Life Lessons from Your Work

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In today’s world most of us engage not just one job throughout our adult lives but several, from early jobs as a youth gaining some experience or training to later career work that might be better attuned to our interests and sense of purpose.

As a self-discovery exploration I invite you to make a list of your workaday jobs.  Note your age when you started and (if) finished each job, and write a brief job description. Then consider for each job:

What LIFE LESSON(s) did I take away from this activity?

To pilot this Tool, allow me to briefly engage with this myself to see where it may lead:

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  • Horse drawings (around 6-7 YO): I loved to draw horses (always wanted my own horse and never had one, though I did get to help with horses at local stables in Pennsylvania with my sisters and friends). After feeling I had mastered a basic horse drawing design, one day I went around the neighborhood door-to-door, offering my artwork for a dime per drawing. Neighbors were supportive and I felt a sense of accomplishment. LIFE LESSON:  It is okay to share with others your creative products.
  • Ice picking at the community Peach Festival in Lewiston, NY (15 YO): First paid job, and I didn’t stay with it long enough to be paid.  Terrible work without any safety gear. I still have scars on my hands from inexpertly hacking away at a block of ice for some stall owner who did not care.  LIFE LESSON: Use proper discrimination before accepting a responsibility; be sure you will be capable and safe.talkeetna-1624101__480
  • Crab and salmon cannery, Yakutat Alaska (19 YO summer) LIFE LESSON: Life is a Great Adventure!fruit-3215625__480
  • Grape vineyard and peach orchard, solo farm hand (20 and 21 YO, summer work to help pay for college spending): This was my first real job, a job of choice. I knew I needed to work but did not want a “normal” job such as waitressing or secretarial labor. This was outdoors and I worked mainly alone in the fields or driving a tractor. The farmer gave me many responsibilities, which I loved! (…Until the day he became inappropriate with me; I left shortly after that, not to return.) LIFE LESSON: Follow the beat of your own Heart; Enjoy responsibility and work hard to excel.   I learned how I dearly love to work hard and produce positive results.
  • Ushering and parking booth attendant at a new performing arts center (22 – 24 YO) : I enjoyed every aspect of this and was promoted to Head Usher. LIFE LESSON: Exciting opportunities abound (I almost accepted a job in NYC becoming a nanny for a world class symphony conductor’s family; loved the variety of shows and the elan of performance.)architecture-3111558__480
  • Tutoring English at my undergraduate college (21-22 YO): Fell in love with teaching. LIFE LESSON: I can be of positive service through sharing knowledge by helping facilitate learning in others.
  • Research Associate and Teaching Assistant, and Faculty adjunct at community colleges, while in  graduate school (14 yrs in grad school). LIFE LESSONS: Many. professor-1993129__480
  • University teaching (pre-tenured and then tenured faculty, and Chair two terms), 25 years. LIFE LESSONS: The importance of following my own inner guidance and developing detachment from academic politics or personality clashes; enjoyment of working with wonderful students; also the value of maintaining my spiritual focus and creative activities separately from the academic setting.fantasy-3313964__480images are from pixabay.com
  • Spiritual services roles (44 yrs, many different roles and opportunities). LIFE LESSONS: How to be a spiritual co-worker with others in voluntary roles; and how to stand back to help facilitate spiritual seeking and growth in others.
  • Writing for publication (many years): LIFE LESSONS: Persistence, commitment, dedication, willingness to work and rework; editing; then eventually morphing the project to team-based efforts and ultimately being able to release and share the work with as broad a readership as the book may reach. (Joy and the desire to produce more in service to Life!)

So, what might your history of Life Lessons from Working reveal? I see in mine a widening arc of responsibilities and a growing love of creative expression and Service. I love the feeling of independence that comes with varying responsibilities along with the expansion of knowledge and the capacity to grow from working with others as well as alone. I can hardly separate work from life as a whole, as the lessons have abounded holistically.

As I now prepare for a fast approaching retirement from my main academic position, this exercise has helped me to understand that this process will never dissipate but will only continue to expand!

So, what is YOUR story? I invite you to engage your own reflections about your Life Lessons from Work!

Your History of Work

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Life Mapping allows us to retrace our meaningful life events and glean lessons from key moments and trends from our life experience. Life Path Mapping (see my new book, Your Life Path; info on right panel or click to order) asks you to identify significant kinds of recurring events or situations in your life as Life Themes. Certainly one of the most common Life Themes life mappers identify is WORK (or CAREER, or some particular work-related activity).

Every distinctive Life Theme may be mapped, and in that sense every Life Theme can be “mined” to discover its importance over time in your cumulative life history that comprises—when you reflect upon its meaningful qualities—your Life Story. So this week let’s explore your History of Work, your Work Story.

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Life Mapping of itself is quite easy and natural. The chart below is a plotting flowchart. Make a list for yourself of a representative sample of Work and/or Career related meaningful events from your life. Next to each event, you can record the age or age span you associate with the event and write a brief narrative record of what happened with that event (so you can easily recall it when you read back through the list later).

Next to each event record, take a moment to reflect about the relative positive and/or negative IMPACT of that event on “shaping the person you have become.” That means, from a retrospective perspective, reflecting back on the influence of that event or situation, was it mainly positive, mainly negative, or both?

(You may print out this post and enlarge the Life Map Chart, below, to use as a worksheet, or create your own.):

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On the life map chart, first list your events chronologically along the central/ neutral Age Line. You can place the ages when your events occurred below the Age Line to create a timeline. Then use a pencil at first anyway to place a dot or an X above and/or below the age marker for each event, charting by how positive and/or negative that event was to you. If an event feels to have been simultaneously positive and negative, you can rate it as such; for example: +5/-5, or +2/-4. If you rate an event as having been both positive and negative at the same time, also write in a vertical dotted line connecting the positive and negative polar points on your chart to represent this as what we can call a “binary” event. If you are representing a series or phase of events, you can mark the rating for the beginning point and the ending point relative to the timeline and put the ages for these below the Age line, then below the age markers you can draw horizontal vertical braces to show the span of that situation or phase in your life.

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images are from pixabay.com

Now then, looking at your chart of Work/Career related events and their relative positive and/or negative impacts as Shaping Events in your life, you can also connect the dots: draw lines on your Map connecting event points IF they feel to be related in a patterned way to one another.  For instance, if you had a negative early Work activity or event followed shortly after that by a more positive event, then if that feels like it was a meaningful transition in your History of Work, go ahead and draw an upward trending line connecting those two points on your Map. You can also color code your event points to group them in a meaningful way; such as using a different color for each different job or to show a career shift.

