With New Eyes, or Look Again!  The Value of Creative Re-Visioning

[First this week, THANK YOU to all of you who have been following and especially for those registering your ‘Likes’ for recent posts.-Linda]

Writing and particularly for me, journal writing, has been a lifelong refuge and treasure.  I kept as many as four journals going at a time through my college years, and I have kept a dream journal as well as a writing journal active for over 50 years.  Early on, I addressed my journal Itself as a Friend (Dear Friend would start my entries).  It is this long practice of journaling that has sustained my lifelong interest in writing and has led to several academic journal articles and to date, four published books (the first two academic and the last two, mainstream).  


My just released Better Endings: A Guidebook for Creative Re-Visioning (Central Park South Publishing) includes journaling pages so that you, too, as the reader can engage with the magical art of journaling that can open new doors of self-discovery, insight, and future envisioning.  The journaling prompts, included blank journaling pages,  and chapter topics presented in Better Endings truly can guide you to explore and reflect upon key values and events of your own Life Story: past, current and to come.

I have personally ‘beta tested’ every theme and journaling excursion offered with the Better Endings chapters.  Part One introduces topics that let you have fun practicing creative re-visioning with movies, fiction, and historical events.  You will get to write your own ‘better endings’ for movies or stories whose endings you have always disliked and to reflect upon what it is about these stories that lead you personally to want to rewrite these conclusions.  This is not at all about improving upon the screenplay or writing but about developing your own sense of ‘creative license’ to re-envision (or re-view) any story to explore its open possibilities.  If you can practice re-visioning a fictional story or an historical event, so too can you look at your own life story events (past, current and to come) with this same creative license, allowing you to imagine and mindfully explore your own open possibilities! After all, you are the composer, editor and key actor in your own Life Story.  In fact, that is what Part Two is all about.

Part Two gives you, the reader/ journal writer of Better Endings, the freedom to reclaim your own creative license; to re-vision and flexibly reflect upon the ‘shaping events’ or Turning Points of your own Life Path. Topics include:  What If?, Second Chances,  Silver Linings, Loss and Recovery, Big Moves, and Your Best is Yet to Come.

The value of creative re-visioning and journaling your reflections is that it opens your intuitive awareness. It can help you arrive at a sense of more meaningful closure and purpose with regard to your significant life events, situations or relationships, so you may approach new choices with greater understanding and clarity of intention.

Better endings are not necessarily happier ones, but they can lead to New Beginnings!

images are from pixapbay.com

If you would like to explore these themes in your own life, pick up a copy of Better Endings: A Guidebook for Creative Re-Visioning.  (You can click on the embedded links here or on the right panel cover image to be routed to Amazon, or you could order through Barnes & Noble or any other major retailer site.) It is available as an eBook (but if you choose this, please do create your own Better Endings Journal and do the journaling), or as a softbound or hardcover version. I welcome all reviews, comments, and questions!

Better Endings: A Guidebook for Creative Re-Visioning–Book Release!

Better Endings:  A Guidebook for Creative Re-Visioning, by Linda K. Watts, has been released and is now available to order from Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Kindle, Nook, Kobo and several other other retail book sites. It is available as a paperback (17.85), hardcover (28.95), or as an ebook (9.95).  Its direct url at Amazon is (or click on book image on right panel):

https://www.amazon.com/s?k=better+endings+a+guidebook+for+creative+re-visioning+linda+k.+watts&i=stripbooks&crid=3TEMQT36PW3H7&sprefix=better+end%2Cstripbooks%2C92&ref=nb_sb_ss_mission-aware-v1_2_10

A direct link for adding a review at Amazon for Better Endings, as of May 6, 2022 is: http://www.amazon.com/review/create-review?&asin=978-1-956452-09-9   

Better endings are New Beginnings! (image from pixabay.com)

Please if you procure this book, in any format, I invite you as the author to please, do the journaling, at least for the topics you are most drawn to personally. This book can help you to envision and bring about your own Better Endings.

These days, aren’t we all ready for some better endings?

What Is Your Happiness Quotient?

A Better Endings outlook is first and foremost a choice to maintain a positive attitude, despite or even especially in the face of life’s challenges. How can we maintain optimism, though, when beset by the heavy weight of a current problem? Recently I have stumbled upon a way out from under the otherwise debilitating burden of a pressing life situation.

I am transitioning out of my part-time job, one that I have deeply valued, because of an irresolvable environmental concern. I have been troubling over this decision, but I do know it is the right choice for me based on health considerations. So I have been mulling over this situation and yesterday arrived at a breakthrough realization that I am calling my “happiness quotient.”

