My Life Themes and Representing Illustration

Mandi of Caged No More has posted her own results from the Life Themes activity offered last week on Better Endings. Good work, Mandi! (I will respond better after processing…I am still traveling and just arrived at my hotel today.) Readers please also see the new Sunday post for this week’s theme of Your Turning Points, also posted today. Mandi’s artistic reflections are a great way to brig these forward for your reflection!

James Joyce’s “Eveline” Re-Visioned

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I wrote my Masters thesis in Linguistics about James Joyce’s short story “Eveline”, from his Dubliners book. Eveline is a young Irish woman in 1914 Ireland. Her mother has died several years prior to the action of the story. Eveline has taken care of her father and brothers ever since. But now a sailor from another country, Frank, has romanced Eveline and he wants to take her away with him, to Buenos Aires.

“She sat at the window watching the evening invade the avenue. Her head was leaned against the window curtains and in her nostrils was the odour of dusty cretonne. She was tired.”

So James Joyce’s story of “Eveline” opens. The question Joyce poses with this opening Dubliners story is simple: Will Eveline leave family, Church and nationality to go away with the sailor to another land? Buenos Aires–”good” or fresh “air”–contrasts with the “dusty” air of Eveline’s home and world. There is hardly ever a question in the story really of whether Eveline will leave; to Joyce, she can not. By the end, when the final time for her to decide arrives with the boat on which Frank has bought them passage, we see Eveline in a state of near paralysis, like a frightened animal:

“She stood up in a sudden impulse of terror. Escape! She must escape! Frank would save her. He would give her life, perhaps love, too. But she wanted to live. Why should she be unhappy? She had a right to happiness. Frank would take her in his arms, fold her in his arms. He would save her.

She stood among the swaying crowd in the station at the North Wall. He held her hand and she knew that he was speaking to her, saying something about the passage over and over again. The station was full of soldiers with brown baggages. Through the wide doors of the sheds she caught a glimpse of the black mass of the boat, lying in beside the quay wall, with illumined portholes. She answered nothing. She felt her cheek pale and cold and, out of a maze of distress, she prayed to God to direct her, to show her what was her duty. The boat blew a long mournful whistle into the mist. If she went, tomorrow she would be on the sea with Frank, steaming towards Buenos Ayres. Their passage had been booked. Could she still draw back after all he had done for her? Her distress awoke a nausea in her body and she kept moving her lips in silent fervent prayer.

A bell clanged upon her heart. She felt him seize her hand:

“Come!”

All the seas of the world tumbled about her heart. He was drawing her into them: he would drown her. She gripped with both hands at the iron railing.

“Come!”

No! No! No! It was impossible. Her hands clutched the iron in frenzy. Amid the seas she sent a cry of anguish.

“Eveline! Evvy!”

He rushed beyond the barrier and called to her to follow. He was shouted at to go on but he still called to her. She set her white face to him, passive, like a helpless animal. Her eyes gave him no sign of love or farewell or recognition.”

My re-vision of “Eveline” transpires in contemporary Ireland, where 62% of the population is urbanized and globalization offers many options to the youth for emigration and jobs.

“Eveline” Revisited:

Eve stood at the railing of the Odyssey’s prow; straining to find Frank in the harbor crowd as the boat’s powerful engines pulled it away from the shore. Why had he not come? She felt deeply into the pocket of her windbreaker, palming the passage stub, a misty rain in the morning air obscuring her view of all that she was leaving: her father, the rocky countryside, the steeple of the church she had attended since baptism. Her woven purse was secure in her pocket, with all the money she had saved from weekly allowances over the last thirteen years. She covered her head with the windbreaker’s hood and tied it so only her eyes were exposed. She turned away from the rail and climbed down from the bow into the passenger deck. Ten or twelve tourists peered out the windows, happy to be safe and dry. Eveline, drenched from her watch above, gazed out an open window from her pew seat. East was her direction now. Her very life was about to begin.

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What story would you choose to re-vision with a Better Ending? Why this story and not another? I chose “Eveline” because her inability to leave, her bondage to family, church and nationality, has stayed with me through the years as a cautionary tale. I have a strong aversion to any bonds that do not serve fulfillment for all concerned; therefore, in my projection, Eve departs.

I invite your Comments. Which stories might you wish to revise and why?

A Backpacker’s Guide to Exorcism,  from ViolaConspiracy; AND Thoughts for the Day, from MarDrag

Here are a wonderful travel story (a Best of Better Endings repost), and positive Thoughts for the Day:

1)  April 16, 2014
A Backpacker’s Guide to Exorcism,  from ViolaConspiracy
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ViolaConspiracy

by amethyst:

A Backpacker’s Guide to Exorcism

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Apr. 7th, 2014 at 2:00 PM
The reflection in the window tells me that the pack strapped to my back is small– far too small, in fact, for someone who is on her way to a different country for two weeks. It’s hard to believe my eyes, because I feel like I’m carrying a mountain.

Most people could carry three of my pack without trouble, but I’m adding it to an already-massive load. With all the ghosts riding on my shoulders, there’s hardly room for a backpack. There are the ghosts of Worry About the Future and Self-Doubt, the ghost of Personal Failure, the ghost of Life’s Unfairness, the ghost of Fatigue, and more. They take turns riding piggyback, wrapping their gaunt arms around my neck and digging their fingers into my collarbones. They like to whisper nasty things into my ears. Some of them wear spurs. There’s an ache between my shoulder blades that never goes away, and my reflection in the glass shows a slouch that’s too pronounced to be explained by the small bundle of things I’m carrying.

In a moment of hot panic, Worry and Self-Doubt begin to quarrel. “I won’t have enough things!” collides with “I can’t carry this for two weeks!” But it’s too late to do anything. The bus leaves in three minutes, and Worry is flogging me and shouting that if I don’t make this bus, the next one won’t get me to the airport on time.

By the time I check into the first guesthouse late that night, I feel as though I’ve been beaten. Fatigue hangs on my neck like a ballast stone, muttering quiet obscenities at me. My feet and joints ache from the extra weight. The skin on my shoulders is chafed where the straps of my backpack rubbed all day, and the muscles underneath feel bruised. The constant ember of pain in my back has flared into a bonfire. It’s hard to even sleep.

In the morning, Fatigue and Self-Doubt clutch at the straps and try to stop me from putting my pack on again, but finally I wrestle them down and the weight settles unkindly onto yesterday’s bruises. I haven’t even left my room yet and I want to cry. The pace of the entire day is dictated by my need for periodic rests, and the sightseeing agenda is chosen according to which locations will have a locker or a place to leave bags. I feel heavy and slow and old and Personal Failure keeps whispering that I’m getting in everyone else’s way. This night, even the inferno in my back can’t interfere with my bone-weariness, and I sleep the sleep of the dead.

On the third day, the weight of my backpack is familiar. Deep sleep has erased some of the bruising and tamed the blaze in my back to the size of a small campfire. My body has started to adjust its balance for the weight of the pack. I can move without knocking into things, at least. The ghosts are tired from sharing their space with my bag, and their grip is lazy. The day is filled with historic temples and street food, and the cherry blossoms floating down everywhere are so mesmerizing that I forget to listen to Worry’s whisperings. At night I dream of fantastic foreign landscapes sweeping past my train window.

“I am a turtle,” I think on the fourth morning. “This backpack is my home. All the things I really need are inside it, and I can carry it wherever I want to go.” On this day I can stand up straight, because I have discovered how to be a little more self-sufficient and that makes me proud of myself. Self-Doubt loses his clammy grip as I bump down the stairs, and I leave him sitting alone on the bottom step.

By day five, I can’t hear any whispers, and I strap on my backpack without any cadaverous arms or bony fingers getting in the way. When I’m carrying home on my back, there’s no room for ghosts.

http://violaconspiracy.livejournal.com/3480.html

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Thoughts For The Day (5/22/14)

 

“When everything seems to be going against you, remember that the airplane takes off against the wind, not with it.” ~ Henry Ford, Founder of Ford Motor Co.

MarDrag’s Thoughts:

Sometimes it feels like the world is working against us, but we have the power to fly into it, face it, rise above it….and soar.

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“Always know in your heart that you are far bigger than anything that can happen to you.” ~ Dan Zadra, Motivational Author

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MarDrag’s Thoughts:

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“When everything seems to be going against you, remember that the airplane takes off against the wind, not with it.” ~ Henry Ford, Founder of Ford Motor Co.

