Saturday, May 21, 2011

5/21/11-5/22/11—Ratcheting Up The Bliss

Weekend Reading: Ten of Water from Tarot de Paris. Take the opportunity this weekend to focus on all that is going right in your life. When you do, you'll see that joy is easy to find all around you. And when you get together with those you love and share your joy with them, it multiplies. You can't overestimate the power you have to raise others up simply by standing in your own happiness. When your light shines, it illuminates all within your presence. Use that power freely and generously with loved ones and strangers alike. Then take the time to observe how each interaction ratchets your bliss up even higher. Make a game of it. See how happy you can get.

Friday, May 20, 2011

5/20/11—Finding the Secret to Success

Today's Draw: King of Pentacles from Vampires Tarot of the Eternal Night. What do you believe about how success is made? How do you feel about people around you that seem to be successful? And how do you even define success?

The King of Pentacles indicates a successful man who has earned his wealth and respect. And this particular King is, despite his pallor, quite warm, putting relationships ahead of business. In fact, the quality of his relationships help fuel his success. His competence, determination and interactions have determined his destiny.

It's interesting that I drew this card today because just last night I was talking to a friend about a couple of different aspects relevant to this card. The first has to do with a couple of women I know who are relentless networkers. But much of their networking is done in a "you scratch my back, I'll scratch yours" kind of way. There is nothing beyond the surface. The friendships they share are friendships of convenience that shift with the tides of power. And they are very concerned about being proper and professional.

As a result, they've always had little use for me. The investments I made in our relationships did not yield friendships, nor any other lingering connections, despite the fact that I've known them for years and was involved with them in a spiritually intimate capacity. Bottom line—I have nothing to offer them, so there is no point in wasting their time on me. This hurt my feelings at one time, because the secrets we shared drew me closer to them. But they have a different definition of what friends are about and, ultimately, I'm fortunate to have not fallen into their "tribe".

In contrast, I don't really "work" my network. I could care less if my business contacts are ever able to help me in my career. Instead, they're people I like and respect. People who make me laugh. And I'm not the most proper professional in the world. I often say the wrong things and dress more casually than I should. Yet, oddly, I don't seem to struggle as much with my business as they do with theirs.  I have a strong stream of referrals and, while not by any means "well off", I manage to pay my mortgage and support my deck collecting habit.

Which brings me to my next point. Someone once told me that I'm very lucky to have been able to be self-employed for so many years doing what many consider to be a fun job. And my reply is "lucky my ass!" I'm the kind of person who takes full responsibility for my mistakes and flaws. And I'm also the kind of person that takes responsibility for my successes. If my failures are not "unlucky", then my successes are not "lucky". And while it's considered arrogant to say so, I've earned every aspect of my life, good and bad.

It wasn't luck that I quit my job and took a risk 15 years ago. It wasn't luck that I devoted time to making cold calls, sending out letters and creating mailers to promote my business. And it's not luck that clients have followed me for the past decade and half as they move from job to job. It's not luck that they like me. And it's not luck that they know they can count on me to do good work.

Years ago I heard a saying that I think is very true—the people who have what you want, have it because they were willing to do what you weren't willing to do to get it. When we write things off to luck—or even God's grace—we take our personal responsibility out of the equation. We become victims to whichever way the breezes blow.

The King of Pentacles paves his path, rather than waiting for something else to clear the way before him. But he paves it thoughtfully, kindly, without stepping on the many other travelers along the way. He uses respect, rather than force. His intentions are to benefit all, rather than just himself. And, this is key, instead of filling his mind with strategies for manipulation, he keeps it clear to receive intuitions about which way to proceed next.

We have this notion that, to be successful, we have to claw our way to the top. But our friend Oprah is a good example of a billionaire who did it intentionally, with kindness and respect. She's also an example of someone who would say "lucky my ass" if it were suggested that she got to where she is via the route of luck. Which is different from feeling fortunate and having gratitude, mind you. She clearly feels those things. But she paved every step along her path with the quality of her work, her intuitions, her relationships and her intentions. And I don't choose Oprah as an example of success merely because she's a billionaire. That's one measure, yes. But look at her partnership with Stedman and her friendship with Gayle...the respect she gets from her colleagues and those who work for her. Success isn't a number, it's the feeling of knowing you've gotten wherever you are with a clean conscience.

