spiritual growth. Art, literature, myth and cult, philosophy, and ascetic disciplines are instruments to help the individual past his limiting horizons into spheres of ever-expanding realization. As he crosses threshold after threshold, conquering dragon after dragon, the stature of the divinity that he summons to his highest wish increases, until it subsumes the cosmos.”

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I would say that self-transcendence is a universal goal of any healthy, life affirming spiritual being (human, animal, and really ALL life forms).  We seek GROWTH, greater wisdom, maturity, and higher degrees of integration as we face our ‘dragons’ or challenges.  Life brings this opportunity, time after time, to expand our consciousness through more and more purified forms.

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Of course, this self-growth can become stunted or aberrated; that is when we may seek a depth analysis to ‘sort out’ the difficulties and resolve them.  Archetypal psychology can be highly effective in helping us come to know ourselves better and to identify and resolve inner conflicts.  I will be presenting some simple techniques anyone can use in this pursuit in my upcoming book, Your Life Path, including an Archetype Dialogue Practice.  (See my sample PRACTICE technique, below!)

Can YOU relate to the principle of a ‘sacred marriage’ of opposites or of how unifying otherwise disparate  elements of your own personality characteristics has helped you sometimes to transcend inner conflicts or to resolve difficult choices? Think of the Devil-on-one-shoulder-and-Angel-on-the-other metaphor; have you ever become aware of such a duality in your consciousness? Which ‘side’ did you most listen to or act upon?

What would happen if you were to hear both nudges and put them in conversation with one another and with your higher Self? You can actually do this, quite naturally:

PRACTICE: A Dynamic Archetype Dialogue Technique

Think of a situation about which you feel a “divide” in your feelings or thoughts about that choice or situation. With active imagination, visualize each ‘side’ of your opposing internal perspectives as persons (personify them within your imagination).  Then let them speak with one another, and you as Self can either observe or take part in the conversation. Then (or as it is happening), journal about or write out this dialogue directly.  Aim for your opposing Parts-of-Self to arrive at some degree of mutual understanding and agreement to find a compromise that may help you to move forward and make a better decision than you might have had you acted on only one or another side of this polarity.

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images are from pixabay.com

I welcome YOUR Comments and Stories!

Marry Your Future, with a Vision Board!

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Maybe this is a bit of a stretch for our topic this month of The Sacred Marriage, but I find myself sitting at my office desk and looking at my bulletin board that I realize I have turned into a Vision Board.  I have embarked upon my final year of teaching before publishing my book, Your Life Path, and then retiring and relocating to focus full-time on writing and life mapping services.

I pilot every life mapping tool that I will be introducing with this book, and the art of “future casting” is a big part of this approach.  Any form of creative envisioning of what I like to call your future Lifescapes can be helpful to you in manifesting the life conditions you desire to express.

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On my Vision Board bulletin board I have the poem Ithaca by Cavafy (You can click on the Youtube video embedded below, narrated by Sean Connery!):

I also have a collage of images that represent my journey ahead to realize my Life Dream.  It shows my future ambitions and goals:

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To create your own Vision Board, simply imagine!  What CORE VALUES do you intend (not simply wish for or hope to do, but INTEND) to establish in your future Dream Come True?  Even if your most desirable future is the life you are living Now, what core values are you manifesting that you intend to extend and embellish further on the road ahead?

Goal setting is not about–or need not involve, anyway–LINEAR THINKING.  By focussing on VALUES rather than specific, material objectives, you remain open and flexible to however the Universe or Spirit fills your mold.

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You can write your future values or conditions you intend to live into onto a poster board or in Publisher on a blank page on your computer. Then find (or draw or paint in) pictures online or in magazines that represent these values and conditions, and place them on your Vision Board in a manner that feels right to you. You can also cut out or cut and paste words and phrases onto your collage.

I like to create my Future Casting Collages (BTW, do several! The future is not cast in stone!) to represent my pathway from where I am Now to the future Now I aim to create around me.

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images (other than my own) are from pixabay.com

I invite and welcome your Comments and Stories!

I would invite your collages to share, but actually I recommend you hold these close and share them mainly with your loved ones. Your VISION is your own; nurture it well and it will be!

The Sacred Marriage

 

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This month let’s focus on the stage of the Hero’s Cycle known as the Sacred Marriage.    To Joseph Campbell, drawing from Jung, this is that stage by which the masculine and feminine energies of the Hero are merged, allowing the Hero to go forth as a more integrated Whole Self as s/he continues to pursue their Quest.

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To Jung more directly, this is a union of the Animus and Anima and brings about a major transformation of character.  If it represents the actual goal of the individual, it can even be seen as an alchemical achievement of the highest magnitude: Mysterium Conjunctionus!   Masculine + feminine (both energies coexisting within both men and women), or Soul + Spirit, or even Earth + Heaven/ Human + Divine: this is the apex of integrated unity, gold out of lead.

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While the Sacred Marriage is often depicted via an actual Marriage of two characters, ultimately it is an internal achievement, as the individual attains a balance within of their animus and anima traits. Because of this, it can occur within anyone as a solo accomplishment or it could manifest as a relationship union.

Integration or even fusion as the Sacred Marriage represents is a significant spiritual development for it allows the Self to emerge as fully formed, as an expression of Soul.

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images are from pixabay.com

A CONTEMPLATION AND JOURNALING PROMPT:

Can you relate to the topic of the Sacred Marriage?