Put things into perspective, realize that things happen, but the scope of the Power of Will and the Soul is far greater than anything else. Focus on your personal power, and it will be there for you.
tapestry“Discouragement is a negative emotion with more than one trick up its dark sleeve. It tricks you into mentally or emotionally dwelling in the very place you want to leave. Drop all such sorrow permanently by daring to see through this deception of the unconscious mind. You have a destination far beyond where you find yourself standing today” ~ Guy Finley, Author and Speaker

MarDrag’s Thoughts:

Remember, there is a bigger picture than just the snapshot you are looking at today. This day, and its difficulties, do not define you as a whole person, or the whole of your life. Tomorrow, you will wake and have another chance to do it differently or make another choice. Trick the trickster of the deception Guy Finley speaks of and see through it, thereby taking all the power away from that negative emotion.

We are all special and unique in our own way, and are an important thread in the tapestry of the universe. Remember how significant you are in that tapestry and how no one can fill the space your thread fills and weaves like you do. No matter what you are going through, or what anyone else says, you are essential to the greater picture and a beautiful thread that completes this gorgeous tapestry.

Blessings!

About MarDrag:

First things first: Spirit and Love! Then, I am a Certified Clinical Hypnotherapist and Counselor who assists people in achieving empowerment over life issues and challenges. I have developed am series of meditations and processes designed to help achieve a balanced way of life that enriches and empowers and teaches how to overcome adversity while still maintaining a positive and happy lifestyle. Yes, it is possible!! Read much more at my blog: fromthedeskofmardrag.wordpress.co

By From the Desk of MarDrag • Tagged AloneAwakeningAwarenessBigger PictureChangeDestinationEmpowerment,EncouragementHealingHeartInspirationLifeLife ForceObstaclesPersonal GrowthRise AboveSoarSpirituality,SurrenderTapestry

 

Prelude to the NEW Better Endings

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Welcome to the second six months of Better Endings! The full title of this blog is now Better Endings for Life Paths: Life Mapping to Live Your Dream, Now!

This will remain a positively oriented site with weekly topics; I will introduce and invite you to engage in self-reflection and specific personal growth & development principles and techniques associated with the approach of Life Mapping.  The blog topics will as of Sunday present a more process-oriented, step by step and stage by stage series of topics related to the Life Maps Process which I’ve developed over the past twelve years and will soon be sharing more fully with my book and self-help Handbook titled Life Paths. The creative modalities and self-help techniques presented with this blog will include representative samples of the more complete self-help process which the upcoming book will provide for the general public.

What I will be sharing with you in this blog will still be unique; it is not taken directly from the book. Rather, I’ll be presenting a practical and sometimes a theoretical background and supplementary material to share an ‘insider’ knowledge about the LIFE PATHS approach in advance of the book’s publication. The blog will remain an INTERACTIVE space. The general pattern will be that on Sundays I’ll introduce a topic that develops a thread of ideas, then on Tuesdays I will offer a Life Mapping activity and invite you to try it out for yourself. On Fridays I will share insights you have shared with me along with some case story findings from my research on Life Mapping and some additional ideas and discussion of principles.

I want to begin by expressing my deep gratitude for those of you readers who have been loyal as well as sometimes-readers of Better Endings to now.

I have been ‘itching’ to get started with this renewed phase of Better Endings, so I am launching this earlier in order to set up the Sunday – Tuesday — Friday sequence to begin this coming Sunday, May 25. Meanwhile I have some revising to do to the basic layout on the site; you’ll see this morphing over the rest of this week in the background while I’ll continue to post Best of Better Endings stories in the main panel through Saturday.

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A good person who is a former student came visiting today at the university, returned from her travels in Korea.  She is the author of the Best of Better Endings post I will rerun tomorrow, Amethyst. She said she has enjoyed reading this blog because it is a relief to find something POSITIVE day to day online. I feel encouraged by Amethyst’s acknowledgement that readers may be discovering supportive and wellness inspiring stories here, from all who have been contributing.

This is still all about Better Endings! Life Mapping is simply a fun, creative way to envision and manifest Better Endings in your own – and others’ lives (as I hope you might share any hopeful and positive techniques with those whom you feel could benefit). PLease know you are welcome and invited to share YOUR insights and stories as we proceed!

Two Wellness Affirmation Stories, by Illyipstick of Masknolonger, and Brenda Davis Harsham of FriendlyFairyTales

This day we are blessed to share two stories from other bloggers which serve as Wellness Affirmations. I re-blog them here with gratitude for their insight and “centeredness”!

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A 2nd LETTER TO MY THERAPISTby Illy

posted in Detoxifying the PastLife in Recovery

Dear Joan,

When we first started our sessions 14 months ago, I could not imagine having the freedoms that I do today. I surely would have listened to you had you have said that my life today was something that I could achieve then, but I certainly would not have believed you.

Our relationship, which was my first safe and honest relationship planted a seed. Watering this seed was certainly terrifying, but you allowed me just enough time and space to gradually nourish this safety and trust in our sessions. I mentioned in my last letter to you that you had provided me with a treasure box of healthy living and I had no idea just how accurate I was. You truly have. Today, I not only have you as a guiding force which keeps me on track, but I have allowed many others into my life as well. I have shared secrets which I thought would remain in your office forever and I have shared some of these willingly with groups of strangers even because I want to hold my shame up to the light… I did not know that my shame was in fact evaporating through this process until I started taking moments to reflect on just where I was months ago…

I am sober today which is miraculous. The manner in which you encouraged me to go to treatment for my alcohol addiction was absolutely perfect. There was no pressure. You made it clear that in order for you to help me, I had to consider treatment and I did. You were there to assist me in that planning. You were there to listen to me rant from the pay phone while I was in treatment. But, most importantly, you were there when I came home and you helped me to pick up the pieces of my life that had been cast astray while I was active in my addiction. You never left and in my mind you were supposed to because that is what people have always done.

I stopped relying on others because I was always disappointed, I was always hurt and so by relying solely on myself – I thought in my distorted mind, that I was safe… In all of this self-examination and learning about myself, I realized that this method of self-protection did not keep me safe, it actually made it more dangerous to live be with my thoughts alone and without support.

I cannot think of a single moment in 14 months of weekly sessions where I have felt judged or in a state of oppression. Not once.

You have and continue to help me navigate my 12 step recovery and encourage me to seek counsel outside of the rooms as well, which has helped me to establish healthy boundaries in my recovery and in my everyday life. Not everyone has this opportunity and I am grateful that I do.

All of this said, I was never excited about life. But, I am sometimes nowadays and I am learning to appreciate and be with those moments more and more often. I can’t believe that there was a time when being with my emotions was so unbearable that I wanted to die all of the time. These feelings will undoubtedly re-surface at some point, but I am willing to live today knowing that bad emotions may one day lead me astray for awhile and that is okay.

Has my life changed? Have I changed? Most definitely. Everything has changed!

And, the beauty in this is that so much more will continue to change as we delve deeper and deeper into the trauma of my past…

I recently came across the “Miracle Day!” exercise that we completed at one point during my first 4 months of therapy. I was to describe what a day would look like for me if I could do anything and everything I wanted for that day without anything holding me back… On the photocopied version of your notes, it reads: not to drink/to stay sober, to be honest with everyone I meet, to open-up to another person other than Joan (most probably, my sister) about my alcohol problem, to treat myself to lunch on a patio and not feel guilty about eating, to be able to sleep without having nightmares, to spend time in a park writing, to feel alive. This miracle day, minus the eating portion – has happened to me on many days since I have gotten sober… Even the eating portion has happened, not as often as I would like, but I am getting there slowly, but surely…

Thank you for helping me be with myself in such a fashion which has allowed me to realize that I am not always to blame…

“We may define therapy

as a search for value.”

-Abraham Maslow

http://masknolonger.com/

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Centered Haibun, by Brenda Davis Harsham

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I learned to pray as a small child by placing my hands flat together, closing my eyes and bowing my head. That ritual helped me focus, set aside distractions and center myself. In yoga, I took quickly to prayer pose, which also uses hands placed together, head bowed and attention focused.

In prayer pose, I hear my breathing, like the waves of the ocean, calming me. I observe the movement of my rib cage, expanding, contracting, and I consciously deepen my breathing, holding it after taking a breath in, for a few seconds of stillness. I learned to focus my intention for that class: to set aside worries, to lay down burdens, and to think only of the needs of my body for those moments.

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thoughts echo and grow still
breathe out worries

I haven’t been to a yoga class in years, but I had inspiring teachers, who were generous enough to help me design a home practice. I still practice yoga, and I am so grateful for it.

