Expanding Horizons

Travel is a common Life Theme people identify with life mapping. Quite often, Travel themes appear as ‘spikes’ in a Life Map–punctuation points, as it were, that usher in new change potentials after the Travel events have occurred.

Travel, whether for planned vacations or for a major relocation, really can bring variety and spice to the adventure of being alive! When we venture forth to experience new environments and encounter new people or forge new relationships, we expand the horizons of our points of view in subtle and sometimes also in dramatic proportions.

Taking the much needed vacation may afford a “time out of time” effect. This is vital for shaking out your routine enough to allow new ideas to take shape for when you return Home.

images are from pixabay.com

I welcome YOUR Comments and STORY!

Fruition!

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Ideation–Goal-Setting—Planning—Development/Learning—Trials/Practice—Implementation—Fulfillment–Fruition!  Such is the process of Creative Manifestation, and I must admit, I love it. There is no feeling more satisfying to me (right up there with sharing timespace with my pets and family and friends) than arriving at Fruition for some worthwhile, service-oriented project.

I say service, and that is important to me.  It is not only a PRODUCT that is generated through a manifestation process that lights me up, but to be worthwhile there must also be a SERVICE brought to fruition. The product must serve the whole in a positive, growth-enhancing manner; that lights my fire!

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My father (bless his Soul, I dreamed of him this morning) used to tell me: “If you’re going to be a ditch digger, then be the best darned ditch digger you can be!” Dad worked his way through college at Ohio State University just after serving as a bomber pilot in the Pacific in WWII by digging ditches for a telephone cable service.

I recall myself similarly working for college tuition over two summers as the sole farmhand for a farmer’s peach orchard and grape vineyards in New York state. Coming home at the end of a grueling, hot day in the orchard or dragging the vineyards on a tractor brought the same feeling of Fruition that I later associate with planning and implementing a seminar or public outreach service for my spiritual organization, and seeing my book, Your Life Path –with deep thanks to my agent, editor and publicist team!!–, going to production this week!

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images are gratefully from pixabay.com

I will be graduating (er, retiring) from full-time academic service as a professor this summer after teaching for nearly forty years altogether, and that will of course bring a major project to fruition.  I have accomplished what I set out to do over the past 25 years at my present post in many respects, and I will go forth still teaching but focusing full-time on writing and related services for a wider field of sharing. I intend for my final blog when I leave this post in Academe this June to be titled:

Mischief Managed!

What brings YOU to a feeling of Fruition or of successful Completion? What service project are you working on Now that will light YOU up again for the good of the Whole?

To me, this image of LIGHTING YOUR FIRE through bringing a worthy project to Fruition is apt: for Fruition lets us tap into that Holy Fire which empowers us to light the world through our service.

I welcome YOUR Comments and Story!

Marry Your Future, with a Vision Board!

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Maybe this is a bit of a stretch for our topic this month of The Sacred Marriage, but I find myself sitting at my office desk and looking at my bulletin board that I realize I have turned into a Vision Board.  I have embarked upon my final year of teaching before publishing my book, Your Life Path, and then retiring and relocating to focus full-time on writing and life mapping services.

I pilot every life mapping tool that I will be introducing with this book, and the art of “future casting” is a big part of this approach.  Any form of creative envisioning of what I like to call your future Lifescapes can be helpful to you in manifesting the life conditions you desire to express.

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On my Vision Board bulletin board I have the poem Ithaca by Cavafy (You can click on the Youtube video embedded below, narrated by Sean Connery!):

I also have a collage of images that represent my journey ahead to realize my Life Dream.  It shows my future ambitions and goals:

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To create your own Vision Board, simply imagine!  What CORE VALUES do you intend (not simply wish for or hope to do, but INTEND) to establish in your future Dream Come True?  Even if your most desirable future is the life you are living Now, what core values are you manifesting that you intend to extend and embellish further on the road ahead?

Goal setting is not about–or need not involve, anyway–LINEAR THINKING.  By focussing on VALUES rather than specific, material objectives, you remain open and flexible to however the Universe or Spirit fills your mold.

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You can write your future values or conditions you intend to live into onto a poster board or in Publisher on a blank page on your computer. Then find (or draw or paint in) pictures online or in magazines that represent these values and conditions, and place them on your Vision Board in a manner that feels right to you. You can also cut out or cut and paste words and phrases onto your collage.

I like to create my Future Casting Collages (BTW, do several! The future is not cast in stone!) to represent my pathway from where I am Now to the future Now I aim to create around me.

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images (other than my own) are from pixabay.com

I invite and welcome your Comments and Stories!

I would invite your collages to share, but actually I recommend you hold these close and share them mainly with your loved ones. Your VISION is your own; nurture it well and it will be!

Build a Bridge to Your Destiny

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Who Are You? How did you get where you are today? Where are you wanting to go from here? How will you get there?

Here’s a quick creative Tool to help you discover a pathway to a desired next step that you might feel it is too hard to attain:

On a piece of construction paper of a color you associate with Fulfillment, paste or draw an image of a BRIDGE. This can be any sort of bridge you choose, but make sure it is strong, a bridge that will definitely convey you from one side (where you are now) to another (where you wish to “belong”).

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You can place or draw images of where you are and of where you wish to arrive at as a destination on either side of the bridge.

On or above the Bridge Path itself, place action words, phrases or images that are actual steps or transitions you CAN make in the foreseeable future that can lead you clearly n the direction of your goal.

For example, “pay off debt” or “exercise 2 times per week” or “write a chapter outline” could be statements you write on the bridge.

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images are from pixabay.com

Then, DO THIS!  Place one action before you that  is easy to set into motion and let that motion carry you over the bridge, across a threshold to your desirable new state or condition.

I welcome YOUR comments or story!

Time Out of Time

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With this month’s theme of the Call to Adventure, I offer you an invitation. Do something amazing this week or even today: take ‘time out of time’ to take or plan for an Adventure!

