Mapping Your History of Challenge and Growth


Reflecting upon Life Challenges this week and how they connect with Life Lessons, I find there are themes that run through my own history of challenges or hardships, and so I wonder if this is true for you as well. Some of my most challenging trials are ones that did not end well, in terms of relationships or losses in general. Yet, each one did bring me to some lessons about how to approach a similar situation for the future. The deepest of them–literally losing my dog Ellie and not being able to recover her over a six month search; and, relationship endings or shifts—have each carried multiple lessons and insights. In that sense, they were not without value.

Ladder of Success

I invite you to map your history of Life Challenges and your lessons associated with those. For Stage One, you can use a simple, shorthand technique sampled below in the form of a list. You can map your ages when memorable challenges have occurred in your life, then take note of the lessons or insights you gained from each experience:

Stage One (sample):

CHALLENGE                      age    LESSON

Father’s harshness             4-16  conscience    

Fencing tourneys               18-21   practice!

DN turmoil                          19 psychological depths

Moving Buffalo to Phoenix 24     inner guidance

Dissertation                        32-38  manifestation

SF struggle                        41       detachment

CP debacle                        42       self-assertion

K’s moving                         46       acceptance

leadership challenge         48      good of whole

Ellie’s loss                         55      fallibility

Book process                    50-60  dedication


For Stage Two of mapping your Life Challenges and Lessons, ask yourself if there are themes or KINDS of Challenges that have recurred in your life. You can group same-themed Challenges together in a new listing. I encourage you to actively contemplate each of these and afterwards you may journal and/or talk with a loved one about the KEY LESSONS you have gained as Strengths from having faced each of these kinds of ordeals.

Stage Two:

KINDS of Challenges  /  Key Lessons Gained

MOVES  I have learned to use relocating as a mode of creative transformation, to facilitate new cycles of growth and creative advancement

LOSSES I have learned to accept what cannot be changed, yet to work hard to change what can be changed (St. Francis’s prayer).

PERSONALITY CONFLICTS  I have learned to detach from those who might have a negative or competitive reaction to some of my beliefs or leadership style. Live and let be.

GOAL ACHIEVEMENT Persistence, perseverance, inner guidance, trust, belief, joy, gratitude.

 Plant growing in cracked asphalt - vitality symbol

What are YOUR Key Lessons?  I welcome your insights, comments, and stories!

Your Life Challenges


A quest is more valuable when there are challenges to overcome in order to achieve it. In fact the challenges that we face in life are in direct relation with our quests as they help us to strengthen our resolve and deepen our understanding. As in fiction, in our lives as well the protagonist must overcome incredible obstacles if she or he is to arrive at a positive, meaningful outcome. Many of the best stories are TRANSFORMATIONAL; the protagonist undergoes a significant CHANGE OF CONSCIOUSNESS in the process of achieving their goals or realizing their deeper reason for the adventure.


So we ‘should be thankful’ for our obstacles, right? They may not feel like gifts in the moment we experience them, but if we persist to overcome or to survive our challenges, we often look back with gratitude for the tempering and for the lessons learned.

So, while I have titled this post “Your Life Challenges,” I might just as well call it, “Your Greatest Lessons”! What are yours?


To begin our weekly focus on this topic, I invite you to explore the lessons implicit in some fictional or historical storyline that contains a persistent and difficult challenge.


I’m thinking of the epic personal sort of challenge Harry Potter faces, for example, in Voldemort. His nemesis with murderous intent through seven years of struggle, Voldemort in all his evil antics is the perfect foil for the alchemical transformation of a young boy and by extension the entire Magical World of Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry.



The inherent duality of Good and Evil shows up in Harry as he must contend with the feelings engendered in him by the malicious attacks of Voldemort upon his own parents, his friends and himself. How can Harry conquer Voldemort without becoming LIKE him in the process? Indeed, Harry’s greatest Lesson is that both Good and Evil coexist within everyone including himself, but it is his CHOICES that will determine his character and that allow him to cultivate his strengths instead of his weaknesses. Love and friendship provide the anchors Harry can use to bring forth his best qualities despite all evil influences around and within himself. Ultimately Harry faces the greatest challenge of all: to sacrifice his own life for the sake of all he loves. Only in so doing can he finally and forever rid himself of his own darkest potentials; yet when he does, he is granted a form of rebirth of his unriddled, mature character.


I welcome YOUR insights and stories!

Your Quest Totem


This week I have invited you to reflect on your Life Quest, celebrating yourself as the adventurous protagonist of your own Life Story.  I hope you have reflected on a challenging goal which you aim to fulfill in your life; if not, I encourage you to do so now.


Now I’d like to introduce a powerful technique and principle to help you to “ground” your intention for realizing your vital quest. It is called TOTEMIC REPRESENTATION. Totems can be anything that represent something you wish to remember or to center your focus upon.  Totems can be as simple as keeping a “talisman” for good luck, like a rabbit’s foot, which helps you to remember your ambition to succeed. If you have a particular idea you wish to center your attention upon, you might create a SYMBOL of that idea that you carry with you or place in a personally meaningful location that you see often. A shrine in your contemplation space or a rosary, for example, might be symbolic of your spiritual beliefs and may help you to practice your faith on a daily basis.


Totems are very good for representing your goals or Quest, to help you focus on that which you wish to remember or to be reminded about in the process of achieving this purposeful goal.  A simple totemic device for helping you to focus on your Quest is a pictorial Collage or “Vision board.” I invite you to create a collage that represents aspects of your Quest that you recognize as important.

