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!

VOCATION!

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I have always loved the word “vocation,” as to me there is a big difference between VOCATION and WORK. As Life Themes these often show up distinctively in people’s Life Maps, too. While Work or Career might be one Theme a person charts in terms of “types of events or situations” recurring over the course of their life up to Retirement at least, people usually identify VOCATION distinctively; for example as a specific “calling,” or a beloved activity such as Writing, Art, Music, Outdoors, Hiking, a competitive sport such as Swimming or Basketball, etcetera. So this month let our focus be on exploring the role and influence of VOCATION or Callings in our lives.

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Writing has always been a vocation for me. From a young age, my personal Journal has been a close friend and companion. Literally, I would address my journal as I wrote, and somehow I knew It (or, someone on a spiritual or an internal dimension) was always there, listening! By college years I was maintaining several different journals at a time: one for poetry, one for  dreams and spiritual experiences. another for philosophical musings, and one as a basic diary, at least.

It was through my journal writing that my writing vocation grew and blossomed over time.  I would write short stories, dramatic dialogue pieces, and evocative descriptive essays that I called ‘Photos.’ I started a science fiction trilogy in graduate school which I developed to the degree that I have a complete first book manuscript, the second book is started, and the rest is outlined (now including a quatrain or fourth installment). I intend during my upcoming retirement to publish this series, called The Dawnbreakers.

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Through my years as a professor I have continued journaling, and alongside academic publications (two books, several journal articles, a book chapter and several invited book reviews), my VOCATION has only intensified, so that in 2002 after receiving tenure, I realized I wanted to find a way to do something more creative and public service- oriented with my career, so I began the LIFE MAPPING project that has culminated in my new book, YOUR LIFE PATH (click or see right panel for ordering information). This is a mainstream, personal growth and development book and Toolkit. It lets you become a Life Mapper of your own Life Story, truly!  Based on my understanding of mythology, archetypal psychotherapy, and life history studies including Joseph Campbell’s The Hero Cycle, rites of passage, and Jung’s methods for discovering your own internalized, archetypal “parts of Self”, I have developed this approach of life mapping over many years of research, teaching, and individual coaching so that anyone can discover and reflect upon their own Life Story. This lets you realize the Strengths (and obstacles) you have developed through your own life experience to Now so that you can envision your Life Dream and begin, Now, to manifest and fulfill your sense of Life Purpose and Life Mission. So, please check it out, it really is very good!

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images are from pixabay.com

So my vocation has brought me to this point, and now I have three sequels to Your Life Path in process already. I so look forward to my retirement years (beginning as of this June 8, yay!) so I can shift all of my focus to this more spiritual dimension of my own sense of a personal Calling in this lifetime.

I welcome YOUR story!

Map Your Relationships

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Life Mapping lets you review the trends and potentialities of each of your Life Themes within the epic adventure of your lifetime! This year at Better Endings for Your Life Path we are exploring one Life Theme per month (see monthly topics) by using and reflecting on life mapping techniques; for February we are focusing on Relationships.

Many life mappers identify Relationships as a primary Life Theme, either directly or according to sub-themes like Family, Romance, Pets, and/or Friends.  I would like to invite you to choose one or more of these topics to map across your life course. If you choose more than one, then I would ask you to color code the events you will map for each Theme you are exploring.

The basic technique of life mapping which I will be presenting fully with my upcoming book, YOUR LIFE PATH (see right panel!), invites you to first make a list of Significant Life Events pertaining to your Theme(s), then plot their relative impact on shaping “the person you have become.”

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First then, make a list of events or situations involving key relationships in your life. You can make separate lists if you are exploring more than one Relationship theme, like one list for Romantic relationships and a separate list for Family or for Friends events (or do one at a time). Keep a wide left margin on your page. Let this be a list of events or situations that have influenced you in significant ways. You can start with the earliest or with the most impactful life experience involving this Theme, then feel free to recall earlier or later events freely (you will order these chronologically later).

After you have a list of key events, in the wide left margin next to each event, note the age you were when this occurred (either a single date or a time frame). Then ask yourself, “How has this event or situation impacted the person I have become?” RATE the event or situation relative to the time frame when it occurred, from -5 to +5, where -5 is extremely negative and +5 is extremely positive. Note that you could rate the same event as both Plus and Minus in its impact, such as -3/+5 if you recognize the event has had both a negative as well as a distinctively positive impact on your life for one reason or another.

