Surviving the Storms of Winter

 

All: I was going to just put in a quote today (will in a few days, that of Lewis Carroll’s Jabberwocky poem). But today is a snow day in Colorado Springs, and it has called forth a memory for me to share:

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As I sit at home on a snow day from teaching, I am reminded of the many storms I have encountered and survived in this life.  I realize there is a principle here of survival that we develop every time we successfully negotiate “stormy weather,” whether that be of the climatology type of storm or situational storms in our work or relationship life, or even the stormy nature of world affairs.

So as a metaphorical story of confronting the stormy weather of life, allow me to recount one experience, from many years ago. This happened around 1978 during a road trip with my fencing team. We fenced several teams at an intercollegiate tournament in New Jersey at Fairleigh Dickenson University and then our coach, Roxanne, gathered the team and our equipment into our university van to begin the 8-10 hour journey home to Buffalo, New York; but we knew from the beginning we would be facing the onslaught of a major blizzard along the way.

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There were six of us fencers plus Roxanne, our coach; she was the designated driver of our van. We had a hearty breakfast in New Jersey then set out to travel interstate highways for the bulk of our trip. The storm started early in our voyage, such a blizzard that we were in “white out” conditions by the first two hours of our adventure. Around four hours along, we still could not see as far ahead as the vehicle whose tailgates we were trying to follow in order to stay on the highway. Then, we heard a pop and felt the uneven lurch forward of the van; we had a flat tire!

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Coach Roxy pulled over as far as she could off the highway to avoid being hit by snow blinded drivers. We found a red tee-shirt and tied it to our radio antennae on the car and another red piece of scarf we tied to the rear to signal our state of distress. Coach tried to get us to a next service station, first by letting the van limp forward very slowly, but after about 45 minutes of this we realized we were only incurring more damage to the vehicle, so she pulled over further again and we stopped.

While we were stopped along the shoulder, a vehicle pulled up from behind. Two helpful African American men offered to help us. Two of my teammates decided they would ride with these men to the next service area and send back help. They departed.  After about another hour, another vehicle pulled up and a middle-aged man and his wife offered their assistance. Two more of our team members went off with them; it was too much of a blizzard to try to change the tire ourselves so we needed one of these two groups to send back help. Worried about both separated parties, the one other remaining teammate, myself and Coach Roxy waited nervously in the gusting, snowy dark with the van.  We used the van’s heater only sparingly, as we were also low on fuel.

Eventually, the first two teammates returned in the company of a tow truck driver!

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All five of us (still with two teammates missing) packed into the tow truck cabin after the driver chained the van to haul, and still in slow, white out conditions, we lumbered along in the frigid van uncomfortably to the next toll booth station, where the driver let us out and went to work on repairing our flat tire. This was before the days of cell phone convenience; we stood out near the road by the toll booth, hoping we would see our missing members going back to find us where we had been!

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It was very late at night (early AM the next day actually) by this point; our 8-10 hour journey had become a nightmarish 18 hours or more already. Police officers at the toll station sent out an alert to try to locate our two separated members. We waited and fretted for another couple of hours; cold, bedraggled, and worried. FINALLY, the whole ordeal shifted, as if miraculously!

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Suddenly, it was as if the test or challenge of the gods had been passed. Within about 15 minutes, our separated pair was returned to us in a police car from where they had been left off at a town up ahead. Our tire repaired and back on the van, we were back on the highway; it was by now about 5 AM. As if to honor our ordeals, in a beautiful relief, suddenly the snow stopped, the dark cloud cover passed, and overhead was a beautiful, sunstruck morning with a full, glorious rainbow to herald the final hour or two of our trip Home!

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So much could have gone “more wrong” even than it did. What if we had been too trusting of either of the two cars of helpful strangers?  What if in the blizzard we would have been hit from the rear by a driver blinded by the snow?

The success of our survival through this Blizzard came partly from our Coach, partly from our individual resolve to see this through, but mostly through the team effort we relied on. Using the buddy system of two at a time departing and the rest staying together, each sub-team had decisions to make and risks to take that would contribute to the survival of the whole.

What I will always remember most about this experience is that team camaraderie, but also the symbolic layering of THE ORDEAL itself. This was a challenge or a not so subtle Test of the highest order, as it felt. If we could get through this intact, without compromising the safety and well-being of any of our members, we could survive anything! And then, after gradually negotiating every step of the way through the ordeal, solving new problems as they arose, the rainbow that blessed our successful emergence from Darkness was palpable. I remember almost crying or maybe I even did to know that we were going to be okay and Spirit was gracefully blessing our trials with nourishing sunlight.

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images from pixabay.com

This story represents a Descent and Re-emergence; a Dark Night of the Soul ordeal. Though it may seem a light travail in comparison to the harsh journeys of refugees today or the fighting of warriors in battles of their own and their nations—or the bitter travails of the injured and the aggrieved who have lost family and loved ones in battles or to incomprehensible, inhuman terrorist attacks!—the story of travail and survival is universal, Archetypal, even potentially Alchemical, regardless even of the ultimate results.

It is in being challenged that we reach deeply, together and alone, into the deep recesses of Universal Spirit, to manage solutions, to band together and resolve the difficulties that confront us. This is the beauty of life, for any species even. We strive to overcome and to transcend our survival challenges; we attain to greater spiritual strength and harmony along the Way!

I welcome YOUR comments and Stories!

Best of Better Endings Guest Re-blog: CHOICES FOR THE SOUL HAĪBUN, by Brenda Davis Harsham

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The church is near but the road is all ice;

the tavern is far but I’ll walk very carefully.

Russian Proverb

Years ago, I was working for a minimal salary. My net pay barely covered the expenses of professional clothing, commuting, food and rent. I worked very hard the first year, trying to be the perfect employee, working quickly, seeking extra work, hoping I would earn a big raise. I slid sideways into debt when my car was totaled in an accident and my cat needed expensive medicine.

When I got my review, it was lukewarm, with no acknowledgement of my efforts and a minimal raise, not even keeping pace with inflation. I had a meeting with my boss, and I asked him if he was unhappy with my work. He said no.

“Did I forget any tasks you gave me or do them wrong? Was I too slow?”

Again, “No and no.”

“Then why are you giving me such a small raise?”

“Do you think you deserve the same raise as Monica who has been here nearly twenty years?”

“Are you saying I won’t get a good raise unless I work here twenty years?”

“You have to understand that we all have wives and children to support, and they come first. Why would I give you money that I could give to my wife and kids?”

I didn’t have any answer for that, and I got depressed. I had always believed that hard work was rewarded.     I worked quickly, efficiently, but when I finished my work, I no longer sought extra. I started doing my own writing in the office, which angered him and eventually he fired me. It was the best thing that ever happened to me.

