Set Your Travel Goals (or, Happiness is a Choice)

When I prepare for a major travel excursion, I set a spiritual goal for the trip. That means I contemplate what I am ready or aiming to learn, about life or about my own potentials for self improvement. This is especially true with relocation; such an amazing opportunity to push the reset button involving any life conditions upon which you might wish to improve.

As I approach relocating Back East at the end of July, I find myself contemplating Happiness. At an Asian buffet the other night my fortune cookie stated:

“Happiness is a choice.”

That is precisely the message I needed to receive. As I contemplate the next Life Chapter of my own Dream Come True (for all of life is that, when you think about it), I realize it will be what I choose it to be with regard to the attitudes and viewpoints I exercise. Partly this means acting in ways that serve the greatest good and that may facilitate happiness and well-being for those in my immediate family and social circles. Smiling while engaging with people in public contexts can help me develop the habit of carrying happiness in my heart, coupled with acceptance and contentment.

Of course it is understood that any less than ideal conditions one experiences in one location are very likely to manifest again in a new location, so long as one carries those conditions forward within them. So contemplating current conditions is imperative for considering how to tweak the attitudes you choose to carry forward.

To me, this Travel Goal Setting for relocation goes way back in this lifetime (at least!). As my father was transferred several times to different states while I was young, I learned that in looking ahead to the next Big Move, I could use it as an opportunity to transform or tweak the life I had been living. When I was around 12, for instance, Dad told us the family would be moving around one year later from our home in Pennsylvania to New York state, near Niagara Falls.

Since at 12 I had become somewhat of an awkward, nerdy girl, I looked ahead to transforming my outer persona image in New York. I consciously changed up my wardrobe that next year, aiming to become a more “popular,” mainstream sort of teenager. When I got to my new school in New York then, I purposely sought to “get in” with what I conceived of as a more popular circle of friends. Well, it worked; however, very quickly that year I came to realize that the popular crowd I was courting really wasn’t who I am in the sense that my interests were far different from theirs. So after pretending for a short while to have a long distance boyfriend (wearing a ring from my mother’s jewelry case), pretty soon I figured out I wanted to be more authentic. I stopped sitting with this group of new friends at lunch time, even hiding in a lavatory the entire lunch period to do that. Then I joined a drama club and orchestra and started hanging out with new friends, more nerdy or artistic; people I really enjoyed being with!

The process I had undertaken to transform my life in the future from Pennsylvania to New York had succeeded, more than I could have anticipated.  I have been more mindful from that point forward of who I am (or am becoming) internally, and more appreciative of authenticity itself. I enjoyed my high school years immensely. The choices I made then were formative of the person I am today in very positive ways; no wonder then that at 64 as I have just retired, my immediate plan is to return to New York, to my family and even to be nearer to some of the deep friendships I shared there.

So, this time, I choose Happiness! 

images are from pixabay.com

I welcome YOUR Comments and Story.

Friends are Family, Too

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In our modern American culture, while Family is always important, given the highly mobile nature of our society, we must often move away geographically from our nuclear family for school, jobs, or with our marital families. But our human desire to have close, permanent relationships on the order of family ties allows us also to form some—a few perhaps—very close relationships with our lifelong friends. Our families of friends are often just as important to us as our natal family.

I know in my family each of us five kids always developed close friendships that were like extensions of our immediate family.  And we have tended to maintain, at greater or lesser constancy given where life has taken us all geographically and workwise, communication with these families of friends, for life!

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My own closest family friend ties include Barbara, Rosemary, and Michael (also less frequently another Michael, hi!) from high school and early college days; Mary, Jan and less often Pattie and Orit from grad school days; Arlene, Darlene, and Althea at Zuni;  and the same Jan, a newer Jan, Kathleen, Denise, Gianmichele and Zvia in Colorado. These latter from Zuni and from Colorado are the folks it will be most difficult to say goodbye to as I prepare to take the big journey back East to be closer to my main family again after retirement.

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Family is a group of close social relations you can rely on to be constant and caring throughout your life.  Though our modern lives often make being geographically near to our family including our family of friends difficult, we are always connected spiritually.  Fortunately today’s social media technology makes it easier than ever before to check in with one another and stay updated.

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I thank my family of relatives and friends—pets, too!—one and all, for the love and companionship I have been blessed with from your friendship!

Baby Boomers—A Better Endings Tale of Work and Love (You Can Change It Up!)

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We are multidimensional Beings: multi-faceted, multi-faced. This is the essence of our composite archetypal identities based on the various roles we occupy in our lives. Our Life Themes—recurring KINDS of situations that form threads weaving a colorful tapestry through the Life Chapters of our Life Stories—lead us to develop an assembly or ‘ensemble cast’ of archetypal sub-identities based on our positive role models or from avoiding behaviors of our nemeses.

