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!

BOOK LAUNCH! (My Vocation: Live Your Dream, Now!)

Just Released March 6 by Skyhorse Publishing:

Your Life Path

Naturally I am thrilled and excited about the release of my book, Your Life Path: Life Mapping Tools to Help You Follow Your Heart and Live Your Dream, Now! It is available from Amazon (including hardback, Kindle and ebook), Barnes & Noble, and Indies; and I see there are now several other suppliers online as well (ISBN-10:1-63144-078-0). This book has been my life passion-in-process for the last 15 plus years, folks. It is the culmination of my entire career as a cognitive/ linguistic and cultural anthropologist yet it is a mainstream self-discovery, personal growth and development book that provides a comprehensive Life Path Mapping process and Toolkit.

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I have developed and taught from the fun, creative techniques provided with the book with large scale classes, individual coaching programs, and workshops (which I will continue to offer).  This is a potentially life changing, “rites of process” approach that lets the reader/ life mapper review your Life Story to Now; reflect on where you are at currently in relation to your values, life interests and goals; and then (re)claim, envision, and plan a practical yet energizing pathway to set a course and go (Live Your Dream, Now!).

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I really do highly recommend this approach to anyone facing any sort of life decision or transition or who simply wants to discover and reflect upon the amazing potentials of your own Life Story.  I have witnessed many individuals who have achieved transformational insights from life mapping. The very process of reviewing your Life Story AS A STORY to now, with meaningful Shaping Events, Life Themes, Life Chapters bounded by key Turning Points as chapter turners, and an awareness of the parallels of YOUR story with classic myths and popular epics brings the life mapper to an overview Joseph Campbell called being a Dweller at the Threshold, able to look back and also forward.  Then the Life Path Mapping Process guides you to effectively CROSS THE THRESHOLD to truly manifest the vitalizing yet flexible life of your dreams.

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As well, with this book’s Tools you will be able to Meet & Greet (truly) your very own “ensemble cast of mythic/archetype characters.” Like Dorothy in the Wizard of Oz, you too have an inner unconscious cast of often submerged but always influential “inner” parts of Self that each needs your help to strengthen and to integrate/ come together with your greater Self to help you manifest your highest potentials for this lifetime.

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Envisioning and realizing this book as a Personal Growth and Development book and life mapping handbook has been my VOCATION over the past fifteen years. I published a scholarly book (The Life Map as an Implicit Cognitive Structure Underlying Behavior, Mellen Press, 2010) with articles about my research studies that led to the development then of the self-discovery Tools presented for the first time to the general public with Your Life Path. So of course this is very exciting for me but more than that I really do recommend this book highly to any reader!

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Your Life Path will be in indy consignment stores around the country and I will be doing signings in several local stores (yay) to try to get the word out. If you know of friends (and yourself of course) who might benefit from a fun and innovative approach to learning more about your Self and how to go forward to live your best life… please check this book out and share this post or the ISBN number with others in your blog or Facebook or email groups. I honestly don’t mean to sound boasting or overly “selling” of anything…that really is not who I am (an introvert in general, and not prone to self promotion). But I do want this book that I have nurtured and developed for so long find Its own deserving audience so others can benefit from the approach I myself have been blessed to pilot every step of the way. It is in fact my own Life Dream coming into full fruition, Now!

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images are from pixabay.com

I am grateful for the opportunity to serve Life and thank YOU for reading!

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!

How to Mend a Broken Heart

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So it’s Valentines month and we are exploring the RELATIONSHIPS Life Theme here at Better Endings. I had a post for Valentine’s Day but was sick with the stomach flu so am just going to let that one go by the wayside. Now that Valentine’s is over this current topic may be more appropriate: How to Mend a Broken Heart. Not that everyone needs this but Valentines Day (or week) allows us to reflect back on both the good and lasting loves of our life as well as the more difficult relationships that need our attention too. Life mapping involves a holistic embracing of your total Self and of your total Life Story, and we can learn often as much or more from past challenges as from  our current success stories.

Troubled relationships from our past (or present) can trouble us for a lifetime, if we let them. It is helpful to nurture yourself with regard to your pain and loss, to help heal these effectively so you can go forward with a more open heart.

