Starting Over, Again

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At 65 next month, I feel I am starting over. Recently retired and this week completing a year’s stint as adjunct faculty far from my tenure of 25 years in Colorado, I have a second new home, no more classroom teaching after 40 years (though still teaching online), and a wide new community and lake environs to explore and to connect with.

I am grateful for the opportunities ahead without knowing what is ‘out there’ beyond the new horizons. My monthly question (inviting you to choose your own) is about how to  proceed with the greatest aplomb into this next Chapter; how to step forth into new territory with more mindful awareness, an openness to real change, and the dedication to implement my potentials through various forms of service. How am I to start over, having moved away from longtime friends and environs?

I open this month’s query with a poem, my first poetic impulse for over two decades:

Now Settled In Me

These days I traverse mindscapes

accompanied solely by voices from within,

now settled in me:

Friends I may never again visit bodily

remain; constant companions

alongside Masters and guides,

memories and silent vistas.

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I welcome YOUR Story and Comments!

 

 

What Then?

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“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?’

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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.

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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.

Turning Points — A Birthday Post

 

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My Colorado friends. Photo by Diane Launsby.

Today on my 64th Birthday (June 26th) I have been feeling like Dr. Beverly Crusher in the Star Trek NG episode when she felt that the universe was collapsing all about her, and truly it was! She was caught in a Warp Bubble while the rest of the crew was one by one popping into another dimension. The metaphor is apt as my social universe of colleagues, students, and Colorado friends is dropping away as I prepare for relocating Back East in late July.

Turning Points are momentous shifts in life experience such that you might feel you were “a different person before and after that event occurred” (Your Life Path; also see side panel).

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To go through a Turning Point mindfully, with awareness of that turning as a momentous shift, is a great gift.  Many Turning Points appear to happen to us unwittingly; we do not consciously seek to bring them about.  Those we look back at later to see how momentous they were and we may need to make major adjustments to adapt to those changes. But those we manifest consciously are huge leaps of faith, quantum leaps so to speak even, as they can launch us intentionally into a whole new Life Chapter with a golden new set of life’s possibilities. Such is the Big Move I shall be embarking upon at the end of July!

What about you? Are you ready to plan for and execute the turning of another Life Chapter page? What is next then? What might you resolve soon so you can bring about a Turning Point sort of shift that aims you truly in the direction of fulfilling your deepest life aspiration, your Life Dream?

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Almost forty years ago I went West  (now I return Back East). When I left Buffalo in 1979 to go off to graduate school in Phoenix, Arizona, I woke one morning in the year I was planning that Big Move with a song ditty on my mind that stayed with me the rest of that year:

I’m leaving,

But there are a few doors left to close

Before I get over there.

For the next several months I consciously sought to close those doors, to tie up loose ends so I would be free to experience my new life after closure and with fresh ambitions.  Now I find life is again providing opportunities for a meaningful closure of some relations and continuation of others from here as I am ready to launch into a whole universe of new potentials.

I thank all who have been part of my life in Colorado and Zuni, New Mexico and Arizona before that. I love each and every one of you and wish you well on your own continuing Soul Journey.

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images are from pixabay.com

I welcome YOUR Comments and Story!

Changing Times, Time for Change and The Plight of Child Refugees

Home repairs, cleaning and staging the house daily, stepping away with my dog (cat hiding under the bed) to allow potential buyers to explore the house as a potential new home for themselves: such a daunting process, one I hope will be over soon! I write from my office away from home, waiting for showings to pass.

Relocation is such a time for change, in perspective, in hopes for the future, in care for those I will be leaving once and, for many, forever in this lifetime. This is a time pregnant with possibilities yet rife with challenges to overcome.

It is interesting to be embarking upon such a leap of faith while the country itself is in dire turmoil with the …revisionist, to say the least… policies being inflicted on the collective consciousness politically these days. I try to avoid politics at this blog. But I cannot ignore how tumultuous these times are for so many.

images are from pixabay.com

Families fleeing a country to find safety in another become migrants subjected to all sorts of policies aimed to deter them from succeeding in their quest to achieve what we used to call simply, the American Dream.  If they are deported again back to those conditions from which they have fled, what message does this send to the world, of the world? I am so sheltered by comparison, so ignorant of their plight.

