Life Lessons from Your Work

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In today’s world most of us engage not just one job throughout our adult lives but several, from early jobs as a youth gaining some experience or training to later career work that might be better attuned to our interests and sense of purpose.

As a self-discovery exploration I invite you to make a list of your workaday jobs.  Note your age when you started and (if) finished each job, and write a brief job description. Then consider for each job:

What LIFE LESSON(s) did I take away from this activity?

To pilot this Tool, allow me to briefly engage with this myself to see where it may lead:

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  • Horse drawings (around 6-7 YO): I loved to draw horses (always wanted my own horse and never had one, though I did get to help with horses at local stables in Pennsylvania with my sisters and friends). After feeling I had mastered a basic horse drawing design, one day I went around the neighborhood door-to-door, offering my artwork for a dime per drawing. Neighbors were supportive and I felt a sense of accomplishment. LIFE LESSON:  It is okay to share with others your creative products.
  • Ice picking at the community Peach Festival in Lewiston, NY (15 YO): First paid job, and I didn’t stay with it long enough to be paid.  Terrible work without any safety gear. I still have scars on my hands from inexpertly hacking away at a block of ice for some stall owner who did not care.  LIFE LESSON: Use proper discrimination before accepting a responsibility; be sure you will be capable and safe.talkeetna-1624101__480
  • Crab and salmon cannery, Yakutat Alaska (19 YO summer) LIFE LESSON: Life is a Great Adventure!fruit-3215625__480
  • Grape vineyard and peach orchard, solo farm hand (20 and 21 YO, summer work to help pay for college spending): This was my first real job, a job of choice. I knew I needed to work but did not want a “normal” job such as waitressing or secretarial labor. This was outdoors and I worked mainly alone in the fields or driving a tractor. The farmer gave me many responsibilities, which I loved! (…Until the day he became inappropriate with me; I left shortly after that, not to return.) LIFE LESSON: Follow the beat of your own Heart; Enjoy responsibility and work hard to excel.   I learned how I dearly love to work hard and produce positive results.
  • Ushering and parking booth attendant at a new performing arts center (22 – 24 YO) : I enjoyed every aspect of this and was promoted to Head Usher. LIFE LESSON: Exciting opportunities abound (I almost accepted a job in NYC becoming a nanny for a world class symphony conductor’s family; loved the variety of shows and the elan of performance.)architecture-3111558__480
  • Tutoring English at my undergraduate college (21-22 YO): Fell in love with teaching. LIFE LESSON: I can be of positive service through sharing knowledge by helping facilitate learning in others.
  • Research Associate and Teaching Assistant, and Faculty adjunct at community colleges, while in  graduate school (14 yrs in grad school). LIFE LESSONS: Many. professor-1993129__480
  • University teaching (pre-tenured and then tenured faculty, and Chair two terms), 25 years. LIFE LESSONS: The importance of following my own inner guidance and developing detachment from academic politics or personality clashes; enjoyment of working with wonderful students; also the value of maintaining my spiritual focus and creative activities separately from the academic setting.fantasy-3313964__480images are from pixabay.com
  • Spiritual services roles (44 yrs, many different roles and opportunities). LIFE LESSONS: How to be a spiritual co-worker with others in voluntary roles; and how to stand back to help facilitate spiritual seeking and growth in others.
  • Writing for publication (many years): LIFE LESSONS: Persistence, commitment, dedication, willingness to work and rework; editing; then eventually morphing the project to team-based efforts and ultimately being able to release and share the work with as broad a readership as the book may reach. (Joy and the desire to produce more in service to Life!)

So, what might your history of Life Lessons from Working reveal? I see in mine a widening arc of responsibilities and a growing love of creative expression and Service. I love the feeling of independence that comes with varying responsibilities along with the expansion of knowledge and the capacity to grow from working with others as well as alone. I can hardly separate work from life as a whole, as the lessons have abounded holistically.

As I now prepare for a fast approaching retirement from my main academic position, this exercise has helped me to understand that this process will never dissipate but will only continue to expand!

So, what is YOUR story? I invite you to engage your own reflections about your Life Lessons from Work!

Your History of Work

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Life Mapping allows us to retrace our meaningful life events and glean lessons from key moments and trends from our life experience. Life Path Mapping (see my new book, Your Life Path; info on right panel or click to order) asks you to identify significant kinds of recurring events or situations in your life as Life Themes. Certainly one of the most common Life Themes life mappers identify is WORK (or CAREER, or some particular work-related activity).

Every distinctive Life Theme may be mapped, and in that sense every Life Theme can be “mined” to discover its importance over time in your cumulative life history that comprises—when you reflect upon its meaningful qualities—your Life Story. So this week let’s explore your History of Work, your Work Story.

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Life Mapping of itself is quite easy and natural. The chart below is a plotting flowchart. Make a list for yourself of a representative sample of Work and/or Career related meaningful events from your life. Next to each event, you can record the age or age span you associate with the event and write a brief narrative record of what happened with that event (so you can easily recall it when you read back through the list later).

Next to each event record, take a moment to reflect about the relative positive and/or negative IMPACT of that event on “shaping the person you have become.” That means, from a retrospective perspective, reflecting back on the influence of that event or situation, was it mainly positive, mainly negative, or both?

(You may print out this post and enlarge the Life Map Chart, below, to use as a worksheet, or create your own.):

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On the life map chart, first list your events chronologically along the central/ neutral Age Line. You can place the ages when your events occurred below the Age Line to create a timeline. Then use a pencil at first anyway to place a dot or an X above and/or below the age marker for each event, charting by how positive and/or negative that event was to you. If an event feels to have been simultaneously positive and negative, you can rate it as such; for example: +5/-5, or +2/-4. If you rate an event as having been both positive and negative at the same time, also write in a vertical dotted line connecting the positive and negative polar points on your chart to represent this as what we can call a “binary” event. If you are representing a series or phase of events, you can mark the rating for the beginning point and the ending point relative to the timeline and put the ages for these below the Age line, then below the age markers you can draw horizontal vertical braces to show the span of that situation or phase in your life.

