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!

 

 

 

Pets and Rebirth of a Dear Companion

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Yesterday I read a post from a favorite blogger about how she was wondering whether seeing her recently passed dog’s collar that showed up on the first day of Hanukkah could be a sign from her beloved companion, perhaps even that he would be coming back, as she had at the time been contemplating finding another puppy .I do believe in reincarnation, and since Animals are Soul, Too (There is a book of that title, by Harold Klemp), our Soul companions that we share our lives with in their animal and our human forms can also return if that is in the highest spiritual interest of all concerned.

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I am an animal lover and have had pets all my life. I do recognize that some of them have been with me in more than one animal companion form.  My cat Ariel came to me in such a way that I knew with certainty that she was returning from having been my cat Chela who had passed away around nine months earlier. There are many layers to this story, including dreams I had had when Chela was with me about other lives we had had together going way back to when I was an archaic human boy and she was a Tiger:

Yellow Eyes (the dream, in present tense for better recall):

I am a young boy walking alone in the veld. Language is minimal. I look around, taking stock of the environs. “Sky, storm” I think as I see the sky has a greenish tint and that signifies a violent storm is coming. “Cliff’” I think as I see a wall of cliffs with caves and I climb up there to take shelter from the storm, which swiftly comes with high winds wailing outside the cave. I look around and see a pair of yellow eyes looking back at me. “Tiger.” She also is seeking refuge from the storm. We seem to understand that we are both there for that reason and we do not attack one another.  The storm passes. Tiger leaves the cave, with an appreciative gaze as she leaves.  Later, a different life: I am a young man (indigenous native in a rainforest).  A lion is about to pounce upon me as I am walking through the jungle. Then a Tiger leaps onto the scene and prevents the Lion from reaching me.

Other memories of this same Soul as a white horse  while I am some sort of soldier.

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Then fast forward to after Chela’s (as a calico orange female cat–also with Yellow/ Gold Eyes–, my closest companion for 11 years)  passing.  Around nine months later I wake from a dream. I am leaving a castle where I had been visiting a mentor who had recently died; she is who had introduced me to Chela while I was taking an Independent Study in Philosophy with her, Toni.  I look down as I am about to close the gate and see a female cat, ‘black and white with orange blotches’ coming toward me. Excited, I kneel down: “There you are!” and she leaps into my arms; we are so close, so familiar.  That very day of the dream I go to the office of my then mentor, my PhD advisor, Betsy. Her first words to me:

“Linda, do you know anyone who could take a kitten?”

“Not unless it is black and white with orange blotches,” I answered.

“One is!”

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images are from pixabay.com

So I met Ariel that day, also with golden eyes, who was with me for the next twenty years. We were as close as Chela and I had been, loving companion Souls who travelled together and loved each other deeply.  She had marks on her forelegs and forehead of an orange calico just like Chela had been, though Ariel was a beautiful Harlequin Tortoise Shell Calico.

Because there is a need for ‘death’ (I call it translation in my faith), there must also be rebirth. We learn through cycles of growth and change.  It is all about love after all, which is reciprocal always or it is not love. Reciprocity and cyclicity are two aspects of the same relationship with Love, Life, and Spiritual Freedom. So I believe.

I welcome YOUR comments and Story!

Magical Creature Metaphors of Resurrection: Phoenix and Butterfly

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“Up from the ashes” depicts the magical Phoenix bird that dies and is reborn from its own ashes, completing a cycle of birth-death-rebirth over and over again.  The magical Butterfly as well, though a real being, literally dies to its earth-crawling caterpillar form to be fully redesigned and reborn in the chrysalis, emerging as a beautiful, delicate winged being.

Being capable of flight in their mature form is a common denominator of the Phoenix and the Butterfly. As archetypal metaphors, they thereby represent the primordial IDEALIST in us all; we are each of us capable of essential transformations of our own form and/or consciousness. 

