Flexible Persistence: A Key to Better Endings

A major underlying principle for maintaining a ‘better endings’ mindset is FLEXIBILITY.   My personal analog for the sort of flexibility needed to foster better endings derives from fencing.  As a foil fencer on a successful intercollegiate tournament fencing team in the 1970’s, I learned quite viscerally how “movement” is all important for creating, recognizing, and acting upon opportunities to “score.”

ADVANCE – RETREAT – FEINT – ADVANCE – BEAT – RETREAT – DOUBLE RETREAT – DOUBLE BEAT – DOUBLE ADVANCE – PARRY- DOUBLE DISENGAGE — RIPOSTE-LUNGE! (Et Lá!)

The above choreography is an example of the sort of on-your-feet (LOL) maneuvering that might happen in the Moment of a fencing bout for one ‘touch’ sequence. (Dear Ro, my former Teammate: I hope you are reading!)

In fencing as in life, if you are too rigid with your plan of attack, for instance; or, if you freeze on the piste (fencing strip), you are quite likely to be hit (touché!) by your more fluid opponent.   But if you remain in constant motion, both physically with your footwork and mentally with your awareness, you stand a good chance of creating the opportunities, at least, for scoring. 

Better Endings shift as your awareness expands.  One day you might consider one hopeful new direction only to realize an even greater goal the next.  The process of moving in the direction of your goals helps you to understand the deeper reasons for seeking these ‘better endings.’  So, you benefit from remaining open and attentive to your own needs and the needs of those around you who might benefit from your actions as well.

I find myself working constantly on self-improvement, which I believe is true for most people, especially once one starts to see how the process of self-improvement really can produce positive results.  I like to try new approaches to situations in life that may not have worked out great by earlier means, then to learn from the new results.  

images are from pixabay.com

One quick example: rather than taking personally potentially hurtful statements someone might make in an online Zoom session, I am learning how to truly forgive and forget…well, if not to forget, at least to accept and move on without countering or reacting negatively myself. 

In fencing terms that is called fencing “with absence of the blade!”   Et lá! 

Better Endings Story Seed:

Flexibility: Your Key to Better Endings

How about you?  In what arenas of your life do you find that being flexible helps promote your higher awareness and illuminates your deeper goals? How might this lead for you to ‘better endings’ in a situation with which you are currently engaged?

Golden Spirals, or Pendulum Swings?

Consider two images: first, a golden spiral staircase winding gently upwards toward the heavens, signifying positive growth and increasing degrees of enlightenment.  The second image:  a monochrome, metallic pendulum swinging back and forth interminably, arriving nowhere.

Now then, which image do you prefer as a Life Metaphor: the Golden Spiral or the Pendulum?

As I grow older, witness to the play of history over nearly seven decades, I can recognize how sociopolitical changes—the so-called March of History—pattern more as a dualistic, polarizing pendulum swing, rather than as a spiral of real progress or advancement.

I prefer the Golden Spiral as a metaphor for personal growth in my own life.  Yet if I am reflecting objectively, I recognize both spirals and pendulum swings in my own life patterns.  With regard to diet, for instance:  While I aim for my eating to be well informed by health concerns so as to reflect a positive learning curve, it is so easy for me to ‘fall back’ into negative habits. After losing over 40 lbs. on a low carb diet and keeping to that discipline for over three years, for instance, gradually I have been allowing more sweets (and ten more lbs.).  Yesterday I threw out a whole (new) bag of candy and chocolate that my negative-pendulum ‘kid in a candy store’ self had procured at a rustic General Store the day before.  Throwing the candy away was my effort to shift back to the Spiral rather than succumbing to the ‘old,’ habit-oriented pendulum swing.

On the ‘other hand’ (hmm), I practice daily contemplation and dream study to focus on personal growth.  ‘Better endings’ has been a catchword, for me, for applying a positive, growth-oriented mindset based on my personal life goals.

Lately in all honesty I have found witnessing the pendulum swings of sociopolitical events to be disheartening, because it does not appear to bode well for our collective ‘better endings’ over time.  However, who’s to say what karmic currents need to play themselves out in this all-too-physical arena?

images are from pixabay.com

What we CAN do (what I CAN do) is to attend to our own individual choices and commitments, to actualize personal growth and awareness in our own lives.   This is  where a mindset of forging ‘better endings’ can help us to fulfill our personal destinies and live our own dreams, regardless of external conditions.

The Wizard of Oz: A Classic Tale of Better Endings

Like so many, I have loved the movie The Wizard of OZ since childhood.  I guess I like it even more than most, as I have written about Dorothy’s archetypal individuation process—which is what her adventure in Oz is about from an archetypal psychology perspective—in my book Your Life Path (2018, Skyhorse Publishers).   The Scarecrow (unfulfilled or wounded Teacher), Tin Man (unfulfilled Lover) and Cowardly Lion (unfulfilled Warrior), along with Dorothy’s dear animus Toto, are immature facets of Dorothy’s inner persona that she needs to strengthen and integrate in order to develop her own more mature, unified, individuated Self.

I watched it again this week.  Now I can see how the entire story, from the point that Dorothy and Toto are swept Over the Rainbow by the tornadic winds of her internal growing pains, is a ‘better endings’ narrative.  Dorothy’s adventure into the ‘forbidden zone’ of deep unconscious imagery is a chance for her to re-vision her life situation in Kansas (i.e., in the ‘conscious’ state—over the rainbow being her ‘unconscious’ dreamworld–, viz. Jean Houston’s reading) so that, ultimately, she will be able to stand up to the nasty neighbor with wisdom, compassion, and courage, and save her beloved companion Toto.

Me with my own Sophia
(I can identify with Dorothy!)

