What Then? (Week Two: the Dreaming)

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For Week Two of our monthly Better Endings process this year, I ask you to reflect on your dreams or inner guidance with respect to a monthly personal question or quest.

I have been dreaming a lot this past two weeks since posing the question, “What Then?” In one dream a friend standing behind me introduces me to a couple of potential new friends in a new location. As I am in transition already, moving gradually to my new home in a new town for me, this seems quite likely! I took note of the appearance of the two potential new friends so I might recognize them when or if this comes about outwardly.

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Another dream shows me (from my dream journal): “approaching a space, like a hole on a white membrane, that if I were to enter, it ‘would go on forever… like a wormhole’.” It felt like a purification portal of some sort–I woke up wondering what it would mean to enter into that space and sensed it would be “transformative” and that it indicates a passage to embracing or becoming/ joining with “all that IS.”

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images are from pixabay.com

These two dreams taken together both are positive indicators that the new direction I have already embarked upon is a forward motion, advancing into new potentials. A step into an apparent void, perhaps, yet clearly full of positive potentials. The wormhole-like image felt as though to enter would be like a death or a near-death experience. Yet it was placed before me as what is next, something I must enter into, a natural passage of spiritual development even though it is a mysterious movement into a void or the Unknown.

Ready, Set, I Accept!

What are YOUR dreams telling you this week or month about some deep personal question you are contemplating? I encourage you to keep a dream journal and to review it at least once a week. I had forgotten the “wormhole” dream until reviewing my dream journal. (Interesting, though, how I used a wormhole picture in last week’s blog post when I first established my monthly quest for understanding.)

Dream On!

What Then?

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“They went from world to world,

and each time they lost the world they left, 

lost it in time dilation, their friends

getting old and dying while they were in NAFAL flight.

If there were a way to live in their own time,

and yet move among the worlds,

they wanted to try it. …

(Ursula LeGuin, “The Shubies’ Story”)

I envisioned. Wrote, edited,published, prepared for the Big Move, left… to live my dream, Now! Arrived at one place, then searched for the next. Found it. A refuge for me and my pet family. Moving, again.

But, why all this? Or as W. B. Yeats once asked:

“What Then?”

His chosen comrades thought at school
He must grow a famous man;
He thought the same and lived by rule,
All his twenties crammed with toil;
What then?’ sang Plato’s ghost.  ‘What then?’

Everything he wrote was read,
After certain years he won
Sufficient money for his need,
Friends that have been friends indeed;
What then?’ sang Plato’s ghost.  ‘ What then?’

All his happier dreams came true –
A small old house, wife, daughter, son,
Grounds where plum and cabbage grew,
poets and Wits about him drew;
What then.?’ sang Plato’s ghost.  ‘What then?’

The work is done,’ grown old he thought,
‘According to my boyish plan;
Let the fools rage, I swerved in naught,
Something to perfection brought’;
But louder sang that ghost, ‘What then?’

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I once posed a similar or perhaps it was the same question to a Philosopher, my college mentor, Dr Antoinette Patterson in Buffalo, NY.  I was glum that day.

“So, what?”

I asked Toni in her office, there for an independent study session on a topic we had agreed to, the ‘philosophy of Silence’. 

“Take out a pencil and a piece of paper, and write down

two words and a question mark:

So   What ?   Your assignment by next week

is to answer that question.”

Bemused by my mentor’s response to what I thought was a futile question, I went off to seek for answers.  I read an essay by Emerson called “The Transparent Eyeball” and many poems and essays about silence, thinking somehow that must connect. Who was I beyond my embodied personality; what was Life beyond the day to day back and forth of conversations and classes?

When I went back to Toni’s office for our session that next Wednesday, she was waiting for me. After I shared about what I had been reading and journaling about, having not really answered the question at all, she took me to a far corner of her office where she had set up a card table with a large, empty sheet of sketch paper she had laid across it. She had me write “WH-” words on every corner of the page:

What? 

Why?                                            Where?

When?

Dr. P. then used a pencil to draw connections between these WH- words, allowing the  lines of connection to intersect at the center of the page where she drew a blank circle and wrote in that space one word:

W  H  A  N

There before us on the page was our answer to the proverbial question.

So What?

Whan.

In that moment in that office on that one day, nothing seemed clearer than that one discovery: the answer to every question about meaning or purpose, about Why/ Where/ When/ What resolves to a singular unity: WHAN!

