Re-Vision a Relationship (Past, Present or Future)

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For our final February weekly post about the Life Theme of RELATIONSHIPS, I invite you to consider how you might wish to have changed or to currently ‘tweak’ some aspect of a meaningful relationship in your life. With the divine gift of imagination, you are capable of effectively “re-visioning” your relationship events; past, present or future.

It may help first to consider if there is a PATTERN about some of your relationships that you would choose to alter if you could.  This is an active exercise; it is about what YOU CAN/ COULD have done differently–or would do differently today–that might have lead to some different results.  Re-visioning a past event or situation can have a profound influence on your current disposition when it comes to actions or decisions you could be contemplating now, so that you can avoid pitfalls of the past.

The strength of this exercise is that it brings your present awareness to bear either on a past situation or more mindfully upon a present set of circumstances.

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So do this with full exercise of your (re-)constructive imagination. Once you have identified a pattern you would wish to change and you have remembered a particular moment in a particular relationship which itself you feel you might/’should’ have enacted differently in retrospect, imagine yourself IN THAT MOMENT again. This time, change  the conversation or the action knowingly, with the awareness you have since gained. Journal or internally dialogue with the other person in this relationship moment. Let him or her speak, and respond or initiate your own conversation as it could have been rather than as it was.  Listen to the other person and see that they listen to and hear you deeply.  Continue the scenario in your imagination until you bring it to a new level of resolution. As you emerge from your reverie, give yourself time to reflect on how the future might have been altered from this re-visioned exchange.

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I find that when I do this re-vision the past technique–and I have often as a life mapping tool (see right panel)–it really feels as if not just the memory of the event but the actual event itself HAS CHANGED. I feel less attachment afterwards to the initial triggering moment and better equipped to approach any similar situation in the present or future.

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!

What are Your LIFE THEMES?

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Here is a very simple and effective way to identify your Life Themes, those recurring situation and relationship types that form the “stuff” of much of your life activity within the Life Chapters of your Life Story:

  • Reflect and write a LIST of 10-15 significant events that have “shaped you as the person you have become.” This does not have to be an exhaustive list, and the events or situations on your list do not have to have been earth shattering, just significant.
  • After you have composed your list of significant “shaping” events or situations, read back through this list several times and SORT your events into KINDS of events. Assign personally meaningful NAMES to these Kinds of Events. These are your LIFE THEMES.

You may list your LIFE THEMES below and you can print out this post to remember them:

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Now if you like, you can compare your list of LIFE THEMES with the twelve monthly Themes I have selected for us to focus on this year at Better Endings for Your Life Path. (You can also find these by clicking on the Monthly Topics menu tab.)

January –     Health

February –   Romance/ Relationships

March –       Vocation

April –          Work

May –           Family

June –          Adventure/ Travel

July –           Friends

August –      Relocation/ Moves   

September– Education

October –     Spirituality

November – Pets

December – Life Lessons

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images are from pixabay.com

Are some of your LIFE THEMES similar to the monthly Themes listed above? You might benefit from associating your LIFE THEMES with some of these monthly topics, then I encourage you to focus on YOUR Life Theme issues and lessons as we focus on these topics this year. I will provide active imagination and journaling prompts to help you to reflect on your own experiences.

I welcome your Comments and Stories!

Relationship Better Endings

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When I coach people through a Life Path Mapping process, during a reflective phase I ask them to consider how they have managed transitions in their lives.  For each major Turning Point they have identified with their life mapping, I ask them whether in retrospect they wish they would have done anything differently and, if so, what might have transpired.

Most life mappers tend to say they would not make any changes in their past decisions or choices, because of all the subsequent change that also would have occurred.  They have learned from whatever has happened, so why look back?  Yet, those who do entertain this almost taboo thought experiment find it illuminating because it helps them to focus on what really are their core values and long-term goals.

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Significant relationships often bring about Turning Points in our lives.  Entering a new relationship, with another person or with a pet or with new colleagues as you assume a new role in your career, opens many fresh opportunities for growth and development. It is like you have pressed a REFRESH button, although of course soon you are likely to encounter similar situations and challenges you have faced before. How will you approach this similar challenge this time?

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One way to ‘trouble shoot’ fresh relationships is to review your past.  Take stock of the strengths you bring to these new relations as well as the patterns of inhibitions or difficulties you have encountered before.

Here is a Better Endings journaling tool you are welcome to entertain:

Reflect upon a relationship from your life history that was never well resolved or that continues to be troublesome in some respects, or one that ended poorly.  Consider that situation as a STORY.  Now then, change that story.  Imagine and/or journal about and re-write the ending or a better resolution of that relationship. What might have happened or could happen differently?  