Significant dreams, as adventures in the realms of the deep ‘Unconscious’, provide an excellent canvas for re-visioning our life situations so we can achieve better endings in our ‘outer’ life. As a species that–at our best–constantly strives for self-transcendence in the form of personal growth and awareness, we are always aiming to forge better endings, every step of the way.

Ah, but a man’s reach should exceed his grasp, Or what’s a heaven for?
– Robert Browning

Countering Dystopia, or A Call for Projecting Hope through ‘Better Endings’

[Note to readers: I have cancelled the former post offering an Authors’ book sales and review exchange, because after several days, while there were some “Likes” for the post, no one had submitted their works. So I realized maybe this was not an appropriate approach. If you still would like to avail of that offer you can still Contact me and I will reply to you individually-LW]

I watched a free film via On Demand a few days ago that so absolutely called out for a better endings re-visioning that I realized there is a dystopian science fantasy meme of presumably inevitable global extinction events that might be negatively affecting our collective consciousness.  Annihilation Earth, with Luke Goss, Colin Salmon, Velislov Pavlov, and Marina Sirtis, has appropriately received mainly rotten tomato reviews for a weakly developed plot and thin characters, but I think it is worth taking note of as a clear example of a potentially dangerous fault line in contemporary, secular collective reasoning.

The film opens on a grim disaster scene: much of France including Paris has been annihilated in a momentary conflagration due to, we soon learn, a terrorist’s sabotage of a super-collider being used to generate free and inexhaustible energy.  The rest of the movie flashes back from this scene, periodically announcing the “time to extinction” in hours until the final scene delivers on the forecast: planet Earth implodes from a black hole created by the interaction of a global network of interlinked, sabotaged supercolliders.

Of course, the plotline pits the West against all Middle Eastern nations who are not included in the otherwise global boon of free energy and the elimination of any need for fossil fuels.  But aside from basic story weaknesses including the notion that only two scientists would together have unique and total access to programming and safeguarding the supercolliders such that compromising them could allow a sole terrorist to hack and sabotage the entire supercollider infrastructure, the main problem I see is in the lack of any awareness of potential protective agency of a spiritual—or resilient human idealist—nature. 

We are given to believe, in this and similar dystopian visions that are growing in popularity these days, that we—all species in fact, because of our human frailities—are completely at the mercy and whim of all-powerful bad guys ‘out there’ (or, in here, in our home communities) who will godlessly inflict death and cataclysmic destruction if they either plan ahead maliciously or simply wake up on the wrong side of bed one day and decide to wreak havoc. We are helpless, this cultural meme or cognitive schema tells us, in combatting or surviving evil if we just happen to be in the wrong place at the wrong time.

Now of course, yes, there are good grounds for this general malaise in light of the scourge of mass killing sprees and recently yet another brutal genocide playing out on our news media daily and horrifically on the ground in Ukraine.  And such chaotic killings do appear to be random and unavoidable by good people.  But I want to appeal to our deeper potentials for agency, spiritual awareness, and hope.  

There are always survivors, those who testify about following a nudge to stay home or take a different route on an otherwise fatal day.  Parents and loved ones who are bereaved find ways to make their lost loved ones’ lives meaningful by publicly advocating for change in the policies and laws that have fueled such horrendous acts as mass killing sprees.

 Yes, it is a battle so long as we are on this earth plane, between the forces of Light and of darkness. Yet we are more than our bodies and there is more to Life and to reality, that bullets can never silence.  Individually we have agency and collectively, too, so far as our elected officials are willing to serve the greater whole instead of their own seats of power or financial security.  Individually we can pay attention to our own inner guidance. Pay attention, and act according to your highest awareness. Even if it does not save your body, it provides a deeper connection with a greater good.

Just before the ‘fateful’ end of the B-movie Annihilation Earth, The scientist about to make a wrong decision to turn off the supercollider network despite his dying colleague telling him that doing such will result in a black hole event, his wife and two young children are standing behind him.  In my better endings re-visioning of the awful conclusion shown, his young daughter stops her father in the middle of his typing in the authorization code to turn off the colliders.

                “No, Dad! Stop, now!”

                “But Sarah, dear, this is the only way to fix this.”

                “No, you are wrong. Stop this, now!”

                “Why do you say this?”

                “There are three people with me inside, Daddy. A woman and two men from somewhere else. They are beautiful, full of light and love! They asked me to tell you, please Stop! This is not the right way!”

                David (the scientist-father, Luke Goss) pauses. He looks across at his superior, Paxton (Marina Sirtis), whose anger flashes:

                “Do it now, David!”

                David’s fingers on the computer keyboard press backspace several times, deleting the passcode he had been entering. It was like they had a mind of their own.  His friend Raja (Colin Salmon) would know best, he dimly realized. He was wrong to have ever doubted him. And Sarah, such a dear…

                After pausing, David could now discern on the screens that had been showing the growing global conflagration, that it was beginning to abate. Just as Raja had advised, the system had a self-correcting mechanism.  Earth would not be annihilated; after much damage, survival was imminent. Life would continue; people would rebuild, species survive! Perhaps, even, a lesson would finally be learned…

images are from pixabay.com

                So, there you have it.  There is always a ‘better endings’ scenario, if we will but turn our hearts and ears to Spirit; to the highest, not the lowest, in one another!

A Better Endings book review

From Goodreads, a review by Bridget Bruso:

Better Endings: A Guidebook For Creative Re-Visioning is a fun and informative way to create better endings for you. By using the prompt questions and space provided to record your answers you will begin to learn more about yourself. The book is divided into two parts: Part One deals with creating new endings for movies, books, history, and more, while Part 2 guides you to better understanding your choices and creating better endings for yourself.

I found this book entertaining as well as effective. The great thing about this book is the possibilities are endless as you can discover more about yourself by each better ending you decide to write and analyze. I related to the creative tactics of the prompts easily since I am a fan fiction blogger. I really went into a deep dive into myself as I discovered new things I never thought about before.