Julia Cameron in The Artist’s Way suggested taking yourself on an “artist’s date” at least once per week. For her that meant do something out of the ordinary that can stimulate your Inner Artist.   Take a different way home from work, go to a movie, or do anything that departs from your normal routine.

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Likewise I invite you to exercise your creative license; to play Hookie, not necessarily once per week but when you hear the Call!

When I was a senior in high school, although I was a good student and enjoyed my classes, about once every couple of weeks I skipped classes and left campus altogether! Usually on these ‘hookie’ excursions I simply hoofed it: I walked 3 miles or so to my home town. There I would loaf about, meandering and most importantly journaling, then later in the day I often visited a special mentor who had taught me fencing and since then talked with me about everything from reading and writing to music, religion and philosophy.

These outings were delightfully self-liberating ‘times out of time.’ They allowed me time to play, to creatively explore my own freedom.  During a formative time of my life this self-liberation was a launching pad for my eventual life career and creativity.

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images are from pixabay.com

So go ahead, play hookie!  Shake up the old routine in any way you can! You might find new answers, new pathways of adventure that can lead you to wondrous new frontiers!

I welcome your comments and stories.

Celebrate Your Mentors!

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What have you learned from the Mentors in your life, and from when you have mentored others? A mentor is a Teacher (of the TEACHER Archetype), yet the Mentor is a specific kind of a Teacher; one who imparts Wisdom, not just knowledge on a subject. So the Mentor is often paired archetypally as a TEACHER/MYSTIC character, such as Gandalf in Lord of the Rings, Glinda in The Wizard of Oz, or Dumbledore at Hogwarts.

This week I invite you to make a list of some of your primary Mentors.  I encourage you to contemplate and/or journal about their influences on “the person you have become.”

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I will share about just one of several key mentors from my life; I will call her Dr. T, or Bonnie. Bonnie was a philosophy professor at my undergraduate college. I first met her while I was a student in a class on Creative Studies. She was a guest professor that day who was to speak with us about the philosophy of creativity. I arrived a half hour early to our class that day (held in a lounge sort of area where we students often liked to ‘hang out’ even apart from classes there).  Dr. T. was already there, too, sitting with a student who majored in art and who had brought a papier mache figure of a human being he had created in an art class that day.

“How the *x*x* did you do that!?”

These were the first words I ever heard uttered by Dr. T.

“I mean, I could never do that; how could YOU?”

She persisted. The student was stunned, as was I, at this encounter. Soon others arrived and the class began.  Bonnie proceeded to explain her profound appreciation for the creative process this student had drawn upon to envision and then manifest his vision in an artistic form. From that day on I became fascinated with Dr. T. I took several philosophy classes with her and several Independent Study classes as well. I even came to mother-sit for Bonnie’s elderly mother for two or three years before I graduated and left Buffalo for Arizona.

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Of many insightful lessons I learned from my Mentor, here are two:

Dr. T. took a nap every afternoon at her old-style, stone and oak Buffalo house. She slept in a small room on a single bed like a cot. One day she told me:

“Every day, I swim in the Ocean!”

I remember her telling me this one wintry Buffalo afternoon when I had arrived to mother-sit.  I understood she was telling me that she dove into a deep contemplative state every day with her nap.

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Another time she told me how when her son was young, one day while they were sitting under an oak tree in a park, she picked up an acorn and asked her son to hold it in his hand.

“There is God!,” Bonnie proclaimed.

From then on I understood why she had furnished her home completely with used oak furniture from Salvation Army. She loved the sturdy Oak Tree as a symbol of mature spiritual wisdom.

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images are from pixabay.com

After I left for graduate school in Arizona, I touched base a few times with Dr. T., but sparingly.  One time she told me she had started painting with oils in her retirement.  Like Van Gogh, she told me, she painted with full tubes of paint instead of with brushes. A local gallery had held a showing of her works. To the end Bonnie expressed her passion as a spiritual Being fully and with gusto!

How the *x*x* did she do that? I have ever since emulated Dr. Bonnie’s integrity and drive to create, to thrive, to truly BE.

I invite YOUR Comments and Story!

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Adult Coloring—Try It, You Might Like It!

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Last week while I was at a bookstore I counted something like twenty-five different adult coloring books on just one wall of book shelves. Mandalas, Mehndis, Botanicals, Mindfulness patterns, Geometric designs, Calming Art, Color Therapy, Nordic Designs, Labyrinths, Celtic designs, Tesselations, Whimsical Gardens, even Ancient Alchemy Coloring, as just a few examples, can all be found at the Barnes & Noble bookstore or at Amazon.com.  This trend has exploded in just a few years to become a mainstream hobby or meditative practice.

Coloring by these ‘mystical patterns’ are claimed to reduce stress, calm the nerves, and unblock one’s creative resources.

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I can attest to the veracity of these claims. For several years I have at intervals colored Celtic designs, labyrinths, and Mandalas. For six months as I was healing from a broken relationship and preparing for a big move, I colored an entire book of Mandalas and taped them onto my bedroom wall, filling the entire wall.  I found that in the PROCESS of coloring a Mandala, which colors to use came to me intuitively, and invariably I infused the drawing with a meaning that pertained directly to some aspect of my life experience or current feelings.

I felt that these colored images I immersed in “said it all,” expressing a secret language of the Soul that did bring understanding and healing. They allowed me a mode of holistic communication that felt integrative of my various feelings and archetypal energies and they helped me “make sense” of what was happening in my life.

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I invite you simply print this blog post, magnify the images below on a copy machine, and try your own hand and Heart at one or all of the images below. You can use colored pens or crayons to color at your leisure. (These are all free images from pixabay.com). I invite you to share here your insights about your experience!

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Lessons to Glean from your Inner Teacher

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As an educator for nearly forty years, and always a student as well, I have had many opportunities to learn from my inner TEACHER Archetype Ally, also from my ‘outer’ teachers, and from both inner and outer Spiritual Guides I have discovered and welcome within my ever developing consciousness. Teaching is a way of life dedicated to serving All Life and to stimulating progressive unfoldment toward manifesting personal ideals and values, or indeed, ‘better endings.’