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images are from pixabay.com

(After my own reflections today): If you find on reflection that you feel there is nothing about your past relations that you COULD have changed (as that is how it seems they were meant to be), still you can look ahead and contemplate what changes you might make as you approach a new relationship or to improve your present relations.

The more attention you give to how YOU might improve your past relations, the better prepared you may be to go forward with a new attitude, welcoming the new opportunities before you!

I welcome your Comments and Stories!

Revelations Can Carry You Forward

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The last few months I have been focusing a lot in these posts on the trials and descent process necessary in order to embark well on one’s journey of self discovery and fulfillment. Of course that is exactly what is needed. A Quest, to be worthwhile, advances you toward achieving your deepest aspirations so you can express your unique talents and potentials.

This is the High Adventure of the Soul of which Joseph Campbell speaks. The initial threshold guardians, descent and trials are to help you to clarify your Goal, to claim your mission and purpose, and to develop your resolve. You have crossed the first threshold into the adventure itself, but you must illuminate the passage ahead so that your adventure will not simply be wandering through a maze without a centered destination to reach. The revelations from your initial trials are essential. They allow you to refine your goals.

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I think of Castaway as offering an excellent example of the value of trials and revelations. Chuck, once marooned on his island, encounters many failures in his early attempts to escape until the realization after testing a possible suicide ploy that also fails, that he must face up to the immense challenge and strive actively to survive, opens the possibility, this reader would say, of his ultimate success in leaving the island and sacrificing his solitude there to return to his social arena of life. Chuck Noland learned he could survive on his own yet that was not enough to be truly living. The metaphor of the angel wing sail that let him finally overcome the tidal forces imposing his solitude served literally to deliver the character from his prison of isolation even while that isolation itself brought invaluable lessons about the meaning of life itself.

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A similar narrative framing the import of trials and revelations is found in The Life of Pi. There the psychological drama brings the stranded ocean wayfarer to the point of challenging his faith in the goodness of God, yet at every critical point of facing the likelihood and the inevitability even of death, Pi thanks God rather than cursing his fate, and it is then that new positive opportunities abound. Pi, too, like Chuck Noland, survives to live out his life more fundamentally assured of the love of God and the interconnectedness of life in its entirety.

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images are from pixabay.com

JOURNAL PROMPT: What revelations have you gleaned from your times of trial or testing that have or can carry you forward to fulfilling your Soul purpose in this life?

I welcome YOUR COMMENTS AND STORY!

[P.S. to Readers: I will be traveling until the 25th so will not post again until after that trip, but I look forward to reading your Comments!]

Digging Out

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“The unexamined life is not worth living.” (Socrates)

I am in a reflective mood this November, month of the DESCENDER Archetype.  I am contemplating the last 24 year period of my life (two twelve year cycles).

It has not been all roses, yet it has been lesson bearing, gradually progressive and illuminating in many respects.

How much to share? (This piece derives from a journaling exploration rather than being a direct blog post per se, so I will cull from the larger journaling reflections to share what I can).

I encourage you to similarly “sink into reflection” this month, to ALLOW your Descender to show you a way to DIG OUT from encrusted patterns or routines.

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Many Good Times

With the freedom I have had at work and in my personal life as a single professional, writer, cleric, sister/daughter, and friend/ pet companion, I have accomplished much of what I have set my goals to manifest. I truly am Living My Dream, Now! in the process of preparing my book for the public, a work of love (Your Life Path), finally for publication. I realize that Living Your Dream IS a PROCESS, not a single snapshot sort of destination. I have been able to do this “my way” in most respects, so I am deeply grateful for the freedom and for the inspiration of those who most understand and have supported my work and feelings through the years.

Some Not So Good Times

I have no regrets though a deep sadness regarding relationships that have not been sustained over time. Loss has affected me more deeply than I outwardly acknowledge, and physical ailments are beginning to crop up that reflect my submerged feelings. Stress is a byproduct of living in this day and age, it seems, though I am grateful for spiritual practices and inner spiritual guidance I have been fortunate to have learned  to tune into and receive that have sustained my optimism despite necessary setbacks along the way.

Abundant Life Lessons

My life has been Sooo rich and abundant in lessons: daily, over time, and in the Moment. While developing a self-discovery, personal growth program (to be shared soon with the upcoming book), I have piloted first for myself every self-help technique or Tool that I will share there, so I have benefitted greatly every step of the way.

I have gained many life Lessons about service. Leadership does not come without personality conflicts and sometimes having to take steps I would personally rather not have to have taken that have affected other peoples’ lives. But I have been learning about the Law of Balance and about the importance of Patience and Detachment.

