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.
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.
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!
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.
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.
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!
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.
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!
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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?”)
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.”
So, Make it Epic!It is YOUR life to live, your story to tell!
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.]
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:
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.
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:
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).
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?
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!
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.
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:
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.
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.
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.
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.”
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.”
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.
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.
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.
This month the phrase “Keep Your Heart Open” has been a mantra and a lesson for me. Now I can connect this with its lyrical counterpart:
Love Will Find a Way!
Let’s make that, “Love Will Find Its Way” and we find a Better Endings mantra of positive resolve and acceptance.
Folks, I want to express my deep gratitude to each and every one of you who has been or is currently reading this post. I have so enjoyed the Blogverse this past several years, and some of you have become friends as I have liked reading and viewing your brilliant pieces and I have enjoyed sharing here.
Because my life has suddenly burst open with several new responsibilities and opportunities with which I am happy to engage, after long consideration I am signing off. This is my final post.
May I leave you, in deepest respect for all of your unique and beautiful Soul paths, with a universal mantra, the word HU (sung Hu-u-u-u-u-u on a long drawn-out breath, either aloud or inwardly). This is a breath mantra of divine, unconditional love that I have learned through my spiritual practice of Eckankar.
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.
About a year ago while driving, I listened to an NPR science program about the newest scientific understanding of how a caterpillar becomes a butterfly. I was also reminded at a spiritual event last weekend about a well-known parable of ‘the Emperor Moth’ which focuses on how important it is to not force a butterfly or moth to emerge too early from its cocoon.
Scientists have found that when a caterpillar enters into its pupae stage inside a chrysalis, it appears to completely dissolve! If you open the cocoon at that point there is no structure there, no organs, just a gooey substance. Then out of this primordial ooze a butterfly takes form, an entirely distinct, new creature altogether! This staggers my understanding as a waking dream story, a metaphor for my own or others’ deepest life transformations.
What this metaphor of the chrysalis says to me is that I have to be patient with myself, and with others, to allow a complete transformation process to reshape the conditions allowing positive growth and birth or rebirth to transpire naturally. You cannot rush change without impinging upon the fullest realization of the change potentials.
I have had ample opportunities lately to find or practice patience. As a new homeowner, it seems like every time I turn around another emergency pops up! The nice new washing machine I was grateful to have stopped mid cycle during a power outage and now does not spin or drain. The marvelous sliding door to my pretty little deck has been letting the rain in onto the beautiful wood flooring in the living room! I have slathered on sealer but still yesterday more water splattered in with the rain. And my dear Sophie had a bee sting during a walk that she was terribly allergic to, developing dangerous hive blisters all over her body during the 24-minute trip to the vet for a shot of antihistamines.
But, you know? The washing machine snafu has led me to purchase a good home warranty policy. Even though that takes a month to kick in so I am going to a laundromat for awhile, there is a laundromat not too far away and the dryer still works, and the warranty could save me a bundle and get me through plenty more glitches down the road. I have a professional handyman fixing the door as I write, and that should be a good job for not too much expense. And Sophie is okay after her emergency, so now I am more vigilant on her walks and keep her away from tall grasses.
images are from pixabay.com
There is a deeper lesson I am gaining from all of these events (and some others not mentioned here), about detachment and the importance of maintaining a higher perspective. I choose not to be stuck in my head or let daily annoyances or needs hold me down in a negative state of worry.
I have been watching alot of NOVA programs about Space this month, plus contemplating daily, and I find that focusing on Mars or Jupiter or the Cosmos helps to lift my attention out of the immediacy of practical concerns. My favorite film, Contact, has been showing this month too and I have watched it again twice. Talk about patience! In Contact, Eleanor Arroway (played brilliantly by Jodie Foster) is a SETI scientist who spends hours and days and months and years sorting through one distant region of the galaxy after another in a seemingly futile search for intelligent extraterrestrial life. After Eleanor does actually make contact, this launches her on the journey of many lifetimes where she is shown a depth of reality no other earthling has physically encountered. Even so, like in Plato’s Allegory of the Cave, very few believe her when she tries to communicate about what she has seen. So, she returns to her life of patient observations.
