What Difference Does It Make? Double Ballestra!

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This month I am framing a lifelong question of “What difference does it make?” Similar to my question from last month of “So what” or “what then?” I have often returned to this question in times of deep transition or choice. It relates now for me to how best to proceed “forward” with my current relocation process. I do not want to settle as I gradually assume more of a retirement income; I always aim to live a life of value not just to myself but to others, to life itself.  Every action, every thought, every creative or productive expression should matter or I feel I am wasting God-given energy, intelligence, love. So, ‘what difference does it make?’ propels me to continue with my writing and to figure out how best to offer services related to the Life Path Mapping process I have been blessed to develop over the last decade or so. So far, though, visiting my new home while still completing a semester of classroom as well as online teaching has left me just settling in. Like a recluse, I enjoy the new home but have not been very active.

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Already I have had a significant dream this month about my question. It was a fencing dream. In the dream I discover a fencing club or team at a new location, so I go around looking for equipment so I can join the team. I realize that in the past when I have needed a major boost in life, I have returned to fencing, either in reality or in my dreams. When I was finally ready t complete my dissertation in Phoenix, I joined a community college fencing team with a former Olympian coach. This gave me the impetus to carry forward; within six months after three years of slower progress, I finished my dissertation, graduated, and moved to take a university position in Colorado.

Advance; retreat; feint; attack; retreat/ defend; parry-riposte; double advance; coupé-disengage; fence without a blade; shield with parry; distance control; beat-feint, advance; bind; retreat; double-ballestra-beat-disengage-coupé-fleche—touché!

The above syntax reflects the sort of thought process I would engage with in a typical fencing bout, at the height of my fencing skills.  Fencing is a constant flux of action and reaction, a continuous flow of positive intention to find an opening and defend one’s ground and person along the way. The final successful touch is so exhilarating; I have never experienced anything remotely as satisfying or completing…to land a touch is to make a difference, surely!

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Because I am short and fencing generally favors tallness, my own strategy would be to stay out of reach of the opponent while figuring out her patterns and discerning vulnerability. Then on a final flourish I would do a double or triple ballestra (a forward jumping motion), culminating in a fleche which is an outright running attack, landing the point while running past the often then bewildered opponent. If I failed, at least I usually would not be hit (though might be!) I could start the process over and improve upon the maneuvers to build a new attack or wait for their attack instead and counter it quickly. Even remembering these moves stirs my enthusiasm.

The solution to inaction is action! Engagement. Stepping forth. So HOW to make it count, HOW to make a difference supercedes the fear of not succeeding. What is worth doing is worth doing well. May I draw upon this awareness in forging the new life ahead.

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images are from pixabay.com

What is your pressing question this month? I encourage you to dream and contemplate its meaning and significance. Forge on!

Ehwaz—A Better Endings Answer to ‘What Then?’

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Week Four of each month this year I am inviting you to write your own Better Endings story or scenario relating to going forward in your life based on insights you have gained from contemplating a monthly question pertaining to your personal life Quest.

For me through February I have been contemplating the personally meaningful question of ‘What Then?’  I have arrived at some valuable insights from dreams and ‘waking dreams’ about this question.  One amazing dream showed a woman (a spiritual Guide and/or my realtor) ceremoniously carrying a large spruce branch as she approaches the new home I am in process of moving into as my new writing and retirement home. This was a wonderful image as I associate a spruce branch with cleansing and with new growth, so this dream vision portends great new potentials for a fresh, creatively productive life in my new home and location.

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Just this past Tuesday I received another very relevant waking dream: a photographic slide made into a pin that was among a set of these the Art History department where I am teaching left out for people to take as a gift. The ‘art pin’ slide image I selected is a sculpture called “Horse and Rider” (by Maria Marini, 1945-1950). The abstractionist metal sculpture depicts—to me, though at closer inspection online the rider is nude (see below)– a Medieval knight wearing a helmet astride a horse whose head juts forward while the rider has his arms fully extended outward to both sides.

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I have always found the symbol of horse-and-rider significant personally. The Nordic runes I have sometimes consulted have a Horse and Rider “partnership” rune called Ehwaz.

