Flexible Persistence: A Key to Better Endings

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

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

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

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

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

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

images are from pixabay.com

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

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

Better Endings Story Seed:

Flexibility: Your Key to Better Endings

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

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.

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?

Surfing Silver Linings

Surfer, Surfing, Wave, Beach, Ocean

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

Shell, Nautilus, Silver, Shine, Sea

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

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

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

Teiwaz (#15, Warrior Energy)

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

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

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

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


Better Endings Story Seed:
Surfing Silver Linings

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



The Secret of Freedom

Schrecksee, Mountain Lake, Allgäu, Alps


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

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

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

People, Woman, Travel, Adventure, Trek


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Your Creative License for Better Endings

Woman, Meditating, Buddhism, Zen

My purpose with this blog bas been, in part, to remind folks of your “creative license.”  That is what the Principle of Better Endings is all about: your inherent, God-given freedom to Be or to become your own best version of who you ARE, Now! For remember, you are the Author, main protagonist, and Editor of your own unique Life Story. No one can ever take that away from you!

Day by day and overall, as humans we have the capacity to contemplate our life choices and situations and to act consciously to improve or to embellish our own (and related others’) lives.  We are—or can be—change agents on our own behalf. We can decide upon significant changes of course or make mindful adjustments. Even when the most control we might feel we have in a given situation is how we may respond or react to events, our attitudes and choices can set in motion ‘better endings’ for ourselves and all rightfully concerned; or, not.

Tiger, Budgie, Tiger Parakeet, Photoshop
(too cute not to use!)

I am not advocating radical change just for the sake of demonstrating your freedom, unless you feel conditions truly warrant such a move; sometimes they do!.  Usually we stand to gain most in terms of advancing in our quality of life by remaining mindful, attentive to where we are at and how situations appear to be unfolding, so we can act to wend our pathways forward rather than steer ourselves into a rut or setback.

Road, Way, Dirt, Path, Direction
images are from pixabay.com

So remember, you have the right—indeed the responsibility—to evaluate your life conditions and to stand up for your own needs or desires.  Exercising your freedom to communicate or to make changes rather than blaming anyone else for situations you are unhappy with empowers you to imagine and enact ‘better endings’!

Better Endings Story Seed:

Your Creative License

Listen to your Heart.  What is it telling you, Now?
Contemplate or journal about how exercising your creative license could bring about needed or desired changes.

Tweaking

Revelation, Transformation, Awareness

A ‘better endings’ approach to ‘live your dream, now!’ requires and rewards flexibility.  Every positive, progressive or proactive step forward benefits from review and modification, or tweaking.

For example, I have relocated three times in as many years with my own experience of envisioning and manifesting better endings while aiming to fulfill my creative Dream. This has been progressively positive with every Big Move; new opportunities have opened which I have gratefully embraced.  Then even greater potentials have become evident and unfolded from these, so that, now living in my original home town for just over a year, I have embarked upon a potentially long-term, part-time position in the publishing industry.

Meadow, Green Meadow, Flower Meadow

I am learning as I serve, enjoying the beginning of another new chapter in my life story. Still, tweaking can help me to move through this new opportunity better. I am finding it helpful to take stock, review the positive potentials alongside some possible risks, and proceed forward mindfully. 

images are from pixabay.com

Stepping backwards one step to advance two or three times forward is better than the converse (one step forward, two or three back)!  Maybe this is a lesson I have carried forward from when I was on a fencing team in college.  To evaluate the opponent’s strategy while also fine tuning your own, it is very helpful to step back to establish distance while developing a plan of attack; then, execute…’et la’!  I always felt that fencing was not against an opponent but simply challenging myself to exercise creative mindfulness, free thinking—literally ‘on your feet’, lol—and yes, constant flexibility and tweaking.

So, once you have taken a positive step forward in a new direction with your own pursuit of ‘better endings’, remember to step back, pause, evaluate, TWEAK, and then…forge onward in the direction of your Dream!

