Your Helpful Archetype Allies

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When I was a senior in high school in New York state (Lewiston, NY), our English professors came up with a great idea for that year.  Called “Universal Man”, the study year was segmented into a series of 3 or 4 week modules each on a different theme. Man the Lover, Man the Prisoner, Man the Seeker, Man the Adventurer, Man the Thinker, etcetera (now it would be Man or Woman…), was the basis of the themes. For each module we would choose relevant literature to read and we would write about it, plus we would reflect on that aspect of our own lives as well. Only many years later would I come to appreciate that these themes were “archetypal” in nature.  I really enjoyed that year’s English program. It helped me see how all these threads or energies interweave within everyone, giving us special qualities from each perspective.

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Each archetypal character MODE has a unique viewpoint and stance in our overall Psyche. Some are more active and others are more suppressed, depending on the situation or context. This week I am inviting you to choose one of your own archetypal sub-selves to get to know better and to enlist in your adventure toward achieving a meaningful life goal. Since goals are usually related to some active role or career that we are already engaged with, let’s begin by selecting a goal associated with a role with which we are highly identified at this time. (For example, for me right now, it is my Writer/Author role that carries the most poignant goal; that of publishing LIFE PATHS.) So, after identifying your ardent goal related to some active role in your life, you can then identify an archetypal member (or more than one) from your unconscious ‘ensemble cast’ that could be most helpful aligning with you as you advance toward realizing your goal.

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I will repeat Sunday’s lineup of archetypal character modes below. Which of these is most closely connected with the Role and Goal you are interested in strengthening?

Elder Leader: Strength mode—strong authority figure, self-confidence, director, leader; Shadow mode—harsh authoritarian, strict, imposing

Lover: In Strength—romantic intimacy, self-sacrificing, passionate; In Shadow—over-attachment, selfish desires

Warrior: In Strength—fighter for a good cause, courage, blazing new paths; In Shadow—attacker, domination or exertion of power

Nurturer: In Strength–Caregiver, gentleness, supporter, giver of consolation or understanding; In Shadow—stingy, over-protective, undue worrier

Artist: In Strength—expressive, talented performer/artist, creative, innovator; In Shadow—blocked creativity, inhibited, introversion, negative fantasy

Idealist: In Strength—High ideals, far-ranging vision, traveler, manifesting change; In Shadow—frustration, feelings of persecution, criticism, over-perfectionism

Golden Child: In Strength—charismatic, mover and shaker, destined for success, generous with largesse; In Shadow—overly controlling, vain, needs to be onstage or center of attention, fickle

Descender: In Strength—introspective, reflective, thoughtful, cocooning; In Shadow—depression, self-restriction, hiding, avoidance, introversion

Teacher: In Strength—imparts knowledge with enthusiasm, studious researcher, reader, notetaker, patient instructor, coach; In Shadow—overly didactic, my way or the highway, micro-manager, overbearing

Communicator: In Strength—public speaker, writer/author, workshop presenter, interpersonal communicator, promoter, a good listener; In Shadow—tight-lipped, withholding viewpoint, holding ideas close to chest, suspicious, or overly extroverted, “rabble rouser”

Healer: In Strength—doctor or nurse, concern with diet and exercise, natural energy, implementing positive change; In Shadow—masochism, perpetuating pain or sense of fatalism

Mystic: In Strength—seeker, prayerful, contemplation or meditation, dreamer, focus on cosmos, monk-like, alchemy; In Shadow—addictive personality, dwelling in Darkness, isolated hermit, withdrawn

Have you identified one or more potential character allies? Next then, I invite you to engage with this archetypal aspect-of-Self in an active imagination and/or in a journaling DIALOGUE. Get to know this energetic part of yourself. What are his or her own goals for you? What are their greatest loves, fears, worries, hopes? How and when do they show up for you? How are they part of the ROLES you enact day to day? When and why do you sometimes suppress them or why do they sometimes retreat?

How can they help you to realize your Goal?

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As a sample, while I find many of the 12 archetypes have qualities essential to my current goals as a writer/author, I want to get to know The Healer better this week, because I think that is a part of myself to which I do not give enough room overall in my life. I catch from the character description that Healer can be helpful with “implementing positive change” and has a quality of “natural energy”. I feel the need for a second wind lately to help circumvent some of my own habitual self-limiting attitudes. So I seek out HEALER as an ALLY on this leg of my journey.

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First then, dive Down into the Deeps of your personal unconscious realms. Do not expect your archetypal sub-selves to necessarily come “up” to your world of consciousness to meet with you. You can use an active contemplation or meditation mode to “sink” into an imagistic realm that you share with your archetypal cast.

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LW: Is one I can call Healer present here? Can we talk?

H: I am here.  How are you?

LW: Worried. I feel like I’ve been sabotaging myself lately; I need a dose of some positive self-confidence for taking the next big—or small—step. I am scared.

H: Why then is it me you seek help from? Why not some of the Others? Elder Leader or Artist, or Descender even?

LW: I feel I need your Healing energy to help me assuage self-doubt in order for me to be more empowered to communicate from a greater strength of awareness.

H: Who injured you? When?

LW: Wow! You are right, this goes way back to my father and others who led me to inhibit or to subdue my sense of confidence in life overall. Better to stay in the shadows they would tell me. Be silent; don’t make waves. The world will beat you down if you stick your neck out, they would say.

H: There is more. What did your father say that inhibits you so deeply? He is down here still you know, both as what you call Shadow and as Strength. Do you want to see him?

LW: …not right now. I remember several disparaging remarks, most of which I don’t want to include in the public blog…so I’ll reflect upon them privately instead.

H: What do you need a healing for then?

LW: For hiding from him all these years—or the Shadow side of him. I am still grateful for the rest and I know he ‘meant well’ and had his own dragons affecting him.

H: What do you need from me?

LW: Just to be with me as I forgive him. To be my Ally as I take a step to communicate ‘forward’ this week. I need you to acknowledge the purpose I aim to fulfill with this goal.

H: Many others can benefit; the time has come to release this child of yours into the world.

LW: Will you mid-wife then?

H: Yes if you will allow me to.

LW: Please.