Prayer pose lets me feel close to the divine, for in the stillness and focusing of my mind I achieve calm. I hear the voice of the universe only in quiet moments, external and internal quiet.

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branches lifted to the sky
blessed by rain

Copyright 2014 Brenda Davis Harsham ( http://friendlyfairytales.com/ )

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One Thing

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Remember Curly (Jack Palance) from City Slickers I? With sage advice, Curly shares with Mitch (Billy Crystal) that the “secret of life” (holding up one forefinger) is “one thing.” But Curly shared this on his last breath and died before he could answer, what is that one thing? Mitch–and the film audience–had to wait for the sequel to learn from Curly’s twin brother Duke what that ‘one thing’ is.

It turns out that the ‘one thing’ is different for everybody. It is “whatever it is for you,” that ONE THING that makes you happy or allows for you to thrive.

Joseph Campbell might call that ‘one thing’ your Bliss. “Follow Your Bliss,” says Campbell in The Power of Myth, meaning for you to pursue that which truly fulfills you and empowers you to achieve your life purpose and manifest your Life Dream.

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Establishing one new, good habit or an activity that can propel you toward a goal you might otherwise not pursue would be a positive, “one thing” to do.  Some eight years ago, for example, when I was just beginning to write in earnest about the life mapping process I was already developing then, at a therapy session one day, I reached a breakthrough. I could do one thing to help this project really get rolling; I could find a house sitter for one full month and go for a writing retreat. So, I did. I rented a ski chalet in Steamboat Springs, CO, where every day of the month I started to work on my book and a proposal package at 8 AM and I usually worked far into the evening. I brought with me my elderly, beloved Harlequin calico cat, Ariel.

It was wonderful. I set up the computer at a wooden kitchen table facing an alcove window looking out above an ocean of Ponderosa pine treetops. I had plenty of peace and quiet. I drafted the basis of several chapters that would, over time, develop into Life Paths, a book I aim to begin marketing with an agent this summer.  It was that “one thing”–something I needed to commit to and invest some money in, a writing retreat–that firmly established my feet and heart on a path I have continued to follow ever since.

So, what is your “one thing”? What can you do that is outside your normal “box” (remember though, “There is no box”); something that could move you in the direction of your Bliss?

Joseph Campbell spoke of Bliss on one hand and also Dragons, on the other. Your Dragons might be “threshold guardians”. Your Dragons might prevent you from taking an action that could help you manifest your goals, either from fear or a lack of self-confidence.

“It will cost too much to rent a chalet for a whole month;

 Who will take care of my other pets while I am away?”

A Dream that is close to your heart is worth risking your complacency. Go for it! I encourage you to DO YOUR ONE THING! You can plan for it now, and then, Follow Through!

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Better Endings to You!

(Thanks already for former Likers of this original post.)

There Is No Box! A Concept I Live By, by Denise Naughton

Dear readers: Thank you for your patience during a month of Best of Better Endings, while I am finalizing a major project that you will hear about soon. Meanwhile, though, I am re-blogging los=ts i=of the early posts that most readers haven’t seen anyway. Today’s Best of Better Endings is by Denise naughton, whose principle of “There is No Box!” is one I often go back to whenever I begin to think too rigidly. As a Better Endings principle, “There is NO BOX” is a tool for expanding your approach to any situation and opening to greater flexibility… – Linda

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A few years ago a friend of mine, Jay, and I were putting together a talk about some ‘spiritual laws of life’. In order to do the talk well, we decided we should experience at least one of the laws we would talk about very consciously by working with them inwardly. Both of us chose two laws and began doing the work. My two spiritual laws were the ‘law of imperfection’, and the ‘law of progressive continuation’. Both of these principles were in harmony with one another because both imply there is always another step to take—which can be frustrating in one way, but so freeing in another.

Of course we all want a rest, but that rest is always up to us. Let’s say I’ve climbed this mountain, and I’m sitting on the peak to enjoy the accomplishment and the view—literally and metaphorically. Though I’ve never climbed mountains, my brother does, and I’ve read his stories.  The reality is, one can’t sit on the peak for too long—the lack of oxygen, weather moving in, or the need to get off that peak to move on to the next one propels your journey onward.

My grandmother used to say to me that she’d never been bored a day in her life, and she said that almost to the day she passed away. The first time I heard her say that, I decided I would never be bored either. However, I’ve always felt that a constant striving for something better also becomes boring. It can become a sense of restlessness without contentment, without loving the moment of accomplishment.  If I’m always looking outward, then I’m not developing inwardly, and that’s where the real relationship with life begins.

With this workshop, Jay and I wanted to each share a personal statement that came from our deep understanding of the spiritual laws we had been working with. My friend’s statement was that, “Each doorway brings me into a higher state of consciousness.”  I, on the other hand, wasn’t getting anything that excited me, though I could hear the excitement in Jay’s voice over his phrase. It made life sing for him.

How the image of a box came to mind I really don’t remember. I thought about the phrase ‘thinking outside of the box’ as being relevant to the laws of imperfection and progressive continuation, but that phrase bothered me. Somehow it was still a form of containment. Then I realized that what I was aiming for had nothing to do with thinking. It had everything to do with being, which can only be experienced inwardly by the individual, so that even writing about it takes away from the sensation.

Jay and I talked about my dilemma over the phone, and he said he knew without a doubt that I would find the right phrase. I hung up with huge doubts, and walked into another room. In that moment I said, “There is no box,” and with those words my world changed. I actually felt everything line up for me inwardly and suddenly I was standing at the edge of a new world filled with brilliant light and a sound current that I cannot describe. I knew I had found the right phrase. Where else this phrase would take me I didn’t know, but I was ready for the adventure.

I did a great deal of work with that phrase, “There is no box”.  I created workshop exercises around it, and I took it into a daily contemplation. Where it took me initially was turning a talk into a workshop, and with my personal experience and Jay’s we were able to work with other people, helping them to develop their own personal phrase that came from deeply contemplating upon spiritual laws they chose to work with. After doing the workshop three times in Colorado, we were invited to Australia to share it there too, and we received many compliments on how this workshop helped people to move forward in their own quest to take another step.

What I love most about this story is that ever so often someone will come up to me now and say, “There is no box!” Usually it’s when I’ve boxed myself in with fear, and doubt, or an image of what I think something should be rather than what it can be. Having no box takes away limitations and brings nothing but possibilities.

Denise Naughton is an author, a public speaker, and an ABD Ph.D. Candidate at Union College. She is completing her dissertation on Jungian archetypes related to stock characters in Australian film.

Two Poems, by Tatyana Ulrich

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My Journey to You

I am that woman who thinks about you

Who is very excited to come get you soon

I am that woman who would supply all the love

Who leaves reality just to watch you grow up

I am that woman whose mind only thinks positively

The kind of mind that waits patiently

The emotions I get is way too hard to hide

I am that woman who would never leave your side

One who would travel half way around the world

I am that woman who wanted a girl

I am that woman of which tears I create

Staring at my only keepsake

A precious gem in the palm of my hands

A mother, a daughter whose bond will never end

I am that mother who can’t wait to bring you home

I am that mother who will never be alone

A mother who loved you from the very start

You were the one that gave hope to my heart.

Baby

Baby I can’t wait, I want to hold you now

I am speechless, that you have been found

A home for you and a daughter for me

Baby I love you, I hope you can see

Baby I am on my way

Don’t you cry, don’t be afraid

Just wait patiently and we will meet

Baby I love you I hope you can see

From the day I meet you, till the day you die

Don’t you worry, I’ll stand by your side

I’ll be with you from start to end

You are my family, you are my friend

Baby you gave me a reason to love

God gave me you, my daughter from above

I am your mother and don’t you forget

I have loved you since the day we met

———–

The Author:

I’m Tatyana. I was adopted at 18 months from the Jiangxi Province. I live in Centennial, Colorado with a mother whom I l love dearly. When I grow up I want to major in Social Work, specifically working with international adoption. I have created a website for Chinese adoptees at http://familyisforever.wix.com/ctdfca-china#

Maximize YOU!

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How do we manifest Better Endings in relation to our work & career? A number of factors come to mind, including: “Love What You Do, and Do What You Love;” “Aim High;” and “Be True to Yourself”.  We could merge these into a single Better Endings principle: “Maximize You!”