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Have at! Once you have completed your History of Work life map, reflect on your Work Story: what story does this Map tell? What meaningful periods (or chapters or stages, so to speak) have you engaged with in your Work Story? What meaningful Life Lessons have you gleaned from the phases of your Work/Career process over time? What TRENDS do you observe? I invite you to contemplate, journal about, and share about your Work Story with a loved one.

I welcome YOUR Comments and Story!

Significant Life Events and their Lessons: Health Matters

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How have Health related life events influenced or shaped the person you have become? What Life Lessons has your Theme of Health brought to you?

Health matters can be highly impactful over the life course. For some, health matters might even define the life course (your own or a loved one’s) during times one must confront and deal with critical or chronic illness. For others, health matters may punctuate shifts from one major Life Chapter to the next, or Health might dominate a meaningful Life Chapter of itself.

I invite you to explore the Life Lessons you have learned  through the thread of Health Matters in your life. You can start by making a short list of some of your most Critical Health Events or situations (no more than six). State the event or situation and the relative date (e.g. your age or actual dates) that this has most affected you. Then you can think, talk, journal or contemplate about the LIFE LESSON(s) each of these Health Matters has helped you to understand.

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Just as an example I will list a few of my own health related Shaping Events and the Life Lessons I associate with those.

  • 4 YO: I fell off from a booster seat at the dining room table and knocked out my front four teeth.  LESSONS: Shyness (and patience). I felt self-conscious of my appearance for many years beginning with that event. (My teeth did not grow back for 6 years and then I needed major orthodontic work in my teenage years.)
  • College years: On the fencing team. I see this as a health related time frame because I was stronger and healthier than I have ever been before or since. I learned great lessons about practice and honing an ability, attention to detail, and managing competitiveness, always striving to be my best, aiming ever since to achieve excellence in any endeavor.
  • 40’s-50’s: Weight gain. During the most stressful period of developing my career and dealing with the Ups and Downs of relationship matters too, I created a shell around myself in the form of excess weight.
  • Last year: Immune disorder and wake-up call of diabetic condition. Earlier lapses of attention to diet and health led to these conditions as a wake-up call. I am managing the first pretty well and have beat the diabetes diagnosis by shifting to a low carb diet, losing 46 lbs in the process.
  • Now: Sophie (my dog)’s diabetes. Another major wake-up call. I now cook her food according to a healthy diabetic diet for dogs plus we walk three times a day and we appear to have been able to stabilize the situation though there is still more always to address. I am grateful for retirement just around the corner so I can attend to her and my other pets’ (and my own) health matters with more time to give daily.
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  • YESTERDAY (Jan. 23/2018): My mother passed beyond. In my faith of Eckankar, we call this “translation,” a passing from the Physical body into another state of Being.  LESSONS:  Word of the day: consubstantialityWe are part of those we love and they are part of us! Through her I have a glimpse of states beyond the Physical; through me, she sees how interconnected is all of Reality. FURTHER LESSONS: Memories of how my Mother helped me and encouraged me always, as with all my siblings, to discover my own passions and take my place in the world, and to always aim to be of service to all Life. My upcoming book, Your Life Path (see sidebar) is dedicated to my dear mother, Elizabeth Anne Rugh Watts (picture above).

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images are from pixabay.com

Another factor to explore: what are your GOALS for the Health Theme in your life? Where is this thread going now in your life and where would you like to go with it? Then, of course, what can you do to bring about the most positive outcomes for your greatest Health?

I welcome YOUR comments and story!

(P.S.: Because of my mother’s passing, I will be travelling for her memorial service and funeral this week, so I might not be able to blog until after that trip.)

There’s No Place Like Home!

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The completion of a Hero Cycle adventure brings the traveler Home. The hero returns to their point of origin yet it is not the same place, because the hero is a changed person from before their adventure began.  S/he has come into her own strengths and gained maturity from having overcome the obstacles and ordeals inherent in the adventure of living. Joseph Campbell’s The Hero With 1000 Faces aptly notes that what the hero returns with are strengths not only for that individual but as well for the good of the whole.

“The presence of a vital person vitalizes,” says Campbell in his film documentary with Bill Moyers called “The Hero’s Adventure.”  This is the whole point on one level of the Hero Cycle: persons depart from their too comfortable environments to challenge themselves, to strengthen their whole assemblage of archetypal sub-selves; in Jung’s terms to “individuate” by integrating and developing the full range of their individually focused human capacities.

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The Prodigal Son is a big picture or covering myth that expresses a fundamental unity of most religions: Soul departs from Its divine origin to experience life in the worlds of duality, so It can eventually face the weaknesses of the human consciousness. From encountering ordeals and learning the value of divine love, eventually Soul surrenders human passions of the ego and recovers awareness of Its Divine nature; then It can return to the Godhead to assume a greater responsibility to Life Itself with a fully spiritualized consciousness. In a way, all of human experience can be thought of as subsumed under this greater mythic motif that permeates our lives, at least from a spiritual perspective. (BTW by mythic I do not mean a false narrative but rather a vital tale of profound scope and consequence!)

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One of my favorite movies with a slight comic twist of the Prodigal Son/ Daughter theme is Defending Your Life with Albert Brooks and Meryl Streep.  Daniel and Julia, two recently deceased individuals, find themselves–and meet each other– in the afterworld purgatory city called Judgment City, amid a thriving throng of others recently deceased.  They are assigned attorney angels to represent them at a trial before a panel of judges, whose verdict will determine whether the defendant Soul will need yet to reincarnate or they can “go on” to higher planes.

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Daniel and Julia fall in love. Julia (Meryl Streep) is a shoe-in for transcending to higher planes as she is a bright, heroic sort already. Her trial lawyer shows images of her having soared through her previous life: rushing into a burning house to bring out children, then going back in to bring out a cat! Daniel, on the other hand, has a more challenging trial. His lawyer–played by Rip Torn as a rather querulous defense attorney—shows images from Daniel’s his former life that reveal how he often came up short when it came to taking risks; so it becomes very likely Daniel will need to return to earth to finesse his character a bit more. I won’t give away the ending, but you might imagine what Daniel could do to in order move on with Julia.

