Follow Your Bliss!

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“I can’t believe they actually pay me to do what I love!”

Does the above line characterize what YOU do for “a living”? If so then you are fortunate to have merged your vocational aspirations (your calling) with your work or career.  Joseph Campbell might say you are “following your bliss.”

If, rather, your Life Theme of WORK or CAREER is separate from what you feel as your true calling or as yet unrealized potential, What Then? (click to read a W.B. Yeats poem with that title). It may simply mean that your work satisfies your financial needs, allowing you to fulfill your responsibilities, while you pursue your ‘bliss” instead through vocational activities such as artistic ‘hobbies’, spiritual practices, sports, or other activities that bring you a sense of balance in your life. Of course, this is fine and a good way to satisfy the needs and interests of your various unconscious or submerged archetypal ‘parts of Self.’

Still: Are there ways that you might forge a closer integration of your Work or Career  with your vocational callings?  Doing so could create a deeper synergy that allows you to produce dynamic works more highly attuned to your most authentic Self, even in the workplace.

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Above images are from pixabay.com

What is ONE THING you might integrate into your work life or into your role in your career that could fuse an element of your deepest, unique nature to reinvent yourself in the context of your ‘job’? Or, should you be seeking a different line of work? Maybe an online course or degree could help you move in a new direction.

Using myself as an example, when I felt I was moving in a direction at work, in attaining tenure as a professor, that would  satisfy my practical goals but not my Life Dream of writing for the public rather than serving in my academic role alone, I was shown a way to integrate my creativity and spirituality into my work. That is how I began studying and then eventually practicing and writing about Life Paths. I describe this process in  Chapter 1 of Your Life Path (click or see right panel for ordering information, now available through all major book distributors. (BTW, A heartfelt Thank You to new followers of this blog who have found this site from reading Your Life Path. Please feel free to download for free the Life Path Maps Portfolio Toolkit! – see right panel.)

Your Life Path

So, what about YOU?  Are you fully expressing the life of your dreams at work? How might you ‘tweak’ your work life to more holistically Live Your Bliss? I invite you to contemplate and journal about this question.

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(pixabay.com)

I welcome your Comments and Story!

 

Around the Bend? Life Is… a Winding Road

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The most common metaphor for Life is that it is in some form a Journey, and in that regard, we are all travelers. We think of ourselves as having originated at birth and as having an exit, at death, with a “long and winding Road” from start to finish. J.R.R. Tolkien expressed this metaphor beautifully in a song from The Fellowship of the Ring:

The Road goes ever on and on

Down from the Door where it began.

Now far ahead the Road has gone,

And I must follow, if I can,

Pursuing it with eager feet,

Until it joins some larger Way

Where many paths and errands meet.

And whither then?

I cannot say.

Now then, where have you come from? Where are you going? How are you going to get there? Tolkien’s song reminds us that a life traveler, like you or me, is on a Quest to achieve unique potentials.

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Of course, not everyone is in a set of conditions that appears to allow them to “Follow their Bliss,” as Joseph Campbell exhorted.  A student recently reminded me of this fact after watching Campbell and Moyers’ dialogue in volume 1 of The Power of Myth series, The Hero’s Adventure. Life certainly can appear as a deep, dark pit rather than as a happily winding road to those caught up in apparently immovable or intractable conditions. Can someone beset with a genetic illness or chronic mental disorder, or can someone suffering in poverty anywhere in the world, benefit from the lofty thought that “Life is a Winding Road” leading to a positive destination? Or is that a merely privileged, Polyannish fantasy?

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I’ve been pondering this question since my student raised such a sobering perspective. I must for myself yet answer, Yes! I do believe that ANYONE, even in the most critical and painful of circumstances, not only can benefit from imaging Life as a Winding Road leading toward an ultimately positive destination, but that in fact they are likely to do so.

Why? Because I believe it is a human imperative, part of our basic survival instinct no doubt, to strive to transcend negative circumstances so as to—in some fashion, either for ourselves or those we love—prevail.  At very least, in the worst of times we at least usually aim to survive; albeit survival might come in various forms, including spiritual survival.