Here below is an image collage I’ve just created to represent my Quest for the next several years. To create this online collage all I had to do was to open a Publisher page and then to INSERT some personal photos and some online royalty free clip-art images from my laptop. You could also use magazine images on a poster board, or create your own artistic collage of images and words. I recommend you place the most central aspects of your Quest centrally in the collage design. I have placed processual steps I feel I need to realize plus results from achieving my quest, accentuating the Positive!


Once you have created your collage or some other Totemic form that represents your Quest, I encourage you to place this somewhere you see often, such as your bedroom wall or mirror or your office bulletin board, or on your refrigerator door. When you contemplate the images in your collage, notice how synchronous they are with your Quest intention, even more than you realized while placing them on your Vision board.

What action steps does your arrangement of images suggest? Can you read this like a map to the realization of your Quest? What steps can you take in your life now in the direction of fulfilling your Quest?

Act Now Key Means Do It Take Action

I welcome YOUR insights, pictures, and stories!

Your Journey of Soul

Stairway to heaven

In The Journey of Souls, psychiatrist Dr. Michael Newton reports on his research using hypnosis to regress clients to a state “between” lifetimes. Not a believer in reincarnation when he began this research, he now writes and speaks about it openly. There is an amazing degree of similarity across his hundreds of tape recorded subjects’ accounts.

A significant theme that comes up time and time again in Dr. Newton’s ‘between life’ under-hypnosis stories—from people who do not know what he will be asking and who do not know each other—is the idea of a “Soul group.” This is said to be a group of closely interconnected souls (over several lives) that touch base or check in with one another between lives in order to help each other review the life they have lived to reflect on whether or not, or to what degree, they have realized their life goals and lessons for that lifetime.


Since this week’s theme is about YOUR LIFE QUEST, this idea of a soul group and particularly about reflecting between lives on how far one has come toward their life goals seems relevant. So, here is a fun exercise I’d like to invite you to do:

Using active imagination and/or a dialogue journaling process, IMAGINE you are between lives like in Dr. Newton’s case stories, meeting with your own familiar Soul Group. First off, who might they be? Who do you want them to  be? Imagine they are there with you then. Next, have a conversation with these dear Souls about how  you–as the one who has passed on–are doing with your LIFE QUEST.  Your friends might ask you about your progress with lessons you  chose to focus on in this life or about how far you have come toward realizing your goals. You might wish to extend this imagination session by then realizing you can still go back to finish this life; you don’t need to wait for a new one!

Path in the green forest

Now then, what is it you are here to FULFILL?

Some quests are short-term or may count as incremental steps toward a larger life mission; then there is the Big One; what might that be for you? Your imaginary friends can help you understand that, if you wish.


Also, have you seen the movie, Defending Your LifeThis afterlife comedy has a similar theme to The Journey of Souls.  Daniel Miller (Albert Brooks) has passed on after a car accident and he finds himself in this intermediate zone where he has to appear in court with his defense attorney (Rip Torn) in order to “defend his life”. He meets and falls in love with a woman he meets in this heavenly realm, Julia (Meryl Streep). Julia was ‘perfect’ in her last life;  a true heroine. We know that Julia will win her case to “move on.” But Daniel has trouble in court; the prosecutor shows scene after scene from Daniel’s life where he failed to take a risk or to confront his fears; the major life lesson he had been sent to Earth for in that lifetime. He will probably be returned to make for greater progress ‘next time’. But he has fallen in love with Julia who is going on; so how can he resolve his dilemma? I won’t share the ending in case you haven’t seen the film. I highly recommend it!

Vision Definition Button Showing Eyesight Or Future Goals

 Let me be honest with you here. These ideas, from The Journey of Souls and from “Defending Your Life,” have been some of the direct inspiration behind my developing the self-help process that I am sharing in my book, Life Paths. The idea is that rather than wait until death or nearly-dying, why not check in now instead? You can review and reflect about where you are at in your life with respect to your lifetime Quest and goals, and perhaps that can help for you to make a mid-course correction or a tweaking in the direction of your greatest fulfillment or ‘progress.’ Now of course no one knows what that is about except you or perhaps you and your spiritual helpers or guides. One person’s quest may not be of value at all to the next person, so only you can ultimately define your Quest to reflect on where you are in relation to that. Or maybe you don’t like goals; even so, what do you hope to have accomplished or to experience–even as a Bucket List sort of quest–before you move on?

I welcome your insights and Stories!

The Quest


Because your life is mythically storied, you are on a grand heroic Quest. What is your Quest? Do you know? Has it shifted over time or is there one Lifetime Quest you came here to Earth to fulfill?  For some it may be related to parenting; for others it is realizing their talents, contributing to knowledge, or realizing spiritual goals.  Let’s start by exploring what a Quest is or can be by reflecting on some mythic  and historical Quests.


Jason and the Golden Fleece is a Greek myth all about The Quest. In order to take his prophesized place as King of Thessaly, Jason is sent on a quest by Zeus and Hera to obtain a golden fleece, with Hercules and other fine crewmates, but also with a saboteur aboard the famous ship, the Argo. After facing many tests and obstacles, Jason demonstrates resolve, loyalty to the gods, and virtue, eventually defeating the protector of the fleece, Hydra (who has killed the saboteur) so that Jason and his surviving Argonauts, along with his wife to be, Medea, return to Thessaly where Jason will be King.