Do you feel you have achieved this INTERNALLY, whether or not you are partnered with your spouse or a significant other?

If so, what does this open up for you in terms of pursuing your greater goals? If not, how shall you achieve this; again, internally?

I welcome your Comments and Stories!

Pass It On!

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Here is a quick activity: Think of one mentor who has taught you a valuable lesson. What was that lesson?

Second, how have you sought to impart that lesson to others? What has been the result?

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My quick response:  “Patience is a virtue.” (from Diane) I aim to teach this to my students, especially advanced students working on research projects or thesis papers. I have seen many of these students take some great strides. For myself, I use this principle daily, now in yet another book editing romp.

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images are from pixabay.com

I am amazed daily at the miraculous interweaving and orchestration of Life.

“Love is all, and do as thou wilt.”

(Stranger By the River, by Paul Twitchell)

Follow Your Leaders!

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I am thinking back all this month about the Helpers who have appeared in my life at critical moments to lead me to my next destination or goal. This in fact, as I reflect on it, is a Universal Principle! Life seems so well orchestrated when you pause to reflect. Nothing, that is, seems wholly accidental—or, if it is so to you, at least how you have responded to fortuitous events has woven the beautiful fabric of your life and life lessons to date!

Helpers are role models and Leaders. They have been where we are aiming to arrive, so they know the pitfalls along the path before us.

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(one of my Role Model Helpers, Orene)

Who have been some of your Role Model Leaders? How have they helped you to move ahead on your Quest?

I have had so many Helpers that when I look back at my life it seems these Helpers have appeared in my Path like Stepping Stones, perfectly arranged to lead me forward on my personal and spiritual journey to understand and to work to fulfill my potentials.

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images are from pixabay.com

When you follow a Leader and accept the gifts from your Helpers, this is a beautiful reciprocal arrangement. Every step forward you take benefits not only yourself but also others. I love Martha Graham’s excellent inspirational statement, which a therapist once gave to me as a gift:

“There is a vitality, a life force, a quickening that is translated through you into action, and there is only one of you in all time, this expression is unique, and if you block it, it will never exist through any other medium; and be lost. The world will not have it. It is not your business to determine how good it is, not how it compares with other expression. It is your business to keep it yours clearly and directly, to keep the channel open. You do not even have to believe in yourself or your work. You have to keep open and aware directly to the urges that motivate you. Keep the channel open. No artist is pleased. There is no satisfaction whatever at any time. There is only a queer, divine dissatisfaction, a blessed unrest that keeps us marching and makes us more alive than the others.”

I welcome your Comments and Story!

 

Checking In With Your-Selves!

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Are you engaged in some process that takes a long time yet brings a personal goal to fruition?  School can be like that, or now for me, writing for mainstream publication. I find this activity proceeds necessarily sometimes in fits and starts. During the fits or slow slog periods of editing yet one more time, I find it helpful to check in with my internal selves: those archetypal persona character modes that each have their own perspectives on our shared as well as their distinctive goals with regard to the project at hand. For it may be one or more of these Archetype Allies that has slowed the progress as a way to call attention to an opportunity for improvement before I can move forward more productively again.

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Mindfulness is a popular term these days for this sort of checking in with your Self–or, more accurately for my purposes, your selves!  I like using an Archetype Dialogue Practice to help integrate conflicting internal viewpoints. I use an active imagination technique, such as Jung recommended, to “sink” into a subconscious level of awareness where I can make contact with my internally diverse viewpoints or parts of Self.

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You can think of these archetypal personas as being associated with the various roles (or, masks) you occupy in life, as all of us develop somewhat distinctive points of view from the perspectives of each of our role types (e.g. Parent, Teacher, Lover, Nourisher, Idealist, etcetera).   You can have a conversation inwardly and/or journal a dialogue while you are imagining connecting with these internal parts of Self.  Just allow the interaction or conversation to proceed naturally. This is actually a level of subconscious interaction we take part in unconsciously much of the time, as we weigh a decision or an action.

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Below is an excerpt from a journaling form of Archetype Dialogue I engaged with just a few days ago about the slow process of editing for publication:

ELDER LEADER     You need to finish the edit and begin taping for the webinar. Time is waning on our sabbatical.

NOURISHER.     Let her be, Marshall. She knows what she needs to be doing.

 LW:  Well I could use all of your input, actually. The editing feels too mechanical now. Taking stuff out is not so much fun as putting ideas into the book. It pains me to have to be removing the lined journaling pages, stripping down to only providing the instructions for library readers to do the techniques externally.

ELDER LEADER.    Yes we understand but that is what you need to do, so library readers will not be tempted to write in the books. That’s the editor’s decision. Why are you balking so much?

ARTIST    I know what you really want to be doing…and it is what I want to help you with… to redesign the Toolkit as a separate aid that readers will be able to download or receive directly as a workbook companion to the book.  The cover art your cousin has provided will fit beautifully with the Toolkit.

LW: Yes but then I also need to get rolling with the webinar production. And a larger than usual docket of classes looms just around the corner in August. Argh!

TEACHER.    One step at a time, dear. That is the best way forward. What is the ONE THING, as you tell people to consider with their own life mapping, that YOU need to be doing, Now?

MYSTIC.   Yes, dear Soul, what is your ONE THING, NOW?

LW:  Well, I want to have a clearer overview of the Whole–of where all this is heading, really. So much work for so many years, and yes we have a publication date, but the whole process feels like it is starting to get away from me, you know? Master, can you help me to re-center, to regain a stronger focus at this interval as I need to deliver these products in full strength and beauty, to best serve the Whole?

