Best of Better Endings Guest Re-blog: CHOICES FOR THE SOUL HAĪBUN, by Brenda Davis Harsham


The church is near but the road is all ice;

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

Russian Proverb

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

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

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

Again, “No and no.”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Copyright 2014 Brenda Davis Harsham

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

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

 Website: Friendlyfairytales.com

Best of Better Endings “1st Principles”: Persistence and Resilience–Well Paired for Better Endings

basketball hand reaching_CIRCLE

What personal qualities might most help us to “make lemonades out of lemons,” as needed, or to appreciate and develop insight and wisdom from significant life events? Two principles come to mind: persistence and resilience. In fact, these are two facets of the same attitude a person might rely on to manifest Better Endings.

Think about it. Persistence helps you to remain focused on a goal. It requires resilience, though, to “bend but not break,” to continue forth no matter how long it might take or how alone you might feel with your cherished ideal, project or intention. Resilience allows you to “bounce back” after a loss or setback. It facilitates persistence but at the same time, resilience prevents rigidity or becoming overly fixed on a specific form or outcome.

Dr. Carol Dweck, a Stanford University psychologist and author of the best-seller Mindset (2007), talks about “fixed” versus “growth” oriented mindsets. It is interesting that persistence might be considered an attribute of a ‘fixed’ mindset (being fixed on an idea or a specific goal), yet so long as it is paired with resilience–which seems more a ‘growth’ attribute intrinsically–it will facilitate flexibility and hence, real growth in both perspective and outcome.

Once, at a regional dramatics workshop during high school, our drama coach organized the participants into circles of 8-10 students each. He placed one person (at a time) into the center, with the rest of the group forming a circle around this person. Then he asked the middle person to think of one line in which they believed strongly. They were to repeat this line over and over, while everyone around them in the circle would try to get the speaker to stop. When it came my turn in the center, the line I chose was from Wooden Ships, a Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young song I used to play on the guitar:

When you smile at me I will understand, 

because that is something everybody everywhere

does in the same language.

As I repeated this one line, over and over, it became like a mantra for me; a single focus for my entire life purpose and identity. People laughed, prodded, tried to overtalk me; they mocked and ridiculed the line. Their cajoling only made it seem all the more imperative for me to repeat my universal mantra. I spoke it loudly, softly; I sang the phrase, whispered it; but I never varied from repeating this truth and secret of all existence, that which I was deeply convinced everyone should hear! It was a strong line–one that I have often remembered since–, strong enough that I was able to outlast the opposition and maintain delivery through the full time allowed.

Persistence and resilience support and strengthen one another, pairing intention with adaptability that can empower you to gain insight through any eventuality. So, hold to your Center and speak from your Heart. With a worthwhile purpose, Better Endings will prevail.


Was there a time in your life when persistence and resilience bore fruit? Or is there a project you are working on now to which you are applying these principles, or maybe that you can envision using in fun and creative ways? Please feel free to Comment below. or send in to share your insights and stories.

Best of Better Endings Guest Blog: The Secret of Life in My Opinion, by MoodyMandi of Caged No More (12/26/13)


I’ve had an epiphany! The Secret to Life is NOT having it all, the money, fame, 1,000 “friends” on Facebook, designer jeans, an Audi/BMW, PhD or what not. However if you do have any of those that’s okay. It’s been used a billion times, but the secret to life involves the following:

• First and foremost learning to love yourself and your fellow man and God, or your higher power…FORGIVENESS!

• Once you’ve gotten better at loving yourself for who you are, and you can forgive others who have wronged you in any way whether betraying you or hurting you in some way, you will really begin to see RESULTS. Whether you are trying to lose weight, get a degree, or reach the ultimate state of self-actualization, you can if you can LET GO.

• Letting go is like the hardest thing a person can do on the planet, In My Opinion.

• If you can get past all of the drama, the person who stole your man in high school, the class you didn’t pass, the money you lost out on, the big numbers on the scale that won’t seem to ever go away…you will thrive, my friends

One might ask, How do you Let Go?

I will reply with this…it takes multiple efforts. Praying to God or your higher power, or finding a higher power, is necessary to be centered *Once again in my opinion* It takes eliminating negative influences in your life and on your mind like music that supports pain and bad moods, places that get you down, and people that put you down. It involves putting positive images into your mind and positive words and affirmations. The world actually sucks the positivity right out of us, and pulls the happy rug out from under us as well! So doing daily meditations, even if for a minute now and then throughout the day can help a lot. If you see you’ve gained a few pounds on the scale, know that this is only temporary, and that once you let go of the EMOTIONAL BAGGAGE that you’ve carried around for so long, the weight will drop, and with the forgiveness will come an interview/promotion. This is by no means an easy feat. It can be done.

I let go of everything that ever bothered me in any negative way a while back and lost a bunch of weight, but I stopped putting in positive things in my mind, and exercising to release Serotonin and feel better about myself. I am currently not practicing what I have just preached, but in the moment I am striving to get there again.
My hopes and prayers are that we can all learn to let go of what is standing in our way…because IN REALITY it’s all “in me/you”. We were born equipped with what we needed to survive and THRIVE!

You have to TRULY RECOGNIZE AND REALIZE that your feelings of negativity are just hindering you from what you are called to do, your purpose in life! I suppose you could look at it this in a cognitive-behavioral type way: Your negative thinking producing negative sad/angry emotion maybe resentment etc..which leads to your ultimate destiny in how you react to the matter at hand. The way you react has consequences which begin the cycle over again. So taking the initiative to make a stand TODAY could turn your life around so your dreams can be realized!

God bless us all tonight! xoxoxby

Mandi is the author of Caged No More. Her Bio can be found by clicking on: moodymandi . The heading of Mandi’s original Caged No More post is as follows:

December 22, 2013 ·  · in BipolarBulimiaHope,LifelifestylePersonal JourneypositiveRantself-helpSoul Searching.

Best of Better Endings, Day One: BETTER ENDINGS are often Bittersweet (November 8 & 10,2013)




Better Endings are so often bittersweet. Yesterday, early evening after a long day at work, I put Sophie (my dog/see post 11-6) into the car and we headed to a community group meeting I was conducting. We were a good hour early, and I wasn’t sure what we would do for that extra hour, but I figured I would walk Sophie for some quality time together before my meeting.

Approaching a busy intersection, I noticed a man crouching down in the opposite lane, apparently in distress. While my car was stopped for the intersection, I watched as the man alternately stood and then kneeled again, several times. Then he stood up, seeing traffic approaching as the light had changed, and he crossed back to the opposite sidewalk. Then I saw why the man had been kneeling. There was a fairly large dog, lying in the middle of the opposite left lane! Immediately, I flashed my headlights and blared my horn several times at the now fast approaching traffic. I got out of my car to signal traffic and kneeled down to examine the dog. The dog was orange and white, a middle-aged Australian Shepherd mix with deep brown eyes. No collar. I urged him to move across the street and he scuttled as best he could with his front legs dragging his rear. Traffic remained stalled.  Drivers honked impatiently, but most saw the dog and held their ground to help.

The injured dog was scared; once he reached the sidewalk, he scuttled a bit further to reach a gravelly dirt clearing, as far away as he could get from the brutal lights of cars and fast food chain stores . Four or five other concerned people came over to huddle around the dog. This was in a depressed part of town, and three apparently homeless men were among the first to come to the dog’s aid, crouching by him and talking softly, in hushed tones. Two young women, one with her husband, also joined our huddle, stroking the dog gently.

I parked my car and called 911.    One of the other women called the Humane Society, which sent a truck immediately, except that the Humane Society was at least  20 minutes away.  The dog by now was bleeding from his nose.  Someone covered his torso with a blanket because he was shivering.