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COMING FULL CIRCLE

As I prepare to shift soon away from my professional academic job into a sabbatical this Spring and then “retirement” (read, graduation from Academe!) just one year later, I feel excited and am ready to launch a promotion campaign for the book and initiate a next Life Chapter as an author and workshop presenter, and to return to my Home base nearer my family to live in a lovely lakeside community.

It seems most of the big shifts throughout my life have come with “Crossing the Great Waters” or relocating. This goes back to early family life as my father relocated many times from job transfers. I guess I learned then that growth comes with change. I learned as a youth to anticipate a Big Move by reflecting on current conditions and planning positive change to implement with the move; so, this truly does represent one more stage of Coming Full Circle.

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images are from pixabay.com

I am grateful for ALL, and TO all who have been friends and family and coworkers along the way. Life EXPANDS as we do in states of consciousness, so I welcome this expansion and wish everyone else the same freedom, sense of responsibility, and love as I have been blessed to enjoy.

Advice from your Golden Child

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A major advantage and goal of getting to know your archetypal ‘parts of Self’ is that you can call upon various of your archetypal sub-selves to draw upon their specific perspectives and strengths of character. After all, these archetypal energies are facets of your Self.  Your Golden Child is that charismatic part of yourself that is always willing to step forward to help you express yourself boldly when the situation calls for that. But Golden Child is one of those archetypal personae that many of us—not Leos, for instance—tend to suppress or bury.

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Can you think of a current situation in your life that could benefit from your stepping forth to make bold proclamations? Well then, even if you may not be ready to let your Golden Child shine forth fully on your life stage, I invite you to a technique that can help you allow your Golden Child to give you (or others) the advice It is ready to proclaim.

This is an active imagination technique such as Carl Jung and James Hillman have used to encounter  archetypal personae in their own unconscious domains.

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Set some alone time to spend a half an hour or so in a quiet space where you will not be interrupted. With eyes closed or open (your choice), imagine! Let yourself sink into a part of yourself where your Golden Child lives. Ask him or her about a situation in your life where you could use strong advice. Have a conversation or just listen/attend to what this bold facet of yourself wants to say to you about the situation. You could also imagine someone else there with you, someone you wish you could be bold enough to say something to that you really wish you could say.

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images are from pixabay.com

When you complete your active imagination session, I encourage you to journal about it. Either write out the dialogue as you remember it or at least record the bold statements that your Golden Child proclaimed as messages from your unconscious. By the way, what is she or he like, that part of you that gets to say everything you’d like to be able to express? How might you allow that part of yourself to have more of a voice in your life? Maybe in that situation you were contemplating? Write ONE STATEMENT that boldly proclaims what you need to say. You can print this out and write your statement below if you wish to:

 

I welcome your Comments and Stories!

 

June, Month of the COMMUNICATOR

 

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The COMMUNICATOR Archetype

 (per Debra Breazzano, LPC)

Mission: To link, be a messenger

Shadow: Chatterbox or silent treatment

Strength Qualities: Synthesizing, curious

Being a Communicator is a fundamental capacity of being human. As we learn about how best to communicate, or also how worst to express ourselves, we develop and cultivate a “Voice” which is distinctly our own yet which may represent as well a style of communicating which feels natural or effective. That part of you which has the ROLE of being The Communicator is a member of your Archetypal ensemble cast of personae that together comprise your personal Self. This month, I invite you to explore and celebrate your own COMMUNICATOR nature.

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What have been some of your most significant positive (Strength mode) and negative (Shadow mode) role models for developing your Communicator persona? What characteristics have you learned from them that are embedded in your own Communicator part-of-self?  For example, from a high school English teacher mentor, Mr. Scelsa, I learned alot about communicating as a teacher: asking good questions and listening from the heart to help students progress from wherever they are at to a next level that suits their own interests or needs. From a graduate school mentor, Betsy, I learned about how to simplify academic writing in order to reach a broad interdisciplinary audience.

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From blogging I am learning how to use common language and very open prose to communicate with a public readership. I highly recommend blogging to all writers and artists! Also from a friend, Jan, I learned many years ago and continue to try to develop the art of sharing feelings and engaging deeply in friendship. Yet, I have also observed in myself and others communication faux pas‘s and miscommunication, usually involving generalized mistrust; these are ways of communicating that I prefer to avoid.

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Communicating about what matters to you, and listening from the heart to what matters to others, is important in and of itself, always. Communication allows you to exteriorize your thoughts and feelings. Often it is best to start that process inwardly, though, or by means of journal writing.