Lidiya’s guest post on ThursdayThe Only Way to Get What You Want, reblogged from her Let’sReach Success.com site reminds us that commitment is important to success in any endeavor. Her suggestions reinforce the idea of “Maximize You”. Here below I repeat again her suggested 6 points to remember:

1. It’s absolutely possible to reach all your goals.

2. You already have what it takes.

3. You’ll need to work hard.

4. Then to do it repeatedly.

5. You’ll need to go the extra mile and go beyond what is considered average.

6. It will also take dedication and sacrifices.

Allow me to add some thoughts regarding the several aspects of “Maximize You!” mentioned above.

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Aim High

Setting goals beyond the immediate project or beyond your current role can stimulate you to envision new possibilities for growth and development. When you complete your current project with excellence, how might it lead to something beyond that project that is worthy of your attention and adaptive skillset?

Be True to Yourself

Are you where you want to be, doing all that you are capable of in this context? Then good! You are where you are meant to be, where you can learn most, already! (Better Endings isn’t necessarily or always about change.) Is there something else you would like to be doing and that you could, by Aiming High, potentially achieve? Maximizing You means you get to BE YOU, wherever you are. Be honest and open with yourself, and with others. Goethe wrote: “As soon as you Trust Yourself, you will know how to live.”

Love What You Do, Do What You Love

This old adage actually encapsulates a dynamic principle of itself, which comes down to maintaining a positive Attitude. My father who grew up on a farm in Kentucky during the Great Depression and went on to serve as a bomber pilot in the Pacific in WWII then later earned a Ph.D. in metallurgy and worked as an Aeronautics Engineer on the first shuttle, used often to counsel me: “If you’re going to be a ditch digger, then be the very best ditch digger you can be!” (BTW, he worked for A&T digging ditches to lay telephone wire while in college, so he was speaking from experience.) No matter what you are doing, if you apply all of your capabilities to doing that job well, it will maximize your potentials in that role while also preparing you for something greater.

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Ajaytao

As we develop our potentials, new potentials open up for us to move into; our lives expand according to the unfolding of our interests and abilities.

All this can be summed up even more simply: “Never Sell Yourself Short!”

If you can imagine a goal—and you can—you can envision a pathway to reach your goal. Follow that pathway you envision and you set a process into motion that will bring you into the Nowness of your goal achieved.

It helps as well, though, to conceive of your goal in terms of VALUES rather than as material objectives. If you Aim High to be Happier at your current job, for example, and you are True to Yourself, then in the process of giving that job or process your all, you expand your potentials so that, perhaps, new opportunities will arise.

But after all, I would also remind anyone, don’t “beat yourself up” if where you are is precisely where you need to be, even if you might wish it could be otherwise. You can Maximize You anywhere, in any current situation. Better Endings is not necessarily about “improving” a situation; sometimes it can mean simply being YOU within the situation you are in, as fully—as mindfully—as you are presently able. Sometimes we may simply count our blessings for all that we have, and give of ourselves from Here and Now, so that all good things can simply Be as they Are, and we grow accordingly.

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******   ******

Your insights are always welcome!

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How do we manifest Better Endings in relation to our work & career? A number of factors come to mind, including: “Love What You Do, and Do What You Love;” “Aim High;” and “Be True to Yourself”.  We could merge these into a single Better Endings principle: “Maximize You!”

Lidiya’s guest post on ThursdayThe Only Way to Get What You Want, reblogged from her Let’sReach Success.com site reminds us that commitment is important to success in any endeavor. Her suggestions reinforce the idea of “Maximize You”. Here below I repeat again her suggested 6 points to remember:

1. It’s absolutely possible to reach all your goals.

2. You already have what it takes.

3. You’ll need to work hard.

4. Then to do it repeatedly.

5. You’ll need to go the extra mile and go beyond what is considered average.

6. It will also take dedication and sacrifices.

Allow me to add some thoughts regarding the several aspects of “Maximize You!” mentioned above.

airship

Aim High

Setting goals beyond the immediate project or beyond your current role can stimulate you to envision new possibilities for growth and development. When you complete your current project with excellence, how might it lead to something beyond that project that is worthy of your attention and adaptive skillset?

Be True to Yourself

Are you where you want to be, doing all that you are capable of in this context? Then good! You are where you are meant to be, where you can learn most, already! (Better Endings isn’t necessarily or always about change.) Is there something else you would like to be doing and that you could, by Aiming High, potentially achieve? Maximizing You means you get to BE YOU, wherever you are. Be honest and open with yourself, and with others. Goethe wrote: “As soon as you Trust Yourself, you will know how to live.”

Love What You Do, Do What You Love

This old adage actually encapsulates a dynamic principle of itself, which comes down to maintaining a positive Attitude. My father who grew up on a farm in Kentucky during the Great Depression and went on to serve as a bomber pilot in the Pacific in WWII then later earned a Ph.D. in metallurgy and worked as an Aeronautics Engineer on the first shuttle, used often to counsel me: “If you’re going to be a ditch digger, then be the very best ditch digger you can be!” (BTW, he worked for A&T digging ditches to lay telephone wire while in college, so he was speaking from experience.) No matter what you are doing, if you apply all of your capabilities to doing that job well, it will maximize your potentials in that role while also preparing you for something greater.

life-is-not-problem-but-reality

Ajaytao

As we develop our potentials, new potentials open up for us to move into; our lives expand according to the unfolding of our interests and abilities.

All this can be summed up even more simply: “Never Sell Yourself Short!”

If you can imagine a goal—and you can—you can envision a pathway to reach your goal. Follow that pathway you envision and you set a process into motion that will bring you into the Nowness of your goal achieved.

It helps as well, though, to conceive of your goal in terms of VALUES rather than as material objectives. If you Aim High to be Happier at your current job, for example, and you are True to Yourself, then in the process of giving that job or process your all, you expand your potentials so that, perhaps, new opportunities will arise.

But after all, I would also remind anyone, don’t “beat yourself up” if where you are is precisely where you need to be, even if you might wish it could be otherwise. You can Maximize You anywhere, in any current situation. Better Endings is not necessarily about “improving” a situation; sometimes it can mean simply being YOU within the situation you are in, as fully—as mindfully—as you are presently able. Sometimes we may simply count our blessings for all that we have, and give of ourselves from Here and Now, so that all good things can simply Be as they Are, and we grow accordingly.

1976-1013-A2016

******   ******

Your insights are always welcome!

“The Prologue to Compassion”, by Joshua Bertetta

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It commenced with an inconsiderable light, an untinged light

It was perhaps part of what was, and what was was only black.

The light was with the black you see, and the light was the black.

And through this light that was the black and with the black, things came to be.

A light breeze scattered flecks of this light. A brief pause let the flecks settle and the wind returned to the inconsiderable light, only to pause again and again go forth to scatter flecks of light. And bit by bit this helpful little laawan broadcasted the light across the black. Bit by bit, the specks sprouted and in spouting, grew a little more with each breeze and each breeze, bit by little bit, continued depositing the little specks of light. Back and forth, back and forth, the busy little wind worked tirelessly, without haste, never whining, though it seemed its task would never cease.

Now as this little wind busied itself, “things” took “shape.” It wasn’t so much that things themselves were made per se, but something more akin to the idea of things took shape, for still, these “things” remained unlit. Until, that is, the wind draped color over the ideas, thus bestowing upon them their shapes. These were not your ordinary run of the mill colors, however, for the breeze did not bother itself with the blues and the reds and the yellows and the greens: no, it beheld the illuminateds and the lucents, the prismatics and iridiants, the opaques and the opalines.

Such provided the environment for the makings of things and things thus did form. First the dragonfly, then the flowers for the dragonfly, the grasses for the flowers, and the ground for the grasses. The water and the air. All pouring their colors and their shapes in tandem with the swashing wind. Hills unrolled in the distance, and trees.

Everything created in and by the light that was the dark and was with the dark.

Flowers giggled diamonds; the diamonds sirulated into butterflies and those butterflies, those luxuriant and splashy butterflies, dripped polygonal pollens and gave lines to birds.

Soften its features did the wind with its gentle comings and goings. This wind, this breath, this breath, just breathe, just breathe, just breathe.

And in that just-breathing did the breath find life; in finding life did the breath find flesh and in finding flesh the breath found itself, fulgurating, reflected in and by the light itself—the light that was the water, that was the ground, the dragonflies and butterflies, the fish, and all the flowers—all of it, every single little speck of it, the light that was the black and was with the black.

What it was it just was and in being was, it kept on being. Being what it was…what it was…it was is. It is what is. Being. Am. What was was was. What is is. What am.