I would recommend this book for people who enjoy fanfiction. The creative writing aspect will appeal to anyone enjoying the arts. Movie fans and book lovers will enjoy certain sections and aspects to the exercises. This is ideal for anyone seeking to learn more about yourself in a creative and extremely personal way. This book would also be fun for an activity amongst friends, family, coworkers, or book club with members sharing their participation writings and what they learned about themselves and each other. Put on your creative writing cap and be ready to transform in a new direction in your own life with this wonderful read! 

(Thank You, Bridget!)

Entr’Acte and Looking Ahead

“So we move on, boats against the current,

borne back ceaselessly unto the past.”
F. Scott Fitzgerald

This final line from The Great Gatsby has stayed with me since reading the book in my late teens. I have often heard its echoing refrain, as I am one who does hold onto feelings and memories from yesterday or long ago. I can easily dwell in these memories of moments shared with a friend, a family member, a pet, a partner, or a place and time imprinted indelibly in consciousness. In fact, I do not apologize to the universe for this indulgence. When I contemplate the meaning of living in the Now as a spiritual principle, I assume that timespace being itself illusory, Now is wherever/whenever I choose to focus my attention. And for myself, I feel fueled by these golden, eternal memories: a moment of solitude, sitting at the dock of an Alaskan bay; a road trip with my dog companion Sophie, still with me after so many years; a magnificent inner Temple opening before my spiritual eye like an oyster revealing its pearl.

Still, there is merit in looking ahead. I find myself resurfacing, after a two week cold has provided an intermission, to such a vantage point; poised at a precipice beyond which I know I must venture to proceed further with this lifetime’s quest:

You have the responsibility
to realize your Dreams,
Not just for getting by.

(a dream admonition, 2004)

So in peering ahead, what can I discern beyond this precipice, and how can I navigate to reach the farther shores of this life’s purpose and mission?

First, I must reset my goals and steer accordingly in their direction. These are in part mundane: forging a path to connect readers with the new book (Better Endings; see right panel or click to order at Amazon); preparing the summer session online syllabus; household provisioning for my pets and me. Other goals are more profound, aiming toward greater spiritual growth and awareness. Plus simply forging ahead with projects and prospects already begun and emerging.

This week’s cold, now abating, has provided an interlude–an intermission between activities preceding and following the new book launch. The pathway forward as a relatively unknown author, I must admit, is tenuous and largely unclear. These days with so much online visibility at stake, the bulk of responsibility in steering a work of art forward, no matter how worthy, seems dependent primarily on the financial resources and budget of the artist. How to obtain sufficient reviews and whether to purchase expensive ad campaigns so that prospective readers might discover this work, created to be shared with others?

I apologize if my tone here is overly personal or brooding. The cold, I suppose, has opened a window for my reflections and prospection, and I am indeed contemplating how yet to achieve a ‘better ending’ to my current travails.

images are from pixabay.com

How about you? What precipice do you stand before, if you do, in your own life’s Quest? How shall you best navigate forward?

Toxic Conditions? Just Say ‘No, Please’

I have recently quit a part-time job that was engaging and interesting, but that required me to accept a toxic environment. I truly enjoyed what I was learning and being able to contribute as a service to the company as well as its clients.  But when I discovered the building had partially unmitigated asbestos in its old and somewhat cracked tile flooring, after some studying up on the subject online I knew I could not continue to work at that site.  I had recently vacuumed and the broken vacuum had spewed a cloud of dust into my face, before I had learned of the asbestos.

So I explained that I could not work in that environment. For a few weeks I tried to to see if perhaps there was a way I could do the work from home, while also teaching the role to the second in command at my home.  Ultimately I realized it it was not ideal for the company or for myself to try to conduct that role remotely.

So I finally uttered the words, “I quit.”  Immediately I felt the relief that comes with a positive, self-affirming decision, bringing—yes—a better ending to an unbalanced situation. It has felt very liberating and creatively productive to return to my more unscheduled life, with no more clocking in and out on company time schedules.

images are from pixabay.com

Better endings, remember, are not always happier ones, but when they bring clarity and closure to an unstable or lingering situation, they can lead to New Beginnings!

Better Endings Story Seed:  Toxic Conditions?

Have you had the experience of being able to free yourself from a toxic situation? Or, are you currently engaged in a situation with toxic elements to it?  Journal about how you found your way free from a toxic situation from the past, or about the toxic elements you have been dealing with.  In what ways might the principle of Better Endings potentially relate to your experiences?

With New Eyes, or Look Again!  The Value of Creative Re-Visioning

[First this week, THANK YOU to all of you who have been following and especially for those registering your ‘Likes’ for recent posts.-Linda]

Writing and particularly for me, journal writing, has been a lifelong refuge and treasure.  I kept as many as four journals going at a time through my college years, and I have kept a dream journal as well as a writing journal active for over 50 years.  Early on, I addressed my journal Itself as a Friend (Dear Friend would start my entries).  It is this long practice of journaling that has sustained my lifelong interest in writing and has led to several academic journal articles and to date, four published books (the first two academic and the last two, mainstream).  


My just released Better Endings: A Guidebook for Creative Re-Visioning (Central Park South Publishing) includes journaling pages so that you, too, as the reader can engage with the magical art of journaling that can open new doors of self-discovery, insight, and future envisioning.  The journaling prompts, included blank journaling pages,  and chapter topics presented in Better Endings truly can guide you to explore and reflect upon key values and events of your own Life Story: past, current and to come.