H: Then remember to BREATHE, okay? Breathe and review where things are at. Breathe and communicate forward.

Enough from me. I hope that the process is clear for how you can engage with your own archetypal parts of Self. I invite you to do so. Identify a goal that matters to a role you seek to strengthen in your life right now. Identify an archetypal part of Self that could help you. Get to know that archetypal persona and invite that one to serve as an Ally.

I encourage and look forward to YOUR insights and STORIES!

YOUR ARCHETYPE ALLIES

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Make a list a few of your most central roles in life (e.g.Mother/Father, Lover, Teacher, Son/daughter, traveler, mystic, business person, etcetera).

Next, look at the following set of 12 “Universal Archetype” Figures with their basic descriptions as character types (Note: These are informal descriptions.):

Elder Leader: Strength mode—strong authority figure, self-confidence, director, leader; Shadow mode—harsh authoritarian, strict, imposing

Lover: In Strength—romantic intimacy, self-sacrificing, passionate; In Shadow—over-attachment, selfish desires

Warrior: In Strength—fighter for a good cause, courage, blazing new paths; In Shadow—attacker, domination or exertion of power

Nurturer: In Strength–Caregiver, gentleness, supporter, giver of consolation or understanding; In Shadow—stingy, over-protective, undue worrier

Artist: In Strength—expressive, talented performer/artist, creative, innovator; In Shadow—blocked creativity, inhibited, introversion, negative fantasy

Idealist: In Strength—High ideals, far-ranging vision, traveler, manifesting change; In Shadow—frustration, feelings of persecution, criticism, over-perfectionism

Golden Child: In Strength—charismatic, mover and shaker, destined for success, generous with largesse; In Shadow—overly controlling, vain, needs to be onstage or center of attention, fickle

Descender: In Strength—introspective, reflective, thoughtful, cocooning; In Shadow—depression, self-restriction, hiding, avoidance, introversion

Teacher: In Strength—imparts knowledge with enthusiasm, studious researcher, reader, notetaker, patient instructor, coach; In Shadow—overly didactic, my way or the highway, micro-manager, overbearing

Communicator: In Strength—public speaker, writer/author, workshop presenter, interpersonal communicator, promoter, a good listener; In Shadow—tight-lipped, withholding viewpoint, holding ideas close to chest, suspicious, or overly extroverted, “rabble rouser”

Healer: In Strength—doctor or nurse, concern with diet and exercise, natural energy, implementing positive change; In Shadow—masochism, perpetuating pain or sense of fatalism

Mystic: In Strength—seeker, prayerful, contemplation or meditation, dreamer, focus on cosmos, monk-like, alchemy; In Shadow—addictive personality, dwelling in Darkness, isolated hermit, withdrawn

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Now then, which of these archetypes or archetype Qualities “show up” for you in relation to each of your primary roles?  You may refer to either Strength or Shadow modes, and all twelve of these archetypes could appear in masculine or feminine modes as well. List the QUALITIES of the Archetypes that you associate with your life roles:

MY ROLE   Archetype    Qualities

(E.G. Teacher role / TEACHER archetype/ coach, knowledgeable

Pet Mom / NURTURER Archetype/ caregiver, grooming, over-protective

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This week we will be focussing on learning about and cultivating your own Archetype Allies. What makes an Archetype an Ally? It isn’t necessarily automatic; archetypes need to be acknowledged, nurtured, recognized and interacted with and listened to. They need to be encountered and INVITED to collaborate with you in reaching your goals and expressing your highest qualities every day.  They need to be included consciously as important aspects of your identity that contribute greatly to your enactment of your roles. Then they are available, with all their strengths, to step up for you to help you be “all that you can be”!

For example, many years ago during some therapy I was undergoing to help own some of my own ‘buried’ strengths, my therapist, Janice, helped me identify an “older brother” part of self. I named him Jonathan.   Janice invited me to let Jonathan “take me out” sometime where he would take care of his little sister. So I went to a drive-in movie, letting Jonathan as the older brother drive and take care of me, as Little Linda. We went to see Kevin Costner’s Robin Hood, that had just been released. A pillow in the passenger seat represented me as Little Linda, but I was really more in the role of Jonathan. I bought popcorn and soda for Little Linda and made sure she felt safe at the drive-in.  I got to feel the strength of my ‘older brother’ part-of-self as a Nurturer and Elder Leader. Afterwards, I felt that this Jonathan energy was more a part of me overall. Jonathan (that Nurturer-Elder Leader energy that I had been suppressing) was happy to step up and be included; See?

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Try it yourself, in your own way! Is there an archetypal part of self you would like to acknowledge and invite to step forward with you this week?

I welcome your insights and stories!

Your Journey of Soul

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In The Journey of Souls, psychiatrist Dr. Michael Newton reports on his research using hypnosis to regress clients to a state “between” lifetimes. Not a believer in reincarnation when he began this research, he now writes and speaks about it openly. There is an amazing degree of similarity across his hundreds of tape recorded subjects’ accounts.

A significant theme that comes up time and time again in Dr. Newton’s ‘between life’ under-hypnosis stories—from people who do not know what he will be asking and who do not know each other—is the idea of a “Soul group.” This is said to be a group of closely interconnected souls (over several lives) that touch base or check in with one another between lives in order to help each other review the life they have lived to reflect on whether or not, or to what degree, they have realized their life goals and lessons for that lifetime.

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Since this week’s theme is about YOUR LIFE QUEST, this idea of a soul group and particularly about reflecting between lives on how far one has come toward their life goals seems relevant. So, here is a fun exercise I’d like to invite you to do:

Using active imagination and/or a dialogue journaling process, IMAGINE you are between lives like in Dr. Newton’s case stories, meeting with your own familiar Soul Group. First off, who might they be? Who do you want them to  be? Imagine they are there with you then. Next, have a conversation with these dear Souls about how  you–as the one who has passed on–are doing with your LIFE QUEST.  Your friends might ask you about your progress with lessons you  chose to focus on in this life or about how far you have come toward realizing your goals. You might wish to extend this imagination session by then realizing you can still go back to finish this life; you don’t need to wait for a new one!