I started counting my blessings compared to the negative factors I am moving through. I thought, well, most of my life remains positive, so I started adding up the percentages of positive aspects I am happy about in comparison to the elements that have been weighing me down.

For example (Readers, please make your own list), What I am Happy About:
* my pets, Sophie and Emily (healthy, loving companions)
* my family being nearer since my relocating
* good friends nearby, old and new, including my best high school buddy and her husband
* good friends I am still close with after all these years (many moons and and many moves!)
* My new book being released May 6 ! (see right panels for a Goodreads Giveaway and to pre-order)
* Continuing to teach anthropology online (my passion)
* my home environment: small hometown, river, lake, performing art center
* my spiritual practice and community activities
* my relative good health and prosperity
* my freedom

And What I am Unhappy or Challenged About (Readers again, please compose your own current list):
* leaving a job I have treasured and the people there whom I have been befriending
* the state of the world

So, when I count up my current factors for Happiness (N=10) against more negative factors (N=2), add them together (12) and calculate the percentage of happy to total factors (10/12 as x/100), I realize I have a Happiness Quotient of 84%. This awareness lifts my spirits and helps me to RELEASE what simply it is timely to Let Go!

Images are from pixabay.com

So, how about you? Try this one on for size. See if it might help you to put ‘things’ into a broader perspective. And importantly if it does not; if your Happiness Quotient turns out to be lower than you would like, then I would invite you to journal about (or contemplate or talk with your loved ones about) how you might introduce some better endings re-visioning into your current life chapter. What can you do to increase your happiness and to decrease the weight of current burdens?

Please feel free to share about your results in Comments below.


Better Endings are New Beginnings

My apologies for a two-week aperture. My new book, Better Endings: A Guidebook for Creative Re-Visioning (click link for url) is now available for pre-order at a discounted rate at all major retailers (Amazon, Barnes & Noble) and it will soon be available as an ebook at Kindle, Nook and several other sites. I have been on a daily learning curve, aiming to announce this book in as many ways as possible; if you are an author you know what I mean! While the publishers have announced the book to retailers and independent bookstores through Ingram at a good trade book discount rate, still it is up to me to let people know about the book, and that is a heady, onerous and daunting opportunity. The official release date is May 6 for retailers. There will be a book launch at my local Lewiston, NY Library on May 13, thankfully. I have set up a Goodreads Author Page and print book giveaway (6 free books chosen randomly, so you can find it there if you like), from April 26-May 8. Otherwise “pounding the pavement”: sending out postcards to selected bookstores, visiting local stores, submitting info to Barnes & Noble store placement, and basically learning something new every day about possible ways to get the word out.

This blog site has been the rich source of the concept that developed into Better Endings: A Guidebook for Creative Re-Visioning. Over the past 9 years or so we have explored herein the multifaceted jewel that is our own inherent creative license to envision and to flexibly re-vision a Story: everything from composing actual ‘better endings’ to movies, fiction, or historical events whose conclusions might leave you personally dissatisfied or yearning for a twist of fate, to journaling about ‘shaping events’ or Turning Points in our own life stories: Past, current or to come.


I have come to realize how fundamentally empowering it can be to creatively re-vision a situation from the past, any current situation, or a future aspiration or prospect. Doing so has guided me through three Big Moves just over the past four years, and has brought many new opportunities and vistas into clearer view. Re-visioning a past event helps me see it with new (more mature) eyes, and prospecting a desirable future through ‘alternate futurescape’ journaling has helped me zero in on what values I aim to establish in my home setting and in all my relations. Better Endings lead to New Beginnings! Sometimes this can mean simply bringing closure to a long contemplated worry from the past, or setting out in a new direction based on realizing the path you choose to follow!

Better Endings: A Guidebook for Creative Re-Visioning is the fruit of these many years of applying the creative principle of creative re-visioning not only in this blog but in my life. Central Park South Publishing has helped me to produce honestly a very well designed book. I am especially grateful that this book provides ample journaling space for readers to explore this faculty of creative re-visioning for yourselves.

Below is the Table of Contents. With each chapter, I introduce the chapter’s theme, share a sample ‘better endings’ story and some personal reflections about the topic, and then turn the theme over to you as the reader, to reflect on and to journal about with respect to your own life experience. The final of four lined journaling pages ask you to add your Reflections after you have personally explored your own ‘better endings’ perspective.

images are from pixabay.com

I guess you can tell, I really like how Better Endings: A Guidebook for Creative Re-Visioning has emerged as a book of true potential benefit for those who wish to reflect on life’s lessons and golden opportunities for transformational growth and fulfillment.

