Friday, August 12, 2011

8/13/11-8/14/11—Claiming Your Highest Self

Weekend Reading: Judgment from the Prairie Tarot. Raise your game this weekend. Reach for your highest self and inspire others to up their vibrations as well. This weekend will put you at a crossroads where you can choose to answer your highest calling or continue on the path of "same old, same old." What will you choose? Will you move toward the very best incarnation of you? Or will you choose the safe and predictable route, hoping another golden chance will come along when you feel more in the mood? Every moment you're alive brings a new opportunity to give yourself a full body/mind/spirit extreme makeover. But the full moon energies of this weekend can supercharge your transformation. Grab your higher self by the halo and fly!

Thursday, August 11, 2011

8/12/11—Claiming Success

Today's Draw: Six of Stones from the Haindl. What do you still need to achieve to be successful? What is your relationship with success? What do you think makes people successful?

The Six of Stones (aka Six of Coins) is about abundance and success. But what really is success? And does it have anything to do with abundance? And what about abundance...what is that?

It's no secret that we live in a society that considers social rank and material items a sign of success. But one of the things that became clear from the housing bust is appearances don't make things so. Many of those people living in the big homes and nice neighborhoods aren't successful at all. They're in debt up to their eyeballs, continually accruing more debt to keep up appearances. 

But the illusion of success isn't all about money. I can't tell you how many friends who have problems in their relationships look at their friends' relationships and say "why can't we be like that?" What they don't realize is how many people are looking at THEIR relationship with some idealized vision of what a relationship should be. 

What this comes down to, is that success can never be seen on the surface. And it can never be found by measuring yourself up against others. It's not something that emanates from outside sources or milestones you've reached. Rather it's something that comes from inside. It's about knowing you've done your best, whether others say so or not. Knowing that what you have is enough, even if it doesn't seem to be as much as the guy next to you. Understanding that life is less about what you have and more about who you are. Having the integrity to follow your convictions. And being grateful for having the chance to do all of the above. It's so cliche, but it really is the quality, not the quantity, that counts.

YOU are who decides whether or not you're a success, not some arbitrary rule-of-thumb society has latched on to. And the same goes for abundance. Start practicing gratitude and you'll begin to see how abundant your life truly is...the love you give and receive, the beautiful little moments...even just the fact that you woke up this morning. These things that we spend our lives looking for—love, happiness, wholeness, success—they're hiding in plain sight. Just like when Dorothy asked Glinda how to get home to Kansas, you've had the power to get there all along. In fact, you're probably already there and just don't know it yet.

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

8/11/11—Feeding the Demon Wolf

Today's Draw: King of Cups from the Archeon Tarot. What's your relationship with your inner demons? What are the strengths your demons have come to give you? What is your take on what our demons are about?

The King of Cups usually indicates a sensitive, charismatic leader. But the Archeon Tarot adds a compelling twist to that with this entry from the book: Upon a throne of iron, the King of Cups takes counsel with his inner demons." You can see he's deep in thought, with the hollowed skulls of his past strewn about his feet.

So how do we forge a healthy relationship with our demons? First, we all have them. These are the darker sides of our personality. Those which lead to depression, self-destruction, hedonism, greed, overblown ego and savagery, whether real or imagined, physical or verbal. At the root, the demon, imo, isn't as much these sinning actions, as it is the beliefs that lead to these actions...the inner beliefs/attitudes/opinions that tell you you are separate from the divine. Once you believe this, you perpetrate these actions and convince yourself you're even more separate. And that feeds on itself, creating more destruction, more shame, more separateness. 

Over our lifetimes, we find different ways to cope. Some deny their demons exist...that if they ignore them, they'll go away. Some revel in their demons to the detriment of the divine. Some use their demons as a fortress to protect their heart. And some drown their demons in drugs and alcohol.

But our demon attitudes and behaviors can serve positive purposes in life. My nefarious mind has helped me out-think/anticipate those who would harm me in the past. Anger has helped to define boundaries. Other less-than-attractive skills have helped me survive difficult situations, even if only in the short term, before I had time to really integrate. And if any of us were in a true survival situation, the savage within us would rise to save our arses.

