These Pandemic Times

A theme that would likely be included in everyone’s MyStory journal or book these days would be how they have endured these Pandemic Times, since around February or March 2020.  Many have suffered deep losses of the heart from losing loved ones to this horrific virus of Covid-19, plus there have been many other repercussions of our having had to live through this pandemic for these past few years, with continuing effects as we move forward.  I invite you to write or otherwise share your Pandemic Times story, focussing on the life changes and lessons you have experienced.

For my own pandemic record, I recognize how my life has changed dramatically since before and after Covid-19 spread as a global pandemic.  I relocated from what I had previously thought would be my long term, near lakeside retirement house, selling my patio home in a small and comfortable resort community to make a Big Move to my high school hometown.  I felt trapped by the pandemic in this small community. People chose not to mask, feeling perhaps overly safe and protected. I even bought 300 masks and distributed them throughout the community, hoping neighbors would choose to help protect one another, but to no avail. (As a daily dogwalker, this mattered to me.)

I took the emerging pandemic very seriously, wanting to stay healthy for the sake of living alone with my cat and my dear diabetic dog Sophie, who relies on me for an unusually special and time-consuming diet. I used Instacart, having all my food and sundries delivered outside my door, and then (at first anyway), wiping down everything that would enter the home.

I had a dream very near the beginning of the pandemic, in which a man entered a semi-darkened theater (with about three or four rows of seating) while those of us seated were watching some video or movie. In front of us he opened a backpack, took out a gun with a long, thin barrel, and proceeded to shoot every one of us, either in the abdomen or in the chest! For me it was the abdomen, and it paralyzed me so that all I could do was watch as he completed his task, then he went into an adjacent kitchen to do his deed there as well.  For a long time this dream haunted me…were we all doomed?  But more recently I wonder if being “shot” could have also been a harbinger of the vaccines to come…

By now I have had all five available shots (plus flu, shingles, and pneumonia), so that I feel like a pin cushion. But I have not (yet anyway, knocking on my oak wood desktop) succumbed to Covid and I intend not to ever do so.

Masks, teaching entirely from home remotely, increasing texting contact with my family and friends, walking Sophie daily, and writing were my havens.  Eventually I realized I would feel more supported and comfortable in my beloved Home Town, where my best friend from high school still lives with her husband and family, and closer to my sister for visiting with her.  Besides, external spiritual community activities I had been engaged with before the pandemic were no longer “in person.” Zoom stepped in—and up!  This was and has been good, but I still am not as happy with online events as with face to face interaction and contact. I mean, you really do not get to look into a person’s eyes with Zoom, though it is very good at expanding networks beyond the local sphere.

So, I moved “during Covid times.”  Still, at the new home I used Instacart and Zoom for a long while to come, masked in public, and have to this day generally avoided large or densely gathered groups.  I finished and published the book I had begun in 2018 (Better Endings, 2022). I continued (still) to teach remotely online for Colorado though not for Ithaca, because the Covid economy crunch led to the department I taught for there being dismantled.

Now, since vaccines have effectively reduced the worst dangers of the pandemic disease, we are still beset by new variants flaring.  I see news reports that suicide rates, substance abuse rates and related deaths are up still. Many of the students I teach have suffered losses of heart and many deal with depression and fears for their future.

Yet we endure.  We share.  Despite a growing polarization of viewpoints, we reach out to one another in our families and communities, aiming to offer solace and a welcoming spirit of neighborly kindness and divine love.  In this, I would simply say, We Are Not Alone. I am grateful for the guidance along the way and for the deepened friendships with family, friends and neighborly folks in my home and spiritual communities.  Perhaps having witnessed the worst of these pandemic times—with enormous loss of life and diminished health factors in all our communities—we (I at least) have come to better appreciate the value of life but also that there is much more than just this life spiritually, so that pursuing one’s spiritual goals and interests is as or more important than simply getting by from day to day.  Love matters, awareness matters, reaching out to others in service is its own reward.

I live near the Buffalo, NY community and its neighborly love values extend far and wide in this region where the “Buffalo Mafia” (Buffalo Bills football fans) means Family.  In a region where heavy snowstorms along the Lake Effect areas have long called family and neighbors to support one another through difficult ordeals, these values of neighborly love have carried through and even intensified during these Pandemic Times. So I feel fortunate to have returned Home to this environment, and I look forward to gradually returning to “in person” life, without masking or cocooning. And yes,…Go Bills!

images are from pixabay.com

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Your story—your uniquely epic MyStory—matters.  As I like to say to my pets, family, friends and students, there has never been and will never again ever be the unique Person that YOU ARE.  If we are spiritual Beings living physical lives (as I do personally believe) then our meaningful stories, our unique life experiences, can be thought of as the Divine experiencing facets of Itself in all the diversity of life’s expression.