The wind: Be.

The light: Am.

Being and am-ing, am-ing and being; so the wind, the breath, the breath moving in, the breath moving out, passing in, passing out, the breath that am the flowers and the fish, the butterflies and the dragonflies, the ground, the water, the light itself finding itself in the flesh finding itself in the breath, in am.

And thus began the knowing and with the knowing the naming and the first name was the wind’s name:

Rahim.

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Bio: An aspiring novelist, Joshua Bertetta holds a Ph.D. in Mythological Studies from Pacifica Graduate Institute and teaches in the Religious Studies Department at St. Edward’s University. He lives in Austin, TX with his wife and three boys, and he has a facebook group dedicated to his work at http://www.facebook.com/storyofthefour. Contact info: joshuabertetta8306@gmail.com

(There were 14 Likes for the first publication of this story on Better Endings!)

Finish A Dream: Your Goal Fulfilled

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(Re-blogged from The CrazyBagLady@BulanLifestyle)

Some twenty years ago I dreamed I was hiking along a high mountain trail. Several others were also on a trek to reach the top of this peak. It was a hard trail with a steep, rocky incline in hot weather that seared the skin. Many turned back; only a handful reached the top, singly. I was among these, arriving at the apex after a long, winding ascent.

Finally at the top, I see there is a canyon chasm between the edge of the mountainside I have scaled and what I know to be my true destination: an even higher peak separated from the one I am on by a huge divide.

At first I believe I may be able to cross, for there are steps, suspended in space, hovering between the two peaks. One of the other climbers starts across these floating steps, but they become narrower and further apart as the aspirant attempts to bridge the gulf. He turns back, returns; the steps drop into the gorge as he steps back onto the ledge at the top of the canyon.

The others leave, descending back down the mountain. I stay, alone, gazing across to the realm I desire to reach. I am passionately aware that I have worked so hard to reach this plateau, only to find my deepest goal seemingly impossible to attain.

There is a picnic table at the canyon edge. I sit at the table, not wanting to give up, not knowing how I can go forward. A woman appears and comes over to stand next to me at the table. She seems an Ancient one, yet ageless. She has salt-and-pepper hair, dark eyes, light skin—she reminds me of a person I know to be highly enlightened in my outer life.

“How can I ever get over there?” I implore of this woman whom I know to be a Guide.

“How would you get to another planet?” she replies.

Then, I am alone again; the Guide has disappeared.

I awaken in bed, bemused by the dream, saddened to learn it “was only a dream”. It felt so real, like I was finally “almost There,” to the fulfillment of a spiritual Quest.

Now, many years later, I recall this dream. The feelings are still potent, the desire as ardent as it was then.

I sit for contemplation, return to the picnic table AS IF I have never left.

“How would I travel to another planet?” I ask inwardly, suddenly aware of the obvious solution.

“Direct projection,” I utter in silence. Assume the destination-state accomplished; be-here-Now.

I walk to the edge of the cliff, sit tailor fashion; appreciate the rarified atma-sphere, quiet serenity. I close my eyes, open inwardly, sing a mantra syllable as pure as the air is high: Hu. I become this Sound, resonate with its pulse as a warm, glowing Light.

I open my Heart to just BE. Feel… SHIFT.

Colorful Art Background

Open eyes: a Temple nestled in a misty enclave. Light forms come and go from round platforms surrounding a domed spire. Blues in magenta, iced in golds and white.

Approach. Friendly beings exchange silent greetings as we pass. Enter temple—Door always open, an archway. Inside is still open space, nature, gardens, rooms that appear as I imagine a purpose: library, classroom, stables with horses. I explore, unlimited. See a fountain, sit at a gossamer bench around it, close eyes to listen to the Flow.

Open eyes: sitting tailor fashion, looking across the Canyon. See? A picnic table, across the gulf, far from where I AM.

************

               Complete a dream according to your deepest desire. Imagine life as you assume it to Be, your Heart and Soul fulfilled.                 – lw

Life Path Metaphors We Live By

Over-the-Rainbow[1]

This week’s Better Endings Life Mapping activity (#3) is to describe a human life according to a key metaphor or image. Is life like a Journey, a Cycle of Seasons, a Mountain or River? Or, to you lately, is Life more like a Roller Coaster Ride? If you haven’t already done this exercise of the week, take a moment to write down an image of what, to you, a human lifetime is like. And, how/ why? Briefly explain how life fits your current image of it.

[Please complete the above activity before continuing.]

Okay then. Now, ask yourself, “Does this image mirror any pattern in my own life?”  I am going to wager that it does. So, if you like, please take another moment to describe in what ways your life fits the image you just described.

[Pause; you are writing again.]

Very good! So, what’s this all about? I call the the sort of image you have just described a Life Metaphor. You might provide a different image depending on what is current in your life in terms of basic patterns, such as how much your life is feeling stable, dynamic, or in chaos. Today’s image of yours is what I will call an “initial” Life Metaphor; before completing a full Life Mapping process. I expect it will shift for you if you keep up with applying these weekly Life Mapping techniques over the course of this year’s blog. So I encourage you to keep a Life Mapping journal that will develop these ideas over time.

One of my own favorite Life Metaphors, and the reason for my use of Anne Wipf’s wonderful painting that I am using as the header image for this site, is: Life is aCarousel or Merry-Go-Round. Round and round I go with the cycles of time–days, weeks, months, years, decades–Up and Down with the flow of events in my life. And as I cycle along with this merry-go-round adventure, I always seem to be reaching out and striving to catch that elusive “Brass Ring,” every time I come around to it again.

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How wonderful that Anne Wipf’s great piece of art that is the focal image for this blog, “Carousel,” shows the horses leaping off from their base platform to freedom! It must get pretty boring, after all, for a carousel pony. It must feel like a cage, or like the mountain that the mythic Sisyphus is bound to, rolling a boulder eternally up, and then back down, over and over again as his punishment from the gods.

I imagine these Anne Wipf “Carousel” horses leaping off from their wooden platforms every night when the amusement parks are closed, teaming off together to some rarified, special place known only to themselves. Then, in my imagining, they willingly hop back onto their platform by morning, humble vehicles of divine love that they are, to bring pleasure to the children and adult children who delight in the brief, musical turn of the ride. Where do they go, do YOU imagine?

There is such serendipity and sychronicity I am discovering while producing this site that develops our year long theme of Better Endings. Last week I watched Mary Poppins and I was taken aback to see Mary Poppins and Burt (Julie Andrews and Dick Van Dyke) hopping merrily OFF from a carousel on horses that leap joyfully through a technicolor valley. Then on Christmas day I went with a friend to seeSaving Mr. Banks and learned, to my delight, that the entire story of Mary Poppins is about creating Better Endings that have the creative power to transform bittersweet memories from childhood. (Go see it!) And there was the carousel, in both P. L. Travers‘ and Walt Disney’s biographical lives as well, and their combined creative genius of allowing the horses to leap out from their ‘cage’ in the film, to transport their riders through a magical kingdom where wrongs are righted and sadness gives way to merriment.

Would you alter your current Life Metaphor at all, if you could? Or, would you rather like it to stay just as it is? I would love to share your insights and Comments.

Thanks for being out there, and I encourage you to share with  Comments and your own Life Metaphor stories or reflections!

Mentors, Masters, and Friends: Alchemical Conversation

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Continuing this week’s theme of exploring mindful communication, and as an emerging life mapping tool, today I’d like to explore and invite a review of how mentors, Masters, family and friends have helped us learn important Life Lessons.  I invite you to do this for your own life history.  As we’ve also been a mentor, a teacher, family and friend in turn, we can also reflect some on lessons others may have gained from their conversations with us. Of course, it is always reciprocal.

Buddha Mountain

I believe in synchronicity. Every relation opens a unique window on another’s world. Every Lesson is a stepping stone along our individual spiritual Quests. When I reflect about the gifts I have received from Mentors and Friends, I find their gifts of insight and understanding have often come through what I have been looking at this week as “alchemical conversation”.  By this I mean a kind of conversation that may start as mundane or ordinary, but develops to a level of profound sharing. You walk into your mentor’s space with a question, or your friend asks how you are feeling that day. What follows in your conversation probes a topic deeply, wending like a spiral to deeper and deeper and then higher and higher levels of insight or empathetic understanding. Time seems to disappear.  Space may seem to expand within the bubble that frames you and your mentor or friend.  At some point you, together with your friend, achieve an epiphany, a realization of clarity that goes further than your original question. This is the Gold forged from the refined lead of shared experience.