David star

Jeanne d’ Arc’s (La Pucelle’s) historical epic is iconic of a female ‘spiritual warrior quest’. Against all gender norms and odds, Jeanne listened to her saintly voices and led her French people to success in battle against Britain at Orleans, but then she was betrayed from among her own countrymen and tried for heresy.  To the end Jeanne d’Arc honored her spiritual Quest of service to God, refusing to recant and ultimately being burned at the stake. It is said that witnesses to her death saw a white dove flying out from the ashes. (Here you can link to Leonard Cohen’s “Joan of Arc”).

tropical sunset

Then there was Odysseus, whose adventurous quest to return Home to his wife and son at Ithaca after the Trojan War took ten years. Like Jason, Odysseus and his men faced a series of deadly challenges and obstacles placed in their path. To survive to reach his home in Ithaca, Odysseus had to demonstrate strong leadership and to outwit his deadly foes.

One of my favorite poems, Ithaca by the modern Greek poet Cadafy, frames each of us as on a Quest similar to that of Odysseus:


When you set out on your journey to Ithaca,
pray that the road is long,
full of adventure, full of knowledge.
The Lestrygonians and the Cyclops,
the angry Poseidon — do not fear them:
You will never find such as these on your path,
if your thoughts remain lofty, if a fine
emotion touches your spirit and your body.
The Lestrygonians and the Cyclops,
the fierce Poseidon you will never encounter,
if you do not carry them within your soul,
if your soul does not set them up before you.

Pray that the road is long.
That the summer mornings are many, when,
with such pleasure, with such joy
you will enter ports seen for the first time;
stop at Phoenician markets,
and purchase fine merchandise,
mother-of-pearl and coral, amber and ebony,
and sensual perfumes of all kinds,
as many sensual perfumes as you can;
visit many Egyptian cities,
to learn and learn from scholars.

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

Ithaca has given you the beautiful voyage.
Without her you would have never set out on the road.
She has nothing more to give you.

And if you find her poor, Ithaca has not deceived you.
Wise as you have become, with so much experience,
you must already have understood what Ithacas mean.

Constantine P. Cavafy (1911)

Colorful stack of rocks

So, Quests come in various modes: Tests of worthiness; Goals of Service; and Going Home (spiritually as well as physically) are various ways to realize your own highest nature and achieve your Purpose.

Where are YOU at in relation to the pursuit of realizing your own Quest? I invite you to take some time this week to reflect on and to envision your Quest.


A Dragon Tale: Love Conquers Fear


Odile is a friend who lives in the mountains of Colorado. She is 87 and lives with her son and granddaughter in a double-wide mobile home. When Odile was 16, living in the Great Smokies of West Virginia—Appalachian country—her father died of Black Lung disease and Odile was diagnosed with the same disease. Doctors told her she must leave West Virginia and they sent her to Colorado for better air quality in the higher altitude region. She married at 16 and her husband and she moved to the same land she is on today. They started with a small trailer on one plot of land. Odile fell in love with Colorado and this land. After a divorce and remarriage, her second husband built onto the trailer and she lived there with him and raised three children for around 60 years before her husband passed away from cancer. Meanwhile, Odile came to see herself as a protector of the pristine quality of this land, which lies adjacent to a National Forest. Over the years she purchased twenty additional lots of this pristine wilderness, just in order to preserve the forest and to prevent development in the immediate area. Many potential developers have sought her out to offer even higher than current prices for this land, but Odile is resolute; she will protect the purity of the forest.

Harz Mountains, Germany

Around ten years ago, a Dragon of sorts appeared in Odile’s otherwise settled life.  A minister for a religion that represented a survivalist approach purchased land adjacent to Odile’s sacred grounds. About a hundred followers of this minister followed after him from California to Colorado. Reports revealed that this group was storing guns and other weapons at the house the minister had purchased just a mile or so from Odile’s trailer. The minister himself started appearing at Odile’s door, asking to buy up her lots to add to his survivalist base.

Military target on vehicles

Now you have to understand, Odile has a strong spiritual focus of her own that it is definitely not of a survivalist bent. She had built the largest spiritual library I have ever seen, representing all sorts of spiritual, religious and metaphysical traditions. People would come to Odile’s trailer from far and wide just by word of mouth to borrow books from her library. She herself hardly ever leaves her trailer home; she has an aversion to towns or cities.

When Odile realized what this man’s presence could mean, at first she was appalled, even frightened. She felt this was a negative challenge to her own intention to maintain the positive, natural spirituality of the forest. She worried about what might develop; what this survivalist group might create on this land. Would they hold military-like war games, threatening the wildlife? What was such a group capable of?


These fears and worries were Odile’s Dragon, threatening to destroy the peace of mind she had so carefully cultivated for over 60 years.

So, Odile contemplated the situation. She researched the group and similar sects. Of course she kept turning down the offers to strip her of her lots.

A month or two went by since Odile shared with me what she was facing.  When I called her back, her attitude was completely changed. She had found a way to use her own strengths to integrate her Dragon energy, I would say.

red dragon decoration

 Odile’s strength, she came to realize, was LOVE. Love, not Fear, would be Odile’s approach, because she chose not to waste her life in a fearful condition, she told me. So every morning, since realizing this strength, Odile would simply send Love and Light inwardly to this man, to his land, and to all of his people. Every time she would think of him or the situation, she would remember to send this Love and Light. When he showed up at her door—and still he did—she met him with love, light and laughter as she made it very clear her land was not for sale.

