Friends are Family, Too

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In our modern American culture, while Family is always important, given the highly mobile nature of our society, we must often move away geographically from our nuclear family for school, jobs, or with our marital families. But our human desire to have close, permanent relationships on the order of family ties allows us also to form some—a few perhaps—very close relationships with our lifelong friends. Our families of friends are often just as important to us as our natal family.

I know in my family each of us five kids always developed close friendships that were like extensions of our immediate family.  And we have tended to maintain, at greater or lesser constancy given where life has taken us all geographically and workwise, communication with these families of friends, for life!

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My own closest family friend ties include Barbara, Rosemary, and Michael (also less frequently another Michael, hi!) from high school and early college days; Mary, Jan and less often Pattie and Orit from grad school days; Arlene, Darlene, and Althea at Zuni;  and the same Jan, a newer Jan, Kathleen, Denise, Gianmichele and Zvia in Colorado. These latter from Zuni and from Colorado are the folks it will be most difficult to say goodbye to as I prepare to take the big journey back East to be closer to my main family again after retirement.

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Family is a group of close social relations you can rely on to be constant and caring throughout your life.  Though our modern lives often make being geographically near to our family including our family of friends difficult, we are always connected spiritually.  Fortunately today’s social media technology makes it easier than ever before to check in with one another and stay updated.

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I thank my family of relatives and friends—pets, too!—one and all, for the love and companionship I have been blessed with from your friendship!

Family–Where Our Lives Begin

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

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

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pictures are from pixabay.com

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

I welcome YOUR Comments and Story!

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

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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!

 

Map Your Relationships

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Life Mapping lets you review the trends and potentialities of each of your Life Themes within the epic adventure of your lifetime! This year at Better Endings for Your Life Path we are exploring one Life Theme per month (see monthly topics) by using and reflecting on life mapping techniques; for February we are focusing on Relationships.

Many life mappers identify Relationships as a primary Life Theme, either directly or according to sub-themes like Family, Romance, Pets, and/or Friends.  I would like to invite you to choose one or more of these topics to map across your life course. If you choose more than one, then I would ask you to color code the events you will map for each Theme you are exploring.

The basic technique of life mapping which I will be presenting fully with my upcoming book, YOUR LIFE PATH (see right panel!), invites you to first make a list of Significant Life Events pertaining to your Theme(s), then plot their relative impact on shaping “the person you have become.”

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First then, make a list of events or situations involving key relationships in your life. You can make separate lists if you are exploring more than one Relationship theme, like one list for Romantic relationships and a separate list for Family or for Friends events (or do one at a time). Keep a wide left margin on your page. Let this be a list of events or situations that have influenced you in significant ways. You can start with the earliest or with the most impactful life experience involving this Theme, then feel free to recall earlier or later events freely (you will order these chronologically later).

After you have a list of key events, in the wide left margin next to each event, note the age you were when this occurred (either a single date or a time frame). Then ask yourself, “How has this event or situation impacted the person I have become?” RATE the event or situation relative to the time frame when it occurred, from -5 to +5, where -5 is extremely negative and +5 is extremely positive. Note that you could rate the same event as both Plus and Minus in its impact, such as -3/+5 if you recognize the event has had both a negative as well as a distinctively positive impact on your life for one reason or another.

Now then, you can use the Life Map chart below to simply PLOT the impact scores you have used to rate the relative positive and/or negative influence of each event in your list. Use a pencil (you can copy this post and enlarge the chart or make your own separately) to put a dot or an x along the time line , marking onto the 0 to +5 or 0 to -5 lines to represent your events. Plot these impacts according to the relative age you were when they occurred. You can write your Age for each event along the center, neutral Age Line.

You can “connect the dots” of your plotted events on the chart to reveal trends or PATTERNS of how this Theme has unfolded in your life.  Connect two plotted events especially if they seem somehow connected to you as forming a trend, like if you went from a negative experience to a positive one, or if a series of events were all negative or all positive (or neutral = ) on the chart).

It can help to draw a vertical hash-marked or dotted line where the event you have plotted is so significant that you may feel you were “a different person” before and after this event occurred. (These are your Critical Life Events or Turning Points.)

If you want to map more than one relationship sub-theme, repeat the above steps for each Theme you are interested in exploring.