Training Wheels

Bike, Cycling, Child, Training Wheels

I believe in inner guidance and have relied on it quite a bit in my life. Whether through dreams, clear nudges, or sometimes in direct contemplation or lucid visions, answers to questions I am pondering often provide clear direction for my growth and development.  Reliance on inner guidance is not an abdication of personal responsibility and agency; it is simply a matter of developing and utilizing our innate human potential for connecting with our own higher viewpoint or spiritual awareness that is available to anyone at any time. 

Last week I was walking with my dog Sophie for our daily exercise around the neighborhood. I heard the voice of a man calling out:

“Stay to the side of the road! Watch for cars!”

When I looked to where the voice was coming from, I saw a small boy, maybe five or six, riding on a little bicycle out from his driveway, followed by a man with a slightly greyed beard whom I presumed was the boy’s father or perhaps his grandfather. Then I saw the boy’s bicycle was equipped with training wheels. His mentor was coaching from behind the young boy, helping him learn to ride a bike.

I watched the man and boy as they rode up the road, side by side up to an intersection where they turned off into the same performing arts parking lot that Sophie and I were heading to for our daily walk.

Person, Man, Child, People, Grandfather

A bit later while Sophie and I were still moving about at the arts center, I saw the boy come racing out on his training bike from the box office area; I mean, really fast for a little boy learning to feel comfortable on a bike.

“Very good! Now, put on your brake! Be careful!”

The boy did as instructed and applied his brakes gently but firmly; he came to a definite but not too hard of a stop. Then father and son continued back toward their home again, with the father following in the rear, allowing the boy to be in the lead yet knowing he could rely on his mentor’s guidance as needed.

Duck, Pond, Lake, Mama, Nature, Water

Watching the boy learning to ride a bike reminded me of how my Dad taught me to swim. We had a backyard pool. He had the hose filling it for the season, but he brought me into the pool when it was maybe three or four feet deep. First, he just held me up and gently let me go, telling me to use my arms to stay afloat. Next, Dad pulled a few feet away from where I was holding onto one side of the pool, and he asked me to swim to him. Then, he pulled further away and further, each time asking me to swim to him. If I was too afraid to try, he would move closer that round. Finally, he was at the opposite side of the pool and I was able to cross the great waters to reach him!

This is how inner guidance generally works with me. It lets me do all I can on my own, but when I need help, I know I can always call on what I perceive as my inner Guides for support, protection and guidance.

Fantasy, Portrait, Root, Moss, Forest
images are from pixabay.com

As I have been reflecting on this gift of inner guidance after watching the boy learn to ride a bike, I realize how a good part of working with inner guidance involves developing self-reflexive awareness. We learn to look at ourselves as a mentor, guide or Master might look at us; so we maintain a higher viewpoint and can self-correct as well as receive direct inner guidance as needed. This can help us build self discipline and somewhat of a more objective viewpoint about our own attitudes or actions.

Please note that I have added a new feature to the blog in the right column. You are invited to engage with the journaling prompts in the Better Endings SEED STORY prompts. Enjoy!

Pink Flamingoes (Set a Sign to Follow Your Heart)

Flamingos, Birds, Couple, Pair, Flight

Some four to five years ago as I was just beginning to consider the prospects of retirement and relocation, I decided to set a private sign that I would see if I was meant to relocate.  I chose pink flamingoes as my token sign because this image was not very common where I was living then in Colorado.  I have used this approach one other time and it was very effective then, so I made my inner postulate to see pink flamingos as an affirmation it was time to leave and hopefully with some indication then of where I should move to after my retirement.

I did start seeing pink flamingos more frequently than I had noticed them before, and sometimes at odd times. Not that this sign was a major impetus for retiring relatively early, but it did help buttress my resolve.  This sign seemed also to show up in ads and such in a way that suggested a certain direction of movement: back East rather than, let’s say, to Florida (though that was not out of the question for me and is where pink flamingos might be more expected). 