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Some of my own lessons gleaned from the PRACTICE of Teaching include:

Flexibility: This is the greatest tool I feel that a Teacher will demonstrate often.  Whatever the lesson plan might be, you must meet the student aspirants where they are at. Every student and every class has their own character and begins at their own level based on their prior experience and goals. What worked once before with teaching a lesson or a topic might not fit the needs of the current student or class, so you must respond with a new approach, tailored to the interests and needs of the individual as well as the group. Generationally these needs change and develop over time, so as you continue to teach, you must become ever more flexible too.

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Listening: Empathy is a strong Teacher trait that develops from the skill of listening closely to the questions—and attending to responses or actions—of your individual student. Why does a student choose their specific research topic; what is it they are hoping therefrom to learn or to discover? Why does a student resist a given lesson? Is their personal background experience leading them to assert a certain approach? How can you ALLOW that which the student is there to learn of their own character? You are in this sense but a willing servant the student has chosen tohelp them take their next steps in understanding, inspiration, or self-discipline. Reveal to them the tools they can use to take their own next step forward.

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Goal-setting: Education is a progressive process of setting out to experience ever-new vistas and horizons. Whatever we learn fertilizes the grounds for further learning in a never-ending adventure. The Teacher helps the aspirant to establish their own aspirations and to attain realizations of their goals, of any form. Whether the Goal is one of DOing, KNOWing, or BEing, the Teacher serves as a positive example of one who shows there is always a Way to manifest worthy goals.

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 Creativity: Whatever the topic of study or art, the Teacher fosters creativity, not simply sterile methods or rote repetition of facts or ideas. Ultimately the Teacher must stand back to facilitate the student’s own inner Teacher potentials. For when the class is over and the student has graduated, the student must have gained their own capacity to proceed forth to successfully encounter new challenges and opportunities on their own.  In fostering creative abilities in the student, the Teacher also shows their own willingness to learn; to encourage the student to become the Teacher, and so Life itself continues to unfold and adapt.

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What have YOU learned from developing your own archetypal Teacher traits? How do you share this with others in your life? The outer Teacher—while genuinely someone who has developed the knowledge and skills you aim to comprehend and use—is also in a sense but a projection of your own inner Teacher potentials, so that learning is as standing before a Mirror to perceive and unfold your own inherent, latent qualities, especially when you seek to learn from a well advanced instructor or Guide.  

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images from pixabay.com

Authentic teaching/learning is self-tailored; the Teacher becomes a transparency through which you find your own Way. While this may seem to characterize especially those spiritual forms of Teacher you might aim to emulate, every Teacher is THE Teacher, the Teacher in YOU, too.  And so the true TEACHER demonstrates detachment and humility, knowing in the end it is YOUR process you seek to advance, YOUR lessons that the Teacher is charged to help you to teach yourself in such manner as you can unfold the knowledge and  the capacity to proceed forward on your own and share with others.

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I welcome YOUR reflections and stories!

 

Follow Your Positive Inner Nudges

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As a follow up from Tuesday’s post inviting you to state a question for which you would like to receive a sign, I applied this tool myself this week to amazing results. I wrote out my question, stating that I would be looking for either a clear Yes or No as a sign.  I then typed the question itself into the Google search bar and guess what came up? A website that offers a Yes/No Oracle! I posed the question there and got the answer I would have hoped for; then I cross-checked with a second question and the site gave an appropriate answer to that. I then typed another related question into the Google search bar and it brought up new information I have needed that further corroborated the “oracle” responses. This is a set of questions I have been pondering about for several months, so it is certainly interesting how this exercise unfolded. Sometimes all we have to do is Ask so that spirit or the universe can meet us halfway. Whatever happens, I received what I needed Now in order to proceed with a major project with greater confidence.

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On a related note, in addition to signs that can appear to answer your questions, what of the inner nudges you receive? Have you experienced a time when you received an inner nudge but didn’t follow it? How might things have turned out differently if you had? Even the slightest nudge to take a new way home from work or to say something meaningful to a loved one could bring unanticipated, positive results. I once had a nudge while returning from a road trip that told me to go back to a spot I had just passed where a dead rabbit was in the road. It was a strong nudge, so I followed it. When I got there, a couple was parked. They were taking pictures of the scenic beauty. They watched as I carefully removed the rabbit’s body off from the road. Then as I drove on again, guess what? I witnessed a bear cub crossing the road right in front of my car; a rare beauty! I had asked inwardly before the trip to see a bear. So following this nudge put me in precisely the right place at the right time. Only seconds would have made a difference.

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What has happened for you when you followed a clear nudge? Of course we can all think of times when a split second decision could be the difference of meeting a spouse, or not, or something of that magnitude.

Can you distinguish between a clear inner nudge and just a random impulse? How can you best tune in to recognize your nudges? Any form of regular contemplative practice can help you to remain aware and attentive to your inner nudges. You can develop a knack for sensing which ones to follow. I think it helps to add non-habitual activities to your life when you can. Julia Cameron’s THE ARTIST’S WAY offers a great tool that she calls “weekly artist’s dates.” She invites you to practice doing something different and fun at least once a week. Exercising fresh pathways can open your creative wellspring to gush to the surface so you can remain open and flexible when those creative nudges arise.

I welcome your insights and stories!

You are the Dreamer

God grant me the serenity

To accept the things I cannot change,

The courage to change the things I can,

And the wisdom to know the difference.

–Reinhold Niebuhr

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Last Sunday I shared how using Life is a But a Dream as a mantra the night before led me to a receptive state so that my inner guidance could communicate with me about stopping my habit of drinking soda. Then a few nights later, after having stayed away from sodas but thinking I could still drink IZZE drinks (carbonated natural fruit drinks), guess what? I dreamed I was drinking one of these then read the label; it said SODA in big letters on the front of the bottle. I poured out the rest in my dream and woke with chagrin. No more fooling myself; if I want this inner help, I need to follow it!

