A MyStory Life Theme: Pet Tales

Preface: In my previous post I introduced the topic of a new book I am working on, called MyStory (or, YourStory/ Mystory or simply Your MyStory, TBD). Each chapter explores Life Theme events that have punctuated a person’s life. I am trying on several of those themes from my own MyStory here in the blog while developing the manuscript. Hope you enjoy! – LKW


If you value in a relationship unconditional love, loyalty, mutual commitment, trust, loving companionship and lifelong cohabitation, live with a pet soul companion, or two or more.  This I have learned from a lifetime of living with my pet Friends.  Human relationships may come and go—such is the sometimes-capricious nature of free will and the obligations each individual has to their own goals and interests which may shift over time—but bringing a pet home is a commitment with benefits and responsibilities for a lifetime of loving companionship and adventure.

I have benefitted from so many spectacular ‘pet’ relationships that it is not possible to select just one or two to focus on as I reflect on the value and lessons from these connections. Recently I have outlined an entire book that I would like to write to cover this theme of my other-than-human animal Soul companions.

But I would do well to start here and now to spotlight my current pet family of Sophie (a ‘golden’ Shorkie/ Shitzu-Yorkie) and Emily (my orange-white golden-eyed female tabby).

Photo by Anne Lyon

Sophie has accompanied me on seven cross country trips between Colorado Springs and upper New York state, the last of which in 2018 moved us—with Emily too—Back East after over forty years, for me, Out West.  Since then, Sophie and Emily have moved with me two more times until we have arrived in our current rental house in my original hometown village in Western New York.

I am grateful every day, every moment, to Sophie and Emily for their constant love and companionship, especially through moves to locations where I have had few if any immediate local human connections.  As a singleton, retired but still working remotely person living “alone,” I have never actually been or felt alone due to our loving family.

When Sophie was 7 (now 12), she was diagnosed as diabetic. On that day, on hearing the somber news, I actually fainted in the vet’s office and ended up at a hospital, having collapsed ostensibly from dehydration but really from the shock of awareness of my dear friend Sophie’s dire need for special care to save her quality of life. But over time, Sophie’s health condition has proven to be a gift or at least a mixed blessing. We had a terrific vet in Colorado and good friends who helped me research and develop a homemade diet and care plan that, after plenty of trial and error and readjusting after each of our Big Moves, works! (Sophie’s diet, which I have blogged about, will be a chapter in my book!). I cook all of Sophie’s meals from scratch, including a litany of supplements and eye care treatments, and managing her diet along with our daily walks and regularity of routine have helped me improve and manage my own health conditions, plus our unconditional interdependence and love has no parallel.  Right this weekend Sophie is recovering from stitches to her eyelid because of my mistake in trying to trim some hair over her eye (know better!) that nicked her eyelid.  Not fun for either of us, but as with other incidents in our times together, we will get through this with deep love and reciprocity.

Photo by Pamela Flynn

Emily, too, is such a special, loving, quiet, healing cat friend. Initially she and her brother Arthur were feral.  Rescued by a good friend in New Mexico who already had 10 pets, one frigid New Years weekend, my friend Madeline lured them from the subzero desert night where coyotes and loose dogs roamed, onto her enclosed porch, with warm milk and an electric blanket they could sleep on. The next day I drove with them back to Colorado Springs.  Arthur, who was his more petite sister’s guardian angel on earth, survived here only 5 years. He developed a blood clot after dental surgery that took him from us. Gradually Emily has grown into her own mature (14 now) loving self, a constant source of daily cuddles and purr mantras and a regular visitor to Zoom sessions especially with my spiritual community  in New York since Covid-19.

Images (other than photos above) are from Pixabay.com

Animals Are Soul, Too (by Harold Klemp) is the title of a book I enjoy.  Sophie and Emily teach me about cross-species spiritual companionship every day and in many ways.  Truly I cannot imagine having made the recent moves I have needed to make without my Sophie and Emily family. I am many times blessed and grateful. Many other pet friend Souls have come before (and earlier with) them in my life, each with their own amazing tales of love and companionship. But my current family unit of Sophie-Em-and me has brought, on the whole, great joy and comfort to our lives.  Home is where the Heart is, and together we have forged our own way Home.

Turning a New Leaf: Discover YourStory

One of the people with whom I piloted the Life Mapping tools provided in Your Life Path: Life Mapping Tools to Help You Follow Your Heart, and Live Your Dream, Now! (Skyhorse, 2018) was a brilliant young man who gave himself the fictional name Thomas, as he was about to embark on his graduate studies in Philosophy and Anthropology.  To begin the life mapping process I ask people to list and describe significant shaping events from their life and then to sort those events into types of situations or events as their Life Themes.  Important to the self-discovery goal of this life mapping process is that people are to identify and name these Life Themes themselves.