One technique you can use to increase your facility with communicating about what matters to you is to have a conversation, either in active contemplation/meditation or in writing, with your own Inner Guide or higher consciousness. Just this afternoon, for example, while waiting for food at a restaurant, I journalled an internal dialogue about something I have been worrying over in the form of a conversation with my spiritual Guide (I call him Zee). It worked wonders! He helped me envision more flexibly about some future concerns, and said: “Do not let externals determine your level of happiness or fulfillment.” Thanks, Zee!

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images are from pixabay.com

So try it, you might like it. Just start a conversation on paper, and allow it to proceed naturally, perhaps in question and answer mode. Let it continue until you have arrived at some insights that help you progress in a positive way with your thoughts or concerns.

I welcome your Comments and stories!

Open Mike

So are you clear about what I mean when referring to your own Archetype Allies? These are your at least partly submerged or unconscious “parts of Self” that compose aspects or facets (like alternative “faces”) of your personality. As a cultural anthropologist I would say that you develop some archetypal potentials rather than others as you acquire ROLE IDENTITIES.  For example, in romantic relationships you may develop your LOVER archetypal potentials; as a doctor you may draw upon the HEALER archetype; or as a writer you are likely to express the universal archetypal potentials of a COMMUNICATOR.

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Still in all, while everyone has the potential for expression of all twelve of the universal or primordial classes of Archetypal Persona forms (see the wheel below, based on Dr. Charles and Nin Bebeau of the Avalon Archetype Institute), most of us will express some of these as dominant modes versus others, and the form of expression will vary based on your situational experience and other personality factors.

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An approach I work with a lot myself and encourage through coaching via the Life Maps Process that I will be presenting in the upcoming book, Life Paths, is a technique I call Archetype Dialogue practice. One stage of this process I call “Open Mike.” To get to know some of your archetypal dispositions or members of your “ensemble cast of Archetypal characters,” you can simply contemplate upon a topic that is meaningful to you, perhaps a question involving an upcoming decision or a possible transition in your life, or a goal.  “Sink into a reverie” sort of state; that is, allow yourself to “descend” to a subconscious awareness level, and invite your archetypal subselves to speak out in their distinctive voices or from various of your own dynamically complex points of view or attitudes.

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You can also invite any one of your archetypal allies to step up to the “open mike” about a topic of relevance to its specific outlook. Since we are closing this month’s focus on the COMMUNICATOR archetype in association with the metaphor of Life is Heeding the Call to Realize Your Dream, I invite you to call upon your unconscious COMMUNICATOR persona one more time. Invite the COMMUNICATOR aspect of your Self to speak up about a topic relating to your own Life Dream or a significant GOAL. You can engage your COMMUNICATOR inwardly via active imagination and then record your experience in your journal or as a story, or you can directly transcribe a dialogue with your COMMUNICATOR in a dialogic writing mode.

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Allow me to briefly exemplify from the perspective of calling forth my own COMMUNICATOR persona:

LW:  So are you there, Communicator? What shall I call you?

C: Call me what you wish, I do suppose. I am quite adaptible, after all. How do you wish for me to express myself Now?

LW: In your Writer mode, I guess, for Open Mike.

C: About what topic, then?

LW: The upcoming meeting with our Agent.

C: But of course.  I would emphasize how important it is for us to be clear with her and to LISTEN VERY WELL. Communication is a two-way street, and this is a rare, golden opportunity for you and for all of us, to Listen and to Learn.

LW: I hope this meeting can result in the project going forward, the proposal being sent out soon.

C: Yes, but please do let the Moment reveal its own potentials. Trust in Spirit; have faith in your inner as well as your outer guidance to reveal what is needed of us next as stewards of the book’s most effective emergence into publication.

LW: The faith of the mustard seed, do you mean?

C: Or of the Acorn, as we have talked about previously with our MYSTIC Ally.

LW: So, why the Acorn?

C: Acorn has within its seed nature the capacity to grow into a mighty Oak, its roots descending deeply into the nurturant Mother Earth while its branches reach far upwards toward the Heavens.

LW: You took that metaphor from Stranger by the River by Paul Twitchell.

C: Indeed, yes I did! But I added the Seed metaphor, as you have been thinking about how the life mapping Tools are also seeds.

LW: Beautiful! Okay then, together here we go…

C: We are Multiple, yet together we are One!

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I welcome YOUR insights and stories!

(As I am traveling, my next post for this site will be on Tuesday to begin our new monthly cycle.

P.S.: The meeting went well !!!)