Two related things I learned when I quit smoking apply here. One is that our demons aren't to be ignored or hated. They're to be acknowledged with non-judgment. One of the secrets to overcoming the pull of an addiction is not to steel yourself against the craving, but to let it flow through one ear and out the other...with non-judgment. If you hold on to it or resist it in any way, it becomes stronger and embeds itself in you. So demons just "are". We can deny them and resist them all we want...if we want to give them power. We can torture ourselves with them, but they're not a mistake. Whether parts of the human condition that we've evolved beyond the need for, character flaws or parts that are just emerging within us, they're part of who we are and why we're here. 

Which leads to the second thing...the Cherokee story of the two battling wolves inside. One wolf is evil and one wolf is good. Which will win? The one you feed. If you feed the demons they get stronger and beget more pain, more addiction, more self-hate. If you feed the good wolf, that is what will grow inside you. The evil wolf will always be there, though. Some parts you may succeed in taming. Some parts will come in handy when needed. And other parts will become too weak to make a difference. 

So the answer to the initial question of how do you have a healthy relationship with your demons? You don't deny them or fear them or ignore them or feed them. You see that they are there, understand their strengths, forgive their weaknesses, and turn toward the other wolf, knowing that, when needed, you have two wolves to fight a battle. But that the good wolf will always keep the troublemaker in check. 

Another part of the answer comes from the first thing I wrote up there...that the true demon is believing you are separate from the divine. Even when you're entertaining a demon, you're at one with the divine. You can never NOT be. And demons aren't outside of you, they're within you, part of you, part of your journey on earth. They're as much a part of what God has given you as artistic talent, a beautiful voice or flaxen hair, for example. They are the fodder of profound lessons. 

Clearly, some people will take issue with this. If you have a different idea about the demons within, feel free to comment and let others hear another side of the story. But this is what I believe. We all have things and thoughts and feelings that we're ashamed of. We've all walked down a "wrong" path. And we've all emerged with valuable lessons and information. If you choose to cast that aside and deny it, which wolf do you think you're feeding?

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

8/10/11—Following Your North Star

Today's Draw: The Star from the Nigel Jackson Tarot. Are you doing what you want to do with your life? What was your childhood dream? Why did you let go of that and what do you secretly wish you could be doing now?

We've recently gotten The Star. This is one of those "beloved" cards of the tarot. It speaks of hope and optimism and wonder. Most tarot readers have a certain card they always look at in a new deck to help them decide whether to buy it or not. The Star is one of those cards for me. It usually looks something like this card, with a woman pouring out two jugs of water. The waters symbolize the flow of emotions, both those we consciously feel and those that are hidden even from us. The waters are pure and healing. And there's usually a bird, symbolizing the flight of soul. In this particular card, the bird looks like a phoenix, which symbolizes rising from the depths and overcoming. 

What it all boils down to is something we've been touching on all week—following our own North Star. You could say I've been fortunate in my life that I've never had to make a decision with anyone else in mind. It's not really "fortunate". I've set it up that way. No husband to consider. No children to consider. And, for one reason or another, I never felt sufficiently required to make any decisions to make my parents happy when growing up. Not that they didn't have their opinions. Just that I never felt obliged to listen to them. My mother died before I graduated college and my father wasn't happy with my choice of life direction, but somehow, somewhere inside me, I always knew this was MY life to live. And I've always been strong enough to stand my ground. I know not everyone has been able to manage that in their lives. 

Further, I knew before I graduated high school that I wanted to be an advertising copywriter. Many of the people I went to college with, frankly, still don't know what they want to do with their lives. Again, you could say I'm fortunate, but I think what it comes down to is listening to that voice within. My father didn't support my pursuit of a career in marketing. As a child of the Depression, he didn't trust advertising. Also, go to any good advertising school and they'll do everything they can to steer you away from being a writer. In an advertising agency of maybe 45 people, you'll find two writers. Which means there's more EVERYTHING in advertising than writers. The odds are just slim of making it. And it took me years of doing all sorts of other crap in the advertising field to become a writer. But I didn't give up. 