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images are from pixabay.com

Now then, looking at your chart of Work/Career related events and their relative positive and/or negative impacts as Shaping Events in your life, you can also connect the dots: draw lines on your Map connecting event points IF they feel to be related in a patterned way to one another.  For instance, if you had a negative early Work activity or event followed shortly after that by a more positive event, then if that feels like it was a meaningful transition in your History of Work, go ahead and draw an upward trending line connecting those two points on your Map. You can also color code your event points to group them in a meaningful way; such as using a different color for each different job or to show a career shift.

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Have at! Once you have completed your History of Work life map, reflect on your Work Story: what story does this Map tell? What meaningful periods (or chapters or stages, so to speak) have you engaged with in your Work Story? What meaningful Life Lessons have you gleaned from the phases of your Work/Career process over time? What TRENDS do you observe? I invite you to contemplate, journal about, and share about your Work Story with a loved one.

I welcome YOUR Comments and Story!

Follow Your Bliss!

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“I can’t believe they actually pay me to do what I love!”

Does the above line characterize what YOU do for “a living”? If so then you are fortunate to have merged your vocational aspirations (your calling) with your work or career.  Joseph Campbell might say you are “following your bliss.”

If, rather, your Life Theme of WORK or CAREER is separate from what you feel as your true calling or as yet unrealized potential, What Then? (click to read a W.B. Yeats poem with that title). It may simply mean that your work satisfies your financial needs, allowing you to fulfill your responsibilities, while you pursue your ‘bliss” instead through vocational activities such as artistic ‘hobbies’, spiritual practices, sports, or other activities that bring you a sense of balance in your life. Of course, this is fine and a good way to satisfy the needs and interests of your various unconscious or submerged archetypal ‘parts of Self.’

Still: Are there ways that you might forge a closer integration of your Work or Career  with your vocational callings?  Doing so could create a deeper synergy that allows you to produce dynamic works more highly attuned to your most authentic Self, even in the workplace.

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Above images are from pixabay.com

What is ONE THING you might integrate into your work life or into your role in your career that could fuse an element of your deepest, unique nature to reinvent yourself in the context of your ‘job’? Or, should you be seeking a different line of work? Maybe an online course or degree could help you move in a new direction.

Using myself as an example, when I felt I was moving in a direction at work, in attaining tenure as a professor, that would  satisfy my practical goals but not my Life Dream of writing for the public rather than serving in my academic role alone, I was shown a way to integrate my creativity and spirituality into my work. That is how I began studying and then eventually practicing and writing about Life Paths. I describe this process in  Chapter 1 of Your Life Path (click or see right panel for ordering information, now available through all major book distributors. (BTW, A heartfelt Thank You to new followers of this blog who have found this site from reading Your Life Path. Please feel free to download for free the Life Path Maps Portfolio Toolkit! – see right panel.)

Your Life Path

So, what about YOU?  Are you fully expressing the life of your dreams at work? How might you ‘tweak’ your work life to more holistically Live Your Bliss? I invite you to contemplate and journal about this question.

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(pixabay.com)

I welcome your Comments and Story!

 

Thank You! And… The Value of a Vocation

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Dear Readers:

I want to add a few words  as a sort of preface to this blog post. It is all about GRATITUDE.  I thank each and every one of you for reading Better Endings when you do, and especially I am grateful for every Comment shared.

This week I am particularly GRATEFUL to every one of you linked to this blog or from Facebook  who took the time to come to the launch of my new personal growth & development book, Your Life Path (see side panel for ordering info and to read an interview about the author; the book is now available through all major outlets). Friday and Saturday nights March 9/10 were well attended and I got to see some of my best friends and closest colleagues along with several former students! To see you all before I move to NY after retiring this summer was such a blessing; you can only imagine how wonderful it was for me to touch base with each of you.

My Thanks also to all of you who have ordered this book, Your Life Path. It is a labor of love for over 12 years and provides the best techniques I can offer to you for engaging in the Art of Life Mapping. I have seen how the approach that has emerged with the Life Path Mapping Process embedded as a self discovery toolkit with this book has helped many people already to reflect on their lives and go forward with greater clarity and passion.

AND FURTHER GRATITUDE YET: to my Super Agent, Linda Langton and to the team of publicists Paula Kalamaras and Paul Kraly of Scribes Unlimited, without whose inspiration and expertise this book would certainly not have been manifested. (Further thanks are of course in the Acknowledgements to the book.)

A word to you ALL from the Zuni language, which I have been blessed with myself through the years:

ELAHKWA ! (Thank You!)

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The Value of a Vocation

We are multi-dimensional beings. Within our core Identity we house several sub-identities, formed somewhat distinctly depending on the roles and statuses we “take on” in our lives. Jung called these sub-identities archetypal members of our personal unconscious domain of the Psyche.

Elder Leader, Lover, Warrior, Nourisher, Artist, Idealist Golden Child, Descender, Teacher, Communicator, Healer and Mystic :  these are twelve universal or “primordial” personal archetypes recognized by the archetypal psychologist Dr. Charles Bebeau, founder of the former Avalon Archetype Institute in Boulder, Colorado.  All of these are latent or active component sub-identities we may develop in relation to our relationships, our jobs, our hobbies or other activity roles and identities.

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Most of us develop a few of these archetypal personas more than the rest. Some even become over-balanced in one or another of these ‘dimensions’ of the Psyche. A strongly developed or rigidly enacted ELDER LEADER mode, for example, may lead one to downplay their more nurturing or playful ‘sides’.

Vacations (I am about to step into Spring Break mode!–may not blog again until April) are good times to step away from primary workaday roles to expand or exercise other facets of your Self. The IDEALIST, for instance, is often associated with travel, and on vacation you can give yourself more freedom to enjoy your more idealistic nature as “a breath of fresh air.”

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VOCATIONS also allow us to express a more balanced and integrated Self and Psyche. Hobbies, artistic practices and “callings” bring greater harmony of our “cast of sub-selves” into our core Identity. We benefit by expressing our full multi-dimensional capacities.

I value Julia Cameron’s invitation in THE ARTIST’S WAY for us to give ourselves an “Artist’s Day” at least once per week. Do something ‘out of the box.’ Take a new way home, go to a museum, walk by a lake or river, dream, journal, try some new food; anything to shake you out of any ruts you may be in.