If you get the book, please do the journaling! That is the heart of its gift. Feel free to reach out to share with me about your experience with the themes in the book; I would gladly post your own ‘better endings’ stories here to share with others. And if you would, please do leave a review somewhere, at Amazon, B&N, Goodreads or on your own blog if you like. I understand reviews can be most helpful for letting more people know about a book.

Thank You for visiting and especially to those of you who have been Following this blog site; the fact that people actually do read what we write and share in a blog is what keeps them going and growing!

May You Find Your Better Endings!

Better Endings–the Book!

This week I will share the back story of how this blog developed and has morphed into my new book, Better Endings: A Guidebook for Creative Re-Visioning–to be released May 13 and available later this week (I will post the url here as soon as it is pre-released for ordering through Amazon)!  This is the story of my encounter with someone described in Thrive Global as a “Super Agent” –and, she is!–, Linda Langton, president of Langton International Literary Agency and Central Park South Publishing.  

After several years of interview-based research and presenting a series of papers about life mapping later published in book form as The ‘Life Map’ as an Implicit Cognitive Structure Underlying Behavior (Edwin Mellen Press, 2011), I developed and co-taught a Humanities course in Colorado with a History professor, Dr. Duvick, called Myth, Reason and Your Life History.  This led to the One Thing moment I wrote about last week, a summer writing retreat in Steamboat Springs, CO, during which I created the nub of the book, Your Life Path (Skyhorse, 2018).  I continued to write and teach about life mapping for another few years as I attended a series of writing conferences, one near San Francisco; another in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina; and finally in Newport Beach sometime around 2013.  Each conference was worthwhile as it helped me understand what agents and editors were looking for and helped me improve my manuscript proposal.  Of course, I was also seeking an agent willing to take on a new author.

The morning I met Linda Langton, I was at breakfast at the conference hotel. I had set up three agent meetings for that day, for which I had sent chapters and a book proposal in advance.  As I was leaving the restaurant, this striking lady professional who was standing nearby turned and called out to me: “Colorado?” (she had read from my nametag).  Are you Linda Watts?

“Yes,” I stammered, grateful to be acknowledged at all at this large conference event.

“Life mapping?”

“Yes!”

“How inspiring!”

She introduced herself and I gratefully thanked her and said I would be seeing her shortly after lunch later that day.  I had another agent session set up in the morning.

At the first agent meeting, that lady let me know that she liked my book concept, but she said since I did not have a strong public “platform,” I should establish one and maybe get back to her in six months. I returned to my hotel room, discouraged. 

Was this to be yet another conference at which I was to learn more about what I yet needed to do, but no more?

I arrived twenty minutes early for my meeting with L. Langton.  Guess what, though?  She was already there too, outside the large meeting conference room which was closed during lunchtime.  We greeted each other, and she asked an attendant to let us into the room, early!

We sat at her agent table to talk.  I started:

“I am really not here just to learn more about what I need to do to make my book better.  I am here to find an agent!”

LL smiled and extended her hand across the small table to shake mine.  “Oh, I will represent you,” she beamed. (I was struck silent then, absorbing the impact of what this NYC agent had just said, and to me!)  Then she continued: “But I can only publish your book if you have a platform.  If you have a platform, I can publish your book; if not, I cannot.”

We talked for the rest of our session about how I could go about building a public platform.  As a university professor who had published two academic books and several peer reviewed academic articles, I was certainly not a public figure much beyond my small world of students and faculty.  Yet, that very morning before coming to the agent sessions, I had been thinking in bed about how I could take another idea forward that I had begun to journal about, the idea of “better endings.”  So, when Ms. Langton suggested I could write a blog and join Twitter to help increase my public platform, I told her about the “better endings” concept and suggested I could blog about that!  My new agent liked the idea.  I left the conference (after cancelling my third agent appointment since I was very happy to be working with LL), boosted and thrilled to have this golden opportunity to further develop the manuscript for Your Life Path, and to start a blog.

That next week, a colleague’s husband who is a scifi writer with his own blog helped me to set up and create my new blog, this one:  Better Endings.  The ideas here have ranged widely from concepts associated with Your Life Path that connect with living your best life and “living your dream,” to journaling tools for reflecting on the basic theme of “better endings.”

After Your Life Path was eventually published in 2018, a new idea formed: I would write a simpler, narrative plus journaling-based book presenting the creative principle of Better Endings to the public.  As a Guidebook for Creative Re-Visioning, this new book includes ample lined journaling pages for you to explore and create your own better endings

images are from pixabay.com

What I have discovered through nearly a decade of applying this creative principle in my own life and blogging and then writing about it is, One Thing:

Better Endings are New Beginnings!

The Missing Puzzle Piece

A few weeks ago an odd thing happened.  I found a single jigsaw puzzle piece on my living room carpet.  This was odd because I have not worked on a jigsaw puzzle for over a year (and I have vacuumed several times since then!); and because the last puzzle I did put together is complete and I have not disassembled it.  No missing pieces.