So again, I invite you to write your MyStory for the sake of contributing to the archives of Life Itself.  As I am exploring some of my own life theme stories with this current blogspace, I am sorting the stories into thematic files on my computer, adding to the stories as I go, intending to eventually combine the thematic topics as chapters of my own MyStory book. I encourage you to likewise explore and express your own insights and lessons from your invaluable life experiences around your own life themes.

What about you? How have these Pandemic Times affected you and your loved ones, both as challenges
and in terms of your positive lessons gained?

Detangling the Web of Core Relationships

As we proceed with building a corpus of MyStory tales, our most memorable and thematic life stories, I am reminded of Carl Jung’s significant record of his own ‘depth’ MyStory explorations in The Red Book.  Jung used active imagination (contemplation) techniques to sink deeply into his personal unconscious realm, to explore and interact with his internal archetypal personae.  After engaging with each archetype long enough to glean its message for Jung’s emerging, more fully integrated Self, he artistically created a colorful Mandala image and wrote in his Red Book (journal) about what he had learned. Jung recommended that anyone likewise interested in actively promoting their own individuation and integration of Self would do well to create their own ‘red book’: their own journal about their archetypal parts of Self, their own exploration of the Life Themes and character shards of their ever-emerging Self.

So that is what your MyStory is intended to be: your compilation of meaningful life stories that reveals the deep character of your dynamic Self.

For my part I find myself moving forward with my MyStory reflections to the Life Theme of personal relationships, which is a key theme for me, as it is for many.  My most significant Relationship theme stories are rather too personal to write much about in a public blog, but some of the most transformative of these are fodder for deep excavation and I can share at least some shards here which I will explore more deeply in my private MyStory journal.  In the process of exploring Life Theme lessons and insights, it is vital to detangle the curious web of relationships that have emerged and developed over a lifetime (at least!), to date.

Donna/ Don

To know me at all deeply is to know something of my relationship with Donna (pseudonym here).  This relationship has evolved since I was 17 and continues even after this dear friend’s passing around six months ago.  I will share some of what I can here, embellishing further in my private MyStory logs, seeking to unravel through layers of import to better glean kernel messages from this relationship for my Soul journey going forward.

I met Donna when I was 17.   A good high-school friend, Larry, himself a budding poet and close comrade in our drama club (the actor who played the soldier dying under a tree in Viet Nam as recalled in the previous post), approached me in the hall one day at school, and with his signature panache said:

“Say Yes!”

“Yes,” I responded faithfully. “What did I just agree to?”
“Fencing!”

Thus began a journey that has woven through my life ever since, both in terms of wonderful adventures with fencing throughout my college years and into my life overall, and through my relationship with a dynamic, uniquely gifted lifelong friend, Donna.  She was the instructor for a ten-week class in fencing at an arts center in my home-town (where I have returned to live recently, in part for the sake of reflecting on this deep relation).

So, Donna, and fencing (the latter a theme I will explore separately down the road).  Donna is one of the most dynamic persons I have ever known. I feel most fortunate that after the ten weeks of our fencing class, she invited the students to order some equipment and I ventured to her apartment one Thursday after school to pick up a mask, glove and foil that would launch my later fencing career (on a college fencing squad), and that would initiate one of my most influential friendships. We began a conversation that afternoon that developed and evolved such that even in my current active contemplations and dreams, I still visit with this dear Soul friend.

Donna became a mentor and friend over several years throughout my last two years of high-school and through my college years in Buffalo, continuing by phone and letters after that.   She took interest in helping me explore and develop my own creative and spiritual awareness.  I shared my journals with her and she gave me lists of books to read and discuss, as we met weekly for the next two years, every Thursday after school.  As Avatar portrays for a close connection, Donna “saw me,” and in turn, I now realize, I saw her, as Soul, too.