As we discussed what is WHAN, I realized it meant not to worry about Why? or what Matters. Life IS, therefore life is meaningful of Itself alone; and no amount of thinking or wishing or proving or disproving would ever have any effect upon that which simply IS. Whan! and so Life flows forth and I must with it, wherever It may lead.

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images are from pixabay.com

So this is my monthly Better Endings life question to answer for myself this February:

What Then?

I sense this is the natural follow-up question to the discovery of Whan!

I welcome YOUR Story and Comments. I encourage you to form a personal monthly question to explore with your dreams and contemplation this month.

Better Endings Stories/ Month One

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The process I am encouraging you to engage with this year is a Better Endings approach. Week One for each month you may pose a personal question involving a deep personal life goal or pursuit. Week Two: record and reflect on your nightly dreams for insights about your question. Week Three: look for Waking Dreams that could further help you to understand and resolve your question. Then Week Four (this week for January), I invite you to compose or creatively envision a Better Endings Story about how you CAN manifest a positive future scenario with regard to your personal quest.

Creative visualization via active imagination or contemplation is a fun, helpful Tool that lets us exercise our Higher Self imagination.

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So, let’s have at! It can help to give a title to your Better Endings future scenario. Use the insights you have been gathering about your question throughout the month. My own BE Story for January, by way of example, is:

Writing Forth

The path is being cleared even now for me to go forth, to finally settle into my writing future at my new home. It is amazing how swiftly the universe of Spirit has opened this new space which is exactly what I need for moving ahead.

Now is a time for doing what I can to prepare the ground and nourish the roots for future growth. Interesting how my sister gave me a spruce/ evergreen tree which is sprouting new growth wildly now and that my strongest dream was of a woman in white clearing the path ahead with a spruce branch. 

I will design my new home, which I am closing on this Friday, as a constant writing retreat. There is a writers group that meets Fridays 10-12 at the nearby library from there. And it is closer to a wider community interested in body-mind-spirit topics with which my writing projects connect.  I can finally settle down to publish the first of my science fiction/ fantasy books while also offering life mapping services re. Your Life Path (see right panel to order) and completing the second manuscript on the Life Paths series.

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images are from pixabay.com

So, I invite you to reflect on a question you have been pondering this month (or you can establish one now). What insights have you gained this month as you contemplate your question? It is part of your greater Life Quest. Once you have assembled some of your insights around your question, write a Better Endings Story!

I welcome Your Story or Comments.

The Waking Dream

 

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Am I a man, dreaming I am a butterfly?
or a butterfly, dreaming I am a man?

-Lao Tzu

Life is like a dream, truly! Waking and sleeping are simply different states of consciousness. When you think of the outer or waking life as like a dream, this can help you to recognize that the same principles that operate in the dream state are also happening ‘out here.’  The dreamlike images or symbols you see in your day to day life can offer guidance for some action or direction to take. (Btw the best book I have found about this is The Art of Spiritual Dreaming, by Harold Klemp.)  So when you are pondering a meaningful question, look around you to recognize serendipitous outer signs and guidance. These are waking dreams.

I remember once, long ago in Arizona when I was a grad student there, I got angry one day. Almost immediately after fuming for a bit, I sat on and broke my eyeglasses. Immediately I saw that was a waking dream showing me how my anger was distorting my vision or perspective. This was a wake-up call. I corrected my viewpoint, quickly!

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So for this second week of the monthly process for this blog this year, I invite you to pay attention to outer signs or waking dreams to help you understand and find answers to one deep question you are considering this month.

My question this month is about how I can revitalize my writing activity. My waking dream is a quote I saw in a recent horoscope: “There is a part of you that isn’t your body, your words, your thoughts, or your feelings. This part of you is doing something mysterious and exciting!”

Reflection:

I usually have been so driven with regards to my writing. Lately I am in a cocoon-realizing that publishing my recent book (see right panel to order YOUR LIFE PATH!) was only a first step and does not of itself accomplish my purpose without more effort on my part to “get it out there.” When I move again (beginning in February and completing by June) I will resettle into the process for continuing this process and completing the second book in the Life Path series. For now I must be content to fulfill my current responsibilities with teaching and preparing for the move.

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How about you? What are you pondering this month? Look around you for waking dreams that can bring solutions, guidance and understanding.

I welcome YOUR STORY and Comments!

Dreamin’

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Last week I invited you to state a personal question for the month to explore by reflecting on your dreams, your inner guidance, and outer ‘signs’ or synchronicity (waking dreams). Please review your question again or develop one now. This week, I invite you to reflect on your question by posing your question inwardly to invoke nighttime dreams about your topic, and/or to review and reflect upon your recent dreams that are relevant to your question.