MYSTIC    Go within to find your answer, dear. What is your ONE THING, Now?

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As I continued with this internal musing (a fine expression, by the way!), I did arrive at answers. My new process is to produce both the edit my publisher needs and, concurrently, I will generate the Toolkit from the extracted material. So I do not have to lose any of the vitality I want for the book to contain. As well, this contemplation led me to write a full draft script of the opening webinar sessions, so I feel back on track now!

I invite you to develop your own Archetype Dialogue Practice.  I will be sharing a full process for this approach with my upcoming book (March 2018), Your Life Path.

What are some of your own archetypal “parts of Self”? Allow them to present themselves to you. Just offer them a safe, open space for communicating with you. Keep in mind that these are not external “voices” or entities, at all. (If they feel as such ever, then it could be helpful for you to discontinue the exchange! ) These are simply your own INTERNAL points of view that much too often we tend to ignore. So, lend an ear!

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images are from pixabay.com

I welcome your comments and stories!

Revelations Can Carry You Forward

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The last few months I have been focusing a lot in these posts on the trials and descent process necessary in order to embark well on one’s journey of self discovery and fulfillment. Of course that is exactly what is needed. A Quest, to be worthwhile, advances you toward achieving your deepest aspirations so you can express your unique talents and potentials.

This is the High Adventure of the Soul of which Joseph Campbell speaks. The initial threshold guardians, descent and trials are to help you to clarify your Goal, to claim your mission and purpose, and to develop your resolve. You have crossed the first threshold into the adventure itself, but you must illuminate the passage ahead so that your adventure will not simply be wandering through a maze without a centered destination to reach. The revelations from your initial trials are essential. They allow you to refine your goals.

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I think of Castaway as offering an excellent example of the value of trials and revelations. Chuck, once marooned on his island, encounters many failures in his early attempts to escape until the realization after testing a possible suicide ploy that also fails, that he must face up to the immense challenge and strive actively to survive, opens the possibility, this reader would say, of his ultimate success in leaving the island and sacrificing his solitude there to return to his social arena of life. Chuck Noland learned he could survive on his own yet that was not enough to be truly living. The metaphor of the angel wing sail that let him finally overcome the tidal forces imposing his solitude served literally to deliver the character from his prison of isolation even while that isolation itself brought invaluable lessons about the meaning of life itself.

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A similar narrative framing the import of trials and revelations is found in The Life of Pi. There the psychological drama brings the stranded ocean wayfarer to the point of challenging his faith in the goodness of God, yet at every critical point of facing the likelihood and the inevitability even of death, Pi thanks God rather than cursing his fate, and it is then that new positive opportunities abound. Pi, too, like Chuck Noland, survives to live out his life more fundamentally assured of the love of God and the interconnectedness of life in its entirety.

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images are from pixabay.com

JOURNAL PROMPT: What revelations have you gleaned from your times of trial or testing that have or can carry you forward to fulfilling your Soul purpose in this life?

I welcome YOUR COMMENTS AND STORY!

[P.S. to Readers: I will be traveling until the 25th so will not post again until after that trip, but I look forward to reading your Comments!]

Trials and Your Life Lessons

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Here’s a helpful self discovery tool: Make a timeline of the challenging times of hardship or trials in your life. Map these life events according to your ages when each event has occurred.

First, do you see any pattern in terms of the clustering of these events? Have they corresponded with any other major events such as big moves or regular time cycles?

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Second, make a separate list of these events and the ages they occurred, then journal reflectively about any Life Lesson that you gained from each ordeal.

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Can you see any connections among your Life Lessons? Is there a deeper underlying theme, or a realization you can glean? After you have learned a Lesson, has your life experience changed course in any significant ways?

Sages say we often repeat similar tests or ordeals, revealing deeper and deeper levels of a major Life Lesson. Why, do you believe? What might this prepare us for?

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Sequel stories and some television series serve to dramatize this observation that life lessons can unravel over time, resulting in a gradual transformation of character. The popular Big Bang Theory–one of my favorites–is a good example, where every character undergoes gradual, transformative change based on learning their life lessons from relating with one another in the ensemble cast over time.

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images are from pixabay.com

So now, what is your life about?

I welcome YOUR Comments and story.

Re-Emergence: Ascent from the Darkness into Light

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Descent into the Belly of the Whale is followed by a re-emergence, a resurfacing into conscious awareness after having gained perspective on the rest of the journey ahead. I love the notion that a descent is followed by Ascent.  We must sink to the depths, yet we bring up from those depths vital tools and gems of newly gained awareness to carry forward. This is an alchemical process.

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Luke Skywalker’s Jedi light saber is a good example. After Luke’s uncle and aunt are killed by the Empire’s storm troopers, Luke seeks to “learn the ways of the Force,” first from the Jedi Knight Obiwan Kenobi and later from the great Jedi Master Yoda. Luke is given a light saber, a tool by which to concentrate the Force and direct his own positive attention.

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Such devices of Awareness are quite common in mythology, as in life. Theseus is aided by a skein of thread woven by Ariadne, daughter of King Minos. With this thread Theseus is able to ascend or reemerge from the labyrinth after he encounters and kills the half-bull/ half-man Minotaur and delivers his compatriots from being imprisoned there. Theseus thereafter assumes his father’s throne in Athens.