The Blog

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Blogging has become–for now, for me–a primary mode of communicating. Whereas I used to journal profusely, apart from dream journaling, book editing and working on scholarly article projects, I find that when I sit down to “just write,” almost invariably since I started this blog, it is a “post” that emerges.

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Blogging is a vital genre for sharing and for self-exploration. Any writer desires to connect with readers, and blogging is a ready form for reaching a general public. I find that when I sit down to write a post, my inner Communicator archetype persona is an Ally, a part of Self that knows what to write about next as an unconscious wellspring. I love to observe this process, to allow the blog-author within myself to gradually unfold and unwind the archetypal and self-discovery/ personal development topical themes around which this blog site is focussed.

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After 370 posts since November 2014, I am somewhat bemused to see how the blog ‘voice’ has taken on somewhat a life of its own. Hopefully some of you have tried out some of the life mapping tools being presented. I want to thank every and any reader for helping to facilitate this particular Muse!

 

Your Communicator as Writer

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A writer is first and foremost a Communicator, so being an author is an archetypal profession. What archetypal forms of the Writer/Communicator do you draw upon in composing your manner of writing?

Some authors might emulate the communicative style of a well known writer whose works they admire. This can help initially to establish a narrative “voice”; however, ultimately your own unconscious Communicator, as your archetype Ally, can more genuinely articulate your unique point of view.

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What are you passionate about? Draw from that. Allow your inner Communicator persona to express through your writing your most authentic Self.

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Consider then how you can tune into your Communicator part of Self. Archetypal Dialogue is a simple way to connect. Simply imagine your Communicator archetype ally as an individual point of view within your unconscious makeup. Establish a conversation, either by active imagination or via direct journaling, alternating between your conscious and this usually subconscious perspective.

I welcome your insights and stories!

Avril, My Inner ARTIST

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I highly recommend “archetype dialogue” as a fun, dynamic mode of active imagination and/or journaling. It can help you to meet &  greet your own usually unconscious ensemble cast of archetypal personas that are very important facets of your own Self! Just as an example of how freeform yet deep-reaching and energizing an informal practice of archetypal tuning in and dialogue can be, allow me to model the approach by engaging in conversation with my own ARTIST Ally.

The process is simple. Relax and invite your archetypal cast of characters or one of them in specific to engage in dialogue. Allow yourself to shift between consciousness states naturally. It may help to consider how dominant archetypes are associated with role personas you occupy. Shift attention to a situational mode in which you normally ‘channel’—as it were; or, enact—the archetypal viewpoint you wish to engage with (e.g., if you are a teacher, the Teacher archetype, or as a Parent, the Nourisher or the Elder Leader archetype). In this dialogue your core conscious persona—“you” as your normal subjective self, or Soul—will usually remain the interviewing or initiating narrator.

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So, to begin:

L:            What may I call you?

A:           I am April; you know: lw/avril !

L:            Oh, well that is lovely then. It makes sense!

A:           Tell the story for your blog post; I’ll help…

L:            Well, okay. When I was in college in Buffalo I had an amazing mentor who was a Philosophy professor, Toni (Antoinette) Mann Paterson. She became a good friend. While she was first getting to know me as a student, through a Creative Studies program she was helping facilitate one semester, Toni asked me one day:

“What is your name?”

“Linda,” I answered, bemused because she already knew that.

“No, it’s not! I mean, what is your REAL name?”

“(Long pause)… … April?”

“Yes, That’s it! You don’t feel to me like a Linda, at all. Now April, that name suits you.”

L:            Okay, so the name April for me actually goes back to when I was around 7 or 8. My older brother told me I was an orphan. He used the fact that my Mom had lost my birth certificate to convince me I had been adopted. Since I was smaller than my siblings and always felt somewhat an awkward child, it was not hard for me to believe my brother’s ruse. I came up then with the alternate name of April from a little girl down the street who often played on a trampoline in her yard. Having the name of a month appealed to my sense of difference; especially “April”.

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A:           It was me who was the author of the artistic aspects of your journaling then, when you signed lw/avril !

L:            So you were!

A:           I wrote poetry, and invented your “Foto” scapes practice of describing scenes with words as you would use a “Camera Obscura”…

L:            The name of one of our journals!  I—or we, then—journalled constantly back then—filling some 20 journals in the first four years of college. Thanks for that! I have always thought of my journal as a Friend; I guess that is, in part, you!

A:           And our Inner Guide, too, the Mahanta.

L:            Absolutely.

A:           So then, what has been the value to you of our journaling?

L:            It has never ended; this very conversation and this blog are extensions of our never-ending alliance!

