Reading the Tea Leaves (Pay Attention to Your Signs)

tea-leaves-cup-slight-resemblence-260nw-11587114

“Not everything has meaning!”
(my college fencing coach Roxanne, en route to a competition in NYC)

Later, to myself: “No, but anything can!”

I am a huge believer in using outer signs for listening to and following inner guidance. I have found through long experience that so long as I reflect deeply and act in a balanced way in response to ‘waking dreams’ that catch my attention while I am mulling over some question or pursuing some meaningful goal, good things follow.

Responding to outer signs can help to keep the flow of communication open between Spirit or the Universe, Inner Guides or whatever you prefer to acknowledge, and your own higher awareness. The more you can progress in tandem with your inner nudges or guidance, the easier it becomes over time to wend your way through challenging situations and key decisions; and, life is more fun!

bald-eagle-521492__480

So what are your ‘tea leaves’ telling you this month about some meaningful question you are pondering? Pay attention to the slightest waking dreams or outer signs: random seeming thoughts or insights you may have; statements that stand out to you from a passerby or on tv or in your reading; roadside messages on signs that you pass, or even bumper stickers that catch your eye… Any of these or several taken together could offer you a breakthrough insight on your problem or query.

butterfly-142506__480

Some people like to set up an image or a specific object that they will see if their potential decision is correct.

If you want to try this, you can set up a sign of affirmation for your question that would not be common or likely for you to see, and you can set a time frame as well for encountering your sign. When I was working on my final book proposal for Your Life Path (see right panel), I set up the sign of a blue butterfly if I was going to be able to find a publisher. Right around the time my wonderful literary agent began circulating the book proposal, I started seeing blue butterflies everywhere. This encouraged me with every step of the proposal and publishing process. Now I have several items in my home with blue butterflies on them to remind me that this book process has initiated a longterm project, with much yet to come for me to fully realize its potentials in terms of writing and service.

soap-bubble-1959327__480

images are from pixabay.com

What are you asking to better understand or what decision are you weighing? Pay attention to YOUR outer signs; they are all around!

What Then? (Week Two: the Dreaming)

fantasy-2967163__480

For Week Two of our monthly Better Endings process this year, I ask you to reflect on your dreams or inner guidance with respect to a monthly personal question or quest.

I have been dreaming a lot this past two weeks since posing the question, “What Then?” In one dream a friend standing behind me introduces me to a couple of potential new friends in a new location. As I am in transition already, moving gradually to my new home in a new town for me, this seems quite likely! I took note of the appearance of the two potential new friends so I might recognize them when or if this comes about outwardly.

space-scene-1486890__480

Another dream shows me (from my dream journal): “approaching a space, like a hole on a white membrane, that if I were to enter, it ‘would go on forever… like a wormhole’.” It felt like a purification portal of some sort–I woke up wondering what it would mean to enter into that space and sensed it would be “transformative” and that it indicates a passage to embracing or becoming/ joining with “all that IS.”

fantasy-2750995__480

images are from pixabay.com

These two dreams taken together both are positive indicators that the new direction I have already embarked upon is a forward motion, advancing into new potentials. A step into an apparent void, perhaps, yet clearly full of positive potentials. The wormhole-like image felt as though to enter would be like a death or a near-death experience. Yet it was placed before me as what is next, something I must enter into, a natural passage of spiritual development even though it is a mysterious movement into a void or the Unknown.

Ready, Set, I Accept!

What are YOUR dreams telling you this week or month about some deep personal question you are contemplating? I encourage you to keep a dream journal and to review it at least once a week. I had forgotten the “wormhole” dream until reviewing my dream journal. (Interesting, though, how I used a wormhole picture in last week’s blog post when I first established my monthly quest for understanding.)

Dream On!

What Then?

wormhole-2514312__480

“They went from world to world,

and each time they lost the world they left, 

lost it in time dilation, their friends

getting old and dying while they were in NAFAL flight.

If there were a way to live in their own time,

and yet move among the worlds,

they wanted to try it. …

(Ursula LeGuin, “The Shubies’ Story”)

I envisioned. Wrote, edited,published, prepared for the Big Move, left… to live my dream, Now! Arrived at one place, then searched for the next. Found it. A refuge for me and my pet family. Moving, again.

But, why all this? Or as W. B. Yeats once asked:

“What Then?”

His chosen comrades thought at school
He must grow a famous man;
He thought the same and lived by rule,
All his twenties crammed with toil;
What then?’ sang Plato’s ghost.  ‘What then?’

Everything he wrote was read,
After certain years he won
Sufficient money for his need,
Friends that have been friends indeed;
What then?’ sang Plato’s ghost.  ‘ What then?’