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I don’t mean to make little of human suffering and pain by any means; certainly it is a fundamental and crucial aspect of the human condition.  It is just what it is. But it seems also very human to aim to transcend suffering in any possible way or to any possible degree. I guess since I do see Life as a long and winding pathway, in fact through potentially MANY lifetimes and states of consciousness, there seems to be a plus factor, all in all.

It feels anyway to me as if we are all of us tending toward Home in the most ultimate sense, no matter how long it may take for any of us to get Here.

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So this month I invite you to contemplate Life as a Winding Road. I welcome your insights, stories, or any artistic representations.

What Do Your Dragons Guard?

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Okay, so I’ve devised this acronym:

Deep Raging Animistic Giant of Negativity

Or, DRAGON!

So, what are Yours?

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We are speaking (initially at least) not of the positive, Bountiful, Life Breathing dragons like the Chinese New Year puppet forms, but rather of the “negative”, Fire Breathing, monstrous Dragons that jealously guard their hidden treasures.

These negative dragons can pin us down with their talons inciting fear and trepidation. They tell us what we CANNOT do or Be, what we SHOULD NOT attempt for fear of failure or public ridicule.  In a sense, “Your Dragon is your Ego,” says Joseph Campbell in A HERO WITH 1000 FACES.  In a self-protective mode it is that which might aim to “hold you back” from taking risks and, hence, at times it may prevent you from actively seeking or achieving your Bliss.

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So what is it that your Dragon might be telling you that YOU should never attempt?  Is it to be an Author, a famous Musician or a Dancer or Artist, or to move to your favorite place on Earth? Maybe it has to do with your relationship “patterns” or with your “real,” physical self-limitations? Let me ask you in another way; WHAT IS YOUR BLISS that you would wish to fulfill with all of your Soul, if only you COULD?

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Many speak of “Slaying Your Dragons,” including Campbell.  That makes sense. But I prefer the notion of TAMING them, instead. This is similar to the idea in the recent books and animated films, How to Train Your Dragon” (1 and 2).

By TAMING your Dragons, I mean first you need to identify them within your unconscious archetypal cast of dramatic players, then you need to get to know each one—as they are after all a part of your own dynamic multiplicity. Once you and your Dragon get to know one another—each of your dreams, fears, goals and desires—you can aim to ENLIST your Dragon into the common cause of being an Archetype Ally.

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Hmm, maybe a new acronym is in order now:

Dearly Respected Archetypal Giver of Needs

Or, DRAGON.

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Since it is your Dragon who knows your deepest fears, of course S/He can give to you whatever you might also need to overcome or to transcend these fears and to assert your Dreams and go boldly to achieve them. This reminds me of Falcor the Luckdragon from The Neverending Story, one of my favorite animated characters. Once you have befriended your Dragon, S/He may allow you to RIDE on Its magnificent back and soar to the realm of your Blissful achievement.

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I invite you to engage via Archetype Dialogue through active imagination or journaling with one of your own Dragons.

I welcome your comments and stories!

Living Your Dream!

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This week we’ve been exploring the value of a Life Dream. It is your Bliss, in Campbell’s terms; your North Star in terms of which you may realize your truest potentials and fulfill your Mission or Vision.

As a life mapping activity to help you to ‘flesh out’ your Life Dream, I invite you to describe a desired Future Scenario in which you have fully realized your Dream. You may envision and explore this virtual, parallel reality—which you are living into as you take actions to realize your goals—in great detail. (BTW there is a similar technique to this one in a book by Mary Carroll Moore, called How to Master Change in Your Life.)

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Where are you living in your self-realized future life? What is your daily life about? What positive values are you expressing that fulfill your greatest sense of life purpose?

Be as descriptive as possible: e.g., you might include colors, foods, family and relationship qualities, daily activities, your car, your home, hobbies, services you deliver, books you publish, art or music you produce, walks you take.

Now then, how did you get Here?