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The Phoenix transforms from an AIR archetype into a FIRE archetype and then re-emerges as an AIR element archetype again. The Butterfly transforms from an EARTH element archetype to an AIR archetype form.  AIR as an archetypal element connotes liberation, spiritual freedom and a spirit of adventure. As such, the archetypal transformations of Phoenix and Butterfly are also ALCHEMICAL; they have a MYSTICAL  aspect of Ascension and Enlightenment.

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images are from pixabay.com

When have YOU, or how MIGHT you, emulate the mystical Phoenix or Butterfly?

Reflecting on this question to provide an example from my own life, I can relate to the Phoenix metaphor in several aspects. I figuratively died to my early, formative life experience in New York state in 1979 to Go West, to Phoenix, to undergo the transformation of graduate school in a new career major, Anthropology. I might even say that then the later graduation from graduate school with my PhD and relocating to Colorado to conduct my career as a professor for the next 25 years was another Ascension, another death and rebirth so I could apply (give back to life) as a professor all I had been learning up til then. Now then, I have saved the Caterpillar to Butterfly metaphor for the next, huge transformation of my identity as I retire and relocate back to New York state this summer.  I will emerge from the chrysallis of Academe to a life of greater freedom and opportunity for creative expression as an Author, with my book, Your Life Path–see right panel–being published this March and at least two more in the Life Paths series to complete and publish after that.

I invite and welcome YOUR comments and Story!

Groundhog Day and The Razor’s Edge—Two Tales of Rebirth of the Hero

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The film Groundhog Day provides a wonderful story about reincarnation though based on a fantastical “time loop effect” whereby the weatherman protagonist, Bill Murray’s Phil, recycles through the same day, a Groundhog Day in small town America.  This man who starts out this day as a crass, cynical boor of a person, learns through trial and resurrection—again and again, gradually—to reorder his priorities and strengthen his  Self. Phil transforms as does a caterpillar to a butterfly, shedding his old, earthbound self to emerge as a spiritually enlightened Being.

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This story reminds me of another that Bill Murray also starred in a version of: Somerset Maugham’s The Razor’s Edge, which is one of the greatest spiritual novels of all time. In The Razor’s Edge, a man, Larry Darrell,  disillusioned by classism, modern urban squalor and insincere human relations makes a personal pilgrimage to India, where he gains enlightenment and then returns to Chicago. Played originally by Tyrone Power in the 1946 film version of the story, Darrell’s (Power’s) eyes are blazing with the enlightenment or ‘holy fire’ he has gained after his Return, bringing the opportunity of mercy, growth and healing to his former fiancé and other ‘ugly American’ types.

So, resurrection and rebirth does not only apply to spiritual giants or exceptional Souls. Each of us, all of us—human and animals too—have the capacity for growth and learning, for trials and transformation of our life conditions and our very character. For it is character, not ego or personality, that we may aim to develop as we reflect deeply on our dispositions, forged through habit often, and make conscious choices to amend and improve our state.

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Currently I am dealing with a diagnosis that my dear Soul friend, my dog-friend Sophia, is now diabetic. The doctor I have been led to promotes a healthful, radical change in Sophie’s diet, to virtually a vegetarian diet. This is hard for both myself—not a vegetarian—and for Sophie (but probably mainly hard for me to accept and fully administer). My goal of course is Sophie’s longevity and for her to beat this disease altogether.

Change is always challenging. But active change allows great opportunities for personal growth, spiritual advancement, and improvement.

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images are from pixabay.com

What about you? What transformative change have you experienced or do you seek to undergo? Go for it!

I welcome YOUR comments and story!

Resurrection / Rebirth!

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The final stage of the Hero Cycle that we are exploring with this year’s themes is that of Resurrection / Rebirth. ‘The End’ is always a New Beginning!  Whether or not you believe in reincarnation (I do), we live out our lives in epic proportions, undergoing many cycles within greater Cycles as we spiral through our life experiences to reach the heights of our aspirations and fulfillment.