All his happier dreams came true –
A small old house, wife, daughter, son,
Grounds where plum and cabbage grew,
poets and Wits about him drew;
What then.?’ sang Plato’s ghost.  ‘What then?’

The work is done,’ grown old he thought,
‘According to my boyish plan;
Let the fools rage, I swerved in naught,
Something to perfection brought’;
But louder sang that ghost, ‘What then?’

questions-2245264__480

I once posed a similar or perhaps it was the same question to a Philosopher, my college mentor, Dr Antoinette Patterson in Buffalo, NY.  I was glum that day.

“So, what?”

I asked Toni in her office, there for an independent study session on a topic we had agreed to, the ‘philosophy of Silence’. 

“Take out a pencil and a piece of paper, and write down

two words and a question mark:

So   What ?   Your assignment by next week

is to answer that question.”

Bemused by my mentor’s response to what I thought was a futile question, I went off to seek for answers.  I read an essay by Emerson called “The Transparent Eyeball” and many poems and essays about silence, thinking somehow that must connect. Who was I beyond my embodied personality; what was Life beyond the day to day back and forth of conversations and classes?

When I went back to Toni’s office for our session that next Wednesday, she was waiting for me. After I shared about what I had been reading and journaling about, having not really answered the question at all, she took me to a far corner of her office where she had set up a card table with a large, empty sheet of sketch paper she had laid across it. She had me write “WH-” words on every corner of the page:

What? 

Why?                                            Where?

When?

Dr. P. then used a pencil to draw connections between these WH- words, allowing the  lines of connection to intersect at the center of the page where she drew a blank circle and wrote in that space one word:

W  H  A  N

There before us on the page was our answer to the proverbial question.

So What?

Whan.

In that moment in that office on that one day, nothing seemed clearer than that one discovery: the answer to every question about meaning or purpose, about Why/ Where/ When/ What resolves to a singular unity: WHAN!

As we discussed what is WHAN, I realized it meant not to worry about Why? or what Matters. Life IS, therefore life is meaningful of Itself alone; and no amount of thinking or wishing or proving or disproving would ever have any effect upon that which simply IS. Whan! and so Life flows forth and I must with it, wherever It may lead.

have-ask-handwriting-on-napkin-260nw-728377855

images are from pixabay.com

So this is my monthly Better Endings life question to answer for myself this February:

What Then?

I sense this is the natural follow-up question to the discovery of Whan!

I welcome YOUR Story and Comments. I encourage you to form a personal monthly question to explore with your dreams and contemplation this month.

Better Endings Stories/ Month One

lighthouse-168132__480

The process I am encouraging you to engage with this year is a Better Endings approach. Week One for each month you may pose a personal question involving a deep personal life goal or pursuit. Week Two: record and reflect on your nightly dreams for insights about your question. Week Three: look for Waking Dreams that could further help you to understand and resolve your question. Then Week Four (this week for January), I invite you to compose or creatively envision a Better Endings Story about how you CAN manifest a positive future scenario with regard to your personal quest.

Creative visualization via active imagination or contemplation is a fun, helpful Tool that lets us exercise our Higher Self imagination.

hume-lake-798064__480

So, let’s have at! It can help to give a title to your Better Endings future scenario. Use the insights you have been gathering about your question throughout the month. My own BE Story for January, by way of example, is:

Writing Forth

The path is being cleared even now for me to go forth, to finally settle into my writing future at my new home. It is amazing how swiftly the universe of Spirit has opened this new space which is exactly what I need for moving ahead.

Now is a time for doing what I can to prepare the ground and nourish the roots for future growth. Interesting how my sister gave me a spruce/ evergreen tree which is sprouting new growth wildly now and that my strongest dream was of a woman in white clearing the path ahead with a spruce branch. 

I will design my new home, which I am closing on this Friday, as a constant writing retreat. There is a writers group that meets Fridays 10-12 at the nearby library from there. And it is closer to a wider community interested in body-mind-spirit topics with which my writing projects connect.  I can finally settle down to publish the first of my science fiction/ fantasy books while also offering life mapping services re. Your Life Path (see right panel to order) and completing the second manuscript on the Life Paths series.

240_f_82329781_9phdnokbp0dihtstl5dwuku8qduhrtrr

images are from pixabay.com

So, I invite you to reflect on a question you have been pondering this month (or you can establish one now). What insights have you gained this month as you contemplate your question? It is part of your greater Life Quest. Once you have assembled some of your insights around your question, write a Better Endings Story!

I welcome Your Story or Comments.

The Waking Dream

 

240_f_24343675_jghwmn0z5myzpto6jfaiiwxxofvjoarx

Am I a man, dreaming I am a butterfly?
or a butterfly, dreaming I am a man?