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images are from pixabay.com

This rune draws attention to a partnership or friendship relationship of any sort (with another person, animal companions, or a creative project).  Here is an interpretation:

How to Interpret “Ehwaz”  (https://www.ifate.com/rune-meanings/what-does-the-ehwaz-rune-mean.html) :

Most simply put, Ehwaz symbolizes ‘forward energy and movement’. Ehwaz may represent general travel and steady progress– or it may literally represent a car, plane or another method of transportation. Ehwaz also symbolizes communication over long distances, and can refer to an important message that one will give or receive. Harmonious concord and pulling together as a team is also referenced here. When Ehwaz appears in a spread, it empowers the runes around it and augments their meanings simply by virtue of its directional energy and forward movement. Teamwork, forward-motion, communication, and consistent drive will win the day when this rune turns up.

So, let me try my hand at a Better Endings story based on this image of Ehwaz along with other insights arrived at this month from asking ‘What Then?’:

‘What Then? sang Plato’s ghost;

What Then? W.B. Yeats

            My partial retirement and relocation to the Godsend of my new home are about riding forward, not settling back into any less active or less creatively or spiritually productive way of life. This gift I have gratefully accepted of retiring a bit earlier than most while still continuing to teach online from a remote location allows me to step up, not down; to continue to develop book sales and offer life mapping services related to my new book, Your Life Path (see side panel to order!) while writing forward to complete the next 2-3 books in my Life Paths series.

 Your Life Path

Horse-and-Rider is an image meant not only for myself alone; it betokens what the Life Path Mapping Process provided within my book can offer to anyone: a creative, practical toolkit for integrating and aligning the Self with Life Itself; i.e. with Spirit or the Universal Life Force. Life Path Mapping can help anyone to reflect upon and envision or even re-model their life course according to their highest, deepest sense of purpose, their Life Dream.

I ride forth from Here, arms outstretched and open to new potentials, to fulfill the life purpose that has brought me to this space. I ride my Spirit Horse with trust and loving gratitude, whatever the future might bring.

The horse-and-rider partnership also reminds me of one of my favorite Irish film stories, Into the West. A set of brothers have lost their mother and have been separated by their despondent father from their spiritual heartland and heritage as Travelers. A white horse depicting the mythic Tir na nOg arrives and transports them, propels them, back to the Western seas where they will metaphorically reunite with their Mother, with their very Soul.

Funny that my current relocation process propels me Westward from where I have temporarily paused en route to re-engaging my deeper Purpose. I accept! Thank You, my Spirit Horse, my family, friends and pet companions all, and my spiritual Guides. May the Blessings Be!

So what about you? I encourage you to journal or to write a Better Endings story about your recent insights regarding a deeply meaningful question you have been pondering. Writing can help you to exteriorize your process and keeps open the channels of communication between your Mind, Heart, and Spirit!

 

 

 

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.

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!

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.

Daily Miracles

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For this final post about our monthly theme of Spirituality as a Life Theme, I’d like to express gratitude for those daily miracles that happened just two days ago and indicated to me the ever-present protection and guidance of Spirit.

I drove to New Jersey then took a subway train to Manhattan for lunch with my wonderful, excellent literary agent (pinch!), then back again in time to give my dog Sophie her dinner and insulin. All day I noticed the miraculous workings of this tandem relationship with Spirit.

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Once while driving I was nearly in what would have been a terrible accident. I pulled into the left lane but a car was already there, in my blind spot! For a dangerous, long moment we shared the same lane. I was able to fold back unto the right lane just a fragment of time before the worst would have occurred. It felt like there was a force field separating our two vehicles just to the perfect degree to allow us to adjust and correct the situation.

At the subway station in Journal Square, Jersey City, I had only a short time left to reach Manhattan in time for my meeting, and all of the spaces in the parking structure were taken. I drove around three times and came to the realization I would need to exit the parking garage and try my luck outside in the mayhem of the over-crowded street parking, which would make it nearly impossible to stay on schedule. Instead, as I was ruefully leaving the parking structure, just one parking space, just wide enough for my car to fit into, miraculously appeared. I had been driving around hoping for someone to leave, and no one had left, I was sure!

Once in New York, hailing a cab was no ordeal at all; both going to and returning from the restaurant across from Central Park a taxi pulled over immediately.

Lunch went splendidly as always with this amazing, brilliant soul who sees and inspires the value of my writing. She gave good advice and guidance about promoting my new book, Your Life Path (see right panel or click here to order), telling me I need to promote the book in every blog post (😊). We also talked about my next book which is in progress.