I have personally ‘beta tested’ every theme and journaling excursion offered with the Better Endings chapters.  Part One introduces topics that let you have fun practicing creative re-visioning with movies, fiction, and historical events.  You will get to write your own ‘better endings’ for movies or stories whose endings you have always disliked and to reflect upon what it is about these stories that lead you personally to want to rewrite these conclusions.  This is not at all about improving upon the screenplay or writing but about developing your own sense of ‘creative license’ to re-envision (or re-view) any story to explore its open possibilities.  If you can practice re-visioning a fictional story or an historical event, so too can you look at your own life story events (past, current and to come) with this same creative license, allowing you to imagine and mindfully explore your own open possibilities! After all, you are the composer, editor and key actor in your own Life Story.  In fact, that is what Part Two is all about.

Part Two gives you, the reader/ journal writer of Better Endings, the freedom to reclaim your own creative license; to re-vision and flexibly reflect upon the ‘shaping events’ or Turning Points of your own Life Path. Topics include:  What If?, Second Chances,  Silver Linings, Loss and Recovery, Big Moves, and Your Best is Yet to Come.

The value of creative re-visioning and journaling your reflections is that it opens your intuitive awareness. It can help you arrive at a sense of more meaningful closure and purpose with regard to your significant life events, situations or relationships, so you may approach new choices with greater understanding and clarity of intention.

Better endings are not necessarily happier ones, but they can lead to New Beginnings!

images are from pixapbay.com

If you would like to explore these themes in your own life, pick up a copy of Better Endings: A Guidebook for Creative Re-Visioning.  (You can click on the embedded links here or on the right panel cover image to be routed to Amazon, or you could order through Barnes & Noble or any other major retailer site.) It is available as an eBook (but if you choose this, please do create your own Better Endings Journal and do the journaling), or as a softbound or hardcover version. I welcome all reviews, comments, and questions!

Better Endings: A Guidebook for Creative Re-Visioning–Book Release!

Better Endings:  A Guidebook for Creative Re-Visioning, by Linda K. Watts, has been released and is now available to order from Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Kindle, Nook, Kobo and several other other retail book sites. It is available as a paperback (17.85), hardcover (28.95), or as an ebook (9.95).  Its direct url at Amazon is (or click on book image on right panel):

https://www.amazon.com/s?k=better+endings+a+guidebook+for+creative+re-visioning+linda+k.+watts&i=stripbooks&crid=3TEMQT36PW3H7&sprefix=better+end%2Cstripbooks%2C92&ref=nb_sb_ss_mission-aware-v1_2_10

A direct link for adding a review at Amazon for Better Endings, as of May 6, 2022 is: http://www.amazon.com/review/create-review?&asin=978-1-956452-09-9   

Better endings are New Beginnings! (image from pixabay.com)

Please if you procure this book, in any format, I invite you as the author to please, do the journaling, at least for the topics you are most drawn to personally. This book can help you to envision and bring about your own Better Endings.

These days, aren’t we all ready for some better endings?

Positive Reinforcement

Over the last two months I have found some success with practicing positive reinforcement, mainly with my beloved dog companion Sophie, but also as a life lesson more generally.

It started one day when, while I was in the bathroom, my dear Sophie–11+years young and generally excellent about utilizing piddle pads in her own rather opulent bathroom setup with tarps and liners and four pads at a time to prevent misses!–, sat right outside the bathroom door and relieved herself on the area-rug carpet!  This happened two times more in the next couple of days despite my arduous use of enzymatic cleanups and strong admonishment and reinforcement of the litter pads.

The fourth day in, I decided to get rid of the rug, rolled it up and moved it to the basement, leaving a wood floor such as she has never made mistakes on. But I wondered inwardly, what was going on? Sophie seemed pleased with herself when she had used the carpet in my view, so I knew somehow she thought I would be equally pleased and was confused when I was not!

Here’s who I’m talking about!

I realized the carpet area Sophie had used was near the water cooler (Culligan dispenser). Sometimes water might drip from the dispenser while I am filling a glass or a coffee carafe. So I figured out that Sophie might have interpreted this slight moisture on the rug as an invitation. With this awareness, I changed my approach.

After still strongly reinforcing the use of her litter pads (she is a small dog and while she loves to relieve herself out of doors, I want her to have a way to do so overnight or when I am away for several hours), I started rewarding her with diabetic-friendly Sci-Di W/D morsels, calling them “piddle treats.”  Every time she uses the pads during the day and every morning when I check her pads out, I congratulate and praise her for being such a good girl!

She has not made any mistakes since this change in approach to positive reinforcement instead of admonishment.

Good girl!

I have been reflecting on the practice of positive reinforcement more generally.  I realize it is important to use positive reinforcement with others I interact with day to day, and with myself! This has led to a more relaxed attitude altogether, and I find I am finding ways to have more fun and to celebrate happiness.

In retrospect I remember how, when I was growing up, I loved the book Irish Red.  As I recall, this story directly champions using positive reinforcement and demonstrating unconditional love in bonding with a dog, and I remember from then committing to use that approach with my own pets, always.  

images (other than of Sophie!) are from pixabay.com

My cat and dog life companions (plus a parakeet, a pigeon, and mice when I was young!) have always been among my closest friends and they are my home family as I have generally lived humanly alone or with a roommate.

My better endings suggestion here is simple: Be Kind to Others and to Yourself to Be Happy! Reward your loved ones and yourself with positive vibes and attitudes.

*****
Better Endings Story Seed

How can you practice positive reinforcement with a relationship situation you are currently facing, and with yourself? Journal also about a time when you used positive reinforcement and it led to an improvement in your life happiness.

What Is Your Happiness Quotient?

A Better Endings outlook is first and foremost a choice to maintain a positive attitude, despite or even especially in the face of life’s challenges. How can we maintain optimism, though, when beset by the heavy weight of a current problem? Recently I have stumbled upon a way out from under the otherwise debilitating burden of a pressing life situation.

I am transitioning out of my part-time job, one that I have deeply valued, because of an irresolvable environmental concern. I have been troubling over this decision, but I do know it is the right choice for me based on health considerations. So I have been mulling over this situation and yesterday arrived at a breakthrough realization that I am calling my “happiness quotient.”