-Lao Tzu

Life is like a dream, truly! Waking and sleeping are simply different states of consciousness. When you think of the outer or waking life as like a dream, this can help you to recognize that the same principles that operate in the dream state are also happening ‘out here.’  The dreamlike images or symbols you see in your day to day life can offer guidance for some action or direction to take. (Btw the best book I have found about this is The Art of Spiritual Dreaming, by Harold Klemp.)  So when you are pondering a meaningful question, look around you to recognize serendipitous outer signs and guidance. These are waking dreams.

I remember once, long ago in Arizona when I was a grad student there, I got angry one day. Almost immediately after fuming for a bit, I sat on and broke my eyeglasses. Immediately I saw that was a waking dream showing me how my anger was distorting my vision or perspective. This was a wake-up call. I corrected my viewpoint, quickly!

choice-2692575__480

So for this second week of the monthly process for this blog this year, I invite you to pay attention to outer signs or waking dreams to help you understand and find answers to one deep question you are considering this month.

My question this month is about how I can revitalize my writing activity. My waking dream is a quote I saw in a recent horoscope: “There is a part of you that isn’t your body, your words, your thoughts, or your feelings. This part of you is doing something mysterious and exciting!”

Reflection:

I usually have been so driven with regards to my writing. Lately I am in a cocoon-realizing that publishing my recent book (see right panel to order YOUR LIFE PATH!) was only a first step and does not of itself accomplish my purpose without more effort on my part to “get it out there.” When I move again (beginning in February and completing by June) I will resettle into the process for continuing this process and completing the second book in the Life Path series. For now I must be content to fulfill my current responsibilities with teaching and preparing for the move.

red-tulip-resurrection-black-white-260nw-474921658

How about you? What are you pondering this month? Look around you for waking dreams that can bring solutions, guidance and understanding.

I welcome YOUR STORY and Comments!

Dreamin’

dreamcatcher-1082228__480

Last week I invited you to state a personal question for the month to explore by reflecting on your dreams, your inner guidance, and outer ‘signs’ or synchronicity (waking dreams). Please review your question again or develop one now. This week, I invite you to reflect on your question by posing your question inwardly to invoke nighttime dreams about your topic, and/or to review and reflect upon your recent dreams that are relevant to your question.

For my part, second week posts will include some dream tips as well as modeling from my own process and experiences.

Dream Tip:  A.C.T. on your dreams! To me this means: 1) ASK for (and then ACCESS or record) dreams that are relevant to your personal question. Then 2) CONSIDER or CONTEMPLATE the messages from the relevant dreams you receive. And 3) TAKE ACTION based on the dream’s message as you understand it, to manifest positive personal growth and development.

dreams-travel-child-flying-on-260nw-594887747

Dreams are our personal inner laboratory for exploring any question, principle, or choice we may have as well as being a fertile, unlimited field for exploring the inner landscape of the Cosmos!

Example: My own question for this month is about how I can revitalize my writing activity and move forward with that creative and service oriented process despite being overburdened with responsibilities and necessary new home mortgage procedures (I will be moving again, gradually from Feb 1 til July, and meanwhile moving back and forth between two residences as of Feb 1.) This week I am asking for dreams and reviewing my dream journal (Tip 2: Always keep a dream journal and review it often.)

live-your-life-dream-lifestyle-260nw-531112741

I have kept a dream journal (within a larger journal usually) since I was twenty.  I know that when I do have a pressing personal question, reviewing my dream journal will always throw light upon that question because I know we mull over our deep questions inwardly sometimes even before we are consciously aware of the importance of a challenge or issue we are pondering.

Some dream journal entries relevant to my question:

8/12/18 [just after relocation]: Dreamed of worry over future employment and service potentials after graduating from grad school [as though I just had left college]. I know this represents my lifelong concern over making a difference: ‘What difference does it make?’ or settling into a life with a lack of creative productivity.

8/18/18: An adventure dream –in story form– Russell Crowe as the older and me as the younger Self. We stop by a room with xmas decorations we have set up, en route to some upcoming activity. I see someone else, a friend from from my past, will be involved with that upcoming activity.

8/27/18: Dream of presenting a partially completed manuscript to  an advisor–thinking it was in good form but open it and it is like a seafood gumbo: a miasma! So, it is back to work.

1/6/2019: See a lady in white going before me and to left along a trail going upwards, carrying a large pine branch. I follow humbly and am grateful.

This morning (1/9/19): Mulling over a question about how to proceed forward and am shown this  “hole” on a white field, that sucks in like a whirlpool drain in a sink…maybe a wormhole! But as I contemplate whether to dive into it (as being proposed inwardly for me to do), I have a fear because I am told the “It goes on forever!” My fear is that everything I have ever been, known, or done will be dissolved, and if it goes on forever, how will I ever emerge to have any solid reality ever again? (on waking, think the message is that this positive, needed leap of faith is to be very deeply TRANSFORMATIVE!)