I realize now that I chose to stay despite my unhappiness. Instead of leaving, I acted less than professionally and ended up deeply unhappy with him, but more importantly, with myself.

When I was fired, at first my self-esteem sank even lower, but financial desperation pushed me into following up every lead for new job. I found a great job where I relearned to value myself. I felt freer than I had in years. I changed careers and cities, which were great decisions. Being fired was a pivot point for me, and I learned something invaluable.

If I make bad choices, I only hurt myself, and I must make better choices. It sounds so simple, and maybe it is to some people. For me, it’s a daily effort. Some days I fail. Other days, it feels like climbing Mount Everest. But I am worth that effort.

dark clouds blow in fast
ice wolves wail and circle
curl up warm inside

These days, I don’t have every answer, and I’m not perfect. That is no longer even my goal. Each day I try to make good decisions. I try to respect myself, to find ways of seeking joy, and, as a result, I occasionally even find it.

green shoots reach skyward
gray ice mountains collapse
heart and soul quicken

Copyright 2014 Brenda Davis Harsham

Note: Inspired by the weekly Līgo Haībun challenge and the Russian Proverb above.

Brenda Davis Harsham is an author, photographer and artist, currently publishing fairy tales, photography and poems celebrating magic and nature for kids of all ages. She teaches writing and is a member of the Society of Children’s Books Writers and Illustrators.

 Website: Friendlyfairytales.comhttp://friendlyfairytales.com/

Live Your Dream, Now! Marnie’s Better Ending / (Postscript Added)

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http://fromthedeskofmardrag.wordpress.com/

(With Blessings for re-blogging permission to: From the Desk of MarDrag: Inspiration for Navigating a Difficult World)

Today’s is the final post of the first six months of Better Endings topics. Beginning tomorrow (Monday), I will post one month of The Best of Better Endings. Then this blog will shift its focus to being entirely centered around the approach of Life Mapping that I have developed over the past twelve years and am preparing to publish in a personal development book/handbook set for the general public, called Life Paths.  I am in the late stages of completing a full edit of that book manuscript, which I will be sharing with my literary agent in late June or early July. I want to focus all of my attention on delivering an excellent manuscript and companion Handbook (and a revised proposal for publishers) by that time, so one month of the Best of Better Endings here and then a full shift to converting this blog to offer Life Mapping concepts and self-help tools and interactive discussion will be helpful and exciting, hopefully, for everyone! As a segue today, I’d like to share a story about a woman whose engagement with Life Mapping led to her own Better Endings as today she is living her Dream in ways she could not have anticipated before engaging in her life mapping adventure.

Marnie (pseudonym) lost her spouse to cancer after an idyllic marriage of some 15 years. She sought out life mapping hoping to regain a positive outlook on life, which felt to her as if she had little to look forward to from the point of her loss forward.

Marnie

The Life Map above shows Marnie’s primary Life Themes, Critical Life Events, and Life Chapters, including a future envisioning image at the upper right. Marnie’s Life Story traces a dramatic, epic narrative from the depths of a personal Hell and back again, to an ultimate fulfillment of “Achieving Graduation” and “Giving Back”.  Marnie suffered much abuse as a child in a dysfunctional family. As an adult she sought out and discovered a meaningful spiritual path, which lifted her in consciousness to go forward.  Then a difficult marriage led her to a major lesson that culminated with divorce for the sake of ensuring her own daughter would have a better life growing up than had Marnie herself. This life changing decision eventually allowed Marnie to establish an Idyllic (her term) marriage with the spouse of her dreams, and she experienced several years of happiness until her spouse succumbed to cancer.

In her Life Mapping process, after Marnie had reconstructed and reviewed some obvious patterns and themes that had formed the basis of her Life Story til then, I asked her to envision a Life Dream. Having closer Family-like ties and Freedom in the grandest sense were the two Core Values Marnie established as the focus for her revitalized Dream. She envisioned a family-like community of friends and somehow freeing time from her busy work life to be able to deepen her spiritual pursuits.

Now for the Rest of the Story, which was Marnie’s next Life Chapter after her life mapping ‘time out for reflection’. We can call that next Chapter “Marnie’s Better Endings!”

Within a year or so from setting her Vision, Marnie learned that where she had worked for over 20 years in Arizona, most people were going to be laid off due to a budget crunch. She saw a notice not ‘meant’ for her eyes that let her know she would eventually be among those being laid off. But when she probed further, she realized that with the severance pay and then unemployment insurance she would be eligible to collect, that would put her to the age at which she could comfortably collect her pension and social security income. She would be both financially okay and Free! Around the very same time, her daughter, preparing to deliver Marnie’s 1st grandchild, moved with her husband to within a mile or so of Marnie’s home. Now Marnie would be able to enjoy a much closer family relationship and she would have a vital role in her grandson’s growing up.  Upon “graduating” from her work when she was laid off, Marnie was also able to increase the hours per week she volunteered for the local sheriff’s office, offering grief counseling for people recently bereaved. And she accepted an important leadership role with her spiritual group that allowed her to place greater emphasis on her spiritual values and practice daily.

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Marnie’s is not an isolated story. Life mapping in a process-oriented framework allows people to review their past, understand where they are at from the Threshold of the Present Moment, and Cross the Threshold via which they can consciously envision and then Live their Dream, Now! I look forward to sharing more of this with you as time goes on.

Better Endings began as the title of the final chapter in Life Paths, so it’s fitting that this Better Endings blog has allowed me to first introduce at least the nub of this approach. Envision your Dream, and you can live it! Starting May 26 (the day after my Mother’s birthday), I will launch the second six months of this blogging adventure. Until then (except for introductions of the Best of Better Endings posts and replies to any of your always welcome comments and insights over this next 30 days), Better Endings to you!

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Postscript

Thank You to everyone who has been reading this blog, and especially to those of you who have encouraged me to continue with this by “liking” some of these posts!  It is for you and because of people like you that I feel called to continue, daily. Many of you have your own amazing, artistic and often poetic and useful blog sites and Twitter platforms of your own that I enjoy reading for their many insights and depth of perception and beauty. I feel humbled to have found this alti-verse of online expression which is so full of passionate insight and heartfelt honesty!

When I was a youngster my sister Lee and I shared a bedroom for awhile. We would always have so much to talk about that our Mom would have to come to our room multiple times per night to encourage us to stop talking and go to sleep.  We would try. But invariably after a minute or so had passed, one or the other of us would pipe up and say, “Important!” Then our conversation would start up all over again. After blogging a post every day for 178 days, I imagine it may be difficult this next month to “only” re-blog “Best of Better Endings” posts. I imagine I will pipe in now and again to say, “Important”; and, you can too!

Goodnight.