Now then, you can use the Life Map chart below to simply PLOT the impact scores you have used to rate the relative positive and/or negative influence of each event in your list. Use a pencil (you can copy this post and enlarge the chart or make your own separately) to put a dot or an x along the time line , marking onto the 0 to +5 or 0 to -5 lines to represent your events. Plot these impacts according to the relative age you were when they occurred. You can write your Age for each event along the center, neutral Age Line.

You can “connect the dots” of your plotted events on the chart to reveal trends or PATTERNS of how this Theme has unfolded in your life.  Connect two plotted events especially if they seem somehow connected to you as forming a trend, like if you went from a negative experience to a positive one, or if a series of events were all negative or all positive (or neutral = ) on the chart).

It can help to draw a vertical hash-marked or dotted line where the event you have plotted is so significant that you may feel you were “a different person” before and after this event occurred. (These are your Critical Life Events or Turning Points.)

If you want to map more than one relationship sub-theme, repeat the above steps for each Theme you are interested in exploring.

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images are from pixabay.com

After plotting your Map, review it. Journal or contemplate (or both) or talk with a loved one about the PATTERNS you observe in this Theme. If you have mapped multiple Themes, do you notice differences in the patterning of each of these as they have interwoven within the fabric of your Life Story?

I welcome YOUR Comments and Story!

What are Your LIFE THEMES?

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

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

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

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

January –     Health

February –   Romance/ Relationships

March –       Vocation

April –          Work

May –           Family

June –          Adventure/ Travel

July –           Friends

August –      Relocation/ Moves   

September– Education

October –     Spirituality

November – Pets

December – Life Lessons

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images are from pixabay.com

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

I welcome your Comments and Stories!

Liminality: The Betwixt and Between

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Why is it that after a hero has crossed the initial threshold of adventure, there is always a descent to undergo before the adventure can be pursued to the point of true fulfillment? An adventure story worth its salt, so to speak,—fictional or yours—is first and foremost a Rite of Passage.

Anthropologists recognize that a complete Rites of Passage/ Hero Cycle adventure occurs over three ritual or Hero Cycle stages. The adventure proceeds from:

(Stage 1)  Separation–whereby the hero(es) remove themselves from their normal state of affairs in order to pursue a personally meaningful and collectively beneficial Quest–; to

 (Stage 2) the Transition Zone–wherein they meet themselves and encounter obstacles in the form of trials and tribulations–; to

(Stage 3, when or if the Quest is successfully fulfilled), their Return and Reincorporation–whereby the more mature and better individuated Self benefits others as well as themselves from their positive transformation of values and the maturity they have brought back from their ritual passage.

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The Transition Zone (Stage Two of a complete Rites of Passage/ Hero Cycle odyssey) is where a Descent—sometimes metaphorically depicted as being swallowed up or in the Belly of the Whale—must occur in order for the Quester(s) to develop and strengthen their depth of character quite literally, as in what Jung would call a more integrated and thereby a better balanced unconscious-with-conscious Self. 

In the Transition Zone of a Rites of Passage cycle, the Quester encounters liminality: the experience of feeling as if they are “betwixt and between” normal spheres of reality or society.  As both Victor Turner and Anthony Wallace have described rites of passage, this sense of liminality—whether for an individual or sometimes for an entire society when a revitalization movement occurs—places the person (or social group) in an experience of marginality. They are no longer in the status or role they had before embarking on their adventure, yet they have not yet accomplished or fulfilled their quest whereby they could claim a new, greater role or their successful social-psychological adjustment. I love Anthony Wallace’s description of this (when successfully achieved) process as a Mazeway Resynthesis: a psychological/cognitive reorganization of values and behavior according to an adjustive, fulfilling new Vision of (individual and/or cultural) reality as a whole!

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images are from pixabay.com

Here are just a few examples of popular literary/ fictional stories that include prominent LIMINAL ZONE sub-plots or scenes:

Harry Potter: especially in his feelings of isolation from even his closest allies and in his nightmarish dreams of Voldemort from episodes 4-7;

Lord of the Rings: in Frodo’s passage, with Samway and the devious trickster Gollum as companions in liminality, to Mordor to destroy the One Ring in Return of the King;

The Wizard of Oz: e.g. in the Forbidden Forest, the Poppy Fields, and the Wicked Witch’s castle; and

The Bucket List: in the main characters’ unsuccessful outer quest to climb Mt. Everest,  during which they come to realize the true value of love and family.

What about you in your own unique LIFE STORY? Can you identify with a time in your life when you have experienced (or have yet to) LIMINALITY?  I invite you to journal about this experience or prospect. What did or have you to GAIN?