Defending Your Life conveys important messages about the Hero Cycle and particularly regarding the Return. WHY ARE YOU HERE? What sorts of challenging experiences recur again and again in your life as if to teach you well? What are you here to learn as your most vital life lessons?

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images are from pixabay.com

Have you learned your specific lesson(s) well enough yet? How might you take your lesson one step further? Another way of asking this is:

WHAT ARE YOU HERE TO GIVE?

What could bring YOU Home from your ordeals, for the good of the Whole?

I welcome your Comments and Stories!

The Elixir of Compassion

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Compassion is a quality of personal fulfillment. Having undergone an arduous ‘hero cycle’ journey, the survivor-hero has experienced within him/herself many of the so-called faults s/he might earlier have harshly judged in others.  To be an independent-minded person, as one must often be to escape the bonds of group-based limitations, one must strike out alone, forging new pathways. This may lead others to judge that person as an outsider or as a rebel. But to follow your own heart and fulfill your Soul longings often requires a departure from standard norms.  In the end, the highest standard we must aim to achieve is mastery of our own individual potentials for the good of the greater whole.

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Compassion is an empathetic appreciation of someone else’s difficulties or hardship.  Living outside the bounds of normative behavior or attitudes oneself can help one develop compassion with regard to other ‘outliers,’ other “Others.”  And in some ways, we are each outliers, as we are each so individual in our personality and Soul potentials.

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There’s a wonderful though terribly heart-wrenching film, Two Spirits, about the too short life of Fred Martinez, a Navajo teen who was murdered by a skinhead in Cortez, Colorado, because s/he was “different.”  In Navajo culture, traditionally gender is a continuum rather than a binary dichotomy: four genders are recognized, not two.  Fred Martinez realized his core gender identity as a nadłe, sometimes translated as “two-spirit.” Navajo traditional culture not only acknowledges but celebrates these special persons who, as nadłe, blend male anatomy with a feminine role identity. Unfortunately, many in Anglo/ White society are not yet so enlightened as to “live and let live” with respect to gender-benders.

Fred Martinez transversed masculine and feminine gender modes fluidly in his young life, sometimes dressing “trans” and other times in jeans and tees.  But as he grew into him/herself, despite encountering opposition from authorities and some of his classmates at school, he embraced his individual uniqueness and displayed a mixed identity with honesty and courage.  On the way to a fair one horrible evening, Fred took a ride from a group of skinheads, one of whom later chased him down and violently murdered him, bashing in his head many times with a rock.

(sigh.) Fred Martinez was described by his mother and friends as a compassionate person who would go to great lengths to offer solace and lend an ear. He may have grown to become a counselor had he survived.  Navajo culture, in fact, recognizes Two Spirits (male-to-feminine and female-to-masculine persons) as specially gifted communicators who transcend divisions between people, so they can be the greatest mediators in a community.

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images are from pixabay.com

How  has learning more about yourself from being an outsider or ‘different’ in your own ways helped you to develop compassion for the troubles others experience?

I invite YOUR  comments and stories!

Trials and Your Life Lessons

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Here’s a helpful self discovery tool: Make a timeline of the challenging times of hardship or trials in your life. Map these life events according to your ages when each event has occurred.

First, do you see any pattern in terms of the clustering of these events? Have they corresponded with any other major events such as big moves or regular time cycles?

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Second, make a separate list of these events and the ages they occurred, then journal reflectively about any Life Lesson that you gained from each ordeal.

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Can you see any connections among your Life Lessons? Is there a deeper underlying theme, or a realization you can glean? After you have learned a Lesson, has your life experience changed course in any significant ways?

Sages say we often repeat similar tests or ordeals, revealing deeper and deeper levels of a major Life Lesson. Why, do you believe? What might this prepare us for?

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Sequel stories and some television series serve to dramatize this observation that life lessons can unravel over time, resulting in a gradual transformation of character. The popular Big Bang Theory–one of my favorites–is a good example, where every character undergoes gradual, transformative change based on learning their life lessons from relating with one another in the ensemble cast over time.

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images are from pixabay.com

So now, what is your life about?

I welcome YOUR Comments and story.

Life Lessons

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Life is a Teacher in and of Itself; we learn daily through the forge of experience. How often have you said, “at least I learned something” about an experience in your life that may not have turned out exactly as you had planned for or expected it would?

“Chalk it up to experience!” we say.

Or maybe:

“Live and learn”

“It was a learning experience”

“I’ll know better next time”

Then there’s the infamous:

“No pain, no gain!”

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This week, I invite you to celebrate Life’s Lessons.  Large or small, long term or short term, what “Life Lessons” have you gathered as gems of experience along the road or Labyrinth of your Life Path so far?  

Make a list of some of your Key Life Lessons, organized however you choose. Then I encourage you to choose one of these to journal about; let that be a Life Lesson that feels relevant to your understanding of an experience with which you are currently engaged.

Let me try this life mapping Tool myself as an example. I will list some of my own Life Lessons and make note of the source of some of these.

LIFE LESSONS

  • Always Give UP, Always Surrender (to Spirit and Higher Consciousness; learned through contemplative inner guidance)
  • Patience is a Virtue (DM; this one has clearly stood the test of Time!)
  • The turtle only makes progress when she sticks her neck out. (from a ceramic figurine  I had as a teen)
  • Love all with unconditional love but reserve your warm sentiments for those you can trust to return that friendship deeply. (School of hard knocks; a spiritual principle)
  • Drive the car; don’t let it drive you. (My father, teaching me to drive)
  • “When you trust yourself, you will know how to live.” (a Goethe quote on a poster I once gave to my sister)
  • “Way Will Out” (a Quaker expression learned from a friend.)

Way Will Out

This is the Life Lesson that feels most relevant to my current experience this week as I am confronted with a question concerning copyright matters with an element in my book manuscript as I prepare it to go to the publishers. I had adapted a set of techniques I thought would be helpful in the book, but after a conversation yesterday followed by some sincere contemplation, I realize there is a GIFT in this experience. The GIFT is that I will redesign these elements completely to present wholly new techniques that are more directly grounded in a central feature of the overall approach in the book. This will be of even greater value than what I had before because they will add substance to a more coherent, fully unique “process.” The original concepts were in retrospect merely place holders until I could arrive at this awareness, and the timing has been perfect as it is just now that I am editing this section of the manuscript.