 

Ere, I Was in Eire: Inner Travels for Better Endings

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I have since high school days always held a special fondness for Ireland. I nearly memorized in 11th-12th grades the whole of a volume on The Selected Poetry of W.B. Yeats. In college as an undergraduate English major I took an entire year of courses including a graduate credit course on James Joyce, studying Ulysses “properly,” guided page by page by companion concordances and a topographical map of Dublin. My grandmother, Ada Kelley, was a living reminder to me that my family’s roots on my Dad’s side go back to Ireland in the mid-to-late 1700’s.

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Some 6 years ago I had a lucid dream from a “past life” perspective that astounded me. I am a teenaged girl with a friend or a younger sister beside me, standing inside a stone church with a dirt floor and a large wooden door. We have come in just to explore.

Somehow I know there is some sort of religious ritual going on in the far end of the church that I cannot see. I ask my Inner Guide (already I have one), “What religion is this?” My Inner Guide answers, “Satanism”. I turn immediately for the door, to leave! But, the huge oak door is locked. Beside the door there is an opening to a tower, with a spiral staircase within it.  I decide we will try going up there, hoping for an opening to get out. We go up one flight, then another (with like storage areas on each level). Then I realize we are being followed, stage by stage, by the ritualists. We are being sent higher and higher, becoming prisoners of this group.

In the process of waking from this dream, I received awareness about further aspects of that life experience. I saw myself becoming a slave—even a sexual slave—to the leader of the religious group, a big man with long, light brown hair. I see myself thanking him for accepting some small gift I hand to him, years later. My friend I believe was sacrificed; she was not in the later scenarios.

I woke from this dream with a sense of its utter Reality. I could not shake it. Soon I met a friend, Jan, who was hoping to go to Scotland for a graduate program on Celtic history. We began frequenting an Irish pub/restaurant and we then started planning a trip to Ireland together. When I opened a book for tourists on Ireland, I nearly dropped the book when I saw that stone churches with spiral-staircase towers were nearly ubiquitous in medieval Irish history! I had not known of these at all before my dream.

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(Me at Glendalough, Ireland, 2012)

So, we planned and organized a two-week drive from Dublin, up to New Grange, then South and to the West, all along the coast including an island stay at Achill, on to County Sligo to visit Yeats’ grave (I left a brown penny), and back across to Dublin passing through Caval during a major Celtic Music Fleaugh (Festival). As I approached the trip, I thought it would be in part to forgive what had transpired in that life of being held as a captive slave to a ‘religious’ leader.

During the middle of our two week stay, Jan and I stayed for 7 nights with a couple of other friends we had come over with—Diane and Bob—at a wonderful Irish cottage rental in Bunratty of County Shannon. The second night there, I had another lucid dream. This one made the earlier dream seem mild by comparison! It also was a “past life” (or parallel life, I prefer to think, since quantum physics has determined that Time is an illusion).

Palace Interior Background

In this inner experience, I am in a lower area of some structure (like a boat or a castle, perhaps), with a lot of wood, and dark. I am there with my Inner Guide, who is showing me this place which feels very familiar.  I realize people died in here. Then –okay—I realize I was responsible! I say this to my Guide: “I was responsible that people died here! I am a murderer; many times over!” He said nothing, allowing me to absorb the grim reality. Then I turned and saw a group of people descending into this place from an upper region. A priest led the way, followed by a small group of people who looked like potato farmer sorts—salt of the earth Irish peasant people. The priest set up a small table, then he put a candle on the table and lit it, to establish a ceremonial setting.  A sister and her brother stepped forward as they saw me, and we approached one another.

I said to the young woman:  “I am so sorry for your loss!”

“I am sorry for all that you have had to endure because of this,” was the young woman’s reply.

I knew that she and her brother, and all of the people in this group, had suffered in grief for the loss either of their own lives or of loved ones, whose deaths I was responsible for.  I had not actually murdered them with my own hands, but somehow I had allowed them to die or be killed by some decision I made—whether it was a triage situation on a boat, allowing some to live while others died “below”, or perhaps as an officer I had closed off some common folk in the low section of a castle to protect my own class from a deadly castle attack.

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As I woke from this lucid vision, I said three times out loud: “I can’t believe my life has been about this; I CANNOT BELIEVE MY LIFE HAS BEEN ABOUT THIS!”

Wow! I called my friend in New Mexico from Ireland right away (it was early morning her time).

“I’m a murderer!” I told her; “many times over!”

My friend helped me realize this was from another time, another life. I realized the experience was needed for an absolution of sorts; for a mutual forgiveness between myself as Soul and those begrieved peasants who had confronted me. I hope they found the peace needed to move on.

This second dream showed me that the earlier dream might actually have been part of my own karmic due (which came first or ‘later’ matters not.) I found myself wondering how many people visit Ireland because of their own karmic loads from difficult times. Ireland in general is a nation still closely attached to its often violent history as well as to its rich tapestries of culture.

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So for this week about Travel in relation to Better Endings I share with you this story of how we sometimes need to travel inwardly—as well as outwardly—to confront our “past” and to resolve its lingering ghosts, in order to move forward into greater future potentials. Whether you accept reincarnation or prefer to interpret such inner experiences as these metaphorically and/or ‘only’ archetypally, your dreams and other visionary experiences carry messages to help you advance to Better Endings in your life.

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I am posting this story early this weekend to remain on the site through Sunday, because it has deep significance for me.

Do you have a parallel-life or other ‘deep’ dream or visionary experience that has helped you arrive at Better Endings in your life? I welcome all of your insights and stories!

 

The Blessings of Family, by Rev. Lee Ireland

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Elizabeth (my Mom) with Santa and Donner, 2013

So, you asked me to explain family to you.  Below are my reflections this night.  I’d be glad to rewrite a part if it comes across stilted.  Love to you, Lee

For me, my family is a collection of people who are at the core of my understanding of life: people with whom I have grown up or who have helped me to grow into the person I have become.  Some are my natal (birth) family members and some are my selected family members, i.e., the Wendell’s and a few special friends along life’s journey – who I can turn to in times of joy and questioning, because I know I am loved unconditionally, and they will listen and not judge and offer input or reflect back to me what I am saying or feeling.

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My family is spread out across the US and though we can’t visit with one another very often in person, we do stay in touch all the time now through e-mails, phones, Facebook, and other means of communication – to stay up to date with one another’s activities, but mainly to just stay in touch and see what is unfolding through time for each other.

I have learned how to navigate through challenging moments, and moments of deep love and gratitude.  I would not be who I am fully, without my family connections and having had the freedom to explore life in the context of those who will love me through no matter what and with whom I don’t have to explain everything.

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The internet means of communication have certainly helped us to ‘see’ one another more frequently than our traveling time would allow.  I am most grateful for my siblings and my mother and my extended family through whom I have deepened in my understanding of the various aspects of love, forgiveness, and compassion.