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So here’s a technique many use, called the “15 times technique”. Write out a positive affirmation fifteen times every day. Let’s try this with our weekly Life Metaphor:

“Life is But a Dream”

Life is but a dream

Life IS but a Dream

LIFE is but a dream

Life is but a DREAM

Life is but a dream

Life is BUT a dream

Life is but A dream

LIFE IS BUT A DREAM

life is but a dream

Life Is But A Dream

LIFE… is but a DREAM

life IS BUT a dream

Life is but a Dream

Life… is… but… a… Dream!

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What does this statement evoke, for you?  For me, it opens a realm of unlimited freedom and possibility. As in a nightly dream, all things are possible in your waking dream as well.  As some nightly dreams recur–but can change as we alter our awareness—our daily life reveals patterns of thought and behavior that we  can also change by becoming more aware or mindful of our recurring attitudes and habitual behavior.

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As YOU are the DREAMER of your own life, you have the license and the responsibility to change or improve what you can. So, take stock of where your current waking dream is taking you.  Where would you like it to lead?  Dream it and it can BE!

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I welcome your comments and stories!

The Descender in You

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shared from LIORA www.twinflame1111.com  

Within each of us reside The Twelve: universal archetypal energy modes or traits that affect our development of character throughout our lives. These twelve show up in the social roles we enact in connection with our relationships and our activities; in our job or career ‘personas’ at work, in our dreams and daydreams or fiction writing, in our sports, hobbies, service roles, spirituality, travel, and at rest. Have you noticed how you might “shift gears” from one role perspective to another, drawing upon or expressing different inflections of your dynamic, diverse Self? Do you sometimes even hear ‘voices’ that seem to come from somewhere within yourself yet that are distinctly focussed on a specific intention?

Your archetypal inner cast of character modes dwell both in the Above and the Below. They are interwoven with your day to day presentation of Self, as the sociologist Erving Goffman would describe, yet they also inhabit or perhaps more properly “live” within your personal (and collective) unconscious, realms of IMAGE and STORY; the same realms in which many of your most significant dreams unfold.  These are real energy modes or beings; parts of your very Self that have formed out of universal primordial energies interacting with the development of your identity over time and across situations.

Archetypal character forms can have both positive and/or negative sorts of influences on the person you are in any given context; upon the person you have become til now and are becoming. We can refer to the positive archetypal traits that show up in your conscious attitudes and behavior as Strengths. Each archetypal part-of-Self may also have its Shadow side pertaining to your fears or inhibitions or negative tendencies.

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The Twelve universal archetype character modes we will be exploring this year are based on the archetypal psychology works of Dr. Charles Bebeau and archetypal psychotherapists Nin Bebeau and Debra J. Breazzano (whose works I will present further in my book and handbook, Life Paths. The twelve, organized vertically according to their associated Elements (Earth, Air, Fire, Water) and horizontally according to their energy modes (Originating, Maintaining, Dissolving), are:

ELDER LEADER   ARTIST   TEACHER

LOVER   IDEALIST   COMMUNICATOR

WARRIOR   GOLDEN CHILD   HEALER

NURTURER   DESCENDER   MYSTIC

Since these 12 have astrological associations according to Dr. Bebeau, who bases these on ancient Sumerian astrological and mythological figures, I will introduce them here according to their main astrological month. Hence, being November/ in Scorpio, I will begin this week by introducing the DESCENDER.

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The Descender archetype is not the same as what Jung would call the Shadow. In fact, all twelve of the universal archetype modes have Shadow forms, including the Descender; yet Descender also brings positive Strengths to our building and expression of Self.

So, who is the DESCENDER in You?

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Your Descender might show up in your dreams as someone or something literally dwelling in a “below” or interior place, like a basement or cave. Or you might see the Descender in your dreams or daydreams as one who engages in Descent, going “Down” from one place or stage to a deeper, lower, darker domain. As well as in your dreams, your Descender energy may show up in your waking life in relation to particular situations or circumstances. You can learn much from when your Descender appears.

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As a fairly introvertive person, I have a lot of the Descender in me, both consciously in my outer self-expression and unconsciously/ inwardly. I see my Descender usually as a young girl in my dreams; I feel her as a young girl who lives in a low-lit space like the lower level of a tri-level home in the body of my self-identity. She is largely a loner, though connected closely with my conscious Self like a protected–and protective–daughter. She is an observer of my outer activities but prefers not to participate directly with most of the people-interactions I maintain from day to day. My very special friends are her friends, too, though, so she takes more part in our activities with them, like hiking, playing games, talking deeply or going to a movie.

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“Oddly”, I have always preferred to sleep in Descender sorts of spaces. As a child, when not sharing a bedroom with my older sister, I preferred to sleep on my father’s old army cot, either in the basement or in an unfinished attic. This gave freedom to my very imaginative Descender–I call her Lindy. She loves the texture of such dark spaces. These dark, quiet spaces I share with her provide a portal for my creative ideas and fantasies. I would often sneak out when I slept in my family’s basement as a teen, just to slip out into the fertile darkness of the night. I experienced there a natural freedom and sense of adventure upon which Lindy thrives.

Still today, I live in a tri-level home. Two fully furnished bedrooms are in the upper level where my housemate sleeps, but I sleep downstairs on a futon, with my pets. In this ‘descent’ zone, every night I contemplate, write in my journals, and dream!

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Who is Your DESCENDER? What is s/he like? When does s/he appear in your life? Do you constrain, resist, or express your Descender inclinations? What name might you give her or him? How does s/he appear in significant dreams you have had?

What have you learned or could you gain from listening to and nurturing your Descender? What Strengths does s/he bring to you? Does s/he also hold some of your fears or negative antisocial tendencies?

Remember to acknowledge and to love and care for the Descender part of yourself. My goal for us all this year in this blog in recognizing our archetypal facets of Self is to gradually integrate and unify these aspects as an Ensemble Cast of Archetype Allies.

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I invite your Comments and Stories!

 

 

Life Is… Your Golden Opportunity!