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What about you? What Tool or Lesson have you acquired from a time of arduous descent that has helped you to proceed toward fulfilling your deepest purpose?

A degree, for instance? Or some lesson of patience and perseverance? What then is the Quest that your Tool specifically prepares you to accomplish?

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images are from pixabay.com

I welcome YOUR Comments and Story!

 

Carl G. Jung on Descent and Active Imagination

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One of my favorite books is Carl G. Jung’s posthumously published THE RED BOOK. (BTW for the past few years it has become available in a “Reader’s Edition” (2012) for only around 25.00; a great buy, although the original has his amazing drawings and mandalas and the original German journal entries.)

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 I have used this book as a textbook whenever I teach a university class on life mapping.  Jung’s self-initiated DESCENT in 1913 for 25 nights and then for some twenty years more with less regularity deeply influenced his therapy practice and theory along with his understanding of the collective unconscious, divinity, as well as personal unconscious ‘persona’ archetypes. Rather than blogging in a reflexive way myself then this week, I present for you below some of Jung’s direct insights (and those of the book’s editor, Sonu Shamdasani). I hope that you enjoy them and I invite you as he would to undertake a process of active imagination and journaling to engage in and record your own encounter with your own unconscious, archetypal parts-of-Self!

“The task of individuation lay in establishing a dialogue with the fantasy figures–or contents of the collective consciousness–and integrating them into consciousness, hence recovering the value of the mythopoeic imagination which had been lost to the modern age, and thereby reconciling the spirit of the time with the spirit of the depth.” (Shamdasani; The Red Book (Reader’s Edition, 2012, Introduction: pg. 49)

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“This was my twenty-fifth night in the desert. This is how long it took my soul to awaken from a shadowy being to her own life.” (Jung, The Red Book (Reader’s Edition, 2012: 145)

…I had spoken to my soul during 25 nights in the desert and I had given her all my love and submission. But during the 25 days I gave all my love and submission to things, to men,and to the thoughts of this time. I went into the desert only at night.(Jung, The Red Book (Reader’s Edition, 2012: 151)

“The spirit of the depths opened my eyes and I caught a glimpse of the inner things, the world of my soul, the many-formed and changing.” (Jung, The Red Book (Reader’s Edition, 2012: 147)

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As I do not wish to violate fair use laws and hope I haven’t yet in using these quotes, I will add that at the end of his reflections on his Descent via active imagination, he states that ever since he would invite all of his therapy clients and friends to do likewise: to encounter their own depth personae and to “write it all down” as he did first in his Black Book and then copied with art into The Red Book journal. He painted mandala images when he completed a phase of understanding; you can see these online or in the 2009 original publication of The Red Book.

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images are from pixabay.com

I welcome YOUR comments and story!

Build a Bridge to Your Destiny

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Who Are You? How did you get where you are today? Where are you wanting to go from here? How will you get there?

Here’s a quick creative Tool to help you discover a pathway to a desired next step that you might feel it is too hard to attain:

On a piece of construction paper of a color you associate with Fulfillment, paste or draw an image of a BRIDGE. This can be any sort of bridge you choose, but make sure it is strong, a bridge that will definitely convey you from one side (where you are now) to another (where you wish to “belong”).

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You can place or draw images of where you are and of where you wish to arrive at as a destination on either side of the bridge.

On or above the Bridge Path itself, place action words, phrases or images that are actual steps or transitions you CAN make in the foreseeable future that can lead you clearly n the direction of your goal.

For example, “pay off debt” or “exercise 2 times per week” or “write a chapter outline” could be statements you write on the bridge.

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images are from pixabay.com

Then, DO THIS!  Place one action before you that  is easy to set into motion and let that motion carry you over the bridge, across a threshold to your desirable new state or condition.

I welcome YOUR comments or story!

Cross the Threshold to Your Greatest Adventure

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The greatest adventure is living life fully in the NOW (see “Alternate Futurescapes” recent post). Now then, the NOW is not necessarily but does include the Present of time-space. NOWness as well includes your own Past and Future lived and liveable experience (as arrays of possibilities) and the total range of possibility arcs in this lifetime, in parallel (e.g. ‘past or future lives’) and in the mulitiverse at large! Have I blown your mind yet? What the heck am I suggesting here? Yes, that You, as a Soul divinely gifted with a capacity for perception and vision–i.e., your creative, active imagination, not just your mental memory banks or existing synaptic networks–are free to explore, examine, and create forms from formless substances; you as Soul are indeed a Creator of and in your own worlds.

So, I encourage you to exercise your innate freedom of consciousness! You needn’t hesitate to daydream, and pay attention to your nighttime revelations as well as to those waking dreams that bring a message to you in the moment. If you were to lock your keys in your car, for example, how might that be a waking dream for you? Maybe it is telling you to pay closer attention, or not to close yourself out of a potential vehicle for moving forward. Take that job offer, for instance, when this sort of waking dream symbol occurs.

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images are from pixabay.com

Crossing the threshold to your Greatest Adventure signifies living your life to its fullest potentials, Now, and Now too, and also NOW! In this sense the nature of your life event may be less important than how you experience, frame or respond to it.

Life is transitory: its constructs of imagery, form and emotions ebb and flow as your consciousness focuses or directs your attention (or else as we react, based on former constructions; so, far better the former).

So now, take heed and celebrate every blessed moment, not only in this lifetime you are creating but in the Wholeness of Life Itself.  The mystic sages tell us, and I do believe, that in the most ultimate awareness of truth, Life of Itself is only LOVE.