A:           C’est bon! Oui, Oui, mon Amie!

lw / Avril

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I invite and welcome YOUR insights and stories!

Using Life Metaphors as Positive Affirmations

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Life Is… A GOLDEN OPPORTUNITY! This is our Life Metaphor theme especially for this week and throughout the rest of this month of November.  A Golden Opportunity means, you have the freedom to be creative in your life, every day and always! There are opportunities around every corner, every turn in the road.  Setbacks are opportunities for change or a new direction. Hardships offer lessons, opportunities for new growth, new vistas.

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Why focus on positive or “Better Endings” Life Metaphors?  A metaphor is a cognitive scaffold; it allows us to orient ourselves to the images and to the PATHWAY represented therein. As a Golden Opportunity, life is OPEN in all directions; nothing is set in stone; everything is rich in rewarding choices.

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Can you think of times in your life when you have realized how life is a Golden Opportunity? Maybe when you graduated from high school or from college? Suddenly the “world is your oyster” (another positive metaphor”: you could take the job of your choice or travel to live in a setting or location full of rich possibility! Or perhaps your marriage or the birth of a child brought joy to you in the awareness of life’s infinite potentials.

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On the other hand, is there a situation in your life right now where you might be feeling “stuck” or “pinned down”? Those are also metaphoric scaffolds. You can apply a positive Life Metaphor as an AFFIRMATION. Look at this “stuck” situation and replace it with the repeating mantra: “Life is a Golden Opportunity”! As a creative exercise, repeat this affirmation; write it or say it aloud or inwardly 12 times, while gently focusing attention on your situation.

Do you begin to see some light ‘around the edges’ of your stuck situation? What OPPORTUNITY is implicit, even if heretofore hidden, in your present set of conditions? This is a question ripe for active imagination, contemplation, meditation or prayer.  Ask inwardly to be shown, how might this situation offer a Golden Opportunity?

What can you be doing in your life Now, to manifest this opportunity?

As you arrive at some insight, you can journal about it or talk about it, or create a poem or artwork to ILLUMINATE and to remember and reinforce your new awareness.

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For me, I can acknowledge feeling stuck in a particular situation that I have not felt I have much control over, lately. But, Life is a GOLDEN OPPPORTUNITY! So, I will maintain faith that things are as they are meant to be, Now. I will look for the opening, for the opportunity to ACT in a manner that may release the potentials I long to realize; the Gold at the end of the Rainbow!

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I welcome your thoughts and comments about this theme. How is YOUR life or a specific situation you have been feeling stuck within actually or also a Golden Opportunity?

 AND:

Synchronicity Sharing:

Isn’t this image and thought below a beautiful awareness that highlights how life is full of possibilities?

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This artistic image with words about how Life is a Golden Opportunity is reposted from Mandi of Caged No More, who reblogged it on Nov. 14 from Mimi’s blog, Everyday Positive Quotes (Nov 15, 2014: http://everydaypositivequote.wordpress.com/2014/11/15/new-beginning/ ). Mimi’s title for the post is: New Beginning!

 

Meet & Greet Your Archetype Cast of Characters

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In Life Paths I will introduce you to an approach to working with your situational Archetypes–based on the twelve universal archetype figures–that can help you get to know yourself better. Archetypal psychology often recommends some form of “archetype dialogue” practice, yet usually this is very immediate, tapping into archetypal impulses a person recognizes in relation to a specific situation or during a specific moment of reflection or repose during a therapeutic session or a meditative practice. Without giving too much ‘away’ in this blog space—especially since the full context of the Life Paths approach is needed in order to utilize the approach to its best advantage as a self-help process—I will invite you to a processual form of Archetype Dialogue Practice that utilizes your own Life Theme-based, or situational, archetypes.

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Archetypal impulses are always present beneath the surface of your conscious attitudes and perceptions. And everyone has archetypal impulses or an archetypal architecture of unconscious dimensions of the personality.  How can you recognize some of these? Just slow down, quiet the conscious mental stream of consciousness for a bit, and Listen! What subtle attitudes would express themselves if you allowed yourself to give voice to them? Remember, you may ASK! Inquire of your unconscious sub-selves, “What Are You About?” “How do YOU feel about an issue or a decision?” “What do you wish I/we would DO?”