Guess what happened? About a month later, the minister was arrested because of tax evasion. He was sentenced to a jail term. His followers left the area. The property was sold; a wealthy Catholic woman purchased the land and created a peaceful sanctuary on the land. She invited Odile to come see her land; the sanctuary was flooded with a natural Light that Odile could relate to!


Our Dragons challenge us at our Core.  Any buried fears we harbor, they can amplify. Yet these Dragons are our Allies at the same time. They help us to identify our fears so that, as we choose, we can make necessary changes to overcome these fears; to go beyond them so that we may approach our greater goals and fulfill our Purpose and Dreams in this life.

So again, I invite you: What Are YOUR Dragons? When do they “show up” in your life? What are they showing you about yourself? How can you use this awareness to make a CHANGE that will propel you beyond any fears or guilt? LOVE matters more; Do that which you Love, and the Universe/ Spirit/ Divine Love in return will carry you above and beyond these perceived self-limitations.


I welcome your Insights and Stories!

Dragon Dialogues


It is fascinating for me to see how synchronous these topics are being as they come up; I suppose that is because they are sequenced within a definite process. So I’m hoping you may be finding the same as readers.  This week we are focusing on DRAGONS: those unconscious monsters that pen us into a guarded space and do not allow us to soar freely toward the fulfillment of our goals or desires.

This week for me the Dragon has surfaced while writing an invited book chapter I have committed to deliver.  Most of it is ready but I am hemming and hawing about the most important piece: my own unique data and interpretation.  So, let me walk the talk by engaging in an Archetype Dialogue with this Dragon that smoulders within:


L:  Hullo! I see you there, hiding in the Shadow of your Cave.

D: (Snorts, pulls further back into the Cave’s interior.)

L:  I need help!

D:  (Dragon says nothing but steps a little forward, into better hearing distance.)

L: I don’t know if I can do this! I am afraid that whatever I turn in will be attacked because my viewpoint in this paper is opposite in theory to almost all of the other authors. I was invited to represent a competing point of view.

D: (Breathes fire in my direction, landing just in front of me; I back away!)


L: So is it you preventing me from finishing? I have one major section left to produce. The deadline is in two days.

D: (More Fire-Breath; I back into a corral; the gate closes me in.)

[Thoughts aside: I recognize this is self-protective behavior. How can I get beyond my Dragon’s charge?]

Buddhist temple Borobudur

L:  Dragon, please let me out. I really need to do this. We have been asked and this gives back to our friends at Zuni. I’ll take the responsibility. Could you help in another way? Maybe if you let me ride you we could scan the work in progress together so then from a higher perspective I could finish and still be safe. Could we do that together? I really need your help. I need the ‘distance’ factor.

D: [Fire burns the gate right off its hinges! Dragon approaches and lowers Her head into the corral. I clamber up onto her scaly back, where a natural saddle appears.]


Gate Gothic Fantasy Background

Next Day: Fellow readers and bloggers I have to tell you this: It worked! After reaching the awareness that I needed “distance” from the task that I had allowed to intimidate me, I went to the office the next day and “got it done”!  I felt inwardly supported throughout the day’s work, too.

Archetypal dialogue journaling helps you to exteriorize a situation at the same time as it helps to ‘interiorize’ by “going Down/ or Within.” As both James Hillman and Carl Jung emphasized, it is important to meet your archetypal personae—including your Dragons—in their own domain, rather that expecting them to “come UP” to meet with you or to express their concerns. It is the dynamic tension between Up and Down, or conscious and personal unconscious that may in fact spark change. Stirring up the Depths can release awareness you might otherwise overlook.


Try it with your Dragons, if you would! They are not here to harm you, Really!

What Do Your Dragons Guard?


Okay, so I’ve devised this acronym:

Deep Raging Animistic Giant of Negativity


So, what are Yours?


We are speaking (initially at least) not of the positive, Bountiful, Life Breathing dragons like the Chinese New Year puppet forms, but rather of the “negative”, Fire Breathing, monstrous Dragons that jealously guard their hidden treasures.

These negative dragons can pin us down with their talons inciting fear and trepidation. They tell us what we CANNOT do or Be, what we SHOULD NOT attempt for fear of failure or public ridicule.  In a sense, “Your Dragon is your Ego,” says Joseph Campbell in A HERO WITH 1000 FACES.  In a self-protective mode it is that which might aim to “hold you back” from taking risks and, hence, at times it may prevent you from actively seeking or achieving your Bliss.


So what is it that your Dragon might be telling you that YOU should never attempt?  Is it to be an Author, a famous Musician or a Dancer or Artist, or to move to your favorite place on Earth? Maybe it has to do with your relationship “patterns” or with your “real,” physical self-limitations? Let me ask you in another way; WHAT IS YOUR BLISS that you would wish to fulfill with all of your Soul, if only you COULD?


Many speak of “Slaying Your Dragons,” including Campbell.  That makes sense. But I prefer the notion of TAMING them, instead. This is similar to the idea in the recent books and animated films, How to Train Your Dragon” (1 and 2).

By TAMING your Dragons, I mean first you need to identify them within your unconscious archetypal cast of dramatic players, then you need to get to know each one—as they are after all a part of your own dynamic multiplicity. Once you and your Dragon get to know one another—each of your dreams, fears, goals and desires—you can aim to ENLIST your Dragon into the common cause of being an Archetype Ally.


