Relocation for Better Endings

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The Life Theme we are focussing on for August is Relocation. For many a Life Mapper a Big Move or Relocation is a golden opportunity for life changing new beginnings that can help someone “jump start” their life.

As I have just relocated myself from Colorado to New York state, I can certainly attest to the freedom such a major transition affords. It is a Starting Over in some respects though I also find myself banking on anything familiar so as to feel grounded. The daily routines with my dog and cat, walking 2-3 times a day with Sophie, for instance, keeps me in the flow of life as I have known it, though the new environment is welcome and fun to explore for us both.

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Transplanting oneself through relocation offers many opportunities to reflect on the life one has been living so as to tweak or make conscious changes for “better endings.” What would I have done differently? becomes rephrased:

What CAN I do differently Now?

This is a time for deep reflection while also for moving forward. It is a time pregnant with opportunity and for avoiding merely settling into old patterns. Every new adventure brings sights not seen before in this lifetime. Every new connection is ripe with the joy of discovery.

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What about you? When you have relocated or undertaken a Big Move, how did you go about using it as an opportunity for Better Endings? Or if you have yet to take such a step, with retirement or changing a job or your environment, how might you prepare?

I welcome YOUR Comments and Story!

Is it All, or Nothing? Our Choice of Attitude Helps Determine Our Experience

Happy Sad Switch Showing That Happiness Is Important

Today I explored the opposing attitudes of Expansive vs. Narrow. It was an amazing day!  First, I woke to not being able to reply to folks who started “following” on Twitter by following these kindred souls in turn. Even though I had not reached a limit for following, I was mysteriously restricted from doing so: a contraction and narrowing of opportunity.  So, I went to the office and dealt with some restrictiveness there in my role as department chair. I accepted both of these, figuring that with some patience I could eventually work things out. I acted to query customer service about the Twitter constraint, and I worked on a needed document to try to ‘open’ a matter at the department. Then, I went to write; my real goal for the day.Everything shifted in my attitude.  The editing process expanded a chapter that was in need of a fix, and I found myself sitting next to a writing group whose members all had positive experiences to share around their writing. When I came home, I cleaned house a bit (another expansive experience), and when I checked email in the midst of cleaning, not only had the Twitter problem been resolved but there was actually an “offer to publish your blog as a paperback”! We’ll see what happens, but what matters here is that I experienced the clear difference between the effects of two opposing attitudes. By remaining neutral about the ‘negative’ side rather than reacting by ‘closing’ my heart, I was able to shift to the positive, and then it felt like the universe Itself followed suit! This demonstrates the Law of Attitudes, which is such an important aspect of creating Better Endings in our lives, yes?

With my life mapping interviews and coaching, I have seen how two people might experience very similar life experiences, yet their attitudes can lead them to very opposite responses which have very different consequences in their lives. John (pseudonyms used), for example, was an author who had felt “paralyzed” in his life since a car accident that followed a series of losses and setbacks in his life. Doctors had not found anything medically wrong. John’s Life Metaphor (his answer to ‘What is a human lifetime like?) was: “A tree stuck in the mud beside a flowing stream.” Ever since a romantic failure, every event John recorded in his Life Map seemed to dig for him a deeper and deeper hole that he had fallen into. John arrived at a fatalistic view of life, and all of his experiences appeared to validate that point of view.

Then there was Ambrosia. She had been dealing with a chronic intestinal condition for many years. With one outbreak, her condition was so dire that she ended up in a hospital. It was touch and go one night at the hospital whether she would live until the morning. As part of the life mapping process, I ask people to rate the relative impact of significant events in their lives, from “-5” to “+5” (or, one event could be rated as both positive or negative in its impact on “the person you have become”). When I asked Ambrosia to rate her critical night at the hospital, immediately she exclaimed, “+5!”

       “But, why?” I asked, mystified.

Ambrosia told me of how she had experienced a profound vision, like a Near Death Experience, that night at the hospital. An Inner Guide appeared to her and told her she could leave (pass on) if she chose to, but he told her there was much she could still accomplish in her life if she chose to stay.

Ambrosia told her Guide that she would only stay, “If I could get back the passion for life I used to have.”

      “You can!” he said.

      “All that glitters is not Gold,” Ambrosia said to her Inner Guide.

      “That is true; But anything CAN be,” was his sage reply.

      “Okay, then,” she said to him, and then she awoke.

After that night, Ambrosia survived and, gradually, she healed. She did regain the “Passion for Life” she sought, returning to school for two advanced degrees since then and becoming a leader in her local spiritual community for several years.

