True Partnership

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The Sacred Marriage is our topic this month. For myself, where I have found this is with my pets and family and with my spiritual Guides, but a stable romantic partnership has eluded me so that I now consider myself ‘post-relational’.  Yet I find a great deal of freedom and personal responsibility in living without a romantic partner, and I am happier this way.

Still, what is true partnership when that is not defined primarily or necessarily in romantic terms?

It is when two Souls team up, with love and trust in each other, to weather storms and support one another’s individual and collective missions. It is a guarantee of unconditional love and a willingness to communicate about whatever arises, knowing the other is open and giving in return.

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My dog Sophie and I are true partners. She has been through hell and back again with me when we endured a scourge of parasite bugs last March.  I don’t know how I could have gotten through that without her, and I am so glad she made it through too.  (Yet  I must also acknowledge a Good Samaritan who helped us both greatly at a B&B;  she took us in and helped nurse us back to health despite the risk to her own business.)  Once when I was finally determined to drive back cross-country to deliver Sophie to safety and then finalize my own cleansing of remaining bug threats, my wounds were searing and I thought they might be infected. (A doctor had me using an ointment that was wrong for these kinds of wounds.) Still over 1800 miles from home, I was at a low. Should I just drive through it, or seek help?  At that moment Sophie started barking emphatically at me and I knew she was telling me to get help.  So, in the midst of a torrential downpour somewhere in Iowa late at night, I found an Urgent Care and got the best treatment I had yet received, enough to let me and Sophie push onward.

Sophie

My dear Sophia

But I will be honest with you. I always did hope to establish true partnership with a human, yet that never materialized longterm for this lifetime except in some absolutely deep and wonderful friendships.  As a writer this has worked out fine, as it gives me the solitude and space to immerse myself in creative activity and the freedom to follow my dreams. I am reminded of a poem by W. B. Yeats, on “Words”:

I had this thought a while ago,

My darling cannot understand what I have done,

Or what would do in this blind, bitter land.

And I grew weary of the Sun

Until my thoughts cleared up again,

Remembering that the best that I have done

Was done to make it plain;

That at length I could cry,

At last,

My darling understands it all

Because I have come into my strength

And words obey my call.

That had she done so, who can say

What might have shaken from the sieve?

I might have thrown poor words away,

And been content to live.

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images are from pixabay.com

True partnership is  Soul with Spirit and with Divinity Itself, including Spirit as It expresses through other Souls.  Human companionship may be lasting or ephemeral;      in either case it is a great gift to be treasured for all that can be shared.

I welcome your comments and stories!

Rumi and Shams

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One of the greatest true stories about the appearance of a Helper whose relationship with an ardent aspirant transforms not only that ‘student’ but through him, also the world, is that of Shams-y-Tabriz (one of several spellings) and the gifted poet, Rumi.

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Shams Tabrizi is often claimed as a Sufi or Muslim although more accurately he could be described as a “wandering mendicant” who associated with many religious backgrounds but not only one.  Shams found in Rumi a spiritually thirsty, deeply honest Soul who was able to also put aside a single faith tradition in order to experience Spirit in a most direct manner that Shams taught him to embrace.

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Shams may have been murdered by associates of Rumi who thought of Shams as heretical. After his Master’s death, Rumi’s grief and burning love of Spirit Itself as he had learned to experience IT through his Teacher, was so intense that Rumi developed the whirling dervish technique of spinning to leave his bodily consciousness . He also began composing a large body of some of the greatest spiritual poetry known to humanity, including the Song of the Reed.

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Below is one of Rumi’s poems about his beloved Helper, translated from Coleman Barks.

I swear, since seeing Your face,

the whole world is fraud and fantasy

The garden is bewildered as to what is leaf

or blossom. The distracted birds

can’t distinguish the birdseed from the snare.

 

A house of love with no limits,

a presence more beautiful than venus or the moon,

a beauty whose image fills the mirror of the heart.

The Divani Shamsi Tabriz XV http://www.khamush.com/love_poems.html#Love is the Water of Life

 

A New Year of Better Endings

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Endings are new beginnings; I love the fresh breath of freedom released with this awareness.  With this new year, preparing for that launch today, I will expand this blog tremendously and infuse it with lots of new energy and purpose. This year should see the publication of my life mapping book and manual, Your Life Path. As the release date nears I will add more information about that.  Our central content material for this new year will focus on twelve (of 17) monthly phases of what Joseph Campbell presented as ‘the MONOMYTH’ in his famous volume on comparative and personal mythology which I am sure many of you readers are familiar with, The Hero With 1000 Faces (HWTF; 1949).