“Way Will Out,” to me, has always been a very calming proposition. It says to RELEASE any sense of conflict or concern, to Trust in the Universe or Spirit, and to act accordingly, with good intent.  It works!

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images are from pixabay.com

Your Turn: 

Print out this post if you would like to write in the space given below a list of Key Life Lessons in your life and an account of how ONE of these is relevant Now. (I invite you to send your own story here if you would like me to post it for others to read.)

List Your Life Lessons:

1)

2)

3)

4)

5)

6) 

 

Journal about the Relevance of ONE of these Life Lessons to your experience Now:

 

 

DESCENDER Dreams, Part Two: Messages from the Deep

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With the last post, I invited you to recall and reflect upon dreams in which your DESCENDER part of Self (persona archetype) reveals itself to You. Often such figures show up in lower or deep spaces and they can represent feelings that you have “submerged” or aspects of You that simply feel more comfortable in the shadows or quiet recesses of your Self.  When such images show up in memorable dreams, take notice! They may illuminate for you how that “part of You” is feeling with regard to some current situation in your life. They have Deep Messages for You; your DESCENDER can be your Ally in bringing ‘buried’ perspectives and feelings to your attention.

This week, as I have been reflecting on some of my own DESCENDER dreams, one of them—a very dramatic dream experience—makes sense to me now in a different way than I understood before.

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The Dream: “I Can’t Believe My Life Has Been about This!”

(Dreamwork Tips:  Give a title to a significant dream in your dream journal or when telling it to bring forth its Message to you more clearly.  Also, write your dream in first person, present tense so you can be more present in the experience; this can help you better feel its import.)

Background:  I experienced this dream while I was traveling in Ireland.  I traveled there in part because I had had another significant dream a couple years earlier which had felt like a “past life” dream.  In that earlier dream I saw I had endured abuse, but the dream encounter I had while in Ireland, while also appearing to relate to a past life, turned that earlier experience on its head!

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I am in a lower level area of some structure; the flooring either is made of or has alot of dirt on it and there is dark wood all around. I am being shown this place by a familiar, masculine Spiritual Guide who is with me. As we walk through the space it feels very familiar to me. I say to my Dream Guide:

“I know this place; I have been here before.”

My Guide says nothing, waiting for me to remember more.

“People died here,” I say slowly. Then it hits me hard: “I had something to do with that; I was responsible for their deaths!”

My Guide remains silent but I feel his support. I know there is a reason I must be here.

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Then a group of people come down from a stairway into this semi-darkened, lower level place. It is a group of rural Irish peasant folk. “Salt of the Earth,” I think to myself as they come into the area accompanied by a Priest. The Priest sets up a table and puts a candle on it, so I know he will conduct some sort of ritual. (I sense it is to be a cleansing.)  Two of the peasants are a brother and sister; suddenly I know these are people who had lost loved ones because of my action that had resulted in their loved ones’ deaths.

The peasant sister (in her early 30’s or so) and I approach one another intently.

I say to her:

“I am so sorry for your loss.”

She says to me:

“I am so sorry for what you have had to endure because of this.”

Then I wake up, but in the process of awakening I say three times out loud, each time with more force of awareness:

“I can’t believe my life has been about this!”

I called a friend in the U.S. as soon as I was awoke (early AM her time):

“Jan, I’m a murderer! I mean it really, I am a murderer, many times over!”

My friend helped me to realize this had been “a dream.” I knew intuitively though that it was a very real encounter, relating to a deeply buried memory.

Message:  This dream event occurred around five or six years ago, yet I remember it as if it were this morning.  In processing the meaning of the dream, I have felt it had something to do with the experience of personal loss or separation in this life from relationship partners of various sorts: friends, romantic partners, family, and pet companions. My strongest desire in all my relations has been for permanence and “continuity,” yet some of the closest relations I have shared, I have had to let go of for the sake of that Soul moving on in their lives or journey.

But this week, while reflecting on this poignant DESCENDER Dream, I am understanding the message in a more holistic way. My whole life HAS “been about this.” The personal growth book I have written, a manual for life mapping that will be published in a matter of months now after nearly fifteen years of development (Your Life Path), aims to help readers to COMPLETE their Life Path with a conscious focus of intention to fully Realize their Life Dream!  Perhaps after my action in the past life ordeal had prevented some people from fulfilling their  dreams, this time I must give back this opportunity.

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I don’t know exactly what the memory could have been about. Perhaps I was an officer on a ship taking people to emigrate after the potato famine and for some reason I did not allow lower berth peoples to surface for food or shelter (maybe rations were low and some could not survive, so I chose to only let the more privileged passengers have the rations). Or maybe I was an officer who shut off access to an upper level in a castle against servant class folks while we were being attacked. Either way, “I was responsible for their deaths.”

Whatever the “real life” validity, dreams DO matter; they have a substance and vital meaning all their own. Writing your dream recall in a Dream Journal is very helpful. Especially the most significant dreams will then linger with you, revealing several layers of meaning over time.

Have you had a significant DESCENDER Dream? Have you fathomed its message? Feel free to share, here or with a loved one. Honor your DESCENDER by listening, attending, and ACTING on the Message received.

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images are from pixabay.com

I welcome  and invite YOUR Comments and Stories!

P.S. to All: HAPPY THANKSGIVING!!!

 

 

Gandalf, Dumbledore, your Inner Teacher, and You!

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Two fictional examples of the Teacher archetype aiding an ensemble cast of protagonists to alter their dreamlike lives so they might achieve better endings are Gandalf from the Lord of the Rings saga and Dumbledore from the fantasy mythic adventures of Harry Potter and his friends. Gandalf and Dumbledore have always seemed to me to be the same kind of mythic personage, though Gandalf is cast more for the young adult and Dumbledore more for a child’s conception of the Teacher or Mage  (per Jung or Campbell) energy.

Myths are projections of archetypal personae and challenges that we all face in our everyday lives as everyman and everywoman heroes; so Gandalf or Dumbledore are—as we project onto them as readers or as moviegoers—our own intrinsic Teacher-selves made manifest. These mystical Teachers allow their charges to accomplish what they otherwise might believe to be unllikely, yet they are the hero’s own Higher Energy propelling her or him forward toward the realization of their “impossible dream.”  Saving the entire wizarding and muggle worlds from a force too dangerous even to Name; returning Middle Earth to a state of balance and harmony instead of chaos: these are the tasks of an orphaned boy and of a tiny hobbit; or, you and me. But the magical Wizard Teacher is a protean shape-shifter, a transformer of pure energy into otherwise unimaginable new Forms.  All is possible if we set our hearts to following the directives of this all-knowing, all-powerful Higher Self Ally of the Teacher.