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The Better Ending sort of story that comes up for me around this theme is a scene from the wonderful movie Steel Magnolias. When I first saw this film I cried for hours, starting in the theatre and continuing after it was over. It touched a deep chord for me about family and friends, along with pets my own closest relations. At the time I was (still am til this August) living far from my family, and this film reignited my love and sense of loss for being so far away.

The scene–I will bet you will have guessed it–that I think can be helpful for anyone to help mend a broken heart is with Sally Field as M’Lynn Eatenton, after the funeral for her daughter Shelby, a diabetic who has died in childbirth. M’Lynn asks “why?!” (click below to view on YouTube.)

This is an amazing scene, beautifully acted of course by the amazing Sally Field along with Olivia Dukakis and Shirley MacClain.  What I love about it is how expressive she is of her feelings. She doesn’t hold anything back! It is wonderful to purge ourselves when we feel grief. Let it out! Release your true feelings. Allow your pain to surface and flow forth into the universe.  Scream out at God if you need to. Why DID this have to happen?  What is left now?

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images are from pixabay.com

Healing requires Letting Go, as Elizabeth Kubler-Ross has written of so beautifully in her many books about Death and Dying. And you cannot Let Go until you come to terms with your loss and allow yourself to grieve.

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!

Relationships as a Life Theme

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As we are exploring monthly topics around LIFE THEMES, threads of experience that carry a pattern of content, February seems a good time of year to focus on Romance or, more generally, Relationships. Certainly RELATIONSHIPS is a primary Life Theme for most people in one form or another (e.g. Family, Romance, Friends). Like all Life Themes, RELATIONSHIP threads that weave through one’s Life Chapters and Life Story can be uplifting, inhibiting, or even like a Roller Coaster ride when it comes to their pattern of influence and impact on our lives overall.

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Since Relationships are so ubiquitous in most of our lives, let’s take some time this month to focus on various sorts of relations. For myself at 63 and single some 15 years after a long string of romantic adventures, romance is honestly no longer an interest after too many strains of Ups and Downs in that arena. I would rather focus my own Relationships Theme around the wonderful connections I now enjoy with family, friends, and my dearly beloved pet companions, just two days ago reduced by one as I had to send on his Soul journey after 16 years with me my dear companion cat Loki, due to kidney disease.

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images above from pixabay.com

If I were to map my Relationship Theme (which I will invite you to do in the next post), just in recent weeks of my current Life Chapter it would reveal quite a ‘wild ride,’ mostly very positive despite dips or deep troughs of sadness and loss. My mother’s passing just two weeks ago tomorrow brought our whole family together for a blessedly very positive time of sharing and remembrances. We are strengthened by our unconditional love for one another, which brings great joy and gratitude.

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photo by Jeff Watts

My relationship with my mother herself I feel is actually strengthened as I have been recalling to memory all of the wonderful ways she skillfully and lovingly parented me and imparted positive values in all five of her children and grandchildren.

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Elizabeth Anne Rugh Watts

May 25, 1927 – January 23, 2018

We gain so much from our close relations. We learn so much in a family of diverse Souls as in a community of friends and cross-species families, too!

I welcome YOUR Comments and Story!

Map Your Life Theme of HEALTH

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This  year as we focus on Life Themes for our main topic, each month I will give you the opportunity to “Map” the monthly Theme as it has patterned in your own Life Story.  Let’s begin with HEALTH as a Life Theme.

Mapping a Life Theme is a very simple self-discovery process.  First, list a series of significant health related events in your life. Make a note about each event so you will be able to read through these sequentially. Order these Health events chronologically just by numbering them from earlier to later, and it can help to place a relative date after each one on your list.

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Now then, rate the relative positive and/or negative impact of each event as it has influenced you in your life. Use a scale from -5 to +5, with a zero score representing a neutral impact score.

