Friday, September 2, 2011

9/3/11-9/4/11—Being Gentle With Yourself

Weekend Reading: Queen of Pentacles from the Prairie Tarot. Be gentle with yourself and others this weekend. Let your nurturing side come out. The Queen of Pentacles is a doting, motherly woman. Her rabbits feel safe and secure with her. In turn, their love and gentleness fuel her. Any energy she spends on them is returned by them. That's part of being gentle with yourself...nurturing situations that nurture you back. So consider that this weekend. Let go of what drains you. And embrace what fuels you.

Thursday, September 1, 2011

9/2/11—Ending Annoying Patterns

Today's Draw: Six of Wands—Victory from the Rohrig Tarot. Do you keep running into the same ANNOYING types of people and patterns in your life? Have you ever had a breakthrough that changed the situation around? And what lessons did you learn about yourself from these experiences?

The Six of Wands traditionally shows a warrior riding in on horseback to the cheers of many. As is every card in the Rohrig tarot (which I LOVE), this card is different. There is no human. No cheering throng. And there is a nuance that you don't see in other Six of Wands cards...the idea of a breakthrough. A barrier has been broken down. You move from darkness into the light. And you enter into an area where victorious energy is literally raining down on you.

I gave a reading to a woman a couple of months ago who a highly competent professional. But the man she had to work with day after day was just insulting and insensitive. This affected the way she felt about her work and the way she felt when she went home at the end of the day. She liked her job, but this part of it was wearing on her. Clearly the boss was an unhappy person, yes, but as we took a deeper look, we concluded  he was just mirroring the behavior he learned growing up. Worse, his brand of nastiness was his version of trying to be better.

Then we took a look at others around her and saw similar types in varying degrees in her life, most notably an ex. Again, doing his best, doing what he knew, as hurtful as that might be. At this point I told her a lesson I learned in my own life—you can't change someone else's behavior, but you can change your own. Which often changes the way others respond to you.

When we're caught up in emotional fisticuffs with another person, we often push back or back down entirely. This changes nothing. The only way to change the situation is to change the way you see it and respond to it. For this client, I suggested seeing the boss with more compassion. I mean, imagine how it must be to have lived your life with that kind of negativity firing at you from parents and family. Of course he was that way! I suggested she be grateful she's not and show the grace of someone who is grateful. Maybe even do something nice. Like bring in some homemade cookies or some sort of pick-me-up. Show kindness instead of revulsion and see what that nets you. It might not change overnight, but it will change as they begin to trust you're not like what they're used to.

Anyway, once she began to see the pattern in her own life, she had a breakthrough. This wasn't personal. It wasn't about her. It was about them! And if she wanted to see it get better, then she could just respond to it better. While it's hard to bear putting up with behavior like that without responding in kind when you take it personally, it's easy to bear sending compassion to someone you realize has had a hard life and is so caught up in their own misery they don't know any better.

When patterns like this keep showing up like a continuously skipping record, it's not because the other people need to change, it's because you need to change. Like in the card, you can continue to flail about in darkness. Or you can break through to a clearer way of looking at things and continue on your path unimpeded. One of the Don Miguel Ruiz's Four Agreements is "Don't take things personally." Nothing others do is because of you. It's a reflection of their own path and reality. Making just this one change alone in your life is one of the greatest victories you can have in life.

Wednesday, August 31, 2011

9/1/11—Balancing Chaos and Harmony

Today's Draw: Planet Earth Stage One from AboraMana. Do you strive for peace and harmony? Do you thrive in chaos? Or is the more gratifying path found when you embrace both?

AboraMana is a woman-focused, channeled oracle deck of sorts. For those that aren't familiar with the term, "channeled" means that the information was received from a higher source—spirit guide, god, goddess, whatever. The deck's creator says the information and images were channeled to him and he was just the person who did the drawings and took down the words, based on what the higher source showed him and told him to do. 

So this Planet Earth Stage One card talks about how every planet that holds life is called Earth. It speaks of layers of fire, rock and water and electromagnetic energy, about poles and equators and the sun. But it's not talking about OUR Earth, just any earth. And some of the stuff didn't apply to our earth. Quite frankly, I had a hard time gleaning much of a message from the card until the very last two sentences: "The law of chaos says that where everything is balanced and in harmony, there is no change. Change only occurs when balance is upset."

For example, if our earth's axis were in alignment with the North and South poles—in balance and in harmony—we would have no seasons or fluctuations of daylight hours during the year. We need that tilt, that imperfection, to have the complete distribution of life on our planet and the seasonal variety, crops, populations, etc. we have on our earth. Similarly if we were able to achieve some lasting state of balance and harmony, as we are led to believe we should, then we would cease changing. And life would become quite boring. 

Now, there is no scientific "law of chaos". And, when you think about it, "chaos" and "law" are something of an oxymoron. But the thought is nonetheless interesting and something to consider the next time everything goes whackadoo in our world. 

It's also something to consider the next time we hit a patch of balance and harmony. If you're like me, you achieve something like that and sit pretty in it for a period of time, then one day it's not there anymore and you're left wondering why and how. Now, at least, you know why. It's time to grow again and reach a new level of harmony and balance. 