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Have you noticed how Wizard Teachers like Gandalf and Dumbledore conduct their novice apprentices to the attainment of their most worthy desires?  Like Glinda for Dorothy, Gandalf and Dumbledore seem always to know exactly when their presence is of utmost value; they appear only when they are needed, otherwise they remain in the background, invisibly watching.

Now then, this week as I have been contemplating how the Teacher appears in my own heroic journey of Soul, I find that my Inner Teacher(s)—whom I recognize to be “as close as my heartbeat”—are always present yet they appear exactly when and how I require their precious aid. I will share a true example of a life and death situation in which I was quite literally saved by my own Inner Master (an ECK Master associated with the spiritual path of ECKANKAR, which is the belief system and practice to which I adhere). Your own Inner Teacher or Guide may take the form of Christ or Buddha or of Socrates, Rumi, Glinda or whatever archetypal—yet very real—personae you recognize, so long as you believe in and deeply value their protection and guidance.

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I was living in a duplex apartment in Tempe, Arizona with a housemate who worked a four to midnight shift. One early morning while sleeping in the living room, I had heard voices outside so looked out the front window and witnessed a drug transaction involving the scurrilous group of tenants living on the other side of the duplex living room wall. They saw me witness the transaction and started terrorizing me for the next several months, making overt threats in loud voices from the other side of the thin wall separating our lives. One April or May afternoon, I was sitting in a living room chair after a hard morning at graduate school. Suddenly, as clearly as I could hear a person standing in the room right beside me speaking into my right ear, I heard a male voice that I immediately recognized as my spiritual Teacher. He stated very calmly but firmly, “Linda, lock the door.”

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I stepped over to the door, which was slightly ajar, and as I was placing my right hand on the doorknob to close and lock the door, the ringleader of the neighbor gang was reaching to grab the doorknob from the other side, to come in! I just barely closed the door and turned the lock before he could enter. Then I looked out the picture window to my left—the same window through which I had witnessed the drug deal transpire. Huddled down just beneath the window frame was the bodyguard of the drug gang, waiting to abscond me if I were to have run out of the house to escape. I kid you not; this was one of the most dramatic events of this lifetime and I am absolutely certain that had my Teacher not intervened (I know him as Harji, the Inner form of the still current Living ECK Master, Sri Harold Klemp), I would not be on this earthly plane today to share this story. Oddly though, I was not afraid at all after this happened; a calm set over me like a cloak instead. And even more oddly when I look back to it now, I didn’t even call the police. I called a friend, asked her to come pick me up at the house, and I never slept another night in that duplex apartment. I slept for weeks in a sleeping bag on the floor of my Ph.D. advisor’s office until I could locate a new roommate and move into a safer space.

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I ask you to be thinking about how the helpful presence or guidance of your own spiritual or inner archetype Teacher has appeared in your own life experience. I would love for you to share your own memories or stories about how your Teacher or Guide has been leading you to fulfill your own meaningful life lessons or Quest.

Finally, it makes sense why the Teacher appears most clearly in our lives only when most needed. It is because it is not ABOUT the Teacher or Master himself or herself; we are not here to simply follow someone who has already attained to all that which we seek. We are apprentices, aspirants or Learners who are striving to become Masters of spiritual essence and formations of life for ourselves; we may then become or appear as the Teacher for others as we gradually come to master our own lessons and unfold in our own awareness.

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I invite and would love to share YOUR insights and stories about your own Inner Teacher or guidance. Tomorrow I am going to see the new Hobbit movie; maybe we might meet somewhere in the Middle Earth of our dreams!

THE TEACHER ARCHETYPE

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TEACHER is such an obviously universal Archetype. The role of Teacher exists in all cultures throughout history in relation to the sub-archetype image of the Learner (or, Student). This relationship and the roles expressed may take different forms, though.  Some Teachers instruct quietly by their very example; others may be more didactic and direct.

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One of my favorite Teachers served as a role model for my own apprenticeship to teaching while in college. Antoinette Mann Paterson (now long departed from this pale plane) was a Philosophy professor at the college I first attended in Buffalo, New York.  She would teach in front of a large Introduction to Philosophy class with her eyes closed! It was like she was channeling the information to be transmitted to the young, fertile minds in the classroom. Then suddenly she would open her eyes, turn and face a specific student with a direct question.  There was something amazing to me about the passion she displayed.

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One day Dr. Paterson had been invited to visit a class in Creative Studies which I was taking.  I arrived about twenty minutes early to the open studio area we held our class in; she was already there, sitting unidentified with a couple other students around a table. Suddenly she turned to a young man who had brought a paper mache piece of art he had created for another class. “How in *** did you DO that!”, she asked him. “I could not do that; how did you transform paper, nothing really, into that magnificent FORM?” The student was dumbfounded. I don’t remember how he might have tried to answer Toni.  But this is how she began introducing us to a “Philosophy of Creativity”.

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Another time at the beginning of a semester I went to Toni Paterson’s office to ask if she would conduct an Independent Study for me.

“About what subject?,” she asked.

I said the first thing that came into my mind: “ Silence,” I answered; “A philosophy of Silence.”

In the course of our following discussion, Dr. P. asked me what I thought about the meaning of Life. I had been in a depressed state at that time because of something that had affected me emotionally the prior summer. So, I answered her: “Life…Really? So, what?”

“Take out a pen and a piece of paper,” Dr. Paterson directed. “Now then, I want you to write down a question with two words in it: ‘SO …WHAT?’ Bring me the answer in ten pages or more by next Thursday!”

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When I came back to Dr. Paterson for my conference the next week, I had scoured a wide range of literature about the meaning of life. But Toni Paterson took this further. She sat me down at a table with a pencil and a large sheet from a sketching pad. She asked me to arrange “WH-question words” around the corners of the blank page: WHO? WHAT? WHERE? WHEN? WHY? Then as we talked she drew a diagram linking all these to a central, newly constructed word: WHAN! That was the answer to “So, What”, she suggested:

“The answer to ‘So, What?’ is “WHAN!”