Use the chart shown below to PLOT the positive and/or negative impacts of each event along the five grid lines above or the five grid lines below the central line. This chart represents a time or Age line from left (earlier) to right (Later). You can mark your age or the relative date of each event along (just below) the timeline. If you rated an event with both a positive AND a negative impact (which is common and fine, e.g. +3/-2 or +5/-5), then plot both the positive and negative values for that single event vertically at the same date along the time line and connect the positive and negative values with a vertical line.

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After you have plotted the relative impacts of your Health events using the Life Mapping grid above, you can also CONNECT the dots (events) to reveal the overall PATTERN of this Life Theme in your life.  Especially when some of the events that are adjacent to each other on your chart reflect a CHANGE or a STABILITY of some health factors, connecting the plotted points can reveal TRENDS in your Health Theme over time.

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images are from pixabay.com

After you have plotted the Ups and Downs of your own Health related Life Theme, I invite you to contemplate and journal about what you discover from reviewing how this Theme has operated in your life over time. Has it primarily been positive/ uplifting? Or a deterring factor, or very steady? How has Health been an influential factor in your life? Would you wish to change anything about it? How might you do that?

I invite 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!

Resurrection / Rebirth!

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The final stage of the Hero Cycle that we are exploring with this year’s themes is that of Resurrection / Rebirth. ‘The End’ is always a New Beginning!  Whether or not you believe in reincarnation (I do), we live out our lives in epic proportions, undergoing many cycles within greater Cycles as we spiral through our life experiences to reach the heights of our aspirations and fulfillment.

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With my research into life path mapping that I have conducted over the last fifteen years, I have discovered there are three primary types of Life Course Schemas or cultural models of a lifetime that are overlapping in our cultural outlook today. I call these Linear, Cyclic, and Seamless Life Course Models. I want to describe the Linear and Cyclic Life Course Models for you here.

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Linear Models are predicated on a long held view of the life course emphasized in developmental psychology and proposed primarily by Erik Erikson in 1950 (Childhood and Society). This model postulates eight developmental stages everyone passes though as they mature. (You can read about this also in Gail Sheehy’s book Passages and in her later, updated New Passages book). Many of us have been conditioned according to this Linear-stages or step-by-step model of a lifetime, but in today’s “post-modern” reality, this Linear model really does not hold up so well for most people. Instead of ‘one education, one job or career, one relationship,’nowadays most of us find ourselves needing to be flexible and to adapt to major interruptions of our plans as we go along.

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The Cyclic Life Course Model accounts for our need to adjust to life’s changes. I have found in my interview research that people who have experienced major, early life disruptions as a child such as from their parents’ divorce tend to have developed a Cyclic Life Course model on their own. Some will say life occurs in cycles like decades, seven year cycles, twelve year cycles or some other periodic cycle. These folks also say they do not experience or worry about “mid-life crises,” because as one cycle ends and another begins, they always have the opportunity to refresh and renew!

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images are from pixabay.com

So how about you? Do you hold to more of a LINEAR model of life, with set stages of development you aim to achieve? Or do you hold a CYCLIC view of life instead, remaining flexible and open to start anew when a cycle ends for another to begin? (BTW, You might hold instead to a SEAMLESS model, believing that life just happens and you can adjust to whatever comes your way.)

I invite you to contemplate and journal about a CYCLIC approach to your life. Make a timeline of major life events to see if you discover any sort of cyclical pattern there. If so, where are you at in your current cycle? Are you ending a minor or major cycle? Starting a new one? Or are you right in the middle of one cycle, giving your all as you develop your talents and relationships?

I welcome YOUR Comments and Story!

Happily Ever After

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Certainly one of the greatest elixirs is Happiness. After attaining our worthy goal, we achieve a degree of happiness which we can carry forward with us into the next ordeal and adventure. Probably most people would claim greater happiness—for themselves and for others—as a measure of success, whatever their endeavor.

What makes you happy in the deepest sense? I mean, not only in the moment but long-term? A child (or a pet’s) smiling face (or their playfully wagging tail or purr), a beautiful mountainscape or an Oceanside sunset: these bring a valuable though transitory happiness. They warm the heart and bring a smile. They reveal, I would say, a deeper state of intrinsic happiness. They reveal a harmony of Nature, an innocence of Spirit; breaths of fresh air, a tonic to the Soul!