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Welcome to Year Two of Life Paths for Better Endings.Here we explore approaches to Life Mapping and other self-help modalities to help you enhance your Life Path by envisioning and manifesting “better endings”.  Two key concepts that are helpful for establishing a positively oriented Life Path–i.e.one that will empower you to realize your Life Dream–are Better Endings Life Path Metaphors, on one hand, and active imagination to harness the strengths of your own unconscious archetypal character strengths associated with the Life Themes you have already developed in your life experience.

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This year, I will be inviting you to creatively explore these two elements of anyone’s Life Path in some depth. Each month we will explore one Life Path Metaphor that frames a positive orientation, and each month we will encounter and get to know one  of 12 Universal Archetypes that were first introduced into Archetypal Psychology by Dr.Charles Bebeau–along with his wife Nin and co-teacher Debra J. Breazzano–at the former Archetypal Academy in Boulder, Colorado. These Twelve universal archetypal character figures exist at least unconsciously in everyone, though the form and prominence of these twelve will vary from person to person.

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As we experience recurring Life Themes, or KINDS of life events in our lives, we develop strengths–or, sometimes, challenges or inhibitions–with regard to specific aspects of these 12 primary archetypal character modes. For example, if you are aMother, you may be strengthening your Nurturer archetypal character traits; or if you are a teacher, the Teacher archetype may help you to enact this role in the classroom.According to CHarles Bebeau there are also astrological associations with these Twelve that derive from Sumerian mythology and astrology. So, we will focus on the Archetype each month that corresponds mainly with that astrological period.

So, let’s get started!

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Our first Better Endings Life Path Metaphor, that we will focus on from now until December, is:

Life Is...Your Golden Opportunity

So allow me to introduce this metaphor by reference to a very meaningful envisioning experience in my own life, one that propelled me to develop the entire approach that this blog–and the book, Life Paths, that it serves to introduce–represents.  Some fourteen years ago, while I was experiencing what I called at the time a “mid-life crisis,” I went seriously inward for several months, asking for inner guidance.  Was I to remain in an academic career (I’m a professor of cultural anthropology and linguistics in Colorado), or should I quit to focus entirely on my creative writing “calling”?  One morning the answer came through in the form of a clear “wake-up call”.  Plastered before my eyes inwardly was a square white sign with bold black letters, that said:

YOU HAVE THE RESPONSIBILITY

TO REALIZE YOUR DREAMS

NOT JUST FOR GETTING BY

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What a gift! This inner message changed my life.  It told me that I have an OPPORTUNITY to realize my dreams, and that I should aim always to fulfill that opportunity; YOU, TOO!

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So, what is YOUR Golden Opportunity? What are you here to REALIZE or to FULFILL that will meet this responsibility to manifest your LIFE PURPOSE, your LIFE MISSION, your LIFE DREAM? How can you establish a LIFE PATH that will keep you true to this Responsibility to REALIZE YOUR DREAMS?

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This week, I invite you to actively CONTEMPLATE, TALK ABOUT, and/or to JOURNAL about your Golden Opportunity in this life. What IS IT? What are YOU here to Realize? How does this relate to your current life context (job, relationships, spirituality, vocational activities, etcetera), and how can you adjust your life to focus more and more on realizing your Dreams? 

I welcome and will share your Insights (please Comment below) and your Stories!

Later this week, we will continue to explore how your life is a Golden Opportunity! Then, stay tuned  as next week I will introduce our monthly Archetype Ally for November: The Descender. How might these two be related?

Childsplay and Active Imagination Techniques

 

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I consider myself to have been very fortunate as a child to have shared a best friendship with Karin, who was as much interested in creative imagination and adventure as I was. We were so interconnected through “childsplay” of various forms that when I remember my past in this life, I often say that my Childhood WAS Karin (…later extending to Barb, Diane, Ro, Pattie, Franco, Sebrena, Kery, Jan P,  Jan J, my sisters, Corinne, Gianmichele, Zvia, and Kathleen; gratitude for all these human companions, plus always my beloved pets!). But Karin and I had a special latitude in our very actively imaginative play, from when we were around 7 to 12. She lived with her mother in a beautiful, woodsy area in Pennsylvania; there were willow tree vines on which to swing across a creek, and lots of little green clearings within circles of large trees that made excellent forts, or rooms, or spaceships, or hiding places, or worlds. We played outdoors a lot in her yard: we played WWII soldiers, Indians (never cowboys), spies, and horses (that was my fave; we were just horses, wild and free, or one of us–playing a human–would rope and befriend the other, leading to many high spirited adventures!) Then indoors, when not practicing our violins together (we aimed to play “Santa Lucia” together at Carnegie Hall one day), we built elaborate universes, mansions made of Golden Book walls filling the upper and lower areas of a ping pong table at my family’s home. We created lives there for her Barbie, my Ken (yes, always the tomboy…); and we would weave adventurous, intricate life stories for our alter selves extending for over months at a time.

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I am glad I had Karin as my playmate, along with family and other friend adventurers throughout childhood and beyond. I don’t remember ever closing down this creative flow and in fact I can gratefully say it has continued always, through writing, dreaming, daily contemplations, daydreams, reading, and travels. Compiling the Life Paths Portfolio Handbook as a self-help toolkit, based on coaching people who have used this method for their own life mapping adventures, has helped me remain engaged with my own Active Imagination playground!

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One vital tool for using active imagination as a personal growth and development sandbox is to establish an ongoing “Archetype Dialogue” contemplation and journaling practice, which I highly recommend for anyone. This is what Carl G. Jung engaged in, which he in fact called an active imagination process. For Jung it resulted in his The Red Book: Liber Novus, and it spawned his general approach to understanding and working with “Archetypes of the Unconscious.”

