Finding Quan Yin: A Lesson in Inner Guidance

Inner guidance has been a significant theme along my own life path; I would not be alive today nor certainly where I am at currently, except for seeking out,  accepting and attending to inner guidance.

I have long practiced exercises in active contemplation and dream study to seek out inner guidance, often with the assistance of using mantras to focus attention for glimpses of higher awareness and clarity.  The story that follows is an example, for me, of the benefits of attending to inner guidance.

Finding Quan Yin

I was living in Arizona, around a year before completing my doctoral studies at ASU.  I had a friend, Dana, who had a beloved pet cockatoo whom she named Quan Yin.  Dana was somewhat a loner in life; she was closer with her bird friend than with most humans.

One morning I received a phone call from Dana.  She was distraught because while preparing to clip Quan Yin’s wing feathers, a normal routine, Quan Yin flew out into Dana’s back porch area and from there she had flown out into the neighborhood.

Dana asked if I could come over to help her to locate Quan Yin and bring her home.  This unfolded into a three day ordeal. On the first day, Dana and I took neighborhood walks in opposite directions, aiming to cover the area broadly and hopefully to find Quan Yin.  The bird was white and we hoped if she saw Dana she would show herself.  For my part, I tried to practice a sort of intuitive radar awareness, scanning the neighborhood, looking in the trees, and asking for inner guidance or awareness.  I came back from that walk feeling I had sensed Quan Yin could have been in a certain directional sector, but we had no luck that day in retrieving Dana’s avian companion.

On the second day, Dana was more worried, fearful that Quan Yin might come to harm unless we could find her and bring her home soon.  Near success that afternoon: we did find Quan Yin, perched high in a tree in the direction I had sensed.  She would not come down to Dana on her own, so Dana called the fire department and they sent over a truck. Dana climbed the ladder up into the tree, but just as she reached out and was about to grasp Quan Yin, she flew off again!

On the third day, Dana was despondent, feeling she had lost her best friend forever. No one from the neighborhood had responded to posters we had placed from the day before, and by now Dana felt that without food and water, Quan Yin would be weak and very vulnerable if she were even alive and in the vicinity any more.

That third afternoon, after taking another lookout walk without success,  on an impulse I decided to climb a ladder Dana kept on her back porch that led up to her flat, porch-like Arizona rooftop. I looked around 360 degrees from this high vantage point, but still I had no success in spotting Quan Yin.

While on the roof I decided to sit for a spiritual contemplation.  Mainly I just wanted to center so that I might help my friend Dana to accept her loss.  After singing the universal spiritual mantra of HU (as a love song of divine love), I started singing “Quan Yin” as a mantra. After all, Quan Yin refers in Buddhist tradition to a Chinese goddess of compassion, so it felt like an apt mantra to use!

images are from pixabay.com

I sang ‘Quan Yin’ outwardly on a slow, outward breath about three or four times. Then suddenly, I opened my eyes and, guess what? I was staring directly at a white bird perched in a tree in the adjacent neighbor’s yard!  I informed Dana and we quickly took a step ladder over to her neighbor’s tree.  This time, Quan Yin was somewhat depleted and she gratefully leaped onto Dana’s extended forefingers.

That is my story of Finding Quan Yin.  She and Dana lived happily ever after so far as I know. The End.

For me, this experience was about more than helping a friend find her missing pet.  I was happy that Quan Yin and Dana were reunited.  But the ‘miracle’ sort of moment I had of singing ‘Quan Yin’ as a mantra then suddenly opening my eyes to see the bird we had been searching for for three days, felt amazing, humbling, and instructive.  I felt and still do feel grateful for the gift of inner guidance, of an available inner connection with divine Spirit that could lead to such a beneficial result.

May the Blessings Be!

******   ******

Have you sought and received awareness from inner guidance in your life in ways that have helped you grow or that has helped you at times you have most needed insight or protection?  I invite you to write out or otherwise share your MyStory memoirs about the theme of Inner Guidance if that has been a meaningful theme in your life.