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images are from pixabay.com

Forge new pathways of thought and emotion. Expand your horizons.  Let a part of you that you may usually submerge or repress “out.” Experience the FREEDOM to BE all that you are, not just your “responsible” or “dutiful” persona.

I welcome YOUR Comments and STORY!

Vocation Better Endings

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One of my favorite classic movies is the Deborah Kerr/ Cary Grant version of An Affair to Remember. One of the reasons for the enormous popularity of this story is not just the romantic kismet between the main characters Nickie Ferrante and Terry McKay but also because of what they represent to each other as opportunities to Follow Their Hearts and Realize their Dreams, apart from the normative, mediocre lives/ relationships they have been oriented to before they meet.

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They each have ardent vocations: Miss McKay’s as a working class children’s vocal teacher and Nickie’s as a painter.  Once they meet Nickie vows to give up his money-seeking, playboy lifestyle to earn a living for his wife from his painting, though he could instead marry into money and continue with a carefree, empty life instead. Terry is willing to risk pursuing true love with Nickie rather than settling for a predictable life where her own career is likely to be sacrificed or to come second to her husband’s.

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Both Terry and Nickie’s vocations fulfill their deeply artistic natures.  They are following their hearts as well as recognizing kindred Souls in one another.  Both have “gone to Sea” on an ocean liner seeking deeper truths than their engagements of ‘convenience’ offer. So, An Affair to Remember is a Better Endings tale, through and through.

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images are from pixabay.com

Of course the ending of this film is itself a Better Ending conclusion, wonderfully acted by Grant and Kerr.  It is Nickie Ferrante’s art that saves their relationship: a painting of Terry wearing his Aunt’s shawl, in Terry’s bedroom, that Nickie had been told “a crippled woman” had purchased.

“If you can paint, I can walk!” 

May you, too, Follow Your Heart. Listen closely to the beat of your own drum. This way you, like Terry and Nickie, can embark on the Journey to Live Your Best  Life!

I welcome YOUR Comments and STORY

 

What Is Your CALLING?

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“Listen (doo dah doo)

Do you want to hear a secret? (doo dah doo)

Let me whisper in your ear (da di dah dah)”… (McCartney and Lennon)

Your Vocation Is:  _______________

So, what is it for you? What is your greatest CALLING in this lifetime so far?  Are you a Writer, an Artist, a Dancer, a Musician, an Actor, a Scientist, or an Athlete? What activity or “hobby” are you most passionate about? What lights you up and grounds or centers you in your deepest sense of personal identity of Self and/or of Service?

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Also then, WHY? What is it about your Calling, your Vocation, that resonates so deeply with the core of your Being? Is it what calls  you to Adventure or gives purpose and/or passion to your time on Earth?

Are you giving enough time and nourishment to your Calling? Or is it more in the background now for you? What qualities and Strengths has your vocation helped you to develop? How can you MAXIMIZE these Strengths in ALL you do?

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As a personal example just to get YOU thinking or journaling about these questions, I am (though not currently practicing) “a Fencer.” (If you have ever fenced competitively or with any sport, you will understand immediately.)  Fencing taught me so much, trained my Mind/Body synchrony so deeply that every day I am grateful in some small way. If I slip or stumble physically (or otherwise!), I am grateful for having learned from fencing not only “how to fall” without overdue injury but also how to get back up again and keep going forward. I remember once before an intercollegiate tournament, I slipped on some ice and slashed my right (foil grip) hand.  But I went to the event and overcame the pain by concentrating that much more on each bout. I remember it was a very successful competition for me and our team.  

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images are from pixabay.com

So again then, What Is YOUR Calling? How does it define you and bring Strengths and happiness to your life every day? Please use this as a contemplation and journaling tool.

 

I invite YOUR Comments and STORY!

BOOK LAUNCH! (My Vocation: Live Your Dream, Now!)

Just Released March 6 by Skyhorse Publishing:

Your Life Path

Naturally I am thrilled and excited about the release of my book, Your Life Path: Life Mapping Tools to Help You Follow Your Heart and Live Your Dream, Now! It is available from Amazon (including hardback, Kindle and ebook), Barnes & Noble, and Indies; and I see there are now several other suppliers online as well (ISBN-10:1-63144-078-0). This book has been my life passion-in-process for the last 15 plus years, folks. It is the culmination of my entire career as a cognitive/ linguistic and cultural anthropologist yet it is a mainstream self-discovery, personal growth and development book that provides a comprehensive Life Path Mapping process and Toolkit.

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I have developed and taught from the fun, creative techniques provided with the book with large scale classes, individual coaching programs, and workshops (which I will continue to offer).  This is a potentially life changing, “rites of process” approach that lets the reader/ life mapper review your Life Story to Now; reflect on where you are at currently in relation to your values, life interests and goals; and then (re)claim, envision, and plan a practical yet energizing pathway to set a course and go (Live Your Dream, Now!).

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I really do highly recommend this approach to anyone facing any sort of life decision or transition or who simply wants to discover and reflect upon the amazing potentials of your own Life Story.  I have witnessed many individuals who have achieved transformational insights from life mapping. The very process of reviewing your Life Story AS A STORY to now, with meaningful Shaping Events, Life Themes, Life Chapters bounded by key Turning Points as chapter turners, and an awareness of the parallels of YOUR story with classic myths and popular epics brings the life mapper to an overview Joseph Campbell called being a Dweller at the Threshold, able to look back and also forward.  Then the Life Path Mapping Process guides you to effectively CROSS THE THRESHOLD to truly manifest the vitalizing yet flexible life of your dreams.

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As well, with this book’s Tools you will be able to Meet & Greet (truly) your very own “ensemble cast of mythic/archetype characters.” Like Dorothy in the Wizard of Oz, you too have an inner unconscious cast of often submerged but always influential “inner” parts of Self that each needs your help to strengthen and to integrate/ come together with your greater Self to help you manifest your highest potentials for this lifetime.

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Envisioning and realizing this book as a Personal Growth and Development book and life mapping handbook has been my VOCATION over the past fifteen years. I published a scholarly book (The Life Map as an Implicit Cognitive Structure Underlying Behavior, Mellen Press, 2010) with articles about my research studies that led to the development then of the self-discovery Tools presented for the first time to the general public with Your Life Path. So of course this is very exciting for me but more than that I really do recommend this book highly to any reader!