I welcome your Comments and Story!

 

 

Your Life is An Epic Journey

 

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You are a mystic life adventurer! But you know that, right? This month we will explore the Life Metaphor Life is an Epic Adventure, with the archetype of Mystic as our ally and guide.

James Hillman, archetypal psychologist, wrote in Healing Fiction about the healing power of your own Life Story. He made a distinction in his therapy practice between a “case story,” which a person brings to the therapy process, and a “soul story,” which a therapist can help the person to identify and own. The case story is just the facts, the weave and warp of situational events that have added up to where a person feels himself or herself to be in life.  But those same facts, told in terms of their meaning, their impact and significance to the person’s sense of life purpose, goals and desires, comprise the soul story instead.

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With Life Paths I will introduce a technique I call the Parallel Myth technique. This method will provide a way to transform your basic Life Map—charting your significant, shaping experiences and their relative impacts on the person you have become—into a soul story. As a short version here, let me invite you to simply think about some Epic story in a novel, film, play or myth form that you have always identified with.  How? Why? What about that story or one of its key protagonists reminds you of your own life and your own epic life adventure?

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Now then, write a brief, synoptic story that merges the story you have identified with and meaningful facts from your own life. Assign yourself a protagonist’s name, and write this synoptic story in third person, highlighting your own most dramatic challenges, successes, loves and dreams. Write a page or two encapsulating your life experience from the perspective of this ‘merged’ storyline.

I like to remind my life mapping clients and students of the following awareness:

You are the stuff that myth is made of, and myth is made up from the stuff of your lives.

Now then, go forth and prosper!

I welcome your insights and I invite you to share your stories. Let’s enjoy a conversation!

What Is Your Mission?

 

An early ‘Friday’ post this week…

Your Mission Statement 

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Every successful organization has something that helps its employees and customers to thrive: a Mission Statement. In a way this is like a narrative throughline, such as we have been exploring this week, except a Mission Statement highlights the endpoint to be achieved rather than the full process it might take to arrive there.

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A Mission Statement orients those aiming to manifest this Mission to be mindful of the End Achieved. It is like a positive affirmation or a goal based mantra phrase; it empowers a person to anchor their actions to the destination and, so, to arrive Here with clarity and Purpose.

So I invite you to create a logline to the manifestation of your deepest Dream, as a fulfillment of your Life Mission. To uncover your Mission, first think from the end achieved and write how you ‘got there’ as a fulfillment of Why You Are Here, the Dream accomplished in the highest sense.

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If it helps to think of a narrative parallel first, to help you to then write your own Mission Statement, choose a story with the sort of happy or Better Ending you desire.

E.G.:  She was Home, in Kansas! And she had learned so much while being away in the Land of Oz. She knew exactly what to say to her mean neighbor now; she would apologize for Toto’s behavior and take responsibility for making sure it would not happen again for she would build a fence around the yard so Toto would not traipse into the neighbor’s garden. She would appreciate her family and friends, now more than ever before. But, she would also always remember: Home is not the Farm itself; Home is in the Heart. She wanted now to eventually leave the farm and travel to find her destiny, her way to serve from the foundation of all she could learn. She was no longer afraid of being alone, for she would never be alone, Not Really. She was free to grow, to explore; free to give of herself to all Life. She was, quietly to herself alone, Dorothy, a Good Witch, a Wizard of OZ.

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Well, that was fun!  A Mission Statement: My Mission is to be All that I CAN BE, in service to All Life; to follow my Outer and Inner Guidance in order to follow this Dream fully, to Live my Dream, Now!

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Yours?

So, What Is YOUR Logline?

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If you read Sunday’s post you may have already been practicing the art of crafting fictional throughlines or loglines.  I would love to be a fly on the wall to see what some of you may have come up with! (Do feel free to share! You can write one or two now if you haven’t yet.)

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What have you learned about throughlines from writing some? A throughline is like a skein of thread you unwind that leads directly through the center of a tale from beginning to end, with nothing wasted. Or it is the story itself, as it were, stripped bare to the main character’s quest, challenge, strategy, and mission achieved (or if a tragedy, not).

Yet here is the real question I want to set before you to be pondering this week: What is YOUR Throughline; the Narrative Statement or central thread of your unique LIFE STORY?  ‘Is there one?’ you may query, and I would answer, ‘Yes, but of course there is!’