For my part, second week posts will include some dream tips as well as modeling from my own process and experiences.

Dream Tip:  A.C.T. on your dreams! To me this means: 1) ASK for (and then ACCESS or record) dreams that are relevant to your personal question. Then 2) CONSIDER or CONTEMPLATE the messages from the relevant dreams you receive. And 3) TAKE ACTION based on the dream’s message as you understand it, to manifest positive personal growth and development.

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Dreams are our personal inner laboratory for exploring any question, principle, or choice we may have as well as being a fertile, unlimited field for exploring the inner landscape of the Cosmos!

Example: My own question for this month is about how I can revitalize my writing activity and move forward with that creative and service oriented process despite being overburdened with responsibilities and necessary new home mortgage procedures (I will be moving again, gradually from Feb 1 til July, and meanwhile moving back and forth between two residences as of Feb 1.) This week I am asking for dreams and reviewing my dream journal (Tip 2: Always keep a dream journal and review it often.)

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I have kept a dream journal (within a larger journal usually) since I was twenty.  I know that when I do have a pressing personal question, reviewing my dream journal will always throw light upon that question because I know we mull over our deep questions inwardly sometimes even before we are consciously aware of the importance of a challenge or issue we are pondering.

Some dream journal entries relevant to my question:

8/12/18 [just after relocation]: Dreamed of worry over future employment and service potentials after graduating from grad school [as though I just had left college]. I know this represents my lifelong concern over making a difference: ‘What difference does it make?’ or settling into a life with a lack of creative productivity.

8/18/18: An adventure dream –in story form– Russell Crowe as the older and me as the younger Self. We stop by a room with xmas decorations we have set up, en route to some upcoming activity. I see someone else, a friend from from my past, will be involved with that upcoming activity.

8/27/18: Dream of presenting a partially completed manuscript to  an advisor–thinking it was in good form but open it and it is like a seafood gumbo: a miasma! So, it is back to work.

1/6/2019: See a lady in white going before me and to left along a trail going upwards, carrying a large pine branch. I follow humbly and am grateful.

This morning (1/9/19): Mulling over a question about how to proceed forward and am shown this  “hole” on a white field, that sucks in like a whirlpool drain in a sink…maybe a wormhole! But as I contemplate whether to dive into it (as being proposed inwardly for me to do), I have a fear because I am told the “It goes on forever!” My fear is that everything I have ever been, known, or done will be dissolved, and if it goes on forever, how will I ever emerge to have any solid reality ever again? (on waking, think the message is that this positive, needed leap of faith is to be very deeply TRANSFORMATIVE!)

REFLECTION/ INTERPRETATIONS : 

Two of the dreams show a higher (or elder) and a younger (or outer) Self, or a Guide I am learning from or following. That Higher Self/ Guide is blazing a trail or helping me with my creative and spiritual ambitions. The pine branch means clearing a pathway forward (and now I see the lady in white possibly as my current realtor who has found my next location, a great space for writing!) The future is about transformation and will require dropping the past…plunging into the void of new experience!

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images are from pixabay.com

So, dear Better Endings reader, go forth! Review or start a new dream journal for this year’s process and ask/ write out your question inwardly, then review your Dreams.

I welcome YOUR Story, Questions, and Comments!

Personal Growth

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Welcome to the new year at Better Endings! Each month I shall be inviting you to explore and contemplate a question related to your own personal growth. Week One you can pose the question. Week Two I invite you to work with your dreams to find messages relating to your query. Week Three you can further pursue outer signs and ideas to arrive at some solutions and practices you can use, and Week Four I will invite you to journal about or write a Better Endings envisioning that reveals your movement forward with regard to your question that month (see Monthly Topics page).

I will be modeling the process week by week with excerpts from my own experience/ questions, and I invite you to keep a journal of your own self-exploration process. I welcome any stories you might wish to share either in the Comments area or you can send me pieces to post between the weekly sessions (see Share Your Story page).

For myself I will be pursuing a general question for the whole year, with individual monthly questions that are part of the overall inquiry for personal growth and development. I am asking: How can I establish true Happiness, outwardly as well as inwardly, from my present  and developing circumstances after having recently retired and relocated across country ‘alone’ though with my dear pet companions Emily (cat) and Sophie (Shorkie dog).

For January, I pose for myself a more specific question: How am I to revitalize my writing and related public service activities despite the busy life I have taken on in my new location?