The point of this is not to talk about how wonderful I am (but if you insist on believing that, I won't stand in your way). Rather the point is to illustrate some of the key things needed to follow your own North Star. 

The first thing is to listen to that voice within that tells you where your passions lie. It's not that you've never heard that voice. It's that you've discounted it. You've told yourself, "I won't make enough money as a dancer." "I'm not smart enough to become a lawyer.""I'll never make it as a folklorist.""I don't have the personality for sales." "There's no future in social work." "I can't afford to risk going out on my own." Whatever it is or was that your North Star told you, you've probably talked yourself out of it. Go back and excavate to see what it was. Better yet, ask yourself right now, "if money or time or "reality" weren't an issue, what would you be doing right now?" And also, ask yourself if what you've done for money so far in your life has made you happy. I believe that if you follow your dream, the means will come. But when it becomes about money, it takes the soul out of it. More on this later.

The second thing is that, when you have a dream—especially if it's a dream that's quite different from where you are now—be VERY careful of who you tell it to. In fact, keep it to yourself if you can. In general, people are afraid of reaching out for their own star. And they will transfer that fear on to you if you tell them your dream. They won't crush your dream on purpose. They'll just place their own fears on your dream. Look, you know that if you're a 50 year old, out of shape man, you won't make the NFL draft. But most things are achievable. 

Another part of this is that they'll place their own limitations on you. I can't remember how many people told me how hard it would be to get a book contract, that it's not that easy, blah, blah. And I got not one, but two, on my first try. If I had listened to them and believed them, that would limit my prospects. You can't drink in other peoples' fears and realities. You have to believe in your dream and yourself and protect both from naysayers.

Third is also a two-parter. Don't take "no" for an answer. And keep your mind open. I worked in advertising NOT as a writer for three years. During that time, I repeatedly tried to get freelance work and find a way for me to help the writers on staff. I ended up then taking two writing jobs that weren't what I wanted to do. It was 7 years before I got the job I wanted. Keeping my mind open, though, got me skills along the way that would help me when I finally got the job I wanted. Over time, I also came across people who found something else they loved by going for the thing they *thought* they wanted. 
Here's the thing, if you really do love something, it doesn't matter what level you do it at. What matters is that you're doing it. An actress doesn't have to be Meryl Streep to have a fulfilling career as an actress. If you really love acting, it doesn't matter whether you do it on the silver screen or the community theater stage. Personally, I think anytime you go for money or fame, you'll screw yourself out of happiness. Not that rich famous people can't be happy. They can. But they usually get there by loving what they do. 

The final thing is, keep checking in. Your North Star can change. Don't pursue something simply because you've invested in it. Your investment will never be lost. It may pay off in ways you can't yet imagine. Something that once brought you joy may cease doing so. I'm transitioning my own career right now. Slowly and instinctively. I don't believe that the direction I'm going in now is my ultimate direction, but I do believe it's a direction that's going to take me where I want to go. 

Truth: As much as I've loved my career to this point, it hasn't been a joy every single day. I have no idea who these people are who say, "I wake up every morning with a spring in my step and just can't wait to get to work". I think they're full of crap. But I know there's nothing I'd rather have done for 25 years. There's nothing else I could have been passionate, enthusiastic and focused upon for so long. And it's not like I'm even that good at it. That's not a requirement. But I know I couldn't have put up with a career this stressful with the added stress of hating my job. I also don't think my personal life would be as satisfying if I didn't like my career. As a single, childless person (happily) my career has been a focus in my life, so it's important. But the same ideas apply to any course of being you want to pursue, whether it's a hobby, lifestyle or other choice.

