Reading the Tea Leaves (Pay Attention to Your Signs)

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“Not everything has meaning!”
(my college fencing coach Roxanne, en route to a competition in NYC)

Later, to myself: “No, but anything can!”

I am a huge believer in using outer signs for listening to and following inner guidance. I have found through long experience that so long as I reflect deeply and act in a balanced way in response to ‘waking dreams’ that catch my attention while I am mulling over some question or pursuing some meaningful goal, good things follow.

Responding to outer signs can help to keep the flow of communication open between Spirit or the Universe, Inner Guides or whatever you prefer to acknowledge, and your own higher awareness. The more you can progress in tandem with your inner nudges or guidance, the easier it becomes over time to wend your way through challenging situations and key decisions; and, life is more fun!

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So what are your ‘tea leaves’ telling you this month about some meaningful question you are pondering? Pay attention to the slightest waking dreams or outer signs: random seeming thoughts or insights you may have; statements that stand out to you from a passerby or on tv or in your reading; roadside messages on signs that you pass, or even bumper stickers that catch your eye… Any of these or several taken together could offer you a breakthrough insight on your problem or query.

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Some people like to set up an image or a specific object that they will see if their potential decision is correct.

If you want to try this, you can set up a sign of affirmation for your question that would not be common or likely for you to see, and you can set a time frame as well for encountering your sign. When I was working on my final book proposal for Your Life Path (see right panel), I set up the sign of a blue butterfly if I was going to be able to find a publisher. Right around the time my wonderful literary agent began circulating the book proposal, I started seeing blue butterflies everywhere. This encouraged me with every step of the proposal and publishing process. Now I have several items in my home with blue butterflies on them to remind me that this book process has initiated a longterm project, with much yet to come for me to fully realize its potentials in terms of writing and service.

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images are from pixabay.com

What are you asking to better understand or what decision are you weighing? Pay attention to YOUR outer signs; they are all around!

What Then? (Week Two: the Dreaming)

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

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

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

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images are from pixabay.com

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

Ready, Set, I Accept!

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

Dream On!

What Then?

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“They went from world to world,

and each time they lost the world they left, 

lost it in time dilation, their friends

getting old and dying while they were in NAFAL flight.

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

and yet move among the worlds,

they wanted to try it. …

(Ursula LeGuin, “The Shubies’ Story”)

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

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

“What Then?”

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

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

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

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

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

“So, what?”

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

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

two words and a question mark:

So   What ?   Your assignment by next week

is to answer that question.”

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

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

What? 

Why?                                            Where?

When?

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

W  H  A  N

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

So What?

Whan.

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

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

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images are from pixabay.com

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

What Then?

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

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

Better Endings Stories/ Month One

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

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

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

Writing Forth

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

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

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

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images are from pixabay.com

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

I welcome Your Story or Comments.

The Waking Dream

 

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

-Lao Tzu

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

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

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

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

Reflection:

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

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

I welcome YOUR STORY and Comments!

Dreamin’

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

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

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

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

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

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

Some dream journal entries relevant to my question:

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

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

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

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

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

REFLECTION/ INTERPRETATIONS : 

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

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images are from pixabay.com

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

I welcome YOUR Story, Questions, and Comments!

Personal Growth

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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images are from pixabay.com

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

I welcome YOUR Story or Comments!

 

A NEW YEAR of Better Endings

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

A Waking Dream

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A few days ago I was stressing out about my next direction after the big move I have recently undertaken. I found myself reading my Cancer horoscope, which is something I have not done in quite awhile. Here is what it said:

There is a part of you that is not your body.  It is not your thoughts, your words or your feelings. This part of you is doing something mysterious and exciting. Let it be. Give it space.

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I take this horoscope message as a waking dream, one way that Spirit or the Universe communicates and brings about daily miracles.  In this month of focusing for this blog on the Life Theme of Spirituality, it is wonderful to be gifted with such a message. It helps me to accept where I am at and welcome the new possibilities open before me after this Big Move.

Soul IS doing something mysterious and exciting. Is it so for you as well now?  It is good to remember who we are NOT, so as to remember and better come to appreciate what IS!

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images are from pixabay.com

I welcome YOUR Story and Comments!

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

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.

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!

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!

Re-Vision a Relationship (Past, Present or Future)

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For our final February weekly post about the Life Theme of RELATIONSHIPS, I invite you to consider how you might wish to have changed or to currently ‘tweak’ some aspect of a meaningful relationship in your life. With the divine gift of imagination, you are capable of effectively “re-visioning” your relationship events; past, present or future.