Work is a Life Theme that often brings routine or habits as well as financial security and productivity into our lives. At its best, our Work supports our vocations; then we love what we do for a living! But sometimes Work can become onerous, over-routinizing or bringing out our ‘worst’ rather than our best qualities, to the degree it may lead us to feel somewhat numb in our social life or personal relations.

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As a 1950’s child myself, I can appreciate the ‘better endings’ tale of the 1987 movie Baby Boomers with Diane Keaton. J.C. Wiatt (Keaton) is a woman executive for a marketing agency in the City. When a distant cousin dies, she is asked to raise her cousin’s six-month-old baby. After accepting this new role as a parent, J.C. at first tries to maintain her high-paced, cutthroat sort of career, but eventually she comes to realize how this career is sapping her full identity.

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After losing her husband because of her choice to raise the child and being offered a lower position to accommodate her changing persona at work, J. C. chooses to quit and moves with her foster daughter to a farmhouse in Vermont. Here she gradually allows her heart to re-open, to her daughter, new friends in the small rural community, and eventually to a handyman (played by Sam Shepard).  Meanwhile she develops a homemade baby applesauce recipe that eventually promises to be a million dollar business. When she is offered the opportunity to sell that to a major food chain and move back to the City to manage the business, she opts out, preferring to stay in Vermont with her child and new partner.

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images are from pixabay.com

Life moves us forward, so long as we let it! Two days ago on my way to my own ‘retirement lunch’ (yep!), I read a bumper sticker I have been contemplating ever since:

Life Is Life!

Life is rich in opportunities for new experience, for learning to develop your talents and interests, for making choices at every turn as you compose your unique Life Story!

I welcome YOUR Comments and Story!

 

A Wayfarer Tribute for Larry

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Larry is a kind, friendly man who has served as the director of mail services at my university. This past year several times he and I have chatted when he asked me to sign for some mail at my department. Larry was so excited to be retiring this summer. He and his wife have invested in real estate so that they would have a worry free retirement. He encouraged me in my plans to retire next summer, emphatic that sooner rather than later is the best course to take. He was so excited the last two times we talked, with his retirement date and the liberation it represents edging closer and closer.

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Around two weeks ago, though, Larry suffered a heart attack; my understanding is that he passed from this life the following morning. What a turn of events, I thought at first; how unfair his demise after all of his excellent planning.  How precious and fleeting is a lifetime!  As I will soon be 63 and am beginning to have some health concerns, I wonder about what is to come and want to do all I can NOW, in case Spirit calls me home unexpectedly.

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But then a few days ago while I was in a dentist chair trying not to pay too much attention to possibly painful probing in my mouth, I was blessed to see Larry.  Inwardly I had introduced him to my own Inner Guide, and I watched as he and this Master walked forward along a beautiful pathway into the Light ahead. He was happy and conveyed that to me. He was more excited and interested in discovering what was to come than in looking behind to see what he was leaving. He appeared younger and spry of step. I felt happy for him, the Soul of Larry.

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Now I get that Larry HAS achieved a very happy retirement to a beautiful new life, albeit sadly without his wife outwardly. I am sure where he is going will be where he has earned the right to go forward spiritually in all that Soul’s interests and love.

Life is fleeting from the short perspective of a single persona or lifetime. It is also of immense value to Soul, as each lifetime we have a golden, unique opportunity to express our love and gain insights from the specific conditions and relationships we cultivate in the current body state we occupy in that lifetime. I am a strong believer in reincarnation and in the continuation of Soul to higher and higher states of being and levels of service to the whole.

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Larry’s departure reaffirms, to me, that we learn life’s specific lessons and take those gems of wisdom with us ever more, wherever we go.  His joyful excitement and love that I observed in his moving along into the next phase of his own spiritual expression teaches me the value of fully embracing this Life for all of its treasures!

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images are from pixabay.com

What treasures would you take with you if you were called home today?

When Your Dream Becomes a Nightmare? Adapt!

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June brings our new monthly theme at Better Endings for Your Life Path (see Monthly Topics); the next stage as we proceed forward with the Hero Cycle process is:  TRIALS AND REVELATIONS.

I can certainly relate right now at this juncture in my own life’s journey.  This past month, while blogging here about “Descent into the Belly of the Whale,” I sank into a deep contemplation one day while sitting in the center of an outdoor stone labyrinth. I asked my Inner Guide:

“What is it you/Spirit would ask me to improve upon or change as I proceed forward into the next phase of my journey?”

I received a clear answer:

“Adaptability”

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This answer has lingered in my consciousness.  Adaptability is certainly an important TOOL for me to employ as I approach retirement next summer and the release of my book, Your Life Path, next March.