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images are from pixabay.com

After plotting your Map, review it. Journal or contemplate (or both) or talk with a loved one about the PATTERNS you observe in this Theme. If you have mapped multiple Themes, do you notice differences in the patterning of each of these as they have interwoven within the fabric of your Life Story?

I welcome YOUR Comments and Story!

Relationships as a Life Theme

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As we are exploring monthly topics around LIFE THEMES, threads of experience that carry a pattern of content, February seems a good time of year to focus on Romance or, more generally, Relationships. Certainly RELATIONSHIPS is a primary Life Theme for most people in one form or another (e.g. Family, Romance, Friends). Like all Life Themes, RELATIONSHIP threads that weave through one’s Life Chapters and Life Story can be uplifting, inhibiting, or even like a Roller Coaster ride when it comes to their pattern of influence and impact on our lives overall.

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Since Relationships are so ubiquitous in most of our lives, let’s take some time this month to focus on various sorts of relations. For myself at 63 and single some 15 years after a long string of romantic adventures, romance is honestly no longer an interest after too many strains of Ups and Downs in that arena. I would rather focus my own Relationships Theme around the wonderful connections I now enjoy with family, friends, and my dearly beloved pet companions, just two days ago reduced by one as I had to send on his Soul journey after 16 years with me my dear companion cat Loki, due to kidney disease.

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images above from pixabay.com

If I were to map my Relationship Theme (which I will invite you to do in the next post), just in recent weeks of my current Life Chapter it would reveal quite a ‘wild ride,’ mostly very positive despite dips or deep troughs of sadness and loss. My mother’s passing just two weeks ago tomorrow brought our whole family together for a blessedly very positive time of sharing and remembrances. We are strengthened by our unconditional love for one another, which brings great joy and gratitude.

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photo by Jeff Watts

My relationship with my mother herself I feel is actually strengthened as I have been recalling to memory all of the wonderful ways she skillfully and lovingly parented me and imparted positive values in all five of her children and grandchildren.

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Elizabeth Anne Rugh Watts

May 25, 1927 – January 23, 2018

We gain so much from our close relations. We learn so much in a family of diverse Souls as in a community of friends and cross-species families, too!

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!

To Nurture Your Dreams, Be a Nourisher

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Sometimes we might not trust our inner vision to steer us in the right direction. We may feel afraid to Dream, wary of being disillusioned “yet again.” This cautious perspective might seem ‘practical,’ “realistic” or even wise.

But when we squelch our Visions, often another part of our Self grieves.

 

What happens to a Dream deferred? 

Does it dry up, like a raisin in the Sun?

Does it fester like a sore, and then run?

Perhaps it stinks, like rotten meat,

or crusts and sugars over, like a syrupy sweet?

Maybe it just sags, like a heavy load… 

Or does it explode?

–Langston Hughes

 

Our archetypal Ally for this month is the NOURISHER. I invite you to get in touch with your own nurturing, nourishing part of Self. When do you feel most nourishing and with whom? When do you feel best nourished and how or by whom?

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I experienced a lot of Nourishing–from both sides of giving and receiving–during my road trip and visit Home  from June through July. Being with family and with my dog Sophie (my travelling companion and BFF) is a great gift of love for I have lived thousands of miles from my parents and sisters and brother for over 30 years.  We came together—all of us plus several cousins and nephews/nieces—around my elderly mother, Elizabeth—over the 4th of July holiday weekend. Mom was in the crux of a hospital emergency—not what we had hoped or planned for!—and we all came together to help her survive that visit and return to her familiar nursing home with its loving and competent, caring staff.

Mom is experiencing late stage Parkinson’s. At 88, for her this means she has very little independent mobility. She cannot walk on her own nor can she use her own hands to eat. She must consume pudding quality water and only pureed food which others must feed to her in such manner as not to cause her to aspirate or swallow food into her lungs.

While at the hospital, because staff there were inexperienced at preparing the pureed and pudding quality food and water and because most did not have experience (or time for the patience it takes) feeding in this way, it depended on us, her daughters mainly, to feed her morning, noon, and evening, as much and as best as we could.

And we did!  We bought Gerber’s pureed food to supplement or replace the hospital’s too thick or heavy portions. We developed a formula, with help from a speech therapist, to produce her pudding water, and we added fresh lemon juice and used ice cubes to give her more satisfaction.  She was depending on us for her very survival. Each of us stepped up as best we could. We shared our observations and listened to one anothers’ suggestions. We expressed our concerns with the nurses and aides until finally one doctor in particular became focal in helping Mom recover enough to be able to return to her nursing home.