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Rev. Lee Ireland is a pastor for the United Church of Christ near Hartford, Connecticut. She is my big sister, too. I am blessed to share family with Lee, whose compassion and keen insight on life has been…as with all Family, “priceless!” Thanks with Love, Lee.

I welcome your Family Better Endings insights, Comments or stories.

My Life Dream, by panikikubik

I’m living above another persons dream

Posted at 10:16 by panikikubik, on March 9, 2014

I’m living above another person’s dream. I’m sitting here like a cloud or a goddess and the dreamer doesn’t know it……because he is occupied, practicing a difficult accord on his guitar.

I still don’t know if it’s an honor or a hell. Because it’s hard to think and write and plan anything meanwhile the dreamer is playing on his guitar. But I won’t say anything to him. I don’t want to be a person who kills another person’s dream. He could be the next Jimi Hendrix. And you don’t take away dreams from people. Dreams are all the crutches we humans have on our back-packing here on earth.

I have to find a way to cope with the dreamer until he gets rich and moves out from his grandma’s apartment, into a big house with gorgeous ladies and an own music studio.

Maybe I can take my own guitar and knock on his door and join him. I can hear that we are at the same level in the guitar technic, which worries me, because I’m so far west, east, north and south as you can be from Jimi Hendrix talent, and so is the dreamer. Does that mean that the dreamer will never get rich and move out to that house with a pool and gorgeous women? No, he is young, he got long rock’n roll hair and he seems to be determined in his choice of profession, so he will find a way to get there.

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What did I just write and think?

No he is young, he got long rock’n roll hair and he seems to be determined in his choice of profession, so he will find a way to get there.

But, what about me?

I’m not young but still not that old, I have long hair and…will I get there? Do I have a dream? Yes, I’m dreaming about a good life, a good health a good day at work. But wait – that’s not dreaming. That is wishing.

Is it so that after a certain age, dreams transforms into wishes that after another certain age transforms into whispers?

I realized this night and morning that somewhere along the road of daily life, panic, stress, low self-esteem and the stigma of getting older – I stopped dreaming and I started wishing.

I wish that I will get old enough to celebrate my both of my son’s 50 this birthday: I wish that I can manage to keep on going to my stressful job so I can pay the rent. I wish that my teeth stays in its good condition I wish to keep my good health I wish I don’t die too early

These are my wishes….and I will keep them. But where are my dreams?

Was it the panic disorder that took them away? Well, some yes, because it’s very difficult to fulfill dreams at the same time as you have a panic disorder, I won’t go into those details know.

Is it my age that took them away? I’m 49, still fit and looking nice but I’m always 10 years ahead in my head. When you watch television, internet – the new stars are young people, younger for each year. And if you are 27 in a song competition, you’re considered old.

As I wrote in my post “Are you where you want to be in life right now?” – the first step to any change is acknowledgement.

Somewhere along the way I stopped dreaming. I settled for wishing. Don’t get me wrong. Wishing is important. But it’s not a substitute for dreaming.

After almost finishing this post I went into my kitchen to get my coffee cup and meanwhile I stood by the window, looking out – I suddenly  – right in front of me – saw something I been waiting for.

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Look in the middle. A new green shoot at my cactus. It wasn’t there last weekend.

I have written about my cactus in an early post of mine “After all these years of joy and struggling I’m afraid to lose the past“. My cactus is a symbol for me, a symbol for hope, life and strength It was an old (about 25 years) brown root when I saved it from the dustbin. Then after one year – the first new green shoot came from the brown root. Every year there has grown out a new shoot. I’ve been looking after the new shoot for this year.

This morning I found it. My first thought was: There you are, I’ve been waiting for you. And I felt hope. I have to do the same. Keep on growing new shoots.

In the video above, Bruce Springsteen sings, “Dream Baby Dream”.

I will start to do that again.

I hope you will too.

http://panicyesterday.wordpress.com/2014/03/09/im-living-above-another-persons-dream/Dela det här:

On Feeling Alone, by Sharon Rawlette   

Better Endings Story of the Week: On Feeling Alone

by Sharon Rawlette

Memoirist. Essayist. Philosopher.

http://sharonrawlette.wordpress.com/2014/03/18/on-feeling-alone/comment-page-1/#comment-240

ok

 

I don’t care how many friends you have or how many heart-to-heart talks you manage with your loved ones, I think we all have moments when we feel alone. Moments when we’re stuck inside an emotion that we don’t see any possibility of sharing. Or when we’re thinking thoughts we have no way to convey. These are moments when we keenly feel our separateness from others, our isolation in our own heads and hearts. It can be a deeply troubling experience.

I had a moment like this a few weeks ago. I don’t remember what caused it, but I remember sitting on my bed, staring out the window at the desolate winter landscape, and starting to cry as I thought, “I feel so lonely.”

But, unlike other times I’ve felt this way, I found myself mentally replying to this statement in a kind, understanding voice that said, “Of course you do.”

Huh?

“That’s the reality of physical, earthly, biological life,” I continued. ”Separation. You feel deprived of the unity that you feel when you’re in your normal spiritual state. But separation is the reason you came to Earth. To have this experience, so that later you can have the joyful, ecstatic experience of being reunited–entirely and completely–with the ones you love.”

These ideas, I’m sure, came partly from some things I’ve recently been reading: primarily, accounts of near-death experiences. But the application to the question of loneliness seemed new. I didn’t recall reading any discussions of the reasons for loneliness, but when I thought about it, it seemed obvious. The physical world, in which we are each localized to a particular body in space, is inherently a world of separation. In this world, we can’t share our thoughts and feelings with one another directly. Whether we share them through words, or through arts like music or painting, or through the sense of touch, the connection is always mediated by something. Sound waves. Skin. It’s never direct. Never literally heart to heart, or soul to soul.

And yet I’ve often felt a longing for a more direct connection. Something you might call communion. Unity. I’ve wanted to share myself, and share in others’ thoughts and feelings, without having to use words or any other hopelessly inadequate tool. And when I spoke to myself that day in the bedroom, it was like some more knowledgeable part of myself was affirming that desire. Affirming that it was natural. And that it would one day be satisfied.

I’m not interested in arguing for any particular view of spirituality or the nature of the non-physical world. What’s important to me is that a lot of people do feel this loneliness I’m talking about and desire a deeper, more intimate sort of communion with others. It seems to me that, if there is hope in this world, if there is something good and beautiful at the root of all things, then there must be the possibility of that deep communion.