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Let me play a bit in the Moment with this practice:

I’m living with my sister Lee on farm property in New York state, about a mile—walking distance—from the Chatauqua Institute and about 45 minutes away from our sister Cheryl in Ellicottville. Our house is a converted barn, and I have my three cats and my dog Sophie living with us. Lee and I are both very engaged with writing and public service activities. We have a bunkhouse, trails, and an outdoor labyrinth and ampitheatre on our farm property that serves as a spiritual retreat center where we often hold various workshops, retreats and life mapping weekends. I also co-own a cottage with separate living quarters for the manager in Ireland,  outside the town of Claremorris in County Mayo, which my friend Jan manages when I, Lee or the cottage co-owners are not ourselves visiting or living there. I retired at 62 from the university, regarding that as a graduation, finally,  to a full life of writing and service, as did my sister also retire as a pastor to establish the spiritual retreat center.

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That was fun! I think you’ll find–as I just did!–that as you engage in your future-dream envisioning practice you will find new aspects opening up that you hadn’t even thought of in advance!d

There is also a way to magnify this practice, which I call “Alternate Future Lifescapes”. That is that you can create several alternate snapshots or descriptions of various future realities. This way you can build a Panorama (or, a cornucopia) of the Possible! Let’s return to this version–though you can be playing with this as you like–when we return to this theme of Life Dream casting in the 2nd 6 months of our blog, which will be all about the art and practice of Life Mapping.

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So, go for it! Create your Future(s) from your Life Dream. Allow it to share its promises and secrets!

I welcome your insights and stories! 

One Thing

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Remember Curly (Jack Palance) from City Slickers I? With sage advice, Curly shares with Mitch (Billy Crystal) that the “secret of life” (holding up one forefinger) is “one thing.” But Curly shared this on his last breath and died before he could answer, what is that one thing? Mitch–and the film audience–had to wait for the sequel to learn from Curly’s twin brother Duke what that ‘one thing’ is.

It turns out that the ‘one thing’ is different for everybody. It is “whatever it is for you,” that ONE THING that makes you happy or allows for you to thrive.

Joseph Campbell might call that ‘one thing’ your Bliss. “Follow Your Bliss,” says Campbell in The Power of Myth, meaning for you to pursue that which truly fulfills you and empowers you to achieve your life purpose and manifest your Life Dream.

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Establishing one new, good habit or an activity that can propel you toward a goal you might otherwise not pursue would be a positive, “one thing” to do.  Some eight years ago, for example, when I was just beginning to write in earnest about the life mapping process I was already developing then, at a therapy session one day, I reached a breakthrough. I could do one thing to help this project really get rolling; I could find a house sitter for one full month and go for a writing retreat. So, I did. I rented a ski chalet in Steamboat Springs, CO, where every day of the month I started to work on my book and a proposal package at 8 AM and I usually worked far into the evening. I brought with me my elderly, beloved Harlequin calico cat, Ariel.

It was wonderful. I set up the computer at a wooden kitchen table facing an alcove window looking out above an ocean of Ponderosa pine treetops. I had plenty of peace and quiet. I drafted the basis of several chapters that would, over time, develop into Life Paths, a book I aim to begin marketing with an agent this summer.  It was that “one thing”–something I needed to commit to and invest some money in, a writing retreat–that firmly established my feet and heart on a path I have continued to follow ever since.

So, what is your “one thing”? What can you do that is outside your normal “box” (remember though, “There is no box”); something that could move you in the direction of your Bliss?

Joseph Campbell spoke of Bliss on one hand and also Dragons, on the other. Your Dragons might be “threshold guardians”. Your Dragons might prevent you from taking an action that could help you manifest your goals, either from fear or a lack of self-confidence.

“It will cost too much to rent a chalet for a whole month;

 Who will take care of my other pets while I am away?”

A Dream that is close to your heart is worth risking your complacency. Go for it! I encourage you to DO YOUR ONE THING! You can plan for it now, and then, Follow Through!

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Better Endings to You!