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I know my Mom would do the same for any of us and often she did, whenever we were sick or ailing.  While at first honestly I was afraid of feeding Mom, afraid I might cause her to aspirate, over time I did the best I could along with my other sisters. And she improved! I believe the nurturing care we all gave helped her more than any medications. The love we all shared was a healing force in itself.  It is a healing energy that will never diminish, no matter what the future may hold.

So, I learn from my Nourisher that LOVE is the heart of it all and all that really matters. To NOURISH is to give and to reciprocally receive divine, unconditional Love.

I invite you to journal and/or to talk with a loved one (or send your insights, comments and stories to us, here!) about one or more of your own Nourisher moments.

Enjoy the Fruit from Your Labors of Love

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Life is a Bowl of Cherries means you get to enjoy the fruits of all the work you have done and the love you have given and shared as you bring about and experience the “manifesting” stages of your life. My 88 year old mother, for example, though suffering from late stage Parkinsons, has her family’s love and support for all she has given us. She has more visitors than many at her nursing home, and this is one of the fruits of her many sacrifices and gifts of being a terrific mother through the years.

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How can you manifest a future wherein you will benefit from the fruits of your own labor and dedication? How will you construct this future as one filled with abundance and vital purpose? As I anticipate retirement in just a few years, I see this not as any form of slowing down or resting but as a graduation from my primary career work into a continuing adventure of service, creative productivity, and giving back to life for all I have received and learned through life experiences.

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A Contemplation and Journaling Seed:

What are to be the fruits of your life’s labor of love? Some you are already enjoying Now; what are these? Others you can yet choose to manifest; what are those? How will you help these fruits to mature?

It always helps to visualize and contemplate your future of abundant growth while appreciating the bounty of the present moment as well.

Two Poems, by Tatyana Ulrich

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My Journey to You

I am that woman who thinks about you

Who is very excited to come get you soon

I am that woman who would supply all the love

Who leaves reality just to watch you grow up

I am that woman whose mind only thinks positively

The kind of mind that waits patiently

The emotions I get is way too hard to hide

I am that woman who would never leave your side

One who would travel half way around the world

I am that woman who wanted a girl

I am that woman of which tears I create

Staring at my only keepsake

A precious gem in the palm of my hands

A mother, a daughter whose bond will never end

I am that mother who can’t wait to bring you home

I am that mother who will never be alone

A mother who loved you from the very start

You were the one that gave hope to my heart.

Baby

Baby I can’t wait, I want to hold you now

I am speechless, that you have been found

A home for you and a daughter for me

Baby I love you, I hope you can see

Baby I am on my way

Don’t you cry, don’t be afraid

Just wait patiently and we will meet

Baby I love you I hope you can see

From the day I meet you, till the day you die

Don’t you worry, I’ll stand by your side

I’ll be with you from start to end

You are my family, you are my friend

Baby you gave me a reason to love

God gave me you, my daughter from above

I am your mother and don’t you forget

I have loved you since the day we met

———–

The Author:

I’m Tatyana. I was adopted at 18 months from the Jiangxi Province. I live in Centennial, Colorado with a mother whom I l love dearly. When I grow up I want to major in Social Work, specifically working with international adoption. I have created a website for Chinese adoptees at http://familyisforever.wix.com/ctdfca-china#

Enduring Solidarity

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“It is a very inconvenient habit of kittens

(Alice had once made the remark)

that whatever you say to them,

they always purr.”

    ― Lewis Carroll (re-blogged from the wonderful blog: http://catsatthebar.org/)

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My mother Elizabeth, with her grandpup, my Shorkie friend and companion Sophie

I have been pondering all this week what is a First Principle of Better Endingsassociated with Family relations? And I have found the answer, at least for me; it is:

Enduring Solidarity

So I’ve been asking also, how does a family accomplish the principle of Enduring Solidarity? That’s where the above pictures are helpful.

Family is Forever. We know that from the start. It is unconditional love in action. This is what our pets also know; that we love them, no matter what. And they don’t even have to think to offer us the same, from the beginning.