REFLECTION/ INTERPRETATIONS : 

Two of the dreams show a higher (or elder) and a younger (or outer) Self, or a Guide I am learning from or following. That Higher Self/ Guide is blazing a trail or helping me with my creative and spiritual ambitions. The pine branch means clearing a pathway forward (and now I see the lady in white possibly as my current realtor who has found my next location, a great space for writing!) The future is about transformation and will require dropping the past…plunging into the void of new experience!

fantasy-2861107__480

images are from pixabay.com

So, dear Better Endings reader, go forth! Review or start a new dream journal for this year’s process and ask/ write out your question inwardly, then review your Dreams.

I welcome YOUR Story, Questions, and Comments!

Personal Growth

astronomy-3067650__480

Welcome to the new year at Better Endings! Each month I shall be inviting you to explore and contemplate a question related to your own personal growth. Week One you can pose the question. Week Two I invite you to work with your dreams to find messages relating to your query. Week Three you can further pursue outer signs and ideas to arrive at some solutions and practices you can use, and Week Four I will invite you to journal about or write a Better Endings envisioning that reveals your movement forward with regard to your question that month (see Monthly Topics page).

I will be modeling the process week by week with excerpts from my own experience/ questions, and I invite you to keep a journal of your own self-exploration process. I welcome any stories you might wish to share either in the Comments area or you can send me pieces to post between the weekly sessions (see Share Your Story page).

For myself I will be pursuing a general question for the whole year, with individual monthly questions that are part of the overall inquiry for personal growth and development. I am asking: How can I establish true Happiness, outwardly as well as inwardly, from my present  and developing circumstances after having recently retired and relocated across country ‘alone’ though with my dear pet companions Emily (cat) and Sophie (Shorkie dog).

For January, I pose for myself a more specific question: How am I to revitalize my writing and related public service activities despite the busy life I have taken on in my new location?

writer-1421099__480

When I first arrived at the idea for this yearly process for the blog this year (last week), I was at a restaurant having breakfast. The waitress seated me in a half-booth directly facing a painting on the back wall that captured my attention. The picture was a colorful carnival scene. A young woman riding in the air on an airplane carousel ride was waving down to a younger, nondescript figure of a younger person who was riding on a merry-go-round and waving up at the woman from below.

I recognized this picture as a waking dream about the very process of personal growth  I hope we can achieve with the blog this year for all who partake of the weekly journaling and contemplation approach. The picture represents communication between Soul or one’s Higher Self and Self (one’s outward, temporal personhood).

While the younger Self rides along with the ups and downs of the carousel ride of life, s/he can take heart to know that their Higher Self looks on!

I realized how the Ups and Downs of life are both equally important, both balanced by an overview perspective of inner guidance and personal reflection and growth. One dips and then resurfaces; rises and then returns to balance along the learning curve of a life of challenging experience and joy.

wooden-horse-1746813__480

images are from pixabay.com

So with regard to my personal first question for this month, I see an initial clue in this painting. I have been in the doldrums for the past six weeks about my writing goals, allowing myself to be so busy outwardly with other activities that my writing process has been put to the side. This picture tells me to keep looking UP, to communicate with my Higher Self and inner guidance in order to see more of the Bigger Picture. Outer activities are preparing the way for further unfoldment to come.

I welcome YOUR Story or Comments!

 

A NEW YEAR of Better Endings

balloon-3206530__480

This new year at Better Endings for Your Life Path let’s explore Tools for Better

Endings. I will introduce and model the Tools each week and I invite YOU to

practice Better-Endering on your own! You are welcome to send me your story

(lkwatts@uccs.edu) if you would like me to share it on the blog (I will give you an

author’s byline if you’d like for your Better Endings reflections or story). 

We will practice FOUR Tools for Better Endings relating to a personal Question or Goal you can set in Week One of every month: 

Week One (of each month):  I invite you to set a personal Question related to a Goal you are contemplating in your life.

Week Two:  Consider any DREAM events, dream messages or dream images relating to your Question or Goal. You may reflect on current dreams or on earlier dreams you still can recall that relate to you Question or Goal.

Week Three:  You can explore your inner guidance that relates to your Question or Goal. For instance, what waking dreams, mindful insights, synchronicity, or Golden Tongued Wisdom are you aware of that relates to your Question or Goal?

Week Four:  I invite you to journal about or write out a Better Endings Story. With this story or journal entry you can envision a Better Ending solution and implementation of that solution and insights you have gained with regard to your monthly personal Question or Goal.

The Shortest Distance

Here’s another Life Lesson for me: “The shortest distance between two points is a straight line.” More than a mathematical truism, this adage is a pearl of golden wisdom.