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Your Life Path will be in indy consignment stores around the country and I will be doing signings in several local stores (yay) to try to get the word out. If you know of friends (and yourself of course) who might benefit from a fun and innovative approach to learning more about your Self and how to go forward to live your best life… please check this book out and share this post or the ISBN number with others in your blog or Facebook or email groups. I honestly don’t mean to sound boasting or overly “selling” of anything…that really is not who I am (an introvert in general, and not prone to self promotion). But I do want this book that I have nurtured and developed for so long find Its own deserving audience so others can benefit from the approach I myself have been blessed to pilot every step of the way. It is in fact my own Life Dream coming into full fruition, Now!

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images are from pixabay.com

I am grateful for the opportunity to serve Life and thank YOU for reading!

VOCATION!

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I have always loved the word “vocation,” as to me there is a big difference between VOCATION and WORK. As Life Themes these often show up distinctively in people’s Life Maps, too. While Work or Career might be one Theme a person charts in terms of “types of events or situations” recurring over the course of their life up to Retirement at least, people usually identify VOCATION distinctively; for example as a specific “calling,” or a beloved activity such as Writing, Art, Music, Outdoors, Hiking, a competitive sport such as Swimming or Basketball, etcetera. So this month let our focus be on exploring the role and influence of VOCATION or Callings in our lives.

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Writing has always been a vocation for me. From a young age, my personal Journal has been a close friend and companion. Literally, I would address my journal as I wrote, and somehow I knew It (or, someone on a spiritual or an internal dimension) was always there, listening! By college years I was maintaining several different journals at a time: one for poetry, one for  dreams and spiritual experiences. another for philosophical musings, and one as a basic diary, at least.

It was through my journal writing that my writing vocation grew and blossomed over time.  I would write short stories, dramatic dialogue pieces, and evocative descriptive essays that I called ‘Photos.’ I started a science fiction trilogy in graduate school which I developed to the degree that I have a complete first book manuscript, the second book is started, and the rest is outlined (now including a quatrain or fourth installment). I intend during my upcoming retirement to publish this series, called The Dawnbreakers.

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Through my years as a professor I have continued journaling, and alongside academic publications (two books, several journal articles, a book chapter and several invited book reviews), my VOCATION has only intensified, so that in 2002 after receiving tenure, I realized I wanted to find a way to do something more creative and public service- oriented with my career, so I began the LIFE MAPPING project that has culminated in my new book, YOUR LIFE PATH (click or see right panel for ordering information). This is a mainstream, personal growth and development book and Toolkit. It lets you become a Life Mapper of your own Life Story, truly!  Based on my understanding of mythology, archetypal psychotherapy, and life history studies including Joseph Campbell’s The Hero Cycle, rites of passage, and Jung’s methods for discovering your own internalized, archetypal “parts of Self”, I have developed this approach of life mapping over many years of research, teaching, and individual coaching so that anyone can discover and reflect upon their own Life Story. This lets you realize the Strengths (and obstacles) you have developed through your own life experience to Now so that you can envision your Life Dream and begin, Now, to manifest and fulfill your sense of Life Purpose and Life Mission. So, please check it out, it really is very good!

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images are from pixabay.com

So my vocation has brought me to this point, and now I have three sequels to Your Life Path in process already. I so look forward to my retirement years (beginning as of this June 8, yay!) so I can shift all of my focus to this more spiritual dimension of my own sense of a personal Calling in this lifetime.

I welcome YOUR story!

Re-Vision a Relationship (Past, Present or Future)

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For our final February weekly post about the Life Theme of RELATIONSHIPS, I invite you to consider how you might wish to have changed or to currently ‘tweak’ some aspect of a meaningful relationship in your life. With the divine gift of imagination, you are capable of effectively “re-visioning” your relationship events; past, present or future.

It may help first to consider if there is a PATTERN about some of your relationships that you would choose to alter if you could.  This is an active exercise; it is about what YOU CAN/ COULD have done differently–or would do differently today–that might have lead to some different results.  Re-visioning a past event or situation can have a profound influence on your current disposition when it comes to actions or decisions you could be contemplating now, so that you can avoid pitfalls of the past.

The strength of this exercise is that it brings your present awareness to bear either on a past situation or more mindfully upon a present set of circumstances.

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So do this with full exercise of your (re-)constructive imagination. Once you have identified a pattern you would wish to change and you have remembered a particular moment in a particular relationship which itself you feel you might/’should’ have enacted differently in retrospect, imagine yourself IN THAT MOMENT again. This time, change  the conversation or the action knowingly, with the awareness you have since gained. Journal or internally dialogue with the other person in this relationship moment. Let him or her speak, and respond or initiate your own conversation as it could have been rather than as it was.  Listen to the other person and see that they listen to and hear you deeply.  Continue the scenario in your imagination until you bring it to a new level of resolution. As you emerge from your reverie, give yourself time to reflect on how the future might have been altered from this re-visioned exchange.

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I find that when I do this re-vision the past technique–and I have often as a life mapping tool (see right panel)–it really feels as if not just the memory of the event but the actual event itself HAS CHANGED. I feel less attachment afterwards to the initial triggering moment and better equipped to approach any similar situation in the present or future.

I welcome YOUR Comments and Story!

How to Mend a Broken Heart

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So it’s Valentines month and we are exploring the RELATIONSHIPS Life Theme here at Better Endings. I had a post for Valentine’s Day but was sick with the stomach flu so am just going to let that one go by the wayside. Now that Valentine’s is over this current topic may be more appropriate: How to Mend a Broken Heart. Not that everyone needs this but Valentines Day (or week) allows us to reflect back on both the good and lasting loves of our life as well as the more difficult relationships that need our attention too. Life mapping involves a holistic embracing of your total Self and of your total Life Story, and we can learn often as much or more from past challenges as from  our current success stories.

Troubled relationships from our past (or present) can trouble us for a lifetime, if we let them. It is helpful to nurture yourself with regard to your pain and loss, to help heal these effectively so you can go forward with a more open heart.

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The Better Ending sort of story that comes up for me around this theme is a scene from the wonderful movie Steel Magnolias. When I first saw this film I cried for hours, starting in the theatre and continuing after it was over. It touched a deep chord for me about family and friends, along with pets my own closest relations. At the time I was (still am til this August) living far from my family, and this film reignited my love and sense of loss for being so far away.