Some shards of memory from those initial several years of my connection with Donna

  • Books and poetry, including:  Camus’ notebooks and The Stranger; Schopenhauer’s Either/ Or; Yeats’ Selected Poetry of W. B. Yeats (much of which I memorized) and The Vision; Nightwood by Djuna Barnes (whom Donna knew in NYC while an actress there); The Moveable Feast by Hemingway; Anais Nin’s diaries and Seduction of the Minotaur; The Chalk Garden play (the first work we discussed); and The Alexandria Quartet by Lawrence Durrell (the second). (These and others set me up very well for my English major studies to come in college.)
  • “Who is the real LW?”
  • Fencing: Donna’s visit to my fencing club, where my early coach was also one of her friends; Our team’s (and my own) placing 9th (by 2 pts from 7th) of 125 or so university fencing teams in intercollegiate nationals, 1975
  • Visits to Donna over college breaks and over summers
  • Visiting Donna at a hospital’s mental health ward when she was in for ‘nervous breakdown’ and MPD was diagnosed (see below)
  • My own poetry about our friendship through the years; her mentorship continuing through my undergraduate and Masters study college years

Flash forward: to my early doctoral study times in Arizona, some ten years or so into our friendship.  One night I felt a clear inner call to communicate with Donna.  We had long shared an unusually ‘psychic’ connection. The next morning I dialed her number (she by then living in Florida) from a pay phone at the Anthropology building at ASU:

LW: “Hello. Is Donna there?” (her housemate/ partner had answered)

K: “Who is this? Yes, Just a minute…”

D: “Hello?” (a deep voice at the other end of the line;

 was this a friend who was to tell me

of Donna’s recent passing?)

LW: “This is Linda…”

D: “Yes, hello!” (It was Donna; as I listened more closely

I recognized my Friend)

D: “I have changed my name, Linda.”

LW: “Okay.” (I took out pen and paper, ready to write down

Donna’s new married name.)

D: “It is Donald. You have called on the very day

before I am going for my final operation.”

I had not communicated with Donna for nearly a year, so this conversation brought quite a surprising revelation about my dear mentor and friend.  Lots had developed that I have mostly not recorded above that led Donna to this transformational choice.  She had experienced several years of eventually successful therapy after a diagnosis of Multiple Personality Syndrome.  A highly talented actress and theater director, Donna had developed a panoply of at least eleven distinct personalities since around the time of my sophomore year in college.  She had first been diagnosed with ‘nervous breakdown’ episodes, then her MPD condition fully emerged. She underwent a successful hypnotherapy program, but it revealed that Donna’s core personality was actually, at least after the integrational therapy, Donald.  So, after the requisite year of transgender living and hormone therapy–during which it was discovered Donna had had a blue bracelet applied after birth, with a surgical “correction” such as more babies than most of us realize still receive—doctors unanimously approved Gender Congruence Surgery, and Donna transitioned ‘in place’ in Florida, to Donald. This baby then, raised as Donna, had never been fully comfortable in that persona. Donald was central to this Soul’s outlook and personal consciousness.

Okay, so the first time I met Donald in person was the summer after that revelatory phone call.  When I saw him (as him) for the first time, at the airport when He came to greet me, inwardly I felt myself stating over and over: “That’s it!”  There had always been a sense of something mysterious and unusual about Donna’s persona—like there was always something hidden, something so unique that other than her amazing intelligence and creative virtuosity, I could never pinpoint. But seeing Donna as Donald ‘made sense’ of some of that mysterious quality.

My connection with Donald continued though not at the level of closeness I had shared with Donna.  Yet I found through the many years to follow something unexpected in my own internal, spiritual life: dreams of visiting Donna, as Donna, developed into a frequent feature of my very active dream life. (I have long felt there should be a clinical interest in such dreams of the friends and allies of ‘sex-change’ cases.)

The first dream: I go to a house and knock on the door. A man opens the door, and I ask if I can visit with Donna. He says no, but I can see her if I go to the patio. I am then on a patio that reminds me of a classical Greek villa (a courtyard surrounded on at least three sides by its house).  Looking up to the top of a small knoll just beyond the house, I see Donna standing there, and she sees me. She sends like a girl scout down to give me a message. (Later I realized the other residents of the house included Donald—who had answered the door—and Donna’s other MPD personae. She had been sort of expelled from the assemblage.)