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Now then, what is it you are here to FULFILL?

Some quests are short-term or may count as incremental steps toward a larger life mission; then there is the Big One; what might that be for you? Your imaginary friends can help you understand that, if you wish.

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Also, have you seen the movie, Defending Your LifeThis afterlife comedy has a similar theme to The Journey of Souls.  Daniel Miller (Albert Brooks) has passed on after a car accident and he finds himself in this intermediate zone where he has to appear in court with his defense attorney (Rip Torn) in order to “defend his life”. He meets and falls in love with a woman he meets in this heavenly realm, Julia (Meryl Streep). Julia was ‘perfect’ in her last life;  a true heroine. We know that Julia will win her case to “move on.” But Daniel has trouble in court; the prosecutor shows scene after scene from Daniel’s life where he failed to take a risk or to confront his fears; the major life lesson he had been sent to Earth for in that lifetime. He will probably be returned to make for greater progress ‘next time’. But he has fallen in love with Julia who is going on; so how can he resolve his dilemma? I won’t share the ending in case you haven’t seen the film. I highly recommend it!

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 Let me be honest with you here. These ideas, from The Journey of Souls and from “Defending Your Life,” have been some of the direct inspiration behind my developing the self-help process that I am sharing in my book, Life Paths. The idea is that rather than wait until death or nearly-dying, why not check in now instead? You can review and reflect about where you are at in your life with respect to your lifetime Quest and goals, and perhaps that can help for you to make a mid-course correction or a tweaking in the direction of your greatest fulfillment or ‘progress.’ Now of course no one knows what that is about except you or perhaps you and your spiritual helpers or guides. One person’s quest may not be of value at all to the next person, so only you can ultimately define your Quest to reflect on where you are in relation to that. Or maybe you don’t like goals; even so, what do you hope to have accomplished or to experience–even as a Bucket List sort of quest–before you move on?

I welcome your insights and Stories!

A View from the Dock of the Bay

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Talking about Active Imagination, this week I keep remembering one of my all-time favorite songs: Sitting on the Dock of the Bay, by Otis Redding.

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I have been there all my life it seems. Literally when I was 19 I went to Alaska and ended up working at a crab and salmon cannery most of the summer in Yakutat, AK. And there was this dock overlooking Yakutat Bay, in 1973, that I would sit at for hours at a time, in awe of the triple levels of mountain ranges ahead on the horizon; contemplating life, my future, spirituality, poetry, and at the time Yeats’s book A Vision, with this song playing over and over in my mind, as it is today. A similar lyric from Don MacClean merges for me with Dock of the Bay:

   You know I’ve heard about people like me,

   But I never made the connection;

   They walk one road to set them free,

   And find they’ve gone the wrong direction.

   But there’s no need for turnin’ round,

   ‘Cause all roads lead to where I am;

   And I believe I’ve walked them all,

   No matter what I may have planned.

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So what is it about Dock of the Bay that lingers; that has dogged my footsteps and supported my own Dreamer nature all my adult life? My favorite line personally is:

    I can’t do what ten people tell me to do;

    So I guess I’ll remain the same.

These lyrics are more than song words; they are banners, manifestos; philosophical cornerstones of a Generation, the late 60’s – 70’s; my formative generation. They comprise a FORGE for the Imagination to be Fired in; an Alchemical cauldron in which Identity itself has stewed, and brewed, through the decades.

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Lyrics like these ring true with my independent-thinking, Explorer instincts.

They are an invitation to ACTIVATE the imagination; to LISTEN DEEPLY, within the cauldron of your own BEINGNESS, and then, to Follow in the direction of your Dreams, unafraid and alive; to activate your spirit of Adventure.

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I invite you to a Creative Visualization technique:

Imagine you are sitting on the Dock of a Bay. Your feet are dangling over the water. Waves wash in and then recede.You smell the salt air, taste the moisture. Boats go here and there at sea. The horizon seems infinite; it carries you anywhere you wish to go in your thoughts, your wishes, your memories, your dream reveries. Just sit here on the dock of your bay, and IMAGINE! Stay as long as you can; go back over a series of days if you like. Bring a question or just enjoy your repose. You are “time out of time”; everywhere and nowhere and there is no place but Here you need to Be. Later, you can journal about your thoughts and feelings and you can ponder the VISIONS that come to you in this practice.

So, here are the lyrics.  Where do they take YOU to? (I invite your reminiscences and stories!)

***

(SITTIN’ ON) THE DOCK OF THE BAY
– written by Otis Redding and Steve Cropper
– lyrics as recorded by Otis Redding December 7, 1967, three days before his death in a plane crash outside Madison, Wisconsin

Sittin’ in the mornin’ sun
I’ll be sittin’ when the evenin’ come
Watching the ships roll in
And then I watch ’em roll away again, yeah

I’m sittin’ on the dock of the bay
Watching the tide roll away
Ooo, I’m just sittin’ on the dock of the bay
Wastin’ time

I left my home in Georgia
Headed for the ‘Frisco bay
‘Cause I’ve had nothing to live for
And look like nothin’s gonna come my way

So I’m just gonna sit on the dock of the bay
Watching the tide roll away
Ooo, I’m sittin’ on the dock of the bay
Wastin’ time

Look like nothing’s gonna change
Everything still remains the same
I can’t do what ten people tell me to do
So I guess I’ll remain the same, yes

Sittin’ here resting my bones
And this loneliness won’t leave me alone
It’s two thousand miles I roamed
Just to make this dock my home

Now, I’m just gonna sit at the dock of the bay
Watching the tide roll away
Oooo-wee, sittin’ on the dock of the bay
Wastin’ time

(whistle)

Here’s a You Tube Link to Otis Redding’s version

And a re-blog of a relevant quote from Albert Schweitzer

from Theresa’s Soul Gatherings blog yesterday:

It is not necessary
to go off on a tour of great cathedrals
in order to find the Deity.
Look within.
You have to sit still to do it.

~ Albert Schweitzer ~
German Theologian, Physician

Your Gatekeepers as Threshold Guardians

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In the social sciences the concept of gatekeepers is well known; gatekeepers are people who by virtue of their position in an institutional setting may either admit or deny entry for someone to a higher status or to the means of obtaining a desired goal. A gatekeeper can let someone in or close them out, depending on the gatekeeper’s prerogative.