Thomas named one of his recurring Life Themes as Revealing Myself to Myself. These were critical breakthrough moments of awareness for Thomas when he could finally understand a valuable life lesson. Overall, I have found that the simple process by which “life mappers” are able to identify and recognize the significance of their own recurring Life Themes is always self-revelatory, as it exposes meaningful threads by which a person has woven their own mythic Life Story.

So my next major book project, as a third installment in the self-discovery based Life Paths series (Your Life Path 2018; Better Endings 2022), I am calling Your MyStory; or alternately, YourStory or just MyStory (n.b., blogging confers copyright to the title). After guiding the reader through a few simple steps to identify and name their own Life Themes, I will invite the reader to journal memoirs around these key themes that have punctuated their lives, from past to present to future.

Everyone has certain stories about episodes from their life that they find themselves telling and retelling, over and over again.  We embellish these ‘signature’ tales over time, refining their message to impart basic principles we have gleaned from our experience that we may wish to share with others.

As I have presented earlier, I regard the human species as Homo Narrativus. We are, at heart, Storytellers. We live our lives in episodic moments and reflect on our life experiences in mythic terms. 
So, these stories that we tell and retell build a narrative corpus of interconnected tales. 

images are from pixabay.com

For this next year or so I will be introducing and inviting you to journal your own memoirs about a series of common Life Themes. I will also share a process by which you can discover your own versions of these themes and/or discover unique ones. Each, in fact, you will find to be uniquely yours in how YOU have framed the theme and how you assign meaning to your own Life Story episodes.

YourStory reveals your MyStory, see?

Next time then, I will begin with a Theme very near and dear to my heart: Pet Tales.  Reflecting on this theme I realize I could (and might just) write an entire book around this one theme. I have been an animal lover and Soul pet companion all this life, and I have learned many life lessons about unconditional love from my other-than-human animal Friends. 

Thanks for your patience, and for reading!

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!

Discover your Through Line

Path, Rural, Nature, Road, Countryside

We have been exploring Life Story narratives. We each have one; it is the dynamic, ever emerging story of your life! Life stories are as rich and full of meaning and drama as the most daring adventure tale or the most profound mythic Quest.

You are the author, editor, and the key protagonist, along with your significant relations, of your own epic tale. This week let’s add an authorial tip: find your Through Line. A through line is a simple statement that concisely encapsulates what your entire book or story is about.  When editing a story, keeping your story’s through line in mind can guide you to remove extraneous material from your text. The rule of thumb is: if a passage does not advance the plot and reflect the through line, leave it out.  This brings a more refined and compelling focus to your story, keeping it true to the storyline or plot structure you are meaning to convey.

What might a through line look like for a life story narrative; particularly, yours?  To discover the through line of any story, you can ask, ‘What is this story all about, in a nutshell?’ A through line should be concise, no longer than a single clause or sentence. 

Arrangement, Butterfly, Aesthetics

For example, consider the movie Castaway (one of my favorite ‘transformational story’ tales). What is it all about, in a nutshell?  I would say (and it could have a different meaning for you): “A man has a life altering experience from being stranded on a remote island as a ‘castaway’ for five years.” This through line makes sense of the entire Castaway story: what Chuck Noland’s life is like before the plane crash that strands him on a remote island; how his life experiences on the island challenge him and lead him to develop a capacity to be a resilient survivor who values life at all costs; and how his life has been altered by his castaway experience once he returns to ‘civilized’ life.   This storyline also carries a universal message when you consider how ultimately we are each alone with our own deepest challenges.

Message, Bottle, Cork, Letter, Scroll, Castaway, Rescue

So, what has your Life Story been about (up to now, at least), in a nutshell? You might revisit last week’s blog asking you to give a Title to your Life Story, and phrase your question around that title, or simply encapsulate how you think about your Life Story to date from your present perspective. You might also want to give yourself a heroic name to cast your through line in a third person format; this can help to bring you to a level of oversight or objective insight about your life AS story.

For example, the title I gave to my life story last week was A Merry (Carousel) Ride. My through line could be:  Jeannne (cf. Joan of Arc) learns to ride the Ups and Downs of life, always seeking to find Balance and Meaning, linking Heaven and Earth as a spiritual adventure.

Horse, Carousel, Carousel Horse, Fair
images are from pixabay.com

That is my quest, in a nutshell. How about YOU? You may use the Better Endings Story Seed prompt in the right panel to contemplate and/or journal about your own Life Story narrative. I welcome your feedback and comments on your own engagement with this tool.