Flamingo, Bird, Silhouette, Pink, Nature

I retired except for part-time online teaching in 2018 and relocated to New York state, near to where one of my sisters lives and at the time near where my mother was in a nursing home. This was home turf for me since I had moved Out West from Buffalo, NY over forty years earlier. I first moved to one town I had researched online, Ithaca, for about 9 months. It was nice and I was happy to be able to continue teaching there part-time, but I soon realized it was not my final retirement destination. I started seeing pink flamingoes again when I thought about moving elsewhere, and that next move was to a lakeside community in Canandaigua, still in the Finger Lakes, translated from Iroquois as “the chosen place.”

My second move was also good, and I enjoyed lakeside living for a year and a half in a small, nestled community of largely retired folks like myself. But when the pandemic struck, I started feeling restless again, and isolated in my remote little patio home, and I realized that this was still not my deeply sought destination.  I started visiting and thinking about my original, high school hometown two hours away, a quaint but active community centered around a performing arts center and nestled near a river and a lake, just across the border from Canada.  I sold my lake house, packed up and moved with my pets again, to rent the house where we are living now.

Flamingo, Water, Pink, Sky, Bird, Sunset

I am Back Home (at least in the physical world sense), and it is exactly where I want to be.

A few weeks ago, I went for breakfast at a great little diner up the road a bit from my new home. Although the diner is in the countryside and not very near to any body of water, I realized the theme in all the pictures on the wall was pink flamingoes! This time the sign felt like a confirmation: that this is where I was meant to be moving to, all along. Since then, I have been seeing pink flamingoes quite a lot in my little hometown: at stores, in peoples’ yards, and lately, filling the screen when I turn on my desktop computer.

I haven’t always thought that this practice of setting up a personal sign and paying attention when you see it works. I have had other friends who have used it effectively for themselves through the years, and now the two times I have used the approach, it has worked very well for me too.

Flamingo, Dusk, Sunset, Roseus, Nature
images are gratefully from pixabay.com

But why?  The practice of choosing a private sign is I think a way of working with your own inner guidance or with your higher/ superconscious awareness.  It sets up a suggestion that lets your unconscious mind and your spiritual consciousness work together in tandem; it can align you with your deeper Self, with your own inner compass, helping guide you to find your own North Star.

Agency

For a final week of probing the topic of Acceptance as a pathway to genuine happiness, I am left with the awareness that what I cannot or should not accept is important too. To clear space and time for creative or productive activities, sometimes it is helpful to remove clutter and to improve existing conditions. This calls for right discrimination or practicing discernment and then acting to correct or sometimes to detach from situations or conditions which are creating clutter or ‘noise’.

Agency is the capacity to act in accordance with one’s awareness and understanding of life conditions. Agency is a causal property of the individual, a matter of being Cause rather than effect, a matter of accepting responsibility for one’s choices and acting accordingly.

It is not always easy or even graceful, for me at least, to know when to bend or when to release so that growth can occur. This seems an appropriate topic for the autumn season. Trees in the area I live in now are at their peak of fall colors, releasing their beautiful leaves to prepare for enduring the winds and storms of winter.

I am reminded of St. Francis’s famous poem:

 

Serenity

God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change,

The courage to change those things I can,

And the wisdom to know the difference.

 

images are from pixabay.com

Deer Vision

white-tailed-doe-599829__480

I have had two waking dream concepts recently about my monthly question of ‘Why Am I/ Are We Here?’ I realize now they are two facets of the same idea: “Bubble awareness” and “Deer vision.” Both refer to living mindfully in the Now. Let me begin by exploring Deer Vision, as it seems most relevant to my probe.

In the rural environment I drive through where I am living now, white-tailed deer are abundant. They are such exquisite Beings, playful and loving in their close family groups, able to dive and leap in play with one another. One of my greatest concerns is that I never want to hit one as it would be crossing a road. So, I try to drive always with Deer Vision: looking far enough ahead and driving at such a speed that I could slow or stop in time to avoid injuring a deer.

deer-3834379__480

Deer Vision also means for me to consider and emulate how a deer sees. Such soft, intelligent eyes these white-tailed deer have. They often make eye contact with me as I stop for them to cross or as I slowly drive past. I imagine that how a deer sees is in energy forms, perceiving and assessing the intentions or consciousness of other denizens of the forest.

bubble-2566658__480

This brings me to the broader notion of Bubble Awareness. From fencing I learned how important it can be to maintain a 360 degree awareness, forming a protective but fluid  ‘bubble’ of attention. This allows responsivity, let’s call it, the flexibility to advance or retreat in the moment without having to consciously “think” about it. When the alter (i.e. the opponent, in fencing) and self are both operating at a high degree of this sort of awareness, the ‘bubble’ envelops them both and they are in it together. I used to call this a ‘peak experience bout.’ But the principle extends to life in general.