I started counting my blessings compared to the negative factors I am moving through. I thought, well, most of my life remains positive, so I started adding up the percentages of positive aspects I am happy about in comparison to the elements that have been weighing me down.

For example (Readers, please make your own list), What I am Happy About:
* my pets, Sophie and Emily (healthy, loving companions)
* my family being nearer since my relocating
* good friends nearby, old and new, including my best high school buddy and her husband
* good friends I am still close with after all these years (many moons and and many moves!)
* My new book being released May 6 ! (see right panels for a Goodreads Giveaway and to pre-order)
* Continuing to teach anthropology online (my passion)
* my home environment: small hometown, river, lake, performing art center
* my spiritual practice and community activities
* my relative good health and prosperity
* my freedom

And What I am Unhappy or Challenged About (Readers again, please compose your own current list):
* leaving a job I have treasured and the people there whom I have been befriending
* the state of the world

So, when I count up my current factors for Happiness (N=10) against more negative factors (N=2), add them together (12) and calculate the percentage of happy to total factors (10/12 as x/100), I realize I have a Happiness Quotient of 84%. This awareness lifts my spirits and helps me to RELEASE what simply it is timely to Let Go!

Images are from pixabay.com

So, how about you? Try this one on for size. See if it might help you to put ‘things’ into a broader perspective. And importantly if it does not; if your Happiness Quotient turns out to be lower than you would like, then I would invite you to journal about (or contemplate or talk with your loved ones about) how you might introduce some better endings re-visioning into your current life chapter. What can you do to increase your happiness and to decrease the weight of current burdens?

Please feel free to share about your results in Comments below.


Better Endings are New Beginnings

My apologies for a two-week aperture. My new book, Better Endings: A Guidebook for Creative Re-Visioning (click link for url) is now available for pre-order at a discounted rate at all major retailers (Amazon, Barnes & Noble) and it will soon be available as an ebook at Kindle, Nook and several other sites. I have been on a daily learning curve, aiming to announce this book in as many ways as possible; if you are an author you know what I mean! While the publishers have announced the book to retailers and independent bookstores through Ingram at a good trade book discount rate, still it is up to me to let people know about the book, and that is a heady, onerous and daunting opportunity. The official release date is May 6 for retailers. There will be a book launch at my local Lewiston, NY Library on May 13, thankfully. I have set up a Goodreads Author Page and print book giveaway (6 free books chosen randomly, so you can find it there if you like), from April 26-May 8. Otherwise “pounding the pavement”: sending out postcards to selected bookstores, visiting local stores, submitting info to Barnes & Noble store placement, and basically learning something new every day about possible ways to get the word out.

This blog site has been the rich source of the concept that developed into Better Endings: A Guidebook for Creative Re-Visioning. Over the past 9 years or so we have explored herein the multifaceted jewel that is our own inherent creative license to envision and to flexibly re-vision a Story: everything from composing actual ‘better endings’ to movies, fiction, or historical events whose conclusions might leave you personally dissatisfied or yearning for a twist of fate, to journaling about ‘shaping events’ or Turning Points in our own life stories: Past, current or to come.


I have come to realize how fundamentally empowering it can be to creatively re-vision a situation from the past, any current situation, or a future aspiration or prospect. Doing so has guided me through three Big Moves just over the past four years, and has brought many new opportunities and vistas into clearer view. Re-visioning a past event helps me see it with new (more mature) eyes, and prospecting a desirable future through ‘alternate futurescape’ journaling has helped me zero in on what values I aim to establish in my home setting and in all my relations. Better Endings lead to New Beginnings! Sometimes this can mean simply bringing closure to a long contemplated worry from the past, or setting out in a new direction based on realizing the path you choose to follow!

Better Endings: A Guidebook for Creative Re-Visioning is the fruit of these many years of applying the creative principle of creative re-visioning not only in this blog but in my life. Central Park South Publishing has helped me to produce honestly a very well designed book. I am especially grateful that this book provides ample journaling space for readers to explore this faculty of creative re-visioning for yourselves.

Below is the Table of Contents. With each chapter, I introduce the chapter’s theme, share a sample ‘better endings’ story and some personal reflections about the topic, and then turn the theme over to you as the reader, to reflect on and to journal about with respect to your own life experience. The final of four lined journaling pages ask you to add your Reflections after you have personally explored your own ‘better endings’ perspective.

images are from pixabay.com

I guess you can tell, I really like how Better Endings: A Guidebook for Creative Re-Visioning has emerged as a book of true potential benefit for those who wish to reflect on life’s lessons and golden opportunities for transformational growth and fulfillment.

If you get the book, please do the journaling! That is the heart of its gift. Feel free to reach out to share with me about your experience with the themes in the book; I would gladly post your own ‘better endings’ stories here to share with others. And if you would, please do leave a review somewhere, at Amazon, B&N, Goodreads or on your own blog if you like. I understand reviews can be most helpful for letting more people know about a book.

Thank You for visiting and especially to those of you who have been Following this blog site; the fact that people actually do read what we write and share in a blog is what keeps them going and growing!

May You Find Your Better Endings!

Better Endings–the Book!

This week I will share the back story of how this blog developed and has morphed into my new book, Better Endings: A Guidebook for Creative Re-Visioning–to be released May 13 and available later this week (I will post the url here as soon as it is pre-released for ordering through Amazon)!  This is the story of my encounter with someone described in Thrive Global as a “Super Agent” –and, she is!–, Linda Langton, president of Langton International Literary Agency and Central Park South Publishing.  