Visions, Dreams and Reflections: A Visitor

I am and have always been a Dreamer.  Are you?  Since dreams, visions and reflections have inspired some of the pivotal turning points of my life, I would include them within one of my own MyStory Life Theme chapters.   I do hope that as you read any of the stories I am sharing in this blog from my own MyStory experiences, that these stories might help you to reflect on YOUR OWN MyStory stories and themes. I have always understood it is best to write about what I know best, which is why I share from my own life experiences, but the point of sharing about them here and in my books (Your Life Path, 2018; Better Endings, 2022) is TO ENCOURAGE YOU TO REFLECT ON and to write and/or creatively express yourself about your own Shaping Events, to inspire your own Better Endings.  So, I invite you again to keep a dedicated MyStory Journal, wherein you can record memoirs that are most meaningful to you and could be helpful for you to collect and share as a legacy of insights with others in your life. 

So, I add here one of my own MyStory short stories from the theme of Visions, Dreams and Reflections.  I have been blessed to occasionally recall a very clear “visionary” sort of dream.  These inner experiences usually occur in that zone of consciousness between sleeping and waking, when lucid dreaming commonly occurs. I hesitate to share many of these openly, because they are of such rare and deep significance.  But since I definitely include this one in my own MyStory collection, I choose to share it here in case it may carry some insight for others.

A Visitor

Between sleeping and waking, around a decade ago:  a beautiful Being appeared in my awareness as a Visitor. It is difficult to describe this Being, whom I think of as a Silent One.  Male or female? Olive toned or other? Old or young? Just this beautiful Presence.

S/he/It asks me a simple question, and the following brief dialogue ensues:

Beautiful Being (BB):  “So, how are things going out there?”

LW (somehow aware of the slant of the question): “Well, there are many people, with many different religious beliefs, but most people are still afraid of death.”

BB (after a prolonged, pregnant pause): “Next time, we won’t do Religion.”

Then I awoke.  I felt humbled and grateful to have received such a Visitation, and I have never forgotten our clear, brief exchange.  It has led me to ponder the cosmological and/or spiritual basis of this Being’s words. 

Just two days ago, I was reading Michio Kaku’s interesting book, The Future of Humanity.  As a footnote of sorts to my visionary Visit, while reviewing several theories about how the known universe might end, Kaku relates an interesting perspective based on Olaf Stapledon’s idea of a Star Maker:

“This takes us back to Olaf Stapledon, who imagined that there is a Star Maker, a cosmic being that creates and discards entire universes. He is like a celestial painter, constantly conjuring up new universes, tinkering with their properties, and then moving on to the next one. Each universe has different laws of nature and different life-forms.” (Michio Kaku, The Future of Humanity, pg. 303)

images are from pixabay.com

I am also reminded of a section of a book I read many years ago by Paul Twitchell, I think Dialogues With The Masters or maybe The Far Country. Twitchell similarly describes a sort of highly evolved being—I believe referred to therein as Silent Ones—who experiment with creating and designing universes.

So, what might be the relevance for my own understanding?  To me this insight from the Visitor in my waking dream has helped me to accept the wide diversity of religious or spiritual viewpoints, knowing that no matter how much I might—and do—explore spiritual awareness, likely I will never achieve higher clarity than my puny mental capacity may contain until after my own translation (death) from this bodily state.

************

And you?  I invite you to write in your MyStory journal about some significant vison, dream or reflection(s) that you would wish to remember and share.

Discover Your MyStory Life Themes

Allow me to invite you to a very simple and effective way to identify your Life Themes, those recurring situations and KINDS of events that form the “stuff” of much of your life experience within your Life Story:

  • Reflect and write a LIST significant events that have “shaped you as the person you have become.” This does not have to be an exhaustive list, and the events or situations on your list do not have to have been earth shattering, just significant.
  • After you have composed your list of significant “shaping” events or situations, read back through this list several times, and SORT these events into KINDS of events or situations. (For example: Family, Travel, Work, Education, Spirituality, etcetera).
  • Reflect on the TYPES of events you have identified, and assign your own personally meaningful NAMES to these Kinds of Events. (E.G.: Disappointments, Relationship Matters; also can still include standard sorts of names like Family, Relationships, Romance, Work, etcetera).
  • These personally meaningful, recurring types of events and situations are (at least some of) your dominant LIFE THEMES.

Make a list of your LIFE THEMES in your MyStory journal, or you can save them in a file on your computer.  Over the next year or so at this blog site we will be exploring several common Life Themes and I invite you to journal or write your personal memoirs about events and situations that have been significant in your life in relation to the Theme (or similar theme for you) being explored.

