The Value of Friendship– My Tribute to a Friend

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image from pixabay.com

There are places I’ll remember all my life,

though some have changed.

(All My Life, by Lennon and McCartney)

I do not believe in accidents. I do, in fact, believe in reincarnation. One of the best books I have read on the subject that has helped me understand relationships in life is The Journey of Souls, by the psychiatrist Dr. Michael Newton. Newton bases his understanding of reincarnation on transcripts from persons under hypnosis answering his questions about Souls’ experiences BETWEEN lives. These transcripts show amazing uniformity and provide a fascinating account of the spiritual nature of our relationships generally– including how we might recognize a Soul over multiple  lifetimes with whom we have a strong affinity or connection. While Newton avers that the future is not fixed or predestined in a rigid way, as there is always a Plan B if one connection in life or another does not work out so that we can still reach our goals and learn life’s lessons, still his subjects claim we often meet and form relations with some Souls over several lifetimes, and between lives we might reconnect with members of our “Soul group.”

All these places have their meanings

with lovers and friends I still can recall.

This week I want to share about aspects of a personal friendship which has helped me understand the spiritual value of Friendship altogether.  One friend in particular whom I first met when  was 17 has been an important connection ever since, despite geographical distance. This friendship has had a profound influence on my life in a way I can only call “spiritual,” and it has led me to question and arrive at my own understanding of what it means to be Soul occupying a (human) body.

I first met Donna when a high-school buddy invited me to join a fencing class in our home community. Donna was our fencing teacher, and I fell in love quickly with the art and sport of fencing, which I continued with for many years later on an intercollegiate fencing team. After the ten week class was over, I had ordered some fencing equipment which I picked up from Donna at her apartment. We began a conversation then–I might later say she became a special mentor at the time–which grew over the years into a special friendship.

Donna would read and encourage my journaling and poetry when, once a week on  Thursday afternoons, I would walk a mile and a half to her apartment to visit. She introduced me to excellent literature–from prose to philosophy and spirituality and poetry–as well as to music and art. I felt a unique sort of affinity with Donna–that when our eyes met, she was somehow mirroring me in a more experienced, dynamic, creative elder persona. I believe Donna also saw in me a diamond in the rough, with some of her own younger life aspirations and interests.

I attended college initially not far from where Donna lived, so we continued our friendship until eventually, at 25, I left for graduate school in Arizona. After that a major shift occurred. I called Donna from campus one day having felt inwardly something momentous was happening with her.

“Hello, is Donna there?”

“Just a moment.” (Her partner)

“Hello, Linda.”

The low voice at the other end of the phone I almost did not recognize; was this a friend of Donna to tell me she had passed away? But then I realized it was Donna after all.

“I am changing my name. It is odd that you called today, because

tomorrow I am having surgery.”

I put pen to paper to write down Donna’s new last name, assuming she had married her current partner.

“Donald, Linda. My new name is Donald.”

“Okay…”

Donna, to make a long story much shorter, had realized, after having successfully dealt therapeutically for several years while I had been in college with a situation of multiple personality syndrome, that her/his core gender identity was actually that of Donald and had perhaps always been such since childhood.

When I met Donald for the first time face to face a couple of summers later, my first thought was, “That’s it! That is what was always so different about Donna. This is who He truly IS.”

So, life went on. Donald has had an amazingly dynamic and successful life after ‘transitioning’ in place in his home community. For over 35 years he has given wonderful service in the arts world as well as professionally in the behavioral/ mental health field.

Of all these friends and lovers

there is noone who compares with you.

And these places lose their meaning

If I try to think of love as something new…

But this story is about our friendship through the years and about how Donna/ Donald has helped me fathom the spiritual value of Friendship.