She was so right! Whan, that elusive common denominator principle has from that moment on been a torch of Light in the Darkness for me.  There doesn’t need to be an answer to everything; the ESSENCE is WHAN! See? This enigmatic Lesson lifted me from my depression. Life didn’t have to have a meaning or to “add up to” anything; It IS what it IS; it JUST IS! This freed me to start thinking “outside the Box” (or as a later friend has taught me: “There is no box!”)

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So, how did Dr. Paterson TEACH me such a life affirming lesson? First, she set me to task, rather than trying to answer my facetious question, “So, what?” for me. Second, she took that question of mine quite seriously, as a matter I was deeply concerned about. Third, she helped guide me to a satisfactory resolution of the anxiety I brought to my question, by encouraging me to read about what others had thought about in relation to my subject (showing me I was not alone in my angst). Then she helped me to comprehend a deeper underlying principle that gave rise to the question in the first place!

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Toni Paterson was THE TEACHER incarnate! I have never forgotten HOW she approached teaching, and this has helped me to cultivate my own TEACHER strengths.

But what do I mean by calling THE TEACHER an Archetype?  What do you think? Have you ever “let out” your TEACHER part of Self? Sure, you have, right?  I still after 35 years of university teaching often feel THE TEACHER coming forth through me in a classroom. When I first began teaching, I knew I could rely on “stepping into” the ROLE of TEACHER in order to overcome my naturally introspective personality and to shine forth expressively to share about what the students were there to learn.

Maybe you have experienced your own Inner TEACHER in your role as a parent or as a scout leader; or, when you have felt a strong impulse to share a point of view that you feel instinctively someone else could benefit from hearing. We all have a bit of THE TEACHER within us, as well as the counterpart character of the LEARNER. In fact, a Teacher cannot but be the Learner first!

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I am deeply indebted to and grateful for all of the wonderful MENTORS I have experienced as Teachers in my life. These were not always formal classroom Teachers; they were friends, family, even my pets who have taught me the true meaning of Life! Which is WHAN?   Yes, that’s right; it is the WHAN of unconditional or divine Love, the essence of Life Itself. For, what else ever really matters?

I welcome your Insights, Comments and Stories!

 

Mapping Your History of Challenge and Growth

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Reflecting upon Life Challenges this week and how they connect with Life Lessons, I find there are themes that run through my own history of challenges or hardships, and so I wonder if this is true for you as well. Some of my most challenging trials are ones that did not end well, in terms of relationships or losses in general. Yet, each one did bring me to some lessons about how to approach a similar situation for the future. The deepest of them–literally losing my dog Ellie and not being able to recover her over a six month search; and, relationship endings or shifts—have each carried multiple lessons and insights. In that sense, they were not without value.

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I invite you to map your history of Life Challenges and your lessons associated with those. For Stage One, you can use a simple, shorthand technique sampled below in the form of a list. You can map your ages when memorable challenges have occurred in your life, then take note of the lessons or insights you gained from each experience:

Stage One (sample):

CHALLENGE                      age    LESSON

Father’s harshness             4-16  conscience    

Fencing tourneys               18-21   practice!

DN turmoil                          19 psychological depths

Moving Buffalo to Phoenix 24     inner guidance

Dissertation                        32-38  manifestation

SF struggle                        41       detachment

CP debacle                        42       self-assertion

K’s moving                         46       acceptance

leadership challenge         48      good of whole

Ellie’s loss                         55      fallibility

Book process                    50-60  dedication

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For Stage Two of mapping your Life Challenges and Lessons, ask yourself if there are themes or KINDS of Challenges that have recurred in your life. You can group same-themed Challenges together in a new listing. I encourage you to actively contemplate each of these and afterwards you may journal and/or talk with a loved one about the KEY LESSONS you have gained as Strengths from having faced each of these kinds of ordeals.

Stage Two:

KINDS of Challenges  /  Key Lessons Gained

MOVES  I have learned to use relocating as a mode of creative transformation, to facilitate new cycles of growth and creative advancement

LOSSES I have learned to accept what cannot be changed, yet to work hard to change what can be changed (St. Francis’s prayer).

PERSONALITY CONFLICTS  I have learned to detach from those who might have a negative or competitive reaction to some of my beliefs or leadership style. Live and let be.

GOAL ACHIEVEMENT Persistence, perseverance, inner guidance, trust, belief, joy, gratitude.

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What are YOUR Key Lessons?  I welcome your insights, comments, and stories!

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!

Life Lessons: Your Currency for Better Endings

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Let’s focus today’s post on the potential value and benefits for you of Life Mapping.  How can identifying your Life Chapters this week, for instance, help you to achieve your own Better Endings?  Here’s a quick tip:

First, identify  your Life Chapters as phases of your life experience that have occurred BETWEEN your major, critical Turning Points (see Sunday’s post to get there if you haven’t done your Life Chapter mapping yet). 

Now then, I invite you to focus on one Life Chapter at a time, and to ask yourself:

 WHAT LIFE LESSON(S) HAVE I LEARNED FROM MY EXPERIENCE IN THIS LIFE CHAPTER?

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You could simply extend your Life Chapters chart to add the Life Lesson onto the chart for easy reference.

Personal Example:

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Next you might ask yourself, “How have I applied this Life Lesson, or how might I apply this Life Lesson to a decision or to a desirable future transition or Goal?

Personal Example — Life Lessons to Apply:

With retirement goals, listen but be wise about how much to share or  discuss this goal, as some will simply give cautionary advice based on their own considerations; also though, research very carefully every step of the way.

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Reblogged from Ajaytao, July 16, 2014

Please feel welcome to share your Comments and your stories!

The Turning Points of This Woman’s Life

Using the Life Theme Illustration that I created (inspired by the exercise given at Better Endings for LIFE PATHS by my friend Linda), I have identified actual turning points to all of these major themes of my life which are represented in their own portion of this illustration.