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With my research into life path mapping that I have conducted over the last fifteen years, I have discovered there are three primary types of Life Course Schemas or cultural models of a lifetime that are overlapping in our cultural outlook today. I call these Linear, Cyclic, and Seamless Life Course Models. I want to describe the Linear and Cyclic Life Course Models for you here.

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Linear Models are predicated on a long held view of the life course emphasized in developmental psychology and proposed primarily by Erik Erikson in 1950 (Childhood and Society). This model postulates eight developmental stages everyone passes though as they mature. (You can read about this also in Gail Sheehy’s book Passages and in her later, updated New Passages book). Many of us have been conditioned according to this Linear-stages or step-by-step model of a lifetime, but in today’s “post-modern” reality, this Linear model really does not hold up so well for most people. Instead of ‘one education, one job or career, one relationship,’nowadays most of us find ourselves needing to be flexible and to adapt to major interruptions of our plans as we go along.

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The Cyclic Life Course Model accounts for our need to adjust to life’s changes. I have found in my interview research that people who have experienced major, early life disruptions as a child such as from their parents’ divorce tend to have developed a Cyclic Life Course model on their own. Some will say life occurs in cycles like decades, seven year cycles, twelve year cycles or some other periodic cycle. These folks also say they do not experience or worry about “mid-life crises,” because as one cycle ends and another begins, they always have the opportunity to refresh and renew!

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images are from pixabay.com

So how about you? Do you hold to more of a LINEAR model of life, with set stages of development you aim to achieve? Or do you hold a CYCLIC view of life instead, remaining flexible and open to start anew when a cycle ends for another to begin? (BTW, You might hold instead to a SEAMLESS model, believing that life just happens and you can adjust to whatever comes your way.)

I invite you to contemplate and journal about a CYCLIC approach to your life. Make a timeline of major life events to see if you discover any sort of cyclical pattern there. If so, where are you at in your current cycle? Are you ending a minor or major cycle? Starting a new one? Or are you right in the middle of one cycle, giving your all as you develop your talents and relationships?

I welcome YOUR Comments and Story!

Individuation: Who Are You, Now?

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As we proceed through our ordeals, there is the tendency— the capacity I should say— to ‘break apart.’ Various ‘parts of the Self’ are exposed, often unwittingly, and this is good even though it might feel awful at times. Archetypal personas which live within your psyche and are generally hidden or suppressed may rise to a challenge yet may need to be balanced by other segments of your arc of Identity in order to become better integrated within the whole of your greater Self.

Emotions such as fear, anger and frustration may be telling indicators of a dislodging of some usually buried sub- persona. But be kind to your ‘little selves”; they are valuable, dynamic facets of You. Listen to them, dialogue with them, welcome their insights and concerns. Give them love, and invite them to be a more consciously integrated facet of your Self.

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Challenges or ordeals may bring out these ‘pieces’ of our unconscious pantheon of archetypal perspectives because we grow through crises, constantly tearing apart and reconstructing the Self. So, at every Return phase of a cycle of adventure or resolution of a challenge, we can check in to ask:

“Who Am I, Now?”

Some experiences can serve to elevate our individuated consciousness of Self, while other experiences might tend to pull us downward, deeper into non-resolution or fragmentation. That is why Carl Jung and James Hillman, as archetypal psychologists, encouraged any process of active imagination and archetype dialogue that can help you to identify and ‘own’ your ‘pieces’ so you might re-integrate them into the unique, mature Self you are capable of expressing.

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These parts of Self might show up as an uncharacteristic outburst (or, inburst, unspoken or unexpressed outwardly), alerting you that you are ‘out of sorts.’ Or they might show up as dream personas or images. Recognizing and imaginatively conversing with or journaling about these upset personas’ concerns can help you to embrace your own depths of character. Only not attending to them can split them off in ways that could be harmful to your health or permanently disruptive to your social relations.