I am Here, in part, to exercise Deer Vision within the perspective  of Bubble Awareness: to be attentive and responsive to the needs and opportunities of the Moment, for myself and in relation to all others.

hardest-1985097__480

images are from pixabay.com

To be sure, being (only) human, I do not always achieve or maintain this ideal awareness. The other day while driving and actually mulling over Deer Vision at the time, a beautiful little chipmunk darted out in front of my car. Although I tried to slow down and veered slightly to avoid hitting the chipmunk, the car did run the chipmunk over. Darn!

My very act of trying to avoid the chipmunk may have been what caused the accident to happen, since s/he could not adjust to my change in speed or trajectory. Likewise, when “trying” too hard in life more generally, I often err in my human relations, too. Darn! So, patience with myself, acceptance of my limitations or the limitations of the situation as I/ we aim to see and respond, better.

I welcome YOUR Story and Comments!

 

Reading the Tea Leaves (Pay Attention to Your Signs)

tea-leaves-cup-slight-resemblence-260nw-11587114

“Not everything has meaning!”
(my college fencing coach Roxanne, en route to a competition in NYC)

Later, to myself: “No, but anything can!”

I am a huge believer in using outer signs for listening to and following inner guidance. I have found through long experience that so long as I reflect deeply and act in a balanced way in response to ‘waking dreams’ that catch my attention while I am mulling over some question or pursuing some meaningful goal, good things follow.

Responding to outer signs can help to keep the flow of communication open between Spirit or the Universe, Inner Guides or whatever you prefer to acknowledge, and your own higher awareness. The more you can progress in tandem with your inner nudges or guidance, the easier it becomes over time to wend your way through challenging situations and key decisions; and, life is more fun!

bald-eagle-521492__480

So what are your ‘tea leaves’ telling you this month about some meaningful question you are pondering? Pay attention to the slightest waking dreams or outer signs: random seeming thoughts or insights you may have; statements that stand out to you from a passerby or on tv or in your reading; roadside messages on signs that you pass, or even bumper stickers that catch your eye… Any of these or several taken together could offer you a breakthrough insight on your problem or query.

butterfly-142506__480

Some people like to set up an image or a specific object that they will see if their potential decision is correct.

If you want to try this, you can set up a sign of affirmation for your question that would not be common or likely for you to see, and you can set a time frame as well for encountering your sign. When I was working on my final book proposal for Your Life Path (see right panel), I set up the sign of a blue butterfly if I was going to be able to find a publisher. Right around the time my wonderful literary agent began circulating the book proposal, I started seeing blue butterflies everywhere. This encouraged me with every step of the proposal and publishing process. Now I have several items in my home with blue butterflies on them to remind me that this book process has initiated a longterm project, with much yet to come for me to fully realize its potentials in terms of writing and service.

soap-bubble-1959327__480

images are from pixabay.com

What are you asking to better understand or what decision are you weighing? Pay attention to YOUR outer signs; they are all around!

Turning Points — A Birthday Post

 

turning-point.jpg

My Colorado friends. Photo by Diane Launsby.

Today on my 64th Birthday (June 26th) I have been feeling like Dr. Beverly Crusher in the Star Trek NG episode when she felt that the universe was collapsing all about her, and truly it was! She was caught in a Warp Bubble while the rest of the crew was one by one popping into another dimension. The metaphor is apt as my social universe of colleagues, students, and Colorado friends is dropping away as I prepare for relocating Back East in late July.