Family members may not always be on the same side of some political or ideological issue. They might practice different religions, live in widely separated geographical locations, and vary in their unique experiences and extended family ties. I rarely get to even see my immediate family together any more at any one time, and my intensely busy life keeps my focus more on my life in Colorado than on keeping up adequately with my family, especially my cousins, aunts/uncles, and nieces and nephews. Nevertheless, Family remains a core value and when it is possible to visit or to speak on the phone, enduring solidarity is immediate and lasting.

How does a family achieve this level of solidarity despite diversity and change in our individual lives? In my family I think it has been mainly a matter of Acceptance. Beyond  expressions of well intended care or concern, neither of my parents nor my siblings have ever tried to influence the choices of their children or siblings, about careers or beliefs, lifestyles or relationships.  We have known from the beginning and somehow understand that a family encompasses diversity in the very Nature of things. Relating this to yesterday’s post, this value of acceptance of diversity in a family, I would say, reflects the underlying awareness that a Family is an archetypal asssemblage to begin with.  We expect to see the growth and development of diversity within a family; in fact we welcome and value the differences that only serve to expand the greater whole of our collective experience.

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Enough said. I am deeply Grateful for the Enduring Solidarity that has nurtured my own and All My Family’s individual and collective unfoldment. This includes All My Family at every level and offshoot of connections.

Enduring Solidarity

alice1

“It is a very inconvenient habit of kittens

(Alice had once made the remark)

that whatever you say to them,

they always purr.”

    ― Lewis Carroll (http://catsatthebar.org/)

2012-07-30 16.12.43

My mother Elizabeth, with her grandpup,

my Shorkie companion Sophie

I have been pondering all this week what is a First Principle of Better Endings associated with Family relations? And I have found the answer, at least for me; it is:

Enduring Solidarity

So I’ve been asking also, how does a family accomplish the principle of Enduring Solidarity? That’s where the above pictures are helpful.

Family is Forever. We know that from the start. It is unconditional love in action. This is what our pets also know; that we love them, no matter what. And they don’t even have to think to offer us the same, from the beginning.

Family members may not always be on the same side of some political or ideological issue. They might practice different religions, live in widely separated geographical locations, and vary in their unique experiences and extended family ties. I rarely get to even see my immediate family together any more at any one time, and my intensely busy life keeps my focus more on my life in Colorado than on keeping up adequately with my family, especially my cousins, aunts/uncles, and nieces and nephews. Nevertheless, Family remains a core value and when it is possible to visit or to speak on the phone, enduring solidarity is immediate and lasting.

How does a family achieve this level of solidarity despite diversity and change in our individual lives? In my family I think it has been mainly a matter of Acceptance. Beyond  expressions of well intended care or concern, neither of my parents nor my siblings have ever tried to influence the choices of their children or siblings, about careers or beliefs, lifestyles or relationships.  We have known from the beginning and somehow understand that a family encompasses diversity in the very Nature of things. Relating this to yesterday’s post, this value of acceptance of diversity in a family, I would say, reflects the underlying awareness that a Family is an archetypal asssemblage to begin with.  We expect to see the growth and development of diversity within a family; in fact we welcome and value the differences that only serve to expand the greater whole of our collective experience.

butterfly on flowers

Enough said. I am deeply Grateful for the Enduring Solidarity that has nurtured my own and All My Family’s individual and collective unfoldment. This includes All My Family at every level and offshoot of connections.

“You See Yourself in Others”–Family-Based Archetypal Projections

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Archetypal psychology á la Carl G. Jung or James Hillman or Carolyn Myss—or via a unique Life Mapping approach I will be introducing you to in Life Paths—can help you to become more aware of how easy it can be to project aspects of your own unconscious personality or “Psyche” orientations onto, or into, others.  This way others may serve as mirrors for you of traits or beliefs you may not be ready to own about yourself. It’s like my father used to tell me often, “You see yourself in others”.  We do this with both positive and negatively perceived traits or orientations; it is a psychologically ‘safe’ way to assess traits we may be not ready to see as part of our own psychic makeup.

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In prior weeks we have explored archetypal  “ensemble casts” of characters as represented in fiction, such as in the Wizard of Oz, one of my favorite examples. Discussing TV, we realized that several successful situational comedies such as M.A.S.H. or Gilligan’s Island use ensemble casts to represent various character aspects of a basic Self character (e.g. Dorothy, Captain Hawkeye Pierce, or the marooned Gilligan). Now I’d like to invite you to do the same with regard to members of your own Family. This might be your family of origin, or your immediate family you live with, or both, and it could as easily be seen in your family of friends or coworkers that you associate with on a regular basis.