Green leaves

The power of the idea that communion is our natural state and that it’s natural to long for it was evident in its effect on me. As soon as I said these things to myself, I felt worlds better. I had just been crying, but suddenly I leapt from the bed, filled with new energy and ready to get on with life. I realized that, in my loneliness, I’d been worried that something was wrong. That the sense of separation I felt was an indication of failure. And that it might mean I was condemned to this state of isolation forever. But then I had the realization that this sense of separation was part of a plan, and was only temporary. My true state was to be joined, heart and soul, to the other people I love. That state of communion was just being obscured for a little while, in order for me to have this experience of earthly life, with its unique opportunities. It was akin to taking a trip somewhere on your own, just to see what it’s like. You get a little homesick, sure, but you don’t let that worry you, since you know you’ll be back home before long. As soon as I thought of things in these terms, I wasn’t sad any longer.

The truth of spiritual teachings, I believe, is most clearly evidenced by their effects. They are good teachings if they bring about love, hope, and joy: the “fruits of the Spirit.” The fruit of this personal talking-to was great hope and energy. That’s why I’m inclined to believe that it points to something deeply real. That we are not meant to be alone. That moments of loneliness are just that: moments. But our eternal destiny is something much, much more.

“The Prologue to Compassion”, by Joshua Bertetta

Story of the Week on Habitual Better Endings:

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It commenced with an inconsiderable light, an untinged light

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The wind: Be.

The light: Am.

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

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

Rahim.

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

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

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

Woman at the sea

A 2nd LETTER TO MY THERAPIST, by Illy

posted in Detoxifying the PastLife in Recovery

Dear Joan,

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“We may define therapy

as a search for value.”

-Abraham Maslow

http://masknolonger.com/

******   ******

Centered Haibun, by Brenda Davis Harsham

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

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

prayer pose
thoughts echo and grow still
breathe out worries

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

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

tree pose
branches lifted to the sky
blessed by rain

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

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Just Sit Right Back and You’ll Hear a Tale…

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Lately Gilligan’s Island reruns are back in my locale, and I’ve found myself tuning in now and then. As we’ve been focusing on television Better Endings all this week, I’ve come to realize something about Gilligan’s Island that I never understood before.

Like Dorothy of The Wizard of Oz, and Hawkeye Pierce of M.A.S.H. (as Brenda helped us realize this week), or any “central” protagonist within an ensemble cast of characters who regularly interact through a series of adventures, Gilligan is the SELF character of the archetypal ensemble marooned together on—after all—Gilligan’s Isle.  The rest of the characters he is marooned with represent archetypal aspects of Gilligan’s unindividuated Self, in Jungian terms; and the purpose of the castaways’ adventures is to help Gilligan to strengthen and integrate these projected shards of Self, to individuate as a more mature, responsible person. Then, presumably, he can go Home.

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So what is Gilligan needing to develop in himself? His intellect—the Professor; his leadership capacity—the Skipper; feminine traits of two Anima complexes—the graceful Movie Actress Ginger and the girlish, giggly Marianne; and the acquisitiveness and pomposity of the wealthy Howell’s, who represent the opposite of Gilligan’s rather lackadaisical lifestyle. Gilligan does come to manifest, over time through his dreams and island adventures with his ensemble cast, all of those qualities these projected other-than-Self characters exhibit. He often comes up with the “brilliant idea” that trumps even the Professor’s experiments. He plays the Howell’s son at times, benefitting from their largesse. He displays his own girliness at times, while interacting with the Women. And always, he lives in the Skipper’s rather corpulent shadow, hardly daring to assert himself but often being called upon by the Skipper energy itself to step up and step forward, learning greater responsibility along the way.

Working together, episode after episode, adventure after adventure and dream after dream, eventually Gilligan’s ensemble cast of castaways learn to better communicate and cooperate with one another, so that, with the season’s “Return to Gilligan’s Island” finale, they do return to their separate lives in Hawaii, each of them having been strengthened, especially Gilligan.  Ironically though, after each character experiences disorientation in modern society after 15 years away, the two-part finale actually ends with the group again taking a cruise together, again running into a tropical storm, and again becoming marooned, right at the same island they had left!

So here’s a fun exercise for you:

Fill in the following blank with YOUR first name:    _______________’s Island.

Who are you marooned with, that you interact with regularly, either at home or at work or in some other context? What archetypal QUALITIES do your individual castaway crew members represent to you or about you? Who among them expresses character traits you wish were stronger in yourself? Whose behavior do you distance yourself from, though secretly you might admire or else fear you in some ways resemble that person? Whom do you depend upon to do things you could be doing on your own; or conversely, do you allow someone to depend on you to do things they are capable of doing—and more—without you?

What are your own goals with respect to your ensemble cast situation? How can you get off the Island together?

(AFTER tvkapherr’s Comment: I neglected to add that of course just as our Other-alters are archetypal projected images as we interact with them, so are WE to them. And some would add this can also extend to all of us being projected images of the Divine.)

So this is all in good fun. Do feel quite welcome to Comment and share your insights and stories, if you feel so inspired!

Ahoy, Mateys!

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Mentors, Masters, and Friends: Alchemical Conversation

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

Buddha Mountain

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

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

Early Childhood (7-12): Karen/ Friend

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

Teen Years (13-18): Barbara, Friend

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

High School: Mr. S/ English Teacher

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Late college through Grad School years, and beyond

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

Betsy (Mentor): Write for others; aim to benefit as well as to learn.

Pattie (Friend): “Drop, Kick!”

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

Colorado (38-59)

Zee and Friends: In service is your Reward.

KC/ GM (Partner/ Friend): Love is forever; Release those whose lives call them elsewhere;                          Unconditional Love.

Luisa (Mentor): Excellence grows from within!

Denise (Friend): There is No Box!

What some others may have gained from associating with me: Acceptance, Trust, Exploration of Ideas, Freedom to be Open, to share and unfold new potentials.

spiral

***

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

I invite your Comments and Stories!

Also, I have added a new Link to “Panic Yesterday“, certainly a concept akin to Better Endings! IN fact, I invite you to check out all of the Blog and web sites I have linked this site to (right panel). We are all so very interconnected in the Dialectic of Living! 🙂

Cricket and Guber, by Denise Naughton

Freya Norse goddess riding chariot cat boar

Where I lived in San Francisco there were many stray cats that came into my care. Eventually they were adopted, and they lived happily ever after. The two that stayed with me the most were Cricket and Guber.

As I was walking home from the subway one day, an orange striped cat began walking with me. It was clear that she was pregnant. I invited her to come home with me, where she could have her babies and then we would find her kittens and her all homes. Others had accepted this invitation, but this one plainly had her own plans.

Over the course of the next few weeks, I fed her and kept an attentive eye on her. One day, as she began walking with me, it was clear she had had her litter. I asked several times where they were, but I was met with only silence. One day I didn’t see the orange cat any longer. I looked for her for days, concerned about her and her litter. Then one day as I was walking home from the subway, out of the corner of my eye I saw movement. It was two little kittens playing in the empty lot where I used to find their mother. As I approached them they disappeared like a cloud of dust. I immediately brought food to the lot and hid.  Instantly they were devouring the plate of tuna.