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Whether you have been following the weekly topics and applying the life mapping tools offered here for the last few months of this Life Paths for Better Endings blog or not, we have been gradually developing an approach that allows you to map out the Life Chapters of your Life Story narrative by identifying significant shaping events and Turning Points in your life history and giving chapter titles to the activity cycles in your life that have occurred between your pivotal Turning Points. (I invite you to review the past several weeks’ Sunday topic introductions and sidebar Life Mapping Tools if you would like to catch up with this process or to share it with your friends.)

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Last week I invited you to read across your series of Life Chapter titles and to compare your life script, as this reveals, with a parallel storyline you are familiar with, and then to reflect on the similarities. (EG How is your series of Life Chapter titles like the plotline of a favorite story you have always identified with?)

One simple way to arrive at your own Life Story logline or Narrative Statement is to collapse a parallel mythic storyline you can relate to with your own.  I recommend that you give yourself a favorite protagonist’s name and write your Life Story logline in the 3rd person, present tense.  Your Narrative Statement should be brief; perhaps one or no longer than two or three sentences at most.

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Here are some examples of Narrative Statements some life mappers I have coached have produced by using this sort of parallel mythic comparison:

J.D.       The hero, once freed, became more open-minded and saw things as they were. He was able to move forward and help others.  He went through rough times, having to choose between saving his girlfriend Trinity and helping the world. He did what he believed, not what he was told to do. He followed his heart. (Parallel myth = The Matrix)

Hope:  Hope begins her life with a thirst for “truth”.  She is Wanasai, “Seeker of Truth”.  Innocence is lost. Knowledge is gained.  Descent becomes opportunity to face and “slay” the dragons.  Seeking power and taking Death on as her ally, Hope walks with grace.  Healing Self – healing others. (Parallel Myth = A Native American Vision Quest)

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Does this practice of revealing to yourself a logline or throughline for your own Life Story offer some new insights for you? What, after all, is or has your life been about, up to Now? How might where you have arrived at in your storyline to Now relate to your life goals or to your own mythic Quest from here forward?

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I encourage you to place your personal narrative logline or Narrative Statement someplace where you will see it often. Refine it, represent it artistically; do anything to let yourself remember your logline even daily for awhile.  When basic life choices come along—these are like a writer’s editing choices, yes?—use your logline to help you make your next decision about where it is most helpful to place your attention or which direction to take or to walk away from; see?

If by chance you are not yet entirely satisfied with your throughline as it has manifested in your Life Story to Now, you are free to craft a new one that might lead you—like Theseus’s thread leading him from the Labyrinth in which he overcame the monstrous Minotaur—out of your own mental labyrinth and back to the Light of day; your day—a Day you may deeply wish to wake to! Let this new throughline define for you a pathway to your own Better Endings!

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Feel free to share!

Your Narrative Statement 

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 Have you ever taken ‘time out’  to try to encapsulate what your life is “all about”? Of course, it doesn’t need to be “about” anything, but at the same time, since you like everyone else have a Life Story, then there is a meaning and a message to YOUR story that is uniquely important, if only to you. This week’s Life Paths for Better Endings topic is about a way to uncover the underlying significance of your own Story and the potential benefits of claiming a personal Narrative Statement.

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What I’ll call a Narrative Statement is known to authors as a “Throughline” or a “Logline”. E.G.:

The throughline is an invisible thread that binds your story together. It comprises those elements that are critical to the very heart of your tale — these elements needn’t be the same for every story you tell but should remain the same throughout a given story.  (Shot through the Heart: Your Story’s Throughline / Terrible Minds, by Chuck Wendig, http://terribleminds.com/ramble/)

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To begin, let’s look at some fictional stories or mythic tales to explore how narrative statements can function to make a story cohesive and well-focused on the key protagonists’ character arcs and plotlines. Writers know they should be able to boil down their story into one brief, tense statement, usually one sentence that fully encapsulates the story in terms of characters, goals, oppositions and outcomes. Here are some feasible narrative throughlines just as a practice in devising narrative statements (though of course the authors would do a better job):

  • An orphaned boy discovers on his 11th birthday that he is a “wizard”, destined to master the positive potentials of magical abilities along with a cohort of friends, in order to thwart the evil rise to power of the megalomaniac wizard fiend who killed his parents.
  • After witnessing UFOs firsthand a man becomes obsessed with replicating a mental image that turns out to be a UFO landing site to which he is being telepathically called by an alien race aiming to bring an Earth representative to their home world for interplanetary communication.