My best friend in high school, Barbara, for example, was by far the best artist in her class. As a painter, she could create realism as well as more modern forms of art such as cubism equally well, and the deep thought and brilliant creativity she applied to her art was nothing short of genius.

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However, when Barb went for her standard Guidance Counselor visit that we all underwent in the 11th grade, the counselor told her in no uncertain terms:

“You are not college material.”

On what grounds this Gatekeeper turned my friend away from even seeking a college career, who knows? I do know that Barbara was not only a talented artist but she was also—still is—a deeply philosophical and intelligent person. Perhaps Barb might have gone on to become an Art Professor or to have written philosophically about the creative process, had she been deemed “college material.”  But Barb accepted the rebuttal of the Threshold Guardian; she turned away and did not attend college.

Barbara moved to Alaska for several years after high school, where she waitressed, worked in a crab cannery (I joined her there for one summer in Yakutat), and she continued with her art. When she returned to Niagara Falls, New York, Barbara worked at and apprenticed for a wax figure artist at the famous Madame Tussaud’s wax museum; when the stateside Mme.Tussaud’s museum folded, many of the clients were directed to Barbara, so that after awhile she was doing wax figures to fill whole museums around the states and, once, in Ireland. Later on Barb developed a small business selling wax dolls in period clothing, molded after two of her own children’s forms. Barb became well known as a wax figure artist, but she never chose to become famous. She remained humble with her talent and eventually took a job as a customs broker, working on her artwork privately. Once while I was an undergraduate in Buffalo, Barb took a one semester college course at my university. She aced it, of course, but she said she was glad she had not gone in that direction; it was too sterile and theoretical for her artistic sensibilities.

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So, was the Gatekeeper a blessing in disguise in Barbara’s case? Did she hear what she needed to hear in order to follow her destiny, or might she have found her way as well without the guidance counsellor’s rejection? I know that she has never forgotten that brief encounter.

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Let’s shift forward a bit. While in graduate school in Arizona for 14 years, I observed that every student approaching their MA thesis or PhD dissertation project at some point always faced their own Threshold Guardians! Key Advisor-faculty were often the gatekeepers involved. They might challenge the logic or the feasibility or the competence of the student for carrying out their study ambitions.  I myself heard from many would-be gatekeepers when I was desiring to do my dissertation research at Zuni Pueblo. “They will never talk to you; they don’t like White people.” “Why not do something easier, like study language dialects and ethnicity in Phoenix?” “How will you pay for the research?” “What is the value of Anthropology, anyway? (my father).”

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Because of my spiritual grounding and an intrinsically persistent nature, I did not allow these detractors or naysayers’ words to filter into my heart. I knew what I wanted to do, and I persisted relentlessly, ultimately succeeding with my research and having the time of my life in the process. I met several beautiful, lifelong friends at Zuni, and this rite of passage of ethnographic fieldwork opened many other doors and windows far into my future. In this case, then, I saw the threshold guardians as challengers that simply helped me to refine and to clarify my resolve. Yet I witnessed many a grad student through those years who turned away from completing their graduate studies altogether after having been steered away from their goals.

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Gatekeepers and Guardians of a Threshold serve vital functions in relation to your own sense of purpose, inner direction, and goals. Your reaction or response to the gatekeepers is what matters, for it can allow you to weigh how deeply you actually value or are committed to your goals.  Once you know inwardly what you truly are here to DO, no power in the Universe can deter you. Which reminds me of a Hermann Hesse line, from his Siddhartha:

“Nothing can deter Jivatma (Soul) from Its goal.”

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So, set your sails, and Go! Let no one control your Destiny, but Yourself—in tandem with your inner spiritual Guidance and the Strengths of your Archetype Allies!

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I welcome your comments and your stories!

 

Mindi Finds her Freedom

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Mindi, 34, heard about life mapping and she came to me with a problem. She had a difficult life pattern that had plagued her since she was a teen.  She would start a relationship, or take a job, or relocate when she felt a spiritual nudge. But then she would soon leave the relationship, job or location, feeling a compulsion to not become bound by that situation. How could she ever feel comfortable with any commitment for the long run?

Mindi embarked on the Life Maps Process. We met over a 9 month period for once a week or so, and Mindi composed her Life Map with Life Themes, Life Chapters, a Parallel Mythic Life Story, and an Archetypal mapping of dominant Archetype influences over her life course. Mindi identified a WARRIOR archetype that she associated with her Life Theme of Spirituality, and she identified a DESCENDER archetype associated with her Life Theme of ‘Physical’ events, among others. These two were significant because they were often paired off in her Life Map as diametrically opposed in relation to critical Turning Points in Mindi’s life.

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Mindi engaged in an Archetype Dialogue practice. She invited her thematically associated archetypes to introduce themselves to her and to each other, using a journal to write out these ‘conversations.’  She asked each archetype at some point what its own GOALS are, and later she asked how each archetype’s goals might relate to her own overarching goals within the Total Self System including her core Self and all of her archetypal character aspects.

Mindi’s WARRIOR archetype associated with her Life Theme of Spirituality claimed Freedom as its primary goal. But guess what? Her DESCENDER archetype that she associated with Physical events also claimed Freedom as its goal. So Mindi asked each of these ‘parts of self’ to define Freedom from their own points of view. Mindi’s WARRIOR self defined Freedom as following spiritual nudges even if they did not make logical sense. Her DESCENDER self defined Freedom as the capacity to leave any situation that could limit her, so as not to become overly attached to any physical situation. This made sense of Mindi’s dilemma: Her spiritual WARRIOR would act on an inner nudge to move or act in a specific manner or direction, but soon after Mindi would act on this nudge, her DESCENDER would compel her to bolt, to move on!

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After Mindi moved further along with her Archetype Dialogue practice, she clarified her greatest STRENGTHS and her most overarching life goals. She was an excellent Communicator (another of her Archetype aspects), and she loved to travel. Eventually she defined a Life Dream that all of her archetypal ‘cast’ Allies could benefit from and that they could all contribute toward, together.  She wanted to become a public speaker, traveling around on the job, and speaking about more than one product or idea that she could support spiritually as positive, healthful products or ideas.