I decided to get a humane cage from my vet, trap them, and bring them home. It took days of patience, but eventually I captured them. Initially I kept them in a very tall, large box. They were too small to jump out, and I had two of my own cats, and needless to say or not, they were not happy with their new roommates.

Cricket was a little calico and Guber was the color of striped orange sherbet. Anytime I came near without food they were full hisses and growls. I wondered what would be the bridge to abet their fear. It turned out to be toys. Once I began playing with them, all things changed, human and rescues became friends.

It took a bit longer for the feline residents of the flat to warm up to these tiny kittens. In fact, only the other kitten in the house, Rocho, began playing with them. My adult cat, Raj, just pretended they didn’t exist.

Cricket and Guber’s acceptance of human love couldn’t have happened at a more perfect time. Suddenly Cricket became very ill. I immediately took her to my vet where it was determined that she had distemper, and it was touch and go as to whether she was going to make it. She received medicine there and I took her home. She responded quickly to the medication, and it was clear she was going to make it.

However, Guber got sick as Cricket was getting well. My vet gave me more medication since it was clear that Guber had the same disease as Cricket. When I picked him up to give him his first dose I have never held anything so small and so close to death in my hands.

Cats on Samos

I took him to bed that night. I honestly didn’t believe he would make it through the night. Rocho came up on the bed with me along with my other cat Raj. Guber was on my bed right next to my head, and Rocho curled himself around Guber. Neither Guber or Rocho moved that entire night. I did because I was constantly waking to see if Guber was still breathing, and also giving him more medication. Raj stayed on the other side. Around dawn I fell into a deep sleep.

When I woke the next morning, Rocho was still curled around Guber, but Guber was awake, alive. I tried to feed him some cat food, but he wasn’t interested. Rocho was there cheering him on as well, but to no avail. Then I remembered I had raw ground turkey in the refrigerator, and tried that. Instantly, Guber was not only interested, but eating like he had the first time I had left food for him in the empty lot down the street. It was clear that Rocho was also excited about Guber’s recovery until he realized he wasn’t getting any turkey. He looked at me as if to say “I need turkey too”, which I gave, grateful that he had saved Guber’s life. I know it was teamwork, but it was Rocho that wrapped his body around Guber and stayed there until morning.

During this time a neighbor that lived in the house next to the empty lot told me that the mother had been hit by a car. She had tried to save the kittens, but she could never get close to them. She fed them, but one by one they had died. The mother had had a litter of five, and a mystery was solved. Their mother had not abandoned them.

Guber and Cricket stayed with me for three more months. I always knew that I was going to find a home for both of them. Ideally it would have been great if they had gone together, but that didn’t work out. I put a sign in our neighborhood pet store. The first person interested was a neighbor that lived across the street. He took Cricket. He had another calico, and felt Cricket would make a good companion.

Because Cricket and Guber were initially feral, they were never going to be extremely social cats with humans, but Cricket, renamed Emily, hid the first two days from both human and cat. My neighbor asked me to come over and be with Emily for awhile. I sat with Emily and told her the story of her life, and how this human was going to love her as much if not more than her mother, me, Rocho, and Guber. I could feel her calm down, and then I said goodbye. A few weeks later the neighbor left a thank you card. He said how grateful he was for the love and light Emily had brought to his house, and that he was so appreciative that I had saved her for him.

A few days later a couple came by to see Guber. The minute they saw him they were in love, and so was Guber. All three of them bonded instantly. The interview went well, and it was clear that they would love Guber as deeply as Emily was now loved. The couple gently put Guber into the crate they had brought, and that night the three of them left.

Of course, I had a great deal of explaining to do to Rocho. Raj was basically saying goodbye and good riddance, but Rocho was sad that his two companions were gone, and perhaps wondering about his fate. Once I sat down and told him their story he seemed to understand; still sad for a few days, but eventually back to his normal self. Of course, part of that story was how Rocho saved Guber.

cartooncats-111813-60.eps

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

A Changed Attitude Can Work Miracles

Don’t quit, COMMIT!
“I’m going to love until love comes back. I’m going to live until life comes back and I’m going to fight until the fight comes back! Because I’m in it, to win it!” -T.D. Jakes

In today’s world, where everyone wants instant results – it is easier than ever to quit. It is easy to think that if it doesn’t come easy to you, it is not for you. It is easy to try something, and then if it doesn’t work out immediately, we can talk our selves out of the importance or the significance of it.  With that said, if you were to ask any person you admire based on what they have given, gained or done, they will all have a very similar formula for success – they never quit.

Re-blogged from Jeff Moore, My Everyday Power (http://everydaypowerblog.com/2014/02/04/3-reasons-to-dream-bigger/#comments)

 Positive Attitude Note Shows Optimism Or Belief

Better Endings Story, by Linda Watts :

A Changed Attitude Can Work Miracles

A changed attitude can change ‘everything’ about a situation or a relationship. I wish it were never necessary, but sometimes it is. I’m thinking back to a time some fifteen years ago when I was certainly not at my best. I allowed a philosophical/ theoretical disagreement with a valued colleague to develop into a schism between us. It reached the point where we could hardly interact and avoided one another at the workplace. I felt terrible about my part in sustaining such a divide, but there it was.

One night in contemplation I sought inner guidance to help heal this situation.  I asked for clarity and  direction, then slept. That next morning I dreamt that this estranged colleague and I were face to face. I allowed my inner Self rather than my upset personality of that time to express Itself.  I smiled and simply beamed, “Hello!” And you know what? He smiled back and said “Hello!” in turn.

That very morning, while I was in the mail room at work, this colleague walked in. We had avoided being in the same space for months. Our eyes met, and I smiled and beamed, “Good morning!” He did likewise. Nothing was ever said between us about the distance we had allowed to develop. But from that moment on, the relationship shifted and it was never again as strained as it had become. Some short months later he received a job elsewhere. I helped to host a farewell gathering for a colleague who had given many years of valued service to our institution.

How did this attitude shift come about? By asking inwardly, then listening to and applying inner guidance. Better Endings often require change of a sort that allows you to break up ‘stuck’ positions. I am not proud of having reached this negative stasis in a relationship of any kind, so it is uncomfortable for me to share it in a blog!  I write about it anyway, in case it resonates with someone else.  People won’t always agree with one another, perhaps especially in academia, where I work. But everyone deserves to give and to receive unconditional love and respect. This helps us realize we are so much more than our limited personalities, ideas and opinions.

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This next week we get to shift to one of my favorite topics: pets!  I welcome any of your animal companion stories, photos, poetry and gushing insights.