“Not a good sign,” a young man said about the bleeding. We all silently agreed.  Two of the women were holding back tears. The dog was more sedate now, eyes still open, receiving our loving attention, but obviously in a state of shock.

FINALLY the Humane Society truck arrived. The driver, a young woman with dark hair and eyes, came over to attend to the dog.   She scanned his neck to see if he had an ID chip, then she used an orange, rope-like belt to muzzle the dog’s nose while she and one of the young men at the scene lifted him and carried him across to the truck, placing him into one of the larger cage compartments.

I felt it was most likely that this injured dog would not survive; perhaps he would pass away en route to the Humane Society, or perhaps they would euthanize him once there because of the extent of his obvious internal bleeding.   Possibly they could save him, but that didn’t feel likely.

So, back to Better Endings. This beautiful Soul in a dog’s body would probably have had a much more sudden-impact death experience if someone had not been able to stop traffic so he could get off from the busy street. His death would have been sudden and tragic. Instead, at least several other Souls, in our human bodies, were able to surround him with love and concern, companions to comfort him in this suffering.

He probably died, anyway. Having tragically lost a beloved dog friend myself in recent years (a later story, surely), it was all I could do not to follow the truck back to the Humane Society to check on the dog’s condition.  I had a meeting to attend. I needed to let go, as all those present at the scene understood. We all simply got back into our cars and drove off separately into the evening.

Better Endings are so often bittersweet.

******   ******

Two Days Later:

Good News! A Happier Better Ending


Following up from the experience last Thursday (11-8) of trying to help a dog who was hit by a car, yesterday I went to the Humane Society. After talking with a friend over lunch about my experience, she said she had heard on TV a news story about a service dog being lost by a woman in the area where the accident occurred. So, I went to the Humane Society thinking that even though the dog probably had died from his injuries, maybe the information about a possible owner might at least allow the owner to learn of what had happened.

After quite a bit of searching through the online records at the Humane Society, a woman was able to trace what had happened after the dog was removed from the accident scene. He was taken immediately to an emergency clinic, and the report stated, “The dog was reunited with his owner.”  He SURVIVED then, at least so far as the report indicated. He was “REUNITED WITH HIS OWNER!” These are surely some of the best words I’ve ever heard.

As I was leaving the Humane Society with a smile on my face, the woman who had helped me beamed, “Happy endings!”   I told her I was writing a blog about Better Endings, and that made her smile, too.

“This works!” I thought to myself. I am beginning to see “better endings” as a spiritual principle that helps me live my life in a more conscious way. I mean, I’m sure I would have still tried to help the dog at the scene of the accident . But would I have gone back two days later to the Humane Society to follow up? So interesting that my friend at lunch Saturday had heard of a similar-appearing dog being sought at the same location as the accident occurred.   It was as if Spirit or the Universe (call It what you will) orchestrated this whole experience like a miracle.  The timing of putting someone (me) right at the scene where without intervention the dog probably would have been hit a second time and killed; the people who gathered around to keep the dog calm while waiting for help to arrive;  the TV story on the same day that would lead me to follow up on the dog’s condition: all of these miraculous events conjoined and the injured dog “was reunited with his owner.”

I believe in Better Endings  … I do! I do! I do!!

Live Your Dream, Now! Marnie’s Better Ending / (Postscript Added)


(With Blessings for re-blogging permission to: From the Desk of MarDrag: Inspiration for Navigating a Difficult World)

Today’s is the final post of the first six months of Better Endings topics. Beginning tomorrow (Monday), I will post one month of The Best of Better Endings. Then this blog will shift its focus to being entirely centered around the approach of Life Mapping that I have developed over the past twelve years and am preparing to publish in a personal development book/handbook set for the general public, called Life Paths.  I am in the late stages of completing a full edit of that book manuscript, which I will be sharing with my literary agent in late June or early July. I want to focus all of my attention on delivering an excellent manuscript and companion Handbook (and a revised proposal for publishers) by that time, so one month of the Best of Better Endings here and then a full shift to converting this blog to offer Life Mapping concepts and self-help tools and interactive discussion will be helpful and exciting, hopefully, for everyone! As a segue today, I’d like to share a story about a woman whose engagement with Life Mapping led to her own Better Endings as today she is living her Dream in ways she could not have anticipated before engaging in her life mapping adventure.

Marnie (pseudonym) lost her spouse to cancer after an idyllic marriage of some 15 years. She sought out life mapping hoping to regain a positive outlook on life, which felt to her as if she had little to look forward to from the point of her loss forward.


The Life Map above shows Marnie’s primary Life Themes, Critical Life Events, and Life Chapters, including a future envisioning image at the upper right. Marnie’s Life Story traces a dramatic, epic narrative from the depths of a personal Hell and back again, to an ultimate fulfillment of “Achieving Graduation” and “Giving Back”.  Marnie suffered much abuse as a child in a dysfunctional family. As an adult she sought out and discovered a meaningful spiritual path, which lifted her in consciousness to go forward.  Then a difficult marriage led her to a major lesson that culminated with divorce for the sake of ensuring her own daughter would have a better life growing up than had Marnie herself. This life changing decision eventually allowed Marnie to establish an Idyllic (her term) marriage with the spouse of her dreams, and she experienced several years of happiness until her spouse succumbed to cancer.

In her Life Mapping process, after Marnie had reconstructed and reviewed some obvious patterns and themes that had formed the basis of her Life Story til then, I asked her to envision a Life Dream. Having closer Family-like ties and Freedom in the grandest sense were the two Core Values Marnie established as the focus for her revitalized Dream. She envisioned a family-like community of friends and somehow freeing time from her busy work life to be able to deepen her spiritual pursuits.

Now for the Rest of the Story, which was Marnie’s next Life Chapter after her life mapping ‘time out for reflection’. We can call that next Chapter “Marnie’s Better Endings!”

Within a year or so from setting her Vision, Marnie learned that where she had worked for over 20 years in Arizona, most people were going to be laid off due to a budget crunch. She saw a notice not ‘meant’ for her eyes that let her know she would eventually be among those being laid off. But when she probed further, she realized that with the severance pay and then unemployment insurance she would be eligible to collect, that would put her to the age at which she could comfortably collect her pension and social security income. She would be both financially okay and Free! Around the very same time, her daughter, preparing to deliver Marnie’s 1st grandchild, moved with her husband to within a mile or so of Marnie’s home. Now Marnie would be able to enjoy a much closer family relationship and she would have a vital role in her grandson’s growing up.  Upon “graduating” from her work when she was laid off, Marnie was also able to increase the hours per week she volunteered for the local sheriff’s office, offering grief counseling for people recently bereaved. And she accepted an important leadership role with her spiritual group that allowed her to place greater emphasis on her spiritual values and practice daily.


Marnie’s is not an isolated story. Life mapping in a process-oriented framework allows people to review their past, understand where they are at from the Threshold of the Present Moment, and Cross the Threshold via which they can consciously envision and then Live their Dream, Now! I look forward to sharing more of this with you as time goes on.

Better Endings began as the title of the final chapter in Life Paths, so it’s fitting that this Better Endings blog has allowed me to first introduce at least the nub of this approach. Envision your Dream, and you can live it! Starting May 26 (the day after my Mother’s birthday), I will launch the second six months of this blogging adventure. Until then (except for introductions of the Best of Better Endings posts and replies to any of your always welcome comments and insights over this next 30 days), Better Endings to you!

******   ******


Thank You to everyone who has been reading this blog, and especially to those of you who have encouraged me to continue with this by “liking” some of these posts!  It is for you and because of people like you that I feel called to continue, daily. Many of you have your own amazing, artistic and often poetic and useful blog sites and Twitter platforms of your own that I enjoy reading for their many insights and depth of perception and beauty. I feel humbled to have found this alti-verse of online expression which is so full of passionate insight and heartfelt honesty!