Turning Points are momentous shifts in life experience such that you might feel you were “a different person before and after that event occurred” (Your Life Path; also see side panel).

trees-3464777__480

To go through a Turning Point mindfully, with awareness of that turning as a momentous shift, is a great gift.  Many Turning Points appear to happen to us unwittingly; we do not consciously seek to bring them about.  Those we look back at later to see how momentous they were and we may need to make major adjustments to adapt to those changes. But those we manifest consciously are huge leaps of faith, quantum leaps so to speak even, as they can launch us intentionally into a whole new Life Chapter with a golden new set of life’s possibilities. Such is the Big Move I shall be embarking upon at the end of July!

What about you? Are you ready to plan for and execute the turning of another Life Chapter page? What is next then? What might you resolve soon so you can bring about a Turning Point sort of shift that aims you truly in the direction of fulfilling your deepest life aspiration, your Life Dream?

staircase-2635392__480

Almost forty years ago I went West  (now I return Back East). When I left Buffalo in 1979 to go off to graduate school in Phoenix, Arizona, I woke one morning in the year I was planning that Big Move with a song ditty on my mind that stayed with me the rest of that year:

I’m leaving,

But there are a few doors left to close

Before I get over there.

For the next several months I consciously sought to close those doors, to tie up loose ends so I would be free to experience my new life after closure and with fresh ambitions.  Now I find life is again providing opportunities for a meaningful closure of some relations and continuation of others from here as I am ready to launch into a whole universe of new potentials.

I thank all who have been part of my life in Colorado and Zuni, New Mexico and Arizona before that. I love each and every one of you and wish you well on your own continuing Soul Journey.

stock-photo-go-written-on-multiple-road-sign-207612142

images are from pixabay.com

I welcome YOUR Comments and Story!

Set Your Travel Goals (or, Happiness is a Choice)

When I prepare for a major travel excursion, I set a spiritual goal for the trip. That means I contemplate what I am ready or aiming to learn, about life or about my own potentials for self improvement. This is especially true with relocation; such an amazing opportunity to push the reset button involving any life conditions upon which you might wish to improve.

As I approach relocating Back East at the end of July, I find myself contemplating Happiness. At an Asian buffet the other night my fortune cookie stated:

“Happiness is a choice.”

That is precisely the message I needed to receive. As I contemplate the next Life Chapter of my own Dream Come True (for all of life is that, when you think about it), I realize it will be what I choose it to be with regard to the attitudes and viewpoints I exercise. Partly this means acting in ways that serve the greatest good and that may facilitate happiness and well-being for those in my immediate family and social circles. Smiling while engaging with people in public contexts can help me develop the habit of carrying happiness in my heart, coupled with acceptance and contentment.

Of course it is understood that any less than ideal conditions one experiences in one location are very likely to manifest again in a new location, so long as one carries those conditions forward within them. So contemplating current conditions is imperative for considering how to tweak the attitudes you choose to carry forward.

To me, this Travel Goal Setting for relocation goes way back in this lifetime (at least!). As my father was transferred several times to different states while I was young, I learned that in looking ahead to the next Big Move, I could use it as an opportunity to transform or tweak the life I had been living. When I was around 12, for instance, Dad told us the family would be moving around one year later from our home in Pennsylvania to New York state, near Niagara Falls.

Since at 12 I had become somewhat of an awkward, nerdy girl, I looked ahead to transforming my outer persona image in New York. I consciously changed up my wardrobe that next year, aiming to become a more “popular,” mainstream sort of teenager. When I got to my new school in New York then, I purposely sought to “get in” with what I conceived of as a more popular circle of friends. Well, it worked; however, very quickly that year I came to realize that the popular crowd I was courting really wasn’t who I am in the sense that my interests were far different from theirs. So after pretending for a short while to have a long distance boyfriend (wearing a ring from my mother’s jewelry case), pretty soon I figured out I wanted to be more authentic. I stopped sitting with this group of new friends at lunch time, even hiding in a lavatory the entire lunch period to do that. Then I joined a drama club and orchestra and started hanging out with new friends, more nerdy or artistic; people I really enjoyed being with!