Hmm, maybe a new acronym is in order now:

Dearly Respected Archetypal Giver of Needs


Super Hero Riding Dragon

Since it is your Dragon who knows your deepest fears, of course S/He can give to you whatever you might also need to overcome or to transcend these fears and to assert your Dreams and go boldly to achieve them. This reminds me of Falcor the Luckdragon from The Neverending Story, one of my favorite animated characters. Once you have befriended your Dragon, S/He may allow you to RIDE on Its magnificent back and soar to the realm of your Blissful achievement.

*** ***

I invite you to engage via Archetype Dialogue through active imagination or journaling with one of your own Dragons.

I welcome your comments and stories!

Childsplay and Active Imagination Techniques



I consider myself to have been very fortunate as a child to have shared a best friendship with Karin, who was as much interested in creative imagination and adventure as I was. We were so interconnected through “childsplay” of various forms that when I remember my past in this life, I often say that my Childhood WAS Karin (…later extending to Barb, Diane, Ro, Pattie, Franco, Sebrena, Kery, Jan P,  Jan J, my sisters, Corinne, Gianmichele, Zvia, and Kathleen; gratitude for all these human companions, plus always my beloved pets!). But Karin and I had a special latitude in our very actively imaginative play, from when we were around 7 to 12. She lived with her mother in a beautiful, woodsy area in Pennsylvania; there were willow tree vines on which to swing across a creek, and lots of little green clearings within circles of large trees that made excellent forts, or rooms, or spaceships, or hiding places, or worlds. We played outdoors a lot in her yard: we played WWII soldiers, Indians (never cowboys), spies, and horses (that was my fave; we were just horses, wild and free, or one of us–playing a human–would rope and befriend the other, leading to many high spirited adventures!) Then indoors, when not practicing our violins together (we aimed to play “Santa Lucia” together at Carnegie Hall one day), we built elaborate universes, mansions made of Golden Book walls filling the upper and lower areas of a ping pong table at my family’s home. We created lives there for her Barbie, my Ken (yes, always the tomboy…); and we would weave adventurous, intricate life stories for our alter selves extending for over months at a time.


I am glad I had Karin as my playmate, along with family and other friend adventurers throughout childhood and beyond. I don’t remember ever closing down this creative flow and in fact I can gratefully say it has continued always, through writing, dreaming, daily contemplations, daydreams, reading, and travels. Compiling the Life Paths Portfolio Handbook as a self-help toolkit, based on coaching people who have used this method for their own life mapping adventures, has helped me remain engaged with my own Active Imagination playground!

Children toys

One vital tool for using active imagination as a personal growth and development sandbox is to establish an ongoing “Archetype Dialogue” contemplation and journaling practice, which I highly recommend for anyone. This is what Carl G. Jung engaged in, which he in fact called an active imagination process. For Jung it resulted in his The Red Book: Liber Novus, and it spawned his general approach to understanding and working with “Archetypes of the Unconscious.”


We all can have some access to our unconscious archetypal sub-selves—what I like to call our ensemble cast of mythic characters–through engaging our imaginative faculties and by remaining attentively engaged with our dreams. While some psychologists and others who have read of Jung’s forays into his Unconscious Archetypal domain through active imagination and journaling concluded this was evidence of Jung’s own psychological imbalance, he countered that since he was in control of when he would engage his archetypes and since he used these inner encounters to gain a more balanced and integrated Psyche, quite the opposite was true. Joseph Campbell similarly has cautioned that when people do NOT attend to their inner archetypal impulses, that could result in a form of ‘schizoid’ split in a person from “not listening to” their own inner selves, or Soul.


 Many scientists, artists, and writers have likewise relied upon active imagination to keep open to the Creative Wellspring within each of us that allows us to be adaptive, flexible, playful, creative and productive in making of our lives that which we would fashion out of choice rather than only of necessity.  It is said that Edison never slept more that 20 or so minute catnaps at a time in order to stay primed at that creative aperture of consciousness between waking and sleeping.  Many artists share how their ideas have come through visions either sought or unexpected, as have scientists such as Kekule, who in 1890 dreamed of a snake swallowing its own tail and thereby developed a model of a benzene ring. Crick, co-discoverer of the structure of DNA with Watson, theorized it is important to use dreaming to ‘forget’ our non-productive or fixed ideas so that the subconscious mind can better explore and reveal its secrets.


The book and recently released film Heaven is for Real adds a spiritual dimension to the practice of active imagination which I believe is also very important.(Or, read Proof of Heaven by Eben Alexander in this same vein.) OOBE’s, NDE’s, and some forms of dreaming (e.g. lucid dreams, prophetic dreams, past-life dreams, etc.) can reveal to us that there is so much more to Reality—and life and death—than can be understood by physical science alone.

Hot Air Balloon

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What are some favorite ways YOU exercise your Active Imagination?

Where does it take you to?

I welcome your Comments, Insights and Reveries!

A View from the Dock of the Bay

 Hut on jetty


Talking about Active Imagination, this week I keep remembering one of my all-time favorite songs: Sitting on the Dock of the Bay, by Otis Redding.