The scene–I will bet you will have guessed it–that I think can be helpful for anyone to help mend a broken heart is with Sally Field as M’Lynn Eatenton, after the funeral for her daughter Shelby, a diabetic who has died in childbirth. M’Lynn asks “why?!” (click below to view on YouTube.)

This is an amazing scene, beautifully acted of course by the amazing Sally Field along with Olivia Dukakis and Shirley MacClain.  What I love about it is how expressive she is of her feelings. She doesn’t hold anything back! It is wonderful to purge ourselves when we feel grief. Let it out! Release your true feelings. Allow your pain to surface and flow forth into the universe.  Scream out at God if you need to. Why DID this have to happen?  What is left now?

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images are from pixabay.com

Healing requires Letting Go, as Elizabeth Kubler-Ross has written of so beautifully in her many books about Death and Dying. And you cannot Let Go until you come to terms with your loss and allow yourself to grieve.

I welcome YOUR Comments and Story!

Map Your Relationships

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Life Mapping lets you review the trends and potentialities of each of your Life Themes within the epic adventure of your lifetime! This year at Better Endings for Your Life Path we are exploring one Life Theme per month (see monthly topics) by using and reflecting on life mapping techniques; for February we are focusing on Relationships.

Many life mappers identify Relationships as a primary Life Theme, either directly or according to sub-themes like Family, Romance, Pets, and/or Friends.  I would like to invite you to choose one or more of these topics to map across your life course. If you choose more than one, then I would ask you to color code the events you will map for each Theme you are exploring.

The basic technique of life mapping which I will be presenting fully with my upcoming book, YOUR LIFE PATH (see right panel!), invites you to first make a list of Significant Life Events pertaining to your Theme(s), then plot their relative impact on shaping “the person you have become.”

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First then, make a list of events or situations involving key relationships in your life. You can make separate lists if you are exploring more than one Relationship theme, like one list for Romantic relationships and a separate list for Family or for Friends events (or do one at a time). Keep a wide left margin on your page. Let this be a list of events or situations that have influenced you in significant ways. You can start with the earliest or with the most impactful life experience involving this Theme, then feel free to recall earlier or later events freely (you will order these chronologically later).

After you have a list of key events, in the wide left margin next to each event, note the age you were when this occurred (either a single date or a time frame). Then ask yourself, “How has this event or situation impacted the person I have become?” RATE the event or situation relative to the time frame when it occurred, from -5 to +5, where -5 is extremely negative and +5 is extremely positive. Note that you could rate the same event as both Plus and Minus in its impact, such as -3/+5 if you recognize the event has had both a negative as well as a distinctively positive impact on your life for one reason or another.

Now then, you can use the Life Map chart below to simply PLOT the impact scores you have used to rate the relative positive and/or negative influence of each event in your list. Use a pencil (you can copy this post and enlarge the chart or make your own separately) to put a dot or an x along the time line , marking onto the 0 to +5 or 0 to -5 lines to represent your events. Plot these impacts according to the relative age you were when they occurred. You can write your Age for each event along the center, neutral Age Line.

You can “connect the dots” of your plotted events on the chart to reveal trends or PATTERNS of how this Theme has unfolded in your life.  Connect two plotted events especially if they seem somehow connected to you as forming a trend, like if you went from a negative experience to a positive one, or if a series of events were all negative or all positive (or neutral = ) on the chart).

It can help to draw a vertical hash-marked or dotted line where the event you have plotted is so significant that you may feel you were “a different person” before and after this event occurred. (These are your Critical Life Events or Turning Points.)

If you want to map more than one relationship sub-theme, repeat the above steps for each Theme you are interested in exploring.

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images are from pixabay.com

After plotting your Map, review it. Journal or contemplate (or both) or talk with a loved one about the PATTERNS you observe in this Theme. If you have mapped multiple Themes, do you notice differences in the patterning of each of these as they have interwoven within the fabric of your Life Story?

I welcome YOUR Comments and Story!

Relationships as a Life Theme

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As we are exploring monthly topics around LIFE THEMES, threads of experience that carry a pattern of content, February seems a good time of year to focus on Romance or, more generally, Relationships. Certainly RELATIONSHIPS is a primary Life Theme for most people in one form or another (e.g. Family, Romance, Friends). Like all Life Themes, RELATIONSHIP threads that weave through one’s Life Chapters and Life Story can be uplifting, inhibiting, or even like a Roller Coaster ride when it comes to their pattern of influence and impact on our lives overall.

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Since Relationships are so ubiquitous in most of our lives, let’s take some time this month to focus on various sorts of relations. For myself at 63 and single some 15 years after a long string of romantic adventures, romance is honestly no longer an interest after too many strains of Ups and Downs in that arena. I would rather focus my own Relationships Theme around the wonderful connections I now enjoy with family, friends, and my dearly beloved pet companions, just two days ago reduced by one as I had to send on his Soul journey after 16 years with me my dear companion cat Loki, due to kidney disease.

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images above from pixabay.com

If I were to map my Relationship Theme (which I will invite you to do in the next post), just in recent weeks of my current Life Chapter it would reveal quite a ‘wild ride,’ mostly very positive despite dips or deep troughs of sadness and loss. My mother’s passing just two weeks ago tomorrow brought our whole family together for a blessedly very positive time of sharing and remembrances. We are strengthened by our unconditional love for one another, which brings great joy and gratitude.

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photo by Jeff Watts

My relationship with my mother herself I feel is actually strengthened as I have been recalling to memory all of the wonderful ways she skillfully and lovingly parented me and imparted positive values in all five of her children and grandchildren.

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Elizabeth Anne Rugh Watts

May 25, 1927 – January 23, 2018

We gain so much from our close relations. We learn so much in a family of diverse Souls as in a community of friends and cross-species families, too!

I welcome YOUR Comments and Story!

Significant Life Events and their Lessons: Health Matters

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How have Health related life events influenced or shaped the person you have become? What Life Lessons has your Theme of Health brought to you?