I’ll share a brief summary from my own life mapping review:

Early Childhood (7-12): Karen/ Friend:

Life Lessons: Sharing imaginary playworlds, creativity unfolds in tandem with unlimited potential. Be flexible, listen, share. Friendship is Golden.

Teen Years (13-18): Barbara, Friend:

Art holds many answers and opens mysteries; it exposes elements of the Inner as well as the Outer. Adventure and Freedom require self-responsibility. Friendship is Golden.

High School: Mr. Scelsa/ English Teacher:

Teaching requires humility; if a student 30 years later acts on something you helped him learn, without remembering who he learned it from, being a teacher matters and is worthwhile.

Late Teen Years, College and beyond: Diane M./ Mentor and Friend:

Everything is possible. Hone your talents to realize your potentials. Never lose the Innocence of being a Seeker of Truth. Friendship is eternally Golden.

Undergrad College years (Buffalo, NY, 18-22): Toni P./ Mentor, Philosopher:

Be amazed by the depths of Life; “Bathe in the Ocean, daily.”

College Fencing Coach and teammate/Friend, Ro (19-22):

Teamwork and individual practice allow your abilities to shine. Reach for a Star! Explore life deeply.

Late college through Grad School years:

Zee (Master): Explore other dimensions, practice dreamwork and contemplation. Find your own answers inwardly; surrender Ego.

Pattie (Friend): “Drop, Kick!”

Chela/ Ariel (Feline Friends): Unconditional Love remains in the Heart wherever you might travel.

Colorado (38-59):

Zee and Friends: In service is your Reward.

KC/ GM (Partner/ Friend): Love is forever; Unconditional Love.

Luisa (Mentor): Excellence grows from within!

Denise (Friend): There is No Box!

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***

What really IS Alchemical Conversation? Socratic dialogue is a well-known variety. DIALECTICAL conversation would be another name used, because a dialectical conversation moves from one pole of contrasting principles to the other and achieves a Synthesis which is greater than either polarity. Archetypal dialogue, which I employ with the Life Maps Process, can also facilitate Better Endings. But now I like the idea of Alchemical Conversation, which has just come through for me via the blog posts and responses this week! What I am trying to refer you to are those sorts of connections which engage you so deeply that you reach beyond where you have been, reciprocally in conversation, or it could also result from reading, listening deeply to music, immersing in Art, playing with a pet, or “taking in” the beauty of a landscape! I would never be where I am now in life (and won’t otherwise get to where I’m yet aiming to arrive!) except for these sorts of engagement. I was fortunate from a young age to connect Soul-to-Soul with Friends who have opened Doors for me that have led to unlimited exploration!  You, too? Let’s celebrate our Connections then!

I invite your Comments and Stories!

Enduring Solidarity

alice1

“It is a very inconvenient habit of kittens

(Alice had once made the remark)

that whatever you say to them,

they always purr.”

    ― Lewis Carroll (re-blogged from the wonderful blog: http://catsatthebar.org/)

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My mother Elizabeth, with her grandpup, my Shorkie friend and companion Sophie

I have been pondering all this week what is a First Principle of Better Endingsassociated with Family relations? And I have found the answer, at least for me; it is:

Enduring Solidarity

So I’ve been asking also, how does a family accomplish the principle of Enduring Solidarity? That’s where the above pictures are helpful.

Family is Forever. We know that from the start. It is unconditional love in action. This is what our pets also know; that we love them, no matter what. And they don’t even have to think to offer us the same, from the beginning.

Family members may not always be on the same side of some political or ideological issue. They might practice different religions, live in widely separated geographical locations, and vary in their unique experiences and extended family ties. I rarely get to even see my immediate family together any more at any one time, and my intensely busy life keeps my focus more on my life in Colorado than on keeping up adequately with my family, especially my cousins, aunts/uncles, and nieces and nephews. Nevertheless, Family remains a core value and when it is possible to visit or to speak on the phone, enduring solidarity is immediate and lasting.

How does a family achieve this level of solidarity despite diversity and change in our individual lives? In my family I think it has been mainly a matter of Acceptance. Beyond  expressions of well intended care or concern, neither of my parents nor my siblings have ever tried to influence the choices of their children or siblings, about careers or beliefs, lifestyles or relationships.  We have known from the beginning and somehow understand that a family encompasses diversity in the very Nature of things. Relating this to yesterday’s post, this value of acceptance of diversity in a family, I would say, reflects the underlying awareness that a Family is an archetypal asssemblage to begin with.  We expect to see the growth and development of diversity within a family; in fact we welcome and value the differences that only serve to expand the greater whole of our collective experience.

butterfly on flowers

Enough said. I am deeply Grateful for the Enduring Solidarity that has nurtured my own and All My Family’s individual and collective unfoldment. This includes All My Family at every level and offshoot of connections.

Wellness Affirmations

Wellness Affirmations

Mayan Mystery Pyramid

A principle of Better Endings that can facilitate this week’s topic of Health & Wellness is Affirmation or setting positive postulates. Most of us are familiar with the use of affirmations to frame our goals according to a positive mindset. One approach to using positive affirmations is called the “fifteen times” technique. You write a very positive statement that expresses the successful realization of a goal, writing that statement fifteen times daily. In relation to health and healing, for example, I might write 15x:

I am exercising weekly and eating fewer processed foods. (a behavioral affirmation)

Or perhaps:

I am mindful of all that I permit into my mind and body. (an awareness raising affirmation)

You can use this method to orient yourself to establishing values or behaviors you desire to integrate more fully into your consciousness.

hand and dollar tattoo sign reach to the light

As a cultural anthropologist I have learned about many fascinating cultural approaches to manifesting health and wellness, many of which employ practices that are similar to setting positive affirmations. The Hopi, for instance, attribute any mental or physical manifestation of illness or disorder as an indication that one is holding self-limiting or negative thoughts.  A medicine person might ask a person then to change their thoughts about themselves to positive, more healthy images or postulates. The individual must learn to “manifest” a positive state of health rather than a negative one. According to Don Talayesva as cited in Sun Chief , this is a capacity and a responsibility of the individual, to express hopi (harmonious) rather than kahopi (inharmonious) thought patterns and behaviors. While the medicine man might also practice ritual means of reinforcing positive postulates to help the individual to reorient to a healthy pattern, it is within the capacity of the individual to accomplish their own improvement of outlook.

Repeating positive Affirmations, whether 15x or in some other manner, is a matter of establishing a habit of thought or behavior that might replace other thought or behavior habits that no longer serve you.

It is important, however, to be kind to yourself. Practice acts of kindness with yourself, always. Fill your heart with unconditional love for yourself as well as allowing that love and consideration to flow through you to others and to your environment.

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If you hold yourself in high esteem and give humbly of yourself to all of life, how can you be other than in harmony with life affirming, healthful realities? Illnesses or conditions need not impair your Wellness, and positive wellness affirmations—though they may not of themselves accomplish immediate or sufficient “healing” of such conditions—certainly will do “no harm” and may help you to manifest qualities and achieve relationships you might otherwise overlook by remaining ‘caught’ in the lair of negative postulates.

You deserve to SHINE, to Manifest Better Endings, Now and Always!

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Up From the Ashes… A Black Forest Fire Survivor’s Story, by Debra J. Breazzano, MA, LPC

Another Best of Better Endings Story

Better Endings readers: Here is a guest story about surviving a recent disaster. Surviving is a process that cannot be forced. Sometimes the Darkness–the vital pathway through Descent–is of as much value as the Light it precedes.-L

sacred_space_saved

This is an Inipi (sweat lodge), the symbol of Hope…unbelievable that even the tobacco ties remained unburnt.  You can see where the fire took out all the grass/trees/shrubs in the drainage; as well as the emergency vehicles passing through…but left the Inipi unscorched.- DB