I showed the puzzle piece to a friend who sometimes works puzzles and has visited at my home, but no, she says it could not be from her either.

The puzzle piece itself is not so extraordinary: a sliver of the top of a white and grey cloud against a line of maybe blue mountain scape on a horizon, against a dark blue background. Let’s say it could symbolize a cloud’s silver lining—then, for me as the finder, what could be its significance?

images are from pixabay.com

Maybe that is just it: my missing piece of the puzzle of life is to find silver linings!  Sometimes I do need to remember that; not to stress out when things go out of kilter a bit, either in everyday life or in the larger scheme of worldly events.  Depending on one’s outlook or one’s position in a situation, there can always be a silver lining discerned: opportunities disguised as setbacks.

Still, this could be but one of my “missing puzzle pieces.”  As a journaling exercise I recommend answering What Is My Missing Puzzle Piece About? Brainstorm several possible answers and then explore or contemplate each response.  For example, for me (I always sample first any better endings journaling tool I offer to others), my brainstorming could include:

My Missing Puzzle Piece Could Be About:

  • Taking more time to investigate a situation before acting
  • Listening with greater, and longer, patience
  • More free time for sheer enjoyment
  • Dropping the mind in contemplation practice
  • More laughter, at myself, and healthy humor generally
  • Ways to arrive at greater clarity and conviction
  • Acceptance, gratitude

And so on…guess I have plenty more Puzzles to solve!

How about You? How might you answer this probe?  What might your puzzle piece look like? What could it represent for you?

Defending Your Life :  Mid-Life Review for Better Endings

One of my favorite movies is Defending Your Life, about the between-lifetime adventures of Daniel Miller (Albert Brooks) and Julia (Meryl Streep).  Daniel and Julia are recently departed Souls whose lives are on trial to determine whether they get to “move on” or must to return to Earth to make more progress on their life goals and challenges.  They meet and fall in love in Judgement City, a way station between lives where their trials are held.

Rip Torn plays Bob Diamond, the lawyer for Daniel, whose case is much less likely to succeed than that of Julia, a brave and virtuous heroine by all accounts.  Daniel is judged as having been too fearful and risk-aversive, based on scenes from his life shown in the courtroom.  Rip Torn tries to defend or apologize for some of the less stellar episodes from Daniel’s life, but he is clearly aware the verdict is going to go against Daniel. So, near the end (I will not spoil the twist ending; worth seeing!), Julia is moving on and up, but Daniel boards a bus taking Souls back to Earth to be reincarnated, to hopefully recognize and learn their lessons better the next time around.

There is also an excellent non-fiction book on the same theme: The Journey of Souls, by Dr. Michael Newton.  Newton interviewed over a hundred people while they were under hypnosis, not about ‘past lives’ but rather about between incarnations. He discovered a high degree of intersubjective agreement among these many people’s accounts; they provided very similar descriptions! Among other shared factors, they talked about undergoing a life review process to determine how far they had come during their last lifetime toward fulfilling certain goals or learning particular lessons. Here is the intersection with the film, Defending Your Life.

Honestly this film and book have long been part of my background motivation for writing Your Life Path (2018) and my soon to be released simpler and I think the reader will find more fun and creative journaling sandbox: Better Endings: A Guidebook for Creative Re-Visioning. My thought is, why wait til after or between lives—or later in THIS life, no matter your beliefs!—to find out how you are doing with your deepest life mission and goals. It can be very illuminating to step back and do some basic contemplative or journaling life reflection, here and now, to take stock and maybe consider some basic or highly desirable mid-life corrections you might want to make, before ‘moving on,’ in THIS life!

Images are from pixabay.com

Better Endings Story Seed:

Defending Your Life (to Now)

Imagine (playfully) that you have passed Beyond; just temporarily, let’s say.  You find yourself in Judgement City, where a lawyer defends your case for ‘moving on’ in a courtroom with a judge and several wise-appearing jurors looking on. Your lawyer and a prosecuting lawyer against your transcending show some brief clips from your life to emphasize why you should return for another life to work on unfinished lessons, or to show how you have fulfilled your purpose and are ready to ‘move on’.

List 3-5 of your life events the lawyers might show in these clips, including at least one from both positive and less positive moments.  What lesson or lessons are you still working on? Where to from here then,
to fulfill your life’s mission or goals?

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.



Lessons from the Pandemic: Gratitude?