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The MONOMYTH (diagrammed above from HWTF) is generally referred to as THE HERO CYCLE or as THE HERO’s ADVENTURE. Now then, as the Hero is Everyman/Everywoman; it is YOU!  We are each of us on a mythic Odyssey from the cradle to the grave, and Beyond. We all must heed the Call to Adventure and may expect to encounter Threshold Guardians that aim to waylay our Quest. Then when we do Take the Journey we face internalized or mirrored external Dragons, Shadowy archetypal aspects that can inhibit our deepest ambitions unless we slay (or, tame) them.  We seek truth and to fully express our creative imagination, to accomplish our goals that each of our unique skillsets and talents equip us to Manifest for the benefit of the larger Whole.

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images are from pixabay.com

When I teach a course about Your Mythic Life, I always open the class with a poem. It is the well known “Ithaca”, composed by the modern Greek poet C.P. Cavafy. I have found my favorite version, translated by Rae Dalvin, posted on the Poem of the Day blog (https://ninaalvarez.net/2007/05/03/poem-of-the-day-49/), so I gratefully re-post the poem “Ithaca” below. Read it carefully, for it is an invocation to You, a Call to Adventure.  That will  be our first topic for the new year

Ithaca

When you start on your journey to Ithaca,
then pray that the road is long,
full of adventure, full of knowledge.
Do not fear the Lestrygonians
and the Cyclopes and the angry Poseidon.
You will never meet such as these on your path,
if your thoughts remain lofty, if a fine
emotion touches your body and your spirit.
You will never meet the Lestrygonians,
the Cyclopes and the fierce Poseidon,
if you do not carry them within your soul,
if your soul does not raise them up before you.

Then pray that the road is long.
That the summer mornings are many,
that you will enter ports seen for the first time
with such pleasure, with such joy!
Stop at Phoenician markets,
and purchase fine merchandise,
mother-of-pearl and corals, amber and ebony,
and pleasurable perfumes of all kinds,
buy as many pleasurable perfumes as you can;
visit hosts of Egyptian cities,
to learn and learn from those who have knowledge.

Always keep Ithaca fixed in your mind.
To arrive there is your ultimate goal.
But do not hurry the voyage at all.
It is better to let it last for long years;
and even to anchor at the isle when you are old,
rich with all that you have gained on the way,
not expecting that Ithaca will offer you riches.

Ithaca has given you the beautiful voyage.
Without her you would never have taken the road.
But she has nothing more to give you.

And if you find her poor, Ithaca has not defrauded you.
With the great wisdom you have gained, with so much experience,
you must surely have understood by then what Ithacas mean.

-K. P. Kavafis (C. P. Cavafy), translation by Rae Dalven

The Road Leads Home

Many times I’ve been alone and many times I’ve cried
Anyway you’ll never know the many ways I’ve tried
And still they lead me back to the long and winding road
You left me standing here a long, long time ago
Don’t leave me waiting here, lead me to you door

https://www.youtube.com/embed/fUO7N-zSMYc?rel=0“>Beatles, The Long and Winding Road

Road songs, road trip novels and movie scripts, mythic journeys (e.g. the Odyssey): why is the Road such a common, universal cultural motif?

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Usually the Road leads Home or completes a full cycle of Departure–Transformation–Return, as per Joseph Campbell’s well known insight about “the Hero with 1000 Faces“. The mythic journey we all take is a “going and a Return”; it  is a journey of Self-discovery and advancement to ever greater horizons.

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Is it an Illusion, though? The Journey or Winding Road metaphor is after all just that: a way to frame experience as an ongoing, coherent Process. We depart from point A, traverse through obstacles or vistas, and ultimately aim to arrive at a “later” destination, one that is the same as that which we departed from, but we have gained through the struggle and lessons learned a greater maturity, skills and awareness. The Prodigal offspring, we seek to acquire wisdom in the lower realms in order to be of even greater service and humility when we finally return to the divine source of our own true essence. And every lesser journey is a microcosm or a small step along that ultimate Pathway of spiritual unfoldment in the eternal Nowness that IS.

Well then, just think of it! Nothing is ever wasted; every experience carries within it the Seed of this ultimate Return.