Sometimes I have felt I could have been “Donna”; that when “Donald” stepped into little Donna’s form as a young child or baby somehow I stepped out and was born as Linda. I know that sounds incredible and probably is but a fantasy, and at the same time for me Donna has had an independent spiritual persona somewhat apart from Donald. For many years I often dreamed of visiting Donna, usually in the same, transitional sort of place, overlooking a pond with a pathway around it. We would play cards or Scrabble and continue our unending conversation. In more recent years that has shifted to where I sense Donald and Donna are indeed one and the same–merged as one, so to speak. I sometimes hope that when I leave this world, I will reconnect with my Friend and continue our spiritual friendship, eternally, as we go forward with our individual spiritual capacities.

So, a Friend. That first day as I walked to Donna’s to pick up a fencing foil, jacket, mask and a glove, I was singing “You’ve Got a Friend” by James Taylor (click here to link to that song). And often on the many Thursdays that followed, walking to visit Donna, I continued to sing and to ponder that Song.

A Friendship connects two Souls far beyond merely physical or emotional considerations or circumstances. It uplifts and extends our very notion of personhood and can reveal the eternal, Divine nature of Soul.

I welcome YOUR Comments and Story!

 

Life Mapping Your FRIENDSHIP Theme

 

After assembling a list of Shaping Events, situations or events that have “shaped the person you have become,” a life mapper looks at how these events group into kinds of events, or Life Themes. Then the mapper charts these events, color coded according to the Life Themes they have identified, plotting them as points on a graph to indicate the relative positive and/or negative impact each of these events has had upon their life overall. This life mapping process, presented fully equipped with tools for you in my new book, Your Life Path, reveals the PATTERNS by which your Life Themes have interwoven to create the very fabric and texture of your life experience.

images are from pixabay.com

FRIENDSHIP is a very common Life Theme people identify in their Life Maps. To create a thematic mapping of just this one Theme, you can simply make a list of Shaping Events or situations you associate with Friends or Friendship in your life history. Next to each event include the age you were at when the Shaping Event occurred, and rate the event +5 to -5 in terms of its retrospective impact on “the person you have become.”  Then you can use a Life Map Chart as shown below to plot the relative impact scores of your Friendship Theme using the Age Line as a timeline for the events. Where adjacent events feel connected subjectively (e.g. a -2 event of a loss of a friend followed by a +4 event of regaining that friendship), you can draw a line on the chart connecting those event points.  The resulting chart will reveal patterns in your Friendship Theme. You could also subdivide your events by individual friendships or by types of friendships, then use color coding for the events and for the lines connecting these sub-theme events to reveal deeper subtleties in the patterning of your Friendship Theme over time.

Friendship has been bedrock in my own life story, right up there with Family and Pets. My Friendship Theme has been an uplifting factor overall, with primarily strong positive impacts throughout my life, though there have been troughs (sharp dips) due to loss either from moving away from a friend or needing to separate from a friend either temporarily or permanently due to a personality clash.

So, have at! I welcome YOUR Comments or Story!

 

Friends as a Life Theme

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Many life mappers identify Friends as a primary Life Theme that brings positive inspiration and encouragement into their lives.  Friends are for many of us as significant as Family, especially in our contemporary society where so often we need to live away from our natal family to work or go to school away from our original homes. So this month’s Better Endings topic is the Life Theme of Friends. (To discover your own primary Life Themes, purchase or find my book at a local library: Your Life Path, which provides a complete Life Path Mapping Toolkit!)

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Friends have always been core to me. The sharing and unconditional reciprocity of a true, lasting friendship anchors my sense of purpose and brings great joy. I love the constancy of a true friend. Even though we may have our ups and downs or may be nearer or more distant geographically over time, a Friend is always Here, in our hearts.

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images are from pixabay.com

To begin this month’s set of posts about Friends, I turn to Khalil Gibran, whose essay on Friendship I remember since I first read it forty-five or so years ago.  I especially remember from Gibran’s essay how important it is to share the positive as well as your fears or frustrations with your Friend.

Celebrate the joy of your deep connection with your Friend.  This reminds me also of Rumi’s spiritual teacher and guide whom he refers to as The Friend, Shams-I- Tabriz. For a Friend is a Teacher of love and respect, one with whom we share unconditional, even an Eternal spiritual connection.