When I walk with my dog Sophie across a street, she loves to demonstrate this principle; she enjoys crossing at a long diagonal to emerge at a further point than just across the street, closer to her beloved walking trail. When she does this, I sing one of our many walking songs, this one I call My Pythagorean Girl:

My Pythagorean Sophie,

You’re my Pythagorean gal.

‘The shortest distance ‘tween two points

is a straight line;

So says my Pythagorean Girl.

pythag

Sophie crossing at a diagonal

It occurred to me about a week ago on our daily walk how meaningful this adage can be. I find that I myself do like a good “shortcut.” Or rather, I like “getting somewhere” and as swiftly as possible.

Finding the shortest distance may call for discernment and self-discipline. In travel, it means setting a course and sticking to it, more or less. While some might prefer to meander, I enjoy establishing an efficient or a good sightseeing route depending on what time I have available, feeling great satisfaction then when I arrive at my destination.

I feel that finding a best Path to accomplish a personal goal or reach a creative guidepost allows me to keep moving forward toward the greater, deeper objectives I am after in this life.

Of course, flexibility is also valuable. Finding a “better” pathway…i.e. a Better Ending… diverting from some predetermined course certainly can lead to changing course sometimes radically to manifest a better ending. The unforeseen byways are often the most beautiful and meaningful and so, on reflection, may have been the shortest distance to a greater goal, all along.

This is where inner guidance or ‘inner tuition’ comes in to that Pythagorean statement of ‘shortest distance.’ Listening to yourself means opening your awareness to guidance as if from some satellite above the earth channeled by your GPS device.

We can always be asking, “What’s next?” and then again, “What Now?”  This allows self-discovery of new vistas and deeper potentials. Such I have learned from Sophia, my wise Pythagorean Gal!

sophie 12 18

Sophie after her recent grooming. Such a dear!

I welcome YOUR comments and story!

Live and Learn

buddhism-1782432__480

To live is to learn and to learn is to live, nest-ce pas?  That appears to me to be what life is all about, along with developing our capacity to give and receive unconditional love, and to survive.

I am grateful for being on a definite learning curve, having recently relocated just with my beloved cat and dog, across country from Colorado to central New York.

With a major relocation comes tremendous opportunity to ‘create the life of your dreams.’  At the same time it is rife with challenges: how to make the right choices so as not to recreate patterns or habits of thought or behavior you aim not to continue while establishing conditions for true growth and spiritual prosperity.

board-2433982__480.jpg

So, here’s a thought.  When you set out to make a major move or a significant change of any sort, for instance either geographically or with work or a relationship, ask yourself what Life Lessons from earlier experiences do you intend to apply to establish new conditions rather than having to relearn these same Life Lessons yet again? There is a spiritual principle that says, once you have truly learned a significant lesson from some experience which has repeated in your life, you can finally move on. After crashing or butting into the same wall many times, psychologists would tell us, finally we might choose to walk AROUND that same wall when it shows up—and it likely will—yet again!

I invite you to reflect on some key Life Lesson that feels appropriate with respect to some new life adjustment upon which you are or soon will be embarking.  Is there one Life Lesson in particular that you would like to avoid having to re-learn this time around, once and for all?

stock-photo-group-of-people-holding-the-lessons-learned-written-speech-bubble-458018887

For me one of my core Life Lessons is to ASK and to LISTEN for (and then to ACT upon) inner guidance, before making major choices.  I aim to avoid acting primarily by ‘trial and error.’ This definitely applies to my search over this next year for a retirement home that will allow for me to fulfill my full life potentials and ambitions from here forward. This includes a goal I have set for myself with this relocation: To Be Happy! Not just to fulfill responsibilities and be ‘safe,’ I mean—though those will always matter—but to find a range of happiness, stable and complete, that I have perhaps always been seeking in this lifetime.

This goal reminds me of Hermann Hesse’s Siddhartha (the Buddha), whose smile to his friend Govinda at the end of the story is a message of how to attain enlightenment:

As Govinda thought like this, and there was a conflict in his heart, he
once again bowed to Siddhartha, drawn by love. Deeply he bowed to him
who was calmly sitting.

“Siddhartha,” he spoke, “we have become old men. It is unlikely for
one of us to see the other again in this incarnation. I see, beloved,
that you have found peace. I confess that I haven’t found it. Tell me,
oh honourable one, one more word, give my something on my way which I
can grasp, which I can understand! Give me something to be with me on
my path. It it often hard, my path, often dark, Siddhartha.”

Siddhartha said nothing and looked at him with the ever unchanged,
quiet smile. Govinda stared at his face, with fear, with yearning,
suffering, and the eternal search was visible in his look, eternal
not-finding.

Siddhartha saw it and smiled.

“Bent down to me!” he whispered quietly in Govinda’s ear. “Bend down to
me! Like this, even closer! Very close! Kiss my forehead, Govinda!”