The MyStory principle we are exploring is our tendency as humans (i.e. Homo Narrativus) to frame our Life Theme shaping experiences AS STORY, as narratives, with meaningful narrative structure, plot, characters, messages, spiritual principles, and lessons to impart to others based on our own life experience.  Consider those thematic events about which you have tended to tell the ‘same story’ over and over again, refining the story to ferret out deeper meanings and messages, both for you and for those with whom you might choose to share your most meaningful MyStory tales. This is part and parcel of your Legacy that you may pass along to your loved ones or to posterity.

images are from pixabay.com

As Joseph Campbell has emphasized, your life (your MyStory) is mythic, even Epic, because it is imbued with meaning and lessons for your own growth. As you grow from reflecting on your pivotal life experiences, you are ever more able to help others find meaning in their own Life Themes, as well.

Now too, a SECOND level of identifying Life Themes, which I would recommend you could apply after the tried and true method above, is to work backward from those stories you tend to retell and embellish, asking what sort of THEME does that story reflect in your MyStory that may just not have made it into your list from the above method.  For instance, while Pets have been a HUGE Life Theme in my life, in the process of listing biographical shaping events, it is possible I could overlook these while focussing more on obvious themes for me like Family, Education, Relationships (which might include with my pets), and Spirituality. But when I think of very important shaping events, losing my dog Elly, for example, is a huge event I would want to make sure to include in my MyStory corpus of stories.

So for this week, I invite you to explore and discover your own MyStory Life Themes!

Through the Eye of the Needle

What do the following plot devices (or spiritual practices) have in common?

  • Alice stepping through the Looking Glass
  • Dorothy transported over the Rainbow, from B&W to the colorful Land of OZ
  • Star Wars rebels or the Star Trek Enterprise popping through Hyperspace
  • Robert Conway rounding a Himalayan mountain pass, to descend into the verdant Shangri-La
  • Rumi spinning as a whirling dervish to explore the heavens of his departed Teacher, Shams
  • Near Death and general Out of Body Experiences
  • Magic Eye art that transforms 2-D images into 3-D hidden objects
  • Transitioning from waking consciousness into your Dream world awareness

There is a common thread running through these devices listed above, which I will call traversing “through the eye of the Needle.”  The commonality of this theme occurring in fiction as well as in accounts and techniques of spiritual exploration speaks to the naturalness of the underlying phenomenon of seeking and achieving higher consciousness awareness. 

I call attention to this phenomenon of traversing through the Eye of the Needle because it is a central aim of most human experience to transcend the mundane, to elevate one’s experience of life to its highest potentials and to discover and explore what lies Beyond.   Meditation, centering prayer, contemplation, and even daydreaming—all of which rely on cultivating our imagination—allow us individually to transcend any life experience, to gain higher understanding and wisdom. 

When I first began to study spiritual topics and to practice contemplative techniques some 48 years ago, my goal was to eventually be able to shift between states of consciousness “at will.”   I now realize how this is a natural human capacity, but we do benefit from developing this capacity with conscious awareness.  For example, we gain much more from our dreams by focussing on utilizing our dreams to help understand daily life as well as to plomb the depths of spiritual understanding (e.g. see The Art of Spiritual Dreaming, by Harold Klemp, about which I am currently in a discussion group).

But the real reason this topic is important to me right now is because I have recently rediscovered—for me anyway—a wonderful “transport” device, at the local gym!  When I ride a rowing machine, I am able to close my eyes and enter into a contemplation activity that absolutely allows me to approach and traverse through ‘the eye of the needle’, to explore consciousness states at will!  I think this is similar to the whirling dervish activity of Rumi and the Sufis, who likewise use the spinning and internal prayer to transcend the physical body to higher states of spiritual awareness and exploration. Something about the regular physical activity as with the rocking of the back and forth motion of the rowing machine, I find frees my imagination to soar! 

images are from pixabay.com

The benefits of traversing through the Eye of the Needle, howsoever you choose to do this, are limitless. Being more mindful and aware of whatever we choose to focus our attention on allows us to consider our options and choose, or repair if need be, our course of action.

Better Endings to All!