What might your perceptions of specific family or significant relationship Alters reveal about Yourself?

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Here’s an easy way to start applying this understanding from archetypal psychology to your universe—i.e., your own Ensemble Archetypal Cast of relations. Simply compose a list of positive and negative (and/or neutral, if you like) character traits that you associate with those in your family or in a close, family-like social group.

What character traits, for instance, do you associate with your Father? If that has shifted over time, you can represent his traits accordingly. What strengths or weaknesses do you see in yourself that you can trace to being to some degree a result of your relationship with your father?

Now try applying those same questions to your full set of close family relations. Especially if you recognize in yourself a particularly strong ‘attachment’ to some perception you hold about a family member, describe the traits you are responding to as carefully as you can. Have you perhaps avoided expressing some character traits in your own life as a reaction to seeing those as ‘negative traits’ expressed by someone close to you? What values do you relate to your aversion to such attitudes or behaviors?

On the other hand, what noble or heightened pedestals might you have constructed for some persons; pedestals you feel you fall quite short of yourself. Why?

Now then, what if all of these character strengths and weaknesses you see in your family Alters are actually all parts of your own Total Self System (as well as being traits you associate with these others)?

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Try it out. I will, too…

Here’s a sample subset of a chart I might create for my own archetypal “family projections” exploration:

       Negatively perceived traits  Positively perceived traits

Dad  quick, harsh temper       excellent gaming strategist

Mom emotional over-sensitivity  excellent problem solver

 

Now then, looking at the negatively valued (to me) traits I’ve identified, what might they reveal about me? I definitely try to distance myself from a “quick, harsh temper” such as I associate with my father from specific memories. Does that mean this is not a trait within me? Quite the opposite. Because I do not want to own this trait, I have sometimes overcompensated in a disagreement with a relationship partner by “going away”–either physically or emotionally–when challenged by what may seem like frustrating or objectionable behavior or attitudes. Rather than erupt–as I construct my father might–I go away; or alternately, I might trigger this very response I eschew in myself, in my alter. Then though, when a situation remains tense and I finally DO express an angry temper, I might act out too much–in a brief but relatively uncontrollled outburst. Later I might apologize, or ‘go away’.

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The more we can recognize “ourselves in others”, the better!  An approach I use now when I recognize that I might be projecting qualities I don’t wish to own into others, is called an Archetype Dialogue, a form of active imagination, as Jung would call it. You can journal a dialogue (or imagine one) precisely with that ‘character’ in yourself that you think you have seen in someone else. Write out or sustain an imagined conversation with this part of yourself. What is he or she upset about or fearful of or uncomfortable around? Listen to what this part of YOU has to say. You might be surprised to find some of the pent up negative energy dissolves as you ALLOW this vital part of yourself to have a voice.

I invite your insights and stories! Go lightly with this one; be Gentle with YOU! (and You, and you too…….); LOL

 

Family Better Endings

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Ah, Family! What a blessing, in whatever form we share with those in our innermost circle.  Families come in many forms around the world in various cultures or conditions. Universally, families serve vital functions: raising and caring for children, providing economic support for one another, providing a nurturing living environment.

In our post-modern condition, sometimes families are composed of social relations including but also extending beyond our genealogical connections; “families we choose”.   In my own experience, though I have lived 1000’s of miles from my core family for most of my adult life, family is bedrock; those whom I return to every opportunity there is. Family carries a value of Acceptance which truly is deeper than blood. It is where unconditional love can be relied on, no matter what ‘outside’ conditions you might  face. I also live with a home family of other-than-human animal companions; we share that same total reciprocity of unconditional love, acceptance and mutual caring as with siblings and mother (my father has passed).

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My mother is in a nursing home now, 87 next month, suffering from late stage Parkinson’s and arthritis.  Her children and grandchildren and sisters visit her at every opportunity, aiming to bring the best possible Better Endings her way.  She deserves the best, too, as she gave of herself and continues to give of herself to all her relations, always.  I dedicate this week of Better Endings blog posts to my Mom, Elizabeth, in upstate New York.