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Some 18 months after Mindi completed her Life Maps Process I received a phone message from her on my phone. She was excited.

“Everything we talked about, everything I said I wanted to do, I am now doing!”

Mindi had moved to California and after apprenticing as a political caucus speaker, she landed a job with a health related company that sells many different products that she can support spiritually because she believes that the products are healthful. She has become a public speaker, never staying too long with any one product or in any one location, as the company sends her to various locations to represent its large array of products.

Mindi has found her FREEDOM! (At least for now…)

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Two years later, Mindi is still engaged with this flexible but productive public speaking career. She feels more centered and she looks forward to discovering where this path will lead her to further down the road.

What Mindi has accomplished at this stage in her life is a greater INTEGRATION of her unconscious archetypal influences and yearnings. By LISTENING to herself..which, is, her “selves” as well as her Core—as we all can when we choose to—Mindi has embarked upon her own ‘Yellow Brick Road’ that can lead her to fulfill her deepest sense of Purpose.

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I invite you to continue with your own Archetype Dialogue journaling and/or active imagination practice. I will present a full process for this approach with Life Paths (or feel free to ask me about that), so,…stay tuned!

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 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.

Life Lessons: Your Currency for Better Endings

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

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

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

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

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

Personal Example:

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

Personal Example — Life Lessons to Apply:

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

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Reblogged from Ajaytao, July 16, 2014

Please feel welcome to share your Comments and your stories!

The Turning Points of This Woman’s Life

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

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

God bless! — Mandi

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I welcome all of your insights and stories! Linda

Your Turning Points

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Two weeks ago I invited you to compose a list of your Shaping Moments. These are those significant life events that have “shaped the person you have become.” This week I invite you to reflect on those Shaping events or situations a bit further. Which of these meaningful, impactful events were of such a high magnitude impact that you feel you were “not quite the same person” before and after this pivotal event occurred? These Critical Life Events are your TURNING POINTS. What have yours been?

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I invite you to focus on your Turning Points this week. Identify them. Share with your loved ones about one or more of them. Write about them. Draw pictures or write poetry representing their dramatic influence on your life.

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I encourage you to use meditation or prayer or active imagination this week to illuminate and to REFLECT upon your Turning Points; this way you can celebrate all that you have lived through that has brought you to where you are today.

For your journaling or other modes of reflection:

  • What changed for you before and after each of your Turning Points occurred?
  • How did each one come about? (Did you have any choice in the matter? Was a decision involved?)
  • If you could go back to one or more of these Turning Points again—with your more mature, present awareness, would you change any of them?

Why, or why not?

Or if so, HOW might you wish change the event, leading to what different results?

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I welcome all of your Comments, your Insights and your Stories!

Wending Your Way

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

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

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

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

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

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I always welcome YOUR insights and stories!

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

Who Are You Now? (and a poem, “Miraculous Surrender” by iithinks)

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We establish LIFE THEMES, or recurring types of situations and events, as we wend our way through life, and this thematic warp and weave of our distinctive lives varies a lot from person to person. Where one person might establish a life of Global Travel and Adventure, another might live primarily dedicated to Service activities, or someone might center their commitment around Children and Grandchildren as their most vital LIFE THEMES.  We each compose an arrangement of several LIFE THEMES that weave through our lives, daily.

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Life Themes are the basis of how we learn and express our social ROLES.  Family roles, Work or Career roles, Relationship roles all require us to develop certain skills and strengths, and slightly different “social personas” that best enact or present these different roles in relation to our major Life Themes. A Doctor, for example, develops a “bedside manner” in the role of Doctor that calls upon specific attitudes and strengths. How we succeed with a Role, or how difficult it might be to succeed with a Role, can affect the development of our total personality and our outlook on life.

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Later I will present the point of view I use with the Life Maps Process that these Life Theme based ROLES might be directly connected with what Carl G. Jung and James Hillman would call your personal unconscious Archetypes.  For now it is enough to see how your Life Themes allow you to develop different aspects of your personality and your “presentation of Self”.  A person may be a Doctor—carrying herself or himself appropriately in that role as a Healer, say—as well as a Parent, which evokes a different set of helpful attitudes and behaviors. Different Roles might even bring about some conflicts in our personal representation of Self; as when a Teacher is also the Parent of a child in his or her classroom.

So I am inviting you to identify your Life Themes this week, using the life mapping tool presented Sunday or in the right panel of this week’s blog. Then ask yourself, “What ROLES have I developed in relation to each Life Theme?”

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You could make a list of corresponding Themes and Roles, as follows, for example:

LIFE THEME                SOCIAL ROLE

Education                     Teacher (or, Student)

Religion                         mystic or seeker

Work                            (leader, or writer/artist, etcetera)

Family                           Mother/Father, Daughter/son/sister/brother

Relationships                Spouse, Lover, Friend, etcetera)

These are only some possible Life Themes and Roles that might relate to them. I encourage you to discover and reflect on your own. Feel free to share your insights or stories!

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I would also like to share with you a beautiful poem today by the brilliant blogger/ poet iithinks, called

MIRACULOUS SURRENDER

Surrender
In patient faith
Let yourself be guided
To miracles dwelling within

Surrender
Wave the white flag
Turn yourself to nothing
Become what lies beyond your dreams

What Are Your Life Themes?

 

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Each of our lives might be described as an orchestral symphony or a stellar constellation in the sense that it is a pattern of elements–harmonizing, overlapping, and sometimes in counterpoint or opposition–that creates a unique composition of our psychic/spiritual as well as our physical makeup.

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And as we each compose our unique constellations of life experience, certain recurring kinds of events develop into patterns of meaningful texture and form that together weave the unique character of the life we live.   You could call these interweaving ‘movements’ or elements of your unique life experience your LIFE THEMES. Family, Education, Romance, Travel, Work, Spirituality, Hobbies, Health, and other such Themes are the threads that form the variegated colors and shapes in the meaningful fabric of our lives.