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We all can have some access to our unconscious archetypal sub-selves—what I like to call our ensemble cast of mythic characters–through engaging our imaginative faculties and by remaining attentively engaged with our dreams. While some psychologists and others who have read of Jung’s forays into his Unconscious Archetypal domain through active imagination and journaling concluded this was evidence of Jung’s own psychological imbalance, he countered that since he was in control of when he would engage his archetypes and since he used these inner encounters to gain a more balanced and integrated Psyche, quite the opposite was true. Joseph Campbell similarly has cautioned that when people do NOT attend to their inner archetypal impulses, that could result in a form of ‘schizoid’ split in a person from “not listening to” their own inner selves, or Soul.

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 Many scientists, artists, and writers have likewise relied upon active imagination to keep open to the Creative Wellspring within each of us that allows us to be adaptive, flexible, playful, creative and productive in making of our lives that which we would fashion out of choice rather than only of necessity.  It is said that Edison never slept more that 20 or so minute catnaps at a time in order to stay primed at that creative aperture of consciousness between waking and sleeping.  Many artists share how their ideas have come through visions either sought or unexpected, as have scientists such as Kekule, who in 1890 dreamed of a snake swallowing its own tail and thereby developed a model of a benzene ring. Crick, co-discoverer of the structure of DNA with Watson, theorized it is important to use dreaming to ‘forget’ our non-productive or fixed ideas so that the subconscious mind can better explore and reveal its secrets.

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The book and recently released film Heaven is for Real adds a spiritual dimension to the practice of active imagination which I believe is also very important.(Or, read Proof of Heaven by Eben Alexander in this same vein.) OOBE’s, NDE’s, and some forms of dreaming (e.g. lucid dreams, prophetic dreams, past-life dreams, etc.) can reveal to us that there is so much more to Reality—and life and death—than can be understood by physical science alone.

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What are some favorite ways YOU exercise your Active Imagination?

Where does it take you to?

I welcome your Comments, Insights and Reveries!

There Is No Box! A Concept I Live By, by Denise Naughton

Dear readers: Thank you for your patience during a month of Best of Better Endings, while I am finalizing a major project that you will hear about soon. Meanwhile, though, I am re-blogging los=ts i=of the early posts that most readers haven’t seen anyway. Today’s Best of Better Endings is by Denise naughton, whose principle of “There is No Box!” is one I often go back to whenever I begin to think too rigidly. As a Better Endings principle, “There is NO BOX” is a tool for expanding your approach to any situation and opening to greater flexibility… – Linda

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A few years ago a friend of mine, Jay, and I were putting together a talk about some ‘spiritual laws of life’. In order to do the talk well, we decided we should experience at least one of the laws we would talk about very consciously by working with them inwardly. Both of us chose two laws and began doing the work. My two spiritual laws were the ‘law of imperfection’, and the ‘law of progressive continuation’. Both of these principles were in harmony with one another because both imply there is always another step to take—which can be frustrating in one way, but so freeing in another.

Of course we all want a rest, but that rest is always up to us. Let’s say I’ve climbed this mountain, and I’m sitting on the peak to enjoy the accomplishment and the view—literally and metaphorically. Though I’ve never climbed mountains, my brother does, and I’ve read his stories.  The reality is, one can’t sit on the peak for too long—the lack of oxygen, weather moving in, or the need to get off that peak to move on to the next one propels your journey onward.

My grandmother used to say to me that she’d never been bored a day in her life, and she said that almost to the day she passed away. The first time I heard her say that, I decided I would never be bored either. However, I’ve always felt that a constant striving for something better also becomes boring. It can become a sense of restlessness without contentment, without loving the moment of accomplishment.  If I’m always looking outward, then I’m not developing inwardly, and that’s where the real relationship with life begins.

With this workshop, Jay and I wanted to each share a personal statement that came from our deep understanding of the spiritual laws we had been working with. My friend’s statement was that, “Each doorway brings me into a higher state of consciousness.”  I, on the other hand, wasn’t getting anything that excited me, though I could hear the excitement in Jay’s voice over his phrase. It made life sing for him.

How the image of a box came to mind I really don’t remember. I thought about the phrase ‘thinking outside of the box’ as being relevant to the laws of imperfection and progressive continuation, but that phrase bothered me. Somehow it was still a form of containment. Then I realized that what I was aiming for had nothing to do with thinking. It had everything to do with being, which can only be experienced inwardly by the individual, so that even writing about it takes away from the sensation.

Jay and I talked about my dilemma over the phone, and he said he knew without a doubt that I would find the right phrase. I hung up with huge doubts, and walked into another room. In that moment I said, “There is no box,” and with those words my world changed. I actually felt everything line up for me inwardly and suddenly I was standing at the edge of a new world filled with brilliant light and a sound current that I cannot describe. I knew I had found the right phrase. Where else this phrase would take me I didn’t know, but I was ready for the adventure.

I did a great deal of work with that phrase, “There is no box”.  I created workshop exercises around it, and I took it into a daily contemplation. Where it took me initially was turning a talk into a workshop, and with my personal experience and Jay’s we were able to work with other people, helping them to develop their own personal phrase that came from deeply contemplating upon spiritual laws they chose to work with. After doing the workshop three times in Colorado, we were invited to Australia to share it there too, and we received many compliments on how this workshop helped people to move forward in their own quest to take another step.

What I love most about this story is that ever so often someone will come up to me now and say, “There is no box!” Usually it’s when I’ve boxed myself in with fear, and doubt, or an image of what I think something should be rather than what it can be. Having no box takes away limitations and brings nothing but possibilities.

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

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!

Change Your Dreams, Change Your Life!

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Dreaming.  What a mysterious, profound topic. We speak of dreaming as a state of consciousness producing visual activity while our bodies are in R.E.M. sleep. We also speak of our Dreams, as goals we strive to achieve. Day-dreams are flights of the imagination we take while awake, that may help us to envision the fulfillment of our desires and can help us problem-solve in a non-directive way.  Thomas Edison reportedly never really slept; he took catnaps for around twenty minutes at a time to stimulate his creativity and productive dream activity. Lucid dreams allow us to be aware while we are dreaming in a manner that can help us achieve visionary truths, prophetic visions, or to answer questions we are striving to understand. And some speak of “waking dreams” as a form of synchronicity: when an outer event or situation can be interpreted as one would interpret a meaningful dream symbol; bearing a meaningful message.