  1. That sad little girl with the glasses displaying the artwork that she created, with clouds and lightning hovering over her… -This is symbolic of the bulk of my childhood. As an asthmatic, I was unable to play and exert myself with my friends outside. I had really bad allergies and asthma attacks. I also set out with a very low self esteem, as I was a chubby little one (because of Asthma meds), and very few children had glasses in my class. Being made fun of by classmates and an elderly neighbor that is not mentioned,  this imprint was created. My self concept (in psychology: the mental image one has of oneself ) was developing, and it had all come down to this. I knew I was different. I was fat and not pretty. All of the nice pictures I could ever make would never change it. So…The turning point here was HUGE.
  2. The Treble Clef that represents my musical experiences growing up was made in red because music was a fire, a passion that flowed through my veins. This passion was an outlet. Though I played clarinet, when I played I did so with as much soul as I could belting out any show tune with a diva-like voice. In high school I earned first chair (for you non musician cats out there, that means I was considered the best or the section leader). Music opened a huge door in my life. This whole band thing led me to auditioning for leader of the high school marching band my second year of high school! I made the cut, held the spot as drum major/field commander of the high school marching band for the rest of my high school career/3 years! I had no clue I could be a leader. At this point, that little girl who saw herself as fat and worthless looked around only to find others staring up at her in awe. Things looked a whole lot different from the top of the field podium directing that band on the football field than they did at my mom’s kitchen table. I knew I could do it. I had it all in me. I had a future! There was something in me far greater than I could’ve ever imagined…the floor of Heaven cracked open just a wee but and the blessings rained down. I was somebody! I knew I could achieve things then. I was smart. My self concept was altered for the better.
  3. The Happy/Sad broken heart doodle above the Treble Clef signifies all of the teenage love gone sour due to not only situation and circumstance, but because of my undiagnosed condition and how it strongly impacted my relationships with others, especially boys. Just because the greatest crush I ever had rejected me, and the fact that he and other guys my age were attracted to my friends more than me, made me feel incompetent for love. This belief led me down a horrible path of bad decisions in the dating world, horrible suitors, and tragic endings. From that point on, I failed at romantic relationships simply because of how I let people tell me what I deserved, and who I was.I wasn’t complete nor whole. In order to thrive in life and in love, you must first know who you are! I didn’t find myself, til even after I was married. Better late then never, I suppose.
  4. The A+ that leads into The Dean’s List Scroll symbolizes my outstanding academics in high school and into college. I was becoming who I was meant to be, knocking down mountains. Into college, career opportunities were lighting up along with my confidence! Being recognized in such a way really boosted my self esteem. This is where I was at an all time high in my world. I believed I was smart, and so did everyone else…I became a true, confident young woman, headed for success.
  5. The Crossing, Green Street Signs, as you can see, say “Danger” and “PhD.” There were 2 roads. I was on that road that led to success, led to completion, led to my PhD!!! However, I took a detour and headed in the way of danger because I had lost my grasp on reality. It was all so gradual, so nobody noticed right away. My life was in part a show, as people believed the lies that I told to make it all fit. Somehow I was justhappy all the time. High risk behaviors became the norm, and flirting with danger was routine. I began to act not accordingly  to any of my morals or beliefs, or who I grew up to be. I defied my religion and all of my own guidelines to life. At this point, I welcomed Bipolar Mania, and letting go of it all, embraced the thrill of insanity…
  6. You can see where The Bottle of Lithium below came from! It took a lot of time, a lot of time, trial and error, scary hospitalizations to be monitored and such so that my doctor could find the right combination of meds. to keep me stable, on an even line, so that I could live a normal life. The introduction of these Bipolar medications was another beginning. This was my blessing though! I began to settle down, find a calm that I never knew in all of the storms of my life. Lithium was a savior along with a few other drugs that helped control my Bipolar disorder and bring me back to a state of normalcy!
  7. The woman and man kissing a shared heart with the word ‘forever’ inside, are supposed to be me and my husband. Finding my husband was an adventure in itself.. This was a huge change for me. I believed marriage to be a healing. Now I see that I am the healing.
  8. The Church on the Bottom Right Corner represents how God never gave up on me, even though I gave up on him at times, and in times of mania, completely let go. However, I was protected through much by The Father and His angels. That’s another post. The prayers of my family and my Church were most definitely heard while I was in the hospital multiple times during the year 2004. Prayer is the most powerful tool that we have as people. These prayers, and the prayersof my own made the difference. I returned to the Lord who protected, healed, and delivered me.
  9. Finally, the large Cross in the middle of my illustration represents Jesus, my Savior, my hope, all that He’s done for me. With God as my rock, I made it. He never let go even though I did. I let go of the heart of me. Not anymore. He’s got my back, and lives in my heart forever! In a healthy state of mind, I include Him when making any decisions. I made it back to The Truth. Praise God for delivering me from it all…and for what the future holds!

God bless! — Mandi

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I welcome all of your insights and stories! Linda

Caged No More

Using the Life Theme Illustration that I created (inspired by the exercise given at Better Endings for LIFE PATHS by my friend Linda), I have identified actual turning points to all of these major themes of my life which are represented in their own portion of this illustration.

  1. That sad little girl with the glasses displaying the artwork that she created, with clouds and lightning hovering over her… -This is symbolic of the bulk of my childhood. As an asthmatic, I was unable to play and exert myself with my friends outside. I had really bad allergies and asthma attacks. I also set out with a very low self esteem, as I was a chubby little one (because of Asthma meds), and very few children had glasses in my class. Being made fun of by classmates and an elderly neighbor that is not mentioned,  this imprint was created. My…

View original post 1,116 more words

Contemplation Seeds

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For our Tuesday “prompts day” about the weekly topic of Health and Healing Better Endings, I’d like to offer you some “contemplation seeds,” beginning with life coach Dawn Abraham’‘s thoughtful affirmation above.

Writers, journallers, artists, poets, meditators and contemplators, photographers, life coaches and health care professionals—I invite you to plant a seed or more from the pod below.  From applying the nourishment of your careful attention, what insights will emerge?

  • A time when you learned  valuable life lessons from an ailment related situation
  • The most “Well” time of your life (past, present or envisioned future)
  • What you have experienced from a chronic health condition and tips for enduring or improving upon your condition
  • Best Practices: Wellness or healing tips (e.g. a Top 10 List)
  • Body-Emotion-Mind-Body Wellness interconnections
  • Healthy Thinking/ Healthy Habits/ Living Well
  • Wellness is a state of consciousness (regardless of ‘health’ matters)

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If one or more of these contemplation seeds resonates with your own experience or memories, I invite you to write about, actively contemplate, discuss, or artistically express your insights. I sincerely hope that some of these prompts might serve as useful seedlings for your own emergent awareness. I welcome any insights you might choose to share with us here, through your comments, guest blogs, references to good reading material or other tips that have helped you or that you use in your own caring practice, or stories!

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Sifting for Gold

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I woke with an image today of a piece of meat that had been hammered to tenderize it, and I sensed nonverbally that it meant I should shift my approach this week to “sifting” rather than “pounding” on a topic. So what might that mean for the topic of television Better Endings?