A few days ago, I had a breakthrough with regard to adaptability. I have been conceiving of one and only one destination for retirement.  Yet when I visited that location through the month of March into April, I encountered a terrifying series of ordeals in the form of an invasion of my very body (and my dog’s and car) by parasitic insects. It took six weeks and a heavy load of new credit debt to clear that scourge, and I find myself left with PTSD around these ‘bug issues’ that I am still working on. When I think of that truly wonderful location, it now brings forth a sense of dread: how could I ever feel entirely safe were I to live there? I know this is not rational yet it is deeply entrenched.

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images are from pixabay.com

So I have been thinking about today’s topic: What Can You Do When Your Dream Becomes a Nightmare?

My answer is clear: ADAPT!

With Life Path Mapping, I always encourage people to remain FLEXIBLE and OPEN TO CHANGE. Future life mapping is not about setting a specific location or job or relationship as a necessary or fixed destination. It is about  projecting your VALUES forward into a future set of conditions that will fulfill your sense of purpose, mission, and life satisfaction.

So I took out a map to see where else could I go to satisfy my interests in a retirement community: closer to family, a vibrant community, a lake.  And I found an amazing location I have known of but had not realized how near it is to where I have wanted to be anyway.  I have a new location focus now.

Adaptation rocks!

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I welcome YOUR Comments and Stories.

 

On the Road Again!

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As this month winds down with its theme of Departure, I am en route for an exciting adventure. I will write this post as a travelogue, to reflect on the experience of Departure.

Before (Wed., Feb 22):

This trip is to be a microcosm of a much bigger departure in my life. It is a preparation for launching both my upcoming book activity and my graduation–er, retirement–in around a year and a half. I am traveling to the location I have chosen to live in for the next major stage of my life as I shift focus from teaching as a primary activity to writing and coaching as primary. As well, I am seeking to live the life of my dreams, just as I am offering to others with my book about Life Path Mapping, to be titled, YOUR LIFE PATH. For me in addition to life as an author and coach, this will allow living by a lake with my pets, nearer to family and located in proximity to a wide array of opportunities for travel as well as for extended career ventures.

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So this is to be a true Departure with full double entrendre: a leaving from one place to arrive at another physical location but more importantly as well, departing from life as I have known it to Now in order to embark upon a life changing Adventure.  I am driving my new car which I selected for this future activity, a Subaru Cross Trek which I have nicknamed Scout. And that is what this journey is set up to be: a scouting trip.

En Route (Monday, Feb. 27)

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In Ohio now, third night of the Road Trip. It has certainly been an adventure already. I was plagued with an attack of blood sucking bugs on my first night out (Saturday)–apparently not exactly bed bugs but possibly chiggers. After ravaging my back, legs and neck, they left a very strange (to me) stain of gloppy orange-blood goo on the bedspread!  What was this about?

Challenging obstacles test our mettle. The process of encountering hardship and overcoming the difficulties is part and parcel of a growth experience.  The bug bite scenario led me to wash all my clothes at the next stop (fortunately at my friend Pam’s home in Iowa) and to throw away my carry on luggage, to divest of potential deterrents. I have also showered twice and bathed my dog Sophie. Is this a cleansing in preparation for the rest of the journey?

Yet to Come (musing Monday night, prior to arrival at the main locations of my travels)

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I like to set goals for a cross-country adventure, and this trip is chock full of purposes and intended outcomes. Quoting from my dear departed Grandmother Rugh (and her from Robert Frost):

“I have promises to keep,

and miles to go before I sleep.”

On this trip I will be conducting a full month’s writing retreat at a rental home in the lakeside community I will retire to not this but next summer. By the end of this stay, I aim to send out the final manuscript to the publisher for my book. I’ll be putting on final touches of format, aiming to deliver this book as a missive, the product of over a decade and a half of development and writing. I am blessed to have publicists to visit during this stay; you may see  evidence at this site of changes reflecting the preparation for eventually launching the book. I love that this has become a more team oriented project over time, since meeting a wonderful, encouraging Agent nearly 5 years ago, to following her inspiration to constantly improve upon the product for the prospective reading public, to securing a contract and procuring a publicizing agency with people as wonderful as my Agent is, to enlisting a great friend who is expert at graphics and another with a professional editing past, and sharing all of this process with friends, colleagues, and family too.