The process I had undertaken to transform my life in the future from Pennsylvania to New York had succeeded, more than I could have anticipated.  I have been more mindful from that point forward of who I am (or am becoming) internally, and more appreciative of authenticity itself. I enjoyed my high school years immensely. The choices I made then were formative of the person I am today in very positive ways; no wonder then that at 64 as I have just retired, my immediate plan is to return to New York, to my family and even to be nearer to some of the deep friendships I shared there.

So, this time, I choose Happiness! 

images are from pixabay.com

I welcome YOUR Comments and Story.

Create a Totem of Your Goal Achieved

totem-pole-467528__340

An elixir is a potion or aid you receive from achieving some degree of fulfillment along the path to attain your highest goal.  The elixir is like an alchemical agent in that it raises your energy levels, your awareness, to a higher plane that you have attained with your accomplishment. So you come away from the ordeal you have successfully met with a greater power of insight or a force of greater love that you can carry forward with you on the next leg of your Journey.

A Totem is an image or object you can literally plant in your ‘growing space’ or carry with you as a reminder of the qualities you have gained and of your higher Goal.  It could be something as simple as a talisman, like a necklace amulet, pin, or charm bracelet representing the qualities or goal you wish to focus upon.  It could also be a collage of images you compose and place in a highly visible personal space to serve as a Vision board. (I do these often and pin them on my office bulletin board).

jewelry-861143__340

Totems are anchors that “ground” your vision and amplify your intentions like a magnifying glass that concentrates the rays of the Sun.

To create a personal Totem of your goal or aspiration, whether that be a concrete objective or a value you wish to strengthen day to day, find or create an object, or create a collage of images that will remind you to center your attention on your ideal.

stock-photo-vision-goals-aspirations-planning-word-concept-419171674

With online imagery such as at pixabay.com or with clipart, it is easy to find images to represent your goal or the values you aim to strengthen.  I recommend placing an image or photograph of the goal or value itself, or of yourself having achieved this goal, in the center of the page to form a mandala composition.  You can surround that central image with additional images that represent how you are to attain this level of fulfillment and what will be the outcomes when you do!

eagle-673560__340

Place your collage or object somewhere that you will see it often. It could be at your office or in your bedroom or kitchen, somewhere you spend a lot of time thinking about your goal and actively pursuing that.  Or you could wear your totem talisman close to your heart or on your person. It could be private, like a special stone that you carry in your pocket, or even a personal mantra or prayer or poem that you repeat inwardly as you move through the day or before sleeping at night.

pendulum-1013555__340

Your totem can be any means of focusing your intentions deeply. This plants your intention in the loam of your everyday life, infusing your activities with a greater sense of mission, of value and purpose, and of unconditional love.  For no one but you can fulfill your deepest Soul objectives, which enhance not only your own capacity to live but your determination to serve Life Itself.

art-2357500__340

images are from pixabay.com

I value your Comments and stories!

Checking In With Your-Selves!

museum-398761__480

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.

stock-vector-writer-writing-on-paper-sheet-vector-illustration-flat-cartoon-person-hands-with-pen-on-working-556859122

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.

carnival-2092819__480

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.

stock-photo-violinist-playing-underwater-with-muse-swimming-around-in-the-pool-450658666

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?

mandala-1791741__480

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!

illustration-1807105__480

images are from pixabay.com

I welcome your comments and stories!

(The Sublime Art of) Listening to Your Self

stock-photo--yoga-and-meditation-silhouette-275140940

Meditation, contemplation, active imagination, walking solo in Nature, non-directive prayer: all of these are excellent modalities for tuning in to your own inner guidance and for tapping your feelings and insights about life events and decisions. Some form of listening to your Self—in all its archetypal complexity and integration—is absolutely necessary if you desire to go “forward” in a mindful, conscious direction.

countryside-336709__340

Is this different from “going with the Flow”? Not at all, so long as the Flow is an internal one, springing up from your deep inner resources rather than being primarily reacting or responding to external stimuli.

maybe-68482__340

Maybee Alley

Just after writing the above paragraph, I took my dog Sophie for a walk. We are visiting at my sister’s in rural New York state and it is such a beautiful area for walking.  While meandering in the neighborhood of a Catholic church we like to walk around, I noticed a road sign for the first time. “Maybee Alley” was the name of the little pathway leading toward the Church property.