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 So what are your Life Themes?  Last week I invited you to create a list of the Shaping Moments or significant events of your life; those main situations and events that have ‘shaped the person you have become.’ (If you are just joining us or haven’t yet made your list, I encourage you to do so, now.)

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I invite you to read over your list of shaping events from last week or now, asking yourself, for each of these significant events, ‘What KIND of event was this in my life?’ Some events might have been “Family” events, or “Work” events, for example. It is important for you to name what Kinds of events these were according to your own understanding.

Make a list of these CATEGORIES or Kinds of life events, and write down next to each category name a set of numbers representing events you identified last week. That is, number among your set of Shaping Events and sort these into categories of Kinds of events they represent to you. These Categories or kinds of life events are your recurring LIFE THEMES.

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It is enough for this week simply to identify your Life Themes and to sort your Shaping Events into these categories. Check back Tuesday for a discussion about how you can reflect on your Life Themes as a method of Life Mapping.

PLease feel free to share your questions or stories!

James Joyce’s “Eveline” Re-Visioned

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I wrote my Masters thesis in Linguistics about James Joyce’s short story “Eveline”, from his Dubliners book. Eveline is a young Irish woman in 1914 Ireland. Her mother has died several years prior to the action of the story. Eveline has taken care of her father and brothers ever since. But now a sailor from another country, Frank, has romanced Eveline and he wants to take her away with him, to Buenos Aires.

“She sat at the window watching the evening invade the avenue. Her head was leaned against the window curtains and in her nostrils was the odour of dusty cretonne. She was tired.”

So James Joyce’s story of “Eveline” opens. The question Joyce poses with this opening Dubliners story is simple: Will Eveline leave family, Church and nationality to go away with the sailor to another land? Buenos Aires–”good” or fresh “air”–contrasts with the “dusty” air of Eveline’s home and world. There is hardly ever a question in the story really of whether Eveline will leave; to Joyce, she can not. By the end, when the final time for her to decide arrives with the boat on which Frank has bought them passage, we see Eveline in a state of near paralysis, like a frightened animal:

“She stood up in a sudden impulse of terror. Escape! She must escape! Frank would save her. He would give her life, perhaps love, too. But she wanted to live. Why should she be unhappy? She had a right to happiness. Frank would take her in his arms, fold her in his arms. He would save her.

She stood among the swaying crowd in the station at the North Wall. He held her hand and she knew that he was speaking to her, saying something about the passage over and over again. The station was full of soldiers with brown baggages. Through the wide doors of the sheds she caught a glimpse of the black mass of the boat, lying in beside the quay wall, with illumined portholes. She answered nothing. She felt her cheek pale and cold and, out of a maze of distress, she prayed to God to direct her, to show her what was her duty. The boat blew a long mournful whistle into the mist. If she went, tomorrow she would be on the sea with Frank, steaming towards Buenos Ayres. Their passage had been booked. Could she still draw back after all he had done for her? Her distress awoke a nausea in her body and she kept moving her lips in silent fervent prayer.

A bell clanged upon her heart. She felt him seize her hand:

“Come!”

All the seas of the world tumbled about her heart. He was drawing her into them: he would drown her. She gripped with both hands at the iron railing.

“Come!”

No! No! No! It was impossible. Her hands clutched the iron in frenzy. Amid the seas she sent a cry of anguish.

“Eveline! Evvy!”

He rushed beyond the barrier and called to her to follow. He was shouted at to go on but he still called to her. She set her white face to him, passive, like a helpless animal. Her eyes gave him no sign of love or farewell or recognition.”

My re-vision of “Eveline” transpires in contemporary Ireland, where 62% of the population is urbanized and globalization offers many options to the youth for emigration and jobs.

“Eveline” Revisited:

Eve stood at the railing of the Odyssey’s prow; straining to find Frank in the harbor crowd as the boat’s powerful engines pulled it away from the shore. Why had he not come? She felt deeply into the pocket of her windbreaker, palming the passage stub, a misty rain in the morning air obscuring her view of all that she was leaving: her father, the rocky countryside, the steeple of the church she had attended since baptism. Her woven purse was secure in her pocket, with all the money she had saved from weekly allowances over the last thirteen years. She covered her head with the windbreaker’s hood and tied it so only her eyes were exposed. She turned away from the rail and climbed down from the bow into the passenger deck. Ten or twelve tourists peered out the windows, happy to be safe and dry. Eveline, drenched from her watch above, gazed out an open window from her pew seat. East was her direction now. Her very life was about to begin.

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What story would you choose to re-vision with a Better Ending? Why this story and not another? I chose “Eveline” because her inability to leave, her bondage to family, church and nationality, has stayed with me through the years as a cautionary tale. I have a strong aversion to any bonds that do not serve fulfillment for all concerned; therefore, in my projection, Eve departs.

I invite your Comments. Which stories might you wish to revise and why?

Just Sit Right Back and You’ll Hear a Tale…

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Lately Gilligan’s Island reruns are back in my locale, and I’ve found myself tuning in now and then. As we’ve been focusing on television Better Endings all this week, I’ve come to realize something about Gilligan’s Island that I never understood before.

Like Dorothy of The Wizard of Oz, and Hawkeye Pierce of M.A.S.H. (as Brenda helped us realize this week), or any “central” protagonist within an ensemble cast of characters who regularly interact through a series of adventures, Gilligan is the SELF character of the archetypal ensemble marooned together on—after all—Gilligan’s Isle.  The rest of the characters he is marooned with represent archetypal aspects of Gilligan’s unindividuated Self, in Jungian terms; and the purpose of the castaways’ adventures is to help Gilligan to strengthen and integrate these projected shards of Self, to individuate as a more mature, responsible person. Then, presumably, he can go Home.

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So what is Gilligan needing to develop in himself? His intellect—the Professor; his leadership capacity—the Skipper; feminine traits of two Anima complexes—the graceful Movie Actress Ginger and the girlish, giggly Marianne; and the acquisitiveness and pomposity of the wealthy Howell’s, who represent the opposite of Gilligan’s rather lackadaisical lifestyle. Gilligan does come to manifest, over time through his dreams and island adventures with his ensemble cast, all of those qualities these projected other-than-Self characters exhibit. He often comes up with the “brilliant idea” that trumps even the Professor’s experiments. He plays the Howell’s son at times, benefitting from their largesse. He displays his own girliness at times, while interacting with the Women. And always, he lives in the Skipper’s rather corpulent shadow, hardly daring to assert himself but often being called upon by the Skipper energy itself to step up and step forward, learning greater responsibility along the way.