When I was a youngster my sister Lee and I shared a bedroom for awhile. We would always have so much to talk about that our Mom would have to come to our room multiple times per night to encourage us to stop talking and go to sleep.  We would try. But invariably after a minute or so had passed, one or the other of us would pipe up and say, “Important!” Then our conversation would start up all over again. After blogging a post every day for 178 days, I imagine it may be difficult this next month to “only” re-blog “Best of Better Endings” posts. I imagine I will pipe in now and again to say, “Important”; and, you can too!



The Process of Manifestation


There is nothing more satisfying for me in this life than engaging a project—especially one with creative and service aspects—from inception/conception through to implementation, delivery or performance. I find the process or the principle of Manifestation to be exciting, challenging and deeply fulfilling. This might take the form of something as simple as designing a curriculum (as a teacher) and then delivering the course over a semester, or organizing and presenting a workshop series or an individual life coaching program.  Recently–as an example of the law or principle of Manifestation–I engaged a group of ten students in a research project about perspectives relating to Natural Resources and Sustainability that has led to a full panel presentation at a major conference in Vegas two weeks ago and will go forward further to a community and campus workshop in the Fall and potentially four publications.

It all starts with an idea, a focus to place your creative attention upon. The first step in this process or Law of Manifestation is Vision or envisioning a desired goal accomplished. Then comes the process itself, involving ideation and planning and requiring flexibility and adaptability. As the research class was forming our interview survey instruments for this sustainability project, for instance, a 100 year flood occurred in our state of Colorado, with smaller but damaging floods also in our own area. So we added pictures of the flood including a flooded oil well and gas drill derrick and included questions about these on our survey.


Then comes diligence and dedication to do the required work as a labor of love with respect to the mission or goals of the project and its desirable outcomes. The students interviewed some 50 people and I taught them how to code their interview data in a computer software program to study patterns in the responses in relation to the backgrounds of the interview respondents. They discovered some emerging themes, such as that some perspectives were polarized as a chasm between perspectives, while other issues produced shared understandings, a potential Bridge.  This process of arriving at findings and producing results—whether in a study like this or in writing or art or for a performance event—is the heart of the endeavor. It grows from trial, continual editing, receptiveness to insights, expansion or winnowing, and inspiration.

When the research team arrived at meaningful results that they were excited about wanting to share and to apply, I knew they were ready to do a presentation. They worked in smaller teams to refine their findings and write papers for a panel, then we went to Las Vegas for the conference that had invited the panel. While in Vegas, we listened to all of each others’ presentations, refined the powerpoint slides, and conducted further editing and polishing for an oral presentation.

The time came to present the panel. The students were excellent! They shared interesting findings and were able to field a wide range of questions. Next we will present the panel back at our home locality, inviting the interview respondents for a feedback discussion and workshop. We aim to help people come together around these issues rather than remaining in polarized positions. Especially given the urgency of recent wildfires, drought and flooding in our state, we believe our findings indicate that this is a community ready to address difficult issues such as how, for instance, to realistically bridge to alternative energy sources.

tree on the earth

So, manifestation or implementation are all about vision, dedication, flexibility, focus, and the intention to deliver useful, meaningful or inspiring insights that can be of benefit to those for whom the presentation is applied or performed. It is important to envision a complete though flexible process, to flow from inception or an IDEA to its full development and useful or meaningful sharing, rather than having a step here or a thought there, but without a fully integrated procedure or body of material.

I share this as an inspiration to anyone who wishes to manifest a concept or to effectively express a ‘big’ idea.  Allow the process to unfold and wend from its point of inspiration to its delivery. Then it becomes its own gift, with a life of its own, both for the audience/receivers as well as for you as the artist or producer. You have something great to release and share; trust the process to show you a Way to let it shine!


I welcome your insights and stories!

Living Your Dream!

NX_mountain with lake and sky

This week we’ve been exploring the value of a Life Dream. It is your Bliss, in Campbell’s terms; your North Star in terms of which you may realize your truest potentials and fulfill your Mission or Vision.

As a life mapping activity to help you to ‘flesh out’ your Life Dream, I invite you to describe a desired Future Scenario in which you have fully realized your Dream. You may envision and explore this virtual, parallel reality—which you are living into as you take actions to realize your goals—in great detail. (BTW there is a similar technique to this one in a book by Mary Carroll Moore, called How to Master Change in Your Life.)

Vineyard And Old Building In South Of France

Where are you living in your self-realized future life? What is your daily life about? What positive values are you expressing that fulfill your greatest sense of life purpose?

Be as descriptive as possible: e.g., you might include colors, foods, family and relationship qualities, daily activities, your car, your home, hobbies, services you deliver, books you publish, art or music you produce, walks you take.

Now then, how did you get Here?

NX_travel_camper van_fishing_XDTA_FISHRMAN

Let me play a bit in the Moment with this practice:

I’m living with my sister Lee on farm property in New York state, about a mile—walking distance—from the Chatauqua Institute and about 45 minutes away from our sister Cheryl in Ellicottville. Our house is a converted barn, and I have my three cats and my dog Sophie living with us. Lee and I are both very engaged with writing and public service activities. We have a bunkhouse, trails, and an outdoor labyrinth and ampitheatre on our farm property that serves as a spiritual retreat center where we often hold various workshops, retreats and life mapping weekends. I also co-own a cottage with separate living quarters for the manager in Ireland,  outside the town of Claremorris in County Mayo, which my friend Jan manages when I, Lee or the cottage co-owners are not ourselves visiting or living there. I retired at 62 from the university, regarding that as a graduation, finally,  to a full life of writing and service, as did my sister also retire as a pastor to establish the spiritual retreat center.


That was fun! I think you’ll find–as I just did!–that as you engage in your future-dream envisioning practice you will find new aspects opening up that you hadn’t even thought of in advance!d

There is also a way to magnify this practice, which I call “Alternate Future Lifescapes”. That is that you can create several alternate snapshots or descriptions of various future realities. This way you can build a Panorama (or, a cornucopia) of the Possible! Let’s return to this version–though you can be playing with this as you like–when we return to this theme of Life Dream casting in the 2nd 6 months of our blog, which will be all about the art and practice of Life Mapping.


So, go for it! Create your Future(s) from your Life Dream. Allow it to share its promises and secrets!

I welcome your insights and stories! 

THE POWER OF YOUR DREAM, by Richard A. Cross (

I am re-blogging today from life coach Richard A. Cross’s site, Energize Your Thoughts.  His post has a wonderful Better Endings theme:


 The Power of Your Dream

Do you have a dream?

What is stopping you from accomplishing your dreams?

The future belongs to those who believe in the beauty of their dreams. ~Eleanor Roosevelt

“All men dream, but not equally. Those who dream by night in the dusty recesses of their minds, wake in the day to find that it was vanity: but the dreamers of the day are dangerous men, for they may act on their dreams with open eyes, to make them possible”. ~T. E. Lawrence

I want to say why most people don’t experience the life of their dreams is simply because they quit way too easily, never want to go the extra mile. At times we need the push that life presents to us. It is that push that makes us grow and become better.

However, most people don’t like to be tested.

My dream was to one day have a better life than what I was experiencing as a child. I would sit outside as I looked out in space and envisioned more for my life. As a child my dream was very simple, due to my exposure to the minimal things that life had to offer. My dream was to run as fast as I could so I would be able to win my races when it comes to track and field season. I won most of my races, but as I got older and my vision got magnified with new found ideas and challenges crept in.

At age 12 years I saw a runner by the name of Kevin Webb run past my school, and as he ran, the cheerers on the street shouted “he is the winner and he wins every year”. I said to myself that day that I want to do that, and I will do that. I said it without even knowing what the challenge would be like.

I guess when you are young your first thought is that it’s possible. The older we become the less we believe in our potential. Don’t let go of your dream. Age is just a number.