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Here are some actual throughlines I have found online that are associated with well-known stories:

Sleepless in Seattle: A recently widowed man’s son calls a radio talk-show in an attempt to find his father a partner.- Written by Murray Chapman <muzzle@imdb.com>

Oedipus Rex: Sophocles’ most famous work about the King of Thebes (translated here by Dudley Fitts and Robert Fitzgerald) tells the simple tale of boy gets parents, boy loses parents, boy gets new parents, boy kills biological father and marries biological mother. http://www.pghcitypaper.com/pittsburgh/throughlines-oedipus-rex/Content?oid=1675058

The Wizard of Oz: After a twister transports a lonely Kansas farm girl to a magical land, she sets out on a dangerous journey to find a wizard with the power to send her home.  (from Gideon’s Screenwriting Tips: So Now You’re a Screenwriter…Tips to Improve your Film and TV writing and Your Career/ Writing Effective Loglines. http://gideonsway.wordpress.com/2012/03/10/writing-effective-loglines/)

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I invite you for the next few days to practice writing narrative throughlines for some fictional stories that matter to you. This practice will prepare you to develop a throughline or narrative statement encapsulating your own Life Story, later this week.  So first, I encourage you to practice the method!

  • What do you find yourself emphasizing about the stories you choose to write loglines for?
  • What does the very fact that you can write a logline, even for what might be a rather complicated story, say about stories or about storytelling in general?

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Throughlines or loglines are essential for writers. They are the very heartbeat of a story. In editing, it is often said that every line or even every word in a manuscript should propel or develop the logline; else, remove it! Hold that thought in relation to devising—later this week—a throughline for your own Life Story. What might be some implications? Stay tuned…

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As always, thank you for reading and I invite you to play in this life mapping sandbox!

Your Comments and Stories are welcome!

 

Your Story as Myth

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Preface: As I present this blog about topics covered in my upcoming book Life Paths I find I need to dampen the material just a bit in order not to reveal more than I should before launching the book. I am presenting here a full sequence of topics in a process mode that mirrors the book’s process, but I do not want to simply quote from the manuscript or give the exact self-help tools outside of the fuller context of a complete Life Maps Process that the book will deliver. Particularly, there is an approach in Life Paths that delivers a much more in-depth and systematic approach to this week’s topic of “Your Life as Myth”, which I will need to present in a more basic overview manner here. Still, the ideas are relevant to where we are at as we go through a life mapping sequence in the blog. And, I do enjoy exploring these topics in the blog apart from and beyond the book process; it allows me a creative outflow and I hope that is true for you as well.

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Your Story as Myth

Our lives are made up from the stuff of Myth and, in my view, Myth is made up from the stuff of our lives. That means that the same elements that are present in Myth are present in our day-to-day—and nightly dream—experience.  It simply cannot be otherwise, given the structure of human Mind and the nature of human consciousness.

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We tell about the events of our lives—from the most mundane to the most significant, Shaping events—in stories, and we reflect on our life history as an overarching Life Story. So, consider the key elements of a myth or story and you can see their reflections in your own life. You are the key protagonist, for instance, within a cast of characters both external (your relations) and internal (your unconscious archetypal perspectives…a later topic). You have Goals, you face Obstacles; occasionally you might even come face to face with a Nemesis or Arch-Rival, and you might face unrelenting challenges. You survive, though, as best as possible. You seek help, develop strategies, equip yourself with skills and tools to meet your needs, and you persevere, you persist to overcome obstacles and to attain your needs and goals. That all sounds very dramatic and, er,…yes, Mythic!

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So for fun this week, here’s something you can do to explore the mythic dimensions of your own Life Story.

First, write out in outline form across one page the titles you would give to your important Life Chapters up to Now (you can refer to two weeks ago or use this blog’s Search device for Life Chapters to find a tool to help you identify your Life Chapters as the event phases that have occurred between your major Turning Points.)

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Got that? So now you have a sequence of YOUR Life Chapter titles across a page. (If you prefer to be nonlinear, you can arrange these in any manner that makes sense to you, like in a Spiral pathway, a pie chart or a creative collage.)

Next, read across the page of your Life Chapter Titles, several times, slowly. Does the Story that your sequence of Life Chapter titles tell REMIND you of any popular story (myth, novel, or movie, etcetera)? What is that “Parallel” Story?

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Now then, you can talk about, journal/ write about, and/or actively contemplate the similarities between YOUR story and the Parallel Story you have named.

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Have Fun!

I look forward to your comments or stories.