After several years of interview-based research and presenting a series of papers about life mapping later published in book form as The ‘Life Map’ as an Implicit Cognitive Structure Underlying Behavior (Edwin Mellen Press, 2011), I developed and co-taught a Humanities course in Colorado with a History professor, Dr. Duvick, called Myth, Reason and Your Life History.  This led to the One Thing moment I wrote about last week, a summer writing retreat in Steamboat Springs, CO, during which I created the nub of the book, Your Life Path (Skyhorse, 2018).  I continued to write and teach about life mapping for another few years as I attended a series of writing conferences, one near San Francisco; another in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina; and finally in Newport Beach sometime around 2013.  Each conference was worthwhile as it helped me understand what agents and editors were looking for and helped me improve my manuscript proposal.  Of course, I was also seeking an agent willing to take on a new author.

The morning I met Linda Langton, I was at breakfast at the conference hotel. I had set up three agent meetings for that day, for which I had sent chapters and a book proposal in advance.  As I was leaving the restaurant, this striking lady professional who was standing nearby turned and called out to me: “Colorado?” (she had read from my nametag).  Are you Linda Watts?

“Yes,” I stammered, grateful to be acknowledged at all at this large conference event.

“Life mapping?”

“Yes!”

“How inspiring!”

She introduced herself and I gratefully thanked her and said I would be seeing her shortly after lunch later that day.  I had another agent session set up in the morning.

At the first agent meeting, that lady let me know that she liked my book concept, but she said since I did not have a strong public “platform,” I should establish one and maybe get back to her in six months. I returned to my hotel room, discouraged. 

Was this to be yet another conference at which I was to learn more about what I yet needed to do, but no more?

I arrived twenty minutes early for my meeting with L. Langton.  Guess what, though?  She was already there too, outside the large meeting conference room which was closed during lunchtime.  We greeted each other, and she asked an attendant to let us into the room, early!

We sat at her agent table to talk.  I started:

“I am really not here just to learn more about what I need to do to make my book better.  I am here to find an agent!”

LL smiled and extended her hand across the small table to shake mine.  “Oh, I will represent you,” she beamed. (I was struck silent then, absorbing the impact of what this NYC agent had just said, and to me!)  Then she continued: “But I can only publish your book if you have a platform.  If you have a platform, I can publish your book; if not, I cannot.”

We talked for the rest of our session about how I could go about building a public platform.  As a university professor who had published two academic books and several peer reviewed academic articles, I was certainly not a public figure much beyond my small world of students and faculty.  Yet, that very morning before coming to the agent sessions, I had been thinking in bed about how I could take another idea forward that I had begun to journal about, the idea of “better endings.”  So, when Ms. Langton suggested I could write a blog and join Twitter to help increase my public platform, I told her about the “better endings” concept and suggested I could blog about that!  My new agent liked the idea.  I left the conference (after cancelling my third agent appointment since I was very happy to be working with LL), boosted and thrilled to have this golden opportunity to further develop the manuscript for Your Life Path, and to start a blog.

That next week, a colleague’s husband who is a scifi writer with his own blog helped me to set up and create my new blog, this one:  Better Endings.  The ideas here have ranged widely from concepts associated with Your Life Path that connect with living your best life and “living your dream,” to journaling tools for reflecting on the basic theme of “better endings.”

After Your Life Path was eventually published in 2018, a new idea formed: I would write a simpler, narrative plus journaling-based book presenting the creative principle of Better Endings to the public.  As a Guidebook for Creative Re-Visioning, this new book includes ample lined journaling pages for you to explore and create your own better endings

images are from pixabay.com

What I have discovered through nearly a decade of applying this creative principle in my own life and blogging and then writing about it is, One Thing:

Better Endings are New Beginnings!

One Small Step

What do the following statements have in common?

At some point Curly turns to Mitch and says, “Do you know what the secret of life is?” Mitch replies, “No, what?” Curly holds up his index finger and says, “This!” Mitch says, “Your finger? Using, shall we say, somewhat colorful language, Curly goes on to explain that he means that one thing matters in life.

Mitch says, “That’s great, but what’s the one thing?”
Curly responds, “That’s what you gotta figure out.”

https://www.knoxnews.com/story/money/business/2019/02/06/one-thing-your-life-matters-most/2582003002/ (City Slickers)

AND:

“That is one small step for man,

One giant leap for Mankind.”
– Neal Armstrong


Also in the book or movie Contact by Carl Sagan and Ann Druyan, remember how Ellie Arroway’s dad counsels her twice—once on Earth and again as a wise alien:


“Small moves, Ellie. Small moves.”


There is a profound and powerful better endings coaching tool embedded in each of the statements above.  One Thing, when rightly chosen and enacted, can launch your life in a new direction from which you will never need to turn back, propelling you directly to “live your dream!”

An example from my life is that some 17 years ago, I was just beginning to think about how a Humanities class I had been developing and co-teaching with a History professor in Colorado—called Myth, Reason, and Your Life History—in which I presented an eight-week series of classes in life mapping, could be put into a book that could be useful for readers. When I shared this emerging idea with a therapist (whose approach of archetypal psychotherapy I wanted to use in the book), she suggested I could take a one month writing retreat.  I did not have extra cash and had several pets that would need to be cared for, but after some consideration, I went for it! I rented a ski chalet (by credit card) in Steamboat Springs, Colorado for a whole month of July that next summer, hired a pet sitter and brought my one elder cat Ariel with me.

