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!

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!

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 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.

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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?

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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!

Why Are You Here?

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I have always loved the question, and ask it a lot both of myself and of others: “Why Are You Here?”  Recently I have come to a further understanding of how this is a potentially inspiring ‘better endings’ prompt as a journaling or contemplation seed.

“Why are you here?”  carries the double entendre of referring either to the immediate moment or to the ultimate question of what your life purpose is, or your sense of mission.

Why are you here?

WHY ARE YOU HERE?

Either side of this double-faceted query is worth pondering, and it can be illuminating to observe as well how they might converge!

Woodtype, Wood Blocks, Wood Type, Print

Recently I have accepted a part-time job working at an academic publishing company in my local home community.  It has been quite an adjustment to be working four days a week (plus continuing online teaching mainly in the evenings for now), around 24 hours per week, after having settled into a rather comfortable semi-retirement lifestyle with a lot of daily flexibility. So, I ask myself, “Why am I here? (at the new job), from both an immediate and a more ultimate spiritual perspective. 

Owl, Reading, Book, Bird, Study, Animal, Line Art
images are from pixabay.com

Okay, so I am certainly on a learning curve at the new job, learning about the inner workings of a publishing business.  I find myself in a service role there, aiming to help not only by doing the cataloguing work I am assigned to but also helping implement ideas to help the business grow there despite the transition from print to ebooks in the publishing world.  While I also am earning some additional income toward my later years savings goals, the work is fulfilling as a growth opportunity. It requires me to draw on inner creative resources as well as to engage in positive co-workership with the small team that runs the daily operations of the Press.

Knowing how an experience such as a job carries value and contributes to my ultimate spiritual and social goals helps me to frame how this experience can be best integrated into the rest of my life. I do not want to allow this part-time job to prevent me from continuing with teaching—which I find ultimately fulfilling in itself—or to limit my own writing, creative, and spiritual practice activities, or to limit my time with my pets and family and friends!  So, I need to monitor how things are going. I do not want to fit myself to the new job but rather intend to integrate the job into my deeper life as a whole.

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Better Endings Story Seed:

Why Are You Here?

Ask yourself this question at two different levels: Why are you Here? in your job, social life or location; and WHY ARE YOU HERE? in terms of your spiritual or whole-life goals? Contemplate and/or discuss and journal about this question. I suggest it will take several passes at contemplation and journaling to really sort this out, but as it is a question of defining your life purpose or mission and how your life relates to those, it may be quite worth your while!

Personal Growth

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Welcome to the new year at Better Endings! Each month I shall be inviting you to explore and contemplate a question related to your own personal growth. Week One you can pose the question. Week Two I invite you to work with your dreams to find messages relating to your query. Week Three you can further pursue outer signs and ideas to arrive at some solutions and practices you can use, and Week Four I will invite you to journal about or write a Better Endings envisioning that reveals your movement forward with regard to your question that month (see Monthly Topics page).

I will be modeling the process week by week with excerpts from my own experience/ questions, and I invite you to keep a journal of your own self-exploration process. I welcome any stories you might wish to share either in the Comments area or you can send me pieces to post between the weekly sessions (see Share Your Story page).

For myself I will be pursuing a general question for the whole year, with individual monthly questions that are part of the overall inquiry for personal growth and development. I am asking: How can I establish true Happiness, outwardly as well as inwardly, from my present  and developing circumstances after having recently retired and relocated across country ‘alone’ though with my dear pet companions Emily (cat) and Sophie (Shorkie dog).

For January, I pose for myself a more specific question: How am I to revitalize my writing and related public service activities despite the busy life I have taken on in my new location?

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When I first arrived at the idea for this yearly process for the blog this year (last week), I was at a restaurant having breakfast. The waitress seated me in a half-booth directly facing a painting on the back wall that captured my attention. The picture was a colorful carnival scene. A young woman riding in the air on an airplane carousel ride was waving down to a younger, nondescript figure of a younger person who was riding on a merry-go-round and waving up at the woman from below.

I recognized this picture as a waking dream about the very process of personal growth  I hope we can achieve with the blog this year for all who partake of the weekly journaling and contemplation approach. The picture represents communication between Soul or one’s Higher Self and Self (one’s outward, temporal personhood).

While the younger Self rides along with the ups and downs of the carousel ride of life, s/he can take heart to know that their Higher Self looks on!

I realized how the Ups and Downs of life are both equally important, both balanced by an overview perspective of inner guidance and personal reflection and growth. One dips and then resurfaces; rises and then returns to balance along the learning curve of a life of challenging experience and joy.