This ends the Departure phase as tomorrow I’ll begin the full encounter with the mythic stuff of the adventure itself. It will begin by visiting my mother at her nursing home tomorrow. Nearly ninety and with late stage Parkinson’s, Mom is one who is forging her Life Path  day by day now, showing all of us that pain and infirmity are less important to her than life itself; perhaps rather I should say, than love itself.  Her endurance is an act of love for all her family and friends. I hope deeply that there is even more than meets the eye to her lingering life experience. I feel she is already in the course of a beautiful inner transformation in ways not obvious to us from the outside. I hope she is preparing spiritually for the best leap forward in Crossing the Threshold to her next life that she possibly can; like the Monarch butterfly gradually emerging from her chrysalis.

May I be so fortunate as to give my All to life and to the Spirit in All; or rather, to immerse as a vehicle for Love Itself!

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images are gratefully from pixabay.com

I welcome your Comments and Stories!

 

 

 

DEPARTURE—The Separation Phase of Your Adventure!

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Every Rites of Passage adventure consists of three phases of ritual activities: Separation, Transition—I like to call this, Transformation—, and Reintegration. The initial SEPARATION phase launches the person or group of ‘ritual passengers’ into their Adventure. It is usually marked in a formal rites of passage cycle by distinguishing the Adventurer in various ways as no longer in her/his ‘old’ state but not yet in the ‘new’ state s/he seeks to attain as the Quest of their adventure.

I love the scene in the very first Star Wars movie (Episode 4: A New Hope) when Luke Skywalker stands on a hill at dusk watching the double sunset and feeling the desire to depart the way of life he has known to embark on a greater adventure. This is the beginning of Luke’s Call to Adventure. His Departure begins shortly thereafter, first when he departs his uncle’s compound to find the renegade R2D2 and encounters his Mage Teacher, the Jedi Knight Obiwan Kenobi. The second stage of the Departure is when Luke leaves his home planet, but perhaps we will come back to that set of scenes as Crossing the Threshold.

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Luke is marked for Departure by his show of restlessness with his uncle and aunt just before his longing gaze into the double sunset.  When he (upon his second departure on the Millennial Falcon) receives his weapon of the Light Saber from his Teacher, this separates Luke from all others as he is from then on in training to become a rare spiritual warrior of the Jedi Order.

Very common ensignia of Separation accompanying the Departure stage of an heroic adventure would be donning a uniform or cutting one’s hair (e.g. for a military boot camp, or Yentl’s shearing of her feminine identity in cutting her hair in order to be able to study as a Hasidic scholar). One sheds their old identity and prepares to confront the ordeals of the transitional/ transformational Passage.

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As I approach retirement in a few months over a year from now, I have already begun the Separation process so as to allow and to prepare well for this Departure.  I am on sabbatical from my professor role this semester, which is a form of semi-retirement (though busy, as my retirement will also be).  I do not hold myself to the same normal schedule of a regular workaday semester. I wear jeans more than not even at the office. I close the office door unless I have a known appointment. All of these mark my intention (to myself and coworkers and students) to shift identities; no longer Chair of my department, now I begin a more liminal, transitional passage.

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images are from pixabay.com

It is helpful and important to MARK yourself as being in Separation from your earlier way of life if you are to step boldly into the next phase of your adventure. The more clearly and distinctively you can separate yourself from your normal routines and activities, the better!  As you mark your Separation you create at least the shell or form of your new identity. You must shed your Old or outmoded way of life in order to move confidently into the New mode you aim to achieve that will bring you Fulfillment of your deep aspirations.

What new Adventure are you aiming to undertake that can help orient and launch you in an appropriate direction to Live Your Dream, Now? How will you MARK your Separation as one ready to Depart?

I invite YOUR comments and stories!

 

Ladybug, Ladybug, Fly Away Home!

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In this month of the DESCENDER Archetype, I’ve just had a wonderful Descender Moment.  As I was walking out from my institutional Cave (the university building I have an office within) I was thinking about my upcoming sabbatical and retirement one year later.

I was thinking about stepping OUT from the enclosed mental space of Academia into a more open, liberated way of life. Just as I was musing about that liberation (I call my upcoming retirement “my graduation” as it begins my next Life Chapter as an Author), I looked down to the floor in the space between the inside of the building and the outer glass door. As I was opening the door, I watched as a Little Ladybug saw the opening and scurried Across the Threshold from the interior space (where she would starve if she stayed there too long) and the Light and Nourishment outside, to the air and grass.

“Ladybug, Ladybug,

Fly Away HOME!”

This childhood nursery rhyme came to me as I watched Little Ladybug soar up into the open, fresh air.

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You know the old adage: “The (darkest) Night is always just before the Dawn.” This may refer to how it is in the proverbial (and often literal!)  Night that we dream, take stock, and envision our plans for the future or for the Daytime of vital expression.

Our DESCENDER works through the Night to deliver us into a greater Tomorrow.

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free images are gratefully from pixabay.com

I welcome your Comments and Story!