Mona Lisa, Mask, Coronavirus, Pandemic

Most of us humans on Earth are fairly strained by now from having to endure a longer global pandemic than many of us would have expected to have to abide.  One year, maybe, even 18 months or so of masking, getting vaccinated and social distancing we might believe should have ‘done the trick’ by now; but no, the universe has yet more in store for us in what is becoming the Covid Era. So, in the spirit of applying the principle of Better Endings (BTW the book is under contract now, undergoing a final edit!), can we focus on what we may actually be grateful for, or how enduring a pandemic could actually help those of us who survive this ordeal to progress in our lives, anyhow?

I invite you to write (journal about or discuss with others) a list of life lessons or positive ‘side effects’ you can take forward from your encounter with your own Covid-era conditions. I will try my hand (or heart) at this, too:

What I can be grateful for during the Covid Era:

  • More time at home with my beloved pets, Sophie and Emily;
  • Fewer colds due to masking and much more regular use of vitamins and supplements, especially zinc, C, D3, My Community mushroom supplements, multivitamins,  and CoQ10;
  • More time for focussing on writing (two book manuscripts now in process of approaching publication and several more ‘in the hopper’);
  • Deep dreaming, journaling and contemplations in the quiet space of home;
  • More reading time (book discussions with my good friend Jan about the holographic universe (e.g.), and a local book club now available via Zoom);
  • Zoom events (although, while not having to mask is nice and being able to connect with folks remotely from anywhere in the world is wonderful, I do miss face to face eye contact—gotta say!)
  • Long telephone conversations with family and friends;
  • Good times spent at my home and theirs with close friends, all of us boosted!

Hand Lettering, Paper, Watercolor
images are from pixabay.com

Better Endings Story Seed:

Lessons from the Pandemic

Can you ride with this theme? What can you be grateful for despite or due to your own pandemic conditions? Journal about how you are enduring the Covid Era in your Better Endings Journal (any loose-leaf journal; or share in discussion with a loved one). Feel free to comment at this site, too!

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.

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!

Let Your True North Find You!

North Star, Stars, Night, Night Sky, Sky

Usually we are told or conditioned to take active, even bold when needed, steps to realize our dreams or to claim our happiness. We value our sense of agency although sometimes this may lead to our feeling like it is me (or, you) against the world, like somehow we need to wrest happiness from a harsh and forbidding world. But this week I have had an experience that shows me the value of letting my next step in growth and development, I’ll call it my True North, find me! 

Over a year ago I took action based on a sudden impulse; I wrote a letter addressing an agency in the hometown I was preparing to move back to.  Without exposing details here on a dear opportunity still only in its infancy, this agency had helped me with some writing projects in the past, and I thanked them and let them know I was returning to town so that if there was anything I might be able to do that they might need (like PT work for them), I would welcome that. In truth an underlying reason for reaching out to this agency in my beloved home town was because I was looking for a way to give something back to the community (and this agency) that had given me so much and helped to launch my life career on many levels.

Greeting Card, Letter, Paper, Stationery

I heard back maybe a month or so later from staff at the agency. The director I had addressed was not in town due to COVID19 and no, they did not need any help. Okay, I thought, at least it had been worth the effort to reach out based on following my inner nudge.

I relocated and have now been back in my hometown for nearly a year. I love it here. It is the same quaint village yet more developed now around a performing arts center (that I ushered for during its first two seasons while I was finishing college as an undergraduate). The wider location is expansive and dynamic; there is no end of opportunities for adventures to explore.  I continue to teach online, which I also love and am grateful for being able to do ‘remotely,’ now from my beloved hometown.

People, Parade, Fun, Friends, Lifestyle

Then three days ago I get this call from a local phone number. It is the director of the agency I had written to over a year ago!  He had returned from living in Canada through the worst of the pandemic and he found my letter while looking through some papers that had accumulated at his office. He is perfectly delightful; we talked quite awhile, realizing we share many points of intersection in our interests and experiences.  In fact next week we are set to meet for coffee to continue the conversation and there are possibly some opportunities for me to be of service and also for some of my current writing projects to be reviewed in new ways.

All of this has been so unexpected, at least consciously. If you’ll remember I had a dream last week about moving into a more expansive or roomy (and more Rumi, I associated) state of consciousness. Then just two days later or so, this phone call from ‘out of the blue’ opens new possibilities for realizing some of my deepest life ambitions for service and for writing. These are two ways through which I aim to serve life, to embrace and give gratitude to all life with love, perhaps in the sort of vein of gold Rumi bespeaks in his remarkable poem I included last time (“Word Fog”).

So we shall see wherever this might lead, but I am grateful for the opening to greater possible connections!

Characters, Statues, Sculptures, Trust
images are from pixabay.com

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Better Endings Story Seed

Let Your True North Find You!