I was eager to meet this athlete because I wanted to find out how he was able to do what he was doing and so effortlessly. The first time we spoke he gave me the formula he had been using to win and he said I could use it if I wanted to win any of the road races. He said I would have to train very hard. I thought to myself, what a formula. He won the first year that I competed, but that was his last year in high school. I would train some evenings, but that was not enough to win. As a result I lost the second and third year of competing.

I could have quit and let go of working towards my goal due to me not winning. The losses were the years that helped to develop my determination. The man who achieves is dream is the man who is consistent with his action and believes he can. I became consistent and it paid off.

I won my fourth, fifth and sixth year in the road race competition at high school and my dream of doing what my friend did was now history for me. What next was a question that kept playing in my head? I wanted more and I will not stop until I receive it as I completed high school.

What I wanted most of all was to go to college but I failed miserable in my exams. Doubt set in and for a while I lost focus and the vision of going to college. I said to myself what teachers said to me-that I was not capable.

What are you saying to yourself? Make it be positive things and don’t let anybody dictate or limit your abilities.

What happen when you share you dream with someone who wants to see you achieve more out of life?

I had shared my dream of college with a sports coordinator at my last competition of track and field and what he said to me that day was I can do it, but I must believe. The sport coordinator saw me months later and asked what I was doing on the street and not college.

He asked me about my dream and I stumbled over my words. I wanted to go I said and he gave me his words that he will direct me to a program that will help me when the next year comes around. Never give up he reminded me and from ever since that phrase have been with me. I will never give up plays in my mind whenever I am faced with challenges. I meet a lot of it. I was in college the next year.

I was met with challenges, but I was already equipped with a strong mind that I should not give up.

What are you giving up on?

During college I saw student after student leaving the country on scholarships to the states and every athlete’s dream of getting one including me. I didn’t get one even though I requested one and was recommended several times. Did I give up? NO!

I watched friends leaving to the states and thoughts crept in of not getting a scholarship. For one year I didn’t work so I trained, and sometimes I wondered what I was training for. I wanted a job and out of nowhere an older man of the community saw me and asked when I became a police officer. At the time I wasn’t an officer, but that was enough to peak my interest. I’m a risk taker as my friends pointed out when I told them what my next move was. A month later I joined the national security organization even before telling both my parents knowing that they would not like the idea. I won the cross country run during training school and that was enough to let me know I was on the right path.

I received the scholarship in 2006.

If you failed at first that is not a prerequisite for you to quit. I found out that every time I bounce back I am stronger.

  • Michael Jordon Had a Dream-He didn’t give up
  • Thomas Edison Had a Dream-He never quit
  • Abraham Lincoln Had a Dream-He pressed forward despite adversity
  • Oprah Winfrey Had a Dream-She believed that it was possible
  • Sidney Poitier Had a Dream-He knew that a treasure of possibility was in him
  • J.K. Rowling Had a Dream- She knew what a dream could do
  • Elvis Presley Had a Dream-He proved them wrong by believing in himself

I want you to know that your Dream can come to be. Do you believe in your dream? I hope you do. I want to see you be a success.

Never give up on your dream… because you never know what the Lord can bless you with. ~Kelly Rowland

You just can’t beat the person who won’t give up. ~Babe Ruth

Sometimes adversity is what you need to face in order to become successful. ~Zig Ziglar

Your Dream Is Possible: Think on these things

  1. You need perseverance.
  2. Be prepared to overcome obstacles. Your dream may be outside of your comfort zone.
  3. Sticking to your dream is always good.
  4. Believing in yourself is important.
  5. All great things come with challenges-greatness is within you.
  6. Your dreams need your effort.
  7. Develop the power to overcome.
  8. You have to push hard for your success.
  9. Remember to stay the course.
  10. People will try to stop you. If it’s your dream, go for it.
  11. Always prepare to grow.
  12. I know you can do it.

My life is better than when I was a child. I now have Greater Dreams, and I know that possibilities are endless on this journey.

Dream Big Dreams!

We all are given an opportunity and that opportunity is life. With life you can become anything you want, so dream big dreams. I hope you keep your vision of success close, and as I plea don’t lose sight of what you would like to accomplish because it’s possible.


From Richard A. Cross’s “About”/ biography:

Richard A. Cross was born in Alexandria St. Ann, Jamaica in 1982 to parents Phillip Cross and Pauline Joyce Pennant.  The burgeoning motivational speaker has a devotion that has come from years of persistence, dedication and faith.  He always knew he was destined for greatness, but that greatness has taken different forms over the years leading him to his current position on his journey to prominence.

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Thanks to Richard Cross for his inspirational words! I welcome all comments and insights, and stories about your own Big Dreams! I agree with Richard that when you nurture your dreams and believe in yourself, not letting anyone be a naysayer, anything is possible! – LW


Going Beyond ‘Stuck’ (and the story of Trouble)

 God grant me the Serenity

to Accept those things I cannot change,

the Courage to change those things I can,

and the Wisdom to know the difference.

– Reinhold Niebuhr (1892–1971)


“What is your useful skill in a tangible situation?”

Recently I have been encountering, thinking about and hearing synchronistically about people who appear to have become “stuck” in their lives, often from some very real disabilities or addictions.  A friend’s son who has been jailed for selling drugs now grows marijuana in our ‘legal’ state of Colorado and trades it for his own “medicinal” portions at a local dispensary. Another friend’s 30+ age son lives mainly in his bedroom, an alcoholic. Neither of these men are able to function in the workplace or have succeeded at remaining in college courses they have attempted.

Others I know of have been apparently stuck in circumstances seemingly beyond their control. These seem to me to have established sets of negative “postulates” that self-replicate very easily. For some it is about “drama”, for others, “illness” that seems to plague their families and themselves intolerably.

Some have chronic troubles with either relationships and/or employment, finding it difficult to maintain a job or to retain a significant relationship. Chronic attitudes might be part of this picture, or simply an odd assortment of skills and interaction modes that find a hard fit in any one situation. Or, these have deep ambitions difficult to realize in the world of common standards and mundanity that they themselves abhor. Many are brilliant, artistic, insightful, finding life in this normalized world too limiting.

And so I wonder, what could be helpful to people who appear (to me, of course) “stuck”. Especially if they likewise regard themselves as in difficult binds that they wish they could move out of, I wonder about what it is they are seeking, or how they are replicating their conditions. On one hand I would say if someone is learning a lot from a particular set of conditions, it’s where they need to be; it serves them genuinely.

Or there is someone like my elderly mother, who is now literally ‘stuck’ in her body, dependent on others for almost all of her mobility, suffering from late stage Parkinson’s and arthritis. Yet, in her case, because of my amazing family members who are able to visit her more frequently than most, I see her smile, when they are there, and then I realize one factor that can help: focussing on quality of life rather than ‘kind’ of life experience.

So what is the basis of a quality of life that someone who feels ‘caught’ or ‘stuck’ in difficult, chronic conditions CAN embrace and maintain? For my Mom, it is the love of her family and friends that sustains her. They can’t be there always, and she experiences pain and depression regularly. But the very fact that she endures all this, I take as a testament to—in turn—her own love for all of us.

Then a few days ago, a friend told me about the story of “Trouble,” a café in San Francisco’s China Beach (originally) owned and created by Giulietta Carrelli, a woman suffering all her life with a schizoaffective and bipolar disorder. She often loses contact during psychotic episodes with her very sense of self, sometimes for months on end. But through the kindness of friends and strangers, inspired by her own desire to connect and to be of help to others, her business has thrived and even is expanding to other locations. She serves the following only at “Trouble”:  coffee, coconuts with a straw and a spoon, cinnamon toast, and grapefruit juice. The story I have read ( see below for the citation ) says Carelli herself lived on coconuts and grapefruit juice for at least three years, so they represent survival to her; cinnamon toast she associates with comfort; and coffee she associates with communication.  She struck up a daily friendship with a German elderly man, Greg, sunbathing on China Beach, and one day he asked her: “What is your useful skill in a tangible situation?” She had been able to work well in coffee shops; she liked conversing with people. So, with $1000.00 borrowed from apparently a small bank loan and friends, she opened a tiny shop, and it has spread.