But while Govinda with astonishment, and yet drawn by great love and
expectation, obeyed his words, bent down closely to him and touched his
forehead with his lips, something miraculous happened to him. While his
thoughts were still dwelling on Siddhartha’s wondrous words, while he
was still struggling in vain and with reluctance to think away time, to
imagine Nirvana and Sansara as one, while even a certain contempt for
the words of his friend was fighting in him against an immense love and
veneration, this happened to him:

He no longer saw the face of his friend Siddhartha, instead he saw
other faces, many, a long sequence, a flowing river of faces, of
hundreds, of thousands, which all came and disappeared, and yet all
seemed to be there simultaneously, which all constantly changed and
renewed themselves, and which were still all Siddhartha. He saw the
face of a fish, a carp, with an infinitely painfully opened mouth, the
face of a dying fish, with fading eyes–he saw the face of a new-born
child, red and full of wrinkles, distorted from crying–he saw the face
of a murderer, he saw him plunging a knife into the body of another
person–he saw, in the same second, this criminal in bondage, kneeling
and his head being chopped off by the executioner with one blow of his
sword–he saw the bodies of men and women, naked in positions and cramps
of frenzied love–he saw corpses stretched out, motionless, cold, void–
he saw the heads of animals, of boars, of crocodiles, of elephants, of
bulls, of birds–he saw gods, saw Krishna, saw Agni–he saw all of these
figures and faces in a thousand relationships with one another, each one
helping the other, loving it, hating it, destroying it, giving re-birth
to it, each one was a will to die, a passionately painful confession of
transitoriness, and yet none of then died, each one only transformed,
was always re-born, received evermore a new face, without any time
having passed between the one and the other face–and all of these
figures and faces rested, flowed, generated themselves, floated along
and merged with each other, and they were all constantly covered by
something thin, without individuality of its own, but yet existing, like
a thin glass or ice, like a transparent skin, a shell or mold or mask of
water, and this mask was smiling, and this mask was Siddhartha’s smiling
face, which he, Govinda, in this very same moment touched with his lips.
And, Govinda saw it like this, this smile of the mask, this smile of
oneness above the flowing forms, this smile of simultaneousness above
the thousand births and deaths, this smile of Siddhartha was precisely
the same, was precisely of the same kind as the quiet, delicate,
impenetrable, perhaps benevolent, perhaps mocking, wise, thousand-fold
smile of Gotama, the Buddha, as he had seen it himself with great
respect a hundred times. Like this, Govinda knew, the perfected ones
are smiling.

Not knowing any more whether time existed, whether the vision had lasted
a second or a hundred years, not knowing any more whether there existed
a Siddhartha, a Gotama, a me and a you, feeling in his innermost self
as if he had been wounded by a divine arrow, the injury of which tasted
sweet, being enchanted and dissolved in his innermost self, Govinda
still stood for a little while bent over Siddhartha’s quiet face, which
he had just kissed, which had just been the scene of all manifestations,
all transformations, all existence. The face was unchanged, after under
its surface the depth of the thousandfoldness had closed up again, he
smiled silently, smiled quietly and softly, perhaps very benevolently,
perhaps very mockingly, precisely as he used to smile, the exalted one.

Deeply, Govinda bowed; tears, he knew nothing of, ran down his old face;
like a fire burnt the feeling of the most intimate love, the humblest
veneration in his heart. Deeply, he bowed, touching the ground, before
him who was sitting motionlessly, whose smile reminded him of everything
he had ever loved in his life, what had ever been valuable and holy to
him in his life.

zen-509371__480

images are from pixabay.com

I invite YOUR Story and Comments!

Set Your Travel Goals (or, Happiness is a Choice)

When I prepare for a major travel excursion, I set a spiritual goal for the trip. That means I contemplate what I am ready or aiming to learn, about life or about my own potentials for self improvement. This is especially true with relocation; such an amazing opportunity to push the reset button involving any life conditions upon which you might wish to improve.

As I approach relocating Back East at the end of July, I find myself contemplating Happiness. At an Asian buffet the other night my fortune cookie stated:

“Happiness is a choice.”

That is precisely the message I needed to receive. As I contemplate the next Life Chapter of my own Dream Come True (for all of life is that, when you think about it), I realize it will be what I choose it to be with regard to the attitudes and viewpoints I exercise. Partly this means acting in ways that serve the greatest good and that may facilitate happiness and well-being for those in my immediate family and social circles. Smiling while engaging with people in public contexts can help me develop the habit of carrying happiness in my heart, coupled with acceptance and contentment.

Of course it is understood that any less than ideal conditions one experiences in one location are very likely to manifest again in a new location, so long as one carries those conditions forward within them. So contemplating current conditions is imperative for considering how to tweak the attitudes you choose to carry forward.