Another significant early dream: I see Donna at an intersection, a crossroads. I could tell she was in some pain; that something had been ripped out from her right shoulder. Around the same time a dream of seeing Donna at another crossroads, where two pathways were to diverge. Her path was binary, one person (Donald) moving off to the right, and Donna herself to the left. She held up a placard (like in a a Brecht play I had recently read, Mother Courage), with one word: Eternellement. (I felt she showed me this as a sign of our enduring spiritual connection.)

images aare from pixabay.com

Then over decades, similar dreams of Visiting Donna:  I would visit her at an apartment overlooking a pond with a walkway around it.  We would talk as we had in our earlier year visits. We would sometimes play Scrabble or some sort of game while overlooking the pond. (I felt that this apartment setting was like a “purgatory” sort of existence that Donna had to endure so long as Donald continued in his occupation of their erst shared body; that Donna would not be able to “move on” until Donald’s passing.

NOW: I maintained a connection with Donald through nearly forty years, visiting with him twice and more regularly (though not so deeply) after he invited me to play Words with Friends with him, where we sometimes would Chat, for around 15 years.

Donald had an excellent life experience, as a behavioral health liaison and eventually a director there, still active as an actor and director in local theater productions, and with a long-term partner for over twenty years.  He experienced a lot of physical health hardships, as do many on long-term hormonal treatment. He dealt with joint problems then also cancer over a long duration until finally he transpired, some six months or so ago.

Yet my dreams of visiting with Donna continue. Only once so far, shortly after his passing, Donald communicated. He said there was something he had wanted to tell me. (I hope that would have been that he had always remembered the depth of our friendship.)  I went to visit Donna recently at another apartment setting, but she was in a car in a garage with several people attending to her (it felt like she was in distress because she was still not being allowed yet to move on.) And last week, a sweet though brief visitation with Donna in the dream state, to suggest we will continue to be in touch…eternellement.

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And you? What have been some of the deepest, most transformative relatioonships in your life? I invite you to write in your MyStory journal, to explore and plumb the depths of your core relations.

Message in a Bottle

Sea, Message In A Bottle, Bottle, Ocean

Beached. En route to a Far Country, my small ship was caught in a storm and tossed to the shore, breaking under the wave that brought me to land on this remote island. Enough to subsist on—shellfish, nuts and fruit—but my voyage suspended, I long to proceed to my goal: the three mighty mountains, perpetually snow-capped, pouring forth with the light of a thousand suns and the sublime sounds of heavens rarely won.

On the horizon line where sky and water blend into foam, something bobbing. As I strain to hold the energy to keep this illusion in view, to manifest the ideal, gradually, wave by wave with the incoming tide, the form of a bottle washes to shore, with—yes—something like a rolled canvas inside.

Colour, Smoke, Rainbow, Color, Design

I retrieve the bottle, offer up my gratitude to its Source and essence; uncork the weathered bottleneck, use a flexible green twig to coax the canvas, swelled too large without love, toward the aperture. With delicate care—I have all the time in the worlds—I hang the bottle from a low limb, wait for sun and wind to dry the canvas until it shrinks in upon itself, enough that with my twig I can finally, days later, extract the rolled canvas from its vessel.

It is tied with a leather thong. There is a gossamer seal, a fine golden stamp to hold the thong around the canvas. Do I break the seal? Would it be but hubris to presume the message so lovingly bound might be for me? Mayhap I should replace the canvas, cork this bottle, find some strength to thrust the vessel far beyond the horizon again with the outgoing tide, so it may reach its intended one? But it is here; my dreams have manifested this harbinger of truth, this message in a bottle.

Justice, Scales, Law, Seal, Emblem

Build a fire, toast nuts and cook the shellfish. Sit on a water pounded rock by the edge of reach of the incoming tide. Chant a mantra, purify my thoughts, quiet expectations, still the wayward hopes and fears. It is time, feels proper, in harmony with the emptiness without and within. Now to break the seal gingerly, loosen the thong, allow the canvas to unwrap itself, feeling its own freedom as it expands to breathe the warming air by the fire, mist from the tide falling lightly on the canvas and on the beach around the rock; the bottle on the sand, canvas unfolded in my open palms.

The message: “Be-long toward Being.”

That is it; I am that It IS. Close eyes, look more deeply Within. Open the Heart of Being: Here-Now! The mountainscape soaring; all IS Love.

Peeks, Snow, Mountains, Sky, Blue, Man
images are from pixabay.com

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Better Endings Story Seed:

Message in a Bottle

Imagine you are a castaway on a remote tropical island. A bottle washes in with the tide. There is a message inside, meant for you alone. Contemplate and journal about the meaning of your being a castaway in relation to your life right now. The message is for you. What does it say?