Love (or, Spirit) is: “…that thread, so fine as to be invisible, yet so strong as to be unbreakable — which binds together all beings in all the worlds of God, in all universes, throughout all time, and beyond time into eternity.” (Paul Twitchell, The Shariyat-Ki-SUGMAD, Book 1).

I enjoy and welcome your Comments. I also invite you to send your own stories on these themes that I will post or reblog with a byline for you, by sending them to my email at lwatts@uccs.edu.

Alternate Futurescapes: A Crossing-the-Threshold Tool

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As Shakti Gawain presented in her excellent book, Creative Visualization, it can be of utmost value to put into practice your divine gift of Imagination when you wish to manifest positive attitudes and experiences in your life. The quality of your consciousness affects your capacity to create the life of your dreams, and you are responsible and therefore free to establish and maintain a positive state of consciousness.

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In my book YOUR LIFE PATH, I will be providing 75 self-discovery Tools you can engage with as a life mapping process that will let you review your Life Story; reflect on your Life Themes, Life Chapters and your archetypal parts of Self; and also engage in future prospecting or what I like to call Future Casting.

One fun Future Casting technique to help transport you via creative visualization to Cross the Threshold into a desirable future is to journal or creatively represent in any medium a set of Alternate Futurescapes:

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Write in first person (I), present tense(from assuming a NOW perspective)about a possible future that is desirable to you because it fulfills your sense of your Life Purpose, Values, and Goals. Describe the conditions you have established in this Futurescape of your fertile imagining. Where are you, what are you doing, what relationships and activities are prominent in this Future dream-come-true. Describe in detail the distinctive features of your Future landscaoe of consciousness. The more descriptive you can be, the more you can assume a perspective within this possible future; the more of a probability it becomes!

Now then, envision a different alternate futurescape, maybe one even more desirable than the first, more ideal. Or imagine where you will arrive if something you need to change currently you do not change. Write several of these Futurescape scenarios, perhaps limiting yourself to one page each.

Later, look back at these Alternate Futurescape scenarios you have described. Are there some common denominator factors that your more desirable futures share? Can you further envision a pathway to bring about the most desirable future conditions you have imagined?

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images are from pixabay.com

If you can conceive of a desirable future you can perceive a path to attain that.

I welcome your Comments and I invite you to share your stories!

Crossing the Threshold

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I attended my dear mother Betty’s early-90th birthday gathering along with 17 family, caregivers and friends this past Saturday. Mom has been enduring the ravages of late stage Parkinsons for several years in an excllent nursing home facility in Western New York. Those of you following theis blog can appreciate how wonderful it was that I could be there with Mom and family at this amazing event that my sisters planned and orchestrated beautifully with great love. After a month’s road trip during which I encountered all manner of what I’ve been calling here “creepy crawly threshold guardians” I actually fled for home with my car and dog in 3 days to deliver my dog Sophie safely (and to separate us from affecting one another plus to deal again with the car)to Colorado. Then my sister graced me from her frequent flying miles to bring me by air right back to Western New York!

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Long story short, I can happily report that this after-the-trip trip has resulted in much better health, happiness and encouragement. My family is tremendous. The birthday gathering was all and much more than planned! My sister set Mom’s wheelchair in the center of a worship area room at her nursing home. We formed a semi-circle around her (and the strawberry cheesecake and cards and decorations). My other of 3 sisters had created/ published a beautiful book and slideshow from over 350 photos of Mom and our family from her birth to now. The slideshow ran continuously on a laptop accompanied by a soundtrack of Mom and our favorite songs.

“You are my Sunshine” is a favorite of favorites that we sing to Mom, and she sings along as best she is able! “My Bonnie lies over the Ocean” and Elvis tunes were also in the mix. For a couple of hours we celebrated Betty, our mother, sister, aunt, grandmother and great-grandmother, and Friend. She was fully with us the entire time and even came to full waking clarity for another hour or so afterwards in her room with my sisters and brother-in-law and me for a short while.(Usually she can stay alert and awake for only minutes at a time or through a fed mealtime encounter with her nurses.) When I had a few minutes of alone time with her before I needed to leave, she stared open eyed and we exchanged a loving moment.

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“You survived!” she uttered clearly.
“I survived,” I answered gratefully. I told her how much I and all of us love her. I said, “After all of this trip I realize that Family is more important than anything!” (I will be retiring to be closer to my family in a bit over a year now. The trip has only reinforced this resolve.)

So, this entire trip which has also included some amazingly positive experiences including a final format editing of my book manuscript which I will send to the publisher today or tomorrow and meeting/sharing with some wonderful new friends including a B&B owner/ EMT and two new wonderful friends who are publicists forming a team with me and my agent around this project, has finally resolved to the rim of a Threshold Crossing. I have met daunting challenges impeding my progress but I have survived and continue to advance. I arrived at the destination of my mother’s pre-90th birthday. We all laughed and sang, hugged and updated. We shall progress only forward from Here!

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pictures are from pixabay.com

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The Reluctant Host: Creepy Crawly Threshold Guardians, Part Two

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So my road trip continues and so does my encounter with creepy crawly Threshold Guardians. Pernicious. Now I am under treatment for head lice, body lice and am trying to thwart tiny bedbug or mite babies that show up all around me and some take haven in my skin.

But I and my allies are fighting back. I guess some Threshold Guardians require not humility or surrender so much as vigilant opposition.