I invite anyone feeling stuck, then, to answer Greg’s question for your own situation. How can you maximize what you already do well? What VALUES serve you well in almost any situation? What have you LEARNED well in your present circumstances that you could generalize or expand to other circumstances? Also, though, what holds you back? If you focus on the positive, can you eventually see yourself letting go of the ‘negatives’ and/or the addictions you might normally rely on? What are your goals, your Life Dream?


Some of us think holding on makes us strong;
but sometimes it is letting go.

~ Hermann Hesse ~


Carelli used to “self-medicate” with opiates and alcohol.  But she has been sober for years with the success of her business and the expansion of her meaningful connections. She has two children now who depend upon her. She still sometimes needs also to depend upon others, but she is open and practical about that, and when her friends or acquaintances see she is herself in trouble, they are there to help her get home, to cover for her at work, to help in any way needed. Because she is of great service to others!

“Build your own damn house” is one of Carelli’s mottoes and is the name she gives for an order of coffee, cinnamon toast and a coconut at Trouble.

Here’s my insight, for what it is worth: if this woman can succeed at manifesting her Life Dream (and she has!), so can you, in some form!

I absolutely welcome your further insights, comments and stories. How have you or someone you know transcended such debilitating chronic conditions or learned to develop a higher quality of life within such contexts? And, does it matter? If everyone is exactly where they need to be now based on their whole histories and medical/psychological makeups, is it better to help people to adapt to their disabilities (where these are seemingly chronic and fixed), or does it make sense at all to try to intervene, particularly when they are frustrated by their condition and do wish to find relief or to finally overcome the conditions holding them in place?

I do not know the answers but am probing here. I seek our collective wisdom.


My post above is partly based on an article that originally appeared in the January/February 2014 issue of Pacific Standard as “A Toast Story.”

The Future from Here-Now


Tomorrow depends on today and on the ripples from the past that we allow to affect us in this present Moment, which many spiritual approaches would say is all there IS: Now-Be-Here. John Thomas Dodds expressed a satisfaction with the Present that illuminates the Allness of this awareness quite nicely when he replied to yesterday’s query about What is Your Bliss? finding that his Bliss is exactly what he is already experiencing, Here-Now:

        It’s simple: being exactly where I am right at this very moment, typing these words with love and beauty surrounding me in joy.

        Being where I’ve always wanted to be, with who I always wanted to be with, oh yes, of course, four cats playing in the garden.

That all that IS is complete in the Now can also be seen as a Paradox. Everything exists Now, yet through our memories and our future projection faculties, yesterday is Here and Now when we focus our spotlight of attention upon an elapsed moment, as is a Future potential Here and Now when we view it from the viewpoint of this eternal Present. This means simply that past-present-future is a seamless Whole and all three are inseparably interconnected. The more aware we are of conditions and influences from the Past and in the Present, the better able we are to manifest a future reality state, as it were,  based on consciously chosen values and experiences. You need not simply roll along on the waves to accept “whatever comes”.  You have the capacity to choose and to plan as needed to create the life conditions you desire to express. That is why the motto or ‘tagline’ for the approach to Life Mapping I’ve been developing and sharing with life coaching is: “Live Your Dream, Now!”

background made of color swatches and plans


For Tuesday’s Better Endings prompts list this week, then, around the topic of manifesting Your Life Dream, I offer the following topics:

  • Where I am headed as things stand today?
  • What do I want in my future that is not present in my life today?
  • What shall I carry forward?
  • Where to from Here?
  • My Life Dream is:
  • A Sea Change (then, now or future)
  • Stuck patterns; what can I do?
  • How might I integrate my future values here and now?
  • Inner conflicts about my future prospects (This can be in the form of an Archetypal Dialogue.)
  • The plus factor; what I would add/change/modify if I could (and, how)
  • At a crossroads/ Multiple paths forward (reflect)
  • At the Threshold (What do I see from Here-Now as I look ahead?);  what is around the bend?)
  • Threshold Guardians (What factors or self-limiting thoughts appear to block my going forward?)
  • Crossing the Threshold
  • “Going Home”


I invite you to choose one or more of the above prompts (or use your own) to write about, contemplate/meditate upon, talk about, and or to share about with us here, expressing your insights or stories.

Name Your Bliss



Last week we practiced the future oriented technique of “Envision a Future Transition”. This relates to a bigger topic for this week of discovering or reclaiming your Life Dream. What is a Life Dream, anyway? For some it may simply be that they want to spend retirement on a tropical island or something of that nature. Some may consider their Life Dream in terms of wealth or financial freedom to do anything they wish to do including global travel, without the daily responsibility of a career. Others might consider their Bucket List to be the depository for their Life Dreams and hope to realize these wishes, one by one, before they depart this lifetime.

The above ideas about Life Dreams are fine, and if that is how you define yours, then you can focus on how to manifest that with this week’s Better Endings prompts.  To me, a Life Dream can also be even bigger and deeper than any of the above approaches. A Life Dream is what Joseph Campbell called your Bliss, that which fulfills your greatest sense of Adventure and realizes your unique Mission and Purpose on the planet. It is your greatest heroic Challenge, that requires your unique strengths and your highest awareness to manifest and share. It is not a selfish Dream but one that, by realizing this deep desire of the Soul, benefits All. “The presence of a  vital person vitalizes!” says Campbell, and the means to maintain a vital life is to  “Follow Your Bliss” so you can, in life mapping terms, Live Your Dream, Now!

crystal ball

So this week I invite you to dig deeply, to excavate, as it were, your Life Dream. Some months ago I referred you to the question, “What do you want to be when you ‘grow up’?” Well, five years from now, or ten perhaps, what do you want your life to look like? What are you doing in your future, having fully realized YOUR Life Dream?

Your Life Dream might be best visualized in terms of Values rather than concrete objectives. Five or ten years from now, what values would you like to be living in terms of so that you feel inwardly fulfilled?

When I was a child I remember walking in the city of Philadelphia with my friend Karin one day. We passed a woman on the street who was an older, though not elderly, lady. Her face was lined with deep wrinkles from smiling and from living deeply, I felt. I said to Karin, “When I grow old I want to be just like her!” Inwardly I recall thinking to myself, “That is a person who has truly lived!” I would hope for some child to see me as I saw her, some day.

So what is it for you? What brings vitality to your heart and joy to your Spirit?

Happy Easter!

Ere, I Was in Eire: Inner Travels for Better Endings


I have since high school days always held a special fondness for Ireland. I nearly memorized in 11th-12th grades the whole of a volume on The Selected Poetry of W.B. Yeats. In college as an undergraduate English major I took an entire year of courses including a graduate credit course on James Joyce, studying Ulysses “properly,” guided page by page by companion concordances and a topographical map of Dublin. My grandmother, Ada Kelley, was a living reminder to me that my family’s roots on my Dad’s side go back to Ireland in the mid-to-late 1700’s.


Some 6 years ago I had a lucid dream from a “past life” perspective that astounded me. I am a teenaged girl with a friend or a younger sister beside me, standing inside a stone church with a dirt floor and a large wooden door. We have come in just to explore.

Somehow I know there is some sort of religious ritual going on in the far end of the church that I cannot see. I ask my Inner Guide (already I have one), “What religion is this?” My Inner Guide answers, “Satanism”. I turn immediately for the door, to leave! But, the huge oak door is locked. Beside the door there is an opening to a tower, with a spiral staircase within it.  I decide we will try going up there, hoping for an opening to get out. We go up one flight, then another (with like storage areas on each level). Then I realize we are being followed, stage by stage, by the ritualists. We are being sent higher and higher, becoming prisoners of this group.