Finish A Dream: Your Goal Fulfilled

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(Re-blogged from The CrazyBagLady@BulanLifestyle)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Colorful Art Background

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

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

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

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

The Audacity of Youth: A Wild Night ‘Sneaking Out’

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As a teen in the early 1970’s, my sense of adventure and love of freedom led me to often “sneak out” to meet with my friends. In retrospect this was actually amazing, because I had a father who would have punished me very severely had I been caught! My activities were innocent; my friends and I just met each other, walked, talked, and enjoyed the freedom of being out on our own in the starry night. One night in particular, though, pushed my very survival skills to the max! I share this as a testament to the brave audacity and the resourcefulness of youth.

It was winter in Lewiston, NY.  My two friends Daniel and Barbara and I had planned to meet after all our parents had gone to bed. I slept on a cot in the basement—as I often did—and after I heard my father go upstairs to my parents’ bedroom, I stealthily climbed the basement stairs, opened the inner garage door and then the outer one, and I was off. I made my way down the street to Danny’s house. Lights were off but for a candle in his window: the sign that his parents were also to bed. So I threw a pebble up to Danny’s window; his cue. He unfurled a rope of sheets tied together and climbed down into the bushes. Now we greeted each other and headed off for our big adventure. Our goal that night was to walk about a mile and a half down from the escarpment neighborhood we lived in, down to our friend Barb’s house, and she would join us for a visit ‘out’.

Dan and I had to cross a major, 4-lane highway before we could begin our descent down the escarpment to visit our friend. We had done this before without incident, but this night was not to be such a lark. Almost as soon as we reached the highway to cross, a police car coming up the highway stopped. The officer called us over and asked us for our names. I knew the last thing I wanted was for my father to be called from a police station to be told his daughter had been arrested. No time to think, Dan and I looked at each other and we knew what we had to do. We bolted! We ran and leapt down a little indentation we knew because of a secret fort we had cultivated for years right near where we had been stopped by the policeman. We ducked into a railroad tunnel and across the highway from underneath, then we fled down the snowy escarpment on the other side from where the officer probably thought we had gone. We thought we were free then but that was only the start of our adventure!

At the base of the escarpment we started toward our friend Barb’s house, along a two-lane road, Creek Drive. No sooner had we begun that trek on the open road but a police car came up from behind! We dashed behind a house; the cop parked in that driveway and got out with a flashlight to chase after us. We bolted through back yards, losing him.

What we did not know until hearing it on the news the next day was that a pair of teens—a boy and a girl–had broken into a drugstore in town that night; the policemen thought we were them! So, we were in for quite a chase.

Dan and I wended our way through dark yards from house to house and tree to tree. (I get an image of Peanuts’ Snoopy as a WWII ace here, behind enemy lines in France.) We finally arrived at Barb’s house. We tapped on her basement window, and she snuck out from her kitchen’s sliding back door to join us. Dan and I were pretty agitated, of course. We told Barb what was up and agreed that Dan and I had better head for home. Barb went back inside then, and Dan and I started our return trip.

We made it about half way up the escarpment, walking parallel to the highway in the brush. But then, guess what? We saw lights, alot of bright lights, moving slowly down the highway in our direction and on the side of the highway we were on. It was—can you believe it?—a search truck, coming down the highway at about 5 mph, casting searchlights into the escarpment brush while several police officers accompanied the search truck on foot, walking before and behind it!

Dan said, “Let’s meet at the railroad tracks!” and we both started to run as fast as we could to get up to the trees and climb to the tracks. But I slipped on the icy ground almost immediately and fell.  Instinctively I knew that if I would stand up and run, the truck was now close enough that there was no way for me not to be seen.

So, I huddled. I drew my brown winter coat around my full body and balled up into as small a lump as I could muster. I said to myself, “I am a Rock!” A rock does not think, or move. I kept repeating this phrase over and over, the only thought I allowed myself at all: “I am a Rock; I AM a rock; I AM A ROCK!”

The truck and police pedestrians advanced, nearer and nearer. I could hear their quiet conversation as the lights of the searchtruck were upon my very form (“I’m a rock; I’m a rock; I’m a rock”). They were past me then, moving slowly away, maybe 15 yards or so  down the highway. Then all of a sudden I heard one of the officers say, “Hey, do you see that funny looking Rock?”

I bolted! Immediately I was up and running for the cover of trees and the tracks! And, of course, they were after me.  But Dan and I knew these parts better than they did. I reached the tracks where Dan was waiting breathlessly. Without a word we were off, clambering along the tracks, across the highway from underneath, then we climbed a rocky trail up to the top of the escarpment, right into our hidden, secret fort!

We huddled in the fort for what must have been two hours, at least. The police released dogs! Fortunately, if they had some fabric or property from the teens who really had broken into a store that night, their scent did not match with ours, so the dogs did not find us!

After a while, the voices near the tracks and in the woods just below our precarious hiding place faded. We had evaded capture. Around 4:30 AM, we gathered enough courage to emerge from our hideaway. We parted company at my parents’ house; I snuck back down into the basement and Dan climbed back up to his bedroom. We were safe.

That was a Sunday night. The next day, Dan and I went to school as usual. During the school day, Dan was asked to write an essay for English class about a true adventure. He wrote about exactly what had just transpired the night before. When he received his paper back on Tuesday it was graded a C- with the teacher’s comment:  “This is not true; it is not believable at all. Nothing like this would never happen!”

Such an adventure. It galvanizes me even today to remember how Dan and I survived that night what could have been a life changing, disastrous capture.  I found then I can rely on my deepest instincts–and perhaps spiritual inner guidance and protection–to accomplish whatever worthy goal must be accomplished. I have needed to call on this inner resourcefulness and protection a few times since this adventure; facing even more life-challenging threats.

Remember you are the same person now that you were as an Innocent Child and an audacious youth. They are still within you!

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Coming this next week: Better Endings with Dreams! Please feel free to send your own stories, insights and comments!

CHOICES FOR THE SOUL HAĪBUN, by Brenda Davis Harsham

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The church is near but the road is all ice;

the tavern is far but I’ll walk very carefully.

Russian Proverb

Years ago, I was working for a minimal salary. My net pay barely covered the expenses of professional clothing, commuting, food and rent. I worked very hard the first year, trying to be the perfect employee, working quickly, seeking extra work, hoping I would earn a big raise. I slid sideways into debt when my car was totaled in an accident and my cat needed expensive medicine.

When I got my review, it was lukewarm, with no acknowledgement of my efforts and a minimal raise, not even keeping pace with inflation. I had a meeting with my boss, and I asked him if he was unhappy with my work. He said no.

“Did I forget any tasks you gave me or do them wrong? Was I too slow?”

Again, “No and no.”

“Then why are you giving me such a small raise?”

“Do you think you deserve the same raise as Monica who has been here nearly twenty years?”