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Better Endings in my life have often come through family ties.  Whether it was my mother always somehow knowing exactly when I might need a phone call from Buffalo to Phoenix, AZ, or catching up with all the activity in my brother and sisters’ busy lives and families of their own, family time is an uplifting balm for the Soul.

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One quick memory to share of Family Better Endings in tribute to my mother; I would not be alive today—nor most of my siblings—had this not occurred.  Cincinnati, Ohio, circa 1961. (I was 6.) We had a swimming pool in our back yard and my brother, sister Lee and I were swimming.  Mom was in the screened in back porch, attending. Very quickly, gray clouds amassed. Suddenly, my mother came out and yelled urgently at us all: “Get OUT of the pool, NOW!” We did, not knowing what was wrong. We all scurried with Mom into the porch area, and no sooner had we reached the porch when, WHAM! A huge bolt of lightning struck the water!

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We have asked her for years, “Mom, how did you know?” All she can answer is, “A Mother just knows.”

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My Mom, with my sister Lee, her daughter, Daughter-in-law, and grandchild (by Lee Ireland)

I invite your stories and insights, in any form (e.g. poetry, photos, or prose) about Family and Better Endings. I’m sure we all have plenty to tell!

P.S.: Thank You to everyone reading this blog, either regularly or for your first visit!  What a new world we live in where we can all share like this!

Gifts from Childhood

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Our Life Mapping Activity this week involves remembering “a few of your favorite things” from Childhood.  Make your list. What are 10 or so people, places, activities or things you loved as a child? Then ask yourself, why? What qualities did these favorite things bring into your life; what were their gifts to you, both Then and even Now as you reflect upon them?

For example, here are some of my Favorite Things from childhood, listed below, along with some of their gifts that have enhanced my consciousness and continue to be a part of my awareness or interest ever since:

Gifts Gained from “A Few of My Favorite Things” of Childhood:

Friendships/ BF Karin     pure engagement, companionship, sharing, freedom, humor

Pets    unconditional love and joy, playfulness, comfort

Trips   exploration, beauty, freedom, sharing

Family   togetherness, mutual support, caring

Creative play   imagination, fun, sharing, freedom

Places: woods, horse farms, trees, secret forts   excitement, love of nature

Bicycling    adventure, freedom, creativity, openness, self-reliance

Reading    discovery, other worlds, voices, insights, expansion of ideas

Plays    creativity, expression, discovery, exploring archetypes (roles)

School   education, teachers, development of ideas, learning

Violin   beauty, form, love of music, orchestra, practice

There is a law of spiritual economy that says, “Nothing is ever wasted.” Nothing, not even a smile or a hug, is ever really forgotten, so it is there for us long after it was shared, when we really need it!

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THANK YOU ALL FOR READING AND FOLLOWING!! I am not so adept at navigating WordPress and Twitter to be able to thank you each sufficiently and individually, but it warms my heart to know that you are visiting and reading when you wish to!

I invite you especially to read to tomorrow’s post, “Trust in Your Own Childlike Nature”, which I hope might be helpful for you as you aim to include your own Inner Child archetype more in your conscious world! To prepare, I invite you to contemplate this phrase: the “Alchemy of Childhood”.

Two Poems, by Tatyana Ulrich

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My Journey to You

I am that woman who thinks about you

Who is very excited to come get you soon

I am that woman who would supply all the love

Who leaves reality just to watch you grow up

I am that woman whose mind only thinks positively

The kind of mind that waits patiently

The emotions I get is way too hard to hide

I am that woman who would never leave your side

One who would travel half way around the world

I am that woman who wanted a girl

I am that woman of which tears I create

Staring at my only keepsake

A precious gem in the palm of my hands

A mother, a daughter whose bond will never end

I am that mother who can’t wait to bring you home

I am that mother who will never be alone

A mother who loved you from the very start

You were the one that gave hope to my heart.