Changing the Narrative

We are in a crisis of narrative schismogenesis in the sociopolitical climate of America (at least) today.   Gregory Bateson, in Steps To an Ecology of Mind (1981), described schismogenesis as an ever widening schism of viewpoints between opposing sides or persons in argument with one another.  An example Bateson gave was how an argument can escalate between spouses. The more each person “digs in” to their position as antithetical to their opponent, the further apart their viewpoints become until there is no way to bridge the chasm behind the barriers of which they are each entrenched.

Let’s say the husband asks where they would like to go to eat dinner, for instance, and the wife says Chinese, knowing that her husband is not particularly fond of Chinese cuisine.  He then declines and suggests a polar-opposite sort of cuisine, say Mexican for example, to which she declines and then they dig into why each of the choices they have proffered are not only the best solution but an absolute necessity for that evening’s meal.  In the end, perhaps the two spouses each go their separate ways for dinner that night, leading to hard feelings for days.

This is a trite example, especially given the deep gravity of the dangerous schismogenetic chasm so many are entrenched behind with today’s fractious tribalism of the Partisan Divide.  We harbor two tribes living within distinct reality fields, each accusing the other side of not only being wrong (using “fake news”) but even regarding each other as “evil” in their supposed intentions and actions.

I try to remain as neutral as possible, aware that truth is absolutely relative, after all, depending on one’s basis of evidence and their sources of information.  People dig in to the banks of the side they have chosen—or to which they have been conditioned—often unwilling to even listen to let alone to hear or comprehend statements from the enemy tribe.

Anthropologically (my professional field), it is clear that schismogenetic ruptures have often led tribal groups to divide or fission into distinct, rival factions, sometimes—where there is space enough available—resulting in the opposing factions actually moving away from each other to establish separate villages.  The Blues and the Reds do not have such luxury of spatial expanse to divide into.  North and South are no longer culturally divided in toto, so we live side by side with neighbors from rival factions every day.  We are thus divided within the same village, state, nation, and global society.

How can we overcome this Divide? We must somehow, locally and personally as well as collectively, find ways to change the narrative.  Couples psychotherapists–and Bateson himself in Steps to an Ecology of Mind–would suggest mediation is a key first step to confronting and dismantling a factional schismogenetic divide. Representatives from each tribe or faction need to convene and meet somewhere at the middle, in the company of an agreed upon mediating person or agency. 

Each side’s story needs to be aired—and heard, without opposition or resistance—with the mediator serving as a buffer.  After both narratives are fully expressed, the mediator might summarize each point of view succinctly, validating facets of both viewpoints and helping to delineate some commonalities that could begin to construct a narrative bridge, upon which both persons or sides might at least meet upon to acknowledge the availability of a middle ground.

After such an open hearing and mediation process, each representative returns to share with their members and then of course each tribe is free to do what they will with the knowledge gained. They carry the awareness of a willingness of the Other to have at least sought mediation with them. This can lead to a gradual rebuilding of trust and mutual acceptance, at least.

images are from pixabay.com

I speak from some experience about the therapeutic value of a mediation process.  I and a dear friend, she now being departed, once ran into a barrier with one another that grew into a painful schismogenetic chasm for many months.  We agreed to meet with a psychotherapist, which made all the difference in helping each of us to find a greater balance in understanding and mutual acceptance.  We came away remembering our ultimate friendship, which has remained vital ever on.

So when faced with an immoveable common barrier between opposing narratives, seek mediation.  

Give it a try!

Golden Spirals, or Pendulum Swings?

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

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

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

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

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

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

images are from pixabay.com

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

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?

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!

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!

Live Your Dream

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

What a wonderful contemplation seed!

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

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

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

images are from pixabay.com

Better Endings Story Seed:
Live Your Dream

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

Surfing Silver Linings

Surfer, Surfing, Wave, Beach, Ocean

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

Shell, Nautilus, Silver, Shine, Sea

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

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

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

Teiwaz (#15, Warrior Energy)

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

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

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

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


Better Endings Story Seed:
Surfing Silver Linings

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



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.

Why Are You Here?

Ice Cream, Stars, Winter, Snow

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.

******

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!

Where Roads Diverge? Contemplate Stories that Model Your Options

Brain, Woman, Arrow, Sign, Direction

Should you stay or should you leave; accept an offer, or not; go in one direction that invites you forward, or another?  We each stand at meaningful crossroads sometimes, needing to make difficult choices that could affect our Life Story either greatly or somewhat “ever after.”