I dreamed I was a butterfly, flitting around in the sky;

then I awoke.

Now I wonder: Am I a man who dreamt of being a butterfly,

or am I a butterfly dreaming that I am a man?

                                                                                                                                – Zhuangzi

Zhuangzi’s famous riddle reveals a paradox about dreaming. This paradox unifies all of the facets of dreaming mentioned above. If our outer life is as much of a dream as our nightly dreams, which quantum physics and many mystical religious traditions tell us it is, what does that mean for us in terms of what we can do with dreams to fashion “Better Endings”…(or, not)?  Dreaming—whether in our waking life or while ‘sleeping’—is imaginative and constructive. It can allow us to also “de-construct” what might only appear to be fixed or predictable. If we can DREAM something, we can in one manner or another bring that dream into our Reality.

Have you ever awakened from a nighttime dream and felt disturbed about how it ended (or you awoke before it was complete)? One very effective “dreamwork” technique you can use is to go back into that dream and either finish it as you would prefer for it to end, or change the ending! So, here is a connection to our principle of Better Endings. Dreams are the very fabric that our lives are made of. Since you are ultimately the Dreamer of your own life circumstances and conditions, this means that with free will and focused imagination and creativity, you can create the life of your dreams. Well, we do anyway, so we might as well aim to fashion the life we choose to live. Working with our dreams—outer ones and inner ones—brings amazing opportunities. If we can change how an ‘inner dream’ ends, by means of our creative imagination, we can also bring about Better Endings in outer circumstances and conditions, here and now. I do not mean to say that everything is possible, since the conditions we have already created in our lives due to longstanding habits or even genetic predispositions will not quickly or easily “dissolve” just because we dream that they will. Even so, envisioning more positive conditions may lead us to insights or practitioners that can help us to heal or change our habits over time. We are still subject to the constraints of the world we are in, but we can always effect changes in our conditions and attitudes.

This week I invite you to DREAM of Better Endings! And as always, I welcome all of your insights and stories! Poems, random thoughts, artwork, lyrics…all are INVITED!

Friends, For Ever!

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In Pennsylvania, between 2nd grade and 7th, my very best friend was Karin Moody. We learned and played violin together, played outside as being horses, cowboys & Indians, WWII Germans & Americans, Barbie & Ken. We would use ‘golden books’ as walls to build a mansion for our Ken and Barbie dolls on top of and beneath our family’s ping-pong table, then we would play-fantasy in that space for weeks. I was Ken: a secret agent like Napoleon Solo, a millionaire horse rancher, world adventurer, astronaut, teacher, or soldier. Barbie and Ken were best buds. We had plastic horses to ride, and ceramic dogs and cats that turned out to look just like several pet friends I have had in my life later on.

Living in Pennsylvania, we didn’t only have to imagine. There were horse farms all around that we would ride our bikes to. Two ranchers let us kids from the neighborhood clean out stalls, pitch hay, and brush & water the horses. In return we could ride–often bareback–especially the young colts that needed us ‘wee’ riders to break them in for riding.

And there were WOODS–amazing woods, deep woods, with huge boulders, trails and creeks winding through them. In summers we kids nearly lived in those woods. We would pack bag lunches and hike off to our favorite boulders by the creek, clambering on top to have our picnic, then play. We played Star Trek and all sorts of adventure roles. We knew the trees, the plants, how and where to ford the raging creek. We discovered our freedom there, and created a space for childhood solace. Pennsylvania–Penn’s Woods–was a great place to be a kid.

Karin moved to Florida while we were in 6th grade. After 7th grade, I moved with my family to near Niagara Falls. I saved babysitting money all year in 8th grade so I could visit Karin in Ft. Lauderdale, the summer that Neil Armstrong walked on the Moon! Karin visited me once in Niagara Falls, too, but after that, we lost contact and drifted into late teen years and after.

I remember Karin–and her wonderfully supportive, also adventuresome mother, Doris–AS my Childhood. Our friendship was a time for play, a space for dreaming, with limitless hope and imagining. We experienced and envisioned so much together: took trains to downtown movies or to go to the Philadelphia Philharmonic together, just us. We learned to be responsible travelers that way, and stoked our love of freedom and adventure that has never left me, ever since.

No matter what else might have been happening around us while we were ‘growing up’, Karin and I had each other to rely on. I’ll never forget being in my family’s kitchen on the phone with Karin when she had to tell me her father had committed suicide that day; he turned on the exhaust in the garage. He had lost his job and couldn’t bear to tell his wife, Karin’s mom. But we endured. Then a neighbor woman, next door to my family, also committed suicide, with a rifle her son had taught her how to use. Obviously, the adult world was fraught with tensions and hardship. But, at that time, as long as we had our friendship–and, for me, my sisters and brother; Karin herself was an only child–life would go on with relative surety into a future when we would eventually need to become adults, ourselves. But we would hold onto our childhood awareness, creativity, appreciation of Nature and animals and friendship itself, always.

Even now at 59, when I come home from work to contemplate or to walk my dog and be with my cats, and write, I am “Little Linda” still; Karin’s–and since then, also some other buddies’–Friend.

Flexibility for Mastery of Better Endings

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Life Metaphors  are a variety of “core metaphors” that reflect “idealized cognitive models” (ICM’s), according to anthropological linguists George Lakoff and Paul Johnson in their groundbreaking book, Metaphors We Live By. Such core metaphors govern our conceptions about whole domains of experience by having multiple metaphoric entailments. My example yesterday of Life as a Carousel or Merry-Go-Round shows this well. Life has Its Ups and Downs; It goes Round and Round; we may find ourselves reaching for “the Brass Ring”. Yet, of course, all of this is imaginary, or…well, embedded in our cognitive mindset. Because of the all-encompassing nature of the conceptual model that a key metaphor creates, reality itself is mapped onto our ICM of It, and we become somewhat bound to our model, or, schematic cognitive mindset.