How about you? Have there been moments in your life, or are you seeking such, whereby you relaxed and found that your next step reached out to YOU?  I invite you to contemplate, dream, or journal about that as a Better Endings exercise.

A More Rumi State of Mind: “Word Fog”

Dhammakaya Pagoda, Budha, Gold, Buddhism
image is from pixabay.com

Funny. I knew last week that I wanted to post the Rumi poem below, “Word Fog”, with this week’s blog, even if I did nothing but share this poem itself because I find Rumi’s words to be sublime, with such amazing depth of insight (as translated by Coleman Barks in Rumi—The Big Red Book).  Then a few nights ago I had a dream about moving into a new apartment. The apartment was very spacious, room after room unfolding as I walked through it, so when I awoke I knew the dream was about moving into a more expansive state of consciousness. Then it hit me how this was a more “roomy” = Rumi consciousness! May it be so!

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.

A Better Ending for Your Life Story? Make It Epic!

Chalkboard, Story, Blogging, Believe, Blackboard, Chalk

How might you express the plot structure so far of your Life Story? Could you give it a title? What would that be? Based on where you have been, who you are now, and the direction your Life Story appears to be taking, give a title to your overall Life Story based on your present point of view.

It may help to use a Life Metaphor as a title. For example, one of my favorite life metaphors is Life is a Carousel Ride (hence the blog banner). So I could call my life story A Merry Ride. I like that!

Is your Life Story more like a Roller Coaster, a Grand Quest, or maybe an Open Path? Using a life metaphor or some other descriptive phrase, give a title to your Life Story to date.

Vintage, Book Illustration, Literature, Shakespeare

Now then, what about adding a Better Ending? Make it epic! When you look ahead at the story board of your Life Story, what would you like to write in to express how you will follow your bliss, attain fulfillment of your life mission or purpose, and Live Your Dream? Remember, you are the author, editor and the key protagonist of your own epic tale!

Give a title then to a later (though not necessarily the final) Life Chapter for your personal life journey quest. As an example, mine might be: “Making a Difference.” (This is because for much of my life I have been asking of my own accomplishments, “What difference does it make?”)

Cloud, Sky, Heart, Blue, Love

Reviewing or telling your story AS a Life Story narrative can help you to recognize where you are at now in relation to where you are intending to arrive as you unravel the many colored threads of your amazing life experience. As Martha Graham is famous for having reminded us all (I used to have this pinned on my office bulletin board):

“There is a vitality, a life force, an energy, a quickening that is translated through you into action, and because there is only one of you in all time, this expression is unique. And if you block it, it will never exist through any other medium and will be lost.”

Hot Air Balloons, Adventure, Balloons
images are from pixabay.com

So, Make it Epic! It is YOUR life to live, your story to tell!

The Book of YOUR Life: Discover Your Life Story Chapters

Toy, Toy Story, Childhood, Little

A few posts back I called our species Homo Narrativus as we are inherently Storytellers. Most important as the center and ground that we build our worlds upon is our own Life Story.  Embedded within the backdrop of the narrative intertwining of our cultural history and personal family heritage, the story we tell to ourselves and to others about our own epic (or cyclic, or meandering) journey through life is central to understanding the lessons and gifts of a lifetime of human experience.

As we each are unwinding our own Life Story, day by day, episode by episode, narrative thread by thread and character trait by relational dance, we build Life Chapters as we wend our way forth to pursue the meaningful goals and mission of our unique stories.

In my 2018 book Your Life Path (see side panel), I include a full self-discovery process for revealing the narrative structure of your own Life Story with its meaningful Life Chapter segments.  [This full process is also available if you download-free-My Life Path Portfolio Toolkit, available by clicking on it also from the right panel.]

A Folk Tale, Long Ago, Story, Autumn

Would you like to have a look at your own Life Chapters as you have been writing/living your own Life Story? Here is the Life Path mapping process in a nutshell:

  1. Make a list of some of the SHAPING EVENTS of your life. These are those significant life experiences that have shaped you as the person you are today. Include the age or date of the significant event or experience and write a brief description of the event or experience. A Shaping Event could be a single event and/or a significant period of time; if the latter, indicate the relative starting and ending dates or your ages through the situation.

Examples:  Age 4: I fell from a child seat and knocked out my four front teeth.

                            7-12: childhood in PA: woods, horses, friendship with K

                                12: first sense of being a misfit (KJ)

                            13: We moved from PA to NY state (before 8th grade)

2. Review your list of Shaping Events from (1) above. Now identify (circle or bold highlight) just those significant experiences that have been your most CRITICAL Life Events: those before and after which you might feel as if you were a different person. (E.G. Ages 7 and 13 from my life experiences sampled above.)