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Carl G. Jung understood Archetypes of the Unconscious (e.g. see his book of that title) better than most people, because he allowed himself to make contact in a direct way with his own unconscious personae. His posthumously published THE RED BOOK (2009) is a transcript of Jung’s own journal chronicling his intentional Journey into the depths of his own unconscious domains. For an initial consecutive series of 19 evenings (and continuing on and off for 16 years thereafter) Jung practiced a gentle form of ACTIVE IMAGINATION, a form of meditative, active contemplation, to “sink” into his own unconscious, imaginative realms in order to explore the otherwise ‘buried’ internal spaces and persons of his Psyche. I have read THE RED BOOK (except for the original German), and I recommend it highly! As Sonu Shamdasani, the editor of The Red Book notes, Jung encouraged his therapeutic clients and friends to compose their own ‘red books’: their own Journals in which they would record encounters with their archetypal denizens of the unconscious, through dreams and active imagination.

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Let me offer a basic approach to beginning a form of archetype dialogue. First review your Life Themes. These are the KINDS of events or situations represented by your set of Significant Life Events or shaping events. An earlier post allows you to reconstruct these (use this site’s Search engine for Life Themes), or simply make a list now of some of the most significant shaping events of your life, events that have “shaped the person you have become.” After composing your list, review the events and SORT each event into a category of KINDS of shaping events. These categories are your LIFE THEMES, recurring kinds of events and situations that weave through your life and make of your life a dramatic story!

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Now then, reflect on your set of LIFE THEMES (e.g. Work, Romance, Spirituality, Travel, etcetera) in relation to the ARCHETYPAL TWELVE presented below (see Friday, 8/15/14 post for discussion):

ELDER LEADER   ARTIST  TEACHER

LOVER   IDEALIST  COMMUNICATOR

WARRIOR  GOLDEN CHILD HEALER

NURTURER  DESCENDER  MYSTIC

For now, just by using the descriptive character names of these twelve archetypal figures (tables of traits will be presented in Life Paths), try to associate at least one ARCHETYPE with each of your Life Themes. For example, a Romance theme might be associated with a LOVER archetype, or a Family theme might relate to NURTURER or ELDER LEADER. Each archetype could pertain to masculine or feminine traits and could be in either a positive or Strength mode, or in a negative, Shadow mode.

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Once you have identified ARCHETYPES with your own set of recurring LIFE THEMES, try starting an imaginative dialogue with one or more of these Archetype figures. Start with active imagination if you can; close your eyes, center yourself in a quiet space, and envision one or more of these Archetypes as if they are characters that inhabit your unconscious. Start a conversation. When you come out of your reverie, write down what you can of the conversation, or simply generate the dialogue as you compose it directly in your journal.

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Let your initial exploration of archetypal impulses through archetype dialogue journaling be of a light, general form. Just start by getting to know these parts of self; aspects of your Self that show up in your SOCIAL ROLES that are activated as you experience recurring LIFE THEME events or situations. Simply visit with and/or invite your unconscious archetypal characters to dialogue!

Here is a hypothetical sample:

L:  I invite my archetypes to introduce yourselves to me and to each other. Who is there?

A: You can do it, Linda!

L: Who is this?

A: You might call me NURTURER. I support you; don’t give up!

L: Sometimes, honestly, I almost think I should.

B: Stay true to your Mission. Get yourself out of the Way.

L: Mystic?

B: Okay, if you like. …Remember, this is what you are here to do, there is no turning back. Remember you have the Response-ABILITY to Realize your Dreams, not just for Getting By.

L: Thanks for the reminder. I need ALL of your support. Speak up whenever you feel you want to or need to.

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To Readers: I have been using this form of Archetype Dialogue already for several years. I find it a very natural and helpful way to “Tune In” to my own unconscious attitudes and perspectives that I might otherwise ignore or “bury”. This is a simple imaginative technique anyone can use. These perspectives are not OTHER than or OUTSIDE from yourself. They ARE You, just different dimensions or facets OF your personality structure. So these are not outside “entities” or “demons” you are inviting; if by any means something very “other” seems to manifest itself, by all means end your session and close your journal! Indeed some of these inner aspects might have some negative feelings or attitudes to express; welcome this in order to hear and understand those feelings, but be clear from when you start your dialogue that the dialogue field is a SAFE SPACE. If you like, you can begin by calling on your own positive Spiritual Guides to maintain a protective inner environment. If you are currently engaged in a psychiatric or therapeutic treatment program, I recommend for you to share this with your analyst or therapist before proceeding.

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If you like you can artistically represent any archetypal encounters or insights or perspectives you gain from this imaginative practice. Jung used artistic creations, especially Mandalas, to represent his archetypal experiences. (You can see some of these at the Amazon site linked to for THE RED BOOK, above). After every session of active imagination, Jung painted something about the experience to represent the purpose or meaning of that archetypal experience in his life.

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So, Enjoy!

I welcome your queries, insights, and any results that you may wish to share!