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John and Ambrosia have come to symbolize for me how attitudes can determine the “flow” of life experience.  Quite often I find with these and other life mapping cases that people can experience a Sea Change in their life patterns when they allow themselves to shift their Attitude about life overall.

How? You may ask. Look in your own life for more examples. (Of course, feel free to share your stories here, if you’d like!)

I do find that almost always, a major positive shift in life pattern follows a profound change in OUTLOOK, whether from something like Ambrosia’s NDE or from a conscious move in a new direction; a choice to create a new condition.

Better Endings to You, Now and Always! – Linda

CHOICES FOR THE SOUL HAĪBUN, by Brenda Davis Harsham

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The church is near but the road is all ice;

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

Russian Proverb

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

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

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

Again, “No and no.”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Copyright 2014 Brenda Davis Harsham

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

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

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

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

What Then?

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What are better choices? If we can assume that a choice is meant to bring us to a desired state of being rather than to a less desirable condition, then first we need to consider what the destination is that we hope to arrive at through our choice, and then the ‘right’ direction should be more clear. No one else, though, can tell us what is the ‘right’ course to take. A better choice is one that ‘rings true’ with your own deepest self.

I remember when I had a choice to make of what college to attend after high school. I had applied to and been accepted by three universities in the State University of New York system. I visited all three but that only made my choice more difficult, as each had special qualities I liked. Someone gave me a good idea which helped a lot. I wrote positive and negative considerations in two columns for all 3 choices and then I looked to see objectively which choice had the most positive aspects listed. But then, I asked myself how I felt about that choice, and I knew instinctively that the one with the most ‘positives’ was not the one my heart was interested in.  I chose the college closest to home because I wanted to maintain some cherished friendships. That proved to be obviously the right choice for me, down the road.

Here is a poem by William Butler Yeats about ‘better choices’:

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?’

Yeats’ poem has an almost eerie quality to it in relation to the matter of discerning ‘better choices’. How can we choose proactively rather than having to look back in retrospect to see whether our choice has led to personal fulfilment, or not? Some of you might be familiar with the book The Journey of Souls by Dr. Michael Newton. This book puts the topic of better choices into a much larger scope. It deals –(whatever your personal approach, this book brings in  reincarnation as described under hypnosis by people being regressed)–with the question of whether in a given lifetime we have fulfilled our goal or learned our lessons of that lifetime! A more popular example of this idea is in the fun movie “Defending Your Life”, one of my favorites. Here, Albert Brooks plays a man who never takes risks, and in death he is put on trial, literally, to defend whether he made enough progress to “move on” or not. Meanwhile he has fallen in love in this afterlife realm with a character played by  Meryl Streep who has been a real hero in her life so she will obviously graduate to a higher plane! I like the general question being posed by both of these, and Yeats’ poem too. What is your life purpose? Why are YOU Here, in the largest sense, not just day to day?

My notion is that we should not wait until we are elderly, or until we pass on, to ask ourselves what we would really like to be fulfilling NOW, with THIS life, whatever the afterlife might have in store. (And BTW, what might be fulfilling to one might be as simple as an act of kindness  or learning to give love unconditionally.)  Here and Now we do have some control over our conscious choices. For myself I intend to ‘accomplish’ all I can spiritually, and take that forward.

Do you have a Life Dream? That may be all the North Star you need to arrive at your own better choices.

Where To From Here? So Many Choices…

Neutral interior decoration plan with swatches

Tuesday (instead of Wednesday, starting today) is Prompts Day at Better Endings. I invite you to journal/ write about, talk about, or actively imagine and contemplate about one or more situations in your life–past, present or future–that relate to this week’s topic of “better choices“. Do any of the situations listed below remind you of a time when you chose a better ending instead of a self-limiting perspective or habit? Or maybe you made a “wrong choice” by your own estimation at some point; how did you adjust and grow from that? What sorts of choices have generally helped you or hindered you in the pursuit of your interests or goals?

Some possible situations calling for Better Choices:

  • what job to take or walk away from
  • what career to pursue/ Major in college, etc.
  • where to live?
  • relationships?
  • lifestyle choices
  • social scene
  • foods
  • habits
  • pathways
  • life changing choices
  • circumstances ‘beyond your control’
  • renovations (e.g. what color to paint your house)
  • attitudes
  • cars, material possessions
  • your next words
  • travel opportunities
  • pets
  • friends

Also today, have you noticed the “Better Endings Quote” panel at the bottom of our site? The Rumi poem, “A Voice through the Door”, speaks to me personally about choices. It seems to be saying that better choices come to you from within, rather than from someone or anything external. Follow Your Heart. Which reminds me: I welcome and thank you if you are “Following” (or just stopping by) Better Endings. Happily, it is the principle of Better Endings itself that you are following; I am following that principle with gratitude for my own inner guidance, too!