Changing Times are Times for Change, positive or negative, destructive or life affirming. The CHILDREN are leading the way toward positive change in so many aspects these days. That should tell us something, all.  Let them lead! Let the youth forge new pathways for us all, out from the darkness into light.

That is my blog for this week, which may be the final one this month due to the changes happening so quickly in my own life through the rest of this month.

May the Blessings Be!

Travel Preparations–the Big Move

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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.

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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.

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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.

 

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

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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!

 

Magical Creature Metaphors of Resurrection: Phoenix and Butterfly

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

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

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

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images are from pixabay.com

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

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

I invite and welcome YOUR comments and Story!

When Your Dream Becomes a Nightmare? Adapt!

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June brings our new monthly theme at Better Endings for Your Life Path (see Monthly Topics); the next stage as we proceed forward with the Hero Cycle process is:  TRIALS AND REVELATIONS.

I can certainly relate right now at this juncture in my own life’s journey.  This past month, while blogging here about “Descent into the Belly of the Whale,” I sank into a deep contemplation one day while sitting in the center of an outdoor stone labyrinth. I asked my Inner Guide:

“What is it you/Spirit would ask me to improve upon or change as I proceed forward into the next phase of my journey?”

I received a clear answer:

“Adaptability”

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This answer has lingered in my consciousness.  Adaptability is certainly an important TOOL for me to employ as I approach retirement next summer and the release of my book, Your Life Path, next March.

A few days ago, I had a breakthrough with regard to adaptability. I have been conceiving of one and only one destination for retirement.  Yet when I visited that location through the month of March into April, I encountered a terrifying series of ordeals in the form of an invasion of my very body (and my dog’s and car) by parasitic insects. It took six weeks and a heavy load of new credit debt to clear that scourge, and I find myself left with PTSD around these ‘bug issues’ that I am still working on. When I think of that truly wonderful location, it now brings forth a sense of dread: how could I ever feel entirely safe were I to live there? I know this is not rational yet it is deeply entrenched.

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images are from pixabay.com

So I have been thinking about today’s topic: What Can You Do When Your Dream Becomes a Nightmare?

My answer is clear: ADAPT!

With Life Path Mapping, I always encourage people to remain FLEXIBLE and OPEN TO CHANGE. Future life mapping is not about setting a specific location or job or relationship as a necessary or fixed destination. It is about  projecting your VALUES forward into a future set of conditions that will fulfill your sense of purpose, mission, and life satisfaction.

So I took out a map to see where else could I go to satisfy my interests in a retirement community: closer to family, a vibrant community, a lake.  And I found an amazing location I have known of but had not realized how near it is to where I have wanted to be anyway.  I have a new location focus now.

Adaptation rocks!

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I welcome YOUR Comments and Stories.

 

Liminal Lives … as Change Agents

 

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Artists including painters, musicians, writers, actors/directors, photographers, and others (including some scientists) who apply their artistic perspective or highly focused talents and perspectives to the work or the vocation they love, often spend much of their lives as what we could call liminal persons.  They might feel or be perceived as “outside” the norms of society, either by happenstance or by design.

As Outsiders, liminal persons can develop a point of view or vantage point at odds with normal convention; it is often this very ‘oddity’ about them that allows them to contribute original or even revolutionary ideas.  They can help a culture or a community to bend and flex in ways otherwise less likely and can help a society to adjust more quickly to new conditions. 

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The Beatles when they first erupted upon the musical scene in the ‘60s were one such liminal group. They broke up thought forms by what at the time was considered even radical hair styles, musical beats, and ideology as represented in their lyrics. Mostly they sang about love, but the love they celebrated was broader and deeper. They wrote of world peace and love as a generational construct at odds with their own society’s post WWII and more recent Korean War global conflicts and the controversial war in Viet Nam. It was important for the Beatles to stand outside conservative norms in order to move society forward, even bringing non-Western spirituality to the fore in their later songs and lives.