What Then? (Week Two: the Dreaming)

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For Week Two of our monthly Better Endings process this year, I ask you to reflect on your dreams or inner guidance with respect to a monthly personal question or quest.

I have been dreaming a lot this past two weeks since posing the question, “What Then?” In one dream a friend standing behind me introduces me to a couple of potential new friends in a new location. As I am in transition already, moving gradually to my new home in a new town for me, this seems quite likely! I took note of the appearance of the two potential new friends so I might recognize them when or if this comes about outwardly.

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Another dream shows me (from my dream journal): “approaching a space, like a hole on a white membrane, that if I were to enter, it ‘would go on forever… like a wormhole’.” It felt like a purification portal of some sort–I woke up wondering what it would mean to enter into that space and sensed it would be “transformative” and that it indicates a passage to embracing or becoming/ joining with “all that IS.”

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images are from pixabay.com

These two dreams taken together both are positive indicators that the new direction I have already embarked upon is a forward motion, advancing into new potentials. A step into an apparent void, perhaps, yet clearly full of positive potentials. The wormhole-like image felt as though to enter would be like a death or a near-death experience. Yet it was placed before me as what is next, something I must enter into, a natural passage of spiritual development even though it is a mysterious movement into a void or the Unknown.

Ready, Set, I Accept!

What are YOUR dreams telling you this week or month about some deep personal question you are contemplating? I encourage you to keep a dream journal and to review it at least once a week. I had forgotten the “wormhole” dream until reviewing my dream journal. (Interesting, though, how I used a wormhole picture in last week’s blog post when I first established my monthly quest for understanding.)

Dream On!

A NEW YEAR of Better Endings

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This new year at Better Endings for Your Life Path let’s explore Tools for Better

Endings. I will introduce and model the Tools each week and I invite YOU to

practice Better-Endering on your own! You are welcome to send me your story

(lkwatts@uccs.edu) if you would like me to share it on the blog (I will give you an

author’s byline if you’d like for your Better Endings reflections or story). 

We will practice FOUR Tools for Better Endings relating to a personal Question or Goal you can set in Week One of every month: 

Week One (of each month):  I invite you to set a personal Question related to a Goal you are contemplating in your life.

Week Two:  Consider any DREAM events, dream messages or dream images relating to your Question or Goal. You may reflect on current dreams or on earlier dreams you still can recall that relate to you Question or Goal.

Week Three:  You can explore your inner guidance that relates to your Question or Goal. For instance, what waking dreams, mindful insights, synchronicity, or Golden Tongued Wisdom are you aware of that relates to your Question or Goal?

Week Four:  I invite you to journal about or write out a Better Endings Story. With this story or journal entry you can envision a Better Ending solution and implementation of that solution and insights you have gained with regard to your monthly personal Question or Goal.

Education is the Key

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Life is the greatest teacher, when we allow it to be. Every one of us could title our Life Story: The Education of (Your Name).

Education, or learning generally, is the key to unlocking more than just knowledge but potentially wisdom.  What is that difference, for you? For me it is not merely knowing WHAT, but WHY and ethically HOW.

Education is  a reciprocal relationship with with life and/or with other beings. We teach–intentionally or not–from our experiences; we learn from observing or interacting with others or with nature or Spirit.

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At best, our education equips us to embark upon and to learn and teach from new, “fresh” experiences.  An experience is new only if we can approach it from a fresh perspective, applying what we have learned previously. I like to remember the psychology premise that says, if you keep repeating the same ‘mistake’ or running into the same “wall,” then perhaps it is time to go AROUND it.

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images are from pixabay.com

One way to tap into your daily education is to journal and/or to actively contemplate every day.  In your journal you can ask:

What Have I Learned Today?

What Have I Taught?

How might what you discover from journaling about or reflecting on these questions equip you for something ‘new’?

I welcome YOUR Story and Comments

Family–Where Our Lives Begin

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

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

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pictures are from pixabay.com

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

I welcome YOUR Comments and Story!

The Sacred Marriage

 

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This month let’s focus on the stage of the Hero’s Cycle known as the Sacred Marriage.    To Joseph Campbell, drawing from Jung, this is that stage by which the masculine and feminine energies of the Hero are merged, allowing the Hero to go forth as a more integrated Whole Self as s/he continues to pursue their Quest.