It began like any other ordinary day; and little did I know that only a few short hours  after  looking around in appreciation thinking, “how wonderful it is to be settled here in Black Forest, with our dream home and sanctuary for our wolf, dogs, horses and humans finally completed after 3 years of ongoing effort” that my world as I knew it, would literally go up in flames.  June 11, 2013.  The date forever etched in my mind, launching me and my community into the frightening world of the displaced; remaining unsettled even 6 months later, after Colorado’s most devastating wildfire consumed our neighborhood.  500 properties torched beyond recognition; leaving an aftermath of despair and anguish as we know our beloved Forest will never regenerate to its former beauty of Ponderosa pines during our lifetime. Then, less than 3 months later, my former community of Lyons ravished by unprecedented floods; ironically the safe refuge area my family had sought shelter at during our fire evacuation, now also destroyed.  Fire, flood…but wait, where are the locusts?  Yes, biblical humor to see me through these very challenging times as I walk with determination to rise from the ashes and welcome a future that offers hope.  However, one thing I know for certain: unless you have ever been victimized by catastrophe there is no way to understand the magnitude—and levels of disturbance–even with the most empathetic mindset.   I have survived many dark life tragedies prior, and lost loved ones; but still, could not anticipate the consequences that this summer’s catastrophes would have on my psyche.   It’s not about the house or things that were lost;  it’s the core sense of not being safe or settled on any level regardless of “home is where the heart is” platitudes or faith in God to see us through.  I wish I could fast forward to the time when this is just a memory and the “silver lining” or the ability I have, for example, to now work more effectively as a counselor with others who have experienced such tragedies  as the new reality, but I can’t.  Each day still remains exhausting.  Time hasn’t made it simpler yet.  In fact, it’s even more difficult now than the moment we saw the flames bursting apart the trees on our road as we frantically scrambled to some sense of safety.   I get impatient with my own sense of not managing life as well as “I should.”  Yet, I do know, that day will come when I can look back and appreciate how “what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger.”  But for now, I remain “in it”—the emotional roller coaster– 24/7 as we try our best to recover and rebuild.  We all remain as optimistic as we can while hugging onto each other—and to our faith– for support, visualizing as best we can, the new life chapter that will unfold with the mantra:  Out of the Ashes, We will rise.

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Biography for Debra J. Breazzano:  Educator and Counselor; Wilderness Instructor and Course Director; Gifted Ed Program Facilitator for Monument, CO high schools; Researcher and Writer; (&Partner with Linda Watts for applying archetypal and therapeutic themes  to the Life Path Mapping Process); Personally:  Enjoying time with my husband, family and friends; riding my horse and working with wolves; having outdoor adventures and multi-cultural experiences; all with the intention of remaining in service to others and to our earth.

An Archetype Dialogue Process

Today’s Best of Better Endings revisits archetypal character modes. These are your “inner voices” that can be associated with your Life Themes or typical kinds of situations in your life. I call such archetypal aspects “Archemes” because they are associated with your recurring situational themes. Do you have a Teacher (or, Student) Archeme associated with a theme of Education in your life? A Nurturer associated with being a parent? Or perhaps a Lover Archeme connected with your Romance theme? I will develop this concept for you more later when this blog converts to a Life Mapping focus later this month (or see lifepathmaps.com). For now, let me reprise a post about the personal development tool of “Archetype Dialogue”. I invite you to try it! And of course, I always welcome your feedback and insights.- LW (5/6-7/14)

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“For every typical situation in life,

There is an archetype corresponding to that situation.”

– Carl G. Jung (Archetypes of the Collective Unconscious)

Can you think of an issue about which you are conflicted or undecided, for which you can express “two sides” of the situation? E.G. whether to move or to stay with a job or to change a relationship? Or do you have a “personal conflict” over some area of your life that persists through the years without clear resolution?

When you have opposing viewpoints within yourself over an issue that is important to you, it’s as though you are two or more people within your same body or mind. Here, we are talking about what Carl Jung and many others since have called Archetypes. These are submerged viewpoints, your ‘inner voices’ that might feel at odds with each other about how you should approach something.  James Hillman would say these various archetypal aspects of your Self are in your “Personal Unconscious”, and Jung would say we have even deeper sorts of archetypes in our “Collective Unconscious” that are universal.

As an anthropologist I take a practical approach as well as a “depth psychology” approach to archetypal character guises and traits. We all take on various ROLES in our lives that are associated with various STATUSES. These can include kinship statuses and roles (like Mother or Child, husband and wife) as well as occupational and recreational roles, like Doctor and Golfer. Each of these personal ROLES is associated with specific kinds of SITUATIONS we engage in regularly. And each of these brings out deep archetypal—not just formal ‘status’—aspects. Considering various Themes, or KINDS of situations in our lives, each Life Theme may be associated with archetypal character dispositions.  For example, ROMANCE might bring out the Lover in You, whereas EDUCATION may bring forth your Teacher and/or Student “parts of Self”, and SPORTS or MILITARY SERVICE might bring forth the Warrior. Each of these “situational archetype” parts-of-self has their own ‘character’ presence in your unique assemblage of archetypal outlooks. Some are deeply buried or suppressed (e.g. some may be in “Shadow” mode), while others may be more actively integrated within your conscious personality.

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The Life Mapping activity for this week’s topic about Attitudes asks you to write or to imagine a DIALOGUE with two opposing viewpoints—both your own—around a topic you may feel conflicted or “dual” about. It can help to get these divergent sides talking to one another about a situation you are trying to better understand or resolve, especially if leaving it unresolved keeps you “stuck” about that issue.

Let me share an example from my Life Mapping cases. Mindy is a woman who had been experiencing a persistent dilemma for many years. In the course of life mapping she identified two Archetypal outlooks that she associated with a spiritual aspect—she called this her inner Warrior—and a Physical-life side of self, which she called her Descender. Around some of the same issues in her life, her Warrior-mystic and her Descender modes were at odds. Her Warrior wanted to follow inner spiritual nudges: make a move, take or end a job, accept a relationship. Her Descender, though, hated to be pinned to any decision.  Mindy journaled a dialogue between these two archetypal parts of self.  She found that one value was important to both of them: Freedom. But they each defined freedom in diametrically opposite ways! The Mystic thought freedom was about following inner nudges of spirit; it was “Spiritual Freedom”. The Descender wanted Freedom from commitments! So, for many years, Mystic-Mindy would boldly step forth and change locations, jobs or relationships. But almost immediately thereafter, Descender-Mindy would want to bolt; to leave that location, job or relationship. When Mindy put the two to talking with each other over a couple of weeks in her journal, they/she came to recognize how these opposing, archetype-driven points of view were interfering with her ever establishing a STABLE set of conditions. So she started asking them about their goals and she found some they shared. She needed a job, for instance, with built in variety and flexibility. Now Mindy has become a successful public speaker for a health supplements company she believes in. She gives workshops on various products and travels around the country. Both her Mystic and her Descender selves are happy, for once! Mindy has embraced and ‘integrated’ more of her total Self.

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Writing an archetype dialogue allows you to tap into aspects of yourself you might otherwise suppress. Offer a “safe space” to these feelings and viewpoints, knowing that your core Self will remain strong and centered throughout the exchange. Just as an example to get you started, let me illustrate briefly. I call this approach: “Open Mike”. Just set a topic about which you have dual or multiple ‘attitudes’, and invite your various situational selves to speak. If you’re not sure what topic to introduce, ask ‘them’ to suggest one for you!

Open MikeTopic: My currently overburdened schedule

This is crazy! How can we keep this up? You are going to collapse at this rate.

(Self in italics) Who are you?

Just a part of You that wishes you would lighten up a bit…

A Nurturer, I would guess.

Yes. You do need to give yourself more time to relax, dear. Breathe. Go to the gym. Read a Maeve Binchy novel; I want to!

I know but there is just so much to do. I have bitten off so much this year, with so much at stake…

This Life, don’t you mean? I am with you and want to see you reach your goals, too, Lindy, but she is right; you need to find a  balance. Trust that you will get what you need to get done even better when you accept some time limitations.

Are you an Elder Leader?

No; a Communicator, you might say.

Thanks for all you contribute; all of you…

Nurturer: So what are you going to do to ease up a bit?

I will do what I can…feel free to nudge me when you see an opportunity for me to relax for a bit or take Sophie for a walk.

Oh just get over yourself! BORing!

Okay?

You are so frigging serious!

What would YOU have me do?

Wake Up!!

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[This is just a brief example of how to begin an Archetypal “Open Mike” dialogue. It is helpful to have a journal dedicated to this practice. You can explore any topics; get to know these ‘parts’ of yourself that are always within you and can help you as  Allies to reach for your Dreams! Use whatever names you want for these; in Life Paths I will be introducing a specific ‘pantheon’ of 12 universal archetype figures based on Jung and on the works of a lesser known archetypal psychologist, Dr. Charles Bebeau-LW]

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I invite your comments, insights and stories.

 

Better Movie Endings–Kong Lives!

Kong Lives!