So for your reading pleasure, here below is Gibran on Friendship:

On Friendship
 Kahlil Gibran

Your friend is your needs answered.
He is your field which you sow with love and reap with thanksgiving.
And he is your board and your fireside.
For you come to him with your hunger, and you seek him for peace.

When your friend speaks his mind you fear not the “nay” in your own mind, nor do you withhold the “ay.”
And when he is silent your heart ceases not to listen to his heart;
For without words, in friendship, all thoughts, all desires, all expectations are born and shared, with joy that is unacclaimed.
When you part from your friend, you grieve not;
For that which you love most in him may be clearer in his absence, as the mountain to the climber is clearer from the plain.
And let there be no purpose in friendship save the deepening of the spirit.
For love that seeks aught but the disclosure of its own mystery is not love but a net cast forth: and only the unprofitable is caught.

And let your best be for your friend.
If he must know the ebb of your tide, let him know its flood also.
For what is your friend that you should seek him with hours to kill?
Seek him always with hours to live.
For it is his to fill your need, but not your emptiness.
And in the sweetness of friendship let there be laughter, and sharing of pleasures.
For in the dew of little things the heart finds its morning and is refreshed.

Turning Points — A Birthday Post

 

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My Colorado friends. Photo by Diane Launsby.

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

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

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

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

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

I’m leaving,

But there are a few doors left to close

Before I get over there.

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

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

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images are from pixabay.com

I welcome YOUR Comments and Story!

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!

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!

Walking the Labyrinth Path

Green cuted bushes (triangular shape)

Last weekend a friend came to visit. We reconnected by visiting an area where we once shared a home, and near there we walked an outdoor labyrinth on monastery grounds near our old home. While we sat on a bench waiting for another pair to complete their walk, first my friend found a beautiful red and white spotted feather from a bird (flicker?) that flew overhead; the bird then joined several others in the nearby trees. Then I looked to  the North and watched an amazing, unusual being walk stealthily past: what appeared to me to be a coyote/wolf mix  (or perhaps a stray Russian wolfhound or hybrid)! He turned his head to watch us as he continued along with his own quest.

In Native American “power animal” symbology, sometimes a flicker (woodpecker) can mean a move/ relocation; a coyote/wolf hybrid could mean something that “helps you see your own mistake” (coyote) and “being a Pathfinder” (wolf).

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So then we walked the Labyrinth (a Chartres modelled rose path). The slow winding pathway is so liberating to the mind and heart; with every turn your contemplation deepens. At times when you seem very close to the Center you are actually far away, and when you feel most far away you are but around the bend to Home, the Center that represents Self-Realization or God-Awareness.

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At the Center of this labyrinth someone had created a heart shape made of small reddish rocks, and both my friend and I deposited something meaningful into the heart. Then we walked back out, for myself I would say feeling less encumbered than on the way in.

As if this labyrinth walk were not enough, the very next day my friend took her son and his girlfriend back to that same labyrinth, and I took my dog Sophie on a walk at a Franciscan Retreat Center where—guess what?—I fairly stumbled upon yet another Chartres style outdoor Labyrinth!

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(I found this on Zillow today while surfing online for homes for sale near where I will retire in 3 years.  I actually do intend to have a labyrinth there, so this was such a strong sign of confirmation!)

So again I was able to walk the Labyrinthine path. This is a great way to “center”; to examine and release your thoughts about any situation and symbolically to reconnect with your own inner divinity. At a time in my life when I am facing a difficult ordeal at the workplace, the Labyrinth helps me to “unwind” the  complex weave.

In the Labyrinth nothing external seems too heavy or important.

The Labyrinth Path leads Home!

 

 

Mentors, Masters, and Friends: Alchemical Conversation

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Continuing this week’s theme of exploring mindful communication, and as an emerging life mapping tool, today I’d like to explore and invite a review of how mentors, Masters, family and friends have helped us learn important Life Lessons.  I invite you to do this for your own life history.  As we’ve also been a mentor, a teacher, family and friend in turn, we can also reflect some on lessons others may have gained from their conversations with us. Of course, it is always reciprocal.

