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 not only that it was not ideal 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!

Live, … and Learn

“Live, and learn!” is an apt mantra for a better endings point of view.  What else, right?  When we immerse ourselves in life with all its joys and sorrows, we recognize how all our experiences come bearing gifts: lessons of love for carrying forth as we wind our way to greater awareness and the freedom that accompanies wisdom.  Of course, some of the experiences we encounter are terrible burdens; harsh or even brutal by comparison with the joyful boons, times of laughter and positivity.  Still in all, focusing this mantra of Live, and Learn empowers us with the agency to meet our challenges, even deep losses of the heart, with gratitude for the lessons learned that lead us to be more adept in our own lives, to evolve.

I do not expect everyone to be on the same page with me on this one; I respect that deeply and do feel compassion and sympathy for the horrendous hardships any of us might encounter in this all too unstable world.  Just this week, with Ukrainians under attack from an imperialist rogue nation and with so many needing to flee as refugees, clearly it is not the time to chant the mantra “Live, and Learn.” Or is it?

Images are from pixabay.com

Life certainly brings crushing defeats which can lead to anger, mistrust and fear for continuing and future woes.   To focus on the ‘lessons’ inherent in any challenge simply means to look for what one CAN DO in the face of hardship or loss; it is an act of self-empowerment such as I do see in the actions and faces of those brave Ukrainians either choosing to stay and fight, or finding a means to remove their children, at least for the short run, from a war-torn state.

“Live, and learn” does not mean to dismiss or try to bury pain.  It just means there is always that next step to take, resources to find and accept, a light at the end of the tunnel, and a way—with the will—to   carry forth.

Peace to the world.

Live Your Dream

“I dreamed it, man!”
Aaron Donald
LA Rams defensive tackle
(2/13/22, after VLII Superbowl game
)

What a wonderful contemplation seed!

The legendary NFL player, Aaron Donald, was not speaking figuratively after his team’s recent Superbowl win; he really did dream of his game-ending play.  Donald sacked the opposing team’s quarterback in the 4th quarter on 4th down with 1 yard to reach a first down, and with only seconds left to play.  Had the Bengals gained that first down they would have likely at least tied the score and sent this year’s Superbowl game into overtime.  But the lineman who sacked the QB to win the Big Game for his team had “dreamed it!” and so it came to be.

What does it take to synch your inner dream world of goals and ‘can do’ possibilities with your outer world of physical action, resulting in the realization of your deeply cherished ideals?  Here is a better endings question well worth pursuing.

If you can visualize achieving your goal, as successful athletes and stage performers learn well, then you can manifest that vision. You forge a thought mold, and then you fill it. There is nothing mysterious or magical or difficult or forbidden about this process of manifestation. But it takes dedication to a worthy goal, study and practice to achieve the skill necessary to enact the pattern (fill the mold), and strong belief in your own ability or talent.

images are from pixabay.com

Better Endings Story Seed:
Live Your Dream

Have you ever worked so hard at pursuing a goal that you literally dreamed of your success and then found yourself living out that dream in ‘real life’? How can you apply your faculty of creative visualization to realize or bring yourself nearer to fulfilling some worthy goal? Journal in your Better Endings Journal (any loose-leaf paper or blank page book) about a ‘dream’ or goal that you would like to bring into reality. Imagine yourself achieving your goal. What do you see? How DID you do it?

Surfing Silver Linings

Surfer, Surfing, Wave, Beach, Ocean

With the last post I explored the topic of what we might find to be grateful for despite or even as a ‘side effect’ of the global pandemic.  This is not to disrespect or diminish the loss of life, peace of mind, and livelihoods that many have had to endure.  Yet as we continue our passage through this long-term pandemic era, being humans it is natural for us as survivors to aim for transcendence and gradual reemergence from the cocoon of sheltering, masking, vaccinating, and social distancing.  In this journey from darkness into relative light we might rightfully “look for the silver linings” of the heavy clouds that have—and for many, still do—covered the globe.  As our theme in this blog overall is the proactive principle of Better Endings, focussing on discerning the Light is appropriate.