So this is a long one today. And thank you for indulging me in it. But I think these are very important considerations. We can get the things we want by usury and manipulation. Or we can get them by genuinely inspiring people and situations to cooperate. As we move forward in our evolution as human beings, these are the things we must consider along the way.

Thursday, May 19, 2011

5/19/11—Reuniting with Your Lost Self

Today's Draw: Six of Vessels from the Wildwood. Reunion. Is there something you're currently being reunited with? Is it a happy reunion? And what part of your "self" is it returning to you?

The Six of Vessels/Cups traditionally speaks to some sort of nostalgia and usually has a childlike feel to it, as if you're being reminded of something from childhood. But the Wildwood takes that concept further. It speaks of the reunion of souls from other lives, for example, in the form of soul mates. The reunion of a clan or tribe. The reunion of different parts of your "self" or a part of your history. Although the traditional thrust of this card is that it's usually a sweet reunion, the Wildwood points out that it could be a rocky one, but with the intention of giving you a chance to heal and integrate that part of yourself that you're reuniting with.

The moment I pulled this card this morning, I was greeted with a happy feeling, though. There's just so much cooperation, symbiosis and beauty in this card. And whether it's from the moment you reunite or by the time the reunion is through, this is where you're being led. To a place of integration where all parts of you feed all parts of you. Even if the thing you're reuniting with is another person. 

There is a perspective in the spiritual world that everyone you encounter is an angel. If you believe you come from light and return to light, you can see how this is true. The concept is hard to apply to someone who annoys you or angers you. But in this context, they are some of your kindest angels, because they came into your life, knowing you'd hate them, just so you could learn. Who could love you more than them, that they would be willing to feel the pain of your rejection just to help you out in this world?

Recently I feel I've been reunited with a passion and ambition that has been gone in my life for quite some time. Hopefully I will have matured in my handling of that energy when all is said and done. I'm finding that part of myself that moves through the world with trust and faith, that part that leaps and trusts the net will be there to catch me. Fear has kept me from it for a long time. I feel my journey in all of this will be a positive, happy one, rather than a painful one. 

Something larger is happening in my life right now and I'm going with it. The last time it happened on a big scale was back when I became a freelancer and, during that time, I experienced one of the happiest stretches of my life, both literally and figuratively. So, fingers crossed, I'm being reunited with all of that, rather than with lessons that have to be hard or painfully won.

What are you reuniting with these days? And I challenge my 10 million high school friends to find something more abstract than our upcoming reunion, which, of course, is a legitimate reply. But what else is going on? What lost part of your self are you joining with? Or is there actually an unexpected reunion with someone in your past in the offing? And if so, what do you think that came here to teach you?

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

5/18/11—Earning What You're Worth

Today's Draw: Two of Pentacles from Infinite Visions. How do you feel about your job? Do you feel you have an equitable relationship with your employer? Is your work/life balance in balance?

The Two of Pentacles is about balance in earthly matters, whether that be your career, your home life or your finances. In this card, two people come together and each can help the other. Perhaps she can trade one of her chickens for a trinket. Or buy one outright. They may even be a good match romantically...equitable partners who can support each other. 

This is really all we want, right? What's fair? But often we allow employers to take advantage of us. Or we seethe about people who earn a nice paycheck despite their incompetence. Or we fail to appreciate the dozens of different ways our employers compensate us. If most of us really examined ourselves, we wouldn't want to be either over compensated or under compensated. We really just want what's fair. 

As a self-employed person, I've put a lot of thought into "what's fair". Some would say my rates are too high. Some would say they're too low. Without naming numbers, they're at the low end of the high end of the spectrum. As a good, strong writer with 25 years of experience and offering value-added consultative skills, I think my clients get a fair return...and good value...for what they pay. And that's how I like it. Because it puts me in a position of having a good flow of business and the power to pick and choose who I will work for. 

I perceive that a higher rate may make me have to make concessions I'm not willing to make. At the rate I charge, I tend to attract clients who want an experienced writer who is also consultative as to overall creative direction and marketing. At a higher rate, I feel I become less of a partner, more of luxury and, frankly, less appreciated. I believe the same is true working for a lower rate. Now these are all my perceptions and may have nothing to do with reality. But what has proven true to me so far is that my low-end-of-the-high-end rate buys me a client who appreciates and values me and visa versa.

