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

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

ACT I

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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ACT II/ Part A

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

ACT II/ Part B

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

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

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ACT III

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

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

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

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

Giving ‘UP’ — The Way of Surrender!

 

A Month of the Best of Better Endings, ‘First Principles’Day 7:

Giving UP! — The Way of Surrender

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Never Give Up, but you can always give UP—or, surrender—to attain Better Endings. Giving UP means, to me, releasing a problem or an attitude to a Higher Force and Higher Awareness, however you choose to define that. “I give UP!” releases my attachment to a situation or to a specific outcome. Then, what is truly needed or appropriate is free to manifest.

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Surrender. What a concept this is, riddled with a dual character. A warrior might regard surrender as a failure of mission, although it allows for them to survive to another day. I imagine the Wicked Witch of the West on her broomstick, spelling out “Surrender Dorothy!” in the sky over Munchkinland. “Never!,” we think. At the same time, though, surrender is a path to freedom from attachment; letting go, or letting God. Surrender your fears and anxiety; be willing to “Take the Journey!” Here’s the double entendre: what if the witch’s message was actually a positive invitation to Dorothy, a wake-up call in the form of a waking dream?

When we hold tightly to a fixed position, attitude, belief or desire, we might be limiting our flow of creative potential and insight. Release your grip just ever so much to be open to the Way. I had a Quaker friend who used to tell me, whenever there was any confusion about what next step to take, “Way will Out!”

So, Give UP; surrender to your higher awareness; Way will Out!

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/

Best of Better Endings “1st Principles”: Persistence and Resilience–Well Paired for Better Endings

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What personal qualities might most help us to “make lemonades out of lemons,” as needed, or to appreciate and develop insight and wisdom from significant life events? Two principles come to mind: persistence and resilience. In fact, these are two facets of the same attitude a person might rely on to manifest Better Endings.

Think about it. Persistence helps you to remain focused on a goal. It requires resilience, though, to “bend but not break,” to continue forth no matter how long it might take or how alone you might feel with your cherished ideal, project or intention. Resilience allows you to “bounce back” after a loss or setback. It facilitates persistence but at the same time, resilience prevents rigidity or becoming overly fixed on a specific form or outcome.

Dr. Carol Dweck, a Stanford University psychologist and author of the best-seller Mindset (2007), talks about “fixed” versus “growth” oriented mindsets. It is interesting that persistence might be considered an attribute of a ‘fixed’ mindset (being fixed on an idea or a specific goal), yet so long as it is paired with resilience–which seems more a ‘growth’ attribute intrinsically–it will facilitate flexibility and hence, real growth in both perspective and outcome.

Once, at a regional dramatics workshop during high school, our drama coach organized the participants into circles of 8-10 students each. He placed one person (at a time) into the center, with the rest of the group forming a circle around this person. Then he asked the middle person to think of one line in which they believed strongly. They were to repeat this line over and over, while everyone around them in the circle would try to get the speaker to stop. When it came my turn in the center, the line I chose was from Wooden Ships, a Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young song I used to play on the guitar:

When you smile at me I will understand, 

because that is something everybody everywhere

does in the same language.

As I repeated this one line, over and over, it became like a mantra for me; a single focus for my entire life purpose and identity. People laughed, prodded, tried to overtalk me; they mocked and ridiculed the line. Their cajoling only made it seem all the more imperative for me to repeat my universal mantra. I spoke it loudly, softly; I sang the phrase, whispered it; but I never varied from repeating this truth and secret of all existence, that which I was deeply convinced everyone should hear! It was a strong line–one that I have often remembered since–, strong enough that I was able to outlast the opposition and maintain delivery through the full time allowed.

Persistence and resilience support and strengthen one another, pairing intention with adaptability that can empower you to gain insight through any eventuality. So, hold to your Center and speak from your Heart. With a worthwhile purpose, Better Endings will prevail.

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Was there a time in your life when persistence and resilience bore fruit? Or is there a project you are working on now to which you are applying these principles, or maybe that you can envision using in fun and creative ways? Please feel free to Comment below. or send in to share your insights and stories.

Best of Better Endings Guest Blog: The Secret of Life in My Opinion, by MoodyMandi of Caged No More (12/26/13)

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I’ve had an epiphany! The Secret to Life is NOT having it all, the money, fame, 1,000 “friends” on Facebook, designer jeans, an Audi/BMW, PhD or what not. However if you do have any of those that’s okay. It’s been used a billion times, but the secret to life involves the following:

• First and foremost learning to love yourself and your fellow man and God, or your higher power…FORGIVENESS!

• Once you’ve gotten better at loving yourself for who you are, and you can forgive others who have wronged you in any way whether betraying you or hurting you in some way, you will really begin to see RESULTS. Whether you are trying to lose weight, get a degree, or reach the ultimate state of self-actualization, you can if you can LET GO.

• Letting go is like the hardest thing a person can do on the planet, In My Opinion.

• If you can get past all of the drama, the person who stole your man in high school, the class you didn’t pass, the money you lost out on, the big numbers on the scale that won’t seem to ever go away…you will thrive, my friends

One might ask, How do you Let Go?

I will reply with this…it takes multiple efforts. Praying to God or your higher power, or finding a higher power, is necessary to be centered *Once again in my opinion* It takes eliminating negative influences in your life and on your mind like music that supports pain and bad moods, places that get you down, and people that put you down. It involves putting positive images into your mind and positive words and affirmations. The world actually sucks the positivity right out of us, and pulls the happy rug out from under us as well! So doing daily meditations, even if for a minute now and then throughout the day can help a lot. If you see you’ve gained a few pounds on the scale, know that this is only temporary, and that once you let go of the EMOTIONAL BAGGAGE that you’ve carried around for so long, the weight will drop, and with the forgiveness will come an interview/promotion. This is by no means an easy feat. It can be done.

I let go of everything that ever bothered me in any negative way a while back and lost a bunch of weight, but I stopped putting in positive things in my mind, and exercising to release Serotonin and feel better about myself. I am currently not practicing what I have just preached, but in the moment I am striving to get there again.
My hopes and prayers are that we can all learn to let go of what is standing in our way…because IN REALITY it’s all “in me/you”. We were born equipped with what we needed to survive and THRIVE!

You have to TRULY RECOGNIZE AND REALIZE that your feelings of negativity are just hindering you from what you are called to do, your purpose in life! I suppose you could look at it this in a cognitive-behavioral type way: Your negative thinking producing negative sad/angry emotion maybe resentment etc..which leads to your ultimate destiny in how you react to the matter at hand. The way you react has consequences which begin the cycle over again. So taking the initiative to make a stand TODAY could turn your life around so your dreams can be realized!

God bless us all tonight! xoxoxby

Mandi is the author of Caged No More. Her Bio can be found by clicking on: moodymandi . The heading of Mandi’s original Caged No More post is as follows:

December 22, 2013 ·  · in BipolarBulimiaHope,LifelifestylePersonal JourneypositiveRantself-helpSoul Searching.