Saturday, June 11, 2011

6/11/11-6/12/11—Investigating the New

Weekend Reading: Page of Pumpkins from the Halloween Tarot. Engage that intellectual curiosity of yours this weekend. Put down the books and learn from experience. Maybe try your hand at a new hobby, test out a new recipe, visit a museum or plant some pumpkins. :D The page often comes bearing a message, so also be on the lookout for some good money news.

Friday, June 10, 2011

6/10/11—Going Primeval

Today's Draw: The Ace of Wands from the Rohrig Tarot. Who are you at your most primal? What instincts truly drive you? When was the last time you touched base with your primordial self?

The Ace of Wands is all about creativity and passion. It can signal new opportunities or an infusion of energy in those areas. It's a fire that overtakes you and possesses you. No use in fighting it. Just go along for the ride. 

The lwb (little white book) for this deck calls the Ace of Wands the primal origin. That place from which all was created. The first seed of existence. As I write this tonight, the stage is perfectly set. Flashes of lightning and the roll of thunder fill the air. With eyes closed, it could be any point in earth's origin. With the exception of the breathable air, it could predate life itself. 

Consider our own primal origins. Before civilization. Before agriculture. Before language. When basic survival and procreation drove every thought and action. When you strip away the crap of the ego—the material wants that somehow tell us who we are—those same two primal instincts still drive our lives. We are as we were 100,000 years ago. We are as all life is—driven to survive and generate the species. Consider this. And consider how much of your daily life is determined by these two needs. 

Trust me, the last thing I want to do is bring a life into this world. But the procreative instinct keeps me looking for a mate—one with whom I could theoretically produce an ideal, healthy offspring. It draws me to certain types of men, arousing me in ways that don't always make sense in the context to what I'm consciously attracted to. And the survival instinct motivates me to get up every day and participate in life. It drives my career in ways that can put food on the table and shelter over my head. It triggers competitive and protective instincts. Even the  material crap I amass is part of the survival instinct because, on some level, it's a sort of posturing for one's place in the pack.

As humans, we're prone to argue our superiority as a species. We have critical thought. Language skills. And the blessed opposable thumb. But at our core, at our most primal selves, we are as all living things. Whatever evolutionary advantages we have, we misuse as often as we use to our benefit. And when it comes to a "code" of primal instinct, we are the only species I can think of offhand that takes the survival instinct beyond the bounds of basic survival...and one of the few that takes the generative instinct beyond the bounds of mere procreation of the species.

I'm not really sure that I'm making a point with all of this. Perhaps more of an observation. We become so caught up in the trappings and privileges of being human that we rarely, if ever, strip away all the hoo ha to consider our animal natures, the instincts that drive us and what is truly at the core of our beings...our primal selves. If you're old enough to remember, remember pet rocks? You could give it a nice home, visit it twice a day, call it Fred, read it a story and tuck it in at night, but at its core it's still just a rock. The same is true for us, too. We are an organism, struggling for survival and the continuation of our species, like dandelions, tigers and bears. And I wonder how the world might be different—how differently we might treat each other, other animals and our earth—if we considered this more often.

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

6/9/11—Letting the Sun Rise on its Own

Today's Draw: The Sun from the Baroque Bohemian Cats. Do you feel like you're swimming upstream right now? Or are you letting the flow take you where you need to go? What is joyfully progressing—or annoyingly stagnant—in your life?

The Sun is one of those cards you're always happy to see in a reading. It signifies joy, happiness and new beginnings. The Sun is life giving and life affirming. No matter what the night might bring, the Sun always rises in the morning, renewing hope and giving you a fresh chance to get things right. 

In a reading, The Sun would indicate that whatever struggles you've been experiencing are through. Suddenly you see clearly. You have the energy and drive you didn't have before. Life is sunshine and roses. You feel so confident you might even make a bold move you wouldn't otherwise make. Take this little kitty, for example. He must be feeling awfully good about himself to stand so confidently atop that carousel horse.

A few months ago, the Sun rose in parts of my own life. Since March, I've taken a lot of risks that I've avoided for a long time, both in my professional life and my personal life. I can't for the life of me figure out why all these moves were so easy for me to make now when they eluded me for so long. I'm someone who fights change tooth and nail, but right now I just seem to be flowing with it. 

This begs the question, though, is all our striving inefficiently used energy? Sure, we can force ourselves to change and grow. Or we can wait for the moment  the energies are more supportive and our lives change and grow for us.

When I look back, it seems all the guilt and kvetching over being stagnant was wasted energy. Because now everything is flowing naturally. Which makes me think of other areas of my life where there is no movement at this time. If I just wait it out, will those changes become effortless, too? If I wait for my confidence in those areas to grow, will the energy come to meet me? I think so. Right now I cling to certain circumstances because they feel safe. And in the areas that are going so well right now, I feel bold enough to leave my previous safety behind.

If we believe that everything happens at the right time—and I do believe that—how come we spend so much effort trying to make NOW the right time? I'm all for taking the path of least resistance. I'm all for surrendering to the universe and trusting in its wisdom. But sometimes I need a reminder. 