Buddha Mountain

I believe in synchronicity. Every relation opens a unique window on another’s world. Every Lesson is a stepping stone along our individual spiritual Quests. When I reflect about the gifts I have received from Mentors and Friends, I find their gifts of insight and understanding have often come through what I have been looking at this week as “alchemical conversation”.  By this I mean a kind of conversation that may start as mundane or ordinary, but develops to a level of profound sharing. You walk into your mentor’s space with a question, or your friend asks how you are feeling that day. What follows in your conversation probes a topic deeply, wending like a spiral to deeper and deeper and then higher and higher levels of insight or empathetic understanding. Time seems to disappear.  Space may seem to expand within the bubble that frames you and your mentor or friend.  At some point you, together with your friend, achieve an epiphany, a realization of clarity that goes further than your original question. This is the Gold forged from the refined lead of shared experience.

I’ll share a brief summary from my own life mapping review:

Early Childhood (7-12): Karen/ Friend:

Life Lessons: Sharing imaginary playworlds, creativity unfolds in tandem with unlimited potential. Be flexible, listen, share. Friendship is Golden.

Teen Years (13-18): Barbara, Friend:

Art holds many answers and opens mysteries; it exposes elements of the Inner as well as the Outer. Adventure and Freedom require self-responsibility. Friendship is Golden.

High School: Mr. Scelsa/ English Teacher:

Teaching requires humility; if a student 30 years later acts on something you helped him learn, without remembering who he learned it from, being a teacher matters and is worthwhile.

Late Teen Years, College and beyond: Diane M./ Mentor and Friend:

Everything is possible. Hone your talents to realize your potentials. Never lose the Innocence of being a Seeker of Truth. Friendship is eternally Golden.

Undergrad College years (Buffalo, NY, 18-22): Toni P./ Mentor, Philosopher:

Be amazed by the depths of Life; “Bathe in the Ocean, daily.”

College Fencing Coach and teammate/Friend, Ro (19-22):

Teamwork and individual practice allow your abilities to shine. Reach for a Star! Explore life deeply.

Late college through Grad School years:

Zee (Master): Explore other dimensions, practice dreamwork and contemplation. Find your own answers inwardly; surrender Ego.

Pattie (Friend): “Drop, Kick!”

Chela/ Ariel (Feline Friends): Unconditional Love remains in the Heart wherever you might travel.

Colorado (38-59):

Zee and Friends: In service is your Reward.

KC/ GM (Partner/ Friend): Love is forever; Unconditional Love.

Luisa (Mentor): Excellence grows from within!

Denise (Friend): There is No Box!

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***

What really IS Alchemical Conversation? Socratic dialogue is a well-known variety. DIALECTICAL conversation would be another name used, because a dialectical conversation moves from one pole of contrasting principles to the other and achieves a Synthesis which is greater than either polarity. Archetypal dialogue, which I employ with the Life Maps Process, can also facilitate Better Endings. But now I like the idea of Alchemical Conversation, which has just come through for me via the blog posts and responses this week! What I am trying to refer you to are those sorts of connections which engage you so deeply that you reach beyond where you have been, reciprocally in conversation, or it could also result from reading, listening deeply to music, immersing in Art, playing with a pet, or “taking in” the beauty of a landscape! I would never be where I am now in life (and won’t otherwise get to where I’m yet aiming to arrive!) except for these sorts of engagement. I was fortunate from a young age to connect Soul-to-Soul with Friends who have opened Doors for me that have led to unlimited exploration!  You, too? Let’s celebrate our Connections then!

I invite your Comments and Stories!

Mentors, Masters, and Friends: Alchemical Conversation

dogs3-01-111413-813.eps

Continuing this week’s theme of exploring mindful communication, and as an emerging life mapping tool, today I’d like to explore and invite a review of how mentors, Masters, family and friends have helped us learn important Life Lessons.  I invite you to do this for your own life history.  As we’ve also been a mentor, a teacher, family and friend in turn, we can also reflect some on lessons others may have gained from their conversations with us. Of course, it is always reciprocal.