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Pictures are from Pixabay.com

I am grateful to be alive. Last night I slept rolled in a sheet on a bathroom floor to avoid the bed. For the first night in weeks I dreamed.

Tomorrow the Orkin man comes and today I am bombing the car and getting mattress covers with zippers and 91 percent alcohol spray. I have cortisone cream and a lotion for the lice. For now I am sitting at a Paneras to write this and do some other writing and school work while a snow storm builds.

Life marches on, even under duress.

Life is a blessing.

Creepy Crawly Threshold Guardians

 

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It’s never easy, is it, when you are persisting toward a major goal? Yet so worthwhile!

Currently I am on a one month writing retreat and scouting visit to the area I will retire to in about 16 months. But Sunday, I experienced a reprisal of bug bites apparently from the hotel on my first night of the road trip. This time the bites were from under a sleeve of a shirt that was not packed in the luggage used at the hotel, but in an adjacent duffle bag in the car. So I washed and disinfected everything I could. Yet the next day while putting a laundered mattress cover back onto a bed, another patch of apparent bites suddenly appeared!

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Ironically through this adversity which I see as a Threshold Guardian moment, I have been working even harder at the computer, moving forward with my final manuscript formatting and editing. The work is interspersed with dealing with the issue, for sure, because I feel responsible to do all that I can to protect my health, my dog, and the house I’m renting. But when I get to the computer, I welcome the opportunity to focus on this task of love and care.

Here are some common sayings about Threshold Guardians:

“When the going gets tough, the tough get going”;

“Whatever doesn’t kill you makes you stronger”; and

“The darkest night is always before the dawn.”

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images are from pixabay.com

So often in fiction as in life, to succeed we must encounter and overcome obstacles. Persistence in the face of adversity brings greater clarity, determination and focus.

I welcome your Comments and Stories!

Next time: Naysayers

On the Road Again!

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As this month winds down with its theme of Departure, I am en route for an exciting adventure. I will write this post as a travelogue, to reflect on the experience of Departure.

Before (Wed., Feb 22):

This trip is to be a microcosm of a much bigger departure in my life. It is a preparation for launching both my upcoming book activity and my graduation–er, retirement–in around a year and a half. I am traveling to the location I have chosen to live in for the next major stage of my life as I shift focus from teaching as a primary activity to writing and coaching as primary. As well, I am seeking to live the life of my dreams, just as I am offering to others with my book about Life Path Mapping, to be titled, YOUR LIFE PATH. For me in addition to life as an author and coach, this will allow living by a lake with my pets, nearer to family and located in proximity to a wide array of opportunities for travel as well as for extended career ventures.

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So this is to be a true Departure with full double entrendre: a leaving from one place to arrive at another physical location but more importantly as well, departing from life as I have known it to Now in order to embark upon a life changing Adventure.  I am driving my new car which I selected for this future activity, a Subaru Cross Trek which I have nicknamed Scout. And that is what this journey is set up to be: a scouting trip.

En Route (Monday, Feb. 27)

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In Ohio now, third night of the Road Trip. It has certainly been an adventure already. I was plagued with an attack of blood sucking bugs on my first night out (Saturday)–apparently not exactly bed bugs but possibly chiggers. After ravaging my back, legs and neck, they left a very strange (to me) stain of gloppy orange-blood goo on the bedspread!  What was this about?

Challenging obstacles test our mettle. The process of encountering hardship and overcoming the difficulties is part and parcel of a growth experience.  The bug bite scenario led me to wash all my clothes at the next stop (fortunately at my friend Pam’s home in Iowa) and to throw away my carry on luggage, to divest of potential deterrents. I have also showered twice and bathed my dog Sophie. Is this a cleansing in preparation for the rest of the journey?

Yet to Come (musing Monday night, prior to arrival at the main locations of my travels)

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I like to set goals for a cross-country adventure, and this trip is chock full of purposes and intended outcomes. Quoting from my dear departed Grandmother Rugh (and her from Robert Frost):

“I have promises to keep,

and miles to go before I sleep.”

On this trip I will be conducting a full month’s writing retreat at a rental home in the lakeside community I will retire to not this but next summer. By the end of this stay, I aim to send out the final manuscript to the publisher for my book. I’ll be putting on final touches of format, aiming to deliver this book as a missive, the product of over a decade and a half of development and writing. I am blessed to have publicists to visit during this stay; you may see  evidence at this site of changes reflecting the preparation for eventually launching the book. I love that this has become a more team oriented project over time, since meeting a wonderful, encouraging Agent nearly 5 years ago, to following her inspiration to constantly improve upon the product for the prospective reading public, to securing a contract and procuring a publicizing agency with people as wonderful as my Agent is, to enlisting a great friend who is expert at graphics and another with a professional editing past, and sharing all of this process with friends, colleagues, and family too.

This ends the Departure phase as tomorrow I’ll begin the full encounter with the mythic stuff of the adventure itself. It will begin by visiting my mother at her nursing home tomorrow. Nearly ninety and with late stage Parkinson’s, Mom is one who is forging her Life Path  day by day now, showing all of us that pain and infirmity are less important to her than life itself; perhaps rather I should say, than love itself.  Her endurance is an act of love for all her family and friends. I hope deeply that there is even more than meets the eye to her lingering life experience. I feel she is already in the course of a beautiful inner transformation in ways not obvious to us from the outside. I hope she is preparing spiritually for the best leap forward in Crossing the Threshold to her next life that she possibly can; like the Monarch butterfly gradually emerging from her chrysalis.