The Sun comes as that reminder. Every dark night gives way to a fresh day. And fighting against that dark and trying to force the Sun to rise before its time is fruitless. The new day always comes and shines its light on the proper path to get us to where we need to be. We just need to wait. And trust that moment will come.

6/8/11—Keeping Your Creative Energy Flowing

Today's Draw: The Five of Wands from the Artists Inner Vision Tarot. Do you work in a field where everyone has an opinion of your work? Do you feel stripped of your creative energy? Are you tired of dingoes eating your creative babies?

The Five of Wands is about conflict and disagreement, but nothing too serious (though it may seem that way at the time). These are the kind of conflicts we face regularly. Usually considered conflict over creative ideas, these types of debates can often lead to great collaborations and great solutions. 

The dude in this card is pained by these disagreements, though. They deplete his energy, dry up the earth before him, which can be symbolic of the fertile ground where ideas grow. He's so distracted by the problems that he is stifling his own creativity. And the opposing views hang over his head, making him question his own "true north". He wants to make a move, he wants to go somewhere, but he remains fixed, stuck in his head. 

As an advertising copywriter, a conflict-free creative life is unthinkable. Everyone has an opinion. Everyone has a dog in the fight. And, as the bottom dweller on the totem pole, I'm usually the one that has to suck it up while others get their own way...haha. Actually, it's more of a "choose your battles" sort of thing. When I choose my battles, I usually win because they know when I push back, I mean it. 

But it's not always about winning or losing the fight, nor is it even healthy to think of it that way. I can't remember the first time it happened, but once a long time ago someone sent my work back to me with all sorts of edits and comments. And, as usual at the time, I decided they were idiots, questioned why I'd chosen this career and started to make the fixes grudgingly. But something happened on this particular occasion. Somewhere in the comments, they challenged me to rethink my direction in the copy. And I did. And it ended up being better. Much better. 

So, from that experience, I adopted a new attitude. Maybe when someone was "ruining" my work, it was actually an opportunity to make it better. If I put ego out of the way, that is. And I shifted from someone who was in it for my own glory to someone who was in it for the collaboration...the work. And guess what happened next? The collaboration started fueling my glory. 

As I was writing this very entry, a client called and said we needed to re-think the direction of something. And, while my instincts still want to revolt and fight the process and prove my original thinking was right, my mind is at ease. Maybe they're right. Maybe things aren't gelling as well as they could. So lets work together as a team to make it work for everyone. I'm no longer married to my words as I once was. And, as a self-employed person, I also don't have to work for anyone who is. Every once in a while you come across a client who insists on saying what they want to say, instead of what the audience wants to hear. That's the one place I draw the line in this whole "collaboration" thing. That's just bad marketing and I won't do it. But beyond that and anything that is misleading,  dishonest or exploitative (which has only happened once in 25 years), all edits, comments and collaborations are fair game.

Whether it's a critique, a rejected project or just "creative differences", if you're going to work in any sort of creative career, you have to learn to roll with the punches. Yes, it's a disappointment and may even hurt your feelings. After all, you've poured a lot of yourself into the project and wouldn't have submitted it if you didn't feel it was right. But when you get all caught up in the injustice of it all, you restrict the flow of creativity. And when you start to work in order to please others, you also close off the flow of creativity. The only way to do it is to do what you think is right and risk someone disagreeing with you or rejecting your work. But if they do, keep your mind open, because they may be angels in disguise, sent to make your work even better the second time around.

Like everything in life, your creative freedom and fulfillment hinges not on what other think, but the attitude *you* bring to the table. Get too married to your words or your brush strokes and you won't have a happy marriage. Know what matters and what doesn't. Know what's worth fighting for. And see your critics as the bearers of the opportunity to do better next time around. After all, maybe they have a point. Anytime you enter a creative career, you will have a long list of people you have to please before pleasing yourself. The trick is to not only learn how to maintain your creative integrity, but to also please yourself by pleasing others. The good news is that you're a creative person. So you'll find a way.

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

6/7/11—Removing Your Armor

Today's Draw: Knight of Cups from the Victorian Romantic. What kind of armor do you wear as you walk through this world? What might you miss out on because of this? And what are you afraid might happen if you were fully exposed to those around around you?

The Knight of Cups is the ultimate romantic. A dreamy sort of fellow who often lives in a world of his own. This particular knight represents Parsifal, one of the Grail Knights of Arthurian Legend. All these nekkid sirens surround him, trying to distract him from his quest. But he sees nothing but the vision of the grail.

One thing I've always found interesting about this depiction is how shiny his armor is. It reflects everything around him, yet doesn't give us a clue as to what's underneath it all. We've all known people like him, right? Always doing and saying what they're supposed to. Always reflecting back to the world what the world wants to see..or what they want the world to see. But inside, it seems, nobody's home. Or, if someone is home, they've been playing a role for so long they don't even know where the facade ends and the real person inside begins anymore. 