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images are from pixabay.com

So with regard to my personal first question for this month, I see an initial clue in this painting. I have been in the doldrums for the past six weeks about my writing goals, allowing myself to be so busy outwardly with other activities that my writing process has been put to the side. This picture tells me to keep looking UP, to communicate with my Higher Self and inner guidance in order to see more of the Bigger Picture. Outer activities are preparing the way for further unfoldment to come.

I welcome YOUR Story or Comments!

 

What Is Your CALLING?

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“Listen (doo dah doo)

Do you want to hear a secret? (doo dah doo)

Let me whisper in your ear (da di dah dah)”… (McCartney and Lennon)

Your Vocation Is:  _______________

So, what is it for you? What is your greatest CALLING in this lifetime so far?  Are you a Writer, an Artist, a Dancer, a Musician, an Actor, a Scientist, or an Athlete? What activity or “hobby” are you most passionate about? What lights you up and grounds or centers you in your deepest sense of personal identity of Self and/or of Service?

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Also then, WHY? What is it about your Calling, your Vocation, that resonates so deeply with the core of your Being? Is it what calls  you to Adventure or gives purpose and/or passion to your time on Earth?

Are you giving enough time and nourishment to your Calling? Or is it more in the background now for you? What qualities and Strengths has your vocation helped you to develop? How can you MAXIMIZE these Strengths in ALL you do?

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As a personal example just to get YOU thinking or journaling about these questions, I am (though not currently practicing) “a Fencer.” (If you have ever fenced competitively or with any sport, you will understand immediately.)  Fencing taught me so much, trained my Mind/Body synchrony so deeply that every day I am grateful in some small way. If I slip or stumble physically (or otherwise!), I am grateful for having learned from fencing not only “how to fall” without overdue injury but also how to get back up again and keep going forward. I remember once before an intercollegiate tournament, I slipped on some ice and slashed my right (foil grip) hand.  But I went to the event and overcame the pain by concentrating that much more on each bout. I remember it was a very successful competition for me and our team.  

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images are from pixabay.com

So again then, What Is YOUR Calling? How does it define you and bring Strengths and happiness to your life every day? Please use this as a contemplation and journaling tool.

 

I invite YOUR Comments and STORY!

VOCATION!

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I have always loved the word “vocation,” as to me there is a big difference between VOCATION and WORK. As Life Themes these often show up distinctively in people’s Life Maps, too. While Work or Career might be one Theme a person charts in terms of “types of events or situations” recurring over the course of their life up to Retirement at least, people usually identify VOCATION distinctively; for example as a specific “calling,” or a beloved activity such as Writing, Art, Music, Outdoors, Hiking, a competitive sport such as Swimming or Basketball, etcetera. So this month let our focus be on exploring the role and influence of VOCATION or Callings in our lives.

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Writing has always been a vocation for me. From a young age, my personal Journal has been a close friend and companion. Literally, I would address my journal as I wrote, and somehow I knew It (or, someone on a spiritual or an internal dimension) was always there, listening! By college years I was maintaining several different journals at a time: one for poetry, one for  dreams and spiritual experiences. another for philosophical musings, and one as a basic diary, at least.

It was through my journal writing that my writing vocation grew and blossomed over time.  I would write short stories, dramatic dialogue pieces, and evocative descriptive essays that I called ‘Photos.’ I started a science fiction trilogy in graduate school which I developed to the degree that I have a complete first book manuscript, the second book is started, and the rest is outlined (now including a quatrain or fourth installment). I intend during my upcoming retirement to publish this series, called The Dawnbreakers.

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Through my years as a professor I have continued journaling, and alongside academic publications (two books, several journal articles, a book chapter and several invited book reviews), my VOCATION has only intensified, so that in 2002 after receiving tenure, I realized I wanted to find a way to do something more creative and public service- oriented with my career, so I began the LIFE MAPPING project that has culminated in my new book, YOUR LIFE PATH (click or see right panel for ordering information). This is a mainstream, personal growth and development book and Toolkit. It lets you become a Life Mapper of your own Life Story, truly!  Based on my understanding of mythology, archetypal psychotherapy, and life history studies including Joseph Campbell’s The Hero Cycle, rites of passage, and Jung’s methods for discovering your own internalized, archetypal “parts of Self”, I have developed this approach of life mapping over many years of research, teaching, and individual coaching so that anyone can discover and reflect upon their own Life Story. This lets you realize the Strengths (and obstacles) you have developed through your own life experience to Now so that you can envision your Life Dream and begin, Now, to manifest and fulfill your sense of Life Purpose and Life Mission. So, please check it out, it really is very good!

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images are from pixabay.com

So my vocation has brought me to this point, and now I have three sequels to Your Life Path in process already. I so look forward to my retirement years (beginning as of this June 8, yay!) so I can shift all of my focus to this more spiritual dimension of my own sense of a personal Calling in this lifetime.

I welcome YOUR story!