You could start by listing some stories that include significant choices, especially if those choices are like yours. 

Here’s the idea: find a story or list a set of stories in which a character is faced with a similar choice and consider what direction the character takes, whether it works out well or not, and how you feel about the character’s choice and its results. Would you have made the same decision in the character’s shoes, or not?

To model the approach, here are some stories I might currently list along with brief synopses of the choices involved in the story:

  • Siddhartha, by Hermann Hesse:  Stay home in a pampered, sheltered environment with expectations of an easy, privileged existence, or leave his father’s safe and opulent world to experience humanity and the world in all its misery, and splendor.
  • Robert Frost’s poem, The Road Not Taken:  that he took the less traveled path most others would not have chosen, “and that has made all the difference.”
  • Defending Your Life: The Mel Brooks character often chose the least risk or the safest course of action rather than the bravest, so he is judged harshly between lives; versus the Meryl Streep character, who always chose the riskier path in service to life and others. She will certainly be “moving on.”
  • Lost Horizon: Robert Conway must choose between life in the world as a well-known and respected public servant, or to follow his heart and forge a difficult passage to return to Shangri-La, where spiritual enlightenment, potential for solitary but global service, and love await his return.
  • The Razor’s Edge: Again, life in the familiar world of home and normative community values versus a more solitary life seeking to develop and share the fruits of spiritual exploration.
Footprints, Path, Mystery, Unknown

My story choices are much of a piece, I see, in that the characters face similar challenges contrasting normative community lives of ‘getting by’ in a respectable, easy fashion, or stepping off into an out of the ordinary life of more solitary spiritual adventure.  On which path can they achieve deeper enlightenment pairs with which path will lead to greater opportunities for unique service though in less guaranteed or publicly acknowledged and sanctioned modes.

This exercise elevates, for me, the nature of a meaningful crossroads I am at personally, and that is helpful.  The set of synopses are contemplation seeds that help to reveal many angles on some of  my own current underlying questions.  I have found over the last few days of contemplating these stories that I have gained a much greater clarity about my path forward, while also my understanding of the messages in these stories has deepened.

Sign, Arrow, Street, Direction, Symbol
images are from pixabay.com

In some sense we are all of us always at a crossroads; which path stretching out before us shall we choose today?  Sometimes these choices become more meaningful as we seek to advance in our lives overall.  

So please, if you like, try this one on for yourself. The right panel Better Endings Story Seed prompt encourages you to contemplate or engage with this technique in your own journal.

To Mine Your Story, Find A Parallel Myth

Ball, Rose, Young Woman, A Princess

What sorts of character arcs and storylines do you find most compelling? Can you identify with a particular story; does it mirror aspects of your own life goals and challenges?  I like to say, myth is the stuff our lives our made of, because myth is made up from the stuff of our lives!

Our lives have the meaning that we give to them, and much of the meaning we bring to our life experiences derives from stories we have related to from childhood.  “The Wizard of Oz,” for example, tells the tale of a young person seeking to find her own strength so she can save her beloved pet dog from being taken away after having disturbed a mean neighbor’s garden. This story propels the main character, Dorothy, into her own unconscious archetypal depths to find the courage, heart, and wisdom she will need to face the wicked neighbor with a more mature, integrated sense of Self.

Ogre, Troll, Fairy, Elf, Forest

Many of us have faced ogres or so-called witches in our worlds, needing to dig deeply into our unconscious reservoirs of archetypal personas to assemble and marshal the character traits we may need to confront the forces of negativity and emerge whole from either a physical and/or from a moral and spiritual perspective.

In my book Your Life Path (2018), I present a Parallel Myth technique that can help you identify a story that resonates closely with the Life Chapters, themes, and character arcs of your own Life Story. (You can see a template for this technique without buying the book by downloading for free the My Life Path Mapping Toolkit from the right margins of this blog.)  So one way to find a parallel myth to understand the meaningful stuff of your own life story is to discover your Life Chapters and compare these with some story you identify with. A simpler approach would be: think of or write a short list of stories you have always loved because somehow you feel you can identify either with the plot of the story or with a character in that tale. Let’s take that approach here.