Still, how can you expand your condition of happiness beyond the fleeting moment?

So I ask again, what could make you Happy in the grandest sense? Is it your job? (Stay then! Take it as far as you can!) Or your relationship(s)? Then Bravo/a to you! Or maybe it is your chosen environment, where you experience At Oneness with the All One? (More cosmic, loving power to you!!!)

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For many people, enduring happiness is yet an elusive goal. Achieving their ultimate happiness shall be a result of fulfilling their most ardent endeavors (or, it may be found in the very practice of those endeavors themselves). Many will gain their enduring happiness by serving others and/or producing good works; by fulfilling, that is, their sense of Purpose and their Mission for this life.

So now, what is your Purpose; what can you claim as your Life Mission?

As a personal example, my life mission inflects on several levels. I have a spiritual Mission, which I do not feel the need to share. On a practical level, I have always sought, in one form or another, to serve the Whole…that is, to embrace and express my own inherent wholeness as well as to serve however I can the greater Whole of the community, family, fencing team (e.g.), and the world in which I live. Like many, I have always strived to make a positive contribution—whether through teaching, sharing in general, through responsible service, or through writing/publishing.

“What difference does it make?”

“It doesn’t matter!”

These were my calls in the wilderness to God, my deep laments through at least the first five decades of this life. So then, I would try harder, work more.

Until, gradually, as on cats’ feet, the Process itself—e.g. of communicating, teaching, contemplating, writing, living—has become fruitful in itself, in the moment of Doing, Being, or Knowing.  I find that I am still very goal-oriented, yet now my goal and the process I engage with to fulfill the goal have merged as one focus; see?

With this transformational shift from a ‘product/goal’ to a ‘process’-oriented mindset, now that I check in with my Self, Happiness has set in!

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images are from pixabay.com

This is not to presume that I am always “happy” in the glib/ surface sense. That has never been my goal. Actually I can sometimes let things bother me now just as much if not more than ever before. This comes from my passion for advancing what is in process. Disruptions or interruptions of this forward arching flow can set me back, but only long enough overall now until I can accept and absorb the lesson (for there is always a lesson!), and move on.

What Is Your Life Mission?

My upcoming book that is announced in the right panel of this blog, Your Life Path, is my best contribution so far to serve the Whole. This book provides a complete/ original Life Path Mapping process with its chapter-ending self-discovery Tools. I have developed and practiced this approach over the last fifteen years, through interview research, analysis of results, producing a previous academic book on the subject, and—more importantly—through developing the embedded self-help Toolkit from applying the mapping and reflection process with large classes of students and with many individuals, as a “life path mapping” coaching approach.  It has been helpful for many and even deeply transformative for some.

The Your Life Path Tools can guide you gradually yet gently to review your past, to reconsider your present with regard to how you have reached where you are in life now; then to explore your values, your inner conflicts and challenges (from an archetypal psychological  perspective), and to reveal your deepest, most integrative goals. It leads you to express and embrace your Life Mission; then to claim your Life Dream and plan a fulfilling future course, beginning here and now, to live into the life of your dreams!

I do invite you to check out this book if it may serve you. You could pre-order using the url address in the right panel, either through Amazon (as a book or ebook), Barnes & Noble, or Indies. I will be offering a preview webinar series on Life Path Mapping by December (I will post about that as it becomes available).

And so, wherever your life path leads you to:

Go For It!

A Te Sante!

Be Happy!

Live Your Dream, Now!

I always welcome YOUR Comments and Stories.

Marry Your Future, with a Vision Board!

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Maybe this is a bit of a stretch for our topic this month of The Sacred Marriage, but I find myself sitting at my office desk and looking at my bulletin board that I realize I have turned into a Vision Board.  I have embarked upon my final year of teaching before publishing my book, Your Life Path, and then retiring and relocating to focus full-time on writing and life mapping services.

I pilot every life mapping tool that I will be introducing with this book, and the art of “future casting” is a big part of this approach.  Any form of creative envisioning of what I like to call your future Lifescapes can be helpful to you in manifesting the life conditions you desire to express.