It may help first to consider if there is a PATTERN about some of your relationships that you would choose to alter if you could.  This is an active exercise; it is about what YOU CAN/ COULD have done differently–or would do differently today–that might have lead to some different results.  Re-visioning a past event or situation can have a profound influence on your current disposition when it comes to actions or decisions you could be contemplating now, so that you can avoid pitfalls of the past.

The strength of this exercise is that it brings your present awareness to bear either on a past situation or more mindfully upon a present set of circumstances.

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So do this with full exercise of your (re-)constructive imagination. Once you have identified a pattern you would wish to change and you have remembered a particular moment in a particular relationship which itself you feel you might/’should’ have enacted differently in retrospect, imagine yourself IN THAT MOMENT again. This time, change  the conversation or the action knowingly, with the awareness you have since gained. Journal or internally dialogue with the other person in this relationship moment. Let him or her speak, and respond or initiate your own conversation as it could have been rather than as it was.  Listen to the other person and see that they listen to and hear you deeply.  Continue the scenario in your imagination until you bring it to a new level of resolution. As you emerge from your reverie, give yourself time to reflect on how the future might have been altered from this re-visioned exchange.

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I find that when I do this re-vision the past technique–and I have often as a life mapping tool (see right panel)–it really feels as if not just the memory of the event but the actual event itself HAS CHANGED. I feel less attachment afterwards to the initial triggering moment and better equipped to approach any similar situation in the present or future.

I welcome YOUR Comments and 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!

Significant Life Events and their Lessons: Health Matters

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How have Health related life events influenced or shaped the person you have become? What Life Lessons has your Theme of Health brought to you?

Health matters can be highly impactful over the life course. For some, health matters might even define the life course (your own or a loved one’s) during times one must confront and deal with critical or chronic illness. For others, health matters may punctuate shifts from one major Life Chapter to the next, or Health might dominate a meaningful Life Chapter of itself.

I invite you to explore the Life Lessons you have learned  through the thread of Health Matters in your life. You can start by making a short list of some of your most Critical Health Events or situations (no more than six). State the event or situation and the relative date (e.g. your age or actual dates) that this has most affected you. Then you can think, talk, journal or contemplate about the LIFE LESSON(s) each of these Health Matters has helped you to understand.

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Just as an example I will list a few of my own health related Shaping Events and the Life Lessons I associate with those.

  • 4 YO: I fell off from a booster seat at the dining room table and knocked out my front four teeth.  LESSONS: Shyness (and patience). I felt self-conscious of my appearance for many years beginning with that event. (My teeth did not grow back for 6 years and then I needed major orthodontic work in my teenage years.)
  • College years: On the fencing team. I see this as a health related time frame because I was stronger and healthier than I have ever been before or since. I learned great lessons about practice and honing an ability, attention to detail, and managing competitiveness, always striving to be my best, aiming ever since to achieve excellence in any endeavor.
  • 40’s-50’s: Weight gain. During the most stressful period of developing my career and dealing with the Ups and Downs of relationship matters too, I created a shell around myself in the form of excess weight.
  • Last year: Immune disorder and wake-up call of diabetic condition. Earlier lapses of attention to diet and health led to these conditions as a wake-up call. I am managing the first pretty well and have beat the diabetes diagnosis by shifting to a low carb diet, losing 46 lbs in the process.
  • Now: Sophie (my dog)’s diabetes. Another major wake-up call. I now cook her food according to a healthy diabetic diet for dogs plus we walk three times a day and we appear to have been able to stabilize the situation though there is still more always to address. I am grateful for retirement just around the corner so I can attend to her and my other pets’ (and my own) health matters with more time to give daily.
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  • YESTERDAY (Jan. 23/2018): My mother passed beyond. In my faith of Eckankar, we call this “translation,” a passing from the Physical body into another state of Being.  LESSONS:  Word of the day: consubstantialityWe are part of those we love and they are part of us! Through her I have a glimpse of states beyond the Physical; through me, she sees how interconnected is all of Reality. FURTHER LESSONS: Memories of how my Mother helped me and encouraged me always, as with all my siblings, to discover my own passions and take my place in the world, and to always aim to be of service to all Life. My upcoming book, Your Life Path (see sidebar) is dedicated to my dear mother, Elizabeth Anne Rugh Watts (picture above).

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images are from pixabay.com

Another factor to explore: what are your GOALS for the Health Theme in your life? Where is this thread going now in your life and where would you like to go with it? Then, of course, what can you do to bring about the most positive outcomes for your greatest Health?

I welcome YOUR comments and story!

(P.S.: Because of my mother’s passing, I will be travelling for her memorial service and funeral this week, so I might not be able to blog until after that trip.)