Re-Vision a Relationship (Past, Present or Future)

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For our final February weekly post about the Life Theme of RELATIONSHIPS, I invite you to consider how you might wish to have changed or to currently ‘tweak’ some aspect of a meaningful relationship in your life. With the divine gift of imagination, you are capable of effectively “re-visioning” your relationship events; past, present or future.

It may help first to consider if there is a PATTERN about some of your relationships that you would choose to alter if you could.  This is an active exercise; it is about what YOU CAN/ COULD have done differently–or would do differently today–that might have lead to some different results.  Re-visioning a past event or situation can have a profound influence on your current disposition when it comes to actions or decisions you could be contemplating now, so that you can avoid pitfalls of the past.

The strength of this exercise is that it brings your present awareness to bear either on a past situation or more mindfully upon a present set of circumstances.

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So do this with full exercise of your (re-)constructive imagination. Once you have identified a pattern you would wish to change and you have remembered a particular moment in a particular relationship which itself you feel you might/’should’ have enacted differently in retrospect, imagine yourself IN THAT MOMENT again. This time, change  the conversation or the action knowingly, with the awareness you have since gained. Journal or internally dialogue with the other person in this relationship moment. Let him or her speak, and respond or initiate your own conversation as it could have been rather than as it was.  Listen to the other person and see that they listen to and hear you deeply.  Continue the scenario in your imagination until you bring it to a new level of resolution. As you emerge from your reverie, give yourself time to reflect on how the future might have been altered from this re-visioned exchange.

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I find that when I do this re-vision the past technique–and I have often as a life mapping tool (see right panel)–it really feels as if not just the memory of the event but the actual event itself HAS CHANGED. I feel less attachment afterwards to the initial triggering moment and better equipped to approach any similar situation in the present or future.

I welcome YOUR Comments and Story!

Map Your Relationships

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Life Mapping lets you review the trends and potentialities of each of your Life Themes within the epic adventure of your lifetime! This year at Better Endings for Your Life Path we are exploring one Life Theme per month (see monthly topics) by using and reflecting on life mapping techniques; for February we are focusing on Relationships.

Many life mappers identify Relationships as a primary Life Theme, either directly or according to sub-themes like Family, Romance, Pets, and/or Friends.  I would like to invite you to choose one or more of these topics to map across your life course. If you choose more than one, then I would ask you to color code the events you will map for each Theme you are exploring.

The basic technique of life mapping which I will be presenting fully with my upcoming book, YOUR LIFE PATH (see right panel!), invites you to first make a list of Significant Life Events pertaining to your Theme(s), then plot their relative impact on shaping “the person you have become.”

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First then, make a list of events or situations involving key relationships in your life. You can make separate lists if you are exploring more than one Relationship theme, like one list for Romantic relationships and a separate list for Family or for Friends events (or do one at a time). Keep a wide left margin on your page. Let this be a list of events or situations that have influenced you in significant ways. You can start with the earliest or with the most impactful life experience involving this Theme, then feel free to recall earlier or later events freely (you will order these chronologically later).

After you have a list of key events, in the wide left margin next to each event, note the age you were when this occurred (either a single date or a time frame). Then ask yourself, “How has this event or situation impacted the person I have become?” RATE the event or situation relative to the time frame when it occurred, from -5 to +5, where -5 is extremely negative and +5 is extremely positive. Note that you could rate the same event as both Plus and Minus in its impact, such as -3/+5 if you recognize the event has had both a negative as well as a distinctively positive impact on your life for one reason or another.

Now then, you can use the Life Map chart below to simply PLOT the impact scores you have used to rate the relative positive and/or negative influence of each event in your list. Use a pencil (you can copy this post and enlarge the chart or make your own separately) to put a dot or an x along the time line , marking onto the 0 to +5 or 0 to -5 lines to represent your events. Plot these impacts according to the relative age you were when they occurred. You can write your Age for each event along the center, neutral Age Line.

You can “connect the dots” of your plotted events on the chart to reveal trends or PATTERNS of how this Theme has unfolded in your life.  Connect two plotted events especially if they seem somehow connected to you as forming a trend, like if you went from a negative experience to a positive one, or if a series of events were all negative or all positive (or neutral = ) on the chart).

It can help to draw a vertical hash-marked or dotted line where the event you have plotted is so significant that you may feel you were “a different person” before and after this event occurred. (These are your Critical Life Events or Turning Points.)

If you want to map more than one relationship sub-theme, repeat the above steps for each Theme you are interested in exploring.

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images are from pixabay.com

After plotting your Map, review it. Journal or contemplate (or both) or talk with a loved one about the PATTERNS you observe in this Theme. If you have mapped multiple Themes, do you notice differences in the patterning of each of these as they have interwoven within the fabric of your Life Story?

I welcome YOUR Comments and Story!