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images are from pixabay.com

Then the return trip was smooth, bringing me home—thanks to the excellent voice guidance of Siri on my phone—just in time for my Sophie to receive her meal and insulin in a timely manner. Once while I was booking it homeward a squirrel found itself in my lane and s/he literally high-tailed it—now I understand that phrase. Its tail fluffed high as it scooted quickly out of danger, so quickly that it looked like a gentle hand of Spirit must have cupped it from behind and given a needed push! Usually squirrels tend to slow down when confused in such a situation, so again I was grateful for the intervention.

So, home safely, I was reminded of the quote I was going to be posting as the full post today. It is about the subtle nature of Spirit or the Universe, the Force; whatever you choose to know It as. Paul Twitchell wrote that Spirit is:

“…that thread, so fine as to be invisible yet so strong as to be unbreakable, that binds together all beings in all planes, and beyond time into eternity.”

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

Friends as a Life Theme

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Many life mappers identify Friends as a primary Life Theme that brings positive inspiration and encouragement into their lives.  Friends are for many of us as significant as Family, especially in our contemporary society where so often we need to live away from our natal family to work or go to school away from our original homes. So this month’s Better Endings topic is the Life Theme of Friends. (To discover your own primary Life Themes, purchase or find my book at a local library: Your Life Path, which provides a complete Life Path Mapping Toolkit!)

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Friends have always been core to me. The sharing and unconditional reciprocity of a true, lasting friendship anchors my sense of purpose and brings great joy. I love the constancy of a true friend. Even though we may have our ups and downs or may be nearer or more distant geographically over time, a Friend is always Here, in our hearts.

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images are from pixabay.com

To begin this month’s set of posts about Friends, I turn to Khalil Gibran, whose essay on Friendship I remember since I first read it forty-five or so years ago.  I especially remember from Gibran’s essay how important it is to share the positive as well as your fears or frustrations with your Friend.

Celebrate the joy of your deep connection with your Friend.  This reminds me also of Rumi’s spiritual teacher and guide whom he refers to as The Friend, Shams-I- Tabriz. For a Friend is a Teacher of love and respect, one with whom we share unconditional, even an Eternal spiritual connection.

So for your reading pleasure, here below is Gibran on Friendship:

On Friendship
 Kahlil Gibran

Your friend is your needs answered.
He is your field which you sow with love and reap with thanksgiving.
And he is your board and your fireside.
For you come to him with your hunger, and you seek him for peace.

When your friend speaks his mind you fear not the “nay” in your own mind, nor do you withhold the “ay.”
And when he is silent your heart ceases not to listen to his heart;
For without words, in friendship, all thoughts, all desires, all expectations are born and shared, with joy that is unacclaimed.
When you part from your friend, you grieve not;
For that which you love most in him may be clearer in his absence, as the mountain to the climber is clearer from the plain.
And let there be no purpose in friendship save the deepening of the spirit.
For love that seeks aught but the disclosure of its own mystery is not love but a net cast forth: and only the unprofitable is caught.

And let your best be for your friend.
If he must know the ebb of your tide, let him know its flood also.
For what is your friend that you should seek him with hours to kill?
Seek him always with hours to live.
For it is his to fill your need, but not your emptiness.
And in the sweetness of friendship let there be laughter, and sharing of pleasures.
For in the dew of little things the heart finds its morning and is refreshed.

Family–Where Our Lives Begin

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

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

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pictures are from pixabay.com

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

I welcome YOUR Comments and Story!

Life Lessons from Your Work

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Your History of Work

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Life Mapping allows us to retrace our meaningful life events and glean lessons from key moments and trends from our life experience. Life Path Mapping (see my new book, Your Life Path; info on right panel or click to order) asks you to identify significant kinds of recurring events or situations in your life as Life Themes. Certainly one of the most common Life Themes life mappers identify is WORK (or CAREER, or some particular work-related activity).

Every distinctive Life Theme may be mapped, and in that sense every Life Theme can be “mined” to discover its importance over time in your cumulative life history that comprises—when you reflect upon its meaningful qualities—your Life Story. So this week let’s explore your History of Work, your Work Story.

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Life Mapping of itself is quite easy and natural. The chart below is a plotting flowchart. Make a list for yourself of a representative sample of Work and/or Career related meaningful events from your life. Next to each event, you can record the age or age span you associate with the event and write a brief narrative record of what happened with that event (so you can easily recall it when you read back through the list later).