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Socrates in classical Greek times was likewise viewed as an Outsider to the established order. He went about encouraging free thinking in public arenas through his method of philosophical questioning. Socrates’ decision not to escape his sentence of drinking hemlock for the crime of “corrupting” traditional Greek thought of the time was in itself a violation of norms, forcing people to think about his premise of the immortality of Soul.

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Let’s list some more names of historically well-known liminal persons whose departures from norms helped humanity to be more open to new ideas or even to revolutionary change:  Amelia Earhart, Albert Einstein, Rumi, Gertrude Stein, Frida Kahlo, Emily Dickenson, William Butler Yeats, Lord Byron, Albert Camus, Immanuel Velikovsky, Nelson Mandela, Andy Warhol, Vincent Van Gogh, Oscar Wilde, Michelangelo. You can add to this list to form a litany of change agents who in the times they lived were relative loners or outcasts.

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images are gratefully from pixabay.com

So we see the genius of Life inflecting in such broad strokes of diversity–often accompanied by intense sacrifice or by long-term personal isolation and hardship–so as to illuminate and break through boundaries of perspective and limitations of human consciousness in ways that have allowed our species not only to survive but to thrive.

Vive la difference! as the French might say.  Or, as Lennon and McCartney contributed: “Imagine!”

I welcome YOUR Comments and Stories.

Time Out for Summer Reflections

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Still on my Golden Child theme of Summertime, today I walked a Labyrinth because of the relative freedom of schedule that my summertime allows. And I got to thinking about life reflections generally and how Summer travel and ‘time out’ is a good context for reflecting on where you are at in life, how you have arrived here, where you are and/or wish to be going, and how to get from wherever you are Now to the destination of your Life Dream or personal life goals.

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The relative flexibility of a summer escapade or outing can shake up the normalcy of your work routines just enough so that, in a way, your vacation time becomes a condition of “time out of time.” In anthropology we call that a time that is ripe for undergoing a meaningful Rite of Passage. It is a “liminal zone” pregnant with possibility and new potentials. So it may be one of the best times all year to contemplate CHANGE, from minor to major; to look again at staid traditions or even your creative products to see what you might do to tweak or flexibly improve their conditions.

On a larger scale, to me such interstice phases are fantastic opportunities for “mid-course corrections.” Maybe you might wish to rethink a recent or a longstanding decision. Or maybe it is time to start planning the next, new Chapter of your life.

With my own approach of Life Mapping that I have been teaching and writing about, I think of such Time Outs for life reflection as a way to reflect on your life NOW (rather than after death, e.g. if you believe in reincarnation or simply getting the most out of THIS lifetime), so you can envision what sorts of changes of direction or action might best help you reach your highest goals according to your deepest core values.

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I love/ highly recommend the film Defending Your Life, a fun Albert Brooks/ Meryl Streep comedy  that posits two recently deceased souls, one of whom has achieved great strides with her bold and heroic life (Streep), while the other (Brooks) has shied away from some of his greater opportunities. They meet at a level of afterlife called Judgement City where they must go to a court of sorts to “defend” their lives. They fall in love though from such different life trajectories, and that’s where the drama begins!

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images are from pixabay.com

Wherever you are at, time out for life reflection or even a mid-course correction, from small to large, can be invigorating! So I encourage you to take a hike, do yoga or deep active contemplation/ meditation (whatever floats your Boat, as they say!), or go for a swim, take a camping trip while you can this summer, or by all means go walk a Labyrinth!

I welcome your comments and stories!

Make One Change, with Love

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Is your life absolutely perfect right now, or are there maybe one or more conditions in your life presently that you hope will be improved upon in your future?

Here’s a thought: Make One Change Now, with Love! This banks on the principle that “With love, all things are possible!”  Taken with a grain of salt, we could change that to, “All things can be improved upon through love.”  Not all things can be changed absolutely; some we must simply endure, but even these we can improve our relationship to, improving our growth factor, through a positive attitude and a loving heart.