I have been there all my life it seems. Literally when I was 19 I went to Alaska and ended up working at a crab and salmon cannery most of the summer in Yakutat, AK. And there was this dock overlooking Yakutat Bay, in 1973, that I would sit at for hours at a time, in awe of the triple levels of mountain ranges ahead on the horizon; contemplating life, my future, spirituality, poetry, and at the time Yeats’s book A Vision, with this song playing over and over in my mind, as it is today. A similar lyric from Don MacClean merges for me with Dock of the Bay:

   You know I’ve heard about people like me,

   But I never made the connection;

   They walk one road to set them free,

   And find they’ve gone the wrong direction.

   But there’s no need for turnin’ round,

   ‘Cause all roads lead to where I am;

   And I believe I’ve walked them all,

   No matter what I may have planned.


So what is it about Dock of the Bay that lingers; that has dogged my footsteps and supported my own Dreamer nature all my adult life? My favorite line personally is:

    I can’t do what ten people tell me to do;

    So I guess I’ll remain the same.

These lyrics are more than song words; they are banners, manifestos; philosophical cornerstones of a Generation, the late 60’s – 70’s; my formative generation. They comprise a FORGE for the Imagination to be Fired in; an Alchemical cauldron in which Identity itself has stewed, and brewed, through the decades.


Lyrics like these ring true with my independent-thinking, Explorer instincts.

They are an invitation to ACTIVATE the imagination; to LISTEN DEEPLY, within the cauldron of your own BEINGNESS, and then, to Follow in the direction of your Dreams, unafraid and alive; to activate your spirit of Adventure.


I invite you to a Creative Visualization technique:

Imagine you are sitting on the Dock of a Bay. Your feet are dangling over the water. Waves wash in and then recede.You smell the salt air, taste the moisture. Boats go here and there at sea. The horizon seems infinite; it carries you anywhere you wish to go in your thoughts, your wishes, your memories, your dream reveries. Just sit here on the dock of your bay, and IMAGINE! Stay as long as you can; go back over a series of days if you like. Bring a question or just enjoy your repose. You are “time out of time”; everywhere and nowhere and there is no place but Here you need to Be. Later, you can journal about your thoughts and feelings and you can ponder the VISIONS that come to you in this practice.

So, here are the lyrics.  Where do they take YOU to? (I invite your reminiscences and stories!)


– written by Otis Redding and Steve Cropper
– lyrics as recorded by Otis Redding December 7, 1967, three days before his death in a plane crash outside Madison, Wisconsin

Sittin’ in the mornin’ sun
I’ll be sittin’ when the evenin’ come
Watching the ships roll in
And then I watch ’em roll away again, yeah

I’m sittin’ on the dock of the bay
Watching the tide roll away
Ooo, I’m just sittin’ on the dock of the bay
Wastin’ time

I left my home in Georgia
Headed for the ‘Frisco bay
‘Cause I’ve had nothing to live for
And look like nothin’s gonna come my way

So I’m just gonna sit on the dock of the bay
Watching the tide roll away
Ooo, I’m sittin’ on the dock of the bay
Wastin’ time

Look like nothing’s gonna change
Everything still remains the same
I can’t do what ten people tell me to do
So I guess I’ll remain the same, yes

Sittin’ here resting my bones
And this loneliness won’t leave me alone
It’s two thousand miles I roamed
Just to make this dock my home

Now, I’m just gonna sit at the dock of the bay
Watching the tide roll away
Oooo-wee, sittin’ on the dock of the bay
Wastin’ time


Here’s a You Tube Link to Otis Redding’s version

And a re-blog of a relevant quote from Albert Schweitzer

from Theresa’s Soul Gatherings blog yesterday:

It is not necessary
to go off on a tour of great cathedrals
in order to find the Deity.
Look within.
You have to sit still to do it.

~ Albert Schweitzer ~
German Theologian, Physician



I have mentioned the practice of Active Imagination here and there throughout this site, but this week let’s focus on Active Imagination as our focal topic. Many forms of meditation, contemplation, yoga, mantra chanting, children’s creative play, nighttime dreaming especially when lucid (aware of dreaming while in it), daydreaming, fiction or drama or fantasy writing, journaling, prayerfulness, and Mindfulness techniques all could constitute Active Imagination practices, as long as You are Present and Aware. Active Imagination entails an exploration and exercise of your own imaginative faculty within your own perceptual multi-verse.

 The fragment of ancient theatre Amphitheatre

When was the last time you ‘just’ sat (or laid down on a bed of meadow grass, for example) and imagined; deeply and fully? I did that this morning (written on Thursday). I went to a café, opened this laptop, started a new file called JOURNAL, and engaged for an hour or so actively envisioning on the page my future life after retirement. Every fear I privately nurture about that transition I allowed myself to feel and yet when I envisioned in words various aspects of the life I may live, I felt my fears greatly reduced and a relieving sense of freedom entered my consciousness instead.

Dream 6

               From the journal (a brief sample):

… Maybe I will mainly be alone with my pets. Then Cheryl will be not far away, and there are many places to visit that will feel familiar (Lewiston, Niagara Falls, Buffalo, Canada). Will that feel weird with no one other than my pets to share it with wholly at this advancing age?

… Put Academe behind me. Hike in the state parks, get a used motorboat; go boating with Sophie and alone or with Cheryl (my sister) and her friends. EXPLORE, outwardly and inwardly. EXPAND HORIZONS. Contemplate. Write. Offer workshops and life mapping. Present spiritual events, facilitate and join satsang and book discussions. Join a Scrabble club. Fence with seniors if I wish to. Travel and enjoy visitors. Learn at Chautauqua. Write to my heart’s contentment! Publish more. Go deeper philosophically, spiritually. READ MORE. DREAM DEEPLY. IMAGINE. EXPAND.