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I recall about 5 to 7 years ago while I was engaged in a process of archetypal psychotherapy myself, I had come to know a Descender archetype within myself that I refer to still as Little Linda.  I have watched her grow up through the years since I first identified her as a young child living in a deep, darkened area like a lower level recreation room in a tri-level house. She preferred to stay hidden, protected from the harsh bright realm of adult emotions, backbiting and drama.

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One Saturday while I was at a spiritual retreat just after engaging in a deep contemplation technique, I was speaking with a friend when suddenly Little Linda peeked out from her normal reclusion, and spoke:

“Hi, I’m Little Linda; I am part of the Linda you know.

I want to be part of this seminar, too!”

Fortunately, my friend immediately understood where I was coming from, or should I say, where Little Linda was coming from that day.  He welcomed her and thanked her for stepping forth. Actually that experience has helped me ever since in that my Little Linda has grown up considerably since then and she is certainly with me always now as a positive contributor to our life together.

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images are from pixabay.com

(selected for this post by Little Linda!)

So, “Who Are You, Now?”

I invite your comments stories and stories!

Jungian Re-integration: Gathering Wholeness

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Allow me to share two difficult stories around the theme of re-integration this week. Carl Jung recognized three stages in the process of psychological individuation that are closely tied with the three phases of the hero cycle or the three stages of rites of passage cycles. For Jung these three stages of individuation include: integration, disintegration, and reintegration. The story of Isis descending to retrieve and reassemble the dismembered parts of her brother-husband Osiris well illustrates this process.

We may feel as if we are whole until some disruptive experience  dismembers us and we feel we have  “fallen to pieces.” Then we must “pick up the pieces” and “put ourselves back together again,” resulting in a new self with regard to difficulties we have faced.

On NPR on Saturday, I listened to a story that reminded me of this theme of Jungian reintegration. A mother, Sarah, was dealt the worst blow life has to offer: one of her two twin sons, Caleb, died from a genetic illness. Sarah donated Caleb’s body to science. Yet she found she could not leave it at that; two years later Sarah followed up on where various body parts of her beloved son were delivered and to what use they were being put.  She found that Caleb’s cornea was still in use in studies of infant blindness; DNA studies comparing her two twins’ blood samples had revealed thousands of discrepancies of an epigenetic nature; and Caleb’s retina was a valuable resource in a Philadelphia study of infant illnesses.

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In tracing what had happened with her son’s donated parts, Sarah was re-integrating her very memory of Caleb. He had not died without purpose or consequence, and Sarah’s decision to donate his young body to science had served more than to alleviate her own suffering. Sarah summed it up nicely:

“The choices you make affect others.”

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images are from pixabay.com

The second story I wish to share is as grim as Sarah’s.  Just yesterday while driving on an interstate highway to Denver, I passed a male deer which had just been struck by a vehicle. It was terrible. The deer had been impacted at its rear so that both of its rear legs were broken. I pulled off The highway to call the state police. That poor deer was scraping itself off from the highway shoulder, in terrible agony. He could not survive for long in that condition. The state troopers would euthanize this Soul’s mortal body. I knew this was the only way for this Deer Soul to return to wholeness spiritually, though it could never return to its physical family. I stayed until the troopers arrived, sending what peace and love I could to the struggling animal.

Reintegration is a reassembling of parts of the Self which may have been lost or dismembered through crisis.  As we pick up the pieces we go forward with what we have left, hopefully contributing to others from the lessons we have gained from our ordeals, so that others may suffer less down the road.

These stories are grim indeed.  But they remind us of how life may also deal harsh experience. Yet, the hero cycle or rites of passage allow the process of individuation to be always an upward spiral of growth and purpose.

I welcome always your comments and stories.

The Hero Cycle as Rites of Passage

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The Return is a significant stage of achievement in a Hero Cycle adventure, marking the hero as ‘bringing home’ the strengths and wisdom s/he has attained through facing life’s arduous challenges and fulfilling their Quest. As the Hero returns, s/he benefits all Life and the family and community s/he serves more selflessly after having individuated as a mature, dynamic Self.