In the process of waking from this dream, I received awareness about further aspects of that life experience. I saw myself becoming a slave—even a sexual slave—to the leader of the religious group, a big man with long, light brown hair. I see myself thanking him for accepting some small gift I hand to him, years later. My friend I believe was sacrificed; she was not in the later scenarios.

I woke from this dream with a sense of its utter Reality. I could not shake it. Soon I met a friend, Jan, who was hoping to go to Scotland for a graduate program on Celtic history. We began frequenting an Irish pub/restaurant and we then started planning a trip to Ireland together. When I opened a book for tourists on Ireland, I nearly dropped the book when I saw that stone churches with spiral-staircase towers were nearly ubiquitous in medieval Irish history! I had not known of these at all before my dream.

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(Me at Glendalough, Ireland, 2012)

So, we planned and organized a two-week drive from Dublin, up to New Grange, then South and to the West, all along the coast including an island stay at Achill, on to County Sligo to visit Yeats’ grave (I left a brown penny), and back across to Dublin passing through Caval during a major Celtic Music Fleaugh (Festival). As I approached the trip, I thought it would be in part to forgive what had transpired in that life of being held as a captive slave to a ‘religious’ leader.

During the middle of our two week stay, Jan and I stayed for 7 nights with a couple of other friends we had come over with—Diane and Bob—at a wonderful Irish cottage rental in Bunratty of County Shannon. The second night there, I had another lucid dream. This one made the earlier dream seem mild by comparison! It also was a “past life” (or parallel life, I prefer to think, since quantum physics has determined that Time is an illusion).

Palace Interior Background

In this inner experience, I am in a lower area of some structure (like a boat or a castle, perhaps), with a lot of wood, and dark. I am there with my Inner Guide, who is showing me this place which feels very familiar.  I realize people died in here. Then –okay—I realize I was responsible! I say this to my Guide: “I was responsible that people died here! I am a murderer; many times over!” He said nothing, allowing me to absorb the grim reality. Then I turned and saw a group of people descending into this place from an upper region. A priest led the way, followed by a small group of people who looked like potato farmer sorts—salt of the earth Irish peasant people. The priest set up a small table, then he put a candle on the table and lit it, to establish a ceremonial setting.  A sister and her brother stepped forward as they saw me, and we approached one another.

I said to the young woman:  “I am so sorry for your loss!”

“I am sorry for all that you have had to endure because of this,” was the young woman’s reply.

I knew that she and her brother, and all of the people in this group, had suffered in grief for the loss either of their own lives or of loved ones, whose deaths I was responsible for.  I had not actually murdered them with my own hands, but somehow I had allowed them to die or be killed by some decision I made—whether it was a triage situation on a boat, allowing some to live while others died “below”, or perhaps as an officer I had closed off some common folk in the low section of a castle to protect my own class from a deadly castle attack.


As I woke from this lucid vision, I said three times out loud: “I can’t believe my life has been about this; I CANNOT BELIEVE MY LIFE HAS BEEN ABOUT THIS!”

Wow! I called my friend in New Mexico from Ireland right away (it was early morning her time).

“I’m a murderer!” I told her; “many times over!”

My friend helped me realize this was from another time, another life. I realized the experience was needed for an absolution of sorts; for a mutual forgiveness between myself as Soul and those begrieved peasants who had confronted me. I hope they found the peace needed to move on.

This second dream showed me that the earlier dream might actually have been part of my own karmic due (which came first or ‘later’ matters not.) I found myself wondering how many people visit Ireland because of their own karmic loads from difficult times. Ireland in general is a nation still closely attached to its often violent history as well as to its rich tapestries of culture.


So for this week about Travel in relation to Better Endings I share with you this story of how we sometimes need to travel inwardly—as well as outwardly—to confront our “past” and to resolve its lingering ghosts, in order to move forward into greater future potentials. Whether you accept reincarnation or prefer to interpret such inner experiences as these metaphorically and/or ‘only’ archetypally, your dreams and other visionary experiences carry messages to help you advance to Better Endings in your life.

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I am posting this story early this weekend to remain on the site through Sunday, because it has deep significance for me.

Do you have a parallel-life or other ‘deep’ dream or visionary experience that has helped you arrive at Better Endings in your life? I welcome all of your insights and stories!


Expand to New Horizons


As a principle associated with this week’s theme of Travel that can help facilitate Better Endings in your life, I recommend Expanding your Horizons to arrive at new vistas of understanding and awareness.  Even in the most familiar of locations you can expand your outlook by being more mindful and attentive. Do you know that feeling of visiting a museum and becoming absorbed in the artwork there, then when you leave the museum everything around you seems more colorful and full of beauty? You can do this even while standing in line at the bank or supermarket, by being attentive to what is happening around you, appreciating the sublime texture of the Moment.

Grand Canyon vista

In Julia Cameron’s The Artist’s Way she introduced the idea of taking yourself out for a weekly Artist’s Date. This might mean going somewhere like a museum or a botanical gardens, or it might just mean taking a different way to work once a week, or buying a cup of coffee in a downtown location and sitting to observe the passersby. Your Artist’s Date can shake you out of overly routine habits and open you to new experiences and awareness.


So take a trip today, even if it is just a daydream. Allow yourself to LET IN new observations about your surroundings, to HEAR people more deeply than usual, to LAUGH at the mundane for all its Beauty.


If you are feeling stuck about a decision or experiencing an artistic block, expanding your horizons can free up areas of your brain you may not be using. Create a Better Ending simply by opening to new possibilities in your Present Moment.  Allow the universe to reveal Itself to you in new and amazing ways!


I invite your Insights and Stories from embracing New Vistas. May they bring you to Better Endings, daily!

Envision a Future Transition



When I was a kid in junior high school (7th grade) in Pennsylvania, I felt, or was made to feel by some neighbor kids, awkward and nerdy. My best buddy had moved to Florida and I felt isolated and alone. My father received notice almost a year ahead of time that he was to transfer from where we were in Pennsylvania to near Niagara Falls in New York state. So we had almost a year to prepare for our next major family relocation.

I made a conscious decision then to change my social persona, to alter my presentation of self so I might fit in with a more popular crowd in New York. I would dress more fashionably and act more “cool”. I would interact more with a wider range of people at school and I would express self-confidence. I envisioned all of these changes very explicitly and planned very consciously to change my wardrobe, hairstyle, etcetera.

We moved, and I put my plan immediately into action as I entered eighth grade in a new state, New York. Some of my actions were not so healthy; I started smoking to ‘hang out’ with those who appeared to be most popular at the new school. I had lunch with the popular bunch (when I wasn’t hiding in a restroom stall to avoid having to go to lunch at all); I made up a fake boyfriend by displaying a ring that belonged to my mother, and—for a short while—I achieved a modicum of success with the “in” crowd.

Some of the changes I made to change my social persona were healthy and good, so I kept those. I did feel more self-confident, and from then on I was always active in extracurricular clubs and activities. Others I found were not so great. The “popular” girls were rather a narrow and mean bunch toward anyone outside their circles, and I found their interests and concerns to be not very interesting in the big picture, so by ninth grade I drifted to a more nerdy bunch again—of artistic/dramatic and more intellectual sorts. But this time it was by choice, and I was happier. Altogether the conscious choice to establish my own identity at that point led to major changes that have led to all sorts of exciting and self-defining activities and interests, ever since.

So, for this week of focusing on Travel in relation to the principle of manifesting Better Endings, I want  to offer you the simple but potentially breakthrough Life Mapping technique that I call “Envision a Future Transition”.