“Small steps” is the message of Carl Sagan’s Contact. I am finding that principle applies to my life, daily!
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.
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?
I want to share a waking dream this week. I came upon a documentary called “God’s Super Collider,” and I found it so fascinating I watched it three of four times. It is mainly about the Higgs field and Higgs particle (known as the God Particle), which give mass to everything in the known universe. Also it explains ‘dark energy’ and ‘dark matter’ better than I have seen before. But what I liked most is that the narrator/ filmmaker takes a gnostic turn with this scientific discussion into a treatise on God as Everything (and, No-Thing). God is not outside but within every cell, every atom and particle of Its creation, the very air we breathe both metaphorically and literally. Since the Universe is One = ‘God’ = Love and love only, as THE cohesive and integrative weft and warp of reality or life itself, then It Just Is and that is All.
I Am… That… I Am.
I came away from this program with a mantra phrase that I practiced for several days:
“In Love I live and breathe and have my Being.”
This leads me back around to my monthly question about ‘How May I Serve?’ Since all life is One and we are each and all part of this Whole, then service to one is service to all, including care for oneself and one’s dear loved ones.
So I offer two techniques we can use to “take stock” of our capacity to be of greater service to the Whole:
First, make a list of your five (to ten) greatest strengths. I once attended a creativity conference where a workshop presenter had us write our five greatest weaknesses, then strengths; then he asked us to crumple the list of weaknesses and throw it away. Focus on your strengths to improve those and over time former weaknesses will also strengthen.
Second, write or talk about or make a list about: “What I Have to Give.”
List as many traits or qualities or abilities and talents you have developed that come to mind as ways you have been or could be of service in your life.
Review both lists or journal notes. When I did this I found myself noting beside each ‘what I have to give’ item in what domain or kind of relationship or activity I can or could express that trait. For instance, “caring” I can and do give to my pets, friends and family; while teaching I (can) give in more structured activities.
Try circling 3-5 of the qualities and/or strengths you have noted that seem to stand out to you as potentially linked; so, you can connect the dots between your greatest strengths and what you have to give. Looking then solely at these circled and linked elements, ask yourself if they suggest some specific sort of activity or a fresh approach to your developing and offering a new form of service?
For 45 years I have participated in service activities with my spiritual group, and I have taught university courses first as a grad student then as a professor and author for forty years altogether. Service is baked into my sense of identity and purpose. I would feel bereft without the opportunity to serve, wherever and however I can be of use. A credo I have adopted is:
In service is my reward.
I put this out there because this month’s question is about how to be of service in a new location after semi-retirement, which I feel is a fundamental necessity for continuing growth and development. Living your Dream, Now!, which is the through line of my book, Your Life Path (see right panel), does not mean “settling” into an inert, less than active life. Quite the contrary; Living Your Dream means to be following (in Joseph Campbell’s terms), yet I would say, manifesting your Bliss! For as you achieve one facet of your fulfillment, this opens doors to pathways leading forth to many more.
In Indian traditions (both continental Indian Hinduism and some Native American cultures) conceptually a lifetime can be understood to be comprised of four stages or cycles. Elder-hood can be a period of reflection that bears the fruits of Wisdom, not just head or fact knowledge. Wisdom is expressed as service to one’s community based on the wealth of experience an elder has attained. Giving back, offering insights from a life well lived, is a vital stage by which the generations turn in the gyre of transformation and continuation of growth and enlightenment.
images are from pixabay.com
So I am ready to step forward, to volunteer in my new community and to forge continuing pathways forward with writing and other creative activities. I find that having made this commitment, already avenues are opening. I dreamed of an advertisement for my life mapping services. I will add some info in the blog tabs shortly. Plus I have been welcomed to help in a political context, and ideas are flowing for writing.