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But there is more to the story. Keep in mind that the Hero Cycle represents the mythic structure of a Rites of Passage ordeal which the individual (or group) undergoes to bring about a transformation of his/her/their Identity or to rebalance a situation tending toward decline. The three phases of a complete Rites of Passage cycle include rites of Separation, Transition, and Reintegration. These three universal phases of Rites of Passage cycles are mirrored in the three primary stages of a Hero Cycle adventure: Departure, Fulfillment, and Return.

The Return phase of a Hero’s Adventure involves a Reintegration back into the web of relations, roles, and aspirations of the hero’s Home Base; yet the hero returns to bring bounty to the Whole from having achieved individuation as a powerful, more loving and self-actualizing Self.

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images are from pixabay.com

Reintegration means rejoining a community you had departed from in order to gain maturity and to refine your talents. You rejoin this community with a higher order of Identity, from which you can better serve the growth potentials of the Whole.

Thus when Dorothy returns to Oz as a Self-integrated, mature Person, somehow we know that Toto is going to be okay. Dorothy brings back with her the integrated strengths of Courage, Heart, and Wisdom that she had lacked, and in this more aware, empowered Self she expresses the ultimate realization:

“There’s No Place Like Home!”

The Sea Turtle: Coming Full Circle

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The other day en route to work I listened to an NPR interview with a Chinese man about his experience as a “Sea Turtle.”  In China this metaphor refers to someone who leaves their country and family to travel overseas and then eventually returns. Compatriots who never left will test the returned ‘sea turtle’ to see how s/he has been changed by their exposure to foreign ways ‘across the waters’.  Will they still be loyal and faithful to their own kith and kin?

I like this metaphor, which can have other layers as well as the Chinese associations. The initial journey of the infant sea turtle is fraught with danger and hazards, as only one percent of a group of up to 600 or so hatchlings will even survive the crossing of the beach to reach the Ocean. When the mother sea turtle does return to build her nest and deposit her eggs, it is after from 20-50 years living alone, depending on the species, before reaching sexual maturity and mating.

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The mother sea turtle’s voyage brings her full circle, back to her exact beach of origin. One internet author remarks that the home beach of the sea turtle is “where the magnetic heart is.” Does she return to where she was a rare survivor in evolutionary hopes that her hatchlings might fare as well as she did?

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The Sea Turtle is a  metaphor that applies to my own coming ordeals and adventure as I am set to retire in seven months and I will be returning ‘Back East’ to the conditions I was born to, after nearly forty years ‘Out West.’  I return to bring back lessons and insights from all that I have learned, and will spawn services connected to my book about Life Path Mapping that comes out in March (Your Life Path, see right panel), and to complete additional books in the Life Paths series.

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Are you a SEA TURTLE?  What do you aim to spawn on your Return from your Oceanic journey of experience and maturation? Where is your home beach where you may build your new nest? How can you best provide for your own hatchlings?

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images are from pixabay.com

I welcome YOUR comments and stories!

Fruition!

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Ideation–Goal-Setting—Planning—Development/Learning—Trials/Practice—Implementation—Fulfillment–Fruition!  Such is the process of Creative Manifestation, and I must admit, I love it. There is no feeling more satisfying to me (right up there with sharing timespace with my pets and family and friends) than arriving at Fruition for some worthwhile, service-oriented project.

I say service, and that is important to me.  It is not only a PRODUCT that is generated through a manifestation process that lights me up, but to be worthwhile there must also be a SERVICE brought to fruition. The product must serve the whole in a positive, growth-enhancing manner; that lights my fire!

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My father (bless his Soul, I dreamed of him this morning) used to tell me: “If you’re going to be a ditch digger, then be the best darned ditch digger you can be!” Dad worked his way through college at Ohio State University just after serving as a bomber pilot in the Pacific in WWII by digging ditches for a telephone cable service.