For those of you who are my Facebook friends, you've probably heard me talk about how much I appreciate my clients in the past. And it's not BS. They pay in a timely manner. They give me feedback. They thank me for my work. And they let me know how much my work contributes to their clients' happiness with them. I could say I'm lucky, but the truth of the matter is that I've created this dynamic. I've "fired" a number of my biggest clients in the past for a) the way they handle their accounts payable and b) the way they treat me. So luck has little to do with it. These are the conditions under which I work and I've had the integrity and balls to stand by that for my 15 years as a consultant. 

Which leads to the real point of today's discussion, compensation is about more than money and benefits. It's in the way you're treated, the way you feel, the balance you have between work and life, and numerous other factors that have nothing to do with money, such as your commute, how you feel morally about your employer, etc. Whether you're an employer or employee, consider this today. Are you being fair in your dealings? Are you receiving fair value? Because if you're anywhere out of balance, you may be paying a price that is too high in areas other than compensation. When we measure compensation totally in terms of dollars and cents, we do ourselves a disservice. And when we fail to examine and exercise our options in terms of earning what we're worth, we do ourselves the greatest disservice of all.

Just an addendum for those who are wondering how to price themselves hourly...Someone once gave me a rule of thumb that I think is pretty good. A freelancer, in my business at least, can realistically expect to average 20 hours a week or 1000 hours a year. So decide how much you want to earn in a year (such as $45K) and take the "K" off the end. That should be your hourly rate—$45/hour. Also keep in mind that you WILL be paying your own insurance and you may not be commuting or putting up with other stresses of a full-time job. Of course different businesses work differently. But this works well for people who are doing small project work like advertising people or tarot readers.

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

5/17/11—Finding Responsibility Within

Today's Draw: The High Priestess/Seeker from the Medicine Woman Tarot. What is your current state of being trying to tell you? What do your attitudes and resentments reflect from within? How big an effect do you allow your outside world to have on your inner life?

The High Priestess is usually pictured as a formal spiritual authority and an oracle. But here we see her as an everyday woman, not dressed in robes, but vulnerable to the world. She is not looking out for the answers to her questions and issue, rather she is looking within. She is taking personal responsibility for her situation in life, whatever it might be. 

There isn't one among us who hasn't said "I did X because so-and-so did Y" or "I'm feeling X because so-and-so said Y". We put our responses and actions in the context of something outside of us. And though nobody likes this word or wants to admit to this word, we play the victim. And we frequently forget that being a victim is a choice...a choice usually made to mask a real issue beneath. 

But you say, "what about someone who gets mugged on the street? They're a victim." They're a victim only if they choose to be. Certainly there will be psychological repercussions. Some fear in the wake of the event. But whether or not they become a victim of all of that is their choice. We can see things as an excuse to become emotionally disabled or as an excuse to become further empowered. The choice is ours. 

Everything from "my husband had an affair on me" to "I can't lose weight because my kids bring so much junk food into the house" is more an issue of taking personal responsibility for your choices than it is a matter of victimization. If you married a cad, you need to take responsibility for that. If he strayed because he wasn't getting the attention he needed, you need to take responsibility for that. His actions didn't happen in a vacuum. Men cheat for two reasons...because they have a problem with fidelity or because they're seeking some sort of attention they're not getting at home. And people get fat, not because of anything that happens in their environment, but because of things happening within. 

Whether it's the idiot supermarket checker that made you late to a meeting or the dog that escapes every time you open the door, the responsibility for your situation starts within. You can't blame anything on your parents, your partner or the guy who dumped you a month ago. Nothing in your life is there because you were bullied as a child or made to dress like a boy when you were actually a girl. Certainly those things influence your responses. But your responses are always your choice. The tools for healing and surpassing are always within your grasp. If you choose not to heal, if you choose to allow anything to take away from you, that is your choice.

It's very easy for us to see the victim inside others, but much harder to see it in ourselves. But it does exist. And once you open your eyes to it, it becomes harder and harder to play the victim unwittingly. I'm someone who, I believe, takes on more personal responsibility than the average bear. But I see myself saying and doing things all the time that are automatic responses to what's going on outside of me, rather than conscious responses that are aligned with my personal integrity and responsibility. I may do it, but am rarely ever blind to it anymore. I've even seen where I've been the victim of my own personal responsibility taking...haha. 