Shell, Nautilus, Silver, Shine, Sea

An image I have been getting this week is that of Surfing Silver Linings.  The old spiritual adage “As Above, So Below” informs this metaphor.  I see a surfer riding on the upper billowing whiteness of a cumulus cloud, sending fairy-dust like particles through the dense gray of the lower cloud that filter through to the ground below like snowflakes, seeding a more positive energy.

Inspired by: Niklas Ernst https://pixabay.com/photos/blue-flower-wildflower-meadow-6620619/ Thank you

After contemplating this image of ‘surfing silver linings,’ I drew a tile and opened The Book of Runes to the following (Teiwaz rune):

Teiwaz (#15, Warrior Energy)

“Embodied in this Rune is the energy of discrimination, the swordlike quality that enables us to cut away the old, the dead, the extraneous.  With this Rune comes the certain knowledge that the universe always has the first move. Patience is the virtue of this Rune, and it recalls for us the words of St. Augustine that ‘The reward of patience is patience.’  The molding of character is the issue when this Rune appears in your spread.

“Here, you are asked to look within, to delve down to the foundation of your life itself. Only in so doing can you hope to deal with the deepest needs of your nature and to tap into your most profound resources.”  ( – Ralph Blum, The Book of Runes, NY: St. Martin’s Press, 1982, pgs. 95-96)

Tiewaz, Rune, Runes, Futhark, Divination
images are from pixabay.com

When you are ready to rise above the negativity of challenges borne by this pandemic, perhaps it may be helpful to contemplate your intrinsic ‘spiritual warrior ‘ energy, to reseed your own better endings


Better Endings Story Seed:
Surfing Silver Linings

Can you relate to this image of Surfing Silver Linings in relation to the global pandemic? Whether you can or if you find this metaphor inappropriate for your own current life conditions, I encourage you to journal about or talk with a loved one about how you might resurface or rise above the challenges you are facing.



Lessons from the Pandemic: Gratitude?

Mona Lisa, Mask, Coronavirus, Pandemic

Most of us humans on Earth are fairly strained by now from having to endure a longer global pandemic than many of us would have expected to have to abide.  One year, maybe, even 18 months or so of masking, getting vaccinated and social distancing we might believe should have ‘done the trick’ by now; but no, the universe has yet more in store for us in what is becoming the Covid Era. So, in the spirit of applying the principle of Better Endings (BTW the book is under contract now, undergoing a final edit!), can we focus on what we may actually be grateful for, or how enduring a pandemic could actually help those of us who survive this ordeal to progress in our lives, anyhow?

I invite you to write (journal about or discuss with others) a list of life lessons or positive ‘side effects’ you can take forward from your encounter with your own Covid-era conditions. I will try my hand (or heart) at this, too:

What I can be grateful for during the Covid Era:

  • More time at home with my beloved pets, Sophie and Emily;
  • Fewer colds due to masking and much more regular use of vitamins and supplements, especially zinc, C, D3, My Community mushroom supplements, multivitamins,  and CoQ10;
  • More time for focussing on writing (two book manuscripts now in process of approaching publication and several more ‘in the hopper’);
  • Deep dreaming, journaling and contemplations in the quiet space of home;
  • More reading time (book discussions with my good friend Jan about the holographic universe (e.g.), and a local book club now available via Zoom);
  • Zoom events (although, while not having to mask is nice and being able to connect with folks remotely from anywhere in the world is wonderful, I do miss face to face eye contact—gotta say!)
  • Long telephone conversations with family and friends;
  • Good times spent at my home and theirs with close friends, all of us boosted!

Hand Lettering, Paper, Watercolor
images are from pixabay.com

Better Endings Story Seed:

Lessons from the Pandemic

Can you ride with this theme? What can you be grateful for despite or due to your own pandemic conditions? Journal about how you are enduring the Covid Era in your Better Endings Journal (any loose-leaf journal; or share in discussion with a loved one). Feel free to comment at this site, too!