It was wonderful to have a full month to focus on just one thing: outlining and beginning to write a personal growth and development book that eventually became Your Life Path: Life Mapping Tools to Help You Follow Your Heart and Live Your Dream, Now! (Skyhorse, 2018). I wrote original versions of the openings to most of the book’s chapters right there at the Steamboat Springs chalet.  I woke early, had breakfast and started writing and working on workbook materials at 8 AM, and I worked 7 days a week until usually at least 7 or 8 PM, nearly every day that month. It was exhilarating! I wrote book and chapter synopses, developed workbook ideas, and by the time I returned home from the retreat, I knew I could take this work forward, and gradually did! It would take several more years before I met an agent at a writing conference who took the book on and helped me develop it further for publication, but I never looked back from that singular point of deciding, yes, I would take a full month writing retreat. That was my “one small step,” my “One Thing.”

images are from pixabay.com

In Your Life Path I developed the One Thing concept (based on the City Slickers idea quoted above) into one of the future-planning life mapping workbook Tools.  I ask people to first express a very important goal that would bring them a sense of fulfillment in their life. Then I invite them, after imagining what their life would look like from the perspective of having fulfilled that goal (i.e., envisioning from the point of view of the goal achieved), what could be ONE THING or ONE SMALL STEP they could undertake now or in the near foreseeable future that could propel them in the direction of actualizing their dream.

***

What about you? What is a life goal you have nurtured that might seem difficult to realize but that, if actualized, would bring you to a deeper sense of personal fulfillment of your sense of Mission in life?

Okay, so what is ONE THING you COULD DO now, or in the near foreseeable future, that would propel you in the direction of Living Your Dream?


(Plan it! Make It So!)

The Missing Puzzle Piece

A few weeks ago an odd thing happened.  I found a single jigsaw puzzle piece on my living room carpet.  This was odd because I have not worked on a jigsaw puzzle for over a year (and I have vacuumed several times since then!); and because the last puzzle I did put together is complete and I have not disassembled it.  No missing pieces.

I showed the puzzle piece to a friend who sometimes works puzzles and has visited at my home, but no, she says it could not be from her either.

The puzzle piece itself is not so extraordinary: a sliver of the top of a white and grey cloud against a line of maybe blue mountain scape on a horizon, against a dark blue background. Let’s say it could symbolize a cloud’s silver lining—then, for me as the finder, what could be its significance?

images are from pixabay.com

Maybe that is just it: my missing piece of the puzzle of life is to find silver linings!  Sometimes I do need to remember that; not to stress out when things go out of kilter a bit, either in everyday life or in the larger scheme of worldly events.  Depending on one’s outlook or one’s position in a situation, there can always be a silver lining discerned: opportunities disguised as setbacks.

Still, this could be but one of my “missing puzzle pieces.”  As a journaling exercise I recommend answering What Is My Missing Puzzle Piece About? Brainstorm several possible answers and then explore or contemplate each response.  For example, for me (I always sample first any better endings journaling tool I offer to others), my brainstorming could include:

My Missing Puzzle Piece Could Be About:

  • Taking more time to investigate a situation before acting
  • Listening with greater, and longer, patience
  • More free time for sheer enjoyment
  • Dropping the mind in contemplation practice
  • More laughter, at myself, and healthy humor generally
  • Ways to arrive at greater clarity and conviction
  • Acceptance, gratitude

And so on…guess I have plenty more Puzzles to solve!

How about You? How might you answer this probe?  What might your puzzle piece look like? What could it represent for you?

Defending Your Life :  Mid-Life Review for Better Endings

One of my favorite movies is Defending Your Life, about the between-lifetime adventures of Daniel Miller (Albert Brooks) and Julia (Meryl Streep).  Daniel and Julia are recently departed Souls whose lives are on trial to determine whether they get to “move on” or must to return to Earth to make more progress on their life goals and challenges.  They meet and fall in love in Judgement City, a way station between lives where their trials are held.

Rip Torn plays Bob Diamond, the lawyer for Daniel, whose case is much less likely to succeed than that of Julia, a brave and virtuous heroine by all accounts.  Daniel is judged as having been too fearful and risk-aversive, based on scenes from his life shown in the courtroom.  Rip Torn tries to defend or apologize for some of the less stellar episodes from Daniel’s life, but he is clearly aware the verdict is going to go against Daniel. So, near the end (I will not spoil the twist ending; worth seeing!), Julia is moving on and up, but Daniel boards a bus taking Souls back to Earth to be reincarnated, to hopefully recognize and learn their lessons better the next time around.

There is also an excellent non-fiction book on the same theme: The Journey of Souls, by Dr. Michael Newton.  Newton interviewed over a hundred people while they were under hypnosis, not about ‘past lives’ but rather about between incarnations. He discovered a high degree of intersubjective agreement among these many people’s accounts; they provided very similar descriptions! Among other shared factors, they talked about undergoing a life review process to determine how far they had come during their last lifetime toward fulfilling certain goals or learning particular lessons. Here is the intersection with the film, Defending Your Life.

Honestly this film and book have long been part of my background motivation for writing Your Life Path (2018) and my soon to be released simpler and I think the reader will find more fun and creative journaling sandbox: Better Endings: A Guidebook for Creative Re-Visioning. My thought is, why wait til after or between lives—or later in THIS life, no matter your beliefs!—to find out how you are doing with your deepest life mission and goals. It can be very illuminating to step back and do some basic contemplative or journaling life reflection, here and now, to take stock and maybe consider some basic or highly desirable mid-life corrections you might want to make, before ‘moving on,’ in THIS life!

Images are from pixabay.com

Better Endings Story Seed:

Defending Your Life (to Now)

Imagine (playfully) that you have passed Beyond; just temporarily, let’s say.  You find yourself in Judgement City, where a lawyer defends your case for ‘moving on’ in a courtroom with a judge and several wise-appearing jurors looking on. Your lawyer and a prosecuting lawyer against your transcending show some brief clips from your life to emphasize why you should return for another life to work on unfinished lessons, or to show how you have fulfilled your purpose and are ready to ‘move on’.

List 3-5 of your life events the lawyers might show in these clips, including at least one from both positive and less positive moments.  What lesson or lessons are you still working on? Where to from here then,
to fulfill your life’s mission or goals?

The Mirror of Erised: What If?

A fun and effective way to reveal your own better endings desires of the heart is to simply fill in the blank for the following probe:  What If ______?  This is like looking into the Mirror of Erised at Hogwarts in the Harry Potter stories.  You may discover there that which you most deeply desire.