Working together, episode after episode, adventure after adventure and dream after dream, eventually Gilligan’s ensemble cast of castaways learn to better communicate and cooperate with one another, so that, with the season’s “Return to Gilligan’s Island” finale, they do return to their separate lives in Hawaii, each of them having been strengthened, especially Gilligan.  Ironically though, after each character experiences disorientation in modern society after 15 years away, the two-part finale actually ends with the group again taking a cruise together, again running into a tropical storm, and again becoming marooned, right at the same island they had left!

So here’s a fun exercise for you:

Fill in the following blank with YOUR first name:    _______________’s Island.

Who are you marooned with, that you interact with regularly, either at home or at work or in some other context? What archetypal QUALITIES do your individual castaway crew members represent to you or about you? Who among them expresses character traits you wish were stronger in yourself? Whose behavior do you distance yourself from, though secretly you might admire or else fear you in some ways resemble that person? Whom do you depend upon to do things you could be doing on your own; or conversely, do you allow someone to depend on you to do things they are capable of doing—and more—without you?

What are your own goals with respect to your ensemble cast situation? How can you get off the Island together?

(AFTER tvkapherr’s Comment: I neglected to add that of course just as our Other-alters are archetypal projected images as we interact with them, so are WE to them. And some would add this can also extend to all of us being projected images of the Divine.)

So this is all in good fun. Do feel quite welcome to Comment and share your insights and stories, if you feel so inspired!

Ahoy, Mateys!

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Archetype Dialogue

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“For every typical situation in life,

There is an archetype corresponding to that situation.”

– Carl G. Jung (Archetypes of the Collective Unconscious)

Can you think of an issue about which you are conflicted or undecided, for which you can express “two sides” of the situation? E.G. whether to move or to stay with a job or to change a relationship? Or do you have a “personal conflict” over some area of your life that persists through the years without clear resolution?

When you have opposing viewpoints within yourself around an issue that is important to you, it’s as though you are two or more people about that. Here, we are talking about what Carl Jung and many others since have called Archetypes. These are submerged viewpoints, your ‘inner voices’ that might feel at odds with each other about how you should approach something.  James Hillman would say these various archetypal aspects of your Self are in your “Personal Unconscious”, and Jung would say we have even deeper sorts of archetypes in our “Collective Unconscious” that are universal.

As an anthropologist I take a practical approach as well as a “depth psychology” approach to archetypal character guises and traits. We all take on various ROLES in our lives that are associated with various STATUSES. These can include kinship statuses and roles (like Mother or Child, husband and wife) as well as occupational and recreational roles, like Doctor and Golfer. Each of these personal ROLES is associated with specific kinds of SITUATIONS we engage in regularly. And each of these brings out deep archetypal—not just formal ‘status’—aspects. Considering various Themes, or KINDS of situations in our lives, each Life Theme may be associated with archetypal character dispositions.  For example, ROMANCE might bring out the Lover in You, whereas EDUCATION may bring forth your Teacher and/or Student “parts of Self”, and SPORTS or MILITARY SERVICE might bring forth the Warrior. Each of these “situational archetype” parts-of-self has their own ‘character’ presence in your unique assemblage of archetypal outlooks. Some are deeply buried or suppressed (e.g. some may be in “Shadow” mode), while others may be more actively integrated within your conscious personality.

The Life Mapping activity for this week’s topic about Attitudes asks you to write or to imagine a DIALOGUE with two opposing viewpoints—both your own—around a topic you may feel conflicted or “dual” about. It can help to get these divergent sides talking to one another about a situation you are trying to better understand or resolve, especially if leaving it unresolved keeps you “stuck” about that issue.

Let me share an example from my Life Mapping cases. Mindy was a woman who had been experiencing a persistent dilemma for many years. In the course of life mapping she identified two Archetypal outlooks that she associated with a spiritual aspect—she called this her inner Warrior—and a Physical-life side of self, which she called her Descender. Around some of the same issues in her life, her Warrior-mystic and her Descender modes were at odds. Her Warrior wanted to follow inner spiritual nudges: make a move, take or end a job, accept a relationship. Her Descender, though, hated to be pinned to any decision.  Mindy journaled a dialogue between these two archetypal parts of self.  She found that one value was important to both of them: Freedom. But they each defined freedom in diametrically opposite ways! The Mystic thought freedom was about following inner nudges of spirit; it was “Spiritual Freedom”. The Descender wanted Freedom from commitments! So, for many years, Mystic-Mindy would boldly step forth and change locations, jobs or relationships. But almost immediately thereafter, Descender-Mindy would want to bolt; to leave that location, job or relationship. When Mindy put the two to talking with each other over a couple of weeks in her journal, they/she came to recognize how these opposing, archetype-driven points of view were interfering with her ever establishing a STABLE set of conditions. So she started asking them about their goals and she found some they shared. She needed a job, for instance, with built in variety and flexibility. Now Mindy has become a successful public speaker for a health supplements company she believes in. She gives workshops on various products and travels around the country. Both her Mystic and her Descender selves are happy, for once! Mindy has embraced and ‘integrated’ more of her total Self.

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Writing an archetype dialogue allows you to tap into aspects of yourself you might otherwise suppress. Offer a “safe space” to these feelings and viewpoints, knowing that your core Self will remain strong and centered throughout the exchange. Just as an example to get you started, let me illustrate briefly. I call this approach: “Open Mike”. Just set a topic about which you have dual or multiple ‘attitudes’, and invite your various situational selves to speak. If you’re not sure what topic to introduce, ask ‘them’ to suggest one for you!

Open MikeTopic: My currently overburdened schedule

This is crazy! How can we keep this up? You are going to collapse at this rate.

(Self in italics) Who are you?

Someone who wishes you would lighten up a bit…

A Nurturer, I believe.