 

Baby

Baby I can’t wait, I want to hold you now

I am speechless, that you have been found

A home for you and a daughter for me

Baby I love you, I hope you can see

Baby I am on my way

Don’t you cry, don’t be afraid

Just wait patiently and we will meet

Baby I love you I hope you can see

From the day I meet you, till the day you die

Don’t you worry, I’ll stand by your side

I’ll be with you from start to end

You are my family, you are my friend

Baby you gave me a reason to love

God gave me you, my daughter from above

I am your mother and don’t you forget

I have loved you since the day we met

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The Author:

I’m Tatyana. I was adopted at 18 months from the Jiangxi Province. I live in Centennial, Colorado with a mother whom I l love dearly. When I grow up I want to major in Social Work, specifically working with international adoption. I have created a website for Chinese adoptees at http://familyisforever.wix.com/ctdfca-china#

Your Significant Life Events

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You are the key protagonist of your Life Story. Contemporary cognitive scientists say there is an adaptive psychological need for a human being to mentally and emotionally construct a “coherent self,” one that undergoes a series of holistically interwoven experiences which we can call your Significant Life Events, or SLE’s. We recall these significant events situationally. That means we each recognize specific KINDS of events in our lives that have played important roles in our Life Story. This varies from person to person. While Family events might be paramount for one person,Work or Spirituality, or Relationships, or Health might be more central for somebody else. We all recognize several of these categories or kinds of significant events in our lives. They overlap. Some situations tend to lift us Up, others might hold us Down, and still other kinds of situations that recur in our lives may help us to maintain a welcome balance from day to day.

Next week, we will call these KINDS of Significant Life Events your Life Themes. You will discover which Life Themes are present in your life and what sort of patterning or influence they have. This week, let’s set you on your personal adventure with the Life Mapping Activity of the Week (see right sidebar to participate).  In this week’s posts let’s talk about how Significant Life Events can relate to Better Endings.

An SLE is an event or a time frame in your life which has “influenced or shaped the person you have become”. There is no fixed, “correct” or complete number of these events in your life, but any time you reflect back you are likely to recall a sampling of those kinds of events that have been most relevant to you from your current or present perspective. The Life Mapping activity I offer to you this week asks you to make list of at least 12 of these SLE’s. List them in whatever order they come to mind, then you can arrange them chronologically if you like. In my upcoming book and self-help handbook, Life Paths, I will include a set of forms you can use to plot these SLE’s visually, but it is enough this week for you just to list 12 representative events.

Here are some basic questions to get you started in recalling your significant events:

  • What was the earliest life event that you remember? Why or how was it significant in shaping the “person you have become”?
  • What have been some of your “best times” and some of the “worst times” you have known? How have they influenced your choices along the way and who you are today?

In my own life, Significant Life Events have been like punctuation points, where my memory lands when I reflect upon past, present and possible futures. I think of the first lucid dream I had at about 4 years old; it was about a gorilla that follows me into my house and upstairs to where I pretend to be sleeping in my bed while it puts a kitchen knife to my throat and I wake up screaming! Or for a much happier SLE, I recall being Student Director for two plays in high school and how the Director–my favorite English teacher, Mr. Scelsa–inspired me to go to college to become a teacher myself and to study literature, language, drama and philosophy.

All good literature arranges the key characters’ SLE’s to create dramatic, interweaving plot lines. Much of poetry and art figuratively or sometimes even literally freezes or “frames” an SLE sort of experience as a multi-dimensional Moment.

I invite you to list at least 12 SLE’s this week as an entry to reconstructing your own personal dramatic narrative. Yet, I encourage you to approach this rather lightly–as a fun, creative process rather than as a challenging task. Please, do go lightly. You only need to scratch the surface at this stage in order to “round up” a basic sampling of your significant, life shaping memories. Later I will help you to discover how each of these memories, no matter how happy or sad, has allowed you to develop the repertoire of Strengths you now possess. These are Strengths you can use to forge ahead in creating, yes, your own Better Endings.

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Weekly List: Relationship Changes (Better Endings practice prompts)

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The following is a list of situations you might write, talk, or contemplate about with respect to our Weekly Topic of Relationship Changes. How might you envision, or re-vision, a Better Ending scenario for one or more of these types of situations? Enjoy!

  • a wedding
  • a divorce
  • a planned separation
  • a shared vacation
  • working together
  • employment shifts within the family
  • new parenthood
  • adoption
  • elder care / caring for an aging parent
  • caring for an ill or disabled family member
  • retirement
  • coping with death and dying

Feel free to Comment or add topics to our list. You may share your practice journaling or stories here by submitting a story of the week. You may also receive a Guest Blog post by answering: “What is an example of a Better ending from my life?”

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