Health matters can be highly impactful over the life course. For some, health matters might even define the life course (your own or a loved one’s) during times one must confront and deal with critical or chronic illness. For others, health matters may punctuate shifts from one major Life Chapter to the next, or Health might dominate a meaningful Life Chapter of itself.

I invite you to explore the Life Lessons you have learned  through the thread of Health Matters in your life. You can start by making a short list of some of your most Critical Health Events or situations (no more than six). State the event or situation and the relative date (e.g. your age or actual dates) that this has most affected you. Then you can think, talk, journal or contemplate about the LIFE LESSON(s) each of these Health Matters has helped you to understand.

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Just as an example I will list a few of my own health related Shaping Events and the Life Lessons I associate with those.

  • 4 YO: I fell off from a booster seat at the dining room table and knocked out my front four teeth.  LESSONS: Shyness (and patience). I felt self-conscious of my appearance for many years beginning with that event. (My teeth did not grow back for 6 years and then I needed major orthodontic work in my teenage years.)
  • College years: On the fencing team. I see this as a health related time frame because I was stronger and healthier than I have ever been before or since. I learned great lessons about practice and honing an ability, attention to detail, and managing competitiveness, always striving to be my best, aiming ever since to achieve excellence in any endeavor.
  • 40’s-50’s: Weight gain. During the most stressful period of developing my career and dealing with the Ups and Downs of relationship matters too, I created a shell around myself in the form of excess weight.
  • Last year: Immune disorder and wake-up call of diabetic condition. Earlier lapses of attention to diet and health led to these conditions as a wake-up call. I am managing the first pretty well and have beat the diabetes diagnosis by shifting to a low carb diet, losing 46 lbs in the process.
  • Now: Sophie (my dog)’s diabetes. Another major wake-up call. I now cook her food according to a healthy diabetic diet for dogs plus we walk three times a day and we appear to have been able to stabilize the situation though there is still more always to address. I am grateful for retirement just around the corner so I can attend to her and my other pets’ (and my own) health matters with more time to give daily.
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  • YESTERDAY (Jan. 23/2018): My mother passed beyond. In my faith of Eckankar, we call this “translation,” a passing from the Physical body into another state of Being.  LESSONS:  Word of the day: consubstantialityWe are part of those we love and they are part of us! Through her I have a glimpse of states beyond the Physical; through me, she sees how interconnected is all of Reality. FURTHER LESSONS: Memories of how my Mother helped me and encouraged me always, as with all my siblings, to discover my own passions and take my place in the world, and to always aim to be of service to all Life. My upcoming book, Your Life Path (see sidebar) is dedicated to my dear mother, Elizabeth Anne Rugh Watts (picture above).

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images are from pixabay.com

Another factor to explore: what are your GOALS for the Health Theme in your life? Where is this thread going now in your life and where would you like to go with it? Then, of course, what can you do to bring about the most positive outcomes for your greatest Health?

I welcome YOUR comments and story!

(P.S.: Because of my mother’s passing, I will be travelling for her memorial service and funeral this week, so I might not be able to blog until after that trip.)

Beatriz at Dinner: In Need of a Better Ending! (Health Theme)

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Hi All. So I watched Beatriz at Dinner this week, expecting an excellent story with John Lithgow and Salma Hayak in the top roles. At first I was delighted and of course, the acting was superb by these two distinguished Thespians. But the ending…oh my! This story cries out (to me) for a Better Ending! And as the protagonist Beatriz, played intensely by Hayak, is a Healer from Mexico in the story, I want to rewrite the story to bring a more positive message to the Healer motif.

Beatriz is an intuitive healer and masseuse.  She is very—let’s say, overly—sensitive in the story to injury to any animals or humans. She can feel their pain to the point that she has become unbalanced by the cold reality of indifference. Doug, her nemesis as it plays out in the story (Lithgow’s role) is a financial developer mogul. He has succeeded often at the expense of wildlife or native occupations of land he has acquired to build his empire of hotels and other big developments. So, this becomes a story about class inequality and depicts a clash of viewpoints between Beatriz and Doug that gets magnified and intensified within Beatriz as she entertains the notion of murdering the wicked seeming mogul…

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 I will not tell the story to its film conclusion here, so as not to be a spoiler. Let’s just say I found the current ending disturbing, as was intended.

I believe in Better Endings! To me that is a natural principle that gives anyone the creative license to change any story they wish (especially, their OWN!) So then, how would I personally rewrite the plotline development of Beatriz at Dinner?

I would start just after Beatriz has met Doug at her client’s high-class dinner party and (been) retired to her room. I would have her devise something magnificent, not destructive, to teach a vital, transformative lesson to Doug that might effectively alter his perceptions about his own empire and bring him to some possibly life changing (and life enhancing) transformative concepts that he can implement to benefit not just his own but everyone’s world.

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Like in the wonderful film of Powder, first Beatriz can intuitively link Doug to sense the pain of the African rhinoceros he was so proud of hunting and killing. Let him feel that pain so he can commit to never hunting again and to supporting endangered animal programs with his wealth.  Then maybe Beatriz could also tap Doug in telepathically to the lives of some of the peoples his hotel projects have displaced or impoverished.  As Doug has been a TED talk speaker, let him change his tune, go spend some time in these native communities, and revise his approach to development, building compassion and opportunity for local people into his approach.

Maybe Doug and Beatriz, recognizing the kismet of their connecting at the dinner party, could eventually team up and she could help to lead him to use his money and power for the greater good! Maybe they receive a Nobel Peace Prize down the road for their beneficial collaboration.

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images are from pixabay.com

Please note, Better Endering is not about better writing or about critiquing authors. It is about CREATIVE RE-VISIONING, a principle we can all apply to our own lives to manifest the higher, greater life potentials of our deepest imagining.

I welcome your insights and story!

Map Your Life Theme of HEALTH

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This  year as we focus on Life Themes for our main topic, each month I will give you the opportunity to “Map” the monthly Theme as it has patterned in your own Life Story.  Let’s begin with HEALTH as a Life Theme.

Mapping a Life Theme is a very simple self-discovery process.  First, list a series of significant health related events in your life. Make a note about each event so you will be able to read through these sequentially. Order these Health events chronologically just by numbering them from earlier to later, and it can help to place a relative date after each one on your list.

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Now then, rate the relative positive and/or negative impact of each event as it has influenced you in your life. Use a scale from -5 to +5, with a zero score representing a neutral impact score.