To me, this Travel Goal Setting for relocation goes way back in this lifetime (at least!). As my father was transferred several times to different states while I was young, I learned that in looking ahead to the next Big Move, I could use it as an opportunity to transform or tweak the life I had been living. When I was around 12, for instance, Dad told us the family would be moving around one year later from our home in Pennsylvania to New York state, near Niagara Falls.

Since at 12 I had become somewhat of an awkward, nerdy girl, I looked ahead to transforming my outer persona image in New York. I consciously changed up my wardrobe that next year, aiming to become a more “popular,” mainstream sort of teenager. When I got to my new school in New York then, I purposely sought to “get in” with what I conceived of as a more popular circle of friends. Well, it worked; however, very quickly that year I came to realize that the popular crowd I was courting really wasn’t who I am in the sense that my interests were far different from theirs. So after pretending for a short while to have a long distance boyfriend (wearing a ring from my mother’s jewelry case), pretty soon I figured out I wanted to be more authentic. I stopped sitting with this group of new friends at lunch time, even hiding in a lavatory the entire lunch period to do that. Then I joined a drama club and orchestra and started hanging out with new friends, more nerdy or artistic; people I really enjoyed being with!

The process I had undertaken to transform my life in the future from Pennsylvania to New York had succeeded, more than I could have anticipated.  I have been more mindful from that point forward of who I am (or am becoming) internally, and more appreciative of authenticity itself. I enjoyed my high school years immensely. The choices I made then were formative of the person I am today in very positive ways; no wonder then that at 64 as I have just retired, my immediate plan is to return to New York, to my family and even to be nearer to some of the deep friendships I shared there.

So, this time, I choose Happiness! 

images are from pixabay.com

I welcome YOUR Comments and Story.

Travel Preparations–the Big Move

sun-3313646__340

Travel, especially for relocation or a Big Move, can be an act of Life Transformation.  It lifts you out from whatever conditions have become routinized and familiar, offering new potentials for adventure and change. Because this is such a momentous occasion, a successful Big Move is deserving and requires major preparations. Preparations allow time for envisioning the adventure or the new life conditions you aim to manifest, so the more you prepare, the better for all your future prospects!

This past two weeks I have been preparing my house in Colorado to go on the market tomorrow as I will be relocating Back East at the end of July. “Staging” has been a major undertaking. New bathroom sinks, some new furniture for my next location, basically gutting and tilling the back yard, steam cleaning carpets, and cleaning and polishing/ renewing all interior surfaces as with a fine toothed comb, every nook and cranny.  It has been like digging myself out from the comfortable, cluttered space I have created as my haven this past twelve or so years.

adventure-1850912__340

The process of returning my house to its pristine state in preparation for its own new occupants has allowed me to gradually come to better awareness of the reality that I am already now all but retired (officially June 30) and that I truly will be moving to a new location altogether. I will be two and a half hours from one dear sister and maybe six or so from another and eight from my brother and sister-in-law: much closer to family than this past nearly forty years. I return to New York state, which was foundational in my formative years; it will be nice to be able to travel as an adult to places I always wanted to explore more fully in my youth. I bring with me my dear Soul companion, Sophie (Shitzu/Yorkie) and my dear feline Soul companion, Emily.

change-717488__340

images are from pixabay.com

I find that preparing for such a big move benefits from lots of time in contemplation and journalling. Inner preparation is just as important or perhaps even more so than the outer activity.  Moving carries such rich potentials for creating the future you choose to manifest that it is vital to check in with your feelings, thoughts, and goals. Nowadays with the internet it is so easy as well to look ahead at the place and resources to which you will be moving or traveling. This allows your imagination to soar and scout out your destination, even before you arrive.

I welcome YOUR Comments and your own Travel or Big Move Story. If you would like to Guest Blog your story, you can simply email me at lkwatts@uccs.edu.

 

Family–Where Our Lives Begin

geese-2494952__480

For May, our Life Theme topic is Family. In the over 550 life maps I have helped people create, I would estimate over 95% contain Family or an aspect of that (e.g. Parents, Mother, Father, Sister, Brother, Grandparents, etc.) as a primary theme that has been a fundamental ‘shaping’ factor in their lives.

Of course, for most Westerners at least, Family is most often the dominant Life Theme in one’s early, formative years, then after a person ‘leaves the nest’ for school or a job or marriage, the original family may be less of a direct, daily influence. Yet because it was THE primary influence throughout childhood, our family is with us ALWAYS, unconsciously if not physically.

family-932245__480

pictures are from pixabay.com

So, reflect about how influential your family has been in shaping the person you have become. For this opening week I invite you simply to journal or tell a story about the role your Family has had in your life. I may add my example next time.

I welcome YOUR Comments and Story!