So, make a list of stories from novels, short stories, or movies that you have long felt you can identify with. Write a brief account for each of these as to how or why you might identify. I will give an example of some of my own most meaningful stories just to demonstrate the process:

  1. The Wizard of Oz:  In my youth I would often “run away” because I felt berated or tormented by my father’s harsh temper. I would hide in a closet or actually leave for a while (or sneak out) to gain a sense of independence or freedom.
  2. Contact: I share Eleanor Arrowway’s drive to pursue uncommon truths via both scientific and spiritual pathways.
  3. Harry Potter: In my childhood I often felt myself to be the ‘runt’ of the family (short, awkward, plain), but as I discovered spiritual truths and a sense of spiritual camaraderie from my early twenties on, I have gradually gained tools, and friends (including in my family), that have helped me recognize my own strengths to be of service to others.

Do you have your list? Write it out. What are some parallel mythic themes, characters, and messages from these stories that are mirrored in your own Life Story?

Fantasy, Fairy Tale, Girl, Cave, Nature
images are from pixabay.com

Next then, what messages might you take forward from your parallel myth(s) that can help you achieve the Better Endings you seek in your own storied life? Review your listed parallel myths and pay attention to the positive potentials of these stories’ resolutions. E.G.:

  • The Wizard of Oz: Dorothy unifies her sense of self by combining her archetypal qualities of courage, heart, and wisdom so she can stay ‘home’ and face the dark forces that had beset her there. Somehow I figure at the end of the movie that Toto is going to be okay, because Dorothy is strong enough in her own more mature Self to face the neighbor from a sense of responsibility and courage. (My message: Find the courage to stand my own ground when faced with negativity or obstacles.)
  • Contact: Ellie discovers a parallelism between science and religion (mirrored in her own relationship with Father Joss) when her ‘through-the-wormhole’ solo space adventure reveals new dimensions to reality. (My message: Continue to plunge the depths of science and spirituality, sharing as possible, but mainly to deepen my own understanding and awareness of incontrovertible realities beyond the ‘pale’ of common knowledge.)
  • Harry Potter: Teaming up with his own archetypally well matched ensemble cast of friends, Harry solves some of the mysteries of his lower self to gain courage and self-awareness that can defeat any negativity that may confront him or his world. (My message: Stay true to who you are and stand up for your highest values despite any efforts to alienate or undermine your and your friends’ finest qualities.)

What messages do you derive from comparing some of your favorite parallel myths and your own Life Story (to now)? What do the positive endings or potentials of these stories offer forth to you about achieving Better Endings in your own mythic-story?

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.

Centering

Lemur, Wildlife, Madagascar

My question of the month is about maintaining balance as a byway for sustaining happiness. Centering is a golden mean for establishing balance. This is widely recognized in athletics as well as in health and in the arts. “Holding your center” allows you to respond appropriately, even artfully, to any condition or situation. Meditation or active-imagination contemplation along with a regular practice of honing mastery skills can create a core condition of centeredness from which to act with deep awareness and with well-grounded intention.

My fencing friends—hi Ro and Michael!—know well where I am headed with this. As in most sports yet very explicitly for fencing, you must be centered in a balanced form to have the fluidity to advance or retreat, to defend as well as to establish and launch an attack, at will. As well, pulling an opponent “off center” is a paramount tactic for defeating their ‘game’ so you will control the pacing of the action yourself.

Agility, Ballet, Dancing, Athlete

Here is a contemplation seed that I have been reflecting on this month while considering the value of balance:

“Is it kind?

Is it necessary?

Is it true?”

(from Harold Klemp)

For those on the (and my) spiritual path of Eckankar, this is a standard practice, to consider these questions before expressing any thought, words, or action. If the answer to any of these questions is negative, it may be helpful to reconsider. I have succeeded and failed often enough depending on whether I have utilized these brakes, or not, in the moment. I find it brings patience and a higher viewpoint or greater wisdom, when I can pause enough to consider my actions with care.