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To Jung more directly, this is a union of the Animus and Anima and brings about a major transformation of character.  If it represents the actual goal of the individual, it can even be seen as an alchemical achievement of the highest magnitude: Mysterium Conjunctionus!   Masculine + feminine (both energies coexisting within both men and women), or Soul + Spirit, or even Earth + Heaven/ Human + Divine: this is the apex of integrated unity, gold out of lead.

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While the Sacred Marriage is often depicted via an actual Marriage of two characters, ultimately it is an internal achievement, as the individual attains a balance within of their animus and anima traits. Because of this, it can occur within anyone as a solo accomplishment or it could manifest as a relationship union.

Integration or even fusion as the Sacred Marriage represents is a significant spiritual development for it allows the Self to emerge as fully formed, as an expression of Soul.

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images are from pixabay.com

A CONTEMPLATION AND JOURNALING PROMPT:

Can you relate to the topic of the Sacred Marriage?

Do you feel you have achieved this INTERNALLY, whether or not you are partnered with your spouse or a significant other?

If so, what does this open up for you in terms of pursuing your greater goals? If not, how shall you achieve this; again, internally?

I welcome your Comments and Stories!

Inner Guidance

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Let me make no mistake about it, we are living in difficult times. Whatever our beliefs and values may be, they are under siege by opposing values or by the tenuousness of “truth” itself as a standard upon which we can collectively agree.

Some call it a return to tribalism: a refraction of identity into sub-cultural group affiliations. Clan-like factions abound; whom can you talk to or trust? Any stranger might explode at any moment in a public space, opening fire upon the innocent.

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What matters then, in such times of potential turmoil? What goals may still hold value? Where can you turn for reliable guidance? 

On a more positive note, you can always Go Within to find truth by attending to your own ‘inner counsel’. I assure you this is not merely a solipsistic response to collective uncertainty; it is an age-old, universal capacity that has steered the course of history. I believe that when we seek our highest Self and the companionship of Spirit or Divinity Itself in our deepest repose through active contemplation, prayer or meditation practices, we can connect with that which is greater than ourselves alone.

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“The One with the All One” is a spiritual image that comes to mind.  Or, “One for All and All for One!” In other words, when we seek our own answers that ‘ring true’ within our highest (NOT our lowest or our conditionally biased!) states of positive, life affirming consciousness, we assume our relation to the Whole of Life Itself. To me, this brings us to a position of unconditional love. If we act from this love, all will be in accord with that which serves the highest Good.  That’s my hopeful belief, anyway.

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This month I am inviting you to reflect on the role of Helpers in your own—in all of our— life journey. Inner Helpers come to meet us where we seek them out—be it in a contemplative state or in our dreams.  If you keep a journal that includes a dream diary to record your insights that arise from your inner guidance, then reviewing your journal entries once a week or once a month can help you to recognize the help you are receiving in the form of your own Inner Guidance.  Maybe you will uncover a Theme recurring in your dreams or even in your daydreams.  Keeping track of your dreams and daily insights holds open a channel of communication with your ‘inner counsel’ that can help to always to steer you in YOUR right directions.

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images are from pixabay.com

There are many excellent books on the subject of dream techniques and inner guidance. Two I have learned from are THE ART OF SPIRITUAL DREAMING, by Harold Klemp, and INNER GUIDANCE by Anne Archer Butcher.

I welcome always your insights and stories!

 

 

 

Checking In With Your-Selves!

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Are you engaged in some process that takes a long time yet brings a personal goal to fruition?  School can be like that, or now for me, writing for mainstream publication. I find this activity proceeds necessarily sometimes in fits and starts. During the fits or slow slog periods of editing yet one more time, I find it helpful to check in with my internal selves: those archetypal persona character modes that each have their own perspectives on our shared as well as their distinctive goals with regard to the project at hand. For it may be one or more of these Archetype Allies that has slowed the progress as a way to call attention to an opportunity for improvement before I can move forward more productively again.

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Mindfulness is a popular term these days for this sort of checking in with your Self–or, more accurately for my purposes, your selves!  I like using an Archetype Dialogue Practice to help integrate conflicting internal viewpoints. I use an active imagination technique, such as Jung recommended, to “sink” into a subconscious level of awareness where I can make contact with my internally diverse viewpoints or parts of Self.