Ithaka

BY C. P. CAVAFY

TRANSLATED BY EDMUND KEELEY AND PHILIP SHERRARD

As you set out for Ithaka
hope your road is a long one,
full of adventure, full of discovery.
Laistrygonians, Cyclops,
angry Poseidon—don’t be afraid of them:
you’ll never find things like that on your way
as long as you keep your thoughts raised high,
as long as a rare excitement
stirs your spirit and your body.
Laistrygonians, Cyclops,
wild Poseidon—you won’t encounter them
unless you bring them along inside your soul,
unless your soul sets them up in front of you.
Hope your road is a long one.
May there be many summer mornings when,
with what pleasure, what joy,
you enter harbors you’re seeing for the first time;
may you stop at Phoenician trading stations
to buy fine things,
mother of pearl and coral, amber and ebony,
sensual perfume of every kind—
as many sensual perfumes as you can;
and may you visit many Egyptian cities
to learn and go on learning from their scholars.
Keep Ithaka always in your mind.
Arriving there is what you’re destined for.
But don’t hurry the journey at all.
Better if it lasts for years,
so you’re old by the time you reach the island,
wealthy with all you’ve gained on the way,
not expecting Ithaka to make you rich.
Ithaka gave you the marvelous journey.
Without her you wouldn’t have set out.
She has nothing left to give you now.
And if you find her poor, Ithaka won’t have fooled you.
Wise as you will have become, so full of experience,
you’ll have understood by then what these Ithakas mean.

C. P. Cavafy, “The City” from C.P. Cavafy: Collected Poems. Translated by Edmund Keeley and Philip Sherrard. Translation Copyright © 1975, 1992 by Edmund Keeley and Philip Sherrard. Reproduced with permission of Princeton University Press.

Setting Sail

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Once you have established a Life Dream, a meaningful personal Goal that will fulfill your Purpose or Mission of this lifetime, What Then? (see Yeats poem, linked).  How are you to bridge the seeming gulf between where you are Now and where (and how) you wish to Be? What holds you back from pursuing or from realizing your Dream?

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Before you can set sail to the destination of manifesting your fulfillment, your Bliss, you need clarity about the process you can take to bring your goal within the grasp of realization. That means you need to have a clear view of your destination and a good awareness about how you will manifest your goal. When a Dream or Goal seems too remote or unrealistic from where we are Now, we are less likely to take practical steps in the direction of ever realizing this goal.

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I have found in working with life mappers over the past decade that it can help to conceptualize where we are at in relation to a Goal by viewing the situation from a broad overview perspective. One basic technique for ‘zooming out’ far enough to see the whole is a basic form of mind-mapping called a CLUSTERING technique.  I will present a very tailored version of this technique in Life Paths; for now, though, I invite you to use a very general approach to help you to frame parameters of your Life Dream that are relevant to developing your motivation around your Dream. For an example of his method, I recommend Mary Carroll Moore’s excellent book, How to Master Change in Your Life, as she presents a similar clustering approach there in relation to bringing about a desired change.

You may start this clustering practice simply by placing a word or phrase representing your Life Dream in the center of a blank, unlined page. Then start reflecting on this Dream. What benefit will you gain from realizing this goal in your life? Write something describing this benefit somewhere on the page (above the center to express a positive aspect) and draw a line from your Dream to this benefit. Are there outcomes or consequences from this benefit to also consider? Draw a line from the benefit to this other consideration. Are there negative sorts of challenges (e.g. cost or time limitations) that you associate with your Dream? Draw a line to a space below the center and write these considerations. For every branch extending out from the center that you connect with the considerations that arise as you reflect more deeply on this Dream, you may draw sub-branch limbs to clouds of related considerations around these. You can also connect considerations over the whole page to one another.

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For every negative challenge or fear, etcetera, that you expose with this mind-mapping technique, do aim to also place a positive ‘antidote’ or solution to this challenge, as well. After you complete the clustering session, you may wish to envision and to journal or write about the insights you have gained. Has a plan of sorts revealed itself? What steps can you begin to take now in your life that can help you to overcome obstacles to your manifestation of this valuable Life Dream?

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I welcome your Comments and Stories!

CHOICES FOR THE SOUL HAĪBUN, by Brenda Davis Harsham

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The church is near but the road is all ice;

the tavern is far but I’ll walk very carefully.

Russian Proverb

Years ago, I was working for a minimal salary. My net pay barely covered the expenses of professional clothing, commuting, food and rent. I worked very hard the first year, trying to be the perfect employee, working quickly, seeking extra work, hoping I would earn a big raise. I slid sideways into debt when my car was totaled in an accident and my cat needed expensive medicine.