May I be so fortunate as to give my All to life and to the Spirit in All; or rather, to immerse as a vehicle for Love Itself!

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images are gratefully from pixabay.com

I welcome your Comments and Stories!

 

 

 

Prepare Well for Your Departure

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Every one of the incremental phases of a Hero’s Adventure (click here for the Monthly Topics tab) holds an archetypal Frame of its own, meaning it is embued with a special power by its categorical/ culturally patterned nature. Departure is a ‘thing’ as well as part of the longer process it initiates. So let’s consider here how does one successfully Depart?  I would say from experience that a good Departure requires a mindful, spiritually and psychologically deep approach in order to facilitate a highly successful Adventure.

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Some 39 years ago in 1978 I initiated a Departure from everything I had known. I would take a leap into the Unknown by moving West, from Buffalo, New York to Tempe, Arizona to enter graduate school.  I was leaving so I could study Native American languages and cultures in the Southwest setting so appropriate to that objective. I was to leave family, friends, and all my familiar Eastern environments and weather to go to the Desert and start anew.

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The preparation for departure was quite a long process of nearly two years.  I first took a cross-country bus trip with a dear spiritual friend, Grace. And such an adventure that trip became!  The bus broke down so we were rerouted through Sedona, a mecca of sorts for me at the time as my spiritual group had land there we got to visit.  Plus I met new friends and together we faced the possibility of there being a murderer(signaled by a police woman’s warning) who boarded in Albuquerque, causing me to sink into one of the deepest contemplations of my life—altering my consciousness altogether by the time we arrived in Sedona. (He got off in Flagstaff with his traveling partner, saying: “Goodbye, New Mexico, forever!” To me, when I addressed him after spreading the rumor around the bus as to whom he might be, he had said: “So, how do you feel about YOUR life?”)

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This trip primed me for a love of the Southwest, and I spent the next year in Buffalo preparing for the Big Adventure. I plastered beautiful photographs from Sedona Life magazine all over my office wall.  I asked questions of my Inner Guide nightly in contemplations, e.g.: “Should I really make such a big move?” “Will I be okay?”

Every night then I would dream and in the dream I would be shown an answer to my question. For example one night I asked, “But what about Chela (my beloved Cat companion)? How can she make such a long trip in an overcrowded car with me?”  That night I dreamed I was driving a van across country to Arizona, and in the back, stretched out contentedly on a blanket covering a Player Piano that was musically soothing her, was Chela.

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One morning about six months prior to my departure to the Southwest, I woke with a musical ditty on my mind:

I’m leaving

But there are a few doors left to close

Before I get over there.

For the next six months, that lyric and melody became a daily mantra for me. I came to realize I needed to smooth out some rough edges in my relationships, for instance, and this ditty helped me do that mindfully and with clear intent.

The time came. I packed up my ’66 red convertible Buick Special that my father had gifted me, packed with all the belongings I would carry, and my dear Chela. A friend, Cathy, accompanied us, as she had friends in Mesa, Arizona I would stay with temporarily until I could get situated near the campus at Arizona State University.  We only made one stop along the way, in Colorado Springs at the Garden of the Gods, where I walked Chela and admired the red rocks there which are so similar to the red rocks of Sedona. (Fourteen years later, guess where I moved to teach after graduating with my doctorate? Yes, Colorado Springs, where I have remained ever since.)

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The move to Arizona went exceedingly well. I cried one torrential outpour of tears about two days after reaching there, releasing my pain and fear and grief over leaving everything and everyone familiar to me up til then. But then I met new friends—several of whom I had been shown in those premonition dreams back in Buffalo—and I embarked upon my studies that helped me eventually build a successful, exciting career as an anthropologist.

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images are from pixabay.com

So consider, how shall you PREPARE for your DEPARTURE?  Give this pregnant phase of your Adventure all the loving attention and all the time and dreaming you can invest.  Contemplate where your departure can take you. Prepare for the life you are creating for yourself with this golden opportunity.

Then, Go with Spirit, my friends!  Enjoy your most beautiful Adventure!

Time Travel?  You ARE a Time Machine!

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Following up from my previous post on “How to Burst Your Bubble,” we are all of us time travelers!  We have the capacity to transport ourselves to any NOW of our imagining via our divine gift of creative visualization.

All the theoretical debate over whether time travel is possible or whether we could ever develop a Time Machine is interesting yet unnecessary. We HAVE a Time Machine built into our very Beingness, though only a few of us humans (anyways) have learned how to willingly tap into our timespace travel capacity.

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Am I speaking of Memory? Only as a repository for dead image storage, though we may utilize a stored memory as a launching off pad for our “inner” time travel adventures. Some speak of the Reactive Mind; that houses memory images that, if reactivated by encountering a similar experience to one that affected us earlier in a traumatic or dramatic way, could trigger or reactivate past synoptic associations. Memories can be pleasant or painful, beautiful or horrendous. But if we are only talking about ‘dead’ mental images, this is not the sort of time travel I am referring to .

Lift yourself above the Time Track via your fertile IMAGINATION and go to visit one of the experiences you hold in your memory banks, but this time deposit yourself back into the event actively and re-vision it. This can be a form of time travel.  “Daydream” or creatively envision a desirable future state of consciousness and deposit yourself into that specific possible future to look around or make changes Here; this can also be a time travel excursion.