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You can think of these archetypal personas as being associated with the various roles (or, masks) you occupy in life, as all of us develop somewhat distinctive points of view from the perspectives of each of our role types (e.g. Parent, Teacher, Lover, Nourisher, Idealist, etcetera).   You can have a conversation inwardly and/or journal a dialogue while you are imagining connecting with these internal parts of Self.  Just allow the interaction or conversation to proceed naturally. This is actually a level of subconscious interaction we take part in unconsciously much of the time, as we weigh a decision or an action.

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Below is an excerpt from a journaling form of Archetype Dialogue I engaged with just a few days ago about the slow process of editing for publication:

ELDER LEADER     You need to finish the edit and begin taping for the webinar. Time is waning on our sabbatical.

NOURISHER.     Let her be, Marshall. She knows what she needs to be doing.

 LW:  Well I could use all of your input, actually. The editing feels too mechanical now. Taking stuff out is not so much fun as putting ideas into the book. It pains me to have to be removing the lined journaling pages, stripping down to only providing the instructions for library readers to do the techniques externally.

ELDER LEADER.    Yes we understand but that is what you need to do, so library readers will not be tempted to write in the books. That’s the editor’s decision. Why are you balking so much?

ARTIST    I know what you really want to be doing…and it is what I want to help you with… to redesign the Toolkit as a separate aid that readers will be able to download or receive directly as a workbook companion to the book.  The cover art your cousin has provided will fit beautifully with the Toolkit.

LW: Yes but then I also need to get rolling with the webinar production. And a larger than usual docket of classes looms just around the corner in August. Argh!

TEACHER.    One step at a time, dear. That is the best way forward. What is the ONE THING, as you tell people to consider with their own life mapping, that YOU need to be doing, Now?

MYSTIC.   Yes, dear Soul, what is your ONE THING, NOW?

LW:  Well, I want to have a clearer overview of the Whole–of where all this is heading, really. So much work for so many years, and yes we have a publication date, but the whole process feels like it is starting to get away from me, you know? Master, can you help me to re-center, to regain a stronger focus at this interval as I need to deliver these products in full strength and beauty, to best serve the Whole?

MYSTIC    Go within to find your answer, dear. What is your ONE THING, Now?

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As I continued with this internal musing (a fine expression, by the way!), I did arrive at answers. My new process is to produce both the edit my publisher needs and, concurrently, I will generate the Toolkit from the extracted material. So I do not have to lose any of the vitality I want for the book to contain. As well, this contemplation led me to write a full draft script of the opening webinar sessions, so I feel back on track now!

I invite you to develop your own Archetype Dialogue Practice.  I will be sharing a full process for this approach with my upcoming book (March 2018), Your Life Path.

What are some of your own archetypal “parts of Self”? Allow them to present themselves to you. Just offer them a safe, open space for communicating with you. Keep in mind that these are not external “voices” or entities, at all. (If they feel as such ever, then it could be helpful for you to discontinue the exchange! ) These are simply your own INTERNAL points of view that much too often we tend to ignore. So, lend an ear!

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images are from pixabay.com

I welcome your comments and stories!

Trials and Your Life Lessons

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Here’s a helpful self discovery tool: Make a timeline of the challenging times of hardship or trials in your life. Map these life events according to your ages when each event has occurred.

First, do you see any pattern in terms of the clustering of these events? Have they corresponded with any other major events such as big moves or regular time cycles?

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Second, make a separate list of these events and the ages they occurred, then journal reflectively about any Life Lesson that you gained from each ordeal.

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Can you see any connections among your Life Lessons? Is there a deeper underlying theme, or a realization you can glean? After you have learned a Lesson, has your life experience changed course in any significant ways?

Sages say we often repeat similar tests or ordeals, revealing deeper and deeper levels of a major Life Lesson. Why, do you believe? What might this prepare us for?

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Sequel stories and some television series serve to dramatize this observation that life lessons can unravel over time, resulting in a gradual transformation of character. The popular Big Bang Theory–one of my favorites–is a good example, where every character undergoes gradual, transformative change based on learning their life lessons from relating with one another in the ensemble cast over time.

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images are from pixabay.com

So now, what is your life about?

I welcome YOUR Comments and story.

Forging an Archetype Ally

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As one of twelve primordial archetype character modes, the Teacher is associated with the element of Earth, with a Dissolving energy mode, and with Sagittarius (hence, December).  A Teacher perspective usually involves practicalities or facts rooted in solid foundations, revealing in that sense an earthy nature.   Teacher also brings a dissolving or resolving energy, allowing questions to be answered and transitions forged. And Teacher may cut to the heart of a matter with constructive critique like the Sagittarian archer.