I will add this week a record of a dream I had yesterday morning, as I see a balance theme hidden in it. I was being chased by a negative force, one main negative agent pursuing me and a friend along with several of the negative agent’s minions. This dream went through several scenarios, and I and my friend successfully evaded all attacks (including an attempted break-in, a violation of my personal space), until finally it had us cornered at a high cliff’s edge. As I looked back I could see several pairs of the negative force’s agents guarding any possible escape and closing in, with the central villain approaching to capture us once and for all!  I looked over the edge at the high drop, seeing that a leap into the void would likely mean instant death. But in the dreamscape this was preferable to me than being captured and killed by this vile force, so I leapt over the edge! The villain did not want me to escape his control that easily, so he lept after me with a ley-line to anchor him to the ground so he could pull us both back from the descent. As he came toward me and tried to hold onto me assuming I would want to be saved, I pushed him off from the ley-line and watched him cascade to hit the bottom, killing him. Somehow then I was poised against the cliff top, grasping a small knob perilously. I did not think I could climb back to the surface so I contemplated just letting go, thinking I might be able to aim to the wall of the cliff and roll down, possibly still dying but trying anyway to save myself. At this point instead of dropping, I realized I had another choice, which was to wake up. That’s what I did, grateful to realize this had been a dream yet also wondering if I might have died physically in my sleep from the night terror of falling.

So where does balance enter into the dream equation here? First, I was in a situation of needing to protect my boundaries from negative forces aiming to invade my consciousness and draw me off center. Second, at the cliff-hanger edge (literally!), I had choices to make while perched perilously at the edge. I chose to act, to be a cause rather than an effect of the negative agent, which allowed me to retain my own agency rather than relinquishing that to the negative force. When I released the hold on the villain allowing him to fall to his death, I felt no emotion—neither for nor against—as I watched him fall. I knew it was his own actions which had caused his demise so that I had no responsibility for his death. And I had a further choice either to take the descent myself and possibly perish of my own accord or to, ultimately, find an alternate path and “wake up,” which of course I am glad I chose! (Where that awareness of the choice to wake up came from I would have to attribute to my protective inner guidance, so I am grateful for that, always!)

Fantasy, Clouds, Woman, Castle, Sun, Sky

images are from pixabay.com

Being centered in the moment allows choice. It slows the action from a higher level of awareness, so your action or expression can flow from your Center rather than your being merely reactive to or the passive effect of external situations or forces.

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

Due Vigilance

My waking dream this month involves bees, both literally and metaphorically. First sign: my dear dog Sophie was stung by a ground bee, which was very painful to her and I had to get her to the vet for a shot of Benadryl for she broke out in hives. She is fine now, gratefully.

Second, a handyman fixing a leak above my sliding door found there had been carpenter bee damage which a previous owner had merely covered over with plywood. The handyman reconstructed the area and that too is fine, now.

Also next day had a pest control person come to spray against existing carpenter bees and ants.

So what is this waking dream message? I believe it is about practicing due vigilance rather than ignoring potential threats to happiness and wellbeing. From a human standpoint these bees are pests that threaten my family, person, and household. Metaphorically they also threaten my state of consciousness, for if I allow myself to sink into worry or fear about such conditions, that can diminish my capacity for being productive and advancing with my sense of purpose and service, and my and my loved ones’ happiness.

Due vigilance means practicing right discrimination or proper discernment, being mindful or aware of situations and addressing challenges with active measures while staying “in stride” with daily activities and life pursuits.

images are from pixabay.com

“Don’t let it get you down” is a great reminder to “stay on top of things” as they occur.

I welcome YOUR Story and Comments.

Onward Ho! How to Apply Lessons from the Past

Each month this year at Better Endings for Your Life Path I am inviting you to pose a monthly question as a step toward resolving a larger, yearly Quest. My own Quest is about achieving happiness in my new life conditions since retiring and relocating last summer. This month, my question is about “How to Apply Lessons from the Past.”  I aim to not have to unnecessarily repeat earlier hardships but rather to move forward, having turned over a leaf or with a new lease on life, as ‘they’ say.

images are from pixabay.com

So rather than repeating decisions and choices that led down pathways I do not choose to revisit, my quest this month is to contemplate how to practice discernment as I approach situations with a fresh viewpoint.  Every step forward needs to be tempered, like walking through a labyrinth slowly, step by step, taking care at each pregnant pause to consider my options well and choose accordingly.

I do believe that if we do not learn from our lessons we are very likely to repeat the conditions that require us to learn the same lesson again.  Moving is a great opportunity for growth and development, but true progress has to come from within.

I invite you to choose your own monthly question this week in relation to a larger QUEST you are aiming to fulfill.