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So take some situation that is problematic for you at the current time. A simple creative visualization technique you can use is to bring a loving focus to that situation inwardly. Turn it over in your mind’s eye gently, exploring the situation from many angles. Focus on the situation with a loving perspective. What one or more aspects of this situation CAN you improve upon? Maybe it involves honest communication, with yourself or someone else. Maybe you can make an improvement by changing the manner in which you have typically approached it. Decide to make a positive change in this one aspect of the troubling situation, then do that!

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If you are unsatisfied with any aspect of your life, you have the capacity to make changes—from small to large—that will improve that situation. With LOVE, all things are possible!

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A few days ago a friend, Kery, posted the passage below from Corinthians 13 in a Facebook post that she titled: “Love is Indispensable”. I repeat it for you here below:
“If I speak in the tongues of men or of angels, but I do not have love, I am only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal. If I have the gift of prophecy and can fathom all mysteries and all knowledge, and I have a faith that can move mountains, but do not have love, I am nothing. If I give all I possess to the poor and give over my body to hardship that I may boast, but do not have love, I gain nothing.”
 
“Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs.  Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.
“Love never fails. But where there are prophecies, they will cease; where there are tongues, they will be stilled; where there is knowledge, it will pass away. For we know in part and we prophesy in part, but when completeness comes, what is in parts disappears.”

“When I was a child, I talked like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I put the ways of childhood behind me. For now we see only a reflection as on a mirror; then we shall see face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I am fully known.”
“And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love.”

(Corinthians 13) 

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(All pictures in this post are from Pixabay.com)

I welcome your insights and stories!

 

Time Heals All Wounds

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Is Time really a Healer? What wisdom does this age-old adage impart?  Time heals by allowing you to readjust or to establish a new set of conditions that have changed in some manner after an event that might have felt wounding: harmful or grievous or disastrous even, “back then” when the change first occurred.

Time brings us around some major bend in our Life Path that ultimately can result in “better endings.”

But, how? I am reminded of Garth Brooks’ song lyrics to “Unanswered Prayers” :
“Unanswered Prayers”

http://www.azlyrics.com/lyrics/garthbrooks/

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Just the other night at a hometown football game

My wife and I ran into my old high school flame

And as I introduced them the past came back to me

And I couldn’t help but think of the way things used to be

She was the one that I’d wanted for all times

And each night I’d spend prayin’ that God would make her mine

And if he’d only grant me this wish I wished back then

I’d never ask for anything again

Sometimes I thank God for unanswered prayers

Remember when you’re talkin’ to the man upstairs

That just because he doesn’t answer doesn’t mean he don’t care

Some of God’s greatest gifts are unanswered prayers

She wasn’t quite the angel that I remembered in my dreams

And I could tell that time had changed me

In her eyes too it seemed

We tried to talk about the old days

There wasn’t much we could recall

I guess the Lord knows what he’s doin’ after all

And as she walked away and I looked at my wife

And then and there I thanked the good Lord

For the gifts in my life

Sometimes I thank God for unanswered prayers

Remember when you’re talkin’ to the man upstairs

That just because he may not answer doesn’t mean he don’t care

Some of God’s greatest gifts are unanswered

Some of God’s greatest gifts are all too often unanswered…

Some of God’s greatest gifts are unanswered prayers

So… thank heaven for some of our unanswered prayers, or for any condition in our life that changes unexpectedly, often undesirably.  Change can lead us down unanticipated pathways that can produce surprising benefits ‘down the road,’ and so often we cannot tell from here and now where that unexpected change could lead to!

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For example, we might lose a job we have been feeling stuck in for some time but would not have sought to change but for being laid off or “moved along.” Yet this sudden change might prompt us to move to a new location where eventually we might meet the love of our life or develop talents we had been neglecting.

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Spirit or the “universe” may ‘know’ better than we do with our minds what path is our true destination. So listen closely to your heart when change comes calling; perhaps it is calling you Home!

To Nourish Your Dreams, Change It UP!

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One fun way to let your Nourisher archetype Ally express itself is to Change It Up! That means, practice doing things outside from your normal routine.  Julia Cameron called this taking an “artist’s date” in her seminal book, THE ARTIST’S WAY.  She recommends we do this at least once a week in order to break through writers block or any other form of artistic or emotional blockage.