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Regarding our archetypal aspects of Self as potential Allies, Teacher is a very positive ally to cultivate in its Strength mode.  If in Shadow, Teacher can be overly didactic or attached to a rigid point of view. But in its positive nature, Teacher can be a transformative Ally, showing the way to new vistas or a more flexible, new way of being.

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In order to harness the positive strengths of your inner Teacher potentials, it is necessary first to get to know yourself in this dimension.  In my personal development book and Handbook, LIFE PATHS, I will be presenting a complete Archetype Dialogue process to facilitate your “alliance building” in this respect. For now, I invite you to start an “active imagination” form of conversation with your Teacher energy.

I invite you to simply seat yourself in a comfortable armchair or lie prone on a couch or bed. You might chant a favorite mantra or a prayer, or breathe deeply several times and release your breath to relax into a mindful or aware state. Focus inwardly on that spot between your eyebrows, gently expecting to encounter a part of your Self that has a Teacher aspect to him or her. Imagine this inner Teacher energy; it could be someone who has been a teacher for you or a fictional character or your inner Teacher may take her or his own unique personal form.  Allow yourself to spend some time with this inner character. Allow your experience to unfold in its own way. Meanwhile you can have a conversation with your Teacher figure. Ask whom s/he is and what s/he would like for you to know about him or her. Continue the encounter as long as it naturally unfolds.

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When you return from your active imagination session with your Teacher part of Self, you may either continue the dialogue before opening your eyes, then record in your journal all that you remember; or, you might open your eyes after your main interaction and then start journaling an immediate dialogue in your journal.

When Jung returned from an active imagination experience–as described in his THE RED BOOK–,he would first journal about what he had experienced, then he would often draw a painting  or create a mandala to represent the lesson he had learned.

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 What does your Teacher archetype look like? Does s/he have a name? Now that you have shared an encounter with him or her, do you feel a little differently for having included your inner Teacher energy more consciously within your Awareness?

Inwardly you can invite this figure to remain part of your consciousness from now on! You can offer to be more attentive and caring about his/her interests and concerns. You can work together to help achieve your common goals.

I welcome your insights and stories!

Turning Points and ‘Combustibility’

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Our Better Endings Life Mapping activity for this week allows you to focus on what sorts of Life Lessons you are learning through the most critical, pivotal events of your life. See if you can list one or more events in your life that have been of such magnitude in terms of their impact on who you have become that you feel you were not quite the same person before and after this or these events occurred. These are your Turning Points.

Take some time to reflect on these ‘chapter turner’ events in your life. For each one, what did you learn because this event transpired in your life? Did it have a positive or a negative (or, both?) impact on you, in retrospect? Why? How? If you could go back, would you change anything about this event or situation? If so, what might have gone differently then?

One basic way to explore a Turning Point is to write or journal about it, talk about it with someone you trust, and actively contemplate its role or effect on your life. What LIFE LESSON have you learned because of this experience?

I welcome any insights you would like to share!

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Because a very special story has come through about our weekly topic of surviving disasters that I will share with you tomorrow (and another story also, for Sunday), I will add a second piece today about a Principle of Better Endings that I’ve been learning about this week:

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Combustibility : a Better Endings principle?

I was having some difficulty early this week finding just the right principle of Better Endings to account for how disasters or personal hardships result so often in major Life Changes and Lessons. I awoke then Wednesday night at around 2 AM from a series of dream images: rocket ships! So the first word that came to mind was propulsion; that such heavy impact events propel us forward at great speed; they launch us into another level of awareness or situation or or purpose. Applying that metaphor to what happens within us that allows this launching to occur, I find the word combustibility!

A few weeks ago I shared the life metaphor from Will of a golden spiral. Will said the spiral he imagined had “launch pads” along it that would propel him to a higher level of awareness. Again then, we must have the capacity for ‘combustion’ to allow this to occur.

Or, are we the astronaut within the combustible rocket? Then we must be willing to be launched! And the ship must have enough fuel to propel us upwards at great speed.

Interesting how some natural disasters themselves exhibit combustibility—a wildfire, hurricane or tornado, for instance, all are very highly charged phenomena. Do these impart their intrinsic quality of combustibility upon those that they impact? Perhaps we either combust into an accelerated change in our lives and/or the experience burns us?

Heavy impact events in our lives have the capacity to propel us forward, upward, or downward at great speed!