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!

Map Your Relationships

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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images are from pixabay.com

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

I welcome YOUR Comments and Story!

Beatriz at Dinner: In Need of a Better Ending! (Health Theme)

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Hi All. So I watched Beatriz at Dinner this week, expecting an excellent story with John Lithgow and Salma Hayak in the top roles. At first I was delighted and of course, the acting was superb by these two distinguished Thespians. But the ending…oh my! This story cries out (to me) for a Better Ending! And as the protagonist Beatriz, played intensely by Hayak, is a Healer from Mexico in the story, I want to rewrite the story to bring a more positive message to the Healer motif.

Beatriz is an intuitive healer and masseuse.  She is very—let’s say, overly—sensitive in the story to injury to any animals or humans. She can feel their pain to the point that she has become unbalanced by the cold reality of indifference. Doug, her nemesis as it plays out in the story (Lithgow’s role) is a financial developer mogul. He has succeeded often at the expense of wildlife or native occupations of land he has acquired to build his empire of hotels and other big developments. So, this becomes a story about class inequality and depicts a clash of viewpoints between Beatriz and Doug that gets magnified and intensified within Beatriz as she entertains the notion of murdering the wicked seeming mogul…

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 I will not tell the story to its film conclusion here, so as not to be a spoiler. Let’s just say I found the current ending disturbing, as was intended.

I believe in Better Endings! To me that is a natural principle that gives anyone the creative license to change any story they wish (especially, their OWN!) So then, how would I personally rewrite the plotline development of Beatriz at Dinner?

I would start just after Beatriz has met Doug at her client’s high-class dinner party and (been) retired to her room. I would have her devise something magnificent, not destructive, to teach a vital, transformative lesson to Doug that might effectively alter his perceptions about his own empire and bring him to some possibly life changing (and life enhancing) transformative concepts that he can implement to benefit not just his own but everyone’s world.

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Like in the wonderful film of Powder, first Beatriz can intuitively link Doug to sense the pain of the African rhinoceros he was so proud of hunting and killing. Let him feel that pain so he can commit to never hunting again and to supporting endangered animal programs with his wealth.  Then maybe Beatriz could also tap Doug in telepathically to the lives of some of the peoples his hotel projects have displaced or impoverished.  As Doug has been a TED talk speaker, let him change his tune, go spend some time in these native communities, and revise his approach to development, building compassion and opportunity for local people into his approach.

Maybe Doug and Beatriz, recognizing the kismet of their connecting at the dinner party, could eventually team up and she could help to lead him to use his money and power for the greater good! Maybe they receive a Nobel Peace Prize down the road for their beneficial collaboration.

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images are from pixabay.com

Please note, Better Endering is not about better writing or about critiquing authors. It is about CREATIVE RE-VISIONING, a principle we can all apply to our own lives to manifest the higher, greater life potentials of our deepest imagining.

I welcome your insights and story!

Map Your Life Theme of HEALTH

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

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

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

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

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

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images are from pixabay.com

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

I invite your Comments and Story!

What are Your LIFE THEMES?

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

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

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

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

January –     Health

February –   Romance/ Relationships

March –       Vocation

April –          Work

May –           Family

June –          Adventure/ Travel

July –           Friends

August –      Relocation/ Moves   

September– Education

October –     Spirituality

November – Pets

December – Life Lessons

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images are from pixabay.com

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

I welcome your Comments and Stories!

Winter Solstice: Death and the Resurgence of Possibilities

 

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It is appropriate how in the Western hemisphere we celebrate Christmas, Hanukkah, and the New Year during the depth of Winter, around the time of the Winter solstice. Hope and love are born or rekindled in a season of relative darkness and cold, like a ray of light peeking through the stormy clouds or an ember sparking a warm fire, reminding us that the freeze will thaw and warmth and new potentials will emerge.

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Cross-culturally the Winter solstice and New Year are often aligned and celebrated as a time of death and rebirth, not only of the annual cycle of growth and decay but of fresh opportunities. The Zuni Pueblo Sha’lak’o kachina ceremonies, for instance, always occur at the end of November or first weekend of December. New houses for families needing room to expand, built by kiva group societies throughout the past year, are visited by the six 12 foot tall Sha’lak’o  messenger kachinas. The Sha’lak’os walk to these houses at Zuni from the six directions (East/South/West/North/Zenith/Nadir) to bless these homes and metaphorically to bring balance and renewal of growth potentials to the entire world and cosmos through their sacred prayers and ceremonial dancing.

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Out with the Old, In with the New.  A new cycle within the larger cycles of your Life Chapters and Life Story is a golden opportunity to reflect, to shed that which no longer serves you in its present form.  Take a breath of the pristine dawn of a New Day over the Holidays season!

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images are from pixabay.com

I welcome YOUR comments and Story!

 

 

 

Pets and Rebirth of a Dear Companion

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Yesterday I read a post from a favorite blogger about how she was wondering whether seeing her recently passed dog’s collar that showed up on the first day of Hanukkah could be a sign from her beloved companion, perhaps even that he would be coming back, as she had at the time been contemplating finding another puppy .I do believe in reincarnation, and since Animals are Soul, Too (There is a book of that title, by Harold Klemp), our Soul companions that we share our lives with in their animal and our human forms can also return if that is in the highest spiritual interest of all concerned.