Use the chart shown below to PLOT the positive and/or negative impacts of each event along the five grid lines above or the five grid lines below the central line. This chart represents a time or Age line from left (earlier) to right (Later). You can mark your age or the relative date of each event along (just below) the timeline. If you rated an event with both a positive AND a negative impact (which is common and fine, e.g. +3/-2 or +5/-5), then plot both the positive and negative values for that single event vertically at the same date along the time line and connect the positive and negative values with a vertical line.

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After you have plotted the relative impacts of your Health events using the Life Mapping grid above, you can also CONNECT the dots (events) to reveal the overall PATTERN of this Life Theme in your life.  Especially when some of the events that are adjacent to each other on your chart reflect a CHANGE or a STABILITY of some health factors, connecting the plotted points can reveal TRENDS in your Health Theme over time.

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images are from pixabay.com

After you have plotted the Ups and Downs of your own Health related Life Theme, I invite you to contemplate and journal about what you discover from reviewing how this Theme has operated in your life over time. Has it primarily been positive/ uplifting? Or a deterring factor, or very steady? How has Health been an influential factor in your life? Would you wish to change anything about it? How might you do that?

I invite your Comments and Story!

How I Beat Diabetes II (You Can, Too!)

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After a blood test around 18 months ago, my doctor told me my A1C score: 164, which indicated I was in the diabetic range. I asked my good doctor, “What can I do?”

“Stop eating anything white,” she responded.

I followed her directions. I cut out all bread, potatoes, pasta, rice, flour, and most processed sugar. (I could still have low carb yogurt every few days at 8 carbs). I started eating lots of cheese, meats, more vegetables/ salads, and exercising at the YMCA 2-3 times per week.

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The weight fell off almost magically as soon as I established a low carb diet. I studied carb content at the grocery stores but I did not have to count calories. The rule of thumb I used is anything I eat should be under 5 carbs (now maybe 8-10 after I have achieved the weight loss I was after). I started at 163 lbs and now I weigh in at 118, after 18 months. I lost the first 30 lbs in 3 months on this new diet.

My last A1C reading was 153.  My new doctor has reported to me:

“You had diabetes, and now you do not have diabetes.”

I am not even in the pre-diabetic range! I am still, however, quite careful to maintain my low carb diet and exercise regime.  Sure, now I will have a 7 carb piece of chocolate every 2-3 days. But still I am not eating bread, pasta, rice, flour, most sugar, or potatoes. This is a lifestyle change for me, not a temporary diet.

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It is ironic that around two months ago my dog Sophie was diagnosed to be diabetic. I am hoping my own newfound awareness about the importance of changing to a healthier diet will help Sophie, too.  I now cook for her based on researching a diabetic dog’s dietary needs.  I believe we are doing pretty well so far in stabilizing Sophie’s glucose. Insulin, two meals 12 hrs apart with a small, low carb treat mid-day, and walks after every meal and treat.

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images are from pixabay.com

 

The Art of Healthful Cooking (for Sophie)

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The Life Theme of HEALTH is very appropriate for a January focus. So many of us make our New Years resolutions around our health issues, whether it is about improving our diets for weight and related issues or about eliminating unhealthy habits in our lives.

I’d like to share with regard to the HEALTH Theme about what I have been learning recently as I am now cooking 100% of my dog Sophie’s ‘diabetic diet.’

Dog diabetes is a daunting condition, as any of you know who have dealt with this.  Apparently almost all dogs who are beset by diabetes develop Type 1 such that the pancreas can no longer produce insulin. Many also develop cataracts that leads to blindness. And the first six months are the most dangerous for getting the condition under control and developing a good management program to maintain glucose level stability.

So Sophie and I are dealing with this big time. She is just 6 1/2 years old.  I have shifted her diet almost 100% to home cooked food and we are exercising 3-4 times per day plus I give her insulin–I call it “bacon boosts” because it is developed in pigs–twice a day.  Our excellent vet is a very caring person and we are trying to get the glucose down to a good level, though we have yet to achieve that in a stable way so far as I can tell after about 6 weeks.  We are down to an allowable range but are still working on all the right doses, etc.

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Cooking for Sophie truly is an art as well as a science.  With a good friend helping me at first to develop the right portions and ingredients, we now use about 1/3 three complex carbs per cup that I rotate with more that 1/3 pureed, low glycemic but high protein and/or high fiber veggies, and a little more than 1/4 cup of either chicken with liver, turkey with liver and beef with liver. The carbs are either low carb oatmeal or quinoa in the morning and, so far, pearled barley for dinner. I also give her one mid-afternoon treat usually without the complex carbs in that. We have the insulin after the morning and dinner meals and go for a walk after all three meals, at least.  In addition I give her a multi vitamin the vet gave us, plus taurine, bromelaine, apple cider vinegar, cinnamon, turmeric, and Glipizide (to add a bit to the insulin force).

The veggies I use most are broccoli, zucchini, parsley, asparagus, pumpkin, celery, clover sprouts, some garbanzo beans, and green beans, occasionally adding some spinach or kale. I puree the veggies with some meat/ veggie broth and add the apple cider vinegar to the puree, the after warming everything I blend  it all together in the food processor, then add the vitamins.

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images are from pixabay.com

We see the vet next this coming Saturday: wish us good health! We are also going to an ophthalmologist the next Thursday to get a baseline on her eyes’ condition.

If anyone has advice or suggestions from your own experience, please share your Comments!

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One more note about this photo of Sophie from my previous post. Notice the stuffed animal hedgehog at her front paws. I hadn’t even realized that was there. Hedgehog is a very positive animal symbol that betokens persistence and overcoming obstacles. Go Sophie!

What are Your LIFE THEMES?

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Here is a very simple and effective way to identify your Life Themes, those recurring situation and relationship types that form the “stuff” of much of your life activity within the Life Chapters of your Life Story:

  • Reflect and write a LIST of 10-15 significant events that have “shaped you as the person you have become.” This does not have to be an exhaustive list, and the events or situations on your list do not have to have been earth shattering, just significant.
  • After you have composed your list of significant “shaping” events or situations, read back through this list several times and SORT your events into KINDS of events. Assign personally meaningful NAMES to these Kinds of Events. These are your LIFE THEMES.