It was interesting that this sign caught my attention today. It was a “waking dream,” a significant outer confirmation about a decision I was posed with last night via email. Maybe this or maybe something else instead if something even better comes along (re. potential publishers for my book that is currently circulating for review).

jakobsweg-747481__340

So I guess I am meandering in MAYBE ALLEY right now. I would sure like to turn the bend to CERTAINTY (A)VENUE!

architecture-378603__340

images are from pixabay.com

I welcome your Comments and Stories!

Celebrating St. Francis, A Mystic Healer  

 

Green Floral Cross on white

Prayer is in practice a means of seeking Better Endings. Whether in the form of a petition or surrender, asking for Divine intervention or giving love, or receptively by listening to or connecting with attributes of the Divine in meditative or active contemplation, we pray to focus our human consciousness on Higher Wisdom, to give and or to receive Divine (impersonal, detached) love. And this may indeed foster Better Endings for all concerned, even in the mindful experience of an illuminated consciousness itself.  Singing a mantra, practicing true contemplation, outer prayer, or even prayerful artistic engagement such as creating a mandala or Sufi whirling dervish dancing all can create conditions conducive to healing and Higher Awareness and hence may enhance positive health effects such as lower blood pressure, more serenity and lower stress.

Prayer Flags

 

We may not all agree as to the best form of prayer based on our individual preferences and religious traditions, but tuning in to Higher Wisdom, love, protection and awareness is in itself a positive action of the human will and Soul that can bring benefits beyond the seeking of assistance or intervention.

Red Hinduism symbol.

The prayer-poem famously attributed to Saint Francis is a prayer of exquisite quality that anyone can use as a template or matrix around which to ground and Center their consciousness.  This is a poem that fosters Healing and Better Endings in all respects:

St. Francis’s Prayer

Make Me an Instrument of Thy Peace

Capture

This week I invite you to bring St. Francis’s prayer with you in your heart as you go about your day to day affairs. You may wish to print and cut out the prayer poem and place it in visible locations at your office, car or home. At night as you prepare for sleep, you might wish to read the prayer aloud and gently contemplate its relevance to your current life conditions and attitudes.

open Baltic sea at the sunset

 

Better Endings to You!

I invite your insights and stories.

Life is… a Bowl of Cherries!

cherry-sticker-background-card-in-vector-format_GJnARQod

Live Your Dream, Now! is the throughline to Life Paths, a handbook for life mapping which should be forthcoming within the next year. This credo of “Live your dream, now!” highlights how important it is not to put off your Life Dream or future aspirations into a nebulous future but, rather, to live NOW according to the values and intent of your Life Dream, Here and Now. You can live INTO your future as a dream fulfilled by focussing on developing your current Strengths and being mindful “every day in every way” about who you are choosing to be, expressing from your core identity and nature.

Golden Buddha

Along with the metaphor of Life is a Bowl of Cherries, this month we will pair the archetypal Ally persona of the Golden Child, which is the universal archetype class associated with the sign of Leo and the month of July.  What an aprt conjunction this one is! The GOLDEN CHILD is a part of Self who knows whom s/he IS and may express itself forcefully or in a charismatic manner based on a positive self-knowledge amd capability, with great competence. Who better to assert Life to be a Bowl of Cherries than this, yourself as a Leonine Golden Child?

Life is a Bowl of Cherries as a life metaphor reminds us to embrace and to enjoy who we ARE and what we HAVE, right here and now. Yet I expect some readers–including myself in some respects this week as I am involved in a struggle currently to help my ailing elderly mother to cope with painful, life threatening effects from late stage Parkinsons–might appropriately question the sheer optimisim of such a credo. Is it then a mere platitude to declare life to be cheery, always positive, like “a bowl of cherries” even while facing the most dire of circumstances? What of all those well meaning people and animals for whom, indeed, life appears to be anything but happy, abundant or carefree? Is holding to such an optimistic mantra no more than a Polyannish attitude requiring one to “bury their head in the sand” or, worse, to DENY the more bitter realities of life in the “Real World”?

abstract-woman-face-vector-illustration_zkfm_M_d

That is a vital question, and one I have similarly heard from people who question Joseph Campbell’s parallel credo of “Follow Your Bliss!” Again, what of those for whom the chance of “attaining Bliss” of any sort seems remote?

