Love Equals Love

 

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I meant the first post for this month’s Topic of Life Lessons to be a general introduction to the topic, which I have already written. Instead, I have had a three-part dream this morning and realized while driving to work this morning how it conveys a major life lesson for me: Love Equals Love.  Along with this, Acts of love are Heroic!

In my dream I am visiting all day with a lifelong friend. Since my friend’s gender in the dream is ambiguous, I will call my friend here Dona (Donna/ Don). In Part I of this dream Dona is visiting me and we share some experience together like attending an event or a class, but I do not recall that segment. After that activity, Dona drives us back to her/his location and I ride in the car, talking familiarly with my friend and grateful to be in Dona’s presence. We arrive at Dona’s place and sit out on a portico (that is the word that comes as I write out the dream), suspended over a gorge with water below.

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After talking awhile I realize I have brought my orange tabby cat Emily with me on the visit but did not bring a litter box, so I say maybe we should be leaving. (This often happens in a lucid dream that some element of a physical-world concern can intervene and shorten the dream experience.) Dona says–I believe not wanting that I should leave so soon–that visiting animals often use a fenced area down in the gorge below for their needs.

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Sure enough when I look down to the gorge (where previous to this I had looked and saw a large dog in a region beyond a further fence), Emily is already down there and does relieve herself. One and then up to three or four other ‘local’ cats have gathered just outside the inner fenced area where Emily is. I mention this to Dona.

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All of a sudden Dona gets up and DIVES off from the portico over the cliff! S/he transforms into a cat on the way down so that s/he lands on her feet and then transforms into Dona again, to save Emily from the cats that might have attacked her. After realizing what has just occurred, I (with I think my sister Cheryl) go down a trail to the bottom to check on Dona and Emily.  A younger woman with blue and pink  hues, blonde, is coming up as we go down (angelic?). We get there and Dona is lying down, okay but needing to recuperate, enclosed in a blanket or even a protective tube to help him/her to regenerate from the hard landing.  Emily is fine and I have her in my arms to carry her. We will bring Dona up in the tube, but meanwhile Dona is talking about how this will make for a great story to tell later. Quite a story, Indeed! Dona says this is about the need to take bold action on behalf of others; that this is a sort of action often not taken in today’s world!

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Driving into work after this dream this morning I was replaying the dream in my mind, trying to comprehend and interpret its meaning for me. What came to mind almost immediately is:

Love = Love.

I had been thinking of a spiritual expression I like: Soul = Soul. But then came this slight emendation: LOVE EQUALS LOVE. I realized then how the dream itself was about the love that comes with lifelong friendship; and as well, Dona’s leap into the gorge off from the portico to protect my cat Emily (whom I also love) was an act of love as much as an heroic act of itself!

So yes, a Life Lesson:

Love Equals Love !

Dream Reflection: Whatever form love takes, it IS Love. And love, to be love truly, is always reciprocal.  Love engenders Heroic qualities on behalf of the Beloved.

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images are from pixabay.com

I hope that some of you reading this story can relate to this Life Lesson of Love = Love. It is a beautiful affirmation, for me, of the magnificence of Life itself:

(for, Love = Life = Love).

I welcome YOUR Story and Comments!

Mischief Managed? Or Lesson Learned in Transit: Love Is All

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I have just driven cross country with my dog Sophie and cat Emily and with two excellent friends, Arlene and Philemon, who volunteered to drive a Uhaul with all of my personal belongings, from Colorado to Ithaca, NY.  Semi-retired, house prepped and sold, on the road away from all I have known and cultivated this past 25 years, and now here, mostly moved in already, friends leaving tomorrow for their Amtrak journey home to Zuni, New Mexico.

I had thought the title for this blog after finalizing this big transition would be MISCHIEF MANAGED, meaning I have completed twenty-five years in my chosen profession as an Anthropology/ university professor and now I am “freed” from many of the responsibilities of that post. But along the way, something spectacular happened. First, my friends from Zuni and from my faculty in Colorado Springs surprised me with a wonderful dinner party they had been planning for months! As it was on the day of my cleaning and then closing on the house, I only had a short time to share my appreciation with them, but I was profoundly affected. As well, the day prior some ten friends helped me to pack the uhaul and the next day, one friend of many years helped to clean the house.

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I realized while on the road that I had set a spiritual intention when I began my life in Colorado, which was to learn what love is. And, I did! Friends from my spiritual community, from my workplace faculty, and other solid friends shared much impersonal, unconditional love and continue to do so.

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images are from pixabay.com

Next, my intention in New York with this new Life Chapter is about attaining happiness through fulfillment of my deepest potentials. A friend, Donna, once said to me: “New York is not the place to start but is the place to finish.” May it be so!

With gratitude to All who have embraced this journey in tandem with me as we each proceed with our own spiritual purpose, not Mischief Managed after all, but May the Blessings Be! Elahkwa!

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.

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!

Your Life Challenges

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A quest is more valuable when there are challenges to overcome in order to achieve it. In fact the challenges that we face in life are in direct relation with our quests as they help us to strengthen our resolve and deepen our understanding. As in fiction, in our lives as well the protagonist must overcome incredible obstacles if she or he is to arrive at a positive, meaningful outcome. Many of the best stories are TRANSFORMATIONAL; the protagonist undergoes a significant CHANGE OF CONSCIOUSNESS in the process of achieving their goals or realizing their deeper reason for the adventure.

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So we ‘should be thankful’ for our obstacles, right? They may not feel like gifts in the moment we experience them, but if we persist to overcome or to survive our challenges, we often look back with gratitude for the tempering and for the lessons learned.

So, while I have titled this post “Your Life Challenges,” I might just as well call it, “Your Greatest Lessons”! What are yours?

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To begin our weekly focus on this topic, I invite you to explore the lessons implicit in some fictional or historical storyline that contains a persistent and difficult challenge.

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I’m thinking of the epic personal sort of challenge Harry Potter faces, for example, in Voldemort. His nemesis with murderous intent through seven years of struggle, Voldemort in all his evil antics is the perfect foil for the alchemical transformation of a young boy and by extension the entire Magical World of Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry.

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The inherent duality of Good and Evil shows up in Harry as he must contend with the feelings engendered in him by the malicious attacks of Voldemort upon his own parents, his friends and himself. How can Harry conquer Voldemort without becoming LIKE him in the process? Indeed, Harry’s greatest Lesson is that both Good and Evil coexist within everyone including himself, but it is his CHOICES that will determine his character and that allow him to cultivate his strengths instead of his weaknesses. Love and friendship provide the anchors Harry can use to bring forth his best qualities despite all evil influences around and within himself. Ultimately Harry faces the greatest challenge of all: to sacrifice his own life for the sake of all he loves. Only in so doing can he finally and forever rid himself of his own darkest potentials; yet when he does, he is granted a form of rebirth of his unriddled, mature character.

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I welcome YOUR insights and stories!