Finally, it's something to consider as we strive for balance and harmony. You know, we put all this effort into something that feels great at first, but ultimately leaves us stagnant. If we achieve that state of balance and harmony....and stay there...we can never change. And if we never change, balance and harmony just ends up feeling "normal", instead of a blissful exhale. Since change only happens when the balance is upset, we should not only strive for balance, but for the eventual loss of it as well.

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

8/31/11—Being A Socially-Engaged Hermit

Today's Draw: The Hermit from the Bohemian Gothic Second Edition. Do you see yourself as a loner or an extrovert? How do you think the outside world sees you? And where do you get your energy—from solitude or from being around others?

The Hermit and I are friends. He represents what you'd think...time in isolation or solitude. He also signifies a quest for personal or spiritual knowledge. He travels through life slowly and deliberately, taking time to notice where he is along the way. He is pictured at night because he travels into the dark areas of the soul that, too often, we don't take time to explore.

I went out to dinner on Monday with a friend to meet someone she thought I'd get along with. The woman I met was a spiritual seeker, like me, and she was nice and funny and all that. So my friend was right. I liked her. As the three of us were sitting there yukking it up, the subject came up of me being a hermit and my friend said something to the effect of "this chatty extrovert calls herself a hermit."

So I've been thinking about this for the past couple of days. I've also thought about a hermit friend of mine in a far western time zone who may or may not be reading this while we're all asleep, as well as a whole group of hermits I hang out with on a regular basis (yeah, you heard a hermit social club...haha). All of us, when we're around people, can be as social and charming and extroverted as the next guy, yet we all prefer to be alone.

I think over the years hermits have gotten a bad name. Sure, there are some that fit the stereotype of never wanting to see another human and building bombs in ramshackle cabins in the wilderness or have the scary unapproachability of the Hermit in the card above. But most hermits live among you undetected. It's not that we don't ever want to be around humans, it's more that we a) have no discomfort in being alone, b) enjoy our time alone, c) gain energy from being alone and lose energy from being in crowds and d) need to be alone to experience our feeling of balance and rightness in this world.

Speaking only for myself, I had to force myself to be social by attending networking events and parties by myself. Doing this pushed my boundaries and made more adept at engaging strangers. I did this partially for business reasons, but also for social reasons. I'm not afraid to go to things alone anymore and am able to hold up my end of a conversation. Some (most) would even describe me as downright chatty. What I'm getting at is that it's not because I don't have social skills or because I have social anxiety or anything like that. And it's not because I feel insecure about myself, nor is it because I don't think I need people. It's simply because I prefer time to myself. My favorite sound is silence. And one of my favorite activities is to be lost in thought in my own world.

My neighbors sometimes remark that they never see me or it seems as though my car never moves. I can see how it seems that way. Truth is there are strings of days when I don't go anywhere—I work alone and live alone. But the truth is also that I attend a couple of social events each week, read tarot in a retail store all day on Sundays and, of course, interact with my professional clients in person and over the phone on a regular basis. Yet I still consider myself a hermit, because, honestly, at all times I'd rather be at home with my pups by my side, "seeking". Even when I'm coupled, I like to spend a lot of time in solitude.

I'm sure there are plenty of married parents and socially employed folks out there who are also hermits at heart. Are you one of them? If not, do you ever take time by yourself for personal reflection? Where do you fall in the hermit/non-hermit spectrum?

Monday, August 29, 2011

8/30/11—Expressing Your Unique Gift

Today's Draw: The King of Chalices from the Fire Tarot. Whether physical, intellectual, creative or otherwise, what is your unique way of expressing yourself in this world? What special something might you have that others don't? And how can you share it with others?

Recently one of my Facebook Friends (don't remember who...sorry) posted this quote:

"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." - Martha Graham

The dragon King of Cups has that fire and unique expression to share with others. He comes to us today to let us know that we all have something special to share with others. Sometimes we can't identify it, even though it's there. Sometimes it's something we hold close because people have judged it in the past...or because we judge it ourselves. Sometimes we don't realize the value of our knowledge or don't think others will find a need for it. And, of course, sometimes we actually share it, whether at work or through other means.

But just because you don't know what it is or have doubts about it, doesn't mean you don't have it. We all have a special light, a special fire burning within us. And like the dragon in today's card, we are all so much bigger than our containers. We bandy about the saying "I'm only human", and while that may be true in some senses, it's not in others. Depending on what you believe, you are also spirit and source. You are the culmination of many lifetimes of knowledge. You are energy and creation. So much bigger than the vessel you occupy. And even the simplest among us were given a gift to share that no one else possesses.

I think mine lies somewhere in my communications ability. Many people have said something along the lines of me being able to tell difficult truths non-judgmentally. For example, if you've ever gotten a reading from me, I might tell you some things that are hard to swallow or admit to. But I tell them to you in a way that's not such a big deal and it's something we can work with. I don't judge. I probably have the same problem myself. I do it in these blogs, too. Admit to my faults and foibles so that others know they're not alone. And so some can feel superior...haha. Ultimately I want people to understand that you can be wise and a doofus at the same time. Spiritual and flawed. Evolved and needing.