So take a different way home from work, and look around at the change of scenery. Maybe stop off at a park and take a walk. Be spontaneous! Go to a $1.00 film in the middle of your day; popcorn may be called for! Or go to a museum or that arboretum you have always meant to visit. How about the zoo; when is the last time you went? For me, that would have to include a carousel ride!

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Changing It Up is an easy, fun way to NOURISH your Self, and you can use this “time out” to lightly focus on your Life Dream.  Freeing up space in your life that jogs you free from daily or weekly routines allows you ro “prospect” your future alternatives.

So go ahead: write a poem, color in a Mandala or in a Mehndi or Labyrinth art book. You can paste a wall with your creative output! Or go on a photographic spree, capturing sunsets or sunrises on those extra evening or crisp, early morning outings.

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And always, keep open to bringing change IN to your life. Open your Heart to receive the blessings of Life! You are so deserving!!!

I had a Better Ending/ Change It Up Moment myself, today. I drove to Denver and met with a financial consultant from my retirement fund organization. I told her about my Life Dream that involves retirement in 3 years. After signing a few forms, I moved all retirement funds into secure accounts, removing the risk of losing retirement income or having to postpone retirement due to any possible financial collapse or downturn. So, voila! In one “time out” moment apart from my normal routine, I have secured a modest but reasonable retirement income–for life!–so long as I stay true to the parameters of what we discussed today.

Thank you, Nourisher!!! Thank you, Soul and Spirit and my Inner Guidance…All of you are NOURISHERS too!

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Have you had a Nourisher “time out” or a ‘Better Endings’ Moment? I would love to hear your stories and for you to share them here!

A Quantum Leap into the Void?

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I love the concept of a quantum leap being how an electron shifts into a higher orbit around the nucleus of an atom under conditions of an ‘excited’ state. Some surmise the electron even pops out of one dimension and into another before popping back in at the higher dimension because the shift is allmost instantaneous. Now given that more recent physics than the Bohr model that gave rise to this notion may account for such apparent disappearnces and reappearances as due to a modal wave transition rather than as a discrete popping or ‘leaping’ effect, still metaphorically a Quantum Leap has come to mean a rather sudden and qualitatively total sort of transformation, as to a higher state of consciousness than one has held before.

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Then there is the notion of a “leap into the Void.” Here the idea is that you need a great deal of faith and trust to take a step in a very uncertain direction, hoping that the outcome will somehow be positive. For this, I like the scene in Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade when our hero must ostensibly step off of a sheer cliff into a deep chasm if he is to demonstrate his trust in Divine intervention to validate his purity of heart and thereby his worthiness to approach the sacred Holy Grail.

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Both of these concepts of a Quantum Leap and a Leap into the Void pertain to this month’s focus on “Crossing the Threshold to Embark on Your Greatest Adventure.” Truly crossing a threshold is an heroic act, an act of faith, and it results in a new and higher state of consciousness.  New levels of consciousness, too I would say, create new arrangements and modes of circumstances in our lives overall, for they enact a departure from habitual thoughts or behaviors based on a choice to advance to a desired “new” state.

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Of course, some might add, a leap into a Void might fail, too. And a quantum leap might remove one from a familiar “safe zone” to which afterwards one might wish they could return.

As I approach retirement in three years and usher a colleague off into retirement at a luncheon tomorrow, these concepts have a definite resonance and relevance to the major shifts we all undergo as we wend our sometimes uncertain way through life.  But remembering the FAITH and TRUST that heroic characters demonstrate reinforces my awareness that these significant departures are imbued with a power and energy of their own that will serve the heroic adventurer well!

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When you think back to the times in your life before now when you took a small or large step in a new direction, remember how most of these ‘departures’ have served you well. You would not be where you are today, in all measures, had you not taken the steps laid out before you or that you laid out before yourself in pursuit of your goals.

So, set a course and Sail! Take all the time you need to envision and plan for your forward momentum when the time to LEAP arrives. Then TRUST that whatever comes, you will be there to benefit from the motion of change and the new breath of transformation this will bring!