This week’s general topic is about transforming self-limiting beliefs and personal myths into Bettter Endings scenarios. Merry-Go-Round horses leaping from their platforms overnight changes the Life Metaphor of Life as a Carousel by adding a new dimension of FLEXIBILITY into the model. As another first principle for creating Better Endings,then, flexibility is on the top shelf of our toolbox!

Flexibility incorporates lots of Better Endings principles in itself, doesn’t it? Creativity, Acceptance, Adaptability, Mindfulness; all of these are activated in a genuinely flexible thought or action. Flexibility involves a willingness to bend and to adjust, so it is helpful and often necessary for transforming self-limiting attitudes, beliefs or behavior.

I am reminded of two poetic images, both penned by Robert Frost.

The first, on “Acceptance“:

Ah, when to the heart of man,

Was it ever less than a treason

To go with the drift of things,

To bend with a grace to reason

and bow and accept the end of a love or a season?

 

             The second, from Frost’s “Birches”:

When I see birches bend to left and right

Across the lines of straighter darker trees,

I like to think some boy’s been swinging them.

But swinging doesn’t bend them down to stay

As ice-storms do. Often you must have seen them

Loaded with ice a sunny winter morning

After a rain. They click upon themselves

As the breeze rises, and turn many-colored

As the stir cracks and crazes their enamel.

Soon the sun’s warmth makes them shed crystal shells

Shattering and avalanching on the snow-crust—

Such heaps of broken glass to sweep away

You’d think the inner dome of heaven had fallen.

They are dragged to the withered bracken by the load,

And they seem not to break; though once they are bowed

So low for long, they never right themselves:

You may see their trunks arching in the woods

Years afterwards, trailing their leaves on the ground

Like girls on hands and knees that throw their hair

Before them over their heads to dry in the sun.

Mandi’s Guest (Re-)Blog on Thursday shares her “life secret” of Letting Go. This is part and parcel of flexibility, to RELEASE. Robert Frost’s image of birch boughs laden with ice and snow in winter and then winging back to the sky and freedom–though forever arched by the experience–evokes the suppleness and fresh vitality needed for, or perhaps resulting from, a shift of attitude: from holding on, to letting go and ALLOWING a new way come into Being.

Sometimes I think this is much of what the effects of physical aging are about: what we hold onto and then, eventually, what we are able to release. My mother who is 86 with Parkinson’s has had to release so much already (her mobility, most household possessions, solid food) and, over time, she will release the rest of her burdens from this life–and her loves–so she can move on to the next cycle of death and rebirth; however your belief system frames that. (By the way, I highly recommend reading Eben Alexander’s Proof of Heaven if you are struggling with a loved one’s or your own physical mortality.)

A spiritual author I regard highly, Harold Klemp, in How to Survive Spiritually in Our Timessays that one’s “degree of acceptance” determines one’s level or state of consciousness. What are you willing to Accept means, how flexible are you; how far are you willing to bend and what can you let go of to allow a Better Ending? I agree with Mandi that  this is what it takes to transform our lives or habits, from rigid to supple, from stubborn to wiser; bringing well-being and a fresh, vital, childlike perspective into our daily actions and choices. Flexibility allows us to transform self-limiting beliefs or fixed models so we can follow through on our most conscious, mindful decisions.

Flexibility is the essence of our willingness to grow, to learn, to unfold in greater freedom rather than being pinned down by the accretion of rigid thoughts or withered attitudes. And so, flexibility empowers us to transform self-limiting mindsets into life affirming gestures of allowing ourselves and others to grow, to explore, and to achieve the life of our and their dreams.

What is it that you would love to be doing, if you could release self-limiting concepts? Allow yourself to be all that you care to be, to do all that you mindfully dare to do, to become all that you ARE!

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Please feel free to share your insights with others in the COMMENTS box below. FOLLOW to receive Better Endings daily to your email address. And if you enjoy this material, please LIKE  and SHARE with your friends!

Fictional Better Endings? (and, Life Mapping Begins Today!)

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Create your own list of works of fiction for which you would like to imagine a Better Ending. Any genre of fiction will suffice.  After making your list, choose one and flex your creativity! Write a Better Ending scenario. Again, Better Endings are not necessarily happier ones, just tweaked in a way that is satisfying to you.

My own list is only suggestive, as I know many of you are better versed than I am in a wide range of genres. But here are a few well known works of fiction the endings (or body) of which would be rather interesting to ‘twist’:

  • Moby Dick
  • The Scarlet Letter
  • Romeo and Juliet
  • Jane Eyre
  • Lost Horizon (Part II, the sequel)
  • Heidi
  • Huckleberry Finn
  • Oliver Twist
  • Cinderella
  • The Time Machine (the sequel)
  • Animal Farm
  • Lord of the Flies

You can add your own list by Commenting below. Please submit your stories, of any length or format, by this Saturday evening, and the sooner the better so I can comment on them here.

Thanks to those of you who are Following this blog daily; I invite all of you visiting the site to Follow to receive your daily Better Endings.

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I am starting a new feature for this blog, starting today! Check out the text box to the right on the Home page. From now on I will post a weekly LIFE MAPPING activity. On Friday posts I will share more about the weekly Life Mapping prompt.  Over the past twelve years I have developed a complete personal growth & development approach which I call the Life Maps Process. I aim to publish a book for the general public next year, called Life Paths. The book will be accompanied by the Life Maps Process Handbook, a self-help toolkit that anyone can use to engage in a complete life mapping process on their own. I will offer many of these handbook techniques in our weekly Better Endings Life Mapping activity.  The “through line” to my book on Life Paths is, “Live your Dream, Now!” So you see, that is the connection with Better Endings. I have coached and taught classes to over 400 people in Life Mapping techniques, and I find that when anyone takes the time to review and reflect on their Life Chapters and Life Story to Now, they find patterns and challenges as well as Strengths they can develop that can empower them to forge a clearer, truer path to realizing their Life Dream.