You may list your LIFE THEMES below and you can print out this post to remember them:

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Now if you like, you can compare your list of LIFE THEMES with the twelve monthly Themes I have selected for us to focus on this year at Better Endings for Your Life Path. (You can also find these by clicking on the Monthly Topics menu tab.)

January –     Health

February –   Romance/ Relationships

March –       Vocation

April –          Work

May –           Family

June –          Adventure/ Travel

July –           Friends

August –      Relocation/ Moves   

September– Education

October –     Spirituality

November – Pets

December – Life Lessons

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images are from pixabay.com

Are some of your LIFE THEMES similar to the monthly Themes listed above? You might benefit from associating your LIFE THEMES with some of these monthly topics, then I encourage you to focus on YOUR Life Theme issues and lessons as we focus on these topics this year. I will provide active imagination and journaling prompts to help you to reflect on your own experiences.

I welcome your Comments and Stories!

A Te Sante: Running with Sophie

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Happy New Year to all!  This post begins a new year of Better Endings. This year we will be focussing on Life Themes: those recurring kinds of situations in our lives that form the core substance and weave the patterned fiber of our/your Life Stories. Each month we will focus on one of twelve Life Theme topics that are commonly identified in Life Path Mapping (also see menu tab: Monthly Topics):

January –   Health

February – Romance/ Relationships

March –     Vocation

April –        Work

May –         Family

June –         Adventure/ Travel

July –          Friends

August –     Relocation/ Moves   

September–  Education

October –     Spirituality

November – Pets

December – Life Lessons

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To begin this New Year of Better Endings, for this month of January we will focus on the Life Theme of HEALTH. This is particularly appropriate for me at this time, as I am in a process of adjusting to and learning about my dog Sophie’s condition of diabetes. What a daunting diagnosis this is, knowing all the possible complications and wanting to improve her condition in every way possible. (BTW, your helpful suggestions are quite welcome! Please Comment if you have positive suggestions!)

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My Dear Companion, Sophie

Sophie is more than a Friend; she is my Soul companion. We have adventured on six cross-country trips from Colorado to New York already, and she is six and a half years old. We have another BIG move to look forward to this August, after I retire and we and our two beloved cats Loki and Emily relocate to New York state for good.  I discovered around a month ago that my girl Sophie has a diabetic condition. I now am cooking for her and providing supplements, exercise, insulin, and lots of gratitude and love.

Today I will just post about a typical morning walk’s meandering thoughts, from this morning:

I love you so dearly, my Friend. I worry as much about my own attitudes or worries as I do about the therapeutic measures themselves. I do not want to overreact or do things that may harm more than help. Let’s do our best and keep things simple. If cataracts develop, we can remove those. For the liver, kidneys and pancreas, we must be observant and do our preventative best. Most information affirms that as long as we change the diet properly and have the right amounts of protein, fiber, low glycemic veggies and complex carbs and the proper amount of exercise, this can be managed and complications improved.

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This dog looks so much like Sophie in her new coat!

Running With Sophie has become itself a Theme in my current life activity. We have been exercising three times a day, after meals and the mid-afternoon dried liver or small veggie and meat snack. She runs a good 1/4 or so of her walk time, which I am grateful for. It helps her lower the sugar content in her system and gives us both a healthful Time Out.

This theme of Running with Sophie also pertains to an earlier theme seven years ago of “the Running Dog.” This was about my previous dog Ellie, whom I lost and tried to find in greenways of Denver for six or seven months unsuccessfully. People would notify me on Craigs List that they thought they had seen her, often running. So I would go up there to where she was “spotted,” rain or shine, looking for and calling for her, but to no avail. I can only hope someone did take her in, as she did not get picked up at any of the pound or lost dog facilities as far as I could tell. Anyway, that is seven years ago. I wanted then to write a story about “The Running Dog;” now I would add to that story, “Running with Sophie.”

As Soul Companions, Sophie and I (and our additional, feline family members Loki And Emily) mean more to me and each other than can possibly be expressed in words. Love is Love. This morning the thought came to me (while on our morning walk) that :

Since God is (in) Everything

And God is All Good

Then Everything is God;

Life is Good.

I do believe this (above).  Everything is God, so Everything is Good.  Live or die, succeed or not so much, EVERY condition, every thought, word and deed, every life experience is an experience in Living, and everything is Divine. We can learn from any experience; experiences do not DEFINE us but they can help us grow spiritually and in wisdom, courage and compassion. Another thought from Running with Sophie this morning:

Gratitude and Love

Go Hand in Glove;

And:

True Love is Reciprocal,

All Ways.

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images (except mine of Sophie above) are from pixabay.com

So “A Te Sante!” To your great Wellness and Good Health in 2018 and forever on YOUR Soul Journey.

Better Endings to You Always!,

Linda

 

 

Winter Solstice: Death and the Resurgence of Possibilities

 

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It is appropriate how in the Western hemisphere we celebrate Christmas, Hanukkah, and the New Year during the depth of Winter, around the time of the Winter solstice. Hope and love are born or rekindled in a season of relative darkness and cold, like a ray of light peeking through the stormy clouds or an ember sparking a warm fire, reminding us that the freeze will thaw and warmth and new potentials will emerge.

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Cross-culturally the Winter solstice and New Year are often aligned and celebrated as a time of death and rebirth, not only of the annual cycle of growth and decay but of fresh opportunities. The Zuni Pueblo Sha’lak’o kachina ceremonies, for instance, always occur at the end of November or first weekend of December. New houses for families needing room to expand, built by kiva group societies throughout the past year, are visited by the six 12 foot tall Sha’lak’o  messenger kachinas. The Sha’lak’os walk to these houses at Zuni from the six directions (East/South/West/North/Zenith/Nadir) to bless these homes and metaphorically to bring balance and renewal of growth potentials to the entire world and cosmos through their sacred prayers and ceremonial dancing.

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Out with the Old, In with the New.  A new cycle within the larger cycles of your Life Chapters and Life Story is a golden opportunity to reflect, to shed that which no longer serves you in its present form.  Take a breath of the pristine dawn of a New Day over the Holidays season!

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images are from pixabay.com

I welcome YOUR comments and Story!