Service and love are one and the same, as forms of reciprocity in community.
My July Quest theme is “How May I Serve Thee?” By Thee I address the Universal Oneness by which we are all interconnected: all beings; all states of consciousness including all humans, other animals, all of Nature and Spirit. I could say, how might I serve All that Is, but I prefer to include You, dear readers, family and friends.
Service is in so many ways what I identify with as my ‘mission’ and goal in this lifetime. As my overall Quest this year is to manifest true happiness in my new post/semi-retirement location, and since service is the means by which I might fulfill my purpose, then service is the basis of my happiness. Hence ‘How May I Serve Thee?’, day by day, moment by moment is my means as well as my measure of happiness.
images are from pixabay.com
A practice I have been using this week, based on a morning contemplation insight, is to ask myself several times every day:
What More Can I Do, Today?
This has been a fine motivator this week. It has helped me revitalize my writing goals and to refine my writing activities, for writing is one primary outlet for service to me. In addition, this prompt helps me daily to clarify and focus on priorities and opportunities, including tasks but also expanding to creative action.
What I CAN– not should or would or might — DO opens unlimited possibilities of the Moment. I CAN, for example:
walk with my dog, read, write, explore new horizons locally, meet new neighbors, exercise at the Y, write a blog post, outline chapters, edit, respond to and send emails, read poetry, contemplate, watch documentaries, like other peoples’ blogs, interact over social networks, grade papers online, kayak with a new friend; you see? Endless vistas of possibility unfold to reveal the multidimensional potentials of Now! And all of these actions can be engaged with as modes of service to Life.
I have had two waking dream concepts recently about my monthly question of ‘Why Am I/ Are We Here?’ I realize now they are two facets of the same idea: “Bubble awareness” and “Deer vision.” Both refer to living mindfully in the Now. Let me begin by exploring Deer Vision, as it seems most relevant to my probe.
In the rural environment I drive through where I am living now, white-tailed deer are abundant. They are such exquisite Beings, playful and loving in their close family groups, able to dive and leap in play with one another. One of my greatest concerns is that I never want to hit one as it would be crossing a road. So, I try to drive always with Deer Vision: looking far enough ahead and driving at such a speed that I could slow or stop in time to avoid injuring a deer.
Deer Vision also means for me to consider and emulate how a deer sees. Such soft, intelligent eyes these white-tailed deer have. They often make eye contact with me as I stop for them to cross or as I slowly drive past. I imagine that how a deer sees is in energy forms, perceiving and assessing the intentions or consciousness of other denizens of the forest.
This brings me to the broader notion of Bubble Awareness. From fencing I learned how important it can be to maintain a 360 degree awareness, forming a protective but fluid ‘bubble’ of attention. This allows responsivity, let’s call it, the flexibility to advance or retreat in the moment without having to consciously “think” about it. When the alter (i.e. the opponent, in fencing) and self are both operating at a high degree of this sort of awareness, the ‘bubble’ envelops them both and they are in it together. I used to call this a ‘peak experience bout.’ But the principle extends to life in general.
I am Here, in part, to exercise Deer Vision within the perspective of Bubble Awareness: to be attentive and responsive to the needs and opportunities of the Moment, for myself and in relation to all others.
images are from pixabay.com
To be sure, being (only) human, I do not always achieve or maintain this ideal awareness. The other day while driving and actually mulling over Deer Vision at the time, a beautiful little chipmunk darted out in front of my car. Although I tried to slow down and veered slightly to avoid hitting the chipmunk, the car did run the chipmunk over. Darn!
My very act of trying to avoid the chipmunk may have been what caused the accident to happen, since s/he could not adjust to my change in speed or trajectory. Likewise, when “trying” too hard in life more generally, I often err in my human relations, too.Darn! So, patience with myself, acceptance of my limitations or the limitations of the situation as I/ we aim to see and respond, better.