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What I mean by “get above the time track” and “deposit” yourself in the Now of your aware choice so you can explore and bring back your fresh memory of perceptions from there, is just that.  I like to think of Timespace more as an OCEAN than as a linear arrow; your consciousness then is like an OCEAN LINER—or better yet, a SEA GULL!

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Mystics and self-development gurus say emphatically that you CAN create your own future. Time Travel via consciousness-surfing, as you will, is a timeless (hah!) method. Establish a thought mold of a desirable future state so you can steer your consciousness to eventually sail mindfully into this future-state harbor.  IMAGINATION is your Divine capacity of Consciousness Itself.

How do I “know” this to speak so confidently of your essentially BEing your own Time Machine? It would take more than this full month of posts on our theme of Departure to explain.

Some evidences from my own life experience include (with brief annotations):

Prophetic dreams (lots of them, very clear and later realized precisely):

Example:   When I moved from Buffalo, NY to Phoenix, AZ in 1979 I asked questions of my Inner Guide in active contemplation every night for the previous year. Every night I then dreamed about what I would be experiencing as I traveled to Phoenix and what I would encounter there. I met three people very clearly in my dreams whom I later recognized from those dreams and who became close relations in Phoenix.  I was shown that I needed to make this trip partly to meet these people.

Revised memories from direct re-visioning:

Example:

In my upcoming book Your Life Path I include a life mapping Tool that I call “Re-Vision a Past Event.” I practiced this myself by re-visioning a traumatic encounter with my father when I was 17.   By depositing myself back into a memory of a time when he physically beat and demeaned me over a trivial matter, I was able to journal a dialogue with him (1st person, ‘present-Then’ tense) just following the encounter. We both got to communicate with each other about what had “just” transpired, so we both came to a clearer understanding of both of our points of view and motivations and we forgave each other in that re-visioned dialogue. I can say that since re-visioning that experience, its memory is forever altered in my consciousness!

‘Future Casting’ now coming to fruition

When I was a teenager I would often daydream. I would usually find myself on a small rowboat, drifting under a blue sky while reading a book. Guess what? In around 18 months I am relocating after retirement to a lakeside community!

Future casting is a concept I use in Your Life Path to recommend journaling “Alternate Future Scape” scenarios.

Other Examples:

Other timespace ‘travel’ modalities I have experienced directly include:

Parallel life awareness, past life awareness, lucid dreaming, and Soul Travel (Out of Body Experiences including  a Near-Death experience).

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images are from pixabay.com

Remember please, you are NOT your Body but your Consciousness has a freedom to explore beyond your Body’s sense-limitations.

I welcome YOUR Stories and Comments!

DEPARTURE—The Separation Phase of Your Adventure!

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Every Rites of Passage adventure consists of three phases of ritual activities: Separation, Transition—I like to call this, Transformation—, and Reintegration. The initial SEPARATION phase launches the person or group of ‘ritual passengers’ into their Adventure. It is usually marked in a formal rites of passage cycle by distinguishing the Adventurer in various ways as no longer in her/his ‘old’ state but not yet in the ‘new’ state s/he seeks to attain as the Quest of their adventure.

I love the scene in the very first Star Wars movie (Episode 4: A New Hope) when Luke Skywalker stands on a hill at dusk watching the double sunset and feeling the desire to depart the way of life he has known to embark on a greater adventure. This is the beginning of Luke’s Call to Adventure. His Departure begins shortly thereafter, first when he departs his uncle’s compound to find the renegade R2D2 and encounters his Mage Teacher, the Jedi Knight Obiwan Kenobi. The second stage of the Departure is when Luke leaves his home planet, but perhaps we will come back to that set of scenes as Crossing the Threshold.

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Luke is marked for Departure by his show of restlessness with his uncle and aunt just before his longing gaze into the double sunset.  When he (upon his second departure on the Millennial Falcon) receives his weapon of the Light Saber from his Teacher, this separates Luke from all others as he is from then on in training to become a rare spiritual warrior of the Jedi Order.

Very common ensignia of Separation accompanying the Departure stage of an heroic adventure would be donning a uniform or cutting one’s hair (e.g. for a military boot camp, or Yentl’s shearing of her feminine identity in cutting her hair in order to be able to study as a Hasidic scholar). One sheds their old identity and prepares to confront the ordeals of the transitional/ transformational Passage.

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As I approach retirement in a few months over a year from now, I have already begun the Separation process so as to allow and to prepare well for this Departure.  I am on sabbatical from my professor role this semester, which is a form of semi-retirement (though busy, as my retirement will also be).  I do not hold myself to the same normal schedule of a regular workaday semester. I wear jeans more than not even at the office. I close the office door unless I have a known appointment. All of these mark my intention (to myself and coworkers and students) to shift identities; no longer Chair of my department, now I begin a more liminal, transitional passage.

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images are from pixabay.com

It is helpful and important to MARK yourself as being in Separation from your earlier way of life if you are to step boldly into the next phase of your adventure. The more clearly and distinctively you can separate yourself from your normal routines and activities, the better!  As you mark your Separation you create at least the shell or form of your new identity. You must shed your Old or outmoded way of life in order to move confidently into the New mode you aim to achieve that will bring you Fulfillment of your deep aspirations.

What new Adventure are you aiming to undertake that can help orient and launch you in an appropriate direction to Live Your Dream, Now? How will you MARK your Separation as one ready to Depart?

I invite YOUR comments and stories!