When I got my review, it was lukewarm, with no acknowledgement of my efforts and a minimal raise, not even keeping pace with inflation. I had a meeting with my boss, and I asked him if he was unhappy with my work. He said no.

“Did I forget any tasks you gave me or do them wrong? Was I too slow?”

Again, “No and no.”

“Then why are you giving me such a small raise?”

“Do you think you deserve the same raise as Monica who has been here nearly twenty years?”

“Are you saying I won’t get a good raise unless I work here twenty years?”

“You have to understand that we all have wives and children to support, and they come first. Why would I give you money that I could give to my wife and kids?”

I didn’t have any answer for that, and I got depressed. I had always believed that hard work was rewarded.     I worked quickly, efficiently, but when I finished my work, I no longer sought extra. I started doing my own writing in the office, which angered him and eventually he fired me. It was the best thing that ever happened to me.

I realize now that I chose to stay despite my unhappiness. Instead of leaving, I acted less than professionally and ended up deeply unhappy with him, but more importantly, with myself.

When I was fired, at first my self-esteem sank even lower, but financial desperation pushed me into following up every lead for new job. I found a great job where I relearned to value myself. I felt freer than I had in years. I changed careers and cities, which were great decisions. Being fired was a pivot point for me, and I learned something invaluable.

If I make bad choices, I only hurt myself, and I must make better choices. It sounds so simple, and maybe it is to some people. For me, it’s a daily effort. Some days I fail. Other days, it feels like climbing Mount Everest. But I am worth that effort.

dark clouds blow in fast
ice wolves wail and circle
curl up warm inside

These days, I don’t have every answer, and I’m not perfect. That is no longer even my goal. Each day I try to make good decisions. I try to respect myself, to find ways of seeking joy, and, as a result, I occasionally even find it.

green shoots reach skyward
gray ice mountains collapse
heart and soul quicken

Copyright 2014 Brenda Davis Harsham

Note: Inspired by the weekly Līgo Haībun challenge and the Russian Proverb above.

Brenda Davis Harsham is an author, photographer and artist, currently publishing fairy tales, photography and poems celebrating magic and nature for kids of all ages. She teaches writing and is a member of the Society of Children’s Books Writers and Illustrators.

 Website: Friendlyfairytales.comhttp://friendlyfairytales.com/

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I want to thank you, Brenda, and all who have chimed in today to like or follow this site. You have brightened my life. This week, I invite all of your insights and stories of any length (or poetry, art or photos) about CHILDHOOD MEMORIES. I will be using a Mary Poppins theme (love Saving Mr. Banks!) with daily blog titles based on the music. I am interested in insights and stories that remind us to look through a child’s eyes at the world. Please share with anyone. Of course you retain copyright and I will publish an author’s byline, bio, and contact info.- Better Endings to You! Linda

Where To From Here? So Many Choices…

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Tuesday (instead of Wednesday, starting today) is Prompts Day at Better Endings. I invite you to journal/ write about, talk about, or actively imagine and contemplate about one or more situations in your life–past, present or future–that relate to this week’s topic of “better choices“. Do any of the situations listed below remind you of a time when you chose a better ending instead of a self-limiting perspective or habit? Or maybe you made a “wrong choice” by your own estimation at some point; how did you adjust and grow from that? What sorts of choices have generally helped you or hindered you in the pursuit of your interests or goals?

Some possible situations calling for Better Choices:

  • what job to take or walk away from
  • what career to pursue/ Major in college, etc.
  • where to live?
  • relationships?
  • lifestyle choices
  • social scene
  • foods
  • habits
  • pathways
  • life changing choices
  • circumstances ‘beyond your control’
  • renovations (e.g. what color to paint your house)
  • attitudes
  • cars, material possessions
  • your next words
  • travel opportunities
  • pets
  • friends

Also today, have you noticed the “Better Endings Quote” panel at the bottom of our site? The Rumi poem, “A Voice through the Door”, speaks to me personally about choices. It seems to be saying that better choices come to you from within, rather than from someone or anything external. Follow Your Heart. Which reminds me: I welcome and thank you if you are “Following” (or just stopping by) Better Endings. Happily, it is the principle of Better Endings itself that you are following; I am following that principle with gratitude for my own inner guidance, too!

Please send your Comments below. I welcome your Better Endings story this week about a time when you made a better choice; or, not! Please submit your story (by Saturday night) for inclusion as a Story of the Week.

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