This week we've had three cards, all focused on finding parts of yourself...your spirit, your soul and your calling. We have these ideals that any and all of these paths will lead to Elysium. And we really cheat ourselves out of a lot of happiness with expectations like that. We can't be happy all the time. It can't be easy all the time. It can't be deep and profound all the time. And no single path can be "enough" all the time. Nor can any of it make up for the parts of you that are missing. But if you are in it in the right spirit, you can't lose. Because just going for it is a gift in and of itself.

There is no magic wand in life and anyone who tells you differently is full of crap. BUT we're here. We're free. Why not grab for as much of it as we can? Why not live our lives going full throttle for the things that excite us and make us smile. Screw what others think. As long as you're not breaking any laws, where's the harm? True, you can't get there without risks, and maybe safety is your North Star, but isn't doing what you came here to do worth a risk?

To quickly answer my own question from above: I wanted to be a veterinarian as a young child. I remember my mother talking about how hard it she was a bit of a dream killer in that regard. I'm glad I didn't pursue that, though. I really only like dogs. And realistically I didn't want to do the extra college years. Plus, I feel the distance doctors have to maintain between them and their patients would have tempered the joy I get from seeing doggies. So I let that dream go. I also wanted to be an actress and pursued that in college alongside advertising. By the time I graduated, I'd lost my love for that, too. Advertising, writing and tarot are the only things that have captured my attention for any significant length of time in my life. Oh, and my love for dogs. :)

Monday, August 8, 2011

8/9/11—Seeing Spirituality's Holy Grails

Today's Draw: The High Priest from the Druidcraft Tarot. Are your inner and outer lives aligned? How do you think you're doing on your quest for personal and/or spiritual enlightenment? Could your assumptions about what enlightenment is be holding you back on your path?

We get this guy a lot. He's the Hierophant, the dude that teaches religious rules and laws and expects us to conform to them. In a reading, he might even foretell a wedding. And he'd be the one to officiate it. But as the book indicates, he can also come to suggest a different kind of marriage—the marriage of our inner and outer lives. 

What it all comes down to is living authentically. It sounds so simple, but it's not is it? I've had those words floating around in my head for years and I can't honestly say if I live authentically. I mean, I think I do. I pretty intrepidly follow the interests, opinions and attitudes that feel true to me, sometimes to the disappointment of others. And I've been told by people that I know myself pretty well. I suppose in many ways, I probably integrate my inner Tierney with my outer Tierney better than many. I have nothing to be ashamed of, no regrets, no reason to hide. 

But the thing is, people are constantly changing. Just like in a regular marriage. It's not like we can say, "I have now married my inner and outer selves and am done". Nor can we always be guaranteed to make choices that align both inner and outer selves. Part of figuring out who you are is trying on different directions and seeing what feels right. I mean, I know I'm all about the chocolate ice cream. But maybe I'm REALLY all about the pistachio and I just don't know it because I haven't tried it. And tastes change over time. I didn't used to like the color red and now it's a prominent color in my home. So it stands to reason the state of alignment between inner and outer selves is constantly in flux. 

Now this doesn't give ourselves a convenient excuse to keep living a lie or avoid exploring our inner beings. I mean, trying pistachio and liking it more could be authentic to me, after all. But what I'm trying to say is that these phrases that are bandied about—living authentically, marrying our inner and outer lives, knowing ourselves, being true to ourselves—they're not the holy grails we think they are. And the people who seem to have attained them, are really just as much in flux as you. 

Sure, there are different degrees of "being there". But being there 100% just doesn't exist. And we tend to torture ourselves with one of many conclusions....we're not doing it right and someone else is, we are "less than" the people who appear to be doing it right, we'll never do it well enough, we've failed at doing it, or it's fruitless for us to even try because we'll never do it perfectly. The same is true about the holy grails of happiness, inner peace, enlightenment and many other spiritual concepts. When we compare ourselves to another person's state of being or some other ideal, we set ourselves up for loss every time. 

None of these are destinations. Instead, they're points along a path. And the points get closer together the further you travel down the path, but you never reach the end of the path. 