I recall myself similarly working for college tuition over two summers as the sole farmhand for a farmer’s peach orchard and grape vineyards in New York state. Coming home at the end of a grueling, hot day in the orchard or dragging the vineyards on a tractor brought the same feeling of Fruition that I later associate with planning and implementing a seminar or public outreach service for my spiritual organization, and seeing my book, Your Life Path –with deep thanks to my agent, editor and publicist team!!–, going to production this week!

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images are gratefully from pixabay.com

I will be graduating (er, retiring) from full-time academic service as a professor this summer after teaching for nearly forty years altogether, and that will of course bring a major project to fruition.  I have accomplished what I set out to do over the past 25 years at my present post in many respects, and I will go forth still teaching but focusing full-time on writing and related services for a wider field of sharing. I intend for my final blog when I leave this post in Academe this June to be titled:

Mischief Managed!

What brings YOU to a feeling of Fruition or of successful Completion? What service project are you working on Now that will light YOU up again for the good of the Whole?

To me, this image of LIGHTING YOUR FIRE through bringing a worthy project to Fruition is apt: for Fruition lets us tap into that Holy Fire which empowers us to light the world through our service.

I welcome YOUR Comments and Story!

Better Ending Tales of Return

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Here’s a fun practice for this month’s theme of The Return (the eleventh stage of the Hero Cycle as we are framing it this year on the blog site):

Think of a film (or a novel, or myth) begging for a sequel that has not yet been produced. Write a synopsis of the sequel as you would wish it to be!

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One Better Endings movie-sequel tale I have in mind (which will appear in my book to follow Your Life Path, to be called Better Endings), is a sequel for the film Close Encounters.  I call the sequel “Mr. Neary Returns.”  What has Roy learned while away as an earthly ambassador with the alien race that whisked him off into the cosmos at the end of the first film? And what has happened to the earth Roy knew when he departed?

Roy returns, having hardly aged at all, to an earth in great peril of global nuclear annihilation.  He brings a wisdom based on a history of interplanetary species that have survived this great test, while most have failed.  He becomes a global ambassador for open dialogue and forgiveness, recommending a global federation that empowers cultural pluralism for the good of the whole.

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images are gratefully from pixabay.com

Now, writing Better Endings stories is part of a larger opportunity for “revisionist” envisioning generally.  The same “better ending” principle you can use to rewrite fiction or history you can also apply to reflecting on episodes or themes from your own life! (That will be the basis of the book to come…)

For now then, write a Better Endings movie or novel sequel. Try it! Let me know if you would like to share your story!

There’s No Place Like Home!

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The completion of a Hero Cycle adventure brings the traveler Home. The hero returns to their point of origin yet it is not the same place, because the hero is a changed person from before their adventure began.  S/he has come into her own strengths and gained maturity from having overcome the obstacles and ordeals inherent in the adventure of living. Joseph Campbell’s The Hero With 1000 Faces aptly notes that what the hero returns with are strengths not only for that individual but as well for the good of the whole.

“The presence of a vital person vitalizes,” says Campbell in his film documentary with Bill Moyers called “The Hero’s Adventure.”  This is the whole point on one level of the Hero Cycle: persons depart from their too comfortable environments to challenge themselves, to strengthen their whole assemblage of archetypal sub-selves; in Jung’s terms to “individuate” by integrating and developing the full range of their individually focused human capacities.

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The Prodigal Son is a big picture or covering myth that expresses a fundamental unity of most religions: Soul departs from Its divine origin to experience life in the worlds of duality, so It can eventually face the weaknesses of the human consciousness. From encountering ordeals and learning the value of divine love, eventually Soul surrenders human passions of the ego and recovers awareness of Its Divine nature; then It can return to the Godhead to assume a greater responsibility to Life Itself with a fully spiritualized consciousness. In a way, all of human experience can be thought of as subsumed under this greater mythic motif that permeates our lives, at least from a spiritual perspective. (BTW by mythic I do not mean a false narrative but rather a vital tale of profound scope and consequence!)