Pulling back to the big picture, outside of living in your integrity, taking personal responsibility delivers many gifts. Since our tendencies to blame this and that on others comes from one of the many fears, pains and insecurities within, it gives a big red arrow leading to those things so we can heal them. And many of those things also manifest as physical pain or other physical states, which means we can heal physical issues by excavating emotional ones. So choosing to walk the path of personal responsibility and conscious choice-making delivers many benefits. Even if you don't use it as an opportunity to excavate to the root issues, it at least makes you more aware of the personal power you have in your life. And the less you live as a victim, the more you live as the conscious creator of your own life.

Monday, May 16, 2011

5/16/11—Practicing Omniscience

Today's Draw: Mother of Feathers from the Margarete Petersen. Do you want to come up with a million dollar idea? Do you wish you could get to the truth of a nagging issue? Could you use a fresh way of seeing an old pattern?

The Mother of Feathers, or Queen of Swords, rules over the clarity, birth and ultimate truth of our thoughts and ideas. She is the divine feminine of that realm, the mother and the nurturer. This card is dominated by the iris in the middle of the picture, birds in flight and the color blue. Blue corresponds to the throat chakra and relates to voicing and living our truth. Though the bound in the multi-layered box, she sees beyond its bounds. She sees into realms beyond her own. She cannot be contained or limited because she is omniscient. How can you contain something that is everywhere and sees everything?

Here in our human form, we tend to forget...or not even realize...that we are also omniscient. We also tend to think that certain types of ideas and thoughts come to us, when what is equally true is that we come to the thoughts and ideas. The secret to both is simply giving things a space in which to grow. 

A good part of what I'm hired for is to generate ideas. Lots of them. From many different perspectives. You could say I have a talent for it, yes. But what is perhaps more true is that I know the skill of it. And the skill of generating original ideas is to sit down and think. To focus on idea generation. To go to the ideas instead of waiting for them to come to you. This is something we're often not willing or anxious to do. Because it requires allowing the space for thoughts to form. And many will avoid this either because they're not used to the process or because that empty space in the head can be scary for those uninitiated to its wonders. So if you ever wonder what the difference is between you and inventors or people with million dollar ideas, it's because you're standing in a field waiting for lightning to strike you at random and others are in the same field holding lightning rods. Certainly ideas come at random all the time. But generating them ups your chances at hitting on a winner. 

As for the all-seeing in a broader sense...seeing outside of the box in which we live...that takes the same sort of easy effort. And some practice. This weekend at my ladies retreat, I led a seance. I asked the lady who owns the B&B if she would like us to contact anyone for her. She said she had a nephew that died recently and wanted to know how he was. That's all she told us. During the seance, a red headed, fair skinned man with freckles came to us (in our mind's eye...not everyone "saw" him, but nearly everyone had some experience with him). A couple of us felt breathing issues and discomfort down the center of our chest. And a couple heard the messages that he was ok and "tell them to let go because I have". We had no idea of the significance of all of that. But every single one of the, say eight or so, bits of information that came to us were 100% correct. He was indeed fair and freckled and red haired. He had cancer of the esophagus. And there was an aspect of the relationship that the B&B owner felt guilty about...something he had let go of that she needed to let go of, too. 

We "saw" into another realm. We received messages about things we couldn't have known about. And we weren't poking around in the dark...every single thing we experienced turned out to be true. The sight was clear....clairvoyant. The sensations were clear...clairsentient. And the words were clearly heard...clairaudient. 

What I'm getting at is this: Our minds are capable of coming up with anything we want, whether it's a million dollar idea, a visit to the other side, a journey into other worlds or a fresh way of moving through life. But if you sit around waiting for it to happen to you, you might wait an entire lifetime. You have to at least try to meet it halfway. And you must persist if it doesn't happen the first time you try or even the fifth. It is not as much a talent as a skill. And skills take practice. EVERYONE can generate new ideas for their life. EVERYONE can create new realities. And EVERYONE can go places that push against the bounds of  belief and return with information that is incontrovertible. So what will you give space and mind to today?