The Chapters of Your Life Story

 

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Summarizing what we have explored so far with this sequence of weekly Life Mapping topics and tools, if you have been participating with the weekly tools you have so far reviewed your Origin Story, engaged in a Vision Quest, and you have had opportunities to identify and reflect about your current Life Metaphor, your Shaping Events, yourTurning Points, and your recurring Life Themes.  All of the insights you have gained from these reflections have laid the grounds for you to discover, this week, the distinct Life Chapters of your Life Story, to Now.

Chapter one

Our lives are of the same stuff that Myths are made of or, as I prefer to say, Myths are made up from the stuff of our lives. That means that you are the central protagonist of your own “life narrative”; each of us is unfolding according to our own dramatic Life Story.

To identify the contours of your Life Chapters, I invite you to first simply list very brief descriptions of your Turning Points chronologically across a page (be sure to use a big enough page to represent these in one visible sequence). Place below each Turning Point representation the age you were when each of these Turning Point events occurred. Creatively, you could use computer clip-art or images cut out from a magazine to represent your Turning Points sequentially across a page, then place your Age at that event below or beside each image.

Next, simply use a ruler or a sheet of paper to draw vertical, solid or dashed lines right beside or through each Turning Point, from near the top of your page to the bottom.

So far, then, your mapping of Turning Points might look something like this:

Life chaps

Now then, I invite you to reflect upon the periods of your life experience that have occurred BETWEEN each of your major Turning Points. From Birth to your first Turning Point experience, for example, what was your life about? Think of yourself as the Author–as you are!–and of this series of events as your Storyline. Be creative and assign CHAPTER TITLES to each of these time frames occurring BETWEEN your Turning Points. Then you can simply create a new mapping that keeps the age demarcations shown on your Turning Points map, but this time place the LIFE CHAPTER titles between each of the Turning Point boundary lines.

So now, your mapping of Life Chapters might look something like this:

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Of course, please be open and flexible to use your own creativity in designing how you might best represent or depict your Life Chapters. Maybe you prefer a pie-chart, or a Spiral, or a pictorial collage of your own design.  This is YOUR composition, so feel free to modify and to elaborate in a way that is meaningful to you!

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(To catch up on previous tools, please see the right panel invitation for any of the past 7 weeks, or click on dates for the past 7 weeks on the calendar below; or you may enter a topical search cue.)

Turning Points: Your Chapter Turners

Prescript: I have decided to add a fourth blog post per week. On Thursdays I will post your insights and/or your results from applying life mapping tools. I might also reblog relevant tips or life path affirming stories and ideas.

Here’s an odd idea I woke with today: Earn Life Coins to add to your Life Line every time you do something healthful and positive. The goal: to add more life coins per week than you ‘spend’ on unhealthful actions. After a two week-plus cross-country roadtrip during which my dietary habits suffered some while driving, I’m ready and need to start adding some positive coins to my own Life Line!- L

Turning Points: Your Chapter Turners

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Which situations or events in your life history have been your Turning Points: events of such magnitude that you feel you were a different person before and after each of these events occurred?  That is this week’s focus; to identify your monumental moments.  Now let me add this piece: if you were to rate each of your Turning Points in terms of its relative positive and/or negative impact on your life (say, -5 to +5), what would that be?

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 For example, moving from Buffalo, New York to Phoenix, Arizona for graduate school when I was 24 was a huge event in my life. I would say its impact was mainly positive (+5), but at the same time it required me to leave my family and friends and all I had grown up with to move to what felt like a very foreign world (-3).

This sort of “duality” may be a characteristic feature of Turning Points. Think about one of your own. Would you rate its impact as all positive? All negative? Or both to some degree? Why?

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 I invite you to describe each of your Turning Points in terms of their relative positive and/or negative impact on the person you have become.  I welcome any insights or examples you might wish to share (as Mandi of CagedNoMore did about her artistic Life Themes reflection yesterday; thanks Mandi for sharing and I am glad it helped you put some things into perspective!)

Turning Points—as we will explore a bit later here too—are more than page turners in your life. They bring LIFE CHAPTER changes. So, taking some time to identify these can help you to understand your major shifts. Which ones were by your own choice, or not?

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When I left Buffalo 35 years ago for Arizona, it was such a huge shift apart from everything I had ever known that I troubled over the decision. Every night I would raise an issue about the move in a nightly contemplation, posing questions for inner guidance. And every night I would dream in a way that clearly answered that question. How could I drive my red Buick convertible to Phoenix, for example. Wouldn’t it be too hot? That night I was taken to a rotating hotel restaurant overlooking Phoenix (there really was one at a Ramada Inn, though I hadn’t been there.) I looked down to see almost every car in the parking lot was—you guessed it—red!