Baby Boomers—A Better Endings Tale of Work and Love (You Can Change It Up!)

munich-1220908__340

We are multidimensional Beings: multi-faceted, multi-faced. This is the essence of our composite archetypal identities based on the various roles we occupy in our lives. Our Life Themes—recurring KINDS of situations that form threads weaving a colorful tapestry through the Life Chapters of our Life Stories—lead us to develop an assembly or ‘ensemble cast’ of archetypal sub-identities based on our positive role models or from avoiding behaviors of our nemeses.

Work is a Life Theme that often brings routine or habits as well as financial security and productivity into our lives. At its best, our Work supports our vocations; then we love what we do for a living! But sometimes Work can become onerous, over-routinizing or bringing out our ‘worst’ rather than our best qualities, to the degree it may lead us to feel somewhat numb in our social life or personal relations.

hierarchy-2499789__480

As a 1950’s child myself, I can appreciate the ‘better endings’ tale of the 1987 movie Baby Boomers with Diane Keaton. J.C. Wiatt (Keaton) is a woman executive for a marketing agency in the City. When a distant cousin dies, she is asked to raise her cousin’s six-month-old baby. After accepting this new role as a parent, J.C. at first tries to maintain her high-paced, cutthroat sort of career, but eventually she comes to realize how this career is sapping her full identity.

mother-429158__480

After losing her husband because of her choice to raise the child and being offered a lower position to accommodate her changing persona at work, J. C. chooses to quit and moves with her foster daughter to a farmhouse in Vermont. Here she gradually allows her heart to re-open, to her daughter, new friends in the small rural community, and eventually to a handyman (played by Sam Shepard).  Meanwhile she develops a homemade baby applesauce recipe that eventually promises to be a million dollar business. When she is offered the opportunity to sell that to a major food chain and move back to the City to manage the business, she opts out, preferring to stay in Vermont with her child and new partner.

stock-photo-jenne-farm-in-fall-with-incoming-storm-clouds-129900641

images are from pixabay.com

Life moves us forward, so long as we let it! Two days ago on my way to my own ‘retirement lunch’ (yep!), I read a bumper sticker I have been contemplating ever since:

Life Is Life!

Life is rich in opportunities for new experience, for learning to develop your talents and interests, for making choices at every turn as you compose your unique Life Story!

I welcome YOUR Comments and Story!

 

Vocation Better Endings

mask-709963__480

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

actor-63082__480

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

artist-1606574__480christmas-carols-37539__480

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

motivational-1177436__480

images are from pixabay.com

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

“If you can paint, I can walk!” 

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

I welcome YOUR Comments and STORY

 

How to Mend a Broken Heart

valentines-day-3142040__340

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

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

st-valentines-day-3145789__340

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

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

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

stock-photo--my-heart-bubbles-at-the-sky-sunset-love-in-the-summer-sun-with-bubble-blower-romantic-inflating-221010295

images are from pixabay.com

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

I welcome YOUR Comments and Story!

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

mandala-811304__340

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

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

photography-2754902__340

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

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

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

stock-photo-vision-goals-aspirations-planning-word-concept-419171674

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

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

butterfly-2049567__340

images are from pixabay.com

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

I welcome your insights and story!

What are Your LIFE THEMES?

wooden-horse-1746813__340

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

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

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

box

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

January –     Health

February –   Romance/ Relationships

March –       Vocation

April –          Work

May –           Family

June –          Adventure/ Travel

July –           Friends

August –      Relocation/ Moves   

September– Education

October –     Spirituality

November – Pets

December – Life Lessons

away-3024773__340

images are from pixabay.com

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

I welcome your Comments and Stories!

A Te Sante: Running with Sophie

stock-photo-concept-illustrating-with-running-girl-on-the-road-the-wellness-and-good-health-293444903

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

January –   Health

February – Romance/ Relationships

March –     Vocation

April –        Work

May –         Family

June –         Adventure/ Travel

July –          Friends

August –     Relocation/ Moves   

September–  Education

October –     Spirituality

November – Pets

December – Life Lessons

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

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

Sophie newyear

My Dear Companion, Sophie

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

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

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

dog-1127321__340

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

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

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

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

Since God is (in) Everything

And God is All Good

Then Everything is God;

Life is Good.

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

Gratitude and Love

Go Hand in Glove;

And:

True Love is Reciprocal,

All Ways.

emergence-807411__340

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

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

Better Endings to You Always!,

Linda

 

 

Magical Creature Metaphors of Resurrection: Phoenix and Butterfly

bird-1474600__340

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

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

stock-photo-rows-of-butterfly-cocoons-and-newly-hatched-butterfly-155422796

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

niki-de-saint-phalle-67689__340

images are from pixabay.com

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

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

I invite and welcome YOUR comments and Story!