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One of my favorite movies with a slight comic twist of the Prodigal Son/ Daughter theme is Defending Your Life with Albert Brooks and Meryl Streep.  Daniel and Julia, two recently deceased individuals, find themselves–and meet each other– in the afterworld purgatory city called Judgment City, amid a thriving throng of others recently deceased.  They are assigned attorney angels to represent them at a trial before a panel of judges, whose verdict will determine whether the defendant Soul will need yet to reincarnate or they can “go on” to higher planes.

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Daniel and Julia fall in love. Julia (Meryl Streep) is a shoe-in for transcending to higher planes as she is a bright, heroic sort already. Her trial lawyer shows images of her having soared through her previous life: rushing into a burning house to bring out children, then going back in to bring out a cat! Daniel, on the other hand, has a more challenging trial. His lawyer–played by Rip Torn as a rather querulous defense attorney—shows images from Daniel’s his former life that reveal how he often came up short when it came to taking risks; so it becomes very likely Daniel will need to return to earth to finesse his character a bit more. I won’t give away the ending, but you might imagine what Daniel could do to in order move on with Julia.

Defending Your Life conveys important messages about the Hero Cycle and particularly regarding the Return. WHY ARE YOU HERE? What sorts of challenging experiences recur again and again in your life as if to teach you well? What are you here to learn as your most vital life lessons?

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images are from pixabay.com

Have you learned your specific lesson(s) well enough yet? How might you take your lesson one step further? Another way of asking this is:

WHAT ARE YOU HERE TO GIVE?

What could bring YOU Home from your ordeals, for the good of the Whole?

I welcome your Comments and Stories!

Happily Ever After

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Certainly one of the greatest elixirs is Happiness. After attaining our worthy goal, we achieve a degree of happiness which we can carry forward with us into the next ordeal and adventure. Probably most people would claim greater happiness—for themselves and for others—as a measure of success, whatever their endeavor.

What makes you happy in the deepest sense? I mean, not only in the moment but long-term? A child (or a pet’s) smiling face (or their playfully wagging tail or purr), a beautiful mountainscape or an Oceanside sunset: these bring a valuable though transitory happiness. They warm the heart and bring a smile. They reveal, I would say, a deeper state of intrinsic happiness. They reveal a harmony of Nature, an innocence of Spirit; breaths of fresh air, a tonic to the Soul!

Still, how can you expand your condition of happiness beyond the fleeting moment?

So I ask again, what could make you Happy in the grandest sense? Is it your job? (Stay then! Take it as far as you can!) Or your relationship(s)? Then Bravo/a to you! Or maybe it is your chosen environment, where you experience At Oneness with the All One? (More cosmic, loving power to you!!!)

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For many people, enduring happiness is yet an elusive goal. Achieving their ultimate happiness shall be a result of fulfilling their most ardent endeavors (or, it may be found in the very practice of those endeavors themselves). Many will gain their enduring happiness by serving others and/or producing good works; by fulfilling, that is, their sense of Purpose and their Mission for this life.

So now, what is your Purpose; what can you claim as your Life Mission?

As a personal example, my life mission inflects on several levels. I have a spiritual Mission, which I do not feel the need to share. On a practical level, I have always sought, in one form or another, to serve the Whole…that is, to embrace and express my own inherent wholeness as well as to serve however I can the greater Whole of the community, family, fencing team (e.g.), and the world in which I live. Like many, I have always strived to make a positive contribution—whether through teaching, sharing in general, through responsible service, or through writing/publishing.

“What difference does it make?”

“It doesn’t matter!”

These were my calls in the wilderness to God, my deep laments through at least the first five decades of this life. So then, I would try harder, work more.

Until, gradually, as on cats’ feet, the Process itself—e.g. of communicating, teaching, contemplating, writing, living—has become fruitful in itself, in the moment of Doing, Being, or Knowing.  I find that I am still very goal-oriented, yet now my goal and the process I engage with to fulfill the goal have merged as one focus; see?

With this transformational shift from a ‘product/goal’ to a ‘process’-oriented mindset, now that I check in with my Self, Happiness has set in!