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When I first arrived at the idea for this yearly process for the blog this year (last week), I was at a restaurant having breakfast. The waitress seated me in a half-booth directly facing a painting on the back wall that captured my attention. The picture was a colorful carnival scene. A young woman riding in the air on an airplane carousel ride was waving down to a younger, nondescript figure of a younger person who was riding on a merry-go-round and waving up at the woman from below.

I recognized this picture as a waking dream about the very process of personal growth  I hope we can achieve with the blog this year for all who partake of the weekly journaling and contemplation approach. The picture represents communication between Soul or one’s Higher Self and Self (one’s outward, temporal personhood).

While the younger Self rides along with the ups and downs of the carousel ride of life, s/he can take heart to know that their Higher Self looks on!

I realized how the Ups and Downs of life are both equally important, both balanced by an overview perspective of inner guidance and personal reflection and growth. One dips and then resurfaces; rises and then returns to balance along the learning curve of a life of challenging experience and joy.

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images are from pixabay.com

So with regard to my personal first question for this month, I see an initial clue in this painting. I have been in the doldrums for the past six weeks about my writing goals, allowing myself to be so busy outwardly with other activities that my writing process has been put to the side. This picture tells me to keep looking UP, to communicate with my Higher Self and inner guidance in order to see more of the Bigger Picture. Outer activities are preparing the way for further unfoldment to come.

I welcome YOUR Story or Comments!

 

A NEW YEAR of Better Endings

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This new year at Better Endings for Your Life Path let’s explore Tools for Better

Endings. I will introduce and model the Tools each week and I invite YOU to

practice Better-Endering on your own! You are welcome to send me your story

(lkwatts@uccs.edu) if you would like me to share it on the blog (I will give you an

author’s byline if you’d like for your Better Endings reflections or story). 

We will practice FOUR Tools for Better Endings relating to a personal Question or Goal you can set in Week One of every month: 

Week One (of each month):  I invite you to set a personal Question related to a Goal you are contemplating in your life.

Week Two:  Consider any DREAM events, dream messages or dream images relating to your Question or Goal. You may reflect on current dreams or on earlier dreams you still can recall that relate to you Question or Goal.

Week Three:  You can explore your inner guidance that relates to your Question or Goal. For instance, what waking dreams, mindful insights, synchronicity, or Golden Tongued Wisdom are you aware of that relates to your Question or Goal?

Week Four:  I invite you to journal about or write out a Better Endings Story. With this story or journal entry you can envision a Better Ending solution and implementation of that solution and insights you have gained with regard to your monthly personal Question or Goal.

Life Lesson 2: Soul = Soul, An Answer to Prejudice

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Last week I showed a powerful documentary film in my anthropology class called “The Anatomy of Prejudice.” This film is about a workshop Jane Elliott conducted in the UK using her ‘brown eyes/ blue eyes’ approach. She divides people by the color of their eyes to reveal what I see as the three P’s of Power, Privilege, and Prejudice.  In the debriefing after showing this gripping film, I found myself recounting an experience that happened many years ago in Buffalo, around 1978.

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I was on my way home from a spiritual activity, waiting for a bus in inner city Buffalo around 11:30 PM. The bus stop was on a corner with a bar. A man staggered out of the bar and over to where I stood. He pointed to a car on the streetside and told me that it was his car. Here is our opening conversation that I remember as if it was yesterday:

“I’ll bet you think I’m gonna grab you by the arm and take you over there to my car and rape you!”

(Pause)… “No, I don’t think that.”

I could, you know. All I would have to do is grab you and take you over there to my car.”

I asked this man’s name, he answered Freddie. I asked Freddie if he had a family (yes), and we started a dialogue about each others’ lives. After a few minutes Freddie said to me:“I’m gonna stand here with you until your bus comes; I’m gonna stay right here to make sure that nobody harms you!” 

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Can you feel what I still feel in recounting this story? It almost makes me cry from gratitude and appreciation. Freddie did wait there at the bus stop with me, nearly twenty minutes until the last bus through inner city Buffalo arrived to take me home. We shook hands and I thanked Freddie for his protection, then we  went our separate ways.

I have never forgotten this encounter with Freddie, for it taught me an invaluable Life Lesson:

SOUL = SOUL

Prejudice and acts of discrimination or prejudice-fueled hatred occur largely, I believe, out of ignorance or lack of personal exposure to or interaction with members of the ‘group’ one may be prejudiced against. I was a young, Single White Female, out of her neighborhood element in inner city Buffalo. Freddie was an older, Drunk Black Man. But as soon as we began communicating with each other, asking about each others’ lives and listening to our responses, the group prejudices we had assumed quickly dissolved into the cold night air. We conversed not as White Single Female and Drunk Black Man but, rather, Soul to Soul.  In this light, how could we be anything but grateful and empathetic to one another?