Buddha Mountain

I believe in synchronicity. Every relation opens a unique window on another’s world. Every Lesson is a stepping stone along our individual spiritual Quests. When I reflect about the gifts I have received from Mentors and Friends, I find their gifts of insight and understanding have often come through what I have been looking at this week as “alchemical conversation”.  By this I mean a kind of conversation that may start as mundane or ordinary, but develops to a level of profound sharing. You walk into your mentor’s space with a question, or your friend asks how you are feeling that day. What follows in your conversation probes a topic deeply, wending like a spiral to deeper and deeper and then higher and higher levels of insight or empathetic understanding. Time seems to disappear.  Space may seem to expand within the bubble that frames you and your mentor or friend.  At some point you, together with your friend, achieve an epiphany, a realization of clarity that goes further than your original question. This is the Gold forged from the refined lead of shared experience.

I’ll share a brief summary from my own review:

Early Childhood (7-12): Karen/ Friend

Life Lessons: Sharing imaginary playworlds, creativity unfolds in tandem with unlimited potential. Be flexible, listen, share. Friendship is Golden.

Teen Years (13-18): Barbara, Friend

Art holds many answers and opens mysteries; it exposes elements of the Inner as well as the Outer. Adventure and Freedom require self-responsibility. Friendship is Golden.

High School: Mr. S/ English Teacher

Teaching requires humility; if a student 30 years later acts on something you helped him learn, without remembering who he learned it from, being a teacher matters and is worthwhile.

Late Teen Years, College and beyond: Diane/ Mentor and Friend

Everything is possible. Hone your talents to realize your potentials. Never lose the Innocence of being a Seeker of Truth. Friendship is eternally Golden.

Undergrad College years (Buffalo, NY, 18-22): Toni P./ Mentor

Be amazed by the depths of Life; “Bathe in the Ocean, daily.”

College Fencing Coach and teammate/Friend, Ro (19-22)

Teamwork and individual practice allow your abilities to shine. Reach for a Star! Explore life deeply.

Late college through Grad School years, and beyond

Zee (Master): Explore other dimensions, practice dreamwork and contemplation. Find your own answers inwardly; surrender Ego.

Betsy (Mentor): Write for others; aim to benefit as well as to learn.

Pattie (Friend): “Drop, Kick!”

Chela/ Ariel (Feline Friends): Unconditional Love remains in the Heart wherever you might travel.

Colorado (38-59)

Zee and Friends: In service is your Reward.

KC/ GM (Partner/ Friend): Love is forever; Release those whose lives call them elsewhere;                          Unconditional Love.

Luisa (Mentor): Excellence grows from within!

Denise (Friend): There is No Box!

What some others may have gained from associating with me: Acceptance, Trust, Exploration of Ideas, Freedom to be Open, to share and unfold new potentials.

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***

What really IS Alchemical Conversation? Socratic dialogue is a well-known variety. DIALECTICAL conversation would be another name used, because a dialectical conversation moves from one pole of contrasting principles to the other and achieves a Synthesis which is greater than either polarity. Archetypal dialogue, which I employ with the Life Maps Process, can also facilitate Better Endings. But now I like the idea of Alchemical Conversation, which has just come through for me via the blog posts and responses this week! What I am trying to refer you to are those sorts of connections which engage you so deeply that you reach beyond where you have been, reciprocally in conversation, or it could also result from reading, listening deeply to music, immersing in Art, playing with a pet, or “taking in” the beauty of a landscape! I would never be where I am now in life (and won’t otherwise get to where I’m yet aiming to arrive!) except for these sorts of engagement. I was fortunate from a young age to connect Soul-to-Soul with Friends who have opened Doors for me that have led to unlimited exploration!  You, too? Let’s celebrate our Connections then!

I invite your Comments and Stories!