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images are from pixabay.com

This is not to presume that I am always “happy” in the glib/ surface sense. That has never been my goal. Actually I can sometimes let things bother me now just as much if not more than ever before. This comes from my passion for advancing what is in process. Disruptions or interruptions of this forward arching flow can set me back, but only long enough overall now until I can accept and absorb the lesson (for there is always a lesson!), and move on.

What Is Your Life Mission?

My upcoming book that is announced in the right panel of this blog, Your Life Path, is my best contribution so far to serve the Whole. This book provides a complete/ original Life Path Mapping process with its chapter-ending self-discovery Tools. I have developed and practiced this approach over the last fifteen years, through interview research, analysis of results, producing a previous academic book on the subject, and—more importantly—through developing the embedded self-help Toolkit from applying the mapping and reflection process with large classes of students and with many individuals, as a “life path mapping” coaching approach.  It has been helpful for many and even deeply transformative for some.

The Your Life Path Tools can guide you gradually yet gently to review your past, to reconsider your present with regard to how you have reached where you are in life now; then to explore your values, your inner conflicts and challenges (from an archetypal psychological  perspective), and to reveal your deepest, most integrative goals. It leads you to express and embrace your Life Mission; then to claim your Life Dream and plan a fulfilling future course, beginning here and now, to live into the life of your dreams!

I do invite you to check out this book if it may serve you. You could pre-order using the url address in the right panel, either through Amazon (as a book or ebook), Barnes & Noble, or Indies. I will be offering a preview webinar series on Life Path Mapping by December (I will post about that as it becomes available).

And so, wherever your life path leads you to:

Go For It!

A Te Sante!

Be Happy!

Live Your Dream, Now!

I always welcome YOUR Comments and Stories.

Create a Totem of Your Goal Achieved

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An elixir is a potion or aid you receive from achieving some degree of fulfillment along the path to attain your highest goal.  The elixir is like an alchemical agent in that it raises your energy levels, your awareness, to a higher plane that you have attained with your accomplishment. So you come away from the ordeal you have successfully met with a greater power of insight or a force of greater love that you can carry forward with you on the next leg of your Journey.

A Totem is an image or object you can literally plant in your ‘growing space’ or carry with you as a reminder of the qualities you have gained and of your higher Goal.  It could be something as simple as a talisman, like a necklace amulet, pin, or charm bracelet representing the qualities or goal you wish to focus upon.  It could also be a collage of images you compose and place in a highly visible personal space to serve as a Vision board. (I do these often and pin them on my office bulletin board).

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Totems are anchors that “ground” your vision and amplify your intentions like a magnifying glass that concentrates the rays of the Sun.

To create a personal Totem of your goal or aspiration, whether that be a concrete objective or a value you wish to strengthen day to day, find or create an object, or create a collage of images that will remind you to center your attention on your ideal.

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With online imagery such as at pixabay.com or with clipart, it is easy to find images to represent your goal or the values you aim to strengthen.  I recommend placing an image or photograph of the goal or value itself, or of yourself having achieved this goal, in the center of the page to form a mandala composition.  You can surround that central image with additional images that represent how you are to attain this level of fulfillment and what will be the outcomes when you do!

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Place your collage or object somewhere that you will see it often. It could be at your office or in your bedroom or kitchen, somewhere you spend a lot of time thinking about your goal and actively pursuing that.  Or you could wear your totem talisman close to your heart or on your person. It could be private, like a special stone that you carry in your pocket, or even a personal mantra or prayer or poem that you repeat inwardly as you move through the day or before sleeping at night.

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Your totem can be any means of focusing your intentions deeply. This plants your intention in the loam of your everyday life, infusing your activities with a greater sense of mission, of value and purpose, and of unconditional love.  For no one but you can fulfill your deepest Soul objectives, which enhance not only your own capacity to live but your determination to serve Life Itself.

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images are from pixabay.com

I value your Comments and stories!