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images are from pixabay.com

 

Soul = Soul is an answer to prejudice and discrimination. When we get to know someone as an individual rather than as a faceless member of some group category, Soul lights up and there is the opportunity for mutual acknowledgement.  Perhaps this is why we want to look one another in the eyes as we speak, since the eyes may open to the Window of Soul.

I welcome YOUR Story and Comments.

Mapping Your Spiritual Life Path

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Each Life Theme that threads through our lives, interweaving with other Themes to form the fabric of a life creates its own warp and weft; its own pattern. Some Life Themes are uplifting while others might hold you down in the doldrums or could oscillate between highs and lows like a roller coaster ride.

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You can map any Life Theme to discover its pattern in your life.  Start simply by making a list of “shaping events” relevant to that Theme. Shaping events are events or situations that “have shaped the person you have become.”

After listing events for a Theme you can assign an impact score from -5 to +5 to rate the retrospective negative to positive shaping impact of that event, including binary or dual impact scores (e.g. +3/-2 or +5/-5) to indicate events with both positive and negative impacts.

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So I invite you to make a list of events you associate with Spirituality in your life.  Note the age you were at when each event occurred and assign retrospective impact scores. After composing this list then I invite you to PLOT these events on a chronological Life Path grid, as shown above. Plot the impact scores on the positive and/or negative spaces above and below the Age Line. You can connect binary or dual impact events with a vertical line crossing the neutral Age Line.

Now you can simply connect the dots–the relative highs and lows of adjacent events on your chart–to reveal the pattern of influence of Spiritual events on your life over time.

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images are from pixabay.com

When I map my own Life Theme of Spirituality (privately), I realize how spirituality has been the buttress  of my life always. After a time of seeking which had its ups and downs, once I found a path that works for me it has continuously provided an upward drift to my life. It is the wind beneath my wings and helps me understand any and every event as meaningful and positive.

What is YOUR Story? I invite your comments or questions.

Education is the Key

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Life is the greatest teacher, when we allow it to be. Every one of us could title our Life Story: The Education of (Your Name).

Education, or learning generally, is the key to unlocking more than just knowledge but potentially wisdom.  What is that difference, for you? For me it is not merely knowing WHAT, but WHY and ethically HOW.

Education is  a reciprocal relationship with with life and/or with other beings. We teach–intentionally or not–from our experiences; we learn from observing or interacting with others or with nature or Spirit.

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At best, our education equips us to embark upon and to learn and teach from new, “fresh” experiences.  An experience is new only if we can approach it from a fresh perspective, applying what we have learned previously. I like to remember the psychology premise that says, if you keep repeating the same ‘mistake’ or running into the same “wall,” then perhaps it is time to go AROUND it.

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images are from pixabay.com

One way to tap into your daily education is to journal and/or to actively contemplate every day.  In your journal you can ask:

What Have I Learned Today?

What Have I Taught?

How might what you discover from journaling about or reflecting on these questions equip you for something ‘new’?

I welcome YOUR Story and Comments

Live and Learn

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To live is to learn and to learn is to live, nest-ce pas?  That appears to me to be what life is all about, along with developing our capacity to give and receive unconditional love, and to survive.

I am grateful for being on a definite learning curve, having recently relocated just with my beloved cat and dog, across country from Colorado to central New York.

With a major relocation comes tremendous opportunity to ‘create the life of your dreams.’  At the same time it is rife with challenges: how to make the right choices so as not to recreate patterns or habits of thought or behavior you aim not to continue while establishing conditions for true growth and spiritual prosperity.

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So, here’s a thought.  When you set out to make a major move or a significant change of any sort, for instance either geographically or with work or a relationship, ask yourself what Life Lessons from earlier experiences do you intend to apply to establish new conditions rather than having to relearn these same Life Lessons yet again? There is a spiritual principle that says, once you have truly learned a significant lesson from some experience which has repeated in your life, you can finally move on. After crashing or butting into the same wall many times, psychologists would tell us, finally we might choose to walk AROUND that same wall when it shows up—and it likely will—yet again!

I invite you to reflect on some key Life Lesson that feels appropriate with respect to some new life adjustment upon which you are or soon will be embarking.  Is there one Life Lesson in particular that you would like to avoid having to re-learn this time around, once and for all?