Also, I have added a new Link to “Panic Yesterday“, certainly a concept akin to Better Endings! IN fact, I invite you to check out all of the Blog and web sites I have linked this site to (right panel). We are all so very interconnected in the Dialectic of Living! 🙂

Your Pets Lifemap

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For our Better Endings Life Maps Activity this week, you can start by listing all of the pet friends who have shared their life with you. Using your own intuitive guidance, list your pets’ names, the years they have been in your life, and something unique or characteristic about each pet and about the time frames they shared with you. You might use an adjective or a phrase describing each one. Then create a Mapping that shows in a way that is meaningful to you an arrangement of how these pets have ‘patterned’ in your life journey. The Bubbles chart shown here is my own mapping of individual or groups of my pet friends who have been in my life in different time frames. As an example for your own creative mapping–which might take another form for you–let me describe my mapping:

The first time frame shown in the orange bubble to the right represents Special Animal Friends from my Childhood, from about 8 years old til 18. Reviewing the list of some of my favorite animal friends from that time, I see some patterns. I befriended a wide variety of animals, both wild and domestic. I was always bringing animals home: frogs, white mice, a pigeon who flew into my garage and stayed for a year. I rode wild colts with my neighbor friends at local horse farms. I had a parakeet, Petesy, who was a close friend to talk to for many years. There were many cats…most of which I also brought home and only a few of which my father let me keep; and Queenie, a great companion beagle-poodle, who was ubiquitous as my special friend until and even after I left home at 18 for college.  These childhood friends exposed me to my own wildness and unconditional love. Animals were my special family, my Friends.

Reading my Pets Lifemap from East to South to West to North (yes, like a Medicine Wheel!), next came my heart throb of 11 years, my first solo pet away from home in college: Chela. I described her in my pet ‘reincarnation’ story Wednesday. What a great friend and constant companion Chela was. She accompanied me on my Big Move, from East to West; from Buffalo to Phoenix, Arizona. I would say she was a lifeline for me. CONTINUITY has always been one of my most valued and important values in relationships, and Chela was there for me–and I for her–as a thread of continuity linking my Childhood to my later life Journey in graduate school, dissertation research at Zuni,and beyond.

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After Chela left, Ariel, shown here, moved into my Heart.  She was a dear Soul companion (absolutely I believe that Animals are Soul, Too), for 20 years!  Reflecting on her qualities that were a big part of my journey with her and other pets we also had while she was with me, I see attributes of their special characters that mirror archetypal character aspects  of myself: Intelligent/ Artistic Ariel; Freedom loving Skyway (a brindle dog who was an escape artist and loved to run!); Quiet/ Timid Ellie (an orange boxer/Rhodesian Ridgeback mix who was Skyway’s life companion and mine but who was very timid; a one person dog); and Expressive Loki (still in my life; a beautiful, all-white cat who is very communicative; he was quite the mischievous kitty and is such a SOLID friend!).

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All but Loki passed–by their own life stories–before the next Ensemble Set arrived. I now live with Loki-Emily-Arthur (3 cats) and Sophia (Sophie, my Shorkie buddie; shown above with my mother, Elizabeth).  All of them are always there and I am there for them. They are my refuge, the Family I return to daily and spend the nights with between having to be out in the world. As a most naturally quiet and introspective sort of person myself, my pets are my touchstones. I am entirely humbled by their magnificent unconditional love and companionship. They are constant and true, whatever hardships or complexities have come into and gone out of my life among other Humans.

So try mapping your animal friends in relation to your life history. When did which of them enter and exit? What QUALITIES did they exhibit for you; what relationships did you learn about through them? People say we tend to resemble our pets. I would say there are no accidents and each of our special friends has had a special affinity with us; an archetypal synchronicity. Take some time if you would then to pause and APPRECIATE the wonderful LIFE GIFTS each of your animal–and human too, of course!–friends have shared!

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I invite you to compose your own Pet Life Mapping. And do feel free to share your insights–or pictures!–with us!