Paradise beach

Consider where you are heading as you approach a Life GOAL or as you aim to manifest your Life Dream. (With more extensive Life Mapping procedures I can help you to define what your current Life Dream is, so stay tuned! I will be shifting this blog to focus wholly on Life Mapping starting this May for the 2nd half of this year’s blog, in advance of my book on that subject, Life Paths.) For now, you can choose a goal like a job/career transition, or a relocation you are expecting to make, or even a vacation.

As you consider your goal, make a list of several TRANSITIONS you will need to undertake in order to manifest your goal. When I do this I am surprised to find there are a relatively large number of intermediate transitions that will be involved in fully manifesting a goal involving a future change. For example, if I focus on retiring in 3 years, my list of future transitions includes:

  • Pay down all debt (shift credit debt to personal loans to be balance free by three years).
  • Visit places I might like to retire to.
  • Research real estate, weather conditions, cost of living, etcetera at these various possible relocation spots.
  • Journal about what daily life will be like
  • Research possible part-time employment opportunities
  • See a banker about how to plan for and manage retirement income
  • Make a list of writing and related projects to be involved with
  • Talk with friends in depth about the possibility to go in on real estate together (a cottage in Ireland); research all of this deeply
  • Contemplate, contemplate, contemplate, envisioning deeply and in great depth

After making your list of future transitions pertaining to a future goal you aim to realize, circle one (at a time anyway) to explore in depth. ENVISION that future transition in great descriptive detail. You can write this out either in first person/ present tense FROM the future, or in future tense but describing your transition step by step. You could even choose to envision a FANTASY FUTURE transition; this is not one that fits precisely with your goal but would be a fun, “far-flung” sort of possible future adventure. Either approach allows you to ENVISION HOW you might transition INTO a goal state. PRACTICING envisioning in this manner can help you to eventually REALIZE a specific goal and to plan for achieving it.


I think you will find that in listing a set of future transitions that can help you envision a MAJOR shift related to a Big Picture life Goal, you will end up seeing how many steps will be needed to make your future goal a reality. ORDERING these future transitions will help you develop a plan of action. Envisioning the goal and its transition points in general will also help you to SEE your future goal as achievable and feasible, and it may lead to some great “synchronicity” as you plant the seed, nurture it with your ATTENTION, and then watch it grow and develop. It may take some unanticipated twists and turns, so you will want to remain open and flexible. But it can help you to FORGE A PATHWAY.


Better Endings to You! I welcome your insights and stories.




The Road to Sedona– A Transformational Travel Tale

Stars Background

“A Going and a Return”… such is the ‘heroic adventure journey’ potential in all travel.

I have certainly experienced many times feeling that I am a different person before and after a significant travel adventure has occurred.

Some years ago I took a road trip with a friend, from Buffalo, New York to Arizona. I was scouting out whether I might wish to move to Arizona to continue graduate studies; which, largely from this experience, I did! I travelled with an older lady friend from my spiritual group, Grace. In addition to aiming to visit Arizona State University—where later I attended grad school for 14 years—we wanted to visit Sedona, rather as a metaphorical pilgrimage at the time (1978).


In Effingham, Illinois, the Greyhound bus we were on broke down. Half the passengers shifted to another bus that would bypass Sedona, but we waited for one that would let us actually switch to a Trailways bus that would go right through the heart of Sedona. I met at this point a woman, Toni, who was on the same bus with her grandmother. We became immediate though temporary friends as kindred souls, our group of four forming a friendly set.

On the road to Sedona,

Where all is Sadhana

(chorus from a song that expanded throughout the cross-country bus trip)

In Albuquerque a major drama began.  After a break stop, we were to be leaving on the last Greyhound out of Albuquerque that night, around midnight. Grace met a woman who introduced herself as a police woman and said she was trying to apprehend a murderer trying to get out of New Mexico! She showed Grace her badge and me too, when Grace introduced me to her. As we went to get back on the bus, two men who had not purchased tickets at the normal ticketing window gave cash to the bus driver and got onto the bus. One of them, with a recently shaved head, sat in the front seat right in front of me and Grace. He draped a serape with a metallic bulge in its pocket over his seat, resting his head on the bulge. Then he slowly pulled out a cigarette (illegal in the 1st several rows of seats then), stared toward the bus driver, and muttered, “Goodbye New Mexico, forever!” The other man sat kitty-corner behind us on the other side of the bus, holding tightly to a paper bag.

This man met the description the police woman had shared with Grace, so she got off the bus to tell the lady about him. She came back saying the police woman was afraid to act because of all the other passengers. I got off and also tried to convince the police woman that this man fit her description. She said,” You’d better just get back on the bus.” As I did so, the bus driver gave me a look of warning, like “Don’t make waves.”


So the bus got rolling again and I turned around and whispered my suspicions about this man to Toni, who had been our major organizer when the bus had broken down in Illinois. Toni sent the message by relay whispers throughout the entire bus, until it reached the other man across and behind from us. Suddenly he started rustling that brown bag loudly, and coughing, to get the man we suspected’s attention. I was afraid then that I had jeopardized everyone on the bus, so I became very hyper-alert.

At a Winslow, AZ wayside café stop, the man with the bag stayed close to my and Toni’s group, sitting near enough to listen in on our conversation. Meanwhile Lurch (my name by then for the murder-suspect from the frontseat) never came into the café at all. He paced outside and at one point he turned to put his face—nose pressed!—up against the glass window to stare us down. Back onto the bus, and again a–this time–rather scared look of caution from the bus driver.

The next three hours I will never forget. It was around 2-5:30 AM on the bus. For fear that I had possibly endangered the passengers, I entered into one of the deepest contemplation/meditative experiences of my life. I sang a spiritual word and focused inwardly on connecting with inner guidance and illuminating the situation. Then something weird occurred. Around 5 or so, other passengers apparently started perceiving the possible threat as a joke. There was audible talk around the bus about “who was going to be the 1st person taken to the back lavatory on the bus and shot!” This was surreal conversation to me, as I continued to contemplate deeply. Something then changed in me; my state of consciousness shifted. I opened my eyes around 5:30 and looked out at the desert as we were approaching Flagstaff, with the sacred San Franscisco Peaks just ahead to our West. I said to Toni, “You know, people think that the Desert is dead and barren, but it isn’t. Look! It is teeming with Life!”


Lurch then audibly groaned. He turned his head slowly around and locked his sallow eyes onto mine; then he uttered slowly, “So, … how do you feel … about YOUR Life?”

Because my deep contemplation had brought me to a heightened level of consciousness, I simply beamed back at Lurch, held his gaze and answered brightly, “Hi! How Are You!” Lurch groaned again and turned to place his head back onto that metallic bulge in his serape pocket.

When we reached the Flagstaff bus station, Lurch and his friend got off, Lurch saying once again, “Goodbye, New Mexico, Forever!” I was ready to propel myself out ahead of him to get security if he would have tried anything on his way out. But we never saw him again.


We switched to a Trailways bus that took us for a touring route through Sedona. Once we rounded the bend opening onto the Red Rock majesty of Sedona in Oak Creek Canyon, Language left me. I couldn’t speak, as if to utter a word to categorize a ‘mountain’ or ‘red sand’ would be to sever it from the WHOLE that this space and everything within it and around it, IS. Later I would understand this was a cosmic consciousness experience.  Toni said, “It’s like Love; It cannot be contained.” She got it; I was speechless.

Here’s the poem from that day when I discovered a special Eagles’ Nest spot (as I call it) overlooking the canyon:

The Canyon

It is drawing me into Its depths

and will contain me,

Yet in that instant It shall free me

until me-ness dissolves beyond


Where Just IS-ness


******   ******

Have you had a transformational travel experience? I invite you to share your insights and stories!