I remember many years ago having different personas with different friends. Or at least I thought I did. I think a lot of this came from me reflecting the energy of the person I was with, so with some people I might be wackier than with others, for example. In that way, I was wearing the shiny armor. And I remember having anxiety sometimes about seeing someone I hadn't seen for a while. Who was I around them? Would I remember how to be around them? Worse was when worlds collided and two friends I felt different around would be in the same room. I think in reality, my behavior was indiscernible to others. I felt like different people around them, but really that wasn't the case.

I don't know when I changed from trying to be who other people wanted me to be to just being myself. But I'm pretty sure I don't act in a certain way to make anyone else happy anymore. Truth is I'm loud and blunt and funny and compassionate....good things and bad. And I don't have the energy or inclination to hide any of it anymore. Which doesn't mean I have no secrets. There are a couple of things—good and bad—not even the closest of you know about me. And I'm OK with that. But it's still a piece of glossy armor, isn't it? A part of myself that I allow to reflect back to the world however they want to see it. 

There's a part of me that says there's nothing wrong with having something private and to ourselves. And there's a part of me that says that even though there may not be one person who knows everything, everything about us should be known somewhere along the line because that keeps darkness and shame and guilt away. If we're really true about standing in our own skin, we shouldn't have secrets. Should we?

This is one of those things I haven't figured out for myself. One thing I know is that sharing yourself with others can be very healing for you and for them. I mean, there's so much we don't talk about in "polite society" that we can often feel like we're alone when we have something we may not be proud of. And knowing that others think the same way or do the same things can help a lot. 

Also, look at the knight again. That armor he wears is quite constricting. It puts a cold, hard layer between him and the rest of the world. He's so caught up in his world that he doesn't even see all the nekkid babes around him. Even though this knight is on a quest for the grail, it's also symbolic of the grail within...the ability to stand strong and protected within our own skin. 

What are your thoughts on this? And how much of your body is still covered in reflective armor?

Monday, June 6, 2011

6/6/11—Serving Your God Through Your Career

Today's Draw: Ace of Stones from the Haindl Tarot. How do you serve God and mankind through the job you do every day? Have you ever even considered your mundane tasks sacred? Do you view your life as an expression of God moving through you?

Traditionally, the Ace of Stones can be thought of representing new opportunities in the material world, renewed health or a fresh start in the areas of health, career or money. But the Haindl Tarot adds a new dimension to that with the eagle (representing spirit) touching the stone (representing earthly concerns). Also we see a rainbow in the background, representing blessings. So the interpretation of this card is to bring a sense of the divine to your everyday actions, as well as your self care. 

Last night I went to a kirtan. A kirtan is like a concert, but it features sacred chants and everyone in the audience sings along. As the singer, Snatam Kaur, was introducing the band members, she said the keyboard player "gives such good service" to his playing. I interpreted that as meaning two things. The first is that when he's there, he's present and gives his all to his job. And the second is that he performs for God. 

This notion of using our career or our job as service came to many years back and it took me some time to settle on how I serve. I work in advertising and grew up in an environment that didn't place much value on the profession. Certainly there are a number of ways to view my career and advertising folk have generated and received some bad energy, I suppose. There are a lot of sharks in my career, for example. But I will say I've never come across anyone who acts or thinks unethically when it comes to the creative aspects of the industry. Most of the sharkiness is on the business side of advertising and even there the reputation is exaggerated.

Anyway, what I determined when I thought through the "service to mankind and higher power" aspect was that (in my case) I helped smaller businesses get noticed and find their place at the table to compete with larger businesses. By helping smaller businesses thrive, market domination is reduced. And I also help consumers realize the benefits of working with these smaller businesses...or even make them aware that alternatives exist. Now more than ever, I think people can understand the importance of healthy commerce. And that's what I help support. Only on rare occasions do I ever work for the #1 business in their field. That's mostly by circumstance, but also because I'd rather help the smaller guy. 

To me, there is a spiritual aspect, too, because often I'm working with the business owners or CEOs in some capacity. I'm helping lift someone else up to their highest expression. I'm helping others realize choices they have that they didn't know about before. I know that all sounds dramatic, but I really believe in all that. 

In the same way, we ALL serve both mankind and our higher power through the work we do every day. You just need to look at what you do a different way. And once you do, your whole attitude about it can change. Soccer moms are shaping the next generation of souls to serve this earth. Safeway checkers are helping to supply families with food and sustenance. Builders are supplying the world with shelter. Computer people are helping others get information quickly and reliably. And so on. Those are just examples, because all those people do so much more. So look at what you do through God's eyes or mankind's eyes. It will change your outlook on your daily chores. 

Another aspect of this is to look at others that way, too. I remember one Christmas Day I stopped into a Starbucks because I saw it was open. I bought a cup of coffee and as the Barista handed me my drink, I said "thank you so much for giving your Christmas day so that people like me can enjoy a nice cup of Chai." She told me I was the first person that day who had thanked her and she got a tiny bit emotional because someone SAW what she had sacrificed for her job that day and had the presence of mind to thank her. So try looking at all the people who serve you—whether they're checkers, the weather forecaster on TV or the people who built the car you drive—and see the divinity and service in what they do. 

As you shift your thoughts about how we all serve in this world, not only do you feel more sacred in your job, you walk through a more sacred world.