Next to each event record, take a moment to reflect about the relative positive and/or negative IMPACT of that event on “shaping the person you have become.” That means, from a retrospective perspective, reflecting back on the influence of that event or situation, was it mainly positive, mainly negative, or both?

(You may print out this post and enlarge the Life Map Chart, below, to use as a worksheet, or create your own.):

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On the life map chart, first list your events chronologically along the central/ neutral Age Line. You can place the ages when your events occurred below the Age Line to create a timeline. Then use a pencil at first anyway to place a dot or an X above and/or below the age marker for each event, charting by how positive and/or negative that event was to you. If an event feels to have been simultaneously positive and negative, you can rate it as such; for example: +5/-5, or +2/-4. If you rate an event as having been both positive and negative at the same time, also write in a vertical dotted line connecting the positive and negative polar points on your chart to represent this as what we can call a “binary” event. If you are representing a series or phase of events, you can mark the rating for the beginning point and the ending point relative to the timeline and put the ages for these below the Age line, then below the age markers you can draw horizontal vertical braces to show the span of that situation or phase in your life.

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images are from pixabay.com

Now then, looking at your chart of Work/Career related events and their relative positive and/or negative impacts as Shaping Events in your life, you can also connect the dots: draw lines on your Map connecting event points IF they feel to be related in a patterned way to one another.  For instance, if you had a negative early Work activity or event followed shortly after that by a more positive event, then if that feels like it was a meaningful transition in your History of Work, go ahead and draw an upward trending line connecting those two points on your Map. You can also color code your event points to group them in a meaningful way; such as using a different color for each different job or to show a career shift.

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Have at! Once you have completed your History of Work life map, reflect on your Work Story: what story does this Map tell? What meaningful periods (or chapters or stages, so to speak) have you engaged with in your Work Story? What meaningful Life Lessons have you gleaned from the phases of your Work/Career process over time? What TRENDS do you observe? I invite you to contemplate, journal about, and share about your Work Story with a loved one.

I welcome YOUR Comments and Story!

Follow Your Bliss!

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

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

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

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

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Above images are from pixabay.com

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

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

Your Life Path

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

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(pixabay.com)

I welcome your Comments and Story!

 

Thank You! And… The Value of a Vocation

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Dear Readers:

I want to add a few words  as a sort of preface to this blog post. It is all about GRATITUDE.  I thank each and every one of you for reading Better Endings when you do, and especially I am grateful for every Comment shared.

This week I am particularly GRATEFUL to every one of you linked to this blog or from Facebook  who took the time to come to the launch of my new personal growth & development book, Your Life Path (see side panel for ordering info and to read an interview about the author; the book is now available through all major outlets). Friday and Saturday nights March 9/10 were well attended and I got to see some of my best friends and closest colleagues along with several former students! To see you all before I move to NY after retiring this summer was such a blessing; you can only imagine how wonderful it was for me to touch base with each of you.

My Thanks also to all of you who have ordered this book, Your Life Path. It is a labor of love for over 12 years and provides the best techniques I can offer to you for engaging in the Art of Life Mapping. I have seen how the approach that has emerged with the Life Path Mapping Process embedded as a self discovery toolkit with this book has helped many people already to reflect on their lives and go forward with greater clarity and passion.

AND FURTHER GRATITUDE YET: to my Super Agent, Linda Langton and to the team of publicists Paula Kalamaras and Paul Kraly of Scribes Unlimited, without whose inspiration and expertise this book would certainly not have been manifested. (Further thanks are of course in the Acknowledgements to the book.)

A word to you ALL from the Zuni language, which I have been blessed with myself through the years:

ELAHKWA ! (Thank You!)

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The Value of a Vocation

We are multi-dimensional beings. Within our core Identity we house several sub-identities, formed somewhat distinctly depending on the roles and statuses we “take on” in our lives. Jung called these sub-identities archetypal members of our personal unconscious domain of the Psyche.

Elder Leader, Lover, Warrior, Nourisher, Artist, Idealist Golden Child, Descender, Teacher, Communicator, Healer and Mystic :  these are twelve universal or “primordial” personal archetypes recognized by the archetypal psychologist Dr. Charles Bebeau, founder of the former Avalon Archetype Institute in Boulder, Colorado.  All of these are latent or active component sub-identities we may develop in relation to our relationships, our jobs, our hobbies or other activity roles and identities.