Honestly I can tell you that after taking time to creatively envision, freely and without constraint, I felt even physically better than before I did this: less encumbered, lighter, less blocked. And the rest of the day (now 11:20 PM on the same day as I compose this), my imagination remains open and I feel like a child again in relation to a greater acceptance of Trust and of Possibility!


Oddly synergistic events also transpired after engaging in this active imagination practice. Without my having scheduled it directly, men showed up to clear trees from my yard, removing debris and clutter more than I had even expected this team to do when they would arrive. This clearing of clutter is a big step in the direction of realizing the future of my imaginings, as I am gradually working to improve my home’s condition in preparation to sell the house before moving. It was like…Magic!


So I invite you to take ample time to JUST IMAGINE. Exercise your Creative imaginative PLAY via direct, daily contemplation; journaling “alternate future lifescapes”; writing “from the future”; composing magazine image collages or creating mandalas.  Many techniques such as these are included in the Life Paths Handbook, to come.  Remembering to simply take ‘time out’ for IMAGINING can help you to “live INTO” your goal or life dream with creativity, building a clarity of intention while remaining flexible to new ideas along the Way.



A.C.T. on your Dreams to Realize Your Dream


Where do you want to be five years from now or further down the road of life?  What is your Life Dream? Or do you prefer to land where you arrive at, trusting life to carry you along?  Living in the Now and being grateful for everything in the Present is of course tremendous and very important! Yet it is also okay to keep in mind what this bubble of the Present may unfold to. To me I believe true Nowness is an Awareness that unifies Past-Present-Future; that is, it is a Mindfulness that transcends Time altogether. From this perspective, living in the Now is like having a 360 degree viewpoint; you can see how you have arrived in this Moment and also what Its array of potentials are in many directions.

So, where do dreams (including nightly dreams, “waking dreams”, and daydreams) fit with this idea that you can brew the Now to unfold into your most desirable Future potentials?  Dreams can reveal not only the conditions we are currently ensconced within but also the possibilities and even probabilities available to us from Here. How? Often dreaming seems to take its own course so that you need only to be attentive to receive the messages of your unconscious promptings.  But it is always a good practice to ASK what it is you wish to perceive or understand through your dreaming.


I have shared before about how I used active contemplation and nightly dreams to show me the future potentials associated with my “big move” from Buffalo to Phoenix 35 years ago. I was relocating to enter a graduate program in Anthropology at Arizona State University. This was a major transformation of my life since I had grown up in eastern states and most of my immediate family was in New York at the time. To help allay my uncertainties about moving to such a foreign environment as the Southwest desert of Arizona, every night for a year before retiring to bed I sat for a half hour active contemplation in which I posed a specific question of my inner guidance and then went to bed, expectantly anticipating that in my dreams the answer to that day’s question would be given. And, it was! In that year’s dreaming I met people I would meet in Arizona in clearly prophetic dreams. I was shown situations that would unfold once I arrived there. In all, my dreams confirmed for me that this relocation was a necessary spiritual move in my life; that it would not always be easy yet it was definitely the path I was being called to fulfill. Those dreams served me well; for years in Arizona events would unfold that I had been prepared for in “the Dreaming”.

Dream 2

A major move in a new direction is worthy of taking your time to ask inwardly about its potentials and then to Dream…whether in nightly dreams or in ‘daydreams’, which are after all a kind of active imagination.  I believe that when you meet your inner awareness or Inner Guidance actively, It will bring you the inner Knowing you desire or need. My general formula for working with Inner Guidance through dreaming I call A.C.T.:

ASK and then Access your dream (e.g. write it down in a dream journal or tell it to a                           loved one on waking);

Contemplate the message of the dream;

TAKE ACTION that is portended by the dream in an appropriate context.

All three of these phases are important for what we might call Active Dreaming, especially the middle step: contemplating the meaning of the dream that you receive.  Sometimes it takes several dreams over a period of time before the message or meaning becomes clear to your inner awareness. If you act too impulsively based on your first thoughts about what sort of action is appropriate, you might miss important qualifications.  Let’s say you dream (or in a waking dream see a license plate, e.g.) that says simply ARIZONA.  That does not necessarily mean that you should pick up and relocate there (presuming you are not there already). It might be a symbolic image for you to consider rather than a place to move.  What do YOU associate with Arizona, you might then ask yourself? Maybe you traveled there once as a child and it reminds you of your Grandfather who took you there and now he lives in a nursing home in New Jersey! Maybe it is time to visit him. See? You are the best interpreter of your own dreams, but you must cultivate your inner awareness to arrive at an interpretation that “fits” or that “rings true” with your Higher Wisdom.

Viking Ship

Dare To Dream of a Different Life

Dear Readers,

Here is an excellent “guest re-blog” take on using the Art of Dreaming for manifesting Better Endings, from the Desk of MarDrag!  Linda

From the Desk of MarDrag

Dream 1

Yesterday’s blog post was about New Beginnings and clearing out the old to pave the way for a new path so that new experiences and manifestations have room to come through. So too, if we want to change our lives, and the world, we must first…

Dare To Dream of a Different Life…

The greatest changes, accomplishments, and successes in our lives all begin with our dreams and desires that our life can be different. And that comes from daring to look outside the perimeter of our current existence and believing that there is something more, that our lives can be richer, fuller, and we can live more in tune to our true self, our true purpose.