Personally, I think the concept that there is a destination we must all reach and that we are measured by where we are on the route, is one of the most harmful thoughts to carry on the way to personal and spiritual enlightenment. It holds you back. You can't compare yourself to others, because you simply have no way of knowing what's going on inside them and you can't be objective comparing anything to yourself. And you can't judge by where you are on the path, because you have no idea where you on the path. I've experienced months of extreme peace and happiness, then dove over the edge into chaotic thought and depression. I was still traveling forward on the path, but depending on when you asked me, I'd give a very different report as to where I was on it. 

What I guess this is all getting to on this Tuesday early in August is this—you're doing fine. Keep up the good work. Don't ever give up trying. And, instead of critiquing and comparing, give yourself a break. You may just find yourself getting a glimpse of those holy grails more often.

Sunday, August 7, 2011

8/8/11—Finding Your Way Home

Today's Draw: Shaman of Coils from the Ironwing Tarot. Do you feel like a piece of you is missing? What experiences or moments feel like "home" to you? What has drawn you away from those parts of you that feel most genuine?

The Ironwing is a non-traditional deck and often the messages are hidden deep within the book that comes with it. It's not intuitive for me, but the book always gives me something deep to contemplate. 

The Shaman of Coils is about finding your way home. The book talks about how sea turtles have tiny magnetite crystals in their brains that help them navigate earth's magnetic fields and find their way home. I doubted this, so I googled it and it seems to be true. Similarly, the Shaman of Coils has her own Pole Star that guides her home from spirit worlds and netherlands. 

This got me thinking about the way I felt this weekend. I felt like I was back in a place where I had plenty of time to not only get my crap in order, but to also enjoy it. For a very long time now, I've had something or another going on that has made it so that each weekend feels like catch up, just so I can get up and do it all again on Monday. And it's been going on so long that I'd forgotten what it was like to have a Sunday with nothing to do but wake up late, thumb through the paper and do whatever. Without guilt.

I came about this in a roundabout way. I've been sick all week. And ended up canceling all my social plans because I'm still coughing a lot and just not up to hanging out. My house was already clean enough because I had company last weekend. So really all I had to do was tidy up and vacuum, leaving me time to do other stuff I never get around to. So by the time I went to bed last night, I had nothing left to do. Nothing to feel guilty about not doing today. And in the absence of that, I realized all the stuff I allow to hang over my head and limit my ability to enjoy down times. 

So anyway, as I sat here quietly enjoying my coffee with no agenda in mind and with a baby curled up next to me, I felt like I was "home". For the first time in a long time. I don't know where I went off course or when. It feels like many months since I'd felt free that way. Maybe even years? It just felt so far away.

The interesting thing is that I had recently thought to myself, "whatever happened to my wonderful weekends?" Then circumstances arranged themselves to bring me back. And maybe that's all it takes to find your way step out of what crazes you long enough to remember there even *is* a home. Then ask to be guided there.

We all have more than one thing that feels like "home". It's that comfortable experience that makes everything else you do worth the trouble. Most days I snuggle in front of the window with both of my dogs. That's one of those moments. Meditating in silence outside is another. Those are things I never lose sight of. But the one I experienced yesterday was one I had almost forgotten about. And now I'm wondering what other ones have I forgotten? The zone I go into when I'm being crafty? The peace and profound stillness I experience when I sit by the river? What else? Simply by remembering those feelings, I'm drawn to carve time to experience them again. 

But it goes beyond just experiences. Maybe it's a part of ourselves that we'd forgotten about or left behind. I stopped going to bars years ago because I don't like the noise and crowds. But last weekend I was in a hot bar with ceiling fans and found myself crawling on top of chairs in my skirt to reach the ceiling fans and turn them up throughout the room. Whatever that is inside me that would defy management and propriety to do that was reawakened and it was like connecting with an old friend within me.

Over time we lose pieces of ourselves and pieces of our lives. Sometimes it's intentional and for our better good. But sometimes, a piece of our spirit goes along with it. And we may want to find our way home to that bit. What's a "home" you haven't seen in a while? And what do you think it would take to get you there?