3. Next, place your SHAPING EVENTS along a timeline based on either ages or years, starting with your Birth as the zero point. 

E.G.:

1954(Birth) ——-4——-7-8-9-10-11-12—13 …………………Next, review in your mind the periods BETWEEN the most CRITICAL life events on your life map chart.  Provide a TITLE that describes for you the meaningful content of that set of years from your life.  For example, for me, the years between ages 7 and 13 I might title Growing Pains.

4. Write about each of the Life Chapters you have identified between the Critical Events of your Life Story to date. (E.g.: Growing Pains pretty well describes that period in my life as a child in Pennsylvania, as I developed colitis, literally ‘growing pains’, and had to come to terms with my beginning to feel like an outsider, which I consciously tried to change as I moved into my next Life Chapter in high school in New York state.)

Your final Life Chapter/ Life Path Chart, up to your current date or age, might look something like the following example (my chapters to age 36), though of course with your very own meaningful Life Chapter titles:

Birth/Innocence   Growing Pains    Finding Myself    Honing Skills/ Seeking    Leap of Faith ……

0-6                        7-12                   13-19                 20-27                               28-36

The periods of significant Shaping Events between the Critical Life Events that have punctuated your Life Story can be thought of as your Life Chapters.  This approach allows you to discover and reflect upon your own meaningful time frames, rather than assuming they are given by some external model (like decades or stages identified by standardized psychosocial development models).

Storytelling, Fantasy, Imagination

After you have identified a set of Life Chapters that have comprised your Life Story to date, notice the PLOTLINE of your Life Story. Often a Life Path map reveals times of innocence, hardship, lessons, and growth.  What has your Story been about, so far? Or have you had several different story threads depending on which events or relationships you focus on?

Do not worry about identifying “all” of your significant life events on this one timeline. This map that you have charted today is from your current point of view and identifies meaningful TYPES of events. I have interviewed a seventy-five year-old who charted eleven events, and a 21 year-old who charted 122!  As this is YOUR Life Story, there are no rules or expectations about what you may discover about the meaningful progression of your own Life Chapters to date.

Where have you Been? Who are you Now? Where are you Heading? How might you forecast your future Life Chapters in keeping with your highest sense of purpose and goals? What is your Life Dream?

Board, School, Dreams, Make, To Do

images are from pixabay.com

Have fun with this and take your time with it in your Better Endings Journal (or otherwise). You can share this with your loved ones and help them reconstruct their own Life Chapters, too. Feel free to send me any Comments about your experience with this process of Self-discovery.

I will leave this post up for longer than usual, to give more people the opportunity and time to play in this Sandbox!

Transformative Transitions: The Spirit of Optimism

Sunrise, Light, Sun, Web, Natural Reserve

I shall cast this week’s blog in the form of a collage of images encountered over the last week or so as I have been transitioning from one creative cycle into another. I find it most useful to bring optimism to envisioning and planning for a new season of growth and opportunity.  This week that has truly led to new potentials opening before me. With gratitude “for all good things received,” allow me to share from a series of waking dream images that have helped me navigate my transition.

Spirit leads the Way:

[I was riding on a carousel at the Buffalo Zoo. Notice the name of the horse in my lead.]

Then the next day:

“May you have clear skies and a following sea”

[On a sign posted aboard a Buffalo Harbor Cruise boat I was on, touring the Buffalo Canalside with my Goddaughter.]

Plus I had a literal wake-up call, from a vision upon waking. In the dream, just an image and a title inscribed within and around it:

And then the next day, from my book club reading for the month, The Book of Two Ways, by Jodi Picoult, a phrase from an Egyptian tomb that fortuitously echoes my dream image:

Time is a Circle,

Time is a Line.

I am grateful for the daily blessings of waking dreams that help me recognize the Path that opens before me, supporting my positive goals and deep intentions. Bottom line for this week is now I am in the forward moving process of editing the circulation proposal for my book ms., supported by my agent.  Optimism carries me forward with renewed energy and focus. The dream visions and images along with inspiring ‘waking dreams’ indicate the path I am to follow.

What Comes Next?

Sunset, Sea, The Baltic Sea, Character

I have been consulting Nordic runes lately. Just as I sat down to write on the topic of What Comes Next? I opened to Eihwaz, Rune 9, which translates Avertive Powers/ Yew Tree:

Eihwaz, Rune, Runes, Futhark, Divination, Norse, Icon

This Rune speaks to the difficulties that arise at the beginning of new life.

 Often it announces a time of waiting: for a spring to fill up with water,

for fruit to ripen on the bough.

This is so true for where I find myself on many levels: at a transitional period in my new home, at a pregnant juncture between teaching semesters, and between productive work with writing projects.