Dream 3

We can get stuck on the hamster wheel of life, scurrying every day to get through. And, with the world events and concerns we are now faced with, it may be difficult…

View original post 215 more words

Are You a Dreamer? (Your Dream Laboratory)


I have always thought that cultures should recognize and nurture Dreamers and give them a valued role. I’ve written a science fiction novel (which sits on my shelf and in computer files) which is Book I of a trilogy I call The Dawnbreakers, all about this. On the remote, terraformed planetoid of Guvral, Dream Arhat (Teacher) Benath trains young people who show an aptitude for becoming Dreamers. He teaches the Art of Dreaming. The Dreamers develop their gifts of prophecy, of inner sight for healing and for manifesting creative ideas, and of telepathic communication.   Separated from their home Grand Spiral federation for over 60 years, the majority of people on Guvral have given up on their dreams, however, and the Dream Temple Benath operates is in jeopardy. Mogren, a Science & Technology consul, aims to dismantle all remnants of the spiritually founded Grand Spiral ideology and its dream-based theocratic governance. One young Dreamer, Jenu, tells his best friend and fellow Dream student Kairn about dreams he is having about an Inner Dream Guide who accompanies Jenu as he visits another remote planetary colony of their federation, hitherto unknown to Guvraleans.  Kairn develops a plan for a cadre of Benath’s Dream Temple students to launch a mission to the stars to find this planet so they can revitalize and reconstitute their Grand Spiral ways.


At the end of Book I, the Dawnbreakers cadre barely escapes capture as Mogren’s forces try to prevent Kairn and Jenu’s mission to the stars. Book II transpires mainly in the Void of interstellar space as the cadre hops from planet to planet (by means of “photosonic transduction”), seeking the prophesied sister colony.  Jenu begins doubting his visions, the crew nearly mutinees, and the technology begins to fail so that it appears the Dreamers will become stranded in space, when suddenly they do find the orange-white banded planet of Jenu’s dreams . There on Sadhan, a colony of Grand Spiral refugees has developed a Dream Temple centered around teaching telepathic communication and teleportation skills. They had contacted Dreamers on remote colonies telepathically to draw only those worthy of training to join their cause. In Book III Jenu stays at Sadhan to train, while Kairn and most of the rest of the original Dawnbreakers along with some representatives from Sadhan return to Guvral, where a quasi-religious millenarian group awaits their return as an underground movement opposing Mogren’s harsh new regime.  Kairn’s crew, however, is intercepted immediately upon landing on Guvral by Mogren’s forces, so that most of Book III involves Kairn’s group aiming to escape the harsh imprisonment and “Reeducation” program that Mogren imposes. I won’t share the ending; suffice to say it involves Jenu appearing in his Light Body from Sadhan to help deliver Kairn’s group from imprisonment so that all of Guvral can celebrate the return of the Dawnbreakers and the rise of a new cycle of growth and spiritual unfoldment on Guvral; okay, so there it is then!

planet Jupiter

Some day I aim to complete the writing and to publish this trilogy. For now, though, I share the story just to ask you: Are You a Dreamer? For those of you who answer Yes, what does this mean to you? How have you learned to rely on your dreams for Inner Guidance, prophecy, healing, or inner communication? What dream techniques have you developed for lucid dreaming and how have you come to use dreaming as an inner laboratory to help you understand and apply your insights to any outward situation and to your own deepest life mission and spiritual Quest?


Now I want to add: we/you can ALL be Dreamers! Sometimes “lucid dreaming” is held up as some sort of secret, arcane, privileged ability. Often this approach sees lucid dreaming as a way of controlling one’s own reality—and sometimes that of others. This latter is the darker potential shade of ‘lucid dreaming’ depicted in some science fiction stories—like the recent Invictus and somewhat in Ursula Le Guin’s earlier and masterful The Lathe of Heaven.

Tut ench amun

Give yourself more faith and credit than ever before! You do not need to rely on others when it comes to dreaming. You can learn to unlock the secrets of your own unconscious wealth of inner awareness. It is your right and your divine heritage to unfold your Inner Awareness to unlimited heights.


Last time I shared about a series of Bear dreams wherein I learned to re-own my Strengths instead of foisting them upon others. Well, in the final dream of this series the whole mechanics of dreaming revealed itself! I had climbed a pine tree (axis mundi linking the Above with the Below) to evade a graceful Mother Bear and her cub who were chasing after me. When I reached the top of the pine tree, I stepped across into a LABORATORY space. A female scientist was working with chemistry tubes there (Alchemical!). She handed me a beaker that I drank a potion from, and suddenly I knew just what to do. I stepped back into the tree and looked down at the ascending cub and her Mother. Easily and gently, I removed a few strips of bark from the tree and dropped them toward the Bears. The cub dropped off to the ground immediately and then the Mother Bear also released her grip on the tree and she dropped gracefully down to the ground, not to return. This was the last dream of this theme I have had, from a few years ago.  It showed me that I can always find answers inwardly to the questions I have about how to proceed in life! The value of lucid dreaming—which ANYONE can learn to develop on their own—is that if you can ‘control’ what happens in a nightly dream, then you can also change or better manage this OUTER DREAM, as well!


I welcome YOUR stories , your own best Dream Practices, and Comments!