Do Your One Thing, Daily

My Sophie

Recently my dog Sophie had to undergo surgery to remove a benign growth. She was going in for a dental cleaning anyway, so the vet and I agreed it would be good to remove the mass on her right thigh that had been growing for a long time. I expected a small snip but it turned out little 13 lb Sophie had a nearly two inch suture to recover from! She had to wear a cloth cone, or at least when I could bear to have her wear it. The first few days were dicy with some bloody oozing that had me worried. But she made it through the worst, finished her antibiotics, and now she is fully recovered, having had sutures removed two weeks ago. I say to her daily now:

Better and better, every day!

I know that is my own affirmation as well as for Sophie. I have been dealing with some health matters, too, trying to get to a balanced condition going forward. After my own double round of antibiotics and changing my diet yet again (this time eliminating carbonated drinks and most coffee to prevent uti’s that I am prone to), I appear to be on the mend, too. So again,

Better and better, every day!

Now then this brings me to a golden technique I would share with you which I have also been practicing. Let’s call it the “One Thing, Daily” technique, or practice.

In the movie City Slickers, remember the tough cowboy Duke, played by Jack Palance. He tell sMitch that there is “one thing” that anyone needs to know in order to live their best life. Mitch asks Duke to share the “one thing,” but before he can respond, Duke expires!  In the sequel, Duke’s twin explains how the ‘one thing’ is different for everyone; you need to find what is the ‘one thing’ for you that will let you fulfill your own life.

In my book Your Life Path (see side panel for ordering info or through Amazon, B&N or elsewhere), I present a creative Tool called Accentuate the Positive that guides you to discover your own ‘one thing’ you can do, “now or in the near foreseeable future,” that can launch and propel you irreversibly in the direction of manifesting your Life Dream. Live Your Dream, Now! is the credo of the complete self-discovery, personal growth toolkit provided with this book.

This week I want to modify a prompt for the technique just a bit for you, to:

Do Your One Thing, Daily

Every day has somewhat the character of the Groundhog Day movie plot phenomenon: you wake up and go through your routines at home and at work or play, at home or in public. You do the best you can being you and applying your knowledge and heart to your activities. But what if, every day, you put in some focussed attention on doing ‘one thing’ that can propel you in an irreversible direction forward to fully living, and giving from, your Dream? See?

What I have been doing daily this week which is of the ‘one thing’ potential is two fold. I am engaging with new and old friends and family; that is nice. But newly, I am editing the science fiction novel, book one of a trilogy story, that has been sitting in my computer files for several years while I took the personal development book forward. I am six chapters through the edit of 26 chapters already written, and it is going pretty well. My plan is to publish this one online with Amazon Kindle, as I am not feeling the need to put my scifi project through a mainstream publishing process.

More on the new book later. But my point is to do ‘one thing’ every day that moves you in the direction of realizing your deepest sense of purpose, and/or for fun!

So what is ONE THING that you can do or are doing, today?

images are from pixabay.com

I do welcome YOUR Story and Comments!

Life Mapping Your FRIENDSHIP Theme

 

After assembling a list of Shaping Events, situations or events that have “shaped the person you have become,” a life mapper looks at how these events group into kinds of events, or Life Themes. Then the mapper charts these events, color coded according to the Life Themes they have identified, plotting them as points on a graph to indicate the relative positive and/or negative impact each of these events has had upon their life overall. This life mapping process, presented fully equipped with tools for you in my new book, Your Life Path, reveals the PATTERNS by which your Life Themes have interwoven to create the very fabric and texture of your life experience.

images are from pixabay.com

FRIENDSHIP is a very common Life Theme people identify in their Life Maps. To create a thematic mapping of just this one Theme, you can simply make a list of Shaping Events or situations you associate with Friends or Friendship in your life history. Next to each event include the age you were at when the Shaping Event occurred, and rate the event +5 to -5 in terms of its retrospective impact on “the person you have become.”  Then you can use a Life Map Chart as shown below to plot the relative impact scores of your Friendship Theme using the Age Line as a timeline for the events. Where adjacent events feel connected subjectively (e.g. a -2 event of a loss of a friend followed by a +4 event of regaining that friendship), you can draw a line on the chart connecting those event points.  The resulting chart will reveal patterns in your Friendship Theme. You could also subdivide your events by individual friendships or by types of friendships, then use color coding for the events and for the lines connecting these sub-theme events to reveal deeper subtleties in the patterning of your Friendship Theme over time.

Friendship has been bedrock in my own life story, right up there with Family and Pets. My Friendship Theme has been an uplifting factor overall, with primarily strong positive impacts throughout my life, though there have been troughs (sharp dips) due to loss either from moving away from a friend or needing to separate from a friend either temporarily or permanently due to a personality clash.

So, have at! I welcome YOUR Comments or Story!