Wending Your Way

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My own primary Life Themes (as an example) are Education, Spirituality, Family, Friends, Pets, Writing, Travel, and Romance.  All of my significant “shaping” events represent one or more of these Themes.  These Themes have had rather distinctive trends and they have had quite different sorts of impacts on my life.  Education has had a progressive,’ ramp-like pattern, creating a very gradual incline.  I have experienced spirituality by a sequence of plateaus, step by step and with wider and longer plateaus along the way. Friendship has generally been more like a rising slope to a steady table for each relationship, though there have been a couple of major dips or blockages. Romance…well, let’s say that went through a rather Up and Down, roller coaster sort of pattern until it flatlined several years ago, though on a positive note. Pets are almost always a strong and positive influence, with dips when their shorter life span takes them, ever too soon.  Travel is always a lifting factor, no matter what else is going on. It brings forth my Idealism and my ambition to forge new pathways; to reach for distant horizons and to realize my dreams.

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How about you? If you were to draw the trend or pattern of each of your primary Life Themes, what tendencies and impacts does each one weave? Do some Life Themes tend to lift you higher while others hold you back or keep you ‘down’ in some respect? Do you tend to shift to one or another of these thematic threads unconsciously to negotiate the ups and downs of your life? I invite you to sketch these patterns out; you can use different colored pencils or  crayons for each Life Theme trend or pattern. If you show each one chronologically from birth til now, you can see how their different patterns overlap or relate to each other. I encourage you also to write about these trends and about how you are impacted by your particular combination of recurring kinds of situations in your life.

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One life mapper I have interviewed—I’ll call him Scott—went through a rocky period of trying to establish himself in a sales clerk career, only to gain and then lose several jobs. Every time he would lose one position, he would look for work further away from home and then he would move to take the new job; only to lose that job too.  Then he would move back to his home town in defeat.  Travel was Scott’s attempt to jump-start his work life, but he described his losses as arriving at “no pot of gold”.

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For everyone, Life Themes form dramatic arcs in our life. They set the stage for our most dramatic moments; our successes or losses, our sorrows and our joys. They bring variety to our lives, the “spice of life”.

I encourage you to take some time to explore and reflect on how your own Life Themes have impacted you or how they help you to express your sense of identity and your feelings, motivations and attitudes. How do they affect your Life Goals?

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I always welcome YOUR insights and stories!

Stay tuned Sunday for next week’s topic: Your Turning Points!

Free Yourself! Write a Better Ending

“So we beat on,
boats against the current,
borne back ceaselessly
into the Past.”
F.Scott Fitzgerald

This final line from The Great Gatsby, so recently reprised for us, was my tagline for many years of this life.  I felt so much more alive in some specific memories from my late teenage years that nothing in the Present could ever measure up. This has changed for me, I realize, over the past few years, but why?  As I have developed the approach to personal life reflection and future prospection which I call the Life Maps Process, I have piloted every step before applying it with others.  One of these techniques is called Re-Vision a Past Transition.  (One of our weekly topics will allow you to practice this in your own way, if you like.)  I revisited a traumatic moment with my father when I was 17. I journaled in first person, present tense, writing  a dialogue between me and my Dad as if it had occurred the day after he had unleashed his raging temper against me when I simply had tried to defend my brother about something at the dinner table.

The words don’t matter here. But the exchange between my memory of my father at that time and my today-self that could engage with him without fear or the hurt and anger I felt then was transformative. We got to say to each other things we really might have said, apart from the heat of the moment. He got to hear my pain; I got to hear his frustration about a teen-aged daughter in the late 1960’s who was headstrong and, in his belief, needing to be tamed to prevent hard knocks in “the real world” (his view) down the road.

This conversation that I journaled with my father is as real–perhaps more because I directly engaged instead of shrinking from the immediate moment–as the actual scene that had occurred so many years ago.  It has deeply revised my “memory” construction of the event.  This sort of re-visioning, I feel deeply, freed me forever from that interaction with my Dad that had scarred me for years.  I cannot remember back to that event without remembering the coming to terms we experienced in our ‘later’ dialogue.

From freeing myself of this “stuck” memory, I seem to have released myself in general from “living in the past” altogther, even freeing myself from being ‘bound’ to those positive experiences I was so holding onto.  Now that I see that memories are not necessarily fixed or frozen ‘in time’, I am free to be more flexible in the Present. Again then, past-present-future are entangled; you can’t change one without affecting them all.

And so, another form of Better Endings.

I know some of you are writing your historical rewrite and I hope to see your stories in my email!  Feel free to send Comments too!