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For me one of my core Life Lessons is to ASK and to LISTEN for (and then to ACT upon) inner guidance, before making major choices.  I aim to avoid acting primarily by ‘trial and error.’ This definitely applies to my search over this next year for a retirement home that will allow for me to fulfill my full life potentials and ambitions from here forward. This includes a goal I have set for myself with this relocation: To Be Happy! Not just to fulfill responsibilities and be ‘safe,’ I mean—though those will always matter—but to find a range of happiness, stable and complete, that I have perhaps always been seeking in this lifetime.

This goal reminds me of Hermann Hesse’s Siddhartha (the Buddha), whose smile to his friend Govinda at the end of the story is a message of how to attain enlightenment:

As Govinda thought like this, and there was a conflict in his heart, he
once again bowed to Siddhartha, drawn by love. Deeply he bowed to him
who was calmly sitting.

“Siddhartha,” he spoke, “we have become old men. It is unlikely for
one of us to see the other again in this incarnation. I see, beloved,
that you have found peace. I confess that I haven’t found it. Tell me,
oh honourable one, one more word, give my something on my way which I
can grasp, which I can understand! Give me something to be with me on
my path. It it often hard, my path, often dark, Siddhartha.”

Siddhartha said nothing and looked at him with the ever unchanged,
quiet smile. Govinda stared at his face, with fear, with yearning,
suffering, and the eternal search was visible in his look, eternal
not-finding.

Siddhartha saw it and smiled.

“Bent down to me!” he whispered quietly in Govinda’s ear. “Bend down to
me! Like this, even closer! Very close! Kiss my forehead, Govinda!”

But while Govinda with astonishment, and yet drawn by great love and
expectation, obeyed his words, bent down closely to him and touched his
forehead with his lips, something miraculous happened to him. While his
thoughts were still dwelling on Siddhartha’s wondrous words, while he
was still struggling in vain and with reluctance to think away time, to
imagine Nirvana and Sansara as one, while even a certain contempt for
the words of his friend was fighting in him against an immense love and
veneration, this happened to him:

He no longer saw the face of his friend Siddhartha, instead he saw
other faces, many, a long sequence, a flowing river of faces, of
hundreds, of thousands, which all came and disappeared, and yet all
seemed to be there simultaneously, which all constantly changed and
renewed themselves, and which were still all Siddhartha. He saw the
face of a fish, a carp, with an infinitely painfully opened mouth, the
face of a dying fish, with fading eyes–he saw the face of a new-born
child, red and full of wrinkles, distorted from crying–he saw the face
of a murderer, he saw him plunging a knife into the body of another
person–he saw, in the same second, this criminal in bondage, kneeling
and his head being chopped off by the executioner with one blow of his
sword–he saw the bodies of men and women, naked in positions and cramps
of frenzied love–he saw corpses stretched out, motionless, cold, void–
he saw the heads of animals, of boars, of crocodiles, of elephants, of
bulls, of birds–he saw gods, saw Krishna, saw Agni–he saw all of these
figures and faces in a thousand relationships with one another, each one
helping the other, loving it, hating it, destroying it, giving re-birth
to it, each one was a will to die, a passionately painful confession of
transitoriness, and yet none of then died, each one only transformed,
was always re-born, received evermore a new face, without any time
having passed between the one and the other face–and all of these
figures and faces rested, flowed, generated themselves, floated along
and merged with each other, and they were all constantly covered by
something thin, without individuality of its own, but yet existing, like
a thin glass or ice, like a transparent skin, a shell or mold or mask of
water, and this mask was smiling, and this mask was Siddhartha’s smiling
face, which he, Govinda, in this very same moment touched with his lips.
And, Govinda saw it like this, this smile of the mask, this smile of
oneness above the flowing forms, this smile of simultaneousness above
the thousand births and deaths, this smile of Siddhartha was precisely
the same, was precisely of the same kind as the quiet, delicate,
impenetrable, perhaps benevolent, perhaps mocking, wise, thousand-fold
smile of Gotama, the Buddha, as he had seen it himself with great
respect a hundred times. Like this, Govinda knew, the perfected ones
are smiling.

Not knowing any more whether time existed, whether the vision had lasted
a second or a hundred years, not knowing any more whether there existed
a Siddhartha, a Gotama, a me and a you, feeling in his innermost self
as if he had been wounded by a divine arrow, the injury of which tasted
sweet, being enchanted and dissolved in his innermost self, Govinda
still stood for a little while bent over Siddhartha’s quiet face, which
he had just kissed, which had just been the scene of all manifestations,
all transformations, all existence. The face was unchanged, after under
its surface the depth of the thousandfoldness had closed up again, he
smiled silently, smiled quietly and softly, perhaps very benevolently,
perhaps very mockingly, precisely as he used to smile, the exalted one.