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I am an animal lover and have had pets all my life. I do recognize that some of them have been with me in more than one animal companion form.  My cat Ariel came to me in such a way that I knew with certainty that she was returning from having been my cat Chela who had passed away around nine months earlier. There are many layers to this story, including dreams I had had when Chela was with me about other lives we had had together going way back to when I was an archaic human boy and she was a Tiger:

Yellow Eyes (the dream, in present tense for better recall):

I am a young boy walking alone in the veld. Language is minimal. I look around, taking stock of the environs. “Sky, storm” I think as I see the sky has a greenish tint and that signifies a violent storm is coming. “Cliff’” I think as I see a wall of cliffs with caves and I climb up there to take shelter from the storm, which swiftly comes with high winds wailing outside the cave. I look around and see a pair of yellow eyes looking back at me. “Tiger.” She also is seeking refuge from the storm. We seem to understand that we are both there for that reason and we do not attack one another.  The storm passes. Tiger leaves the cave, with an appreciative gaze as she leaves.  Later, a different life: I am a young man (indigenous native in a rainforest).  A lion is about to pounce upon me as I am walking through the jungle. Then a Tiger leaps onto the scene and prevents the Lion from reaching me.

Other memories of this same Soul as a white horse  while I am some sort of soldier.

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Then fast forward to after Chela’s (as a calico orange female cat–also with Yellow/ Gold Eyes–, my closest companion for 11 years)  passing.  Around nine months later I wake from a dream. I am leaving a castle where I had been visiting a mentor who had recently died; she is who had introduced me to Chela while I was taking an Independent Study in Philosophy with her, Toni.  I look down as I am about to close the gate and see a female cat, ‘black and white with orange blotches’ coming toward me. Excited, I kneel down: “There you are!” and she leaps into my arms; we are so close, so familiar.  That very day of the dream I go to the office of my then mentor, my PhD advisor, Betsy. Her first words to me:

“Linda, do you know anyone who could take a kitten?”

“Not unless it is black and white with orange blotches,” I answered.

“One is!”

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images are from pixabay.com

So I met Ariel that day, also with golden eyes, who was with me for the next twenty years. We were as close as Chela and I had been, loving companion Souls who travelled together and loved each other deeply.  She had marks on her forelegs and forehead of an orange calico just like Chela had been, though Ariel was a beautiful Harlequin Tortoise Shell Calico.

Because there is a need for ‘death’ (I call it translation in my faith), there must also be rebirth. We learn through cycles of growth and change.  It is all about love after all, which is reciprocal always or it is not love. Reciprocity and cyclicity are two aspects of the same relationship with Love, Life, and Spiritual Freedom. So I believe.

I welcome YOUR comments and Story!

The Hero Cycle as Rites of Passage

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The Return is a significant stage of achievement in a Hero Cycle adventure, marking the hero as ‘bringing home’ the strengths and wisdom s/he has attained through facing life’s arduous challenges and fulfilling their Quest. As the Hero returns, s/he benefits all Life and the family and community s/he serves more selflessly after having individuated as a mature, dynamic Self.

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But there is more to the story. Keep in mind that the Hero Cycle represents the mythic structure of a Rites of Passage ordeal which the individual (or group) undergoes to bring about a transformation of his/her/their Identity or to rebalance a situation tending toward decline. The three phases of a complete Rites of Passage cycle include rites of Separation, Transition, and Reintegration. These three universal phases of Rites of Passage cycles are mirrored in the three primary stages of a Hero Cycle adventure: Departure, Fulfillment, and Return.

The Return phase of a Hero’s Adventure involves a Reintegration back into the web of relations, roles, and aspirations of the hero’s Home Base; yet the hero returns to bring bounty to the Whole from having achieved individuation as a powerful, more loving and self-actualizing Self.

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images are from pixabay.com

Reintegration means rejoining a community you had departed from in order to gain maturity and to refine your talents. You rejoin this community with a higher order of Identity, from which you can better serve the growth potentials of the Whole.

Thus when Dorothy returns to Oz as a Self-integrated, mature Person, somehow we know that Toto is going to be okay. Dorothy brings back with her the integrated strengths of Courage, Heart, and Wisdom that she had lacked, and in this more aware, empowered Self she expresses the ultimate realization:

“There’s No Place Like Home!”

The Sea Turtle: Coming Full Circle

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The other day en route to work I listened to an NPR interview with a Chinese man about his experience as a “Sea Turtle.”  In China this metaphor refers to someone who leaves their country and family to travel overseas and then eventually returns. Compatriots who never left will test the returned ‘sea turtle’ to see how s/he has been changed by their exposure to foreign ways ‘across the waters’.  Will they still be loyal and faithful to their own kith and kin?

I like this metaphor, which can have other layers as well as the Chinese associations. The initial journey of the infant sea turtle is fraught with danger and hazards, as only one percent of a group of up to 600 or so hatchlings will even survive the crossing of the beach to reach the Ocean. When the mother sea turtle does return to build her nest and deposit her eggs, it is after from 20-50 years living alone, depending on the species, before reaching sexual maturity and mating.

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The mother sea turtle’s voyage brings her full circle, back to her exact beach of origin. One internet author remarks that the home beach of the sea turtle is “where the magnetic heart is.” Does she return to where she was a rare survivor in evolutionary hopes that her hatchlings might fare as well as she did?

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The Sea Turtle is a  metaphor that applies to my own coming ordeals and adventure as I am set to retire in seven months and I will be returning ‘Back East’ to the conditions I was born to, after nearly forty years ‘Out West.’  I return to bring back lessons and insights from all that I have learned, and will spawn services connected to my book about Life Path Mapping that comes out in March (Your Life Path, see right panel), and to complete additional books in the Life Paths series.

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Are you a SEA TURTLE?  What do you aim to spawn on your Return from your Oceanic journey of experience and maturation? Where is your home beach where you may build your new nest? How can you best provide for your own hatchlings?

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images are from pixabay.com

I welcome YOUR comments and stories!