While driving in my car via a new route for me, from Ithaca to finally settle in at my new lakeside community retirement house, I watched as a Golden Eagle carried its living prey: a snake, dangling from its beak. The eagle with snake flew in front of my car in my same direction for a long while, weaving back and forth like blazing my trail forward; then it veered off to the northwest, precisely in the direction of my new home.
I certainly accepted this unusual experience as a waking dream, and one that relates greatly to my June question: ‘Why Am I Here?’
My initial personal associations with this sign include that the Eagle could be understood as an Animus (a masculine energy form) in Jungian terms, with keen vision, sharp talons to provide for its young; also as positive purpose and clear directionality.
Online some of the information I discovered about this image revealed:
Eagles and hawks have the keenest vision of all birds; therefore they are symbols of visionaries and messengers;
eagle with snake, in mythology, represents the conflict of opposites (a dialectical, dynamic fusion);
the Mexican flag contains the image of a golden eagle on top of a cactus, grasping a snake: “the very image the people had been promised would direct them to the place they would make their new home.”
Golden eagles do eat snakes but only as 2.9% of their usual prey; this has not even been reported to occur in New York state.
images are from pixabay.com
I am grateful for this sign which feels like a blessing for my purpose in my new home. May I serve Life here in whatever capacity I am able.
June is my birth month, this year I’ll be 65. I find myself living my dream, now, as I have discovered, purchased, and moved into my dream retirement home in a beautiful natural setting, with a dynamic community, and with excellent regional resources and opportunities. I must admit, this scares me! Will it all come crashing down, too good to be true? This trepidation reveals to me a self-limiting postulate that I need to confront and resolve in order to go forward with this fresh set of life conditions. My monthly question becomes:
Why Am I Here?
I have always recognized the double entendre of this age-old question, ‘Why are you here?’ Why here, at this physical place and time; or also why Here, in a spiritual sense. These two are connected from the perspective of Purpose. What am I here to do, be, and see? This also relates for me to a search for greater clarity regarding an even deeper concern:
How Can I Serve?
Wednesday night last week I happened upon a sci-fi movie on TV that I had not heard of before, called “Passengers.” It was about two people on an interstellar spaceship traveling some 88 years to reach a habitable planet. Some 5000 passengers had been cryogenetically suspended for the duration of the voyage, but a malfunction caused one man, Jim, to resuscitate early, and after over a year alone, he revived a woman, Aurora, whom he had developed a fondness toward from watching her autobiographical video records. This was an atrocious act of selfishness as it meant Aurora, too, would die in transit before the ship could arrive at its destination.
(Spoiler alert): After an initial phase of believing Jim’s story that she had awakened accidentally, Aurora becomes enraged after a robotic bartender informs her of Jim’s actions to assuage his own loneliness. But my interest in this story piqued when the ship developed further malfunctions that required Aurora and Jim to work together to repair the vessel if the ship were to reach its destination at all, and for all its passengers to survive as well as themselves. It became a matter of Purpose then; I could surmise from a spiritual perspective that there had been no accidents at all in the revival of this man and this woman, with their particular skillsets and their survivalist personality dispositions. They were needed to save the ship and its passengers, a purpose of collective, not just personal, good. Their lives then took on a heightened significance; they had a purpose, a reason to be who/ what/ where and when they were in their own sojourns of discovery and service.
Already I have had a waking dream about this question, from a conversation with my sister who is a pastor in New England soon to be retiring after more than 40 years of serving as interim pastor in many churches. We arrived at the awareness:
Love Is All There Is.
images are from pixabay.com
For all of our human questioning as members of an often overly self-conscious species (my dog Sophie and cat Emily do not have this problem!), I do feel that at the foundation of everything–of all sentient experience–is Love: unconditional, untaintable. I sense if I can connect these principles of service and love I can accept that I, like everyone, am indeed here for a greater purpose than personal satisfaction or material success. Therefore I have a right to be Here-Now and am willing to step forward to fulfill whatever service opportunities I can. Already here and now, I am writing!