Deeply, Govinda bowed; tears, he knew nothing of, ran down his old face;
like a fire burnt the feeling of the most intimate love, the humblest
veneration in his heart. Deeply, he bowed, touching the ground, before
him who was sitting motionlessly, whose smile reminded him of everything
he had ever loved in his life, what had ever been valuable and holy to
him in his life.

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images are from pixabay.com

I invite YOUR Story and Comments!

Always Keep Moving!

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I walk with my dog Sophie three times a day since she was diagnosed as diabetic last December. Her condition is now “well managed.”  Our walking has been a major factor benefiting her health as well as my own.

This morning on our walk through a light rain in Ithaca—our new home—I was thinking about Dick Van Dyke. He wrote a book out recently called Keep Moving (2015). Here is a Youtube clip of Dick Van Dyke in motion:

    

At over 90, Dick Van Dyke lives his credo to always keep moving; that is, not to slow down or become sedentary; not to settle.

What a great credo for our “better endings” theme with this blog:

Always Keep Moving.

While reflecting on this theme I also have opened to a quote from the Dalai Lama:

“Once a year,

Go somewhere you’ve never

been before.”

So I have relocated across country with my cat and  dog and within a month life here is already in a state of perpetual motion.  People to visit with, some new friends, a new job and continuing work from an earlier teaching post; a new and very rich, expansive locale with endless opportunities for adventure…certainly by no means slowing down after my so-called retirement!

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Nor would I wish to slow down.  I love this life and am eternally grateful for the richness of every phase, of every Life Chapter. Living Your Dream, Now! (which is the focus I offer to YOU with my new book, Your Life Path/ see sidebar) does not mean reaching a static goal. Rather, it propels you ever further to Always Keep Moving!

Relocation Blues

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When you embark upon the major adventure of Relocation in order to Follow Your Heart and Live Your Dream, Now!, as I have just recently undertaken, mainly it is or can be a very positive experience, laced with all sorts of new potentials. Yet you can expect to encounter resistances as well, especially within your own psyche.

Having moved from Colorado to New York state just three weeks ago, I have been on my own now with just my pets for a couple of weeks. A few days ago I heard a small voice within me welling up, crying out:

“What have I/we done?”

Then last night this trepidation came on more strongly: What am I doing here? How can I be so far away from all of my close Colorado and New Mexico friends and colleagues? Will I ever truly be able to ‘make a difference’ here in terms of my work and sense of purpose?

Let’s call this the Relocation Blues.

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Just keeping busy is not the solution to the Relocation Blues. It is important to check in deeply with your various archetypal parts of Self, to LISTEN to all those facets of your psyche that are concerned about the changes and the opportunities that have come about with the Big Move.

I find active contemplation (or, active imagination in Jung’s terminology) most helpful.  Close your eyes for a few minutes to a half an hour or so and ASK for inner understanding, SEEK internal guidance.  Ask what CAN you do to move forward most effectively, how CAN you fulfill the ambitions that led to your Move?

A CAN DO attitude (see the last post, “Say Yes!”) is important for overcoming fears or trepidations that come with radical change. ASK:

What CAN I do, today/ Now, to move my objectives forward?

How CAN I realize happiness with new conditions?

Then, of course, ACT on the resolutions you arrive at. Take the next Step, one day at a time. Be patient with yourself, take the time you need to adjust flexibly to your new surroundings. But ACT on your insights to gradually realize your potentials.

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For myself, I realize this is a crucial transition point in my Life Story, and what I do with the opportunities before me here will determine the outcomes. I cannot go back, must find a way to go forward to honor the past by fulfilling the purposes that led me to make this Big Move.

Family–Where Our Lives Begin

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For May, our Life Theme topic is Family. In the over 550 life maps I have helped people create, I would estimate over 95% contain Family or an aspect of that (e.g. Parents, Mother, Father, Sister, Brother, Grandparents, etc.) as a primary theme that has been a fundamental ‘shaping’ factor in their lives.

Of course, for most Westerners at least, Family is most often the dominant Life Theme in one’s early, formative years, then after a person ‘leaves the nest’ for school or a job or marriage, the original family may be less of a direct, daily influence. Yet because it was THE primary influence throughout childhood, our family is with us ALWAYS, unconsciously if not physically.