Yes. You do need to give yourself some time to relax, dear. Breathe. Go to the gym. Read a Maeve Binchy novel; I want to!

I know but there is just so much to do. I have bitten off so much this semester…

This Life, don’t you mean? I am with you and want to see you reach your goals, too, Lindy, but she is right; you need to add some balance. Trust that you will get what you need to get done even better when you accept your time limitations.

Are you an Elder Leader?

No, a Communicator.

Thanks for all you contribute; all of you, too.

Nurturer: So what are you going to do to ease up a bit?

I will do what I can…feel free to nudge me when you see an opportunity for me to open a novel or take Sophie for a walk.

[This is just an example of how to begin an Archetypal “Open Mike” dialogue. It is helpful to have a journal dedicated to this exchange. Explore many topics; get to know these ‘parts’ of yourself that are always within you and can help you reach your Dreams! Use whatever names you want for these; in Life Paths I will be introducing a specific ‘pantheon’ of 12 universal archetype figures based on Jung and on the works of a lesser known archetypal psychologist, Dr. Charles Bebeau-LW]

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I invite your comments and stories of your own.

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Thanks for reading and for those who are “Liking,” Thank You!

Happy Valentines Day

Your Dreams and Inner Guidance

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Our Better Endings topic for this week is Dreams and Dreaming. Before  presenting a list of prompts for you to write about, talk about or contemplate, let me share a profound—well, yes—example from my own dream life about how we can receive vital inner guidance, support and messages through simply being open to our dreams.

Some 14 years ago I went through a time of deep questioning of where I was at and where I wanted to be going with my life. I called this at the time a “mid-life crisis”. I was 45 and coming up for tenure at my university. I knew I would probably achieve that, but I was questioning whether an academic career was ‘enough’ to truly fulfill my desire to make a useful, creative contribution in this life. My strongest desire since childhood—my Life Dream—was to be an author who might “make a difference”, somehow. I was publishing research findings in academic journals and had published a scholarly book with a small academic press, but  the prospect of continuing along this same trajectory as my sole venue for self-expression and service felt like a dead end. What could I do? Because of a deep spiritual orientation which I had developed since I was 20, I knew I needed to ask for inner guidance and then, listen. I have kept a dream journal for as long as I can remember. So I asked in contemplation daily for weeks for help in understanding this mid-life crisis and what I could do to reconcile my creative and spiritual interests with my academic career.

I received several significant dreams that showed me what my inner desires were about: to be of service in a public way, not to become swallowed up by an institution where I felt I might ‘drown’. Then one morning during that fecund time of transition between dreaming and waking, I saw, literally stamped in bold black letters ‘between my eyes’:

YOU HAVE THE RESPONSIBILITY

TO REALIZE YOUR DREAMS,

NOT JUST FOR GETTING BY.

This dream message answered my questions, clearly. It was ‘spot on’ what I needed to know. Of course, it led me to further questioning about what ARE my dreams that I seek to realize, leading me back to creative writing and service as well as to spiritual goals.  Long story short, after accepting tenure, within six months I completed a science fiction novel, having resolved my mid-life crisis by realizing that I needed to find ways to better integrate my creative writing, public service, and spiritual interests with my career, rather than doing one or the other. I then received another clear dream message one morning, while considering what topic I should focus on for an upcoming research sabbatical. This time the dream message was auditory, an ‘inner voice’, that said quite directly, “Life Paths”. So, that’s how I got started doing “life mapping” research which has led to several articles, another academic book, and now finally a mainstream personal development book and self-help handbook which I aim to start marketing in about six months, called LIFE PATHS.

Here is my point for YOU today:

YOU HAVE THE RESPONSIBILITY

TO REALIZE YOUR DREAMS,

NOT JUST FOR GETTING BY.

Accepting this message as a ‘waking dream’ for you now, where does it take YOU to?

Okay then, here’s this week’s writers’…and Dreamers’!…Prompts List.  Consider how the following sorts of dreams and dreaming can relate to Better Endings, or about your own experiences with dreams and dreaming :

  • recurring dreams
  • levels or kinds of dreams
  • recurring dream symbols (their meanings to you, how they might change over time)
  • past life dreams
  • lucid dreams (and their messages for you)
  • daydreams
  • waking dreams  (synchronicity or ‘signs’/ messages in your waking life)
  • prophetic (future) dreams
  • past lives or ‘parallel life’ dreams
  • spiritual dreams
  • disturbing dreams (and how you have resolved them)
  • problem solving dreams
  • situational awareness dreams (e.g. how to improve relationships)
  • What is your Life Dream?

I know that many of you are Dreamers. I invite your comments, insights and stories, in any form!

Your Life in Bubbles

First, A big THANK YOU to Tatyana, for your heartfelt poems that you shared with us yesterday about how your wonderful mother found you and you gave her the beautiful family you two share! It is amazing how you have grown from your experience so that now you are reaching out to help others! – Linda

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FOR TODAY:

If you haven’t completed the Life Mapping Activity for this week (see right sidebar), you may do so now. Write a list of 12 of your life’s significant events. These are events that have influenced or shaped “the person you have become”. It doesn’t matter in what order you write these down; just let them come forth as you remember them. The Wednesday prompt list (January 1) might help you to trigger some memories.

List 12 Significant Life Events before continuing.

Next, find a way to arrange these twelve events in a manner that is meaningful to you. How are they interrelated, and not? You can place the events (numbered or captioned) along a timeline, raising them above, below or on the line depending on their relative positive, negative (or both) impact on your life. Or you might wish to represent them in a circle, placing them in bubble clusters depending on how they relate to one another. Be creative; find a way to arrange these events that is meaningful to you.

Save your “life mapping” chart or picture to use with next week’s follow-up activity. Feel free to share yours if you would like (you could scan it in and send it as a jpg. image if you wish; see the Submit menu tag). There is also still time, until Saturday night, to submit your Story of the Week about how, in retrospect or maybe surprisingly, a significant event in your life has led to Better Endings.

I welcome your Comments and insights! THANK YOU to new followers (and continuing ones)! I invite you to get the most you can from this blog by participating in the activities and sharing your insights!