A Backpacker’s Guide to Exorcism, Guest-blogged from ViolaConspiracy



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A Backpacker’s Guide to Exorcism

  • Apr. 7th, 2014 at 2:00 PM

The reflection in the window tells me that the pack strapped to my back is small–  far too small, in fact, for someone who is on her way to a different country for two weeks. It’s hard to believe my eyes, because I feel like I’m carrying a mountain.

Most people could carry three of my pack without trouble, but I’m adding it to an already-massive load. With all the ghosts riding on my shoulders, there’s hardly room for a backpack. There are the ghosts of Worry About the Future and Self-Doubt, the ghost of Personal Failure, the ghost of Life’s Unfairness,  the ghost of Fatigue, and more. They take turns riding piggyback, wrapping their gaunt arms around my neck and digging their fingers into my collarbones. They like to whisper nasty things into my ears. Some of them wear spurs. There’s an ache between my shoulder blades that never goes away, and my reflection in the glass shows a slouch that’s too pronounced to be explained by the small bundle of things I’m carrying.

In a moment of hot panic, Worry and Self-Doubt begin to quarrel. “I won’t have enough things!” collides with “I can’t carry this for two weeks!” But it’s too late to do anything. The bus leaves in three minutes, and Worry is flogging me and shouting that if I don’t make this bus, the next one won’t get me to the airport on time.

By the time I check into the first guesthouse late that night, I feel as though I’ve been beaten. Fatigue hangs on my neck like a ballast stone, muttering quiet obscenities at me. My feet and joints ache from the extra weight. The skin on my shoulders is chafed where the straps of my backpack rubbed all day, and the muscles underneath feel bruised. The constant ember of pain in my back has flared into a bonfire. It’s hard to even sleep.

In the morning, Fatigue and Self-Doubt clutch at the straps and try to stop me from putting my pack on again, but finally I wrestle them down and the weight settles unkindly onto yesterday’s bruises. I haven’t even left my room yet and I want to cry. The pace of the entire day is dictated by my need for periodic rests, and the sightseeing agenda is chosen according to which locations will have a locker or a place to leave bags. I feel heavy and slow and old and Personal Failure keeps whispering that I’m getting in everyone else’s way. This night, even the inferno in my back can’t interfere with my bone-weariness, and I sleep the sleep of the dead.

On the third day, the weight of my backpack is familiar. Deep sleep has erased some of the bruising and tamed the blaze in my back to the size of a small campfire. My body has started to adjust its balance for the weight of the pack. I can move without knocking into things, at least. The ghosts are tired from sharing their space with my bag, and their grip is lazy. The day is filled with historic temples and street food, and the cherry blossoms floating down everywhere are so mesmerizing that I forget to listen to Worry’s whisperings. At night I dream of fantastic foreign landscapes sweeping past my train window.

“I am a turtle,” I think on the fourth morning. “This backpack is my home. All the things I really need are inside it, and I can carry it wherever I want to go.” On this day I can stand up straight, because I have discovered how to be a little more self-sufficient and that makes me proud of myself.  Self-Doubt loses his clammy grip as I bump down the stairs, and I leave him sitting alone on the bottom step.

By day five, I can’t hear any whispers, and I strap on my backpack without any cadaverous arms or bony fingers getting in the way. When I’m carrying home on my back, there’s no room for ghosts.

The Allure of Travel–Promptings

young Buddhist monks

It is Prompts Tuesday at Better Endings for the weekly topic of Travel. How does travel help you to attain Better Endings or how have you used travel to facilitate Better Endings in your life? I was sharing yesterday about how I usually try to think of a trip away from the usual routine as a Vision Quest. Do you do that too? I find that setting up my trip focused around answering a significant question in my life helps me to frame the trip as a spiritual quest or adventure.

three eggs in a nest

Here are some prompts you can use to focus on Travel Better Endings:

  • Travel as a means to jump-start your focus
  • Travel to ‘shake out the cobwebs’
  • Travel for the sake of travel and Adventure
  • Travel to consider future relocation
  • Travel because of longtime association with a place (like to check out a reincarnation feeling)
  • Business travel
  • Family travel
  • Relationship partner travel
  • Newlywed travel stories
  • Road trip stories
  • Travel as a pilgrimage
  • Travel to relocate
  • Driving vs plane or train travel
  • Travelling inward
  • Hiking/ camping travels
  • Travel with your pet(s)



I invite you to write or talk about or contemplate/meditate about or artistically represent your own reflections on one or more (or another) of the above themes. I welcome your insights, comments and stories!


Travel Tales as Travel Tells


Ironically, Travel Week on Better Endings has come about this week whilst I am, literally, travelling! I’m in Las Vegas through tomorrow with a terrific group of 5 college students who will be presenting a panel of papers at a conference here based on research they conducted with me for a class on Ethnographic Research.  The study is about “Mapping the Terrain of Cultural Perspectives about Natural Resources and Sustainability Issues”. It’s an exciting and timely topic.


So, I’m in Vegas, away from a normal routine of work, family and home environment. Last night, as I posted from my cell phone in the balcony of the MIRAGE theatre, I was able to see the spectacular, wonderful Cirque de Soleil LOVE testimony to the Beatles’ legacy; What a treat! I grew up with the Beatles, who defined my generation. It was elevating to sing along as the story of the Beatles was portrayed through acrobatics!

But I digress. Then again, isn’t that the Better Endings opportunity of Travel? That we CAN digress…

To me, travel is an opportunity to expand my horizons on all levels. Change “lifts” you out from the normal, mundane, everyday reality, offering a freshness of experience, an openness to new vistas, new conceptions, new ideas.


I always approach travel as a Vision Quest. I like to frame a deep spiritual question and open myself to inner guidance so I might arrive at a new level of understanding and awareness during the pregnant opening of ‘time out of time’, ‘space out of (routine) place’.

So, here in Las Vegas: Lights, action, glitz, diversity, addictions…nearly a fantasy realm for many. Who comes here? Gamblers,entertainers; those wishing to gamble or to be entertained; as well, those seeking freedom from their daily grind to appreciate life apart from normal routines and environment .


What about you? How have you used travel in your life? What potentials might travel lead to or expose?

I invite and welcome your Travel Tales this week on Better Endings!

The Blessings of Family, by Rev. Lee Ireland

IMAG0342 (1)

Elizabeth (my Mom) with Santa and Donner, 2013

So, you asked me to explain family to you.  Below are my reflections this night.  I’d be glad to rewrite a part if it comes across stilted.  Love to you, Lee

For me, my family is a collection of people who are at the core of my understanding of life: people with whom I have grown up or who have helped me to grow into the person I have become.  Some are my natal (birth) family members and some are my selected family members, i.e., the Wendell’s and a few special friends along life’s journey – who I can turn to in times of joy and questioning, because I know I am loved unconditionally, and they will listen and not judge and offer input or reflect back to me what I am saying or feeling.

Chrysanthemum daisies

My family is spread out across the US and though we can’t visit with one another very often in person, we do stay in touch all the time now through e-mails, phones, Facebook, and other means of communication – to stay up to date with one another’s activities, but mainly to just stay in touch and see what is unfolding through time for each other.

I have learned how to navigate through challenging moments, and moments of deep love and gratitude.  I would not be who I am fully, without my family connections and having had the freedom to explore life in the context of those who will love me through no matter what and with whom I don’t have to explain everything.


The internet means of communication have certainly helped us to ‘see’ one another more frequently than our traveling time would allow.  I am most grateful for my siblings and my mother and my extended family through whom I have deepened in my understanding of the various aspects of love, forgiveness, and compassion.

******   ******

Rev. Lee Ireland is a pastor for the United Church of Christ near Hartford, Connecticut. She is my big sister, too. I am blessed to share family with Lee, whose compassion and keen insight on life has been…as with all Family, “priceless!” Thanks with Love, Lee.

I welcome your Family Better Endings insights, Comments or stories.