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pictures are from pixabay.com

So, reflect about how influential your family has been in shaping the person you have become. For this opening week I invite you simply to journal or tell a story about the role your Family has had in your life. I may add my example next time.

I welcome YOUR Comments and Story!

Life Lessons from Your Work

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Follow Your Bliss!

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“I can’t believe they actually pay me to do what I love!”

Does the above line characterize what YOU do for “a living”? If so then you are fortunate to have merged your vocational aspirations (your calling) with your work or career.  Joseph Campbell might say you are “following your bliss.”

If, rather, your Life Theme of WORK or CAREER is separate from what you feel as your true calling or as yet unrealized potential, What Then? (click to read a W.B. Yeats poem with that title). It may simply mean that your work satisfies your financial needs, allowing you to fulfill your responsibilities, while you pursue your ‘bliss” instead through vocational activities such as artistic ‘hobbies’, spiritual practices, sports, or other activities that bring you a sense of balance in your life. Of course, this is fine and a good way to satisfy the needs and interests of your various unconscious or submerged archetypal ‘parts of Self.’

Still: Are there ways that you might forge a closer integration of your Work or Career  with your vocational callings?  Doing so could create a deeper synergy that allows you to produce dynamic works more highly attuned to your most authentic Self, even in the workplace.

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Above images are from pixabay.com

What is ONE THING you might integrate into your work life or into your role in your career that could fuse an element of your deepest, unique nature to reinvent yourself in the context of your ‘job’? Or, should you be seeking a different line of work? Maybe an online course or degree could help you move in a new direction.

Using myself as an example, when I felt I was moving in a direction at work, in attaining tenure as a professor, that would  satisfy my practical goals but not my Life Dream of writing for the public rather than serving in my academic role alone, I was shown a way to integrate my creativity and spirituality into my work. That is how I began studying and then eventually practicing and writing about Life Paths. I describe this process in  Chapter 1 of Your Life Path (click or see right panel for ordering information, now available through all major book distributors. (BTW, A heartfelt Thank You to new followers of this blog who have found this site from reading Your Life Path. Please feel free to download for free the Life Path Maps Portfolio Toolkit! – see right panel.)

Your Life Path

So, what about YOU?  Are you fully expressing the life of your dreams at work? How might you ‘tweak’ your work life to more holistically Live Your Bliss? I invite you to contemplate and journal about this question.

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(pixabay.com)

I welcome your Comments and Story!

 

What Is Your CALLING?

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“Listen (doo dah doo)

Do you want to hear a secret? (doo dah doo)

Let me whisper in your ear (da di dah dah)”… (McCartney and Lennon)

Your Vocation Is:  _______________

So, what is it for you? What is your greatest CALLING in this lifetime so far?  Are you a Writer, an Artist, a Dancer, a Musician, an Actor, a Scientist, or an Athlete? What activity or “hobby” are you most passionate about? What lights you up and grounds or centers you in your deepest sense of personal identity of Self and/or of Service?

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Also then, WHY? What is it about your Calling, your Vocation, that resonates so deeply with the core of your Being? Is it what calls  you to Adventure or gives purpose and/or passion to your time on Earth?

Are you giving enough time and nourishment to your Calling? Or is it more in the background now for you? What qualities and Strengths has your vocation helped you to develop? How can you MAXIMIZE these Strengths in ALL you do?

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As a personal example just to get YOU thinking or journaling about these questions, I am (though not currently practicing) “a Fencer.” (If you have ever fenced competitively or with any sport, you will understand immediately.)  Fencing taught me so much, trained my Mind/Body synchrony so deeply that every day I am grateful in some small way. If I slip or stumble physically (or otherwise!), I am grateful for having learned from fencing not only “how to fall” without overdue injury but also how to get back up again and keep going forward. I remember once before an intercollegiate tournament, I slipped on some ice and slashed my right (foil grip) hand.  But I went to the event and overcame the pain by concentrating that much more on each bout. I remember it was a very successful competition for me and our team.  

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images are from pixabay.com

So again then, What Is YOUR Calling? How does it define you and bring Strengths and happiness to your life every day? Please use this as a contemplation and journaling tool.

 

I invite YOUR Comments and STORY!

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

Just Released March 6 by Skyhorse Publishing:

Your Life Path

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

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

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

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

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

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

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images are from pixabay.com

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

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!

How to Mend a Broken Heart

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

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

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

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

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

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images are from pixabay.com

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

I welcome YOUR Comments and Story!