Do you have a Turning Point sort of shift or a major decision coming up? What can you do to help yourself go through this most effectively, to help yourself advance to realize your greatest potentials?

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Share your stories if you’d like; I would love to share them.

Better Endings to You! – Linda

Your Crests and Valleys

Dear All: I am posting Friday’s blog early this week due to a rather major event in my own life occurring Friday that I am preparing for this week. So this post will serve as the Friday post. 🙂 L.

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There are so many different approaches people take to reconstructing their history of significant life events.  I have met a woman over 70 who recalled just seven shaping events over her rich life experience, yet I also composed a Life Map for a 21 year-old young man who identified over 130 events, with many significant events happening every year.  Next week this should start becoming more clear as we will shift to looking not just at single events or time frames but at recurring KINDS of events in your life, or Life Themes.

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For now, I invite you to reflect on the list of shaping events you have thought about or charted on a timeline this week. (Please see the Life Mapping Tool in the right panel and you might wish to check Sunday’s and Tuesday’s posts this week to ‘catch up’ on what we’re up to this week if you are just joining us.)  As you reflect on this particular list of life moments or phases you have recalled as your “shaping” events, do you recognize any obvious patterns or trends?

One life mapper, Mercedes, realized as she composed a timeline of her significant life events how her most challenging times almost always culminated with an event she associated with a Life Lesson. Another person, Hope, realized she had suffered from a long series of Meltdown phases as a result of some major family dysfunction, yet she always found ways to lift herself out of these Meltdowns by engaging in a Nature related event.

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What obvious trends come to light for you from reflecting on your own history of shaping factors?  Were there happier periods involving specific kinds of events? Are there trends relating to romance or family? Did your family move a lot while you were young (for example) and if so, are there patterns in the history of events associated with these moves? Overall, do you recognize patterns or changing developments over time in the overall history of your “shaping factors”?

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I invite and welcome your feedback, stories and insights!

A Wake-Up Call

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Imagine waking one morning to this billboard-like statement pasted between your eyebrows, with bold letters in a black box just like the one above:

“You Have the Responsibility to Realize Your Dreams, Not Just for Getting By.”

I experienced this lucid dream some 14 years ago, and it was this VISION, this direct admonition of my spiritual and personal responsibility to pursue my greatest Life Dream, that has ultimately conducted me down a long and winding pathway ever since that morning to find out what that Dream IS, and to Follow it through.

Some few months after waking to this dream command, while wondering what topic to conduct research about for a university sabbatical, I woke to an auditory dream message just as clear as the sign above, that simply stated:

“LIFE PATHS”

And so, I embarked on research to develop a way to help people graphically be able to MAP their LIFE PATHS. One thing has led to another, so that now, 13 years down the road, I have gradually, step by step, with interview research then articles, then workshops and classes, then a published academic book and article, then more classes and individual coaching, manifested much already of my own Dream by developing the LIFE MAPS PROCESS. Over the past six years, in addition to the academic book (The ‘Life Map’ as a Cognitive Structure Underlying Behavior–A New Tool for Psychological Understanding; Mellen Press, 2010), I have come to understand what my original dream directive was really about: a self-help personal growth and development book that would allow anybody (e.g.,You) to apply the LIFE MAPS PROCESS directly;  so that anyone can

“LIVE YOUR DREAM, NOW!”

The book, called LIFE PATHS, with its companion self-help Handbook (The Life Maps Portfolio Handbook) now exists. I have completed a major edit and a wonderful agent will begin marketing LIFE PATHS later this summer. (Of course, I won’t put the cart before the horse; there is much work yet ahead before this can be released, but at least it is on a track headed potentially in the right direction.)

I realized quite awhile ago that my original dream impetus, the signpost I woke to that sent me on this quest to realize MY Dream, was intended equally for YOU; that is, for everyone!

So, please consider taking this to Heart:

YOU HAVE THE RESPONSIBILITY

TO REALIZE YOUR DREAMS;

NOT JUST FOR GETTING BY.

Today’s post initiates the next phase for sharing the Life Maps Process with all who might wish to benefit from it. This process is framed as a Rites of Passage adventure, with three stages of Life Mapping and Reflection; Life Path Exploration (via Descent and Re-Emergence); and Future Life Dream Projection and Manifestation.  The 80+ creative techniques and activities which the Handbook provides that include journalling, active imagination, “Archetype dialogue”, dreamwork, collage making, vision questing, action planning, Mandala envisioning, and Totemic grounding will guide you as the reader/ life mapper through a tried and true adventure of self-discovery, realization, and attainment of Your Dream.