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On my Vision Board bulletin board I have the poem Ithaca by Cavafy (You can click on the Youtube video embedded below, narrated by Sean Connery!):

I also have a collage of images that represent my journey ahead to realize my Life Dream.  It shows my future ambitions and goals:

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To create your own Vision Board, simply imagine!  What CORE VALUES do you intend (not simply wish for or hope to do, but INTEND) to establish in your future Dream Come True?  Even if your most desirable future is the life you are living Now, what core values are you manifesting that you intend to extend and embellish further on the road ahead?

Goal setting is not about–or need not involve, anyway–LINEAR THINKING.  By focussing on VALUES rather than specific, material objectives, you remain open and flexible to however the Universe or Spirit fills your mold.

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You can write your future values or conditions you intend to live into onto a poster board or in Publisher on a blank page on your computer. Then find (or draw or paint in) pictures online or in magazines that represent these values and conditions, and place them on your Vision Board in a manner that feels right to you. You can also cut out or cut and paste words and phrases onto your collage.

I like to create my Future Casting Collages (BTW, do several! The future is not cast in stone!) to represent my pathway from where I am Now to the future Now I aim to create around me.

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images (other than my own) are from pixabay.com

I invite and welcome your Comments and Stories!

I would invite your collages to share, but actually I recommend you hold these close and share them mainly with your loved ones. Your VISION is your own; nurture it well and it will be!

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.

Build a Bridge to Your Destiny

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Who Are You? How did you get where you are today? Where are you wanting to go from here? How will you get there?

Here’s a quick creative Tool to help you discover a pathway to a desired next step that you might feel it is too hard to attain:

On a piece of construction paper of a color you associate with Fulfillment, paste or draw an image of a BRIDGE. This can be any sort of bridge you choose, but make sure it is strong, a bridge that will definitely convey you from one side (where you are now) to another (where you wish to “belong”).

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You can place or draw images of where you are and of where you wish to arrive at as a destination on either side of the bridge.

On or above the Bridge Path itself, place action words, phrases or images that are actual steps or transitions you CAN make in the foreseeable future that can lead you clearly n the direction of your goal.

For example, “pay off debt” or “exercise 2 times per week” or “write a chapter outline” could be statements you write on the bridge.

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images are from pixabay.com

Then, DO THIS!  Place one action before you that  is easy to set into motion and let that motion carry you over the bridge, across a threshold to your desirable new state or condition.

I welcome YOUR comments or story!

Beware the Naysayers

My cross country trip is still ongoing, and in fact after booking for home to deliver my dog safely and visit a doctor, I am actually on a flight this morning right back to New York State. My entire family is gathering to celebrate an early 90th birthday for my mother, Elizabeth (Betty), and I do not want to miss this big event.I am still not 100 percent recovered from the ordeals of this trip, but I am going anyway.

I do hope I have met the tests and challenges of the threshold Guardians well enough to find resolution and restore my body’s health fully soon. I am still taking every necessary precaution and hoping the harsh lotions do their healing work and ebb in their harshness soon. I have a threshold to Cross this next month and need the fortitude and enthusiasm to accomplish that.

To wind up this month’s discussion of the phase of a hero cycle involving the encounter with threshold guardians, allow me to mention two common varieties: Naysayers and Gatekeepers. You might encounter either or both along your Journey’s Quest.

When I was in grad school, and since then as a professor, I became aware of an almost guaranteed stage a student will experience in the course of pursuing their academic—and personal life—dreams. Invariably as they approach their threshold of commencing on a major task or study (E.g a dissertation or thesis venture) there will be someone who challenges their goal.

“Are you really going to try to do your study at Zuni Pueblo?” These Naysayers would ask. “They don’t like White people. They will never talk with you!”

Or, “Your idea is too big / too small… it will take too long… maybe you should try something easier, or different.”

But you know what I observed? Those enterprising students who refused to be deterred by their appointed Naysayers were those who succeeded to graduate in the field of their choice. Those who could be swayed very often did not finish with the program or degree they were seeking to obtain.