Again, back to our black and white cookie card from the other day, as well as yesterday's Temperance card, we're not just one thing or another. We're the whole spectrum. Yet we tend to compare ourselves to others all the time. I was talking to a friend not long ago who is going through a divorce and he mentioned how all the people he and his wife used to hang around with had happy marriages. And I told him that many of those happy marriages were probably just an illusion. He was certain they were not. So I asked him what his friends thought of his marriage to his wife in the weeks prior to their split. Did they appear happy? And I think, at that moment, he got it. The ride to and from those dinner parties might have been a bitch, but when they were at them there would be no indication of a problem. So why couldn't that be true about everyone else in the room? Every time we compare ourselves to someone else, we're comparing ourselves to an assumption. A fairy tale.

But I digress...haha. What's your special gig? Do you even have a clue? And if you know what it is, how can you share it with others? If you don't know what it is, that's ok. In general, we're not taught to think of ourselves as special. But noodle on it a while and see what you come up with. It's there. :)

Sunday, August 28, 2011

8/29/11—Choosing the Third Thing

Today's Draw: Temperance from the Barbara Walker's Tarot. When you have to make a choice, does it feel like it's always a matter of one thing or another? Or maybe it always comes down to a compromise? But is it possible there's a third option that holds the seed of both choices, and then some?

The Temperance card addresses the life lesson of walking the middle line, seeking balance in all things.  It's interesting we got this card today, because this past weekend's card was about having a split mind about something or trying to satisfy two divergent opinions about something. I said if making a decision could wait, to pull back and try to see the situation from the bigger picture and just ruminate on it a little while longer. Well, Temperance comes to bring us a new idea about justifying opposing options. 

It's not necessarily compromise. It's not giving up your stake. It's something else. It's the third thing—the alchemy that occurs when Temperance pours one jug of water into another jug...the balance that occurs when she stands one foot in emotion and one in reason.

Sometimes we become so focused on a choice between black and white that we don't see the third thing. If we can get past black and white, we usually think of a gray area of compromise. But the third thing isn't about gray. It's more about black and white stripes. Or black with a white swirl. 

I suppose an example would be the career choices I've made this year. For a long time I've wanted to be a spiritual writer, like a Dr. Wayne Dyer or Deepak Chopra—that kind of thing. I have a number of book ideas for that, but I'm a writer in my day-to-day career, too. I didn't feel like I could dive into a book that deep—my first book—in just my spare time. I could do it if I didn't write all day long to begin with, but when my day's over, I don't want to think that hard. 

So my options seemed to be to either quit my job (and income) to write a spiritual book. Or just continue on doing what I'm doing. I had a whole plan for the quit my job thing, and that was to sell my house and live off the equity, though that felt risky for me. Then the housing market went bad and I lost about half of the equity I had in my home. My plan was no longer as feasible.

Meanwhile, I have a tarot hobby that I'm pretty passionate about. So, fast forward a couple of years and I come up with an idea for a tarot publishing project—more of an instructional book than something deep. On top of that, I get a chance to read professionally at local store, which exposes me to all sorts of struggles people are having. So while I now have three "jobs"—my normal writing job, my tarot reading and my tarot publishing project—I'm able to juggle this in ways it makes sense for me. On top of all of that, I'm now blogging every day and my blogs are a mix of tarot and spiritual inspiration. 

So here I am, I am first and foremost a freelance advertising copywriter, which is the career I've enjoyed for 25 years. I have a publishing contract. I'm a professional reader. And I'm blogging in a spiritual way. This isn't black or white or gray. It's black with a white swirl and maybe a little gray and blue mixed in, too. So it's not either/or. It's not a compromise. It's a third thing that combines elements of both the things I wanted, plus a third thing that acts as a bridge, of sorts. It will certainly be easier to write and publish my next book, whatever it is, with a track record behind me. And for all I know, maybe this is where I want to be. That hasn't revealed itself yet. But it's a better option all round than the two I had a couple of years ago when all I could see was black and white.

One of the more expansive realizations I've had on my journey is that there are always more than two choices. In fact, there are more than three choices. Yet for some reason, we habitually limit ourselves to two. Now and again I talk about when trying to manifest things, you should keep your mind open and not try to define a "thing" you want. Instead try to define a feeling or a lifestyle or experience you want, because what you REALLY want is the feeling, not the thing (as in, instead of wanting $XXX of money, you want really want to know you will always have more than you need.) 

The "third thing" is part of keeping your mind open to the possibilities. It holds a place for magic to occur. And it's born from wishing for an experience or feeling, rather than a specific thing. Best of all, when you stop feeling a need to direct and control every variable, you allow a greater wisdom to, instead, blow your mind with a possibility you could have never imagined yourself. So the next time you have to choose between black and white, consider the third thing. Better yet, if you're game, lift it up to a higher authority and see if you don't get a rainbow colored unicorn instead. It could happen. ;)