Please send your Comments below. I welcome your Better Endings story this week about a time when you made a better choice; or, not! Please submit your story (by Saturday night) for inclusion as a Story of the Week.

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At a Crossroads?

Road to nowhere

This week’s Better Endings topic is better choices. Choices are opportunities to steer your ship more consciously in the direction of…your choice! They are crossroads, bridges between one state of affairs and potentially another. Therefore our choices are golden keys we can use to open new doors, to enter new vistas of experience and change; or, not.

I love the final scene of Castaway. (Well, okay, that’s after I got over the fact that Chuck had to let go of Kelly; and that she never finished her Ph.D..) After surviving his 5 year ordeal of being marooned and barely surviving, Chuck is shown to be at a literal crossroads along a dusty Western road. He is free–if not in another sense potentially adrift or stranded again–; free to start a new life in any direction he might choose. But then Spirit or the universe offers a sign: the same picture of angel wings that he had used to make the “sail” by means of which he had escaped his captivity on the island. Chuck senses intuitively that this sign indicates the right direction for him to follow, because it reveals synchronicity, events lining up in an unpredictably ‘connected’ way.

This week’s life mapping activity lines up well with our topic of better choices. Among all of the 12 or so significant life events you wrote down last week (or could this week; see last week’s Life Mapping Activity in the Category archives to catch up), some of these influential, shaping moments were more “critical” than others, right? Your Critical Life Events  (CLE’s) are those that have been so extremely impactful in your life that you might feel you were not quite the same person even, before and after that event or situation occurred. Critical events of that magnitude are your life’s Turning Points. They are real chapter turners.

So this week we will focus on Turning Point sorts of opportunities for making “better choices”. How have you typically approached the major choices and transitions in your life? Have some of the most critical events in your life so far felt like they were beyond your own control? How does choice factor in with those circumstances, in retrospect? How much choice do you have, really, in various kinds of situations, and how can you make the very best choices possible so that, now, if you choose!, you can begin to align your choices with your conscious intention to manifest Better Endings?

Transformations and Turning Points

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A funny thing happened while blogging this week. Guest Blogs are usually published on Thursdays; I posted Rebekah Shardy’s “Better Endings…or Better Character?”  yesterday, instead of today. Only last night did I even realize I had varied the schedule. It felt right to post Rebekah’s insights yesterday about how character drives endings in fiction, especially after sharing about my own personal decision to finish college instead of moving to NYC to chase a youthful fantasy.

Today then I will share a Wednesday post: a bucket list of possible types of decisions we can reflect on that could have led to ‘alternate’ life conditions.  Let me add one idea here from my Life Paths Mapping practice: Isn’t it interesting how decision points are so often the Life Chapter punctuation marks that become Turning Points in our own Life Stories?  Like a classic myth–or any good fiction–the protagonist, which can be you or me, comes to a crossroads and is faced with a choice: either continue on our established path or make a mindful new decision that can alter the course of our destiny. (Or, third, tweak the established course to be in better accord with our current awareness.)

So, here are some common decision points you may have encountered or might yet in the future. Can you imagine–journal about, write a story about, or visualize, talk about or contemplate–a Better Endings scenario? What is your decision, either now or as re-visioned, based on? How does your own inner character inform and motivate your choices?

  • Who to be best friends with in childhood?
  • Which group to sit with at lunch in the school cafeteria?
  • What extracurricular clubs or activities to take part in during high school?
  • whether to go to college or to what form of work?
  • what major to pursue in college?
  • whether to marry your first ‘true love’?
  • whether to pursue a romantic connection with someone you did not pursue or whose advances you declined?
  • whether to take a risk (you fill in which)?
  • whether to follow a whim?
  • where to live when a clear choice presented itself; whether to move/ change jobs/ travel?
  • what to believe in, and how?

Please feel free to Comment (Leave a Reply in the box below) with additional prompts for flexing our skills at creative re-visioning. Please also submit your stories; the deadline for the weekly topic stories to be shared is Saturday.  And please, I hope you have seen by now that Better Endings is a Safe Space for all. I respect all perspectives and encourage all points of view to be shared as we dialogue and learn from each other. Have fun exploring this weekly topic of Personal Decisions. What might have happened IF/ WHEN/ or COULD if you only IMAGINE?

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