And then there are the Gatekeepers. You know of these and perhaps you are yourself in a role that serves as a gatekeeper for others, too. The gatekeeper minds the entranceway to a role or status opportunity. S/he sets or upholds the standards of admission. I remember when my best high school friend, Barb, came from a guidance counselor visit having been told, “You are not college material.” Yet Barbara was the school’s most talented artist. She went on to become a sought after wax figure sculptor who has peopled whole museums as well as a line of period wax dolls. Once later she took a college class just to investigate that direction. She excelled but was bored by the academic approach. She could have accomplished much in that direction had she chosen to, but then again perhaps Spirit had other plans which the Gatekeeper unwittingly opened.
If you are in a position to be a Gatekeeper fir others this is a sacred responsibility. Say YES as often as you can. Encourage the Aspirant to engage in meaningful self reflection rather than imposing what might be your own feelings of self limitation upon them.

The approach of Life Path Mapping which I will be providing with my upcoming book, YOUR LIFE PATH, is all about encouraging you to review, reflect, and then steer or if necessary redirect your life course so that you will absolutely Live Your Dream, Now! This month I intend to deliver the manuscript to the publisher; that is the Threshold I aim to cross during this next phase of my own Hero Cycle Quest!

Guard Your Own Threshold (My Creepy Crawly Road Trip, Part 3)

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For those of you who have been reading the blog this month, I am still on my road trip with my dog Sophie, and hopefully I am on track for overcoming the creepy crawly scourge we have encountered since day one, Feb 25, of bed bugs, hair and body lice, and tiny brown mites… oh yeah, and possibly dog mites too. My body as well as Sophie’s show the scars of the engagement. I am using lotions, meds and showers to try to regain a  balance, and today (yay) I am taking Sophie to a vet who will know what to do. (Previous vets have not found the root of the problem since her mites are burrowed, not actively moving about.)

The hopeful turning point phase began about six nights ago when I started taping rolls of sticky lint paper at the bottom of the bathroom door to sleep protected in there, keeping the mites in the bedroom. Then I realized turnabout is fair play, as I have now become the threshold guardian of my own and my dog companion Sophie’s bodies/ skins. Four nights ago while waiting for an Orkin treatment to be fully effective, I went out to Walmart, bought two tarps and a mummy sleeping bag and I  slept one night at least on the bed again, free of the tiny brown ones.

Yet even the next night a new patrol of tiny white specks  cropped up from apparently the fibers of the freshly laundered sleeping bag, nipping where they appeared. I almost succumbed to total surrender at this latest foray, but I got up, took a shower and used that magical wand of a lint roller to start picking these critters up as they surfaced. I continue that vigilance since moving to a hotel.

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Guarding your own threshold means stand up for yourself against all would be attackers who seek to feed off of your own good nature and integrity. You have a right to the sanctity of your own personhood and space. “One’s freedom ends where another’s begins” is a spiritual principle as stated by Harold Klemp, the spiritual leader of Eckankar. I get it now; that works in both directions.

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images are from pixabay.com

On a happier note, I had two wonderful days meeting with the team of publicists from Scribes Unlimited, Paula and Paul, this past two days, as we are preparing to  launch and make available to the general public my book, Your Life Path, with its related life mapping services. Pretty soon you will be able to link from this blog to an interactive site about Life Path Mapping, podcasts and all!

I welcome all of  your comments, help…,and stories.

The Elder Leader Archetype

 

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Archetypes are both in the world around you and within the structure of your own Psyche. On one level you recognize archetypal images in the forms of roles and “typical” experiences and relationships. At the same time, you have unconsciously internalized these same archetypal formations in the process of being socialized and becoming who you are; developing your complex identity. While this may sound like a different understanding of archetypes than you are familiar with from Jung or Hillman or from more recent, popular authors, as a cultural and psychological anthropologist I see the connection between our role based social identities and the unconscious makeup of human consciousness that embodies at least The Twelve primordial Persona Archetype forms which Dr. Charles Bebeau associated with Sumerian astrological gods and goddesses and that pertain very directly with Jung and Hillman’s archetypal theories and practical therapeutic methods.