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I first came to the idea of “Better Endings” after watching the 2005 Peter Jackson movie version of King Kong. Knowing in advance, of course, that the tragic fate of the great ape that was imminent, I left the theater while Kong was still alive, holding his beloved Ann Darrow (Naomi Watts) atop the needle of the Empire State building.  The military loomed large on the scene already and I knew all too well what was coming.  I just didn’t have it in me this time around to stay and watch–or to agree to–the fateful fall of Kong, or of the magnificent, gigantic forces of Nature being crushed by the cold machinations of an insensitive, urbane modern world.  So instead, I went home, put pen to paper, and re-scripted the ending of the King Kong story more to my own liking.  In my own “better ending” version of the tale, of course, Kong lives!

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Kong’s fateful Fall from the Empire State Building still occurs in my re-visioning, but with the heroine still in one hand, Kong breaks his fall twice on the way down out of sheer willpower, grasping desperately at the side of the building and slowing the descent out of his superhuman love for Ann Darrow and an unwillingness to let her die. So, at the base of the building where Kong has landed with his beloved, he is injured by the impact but he has survived.  Out of still a superhuman primate drive to protect his beloved Ann from the dark forces of urban inhumanity, Kong drags himself away from the building as the military stalls from closing in, expecting Kong could not have survived such a fall so rallying around the opposite side of the building to organize how they will haul away his carcass. Kong limps with the now unconscious Ann still in his hand, instinctively navigating through mostly empty alleyways back to the frozen lake in Central Park where she and he had communed in the film version just before their climb up the Empire State building.

Ann wakes as they reach Central Park and quickly surveys the situation.  She leads Kong deep into a little known, trail-less, woodsy region she knows of in the Park.  They lay low there while Ann uses a powerful, backstage theater-prop style walkie-talkie that for protective reasons Jack Driscoll had slipped into her pocket (remember, it’s 1933).  Ann calls Jack, the screenwriter (still in my version played by Adrien Brody), who is also smitten with her.  Given this new chance to finally win Ann’s heart, Jack arranges to rent a rather large truck with a canvas cover. He waits for the dirigible searchlights to depart from over the Park then he drives to where Ann directs him to in the woods. Kong is nearly spent by his exertions.  He has enough life left in him, though, to drag himself, following Ann, into the cover of the truck bed.

Jack drives while Ann stays in the back of the truck with Kong. They transport Kong off to–you might have guessed it!–a recently constructed Primate Center in New Jersey that hasn’t opened yet to the public.  The sympathetic director of the Center, Jane (of course) takes immediately to Kong and gives him sanctuary.  Vets arrive to minister to his wounds under signed oaths of secrecy.

To make an even longer story short:  The Primate Center receives a large grant and builds an entire Great Apes wing all for Kong, bringing in native flora and some of the least harmful native fauna from Kong’s island to the primate center for Kong’s comfort.  Ann’s acting career soars; she marries Jack and eventually they have two kids that grow up to be ecologically sensitive and primate-friendly; their son Sam becomes a climatologist and their daughter Diane eventually becomes an apprentice to Jane. Ann visits Kong every weekend at the Primate Center.

Jane teaches Kong sign language, for which he has an amazing aptitude due to his special evolutionary adaptation as a Giant Pongid (plus his determination to be able to communicate with Ann)! Kong is able to communicate–with an IQ of around 90–with Ann and with Jane and an enthusiastic team of linguists.  Kong contributes to greater human awareness about his own insights and feelings and he provides humans with a greater understanding of the natural world he grew up in and about the loving, spiritual capacity of our primate cousins.

Vintage Background with Heart

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So, what film would you like to write a Better Ending for? Feel free to Comment below and to Submit your own Better Endings  version of any movie!

Also, to receive a Guest Blog post (with your Author’s byline and bio), you can simply send in your answer (of any length) to: “What Do Better Endings Mean to YOU?”

Better Choices—A Lucid Dream (by Linda K. Watts)

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I am sometimes blessed to be a lucid dreamer. About a year ago, I “received” a dream that unfolded as a full story, in three separate acts! It was an unusual dream. It does not seem to have much to do with my own personal life or psychology, although it could pertain to an archetypal aspect of myself that I am not always aware of. Since the dream unfolded in three distinct act sequences, that is how I’ll tell it. Maybe this dream was meant for this blog or for some readers of this post, though at the time of the dream I had not yet even developed the idea of hosting this Better Endings blog.

ACT I

I see a business man walking along a sidewalk in a city environment. He is apparently quite successful. He is wearing an expensive looking grey suit and tie, he is obviously well fed, and he is a bit overweight. He has achieved a degree of comfortable repute with his business. Let’s call him Howard. Another man approaches him, stops him on the street and introduces himself. (Let’s call him, Jack.) As the Dreamer I know that Jack is a Mob Boss. Jack has heard of Howard’s success and he feels threatened by it, so he has approached Howard to offer him a deal.

“Join my team,” Jack invites Howard. “You will share in my success. We stay at the finest hotels and have all of the good things of life. You will merge your business with mine and be on my team.”

Thinking that joining Jack’s team could lead to “the good life” with little effort on his own part, Howard complies. He becomes a constant member of Jack’s entourage (read, mob gang). They travel together 24/7. But after a few months have gone by, Howard approaches Jack at a hotel they are staying at, in Chicago.

“Would it be okay with you if I sometimes do things just on my own, Jack? Like eating alone or sometimes spending a few days away from the team?”

Jack looks Howard up and down, sizing him up before he answers point-blank, “No, Howard. That would not be okay.”

Now Howard realizes he is, in a very real sense, Jack’s prisoner. He has been under Jack’s control, not an equal business team member with him.

The dream next shows Howard in a hotel bathroom. He looks out a small window onto a snowy rooftop in Chicago. He longs for his freedom. So, he climbs up onto the toilet, opens the window, squeezes himself through to the rooftop, and runs! He leaps from the rooftop into a snow drift below. Then he runs in leaps and bounds away from the hotel and Jack’s control, free!

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ACT II/ Part A

Free from the Mob Boss Jack’s control, Howard gets a shrewd business idea. He figures he can do business with Jack’s own clients and offer them to pay a little less to him for the same services; so he will benefit at Jack’s unknowing expense. He walks into a shop which has a front business area and a back office and he offers his deal to one of Jack’s customers. The store owner pretends to appreciate the offer and says he needs to check something first in the back office.  As the Dreamer I understand immediately what is really going on. The store owner has called Jack and reported Howard’s offer! He has agreed to keep Howard occupied until Jack and his gang will arrive. Though the dream doesn’t show the final conclusion of this ‘act’, as the Dreamer it is clear that Howard will turn to leave the shop just as Jack and his gang close in on him, guns drawn. He will be toast!

ACT II/ Part B

Here’s where it becomes very interesting as a dream! I am now shown an ALTERNATE dream scenario, a different way that Howard could experience his Freedom. This act picks up again from the same scene of Howard having jumped from the hotel roof, skipping away happily to enjoy his escape from Jack’s control. This time, however, he does not revert to his old business ways. We see Howard exploring his newfound freedom, staying in the cover of night to avoid being recaptured. He comes to a remote, natural enclave area, like a small, recessed canyon with Red Rock cliff walls.  Howard looks UP. He sees, looking back down at him from their comfortable perch near the top of the cliffs overhead, two otherworldly Beings, one of them holding a flute. They are Guardian Spirits of some nondescript sort. They have been watching Howard.

“Can I climb out this way?” Howard asks the two gentle Beings who use no words but smile openly when he sees them and asks them this question. One of the two beckons a way that Howard can climb up the cliff. He does so. Howard climbs up and then crosses over the lip of the red canyon cliff wall.

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ACT III

Still in this extended, lucid story-dream, I am shown that Howard has been experiencing a wholly new and different life situation since his choice to climb out of his old life to Freedom. Now Howard lives in a small, rural sort of community. He lives an average life, one of service to his village. Everybody knows him, and he them. He does good deeds whenever he can, always being willing to lend a helping hand to a neighbor or to give from his own meager resources to anyone in need. He has lost weight and he wears common work clothes, not a business suit.

As I wake from the dream, I am given a title for it: “The True Meaning of Spiritual Freedom”. As I open my eyes I have the distinct awareness that if Jack were ever to be face to face with Howard now, he would not even recognize him!

So, that’s the dream. I share it with you now as a story for this week’s topic of Better Choices. I will let the story’s message speak for Itself to you, as it may hold different meanings for different readers.

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What do better choices–or Better Endings–look like in YOUR life experience? What forms might they take? I invite your insights and stories! (May 5, 2014) – Linda