I must answer for myself that while the world as a whole will always remain a harsh training ground at every stage of life, even for those with the highest achievements or wearing the most rose colored glasses; nevertheless it can be helpful to focus on the positive. Life metaphors can serve as positive affirmations that orient our outlook to look for the GOOD in life–to see the BEST in ourselves and in others–and when necessary, to see the silver lining beyond the clouds.

digital rendering of an eye

I believe that human beings–perhaps all Beings–are wired to pursue and when possible to manifest “self-transcendence,” even in the most dire conditions. I recall a TV drama with Dick Van Dyke (check out his recent https://www.youtube.com/embed/hoPugqYMISM“>dance videos at 89!) portraying a homeless man in a big city. This character was a man of the deepest character: kind, gentle, self-sacrificing and ultimately happy in his life. He embraced a life of service and gratitude and he focussed on the positive potentials of every state of being, every condition, every relationship in his life.

So, life CAN be a bowl of cherries, if you CHOOSE for it to be so. And you can discover your Bliss anywhere, as everywhere you stand is Holy Ground as long as you stand mindfully and take in the bounty of the moment.

I welcome your insights and stories!

 

Show Me a Sign!

Deserted beach at Vieux Fort

It is the final scene in Castaway. Chuck Noland, finally back to civilization after being marooned alone on an island for five years, has returned to find his erst fiancé married and with a family.

Chuck is once again cast away, adrift on a sea of possibilities. Where to go next? He delivers a UPS package that indirectly had saved his life, hoping to thank the sender, but he or she is not at home. He is at a standstill then, literally stopped at a barren crossroads, trying to decide what direction to take to proceed into his uncertain future.  North, South, East, West: all seem equally empty.

vulture-buzzard-bird_fkl-I2IO

A woman driving up to make a turn at the rural crossroads slows to see if she might be able to assist the apparently stranded man who stands outside his Jeep with a road map, looking aimless and lost. She explains his options in terms of destination points in all directions, then she leaves. But as her pickup truck steams off down from the direction in which he had made his delivery, Chuck sees a sign: angel wings painted on the back of the truck—the same angel wings that were on the package he had delivered; a symbol that had served to keep him sane and brought him home from his isolation on the island.

The movie ends, but we know where Chuck will go next, in what direction his future lies. He will follow those angel wings and forge a new Life Chapter.

Angel of music with violin on white

Is this a story about synchronicity, when just the right sign appears in your life at just the right time? Chuck was asking for direction, studying a road map, and that is precisely when he received his Sign. How Mystic-al! And yet, improbable synchronicity like this happens for most of us when we most need it, especially when we remember to ask—and then, to pay attention so to recognize the answer!

How about in your life? Can you think of a time when you asked for a sign and one appeared to help guide you to your next step with some situation or decision? Did you follow that sign then, or did you continue asking and looking, just accepting the sign as partial guidance for a question of bigger proportions?

Some people are able to take quite successful ‘quantum leaps,’ as it were, responding to signs they receive, while others are more circumspect and prefer to proceed in smaller steps. I am—with some significant exceptions in my life—most often one of the latter. Signs are still important to this second kind of seeker, though, as each sign might reveal a significant piece of the puzzle.

Dandelion

“Ask and you shall receive!” is the postulate we are looking at with this post. To assimilate this principle more deeply within your mindful awareness, I invite you to write about a time when you did recognize and when you ACTED upon a clear sign you received, whether the sign came through a dream, a contemplative vision, or outwardly as a “waking dream” or as “golden tongued wisdom” (if it came as a direct answer to a question you were pondering as an unlikely statement from a friend or stranger). What were the results?

Secondly, I invite you to contemplate a question for which you would like to receive a sign in your life Now.  Pose the question in direct, simple terms. Ask to receive a clear sign.

I welcome your insights and stories!