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Turning Points: Your Chapter Turners

Prescript: I have decided to add a fourth blog post per week. On Thursdays I will post your insights and/or your results from applying life mapping tools. I might also reblog relevant tips or life path affirming stories and ideas.

Here’s an odd idea I woke with today: Earn Life Coins to add to your Life Line every time you do something healthful and positive. The goal: to add more life coins per week than you ‘spend’ on unhealthful actions. After a two week-plus cross-country roadtrip during which my dietary habits suffered some while driving, I’m ready and need to start adding some positive coins to my own Life Line!- L

Turning Points: Your Chapter Turners

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Which situations or events in your life history have been your Turning Points: events of such magnitude that you feel you were a different person before and after each of these events occurred?  That is this week’s focus; to identify your monumental moments.  Now let me add this piece: if you were to rate each of your Turning Points in terms of its relative positive and/or negative impact on your life (say, -5 to +5), what would that be?

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 For example, moving from Buffalo, New York to Phoenix, Arizona for graduate school when I was 24 was a huge event in my life. I would say its impact was mainly positive (+5), but at the same time it required me to leave my family and friends and all I had grown up with to move to what felt like a very foreign world (-3).

This sort of “duality” may be a characteristic feature of Turning Points. Think about one of your own. Would you rate its impact as all positive? All negative? Or both to some degree? Why?

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 I invite you to describe each of your Turning Points in terms of their relative positive and/or negative impact on the person you have become.  I welcome any insights or examples you might wish to share (as Mandi of CagedNoMore did about her artistic Life Themes reflection yesterday; thanks Mandi for sharing and I am glad it helped you put some things into perspective!)

Turning Points—as we will explore a bit later here too—are more than page turners in your life. They bring LIFE CHAPTER changes. So, taking some time to identify these can help you to understand your major shifts. Which ones were by your own choice, or not?

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When I left Buffalo 35 years ago for Arizona, it was such a huge shift apart from everything I had ever known that I troubled over the decision. Every night I would raise an issue about the move in a nightly contemplation, posing questions for inner guidance. And every night I would dream in a way that clearly answered that question. How could I drive my red Buick convertible to Phoenix, for example. Wouldn’t it be too hot? That night I was taken to a rotating hotel restaurant overlooking Phoenix (there really was one at a Ramada Inn, though I hadn’t been there.) I looked down to see almost every car in the parking lot was—you guessed it—red!

Do you have a Turning Point sort of shift or a major decision coming up? What can you do to help yourself go through this most effectively, to help yourself advance to realize your greatest potentials?

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Share your stories if you’d like; I would love to share them.

Better Endings to You! – Linda

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

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(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.

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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.

 

Your Life as Your Works

 

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Every Tuesday at Better Endings we assemble a set of topical Prompts that you might wish to write/journal about, contemplate/ meditate, talk about, or somehow ACT upon in your daily life. This week’s Better Endings topic is Work & Career. So how might you apply the  principle of Better Endings to issues surrounding your work and/or your career, or perhaps how HAVE you achieved Better Endings in past situations regarding your work or career?

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Here are some prompts that come to mind for your possible consideration:

  • Job searches
  • Job interviews
  • Your life mission (To what extent is your work/ career compatible with your life mission?)
  • Creativity (How do you express your creativity wt work or through your career; can this be further enhanced?)
  • Growth potentials
  • Change/ improvements
  • Workplace social relations
  • Location
  • Retirement plans
  • Entrepreneurial opportunities
  • Job loss
  • Retooling
  • Identity (Do you identify yourself in relation to your job/ career or otherwise?)
  • Integration/ synthesis (How can you integrate your deepest aspirations with your work/ career goals?)
  • Are you doing what you love & loving what you do?
  • Future envisioning and plan for Action

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I invite your Comments and Insights and Stories on these or other work/career related topics. Feel free to suggest additional prompts that come to mind.

Best Possible Endings to You!

Change It UP!

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This week I have noticed a theme in blogs and Tweets I’ve been reading from others. You have to fall sometimes, or take a step back, in order to go forward with greater strength and find success.