For the next six months in this blog, I will gradually introduce several life mapping sorts of creative modalities. I invite you to try them out for yourself. While they are but a sampling of the full toolkit that will become available with LIFE PATHS, the Tuesday posts will from here on provide a series of life mapping opportunities designed as a processual series of steps that will allow you to sample the Life Maps Process. This Process allows you to review and reflect on your recurring Life Themes, to see your Life Story as composed of meaningful Life Chapters, and to Meet & Greet your own “mythic archetypal cast” of unconscious “Archeme Allies”.

So, WELCOME to Better Endings for LIFE PATHS; especially, your own!

The format for our weekly blog (see Weekly Topics menu) will from here forth include a presentation of concepts and principles for the Weekly Topic on Sundays, then a Life Mapping activity on Tuesdays offered for you to practice, and discussion of feedback from you and my sharing of case stories and other considerations around the weekly topic on Fridays.

I certainly invite you to practice any or all of the life mapping opportunities that will be presented here. Although this may involve a very personal process of self-discovery, I welcome your insights, questions and feedback, either publicly as Comments and Stories of your own (which I will share), or privately (see Contact menu).

This morning Synchronicity presented herself in the form of a relevant image and quote from Confucius, by Theresa of Soulgatherings (link below):

Re-blogged with permission from Theresa

(Soulgatherings.wordpress.com)

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To put the world right in order,
we must first put the nation in order;
to put the nation in order,
we must first put the family in order;
to put the family in order,
we must first cultivate our personal life;
to cultivate our personal life,
we must first set our hearts right.

Confucius ~

Better Endings to Your Life Path!!! – Linda

Your Chapter Turners

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Last week (or now if you like) you wrote down and briefly described 12 or so events from your life history that were influential to you in “shaping the person you have become”. Now then, I invite you to read through that list and ask yourself: which of these events or situations has had such a huge impact on your life that you feel you were “not the same person” before and after that event happened? These “Critical Life Events” are your Turning Points. Usually a person might identify 2-6 or so of these.

Now that you have identified these critical events from the rest of your significant events you have listed (BTW, keep the list; we will do more with it next week too!), next I invite you to number these Turning Points, then create a brief title sort of tag to identify each event, and then arrange that set of critical events along a page. For our purpose today, you can simply place the event tags across a blank page from left to right chronologically (alternately, you could arrange them along an upward looping spiral or in other fashions, but do keep chronologically adjacent events next to each other at least for now). You might wish to place your critical event tags above or below a central (neutral) age line. This will be to represent their respective positive (Up) or negative (Down) influence on your life overall. (That’s why I chose the musical score sheet for today’s image!)

Now then, you may read over this sequence of Turning Point events and reflect about them as being like the highlights of a dramatic script. Please consider that all of your life experience occurring BETWEEN any two of these Turning Point events (including Birth as your 1st marker and Now as your final point) has been a LIFE CHAPTER. As the Author of your own life script, go ahead and create titles for each of your Life Chapters.

To illustrate with an example, let’s say you identified 3 Turning Points (before and after you feel you were ‘not quite the same person’). Perhaps when you were 6 years old your parents divorced and you moved away from home with one of your parents; then at 16 you met the love of your life but broke up two months later; and at 23 you moved to Calcutta from Colorado! So you will have identified 4 Life Chapters which you can give meaningful titles to, something like: Innocence (0-6 years old); Growing Up to Reality (6-16); Struggling (16-23); and Finding My Freedom (23-Now).  Allow your Life Chapter titles to represent your personally meaningful flow of life experience.

After you have identified and named your Life Chapters, you can think of what they represent together as your Life Story! Feel free to arrange these Life Chapters either in this chronological way or in any manner that feels meaningful to you. Welcome to the art of life mapping!

I’ll offer more activities that you can use to develop and further embellish your Life Story account as we go further with the weekly Life Path mapping activities. (Of course, I am only presenting partial material for the blog, as the self-help Handbook that will accompany the upcoming book, Life Paths, will contain all of these activities along with many more complete forms and background for each technique.)

I would love to hear from you about your results in mapping your Life Chapters! Please feel free to Comment and share (if not too private for you) your dramatic sequence of Life Chapter titles. There is still time to write a story, too, this week about Better Choices in your life. Please send that to me by Saturday night to be included in Story of the Week.

So have fun, Author! And by the way, what TITLE would you give to the series of Life Chapters that comprise your Life Story? You can write your Life Story Title at the top of your Life Chapters page.

Better Endings to You All!