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Most of us develop a few of these archetypal personas more than the rest. Some even become over-balanced in one or another of these ‘dimensions’ of the Psyche. A strongly developed or rigidly enacted ELDER LEADER mode, for example, may lead one to downplay their more nurturing or playful ‘sides’.

Vacations (I am about to step into Spring Break mode!–may not blog again until April) are good times to step away from primary workaday roles to expand or exercise other facets of your Self. The IDEALIST, for instance, is often associated with travel, and on vacation you can give yourself more freedom to enjoy your more idealistic nature as “a breath of fresh air.”

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VOCATIONS also allow us to express a more balanced and integrated Self and Psyche. Hobbies, artistic practices and “callings” bring greater harmony of our “cast of sub-selves” into our core Identity. We benefit by expressing our full multi-dimensional capacities.

I value Julia Cameron’s invitation in THE ARTIST’S WAY for us to give ourselves an “Artist’s Day” at least once per week. Do something ‘out of the box.’ Take a new way home, go to a museum, walk by a lake or river, dream, journal, try some new food; anything to shake you out of any ruts you may be in.

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images are from pixabay.com

Forge new pathways of thought and emotion. Expand your horizons.  Let a part of you that you may usually submerge or repress “out.” Experience the FREEDOM to BE all that you are, not just your “responsible” or “dutiful” persona.

I welcome YOUR Comments and STORY!

What Is Your CALLING?

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“Listen (doo dah doo)

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

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

Your Vocation Is:  _______________

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

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

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

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

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images are from pixabay.com

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

 

I invite YOUR Comments and STORY!

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

Just Released March 6 by Skyhorse Publishing:

Your Life Path

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

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

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

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

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

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

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images are from pixabay.com

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

VOCATION!

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I have always loved the word “vocation,” as to me there is a big difference between VOCATION and WORK. As Life Themes these often show up distinctively in people’s Life Maps, too. While Work or Career might be one Theme a person charts in terms of “types of events or situations” recurring over the course of their life up to Retirement at least, people usually identify VOCATION distinctively; for example as a specific “calling,” or a beloved activity such as Writing, Art, Music, Outdoors, Hiking, a competitive sport such as Swimming or Basketball, etcetera. So this month let our focus be on exploring the role and influence of VOCATION or Callings in our lives.

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Writing has always been a vocation for me. From a young age, my personal Journal has been a close friend and companion. Literally, I would address my journal as I wrote, and somehow I knew It (or, someone on a spiritual or an internal dimension) was always there, listening! By college years I was maintaining several different journals at a time: one for poetry, one for  dreams and spiritual experiences. another for philosophical musings, and one as a basic diary, at least.

It was through my journal writing that my writing vocation grew and blossomed over time.  I would write short stories, dramatic dialogue pieces, and evocative descriptive essays that I called ‘Photos.’ I started a science fiction trilogy in graduate school which I developed to the degree that I have a complete first book manuscript, the second book is started, and the rest is outlined (now including a quatrain or fourth installment). I intend during my upcoming retirement to publish this series, called The Dawnbreakers.

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Through my years as a professor I have continued journaling, and alongside academic publications (two books, several journal articles, a book chapter and several invited book reviews), my VOCATION has only intensified, so that in 2002 after receiving tenure, I realized I wanted to find a way to do something more creative and public service- oriented with my career, so I began the LIFE MAPPING project that has culminated in my new book, YOUR LIFE PATH (click or see right panel for ordering information). This is a mainstream, personal growth and development book and Toolkit. It lets you become a Life Mapper of your own Life Story, truly!  Based on my understanding of mythology, archetypal psychotherapy, and life history studies including Joseph Campbell’s The Hero Cycle, rites of passage, and Jung’s methods for discovering your own internalized, archetypal “parts of Self”, I have developed this approach of life mapping over many years of research, teaching, and individual coaching so that anyone can discover and reflect upon their own Life Story. This lets you realize the Strengths (and obstacles) you have developed through your own life experience to Now so that you can envision your Life Dream and begin, Now, to manifest and fulfill your sense of Life Purpose and Life Mission. So, please check it out, it really is very good!

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images are from pixabay.com

So my vocation has brought me to this point, and now I have three sequels to Your Life Path in process already. I so look forward to my retirement years (beginning as of this June 8, yay!) so I can shift all of my focus to this more spiritual dimension of my own sense of a personal Calling in this lifetime.

I welcome YOUR story!

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!