Life celebration

Butterfly, Blue, Wings, Flight, Insect, Nature

image from pixabay.com

In memoriam of a dear. many lifetime friend:

Butterfly Wings

A life full of meaning,

One eternal moment,

Each fraction of relationship

expressing the Whole;

Divine hologram forged

Of Light and Sound:

Love at once divine

and immediate.

Enter memory, indelible,

overlaid onto every ‘new’

and returning vista;

familiar voices, faces,

constant companions

unseen by Present perception,

bearing presence that carries

me through the darkest of Time

upon the weft of deeper floe,

the hint of a smile.

          – Linda Watts/avril, 1/30/22

Blue Bird

Artwork and haiku by Anne Lyon

My last post encouraged you to contemplate about what is your own ‘secret of true freedom.’  I was overjoyed to hear from one reader, my dear cousin Anne, who is an amazing artist. The picture and quote above is from Anne—her response to the post from her artwork.

It is ironic—or divine inspiration—as I shared with Anne, that her image is that of a bluebird, because unbeknownst to her, a Bluebird has long been, for me, a special sign: a harbinger of everything being okay; herald of being watched over and loved.

Many years ago I had a vision upon waking: I looked up and saw this six-foot tall Blue Bird—with a blue macaw body and a farseeing, knowing look—standing at a skylight window over my bed, though I did not physically have a skylight window. The Blue Bird was protecting me like a Guardian Spirit, an image of my inner spiritual Guide.  Ever since, I take special notice and feel deeply grateful whenever a Bluebird appears in my life; whether it be a bird in nature or appearing as a special ‘waking dream’ sign such as my cousin Anne’s beautiful artwork.

So I want to acknowledge not just the Blue Bird totem but also Anne’s wise haiku, the secret of true freedom she shares with us:

“Freedom Lies in Me
To Choose Again and Again
Landing on My Feet.”
– Anne Lyon

The Secret of Freedom

Schrecksee, Mountain Lake, Allgäu, Alps


I have had a blog post written on this title for nearly two weeks, but I have not felt inspired to share what I had written. Instead, this morning a poetic lyric came back into my mind from a song I wrote many moons ago, around 1978:

Between the inflow
and the outflow,
the inspiration and the letting go,
there are changes;
there are changes in the Wind.

I do not know why these lyrics, which have been with me all day today, have resurfaced. If I am correct about when I wrote them initially, that song was written within a year of a huge change in my life, a Big Move from East to West that certainly redirected the trajectory of this lifetime ever since. So why now? I am not planning any major change and have been more in a settling in mode since my third move in as many years now, over a year ago already.

People, Woman, Travel, Adventure, Trek


I feel the answer as to why these lyrics have resurfaced relates to the original title I have planned to write about here: the secret of freedom. This was a topic discussed in a spiritual MeetUp recently that I found motivating. I was going to share about how, for me, cultivating and relying on inner guidance (or inner counsel) is a key to freedom in my life; then I was going to ask you (and will) to reflect about what your own secret to freedom is. But these lyrics speak to the theme quite well, for me. Repeating:

Between the inflow
and the outflow,
the inspiration and the letting go…

So this is where true freedom arises: allowing information or external influences IN, yet then reflecting deeply, exploring the realm of possibilities before: choosing, acting, manifesting–whether that be manifesting change or stability. Right action flows from right discrimination or discernment. I realize for me this is not so much about being Mindful as being “Mind-less”! That is, transcending the mind’s habitual grooves by diving deeply before acting.

Dove, Bird, Freedom, Flying, Pigeon
images are from pixabay.com

The more I contemplate this lyric–between the inflow and the outflow–the more centered I feel and my sense is this is where ‘higher awareness’ itself may be situated or accessible to my human senses. So, take a deep breath when considering a matter: breathe in, rest deeply before breathing out, expressing the next word or action.

******
Better Endings Story Seed:
The Secret of Freedom

What is the secret, for you, of ‘true freedom?’ I invite you to remember and to reflect upon how you have been able to act or think freely in your life. Share with a loved one or write about your thoughts.