This past Thursday morning, while thinking about this theme, I dreamed about a football play. It was an unconventional play. The QB tossed the ball, underhanded, to a receiver some 5 yds ahead. He caught it, looked around, and saw the defense closing in; he could see he had nowhere to run. So, he threw it back to another receiver behind the QB. The player there caught it and, also seeing the defense about to close in on him, he threw it even further backwards to a teammate back near the other team’s goal posts. I knew as the dreamer that the intention was to open up an area without defensive players, so a player could run forward less obstructed after catching the ball from well behind the line of scrimmage. The last player trying to catch the ball, did not, but neither did the opposing team’s players intercept. The play was dead. But it had only been a 1st or 2nd down, so the same team lined up again at the line of scrimmage and the next play, the QB passed a regular forward pass that was caught for a 1st down; forward motion was restored.

Writers and other artists are very often the Innovators for art itself and for culture. New ideas have to start somewhere and it often takes an unconventional thinker or artist to advance ideas and to “change up” how we think about or view the world. This is the basis , to me, of the Beatles’ wild success; it was not that they started by doing anything entirely new, but they ‘changed up’ the way it was being done. They set a new beat that perhaps changed up slightly the heartbeat of the collective world. They broke up thought forms by being unconventional in several ways. Their haircuts—at the time; in retrospect this seems silly now—astounded and offended many parents of their young, devoted fans. Teaming with the Maharaji, courting “revolution”, daring to “Imagine”, they changed up rock and roll and, with it, they elevated an entire generation around a basic theme: openly expressed, unconditional Love.

What’s the message here? CHANGE IT UP! What do we have to lose, really? We must be true to ourselves and forge new grounds where that seems the direction we are given to go with our talents.

If the backwards seeming football play I dreamed of this morning had succeeded, it would have been a wild success; it would have forged a whole new concept in how to move a football forward on the field of play. If, on the other hand, it had been intercepted back near the opposing team’s goal, of course it would be seen as a monumental failure. But, in the end, what does that matter? A “touchdown,” points scored, on this side or that, is only that. I admire the player who got the random idea to “Change It UP!” and started the ball rolling in an entirely new direction. In the dream, on the next play, his team moved conventionally forward again, anyway. Still, the game was forever changed. The other team now knew their worthy opponents might do ANYTHING to succeed. It would be more difficult to defend against this new form of play. It was, in my view, an artistic accomplishment. Perhaps, by the next game, it might become a formal new play in the team’s playbook, one they might incorporate into their team strategy, with tweaks, over time.

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What, to you, is an example of this Better Endings principle of “Change It Up”? If you are forging new directions, pushing genre boundaries, Change It UP! Follow your OWN North Star!

Life Paths–Hard Knocks or a Golden Spiral?

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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

Choice, Compromise, or Commitment?

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Our Better Endings topic this week is “Relationship Changes”. Relationships are always in flux: adapting, developing, deepening, sometimes dissipating. As we undergo our individual transformations, in relationships we weather or design our cycles in tandem when possible, or not.

How do you orient in your relationships with respect to Better Endings? How do relationships affect, in fact, what you might even define as a better ending in your life?

And They Lived Happily, Ever After!

This fairytale line suggests that stable relationships are an end in themselves, but of course we all know it’s not usually so simple. I love Stephen Sondheim’s comic musical Into the Woods, in which he brings several fairytale stories together but doesn’t end after Act II suggests “happily ever after”. Act III shows what really happens for the characters as life goes on. They face a Giant together and must forge a community and look past their petty grievances in order to survive.

Life happens; people strive to adjust, to adapt, to thrive. Sometimes they work together and their relationship strengthens and endures. Sometimes they grow apart. It’s not necessarily what happens in our relationships that matters for Better Endings but it is how we respond, what we make of our relationships and experience.

Consider Rumi’s excellent advice (our Better Endings Quote today):

“In silence there is eloquence. Stop weaving and watch how the pattern improves.” — Rumi

How have you or can you manifest Better Endings with respect to your relationships, of any sort or mode? Write a story, or send your insights to share with the rest of us.