For example, allow me to try this on to sample the approach:

WHAT IF?

What If …  I were to find just the right ‘next move’, at just the right time, and I could easily afford it? {This leads me to contemplate: What am I looking for, next?}

What If …   Better Endings (my new book, launching soon!) will help many readers discover next steps in their own life adventures?

What If?I would practice greater patience with a team-building opportunity?

What If? … I could go forward with my science fiction trilogy project by launching Book 1 on Kindle? {What am I waiting for, and why?}

What If? … Peace in the heart helps bring peace in the world?  {I need to remember to be a vehicle of Light and Love, instead of feeding my own or others’ fear or mere condemnation.}

What If? … I could create a backyard labyrinth at my next home, or find a good one nearby? {This is a call for deeper, more regular contemplation, centering, balance.}

What If?I related to all others as the spirit Lights they are, so they could see that for themselves in my mirror of love?

What If? … I could see through the Illusion of separation; in time, space/geography, and spirit?

What If? … I could harness the insights communicated in my dreams, more and more?

What If? … silence is golden?

I like using at least ten prompts as modeled above, because the repetition compels me to look sometimes at the surface and also to deeper levels within.

images are from pixabay.com

I invite you to try this for yourself!  Make a list of ten or more What Ifs? that come to you as you actively imagine and/or journal in response to this prompt.  I urge you to search for and express positive, better ending sorts of responses.  Does this help reveal to you some of the desires of your heart?  Well, then,
of course:

FOLLOW YOUR HEART!

Better Endings as Archetypal Alchemy


Healer, Communicator, Teacher, Mystic:  these 4 Persona archetypes exist as potentials in us all.  

From a pantheon of Twelve universal Primordial Archetypes revealed by Drs. Charles and Nin Bebeau (co-founders of the Archetype Institute of Boulder, CO), these four together comprise Dissolving (or Resolution) personas that surface in us when we arrive at a positive resolution, or closure—hence, Better Endings!—in our significant life situations.  Below is the complete system of twelve primordial, universal archetypes that Dr. Bebeau identified based on Jungian archetype theory in relation to Sumerian astrology (thanks to Debra Breazzano, MA, LPC for the archetypal chart design; and to Gianmichele Grittani for the chart graphics!):

TWELVE UNIVERSAL PERSONA ARCHETYPES

 
 CreationMaintenanceDissolving
EarthElder LeaderArtistHealer
AirLoverIdealistCommunicator
FireWarriorGolden ChildTeacher
WaterNourisherDescenderMystic

This system of primordial universal archetypes corresponds with the four (quaternal, to Jung) fundamental Elements, or human consciousness modes, in relation to the dynamic process of any life experience: from its beginnings or origination, through its maintenance or ongoing dynamics, to its conclusion by which a situation is ‘dissolved’ or resolved in consciousness. Endings, particularly Better Endings, when our experience of life situations achieve a positive sense of closure (positively, with lessons learned!), give ground to New Beginnings!

So this is the crux, the underlying intellectual basis, of why I pursue the topic of Better Endings with this blog, in my 2018 book Your Life Path (Skyhorse Publishers), and in my new, forthcoming book, Better Endings: A Guidebook to Creative Re-Visioning. (Better Endings is in final production stage now; I will make it available to you here when it launches, in about 4-6 weeks!)

The principle of Better Endings is a fun topic any of us can use to creatively and flexibly reflect about any event or situation in our lives—past, present or to come—, so as to playfully imagine and creatively re-vision that event for greater understanding of life’s forward moving lessons.  Positively re-visioning your most significant or Shaping life events evokes (calls forth) in your mindful or conscious awareness one or more of these closure related “Dissolving stage” persona archetypes: Healer, Communicator, Teacher, and/or Mystic.

images are gratefully from pixabay.com

Better Endings to You!

Creative Re-Visioning

Better Endings, and the new beginnings that generally follow from them, start with creative re-visioning. That is the greatest lesson I have taken away from exploring the principle of Better Endings for this blog and in my life over the past several years.   

Sometimes I refer to the practice of creative re-visioning itself as better-endering, a play on the phrase from Camelot of ‘happily ever-aftering.’  Of course, not all ‘better endings’ are happy ones; rather, they bring benefits of helping people to resolve situations–sometimes deeply buried in past memories but affecting current outlooks or decisions—so they can move forward with greater awareness to move toward a ‘better’ future.

So, what is Re-Visioning? It is a viewpoint we can apply to past, present, or future situations or choices that allows us to look “anew” or with a “fresh pair of lenses” from our most mature and mindful Self.


We can re-vision a past trauma, for instance, to come to a better understanding of how that came about, what we have learned from the experience, and how we can go forward knowing we could handle such a situation differently today.  We can re-vision the present by asking ourselves, have we fallen into any sort of “rut” that is impeding our progress toward our highest goals; if so, how shall we move forward again? We can re-vision the future by looking at where we appear to be headed and asking ourselves, is that where we want to arrive; if not, what specific steps can we take now or in the near foreseeable future that could propel us in a new direction we truly desire to explore.

Here is a practice:

Better Endings Story Seed:
Creative Re-Visioning

Make a list of 3-5 situations from your past that you feel influenced the person you have become either in a positive way or a negative way (please include at least one or more of both).  Then, quietly reflect about, talk with a loved one about, or journal about each of the situations you have listed. What was most helpful about the positive influences? Why or how did the negative situations come about?

Finally, go back in your active imagination to the more challenging situation, bringing your more mature attitude and sense of greater empowerment or free will today with you. What could you do differently or tell your younger self to do differently?  How might that have changed your life? Can you do something today to celebrate AS IF you have resolved that earlier challenge?

images are from pixabay.com

Better Endings to you!