“Are you saying I won’t get a good raise unless I work here twenty years?”

“You have to understand that we all have wives and children to support, and they come first. Why would I give you money that I could give to my wife and kids?”

I didn’t have any answer for that, and I got depressed. I had always believed that hard work was rewarded.     I worked quickly, efficiently, but when I finished my work, I no longer sought extra. I started doing my own writing in the office, which angered him and eventually he fired me. It was the best thing that ever happened to me.

I realize now that I chose to stay despite my unhappiness. Instead of leaving, I acted less than professionally and ended up deeply unhappy with him, but more importantly, with myself.

When I was fired, at first my self-esteem sank even lower, but financial desperation pushed me into following up every lead for new job. I found a great job where I relearned to value myself. I felt freer than I had in years. I changed careers and cities, which were great decisions. Being fired was a pivot point for me, and I learned something invaluable.

If I make bad choices, I only hurt myself, and I must make better choices. It sounds so simple, and maybe it is to some people. For me, it’s a daily effort. Some days I fail. Other days, it feels like climbing Mount Everest. But I am worth that effort.

dark clouds blow in fast
ice wolves wail and circle
curl up warm inside

These days, I don’t have every answer, and I’m not perfect. That is no longer even my goal. Each day I try to make good decisions. I try to respect myself, to find ways of seeking joy, and, as a result, I occasionally even find it.

green shoots reach skyward
gray ice mountains collapse
heart and soul quicken

Copyright 2014 Brenda Davis Harsham

Note: Inspired by the weekly Līgo Haībun challenge and the Russian Proverb above.

Brenda Davis Harsham is an author, photographer and artist, currently publishing fairy tales, photography and poems celebrating magic and nature for kids of all ages. She teaches writing and is a member of the Society of Children’s Books Writers and Illustrators.

 Website: Friendlyfairytales.comhttp://friendlyfairytales.com/

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I want to thank you, Brenda, and all who have chimed in today to like or follow this site. You have brightened my life. This week, I invite all of your insights and stories of any length (or poetry, art or photos) about CHILDHOOD MEMORIES. I will be using a Mary Poppins theme (love Saving Mr. Banks!) with daily blog titles based on the music. I am interested in insights and stories that remind us to look through a child’s eyes at the world. Please share with anyone. Of course you retain copyright and I will publish an author’s byline, bio, and contact info.- Better Endings to You! Linda

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

Better Endings readers: We have two brilliant stories to share this week about surviving disasters and hardship. Here is the first, and tomorrow I’ll post the second Story of the Week. Surviving is a process that cannot be forced. Sometimes the Dark–the vital pathway through Descent–is of as much value as the Light it precedes.-L

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

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

Tell Your Story Video (2012), by Christopher Hollander (with the TYS Team)

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You may click on the link below, or cut and paste this address into your browser, to watch a video by Chris Hollander, the main videographer for the 2010-2012 Tell Your Story interview project. The TYS team interviewed jobless and underemployed persons in Colorado Springs.

https://www.facebook.com/video/video.php?v=159764824095272&comments

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Coming Up: This next week’s Better Endings topic is Surviving Disasters. Please send me your insights as a Guest Blog or for Story of the Week (with your author’s byline, bio and website info included). Any form of expression is welcome, from your journal thoughts to poems, photos, artwork or a short story. I would love to tell YOUR story!

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

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

ACT I

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

ACT II/ Part A

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

ACT II/ Part B

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

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

ACT III

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

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

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

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Life Paths–Hard Knocks or a Golden Spiral?

spiral

What is the difference between a negative and a positive experience? This is a riddle, friends. Haven’t you noticed how, so often, there appears to be but a hairsbreadth difference between an experience that can “break you” or “make you”? In life maps coaching, I see this alot with people. Two people can experience very similar events, like a car accident or an illness, yet their understanding of or response to those events can be like night and day.

Two people who engaged in life mapping are Scott and Will (pseudonyms). Scott expressed a Life Metaphor when he told me twice, “They ought to give me a Ph.D. in the Hard Knocks of Life!” Will expressed a more prosaic, very detailed Life Metaphor, after closing his eyes to meditate on “What is a human lifetime like?” His image: “Life is like a golden spiral with launch pads on various rings of the spiral that propel one to ever higher levels of realization!” Hmm. Two people, two very different metaphors for life. Why, do you suppose? And, does it matter?

Scott’s life map traces a long series of Ups and Downs, especially with Work-related and Health-related events. He went through several years during which he would take a new job, move to where the job was, then lose the job and move back to his parents’. Scott had a car accident in the middle of all this which led to chronic back problems. He confided that with every loss in his life, he increasingly turned to “partying” with alcohol and drugs in an attempt to mask his pain. Life is Hard Knocks, says Scott, and certainly his life pattern conforms with that opinion.

Then there’s Will. Will is a retired pastor from the United Church of Christ. After choosing his religious vocation as a young man, Will graduated from a seminary, married bis best childhood friend and “soul mate”, and then he conducted a successful career as a pastor for some 40 years before retiring, still active in his faith and father of two successful sons. Will’s life map depicts a series of extremely positive events, as might be expected. Still, even Will’s life map records three deep ‘troughs’, widely spaced but difficult times of Descent, in Will’s terms. These were times of soul searching, he said. Dealing with a diagnosis of diabetes, facing his mother’s death, and facing retirement were, to Will, those “launch pad” events along his “Golden Spiral” lifetime that propelled him every time up to the next rung of the spiral.

Both Scott and Will have encountered challenging situations in their lives, though Scott’s life of “Hard Knocks” does appear to have been more characterized by Downs, while Will’s has been more consistently a positive experience. It makes you wonder, doesn’t it? To what extent do our Life Metaphors–interpretive lenses through which we frame and interpret life events–serve as self-fulfilling prophecies that, indeed, not only reflect but also perpetuate their own image? Someone says, “Life is a Roller Coaster” and lo, that person’s life does continue to drag the person through a challenging, bipolar sequence of challenging Ups and Downs. Yes, but there’s another side to that picture. If our Life Metaphors serve as mindsets or cognitive schema models that can either enhance or limit our interpretation of life events, then it stands to reason that finding a way to CHANGE a self-limiting Life Metaphor might also facilitate (or reflect) a more positive trend in a person’s life pattern! I have witnessed many persons whose outlooks on life have changed dramatically in conjunction with a consciously created upturn in  life experience.

After completing his life map and reflecting on its patterns, Scott told me at his closing session that he had begun to investigate various spiritual teachings. He was aiming to “make better sense” of his life, so he could “find more balance”. I was happy to hear that Scott had placed himself onto a track toward Better Endings!

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So if you were today fully living the life of your dreams, what Life Metaphor might best mirror your life Now?

Better Endings to you. Linda