What are some benefits we may sift from the dross of television fare? I’d say when we become interested in or identified with either one character or an entire ensemble cast, and when we are witness over time to positive transformations in those ‘character arcs’, this can lead to personal growth and development in ourselves, by association.

So I invite you to focus on some transformational storylines from TV to uncover Life Lessons you have gained insights about through the adventures and interactions of some of your favorite characters. Transformational storylines require some basic character “flaws” initially that may get resolved or transformed over time.

M.A.S.H. comes to mind. We see in this popular sitcom an ensemble cast of rather disparate seeming characters at first, who have been thrown together at a medical triage station near the front lines in South Korea, during the Korean War. But since nothing is truly accidental, especially in storytelling, this odd assortment of personalities is actually not random at all. Let’s explore the key characters and traits they represent, traits that may have archetypal reflections for the audience!

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Some
 M.A.S.H. Character Traits:  Strengths/ Weaknesses

Maj. Hawkeye Pierce  jokester, intelligent, man of conscience / sarcastic, cynical, drinks alot

Maj. John ‘Trapper’ McIntyre  comical, blythe, accomplice to Pierce / buffoon-like, shallow

Maj. B.J. Hunnicut   loyal friend to Pierce, introspective, good husband / depressive

Sgt. Radar O’Reilly  acquisitive, resourceful, ‘common man’/ self-abnegating at times

Maj. Margaret Hoolihan  military upbringing, sharp, crisp leader / promiscuous, overbearing

Maj. Charles Emerson Winchester III  intelligent, highly educated, musician / out of his element, snooty

Col. Sherman Potter   competent but “allowing”, retirement aged / dismissive of order

Col. Henry Blake    fatherly, compassionate / drinks too much, gullible at times

Priv. Maxwell Klinger  passionate, rulebreaker, inverts norms / overly self-oriented, escapist

Father John Patrick Mulcahy   pious, resourceful, caring / doubtful at times, sense of inadequacy

Major Frank Burns   rule-governed, hapless luck / awkward, philandering

Over the many seasons that the TV series MASH was on the air, most of these characters experienced major epiphanies that led to subtle and sometimes extreme character transformations.  All of them experienced together what the anthropologist Victor Turner would call “shared liminality” resulting in  “communitas”. Liminality is the ‘between and betwixt’ situation of these characters overall in the war context: they have been stripped from their lives in normal society and they are caught “in the margins”; in the nebulous, dangerous shadowland of the MASH unit. They attain communitas by putting aside their individual differences of rank and their normal social status as civilians in order to realize their common goal of administering medical aid to wartime victims, serving together as a well-organized team.

In the context of interactional encounters that occurred over time through the series, our key characters faced their own weaknesses, and developed their strengths, over and over again.  As we laughed at their foibles and reveled at their strengths, we laughed ALONG with them, as at our own selves. This is how this ensemble cast came to mirror our own archetypal traits, as Americans perhaps, but moreso as humans immersed in the “human comedy” of life.

You can reflect for yourself about how the individual MASH characters transformed over time. What Life Lessons can we sift from our collective memories of this beloved TV series? Put aside our differences to exercise Conscience in response to terrifying threats. Learn to laugh at ourselves and be grateful for Friendship, that overlooks or tolerates our foibles, at least, and that fosters and supports our efforts at change and growth, at best.

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The series finale of MASH was culturally iconic and ‘expiative’ of all of the ills of warfare. Hawkeye Pierce suffers a nervous breakdown and submits to psychoanalysis. This betokens a human epiphany that was central to the overall message of MASH—which provided a metaphor for the Viet Nam War and its aftermath in the American collective conscience. War is brutal and potentially destructive to the human spirit, Pierce’s breakdown asserts. Human conscience and sensitivity will not allow the vicissitudes of war to triumph. Hawkeye responds well to analysis but he will go home a changed man, a doctor in a home town community where he will get to know his patients personally, as individuals.

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It’s in the in-between
that the real magic happens.
The seeds are planted,
the roots take hold…
and we blossom into who
we were meant to be.

~ Kristen Jongen
re-blogged today from Brenda’s
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Turning Points and ‘Combustibility’

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Our Better Endings Life Mapping activity for this week allows you to focus on what sorts of Life Lessons you are learning through the most critical, pivotal events of your life. See if you can list one or more events in your life that have been of such magnitude in terms of their impact on who you have become that you feel you were not quite the same person before and after this or these events occurred. These are your Turning Points.

Take some time to reflect on these ‘chapter turner’ events in your life. For each one, what did you learn because this event transpired in your life? Did it have a positive or a negative (or, both?) impact on you, in retrospect? Why? How? If you could go back, would you change anything about this event or situation? If so, what might have gone differently then?

One basic way to explore a Turning Point is to write or journal about it, talk about it with someone you trust, and actively contemplate its role or effect on your life. What LIFE LESSON have you learned because of this experience?

I welcome any insights you would like to share!

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Because a very special story has come through about our weekly topic of surviving disasters that I will share with you tomorrow (and another story also, for Sunday), I will add a second piece today about a Principle of Better Endings that I’ve been learning about this week:

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Combustibility : a Better Endings principle?

I was having some difficulty early this week finding just the right principle of Better Endings to account for how disasters or personal hardships result so often in major Life Changes and Lessons. I awoke then Wednesday night at around 2 AM from a series of dream images: rocket ships! So the first word that came to mind was propulsion; that such heavy impact events propel us forward at great speed; they launch us into another level of awareness or situation or or purpose. Applying that metaphor to what happens within us that allows this launching to occur, I find the word combustibility!

A few weeks ago I shared the life metaphor from Will of a golden spiral. Will said the spiral he imagined had “launch pads” along it that would propel him to a higher level of awareness. Again then, we must have the capacity for ‘combustion’ to allow this to occur.

Or, are we the astronaut within the combustible rocket? Then we must be willing to be launched! And the ship must have enough fuel to propel us upwards at great speed.

Interesting how some natural disasters themselves exhibit combustibility—a wildfire, hurricane or tornado, for instance, all are very highly charged phenomena. Do these impart their intrinsic quality of combustibility upon those that they impact? Perhaps we either combust into an accelerated change in our lives and/or the experience burns us?

Heavy impact events in our lives have the capacity to propel us forward, upward, or downward at great speed!