Tea Set, Coffee, Beverage, Drink

I realize I am happiest when I can be of service in some capacity, and teaching/ learning or sharing ideas and writing in any form are my most personally satisfying forms of service.  So, I continue with teaching and with writing as vocations (callings/ passions), hoping to be of service. I am reminded of a college English professor who taught from age 18 (no degree needed at that time) until his death when he was in the final allowable semester before retirement. On his tombstone was a line from his beloved Chaucer’s The Canterbury Tales, at the end of a portrait of the Clerk character:

                And gladly wolde he lerne,

                And gladly teche.

Chaucer, Canterbury, Sergeant, Chaucer
images are from pixabay.com

So as I ‘wait on the Will of Heaven’ for a new cycle of service roles and activity to begin, I breathe in and breathe out to receive and to give life and unconditional love.  I look for opportunities to communicate.

The Polishing Zone

After a three month dry spell due to writers block, I am resurfacing. Spring is sprouting in Western New York; I am fully vaccinated; the semester’s online teaching is winding down; and I find a story in me that I wish to share.

I walk with my beloved dog Sophie nearly every day. In our new location after returning to my high-school home town, I have been mystified by an oddity I see every time we walk in our local neighborhood. There are these marble-sized, little white balls that at first seemed to line the streets but that I have also found more than twelve of in my backyard and at a nearby park. I thought at first they were salt balls for winter weather, but no, they are ceramic.

Partly as a way to meet my neighbors, I have been carrying one of these little white marbles in my pocket and I ask people I encounter if they know what it is. Most folks are surprised to learn of them and they have no idea why they are there. Finally last week while doing some yard work, I asked an elderly neighbor working in his adjacent yard behind mine. He has been in the neighborhood for over fifty years.

“They are polishing stones from a grinding mill,” said Joe, matter-of-factly.

Joe said there was a man who had worked at a grinding mill that closed down. He brought home a large bag of these ‘polishing balls’ used in the mill, and he scattered them in his front yard as a lawn decoration.

Aha! Polishing stones from a grinding mill. But then, I wondered further, why are they strewn across at least a six to eight square blocks distance from the original home (I know where that epicenter is now as just two days ago I saw a hundred or more at one corner house in the block next to mine). Joe did not know, saying only, “maybe he put them there” (in other neighbors’ yards).

My landlady Jennifer had a good suggestion:

“Maybe squirrels play with them.”

Squirrel, Animal, Cute, Rodents

That is as close to a plausible explanation as I can figure. Maybe indeed the abundant population of neighborhood squirrels have picked these up over the years from the original yard, thinking they might be edible nuts to store, then leaving them off in other yards when they realized these were nuts that could not be cracked open! Still, that does not account for why so many of them line the roadways, often very regularly spaced or so it seems, as well as peppering the local yards. So I will keep asking; maybe some longtime resident will be able to fill in more of the story.

But now I consider these little white balls as waking dream messages from Spirit, for:

“The mill of God grinds slowly,

but it grinds exceedingly well.”

Sponsored image

I live in a neighborhood with lawns strewn with polishing stones from a grinding mill. I live in a Polishing Zone!

This rings true for the stage of life I am in, on so many levels. I cannot speak for my neighbors (in this same zone as we are together), but polishing is a welcome metaphor for what I am to be doing here.

I have taken a long, arduous journey across the proverbial (I-Ching) Great Waters and back Home again. It is time for me to polish up with the lessons I have gained along the Way.

Rakotz bridge (Rakotzbrucke) also known as Devil's Bridge in Kromlau, Germany. Reflection of the bridge in the water create a full circle. Rakotz bridge (Rakotzbrucke) also known as Devil's Bridge in Kromlau, Germany. Reflection of the bridge in the water create a full circle. across the great waters stock pictures, royalty-free photos & images

It is funny how recently, as soon as I gleaned that my purpose here is in part that of polishing up my act, that I have started writing again. I am back to earnestly editing (polishing, indeed) my manuscript sequel to my first self-help volume (Your Life Path). I also am back here, writing a blog post after three long months of wondering whether I would ever write again.

Krasnal, City, Walkway, The Market, Gray
images are gratefully from pixabay.com

Polishing, polishing; editing with a new, more determined and positive energy after over a year of private pandemic reclusiveness. Re-emerging with a hopeful sense of purpose. I was almost ready to walk away from this sort of expressive writing altogether. Writing is supposed to reach out, to connect, to communicate with readers; it is not meant for just passing time or ‘contemplating my navel’.

So I aim to focus better on writing and connecting in this Polishing Zone. Spring is sprouting in Western New York; I am vaccinated; the River of Life flows onward again, and with love and gratitude, so do I.