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The Elder Leader is an excellent example of how an archetypal form is both externally constructed or projected onto others as well as existing internally as a ‘Persona,’ a facet of a person’s character or–as I see it–a member of a person’s internal ensemble cast of archetype character modes. They may be experienced as ‘inner voices’–like the angel on one shoulder versus the Devil on the other–, and they often appear in our dreams as well as in our basic expression of Self in various distinctive situations.

When our various situational persona archetypes, from deeply unconscious to more consciously felt and expressed, combine with one another to contribute in our life pursuits, we draw upon and hopefully learn to integrate these facets of our Self identity as Strengths. In Shadow mode, however, persona archetype traits can also complicate or harm our sense of who we are and they might inhibit our actions and restrict our dreams.

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Strengths of an Elder Leader persona can help you to achieve your goals and function effectively in any situation, but internal or external Shadow Elder Leader traits and attitudes can also block your progress or limit your enthusiasm and self-confidence. If you grew up with a punitive father figure, for instance, you may have internalized “Shadow Elder Leader” statements that your father  conditioned you to which dog your footsteps, e.g.: “You are not college material!” or “Do something productive with your life, not art (or music, etc.).”  To this day when I am writing, if I start to become didactic in what I am saying, I hear “Heil Hitler!” in my head; then I know to stop writing, loosen up, and be less rigid with what I am trying to say, because my Shadow Elder Leader has been dominating the work.

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The opening paragraph above is more analytical than I usually aim to be with these posts, but if you are reading BETTER ENDINGS FOR YOUR LIFE PATH (this blog), then I do want you to have a clear understanding of how I see Archetypal Psychology uniquely as a cultural anthropologist and how this approach can help you to manifest and Live Your Dream, Now! Basically what I am sharing is that as we  go through life from our earliest conditioning or socialization, we take on roles that help us develop our identity through repeating kinds of situations in our lives (our own recurring Life Themes). Each of these Themes, like Family, Romance, Education, and Work allow us to develop the relevant role aspects of our Self expression as, e.g. a Parent (Elder Leader and/or Nourisher), Lover, Teacher or Learner, and other archetypal persona character modes. Since each of our Life Stories emphasizes a unique blend of Life Themes, Life Mapping can help you uncover which archetypal modes and traits have been most helpful (and, hindering) as you have developed through your life experiences across your distinctive Life Chapters. All this will be in part the substance of the Life Maps Process  tools I will introduce you to with my upcoming book, YOUR LIFE PATH. (My agent will finally begin circulating the book to prospective editors this next month.)street-artists-117290__340

images are gratefully from pixabay.com

 

For Your Journaling or Contemplation Practice:

What are some of your own Elder Leader traits in both Strength and Shadow modes?

 

How do you construct the very notion of an Elder Leader based on your own life experience?

 

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I welcome your Comments and Stories!

Live Your Dream, Now!

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“Live Your Dream, Now!” is the  credo for the personal development handbook Your Life Path, which I currently am waiting for my agent to begin circulating after she attends to a major “launch” and probably some other projects.  Your Life Path will provide a complete, three stage rites of passage process for which you will be able to use life mapping and other creative self-discovery tools to uncover patterns and archetypal influences in your own Life Story that have been helping or hindering you from actively claiming and fulfilling your Life Mission and, yes, Living Your Dream, Now.

Living your dream NOW means that after you claim or excavate your goals and can identify the Strengths you have developed through overcoming challenges and learning valuable Life Lessons, you can begin Here and Now to conduct your day to day life integrating the values you desire to be expressing with the realization of your highest sense of purpose and adventure.

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This month we are exploring the principle Live Your Dream, Now as a positive affirmation and postulate.  Consider first, then, do you presently even ‘have’ a Dream; or, how do you currently conceive of and envision your Life Dream? What would your life look like if you were exactly where you would wish to be living, doing precisely what you would most love to be doing in your IDEAL future scenario?

Or are you already Living Your Dream? Even if the life you are living fulfills you, where is it leading for you? I believe human consciousness or perhaps even all sentient beings strive not just for survival on a daily basis but also for self-transcendence. We want our Tomorrows to be ever more spectacular, even if we are the best we have ever been right Now.

Grand Palace. A temple Wat Phra Kaew

Here is a Future Life Mapping Tool: Create a Game of LIFE game board that includes the sorts of twists and turns you can anticipate passing through along the winding road of your own Life Journey from Now toward some Future life scenario in which you have fulfilled your life goals. You can do this with a friend or family member and talk about each other’s game boards.

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I like the Wizard of OZ game of LIFE version because it reminds me very clearly of Life Mapping. Dorothy begins on her Aunt and Uncle’s farm in Kansas, of course, and she and the rest of her archetypal ensemble cast members weave and wend their way through ordeals and tests, making choices along the way and gaining salaries (rewards). Eventually they return HOME, of course, having gained much of value along the Way.

Joseph Campbell, the world famous comparative mythologist who gave us The Hero with 1000 Faces recognized that the Hero’s Adventure that we are naturally all set upon in the journey of a lifetime always leads HOME.

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So let’s start there this month. Where truly is your Mythic HOME? Set that as your destination on your game board of LIFE!

I welcome your insights and please share with us your life mapping results!!!

The Principle of BETTER ENDINGS

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I am extremely grateful for this blog, the book it is prefacing, the agent who recommended it, and for all you readers whether checking in or visiting regularly.  Now Your Life Path will soon be circulated to publishers and I have a sequel book already in progress. The two main features of the approach I am sharing here and in these books are Life Mapping and the Principle of BETTER ENDINGS; these personal growth & development tools are closely interconnected.

Life Mapping is a process anyone can use  that I will be presenting as a complete rites of passage program in Your Life Path—Life Mapping to Live Your Dream, Now!  This tool allows you to  visually map  the significant, shaping events of your life and then to see how these have formed into Life Themes, Life Chapters, and a coherent Life Story that has mythic significance with you as the key dramatic protagonist! From the point of dwelling “at the Threshold” of awareness—indeed like standing at the top of a mountain, able to view vistas of past, present and possible futures—life mapping can help you to mine the potentials you have already  developed so as to “re-model” your future based on claiming or reclaiming and refining your own Life Dream.


This photo of Pikes Peak is courtesy of TripAdvisor

 Life Mapping can help you to discover pathways to your own Better Endings. But for today I would like to remind regular readers and introduce more recent and new readers of this blog to what I mean by the Principle of BETTER ENDINGS itself and how you can apply that, not only through life mapping but in your everyday life.

The first year of this blog (November 2013- November 2014; see calendar below) was called Better Endings, and it is here that I first explored and developed this concept and came to realize that it is indeed a principle that anyone can apply. It started to become apparent for me when I left a movie showing of the newest King Kong just before Kong was about to cascade off from the top of the Empire State Building to his imminent death; a death of primal significance metaphorically: a death of all that is primal and wild within all of us, within me. So I left the theatre and went to a coffeeshop where I took out my writing journal and rewrote the ending of this classic plot. In my version, Kong Lives! This was to me a Better Ending.   So I started practicing this approach with several other stories with endings I had always wished had resolved otherwise. I felt a giddy, almost guilty sense of satisfaction and empowerment, like I was discovering a freedom I never knew I had!

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Try it sometime. Just think of a story whose ending you have never liked, and revise it! Maybe Juliet wakes up before Romeo swallows the poison, and they marry and live happily ever after.  Or maybe Lincoln never died from his bullet wound; it just grazed his forehead. Yes, history itself is an open field for re-visioning with this process.

Your own life is also a ripe, open terrain for replanting, re-visioning, re-modeling! The decisions you have made, moves, choices, risks taken or not, desires expressed fully or repressed; with every step we take in life we are re-routing our Life Path according to parallel realities!

So this is the principle of Better Endings that I am inviting you to explore and to practice. For me it has grown over time to become a principle I apply every day. Even writing this blog, for me, is an act of applying Better Endings. The principle is useful regardless of your spiritual path or philosophical bent.  It is something more than simply “positive thinking,” because better endings are not always necessarily “positive” in the maintsream sense, though they are positive for the person seeking valuable, meaningful change, adventure, or greater awareness.

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I welcome your comments and stories!

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!