Weekend Reading: Knight of Wands from the Pearls of Wisdom. By the time this weekend arrives, your journey will have begun. If you don't yet know what that journey is, let the flow of life jump in and take you away. The mission will be revealed soon enough. And you will possess both the energy and fire to pursue it. The knight is driven by passion and fueled by his ideals. The runes on this card suggest he is spiritual warrior with the strength of an ox. So if you have any self-doubt, let go of it. Even if you feel lost or like you've taken a wrong turn, your horse knows the way! Let him do all the work.
Friday, December 9, 2011
Today's Draw Special Edition, Part Deux: The Fly at the Window from The Book of Awakening by Mark Nepo. Do you think compassion is only for the deserving? Who judges what is deserving and what's not? And can you slip into another's streams without getting lost?
Gah! Yesterday I told you I'd do part two of this entry for tomorrow (Saturday), but that is usually the day I do the weekend reading. So guess what? You get a bonus Friday entry!
Yesterday we talked about slipping into the stream of spirit, where you connect with the divine intelligence and allow it to guide you. It sounds like something you'd have to study for years to do, but it's really as simple as exhaling...as just stopping the struggle against the flow of your life. Somewhere along the line we were taught that we have to control everything in our worlds and it's just not true. We just have to make steps toward what we want and let the universe do the rest—AND trust in the wisdom of whatever that brings. So that's what "getting in the flow" or "entering the stream" is all about.
The reason I split this into two entries is the beautiful way the author defined compassion. He says it's "entering the stream of another without getting lost." How amazing is that? Entering into the stream of another without getting lost.
There are many who think compassion is only for the "deserving". And someone, somewhere along line distinguishes "deserving" from "undeserving", I suppose. But compassion is for everyone. I've been criticized many times in my life for having compassion for "undeserving" people. In a conflict between two sides, for example, I'll be able to see the pain of both sides and have compassion for both.
People always say they don't expect you to pick sides. But they do. And the side you're supposed to pick is the one deemed more deserving. Compassion should flow only to that side. And if compassion flows to the other, as well, you're a traitor, playing both sides or sitting on the fence. Well, I'm OK with being criticized for thinking that's a big, stinky load of bullshit. Everyone is equally deserving of compassion. We are all children of spirit. We all have pain. We all feel misunderstood. We are all. Worthy. Of compassion.
When Mark Nepo says compassion is slipping into another's stream without getting lost, that's the same as saying "feel compassion, but don't bend who you are while doing so". Sometimes I see people willfully hurting others in the act of what they call compassion for another...using compassion for one as an excuse to be nasty to another. That's getting lost in another's stream. Unless, of course, being nasty is part of your stream. My guess is it's not.
There have been a number of times in my life that I've lost friends because I've maintained an integrity—a loyalty—to what I believe. Like it's not nice to be mean to others, under any circumstance. Or you shouldn't tell secrets you've promised to keep. Or you shouldn't tell lies just to save your ass. I can't say I've never done any of those things. We probably all have. When I do that, believing as I do, I lose my integrity. And anyone who would ask or expect me to lose my integrity for them isn't a friend.
Compassion is not something you have to prove to others. It's not saying "I approve of your actions." Nor is it a weapon you wield by witholding. It's something that comes from the soul part of you. The part of you that recognizes that even those who are considered "evil" are of God and suffering from their separation. It's the part of you that sees their pain and sorrow, even when it's hard to find. And the part wise enough to acknowledge the thin line that separates "good" from "bad" and sane from crazy, and feels bad for someone who can't keep from crossing over that line. Even if we can't empathize or know how they're feeling based on personal experience, we can nonetheless, genuinely say "I'm sorry you're in such pain right now". Regardless of what we think of them as a human being.
We slip into someone's stream without losing ourselves. And I'd go so far as to say that neglecting to find compassion for another *is* losing ourselves. It's losing sight of our common soul, the human struggle and the oneness we share as children of God and the universe. It's saying we're in a position to judge.
So if anyone out there ever wonders where I stand when it comes down to choosing sides, that's where I stand. I may agree with one side more than another. But I have compassion for both sides and will demonstrate compassion for both sides. And I will act in integrity with the way I believe about moving through this world. And if that makes me disloyal in your eyes, I'll take it. Because being any other way is being disloyal to myself.
Thursday, December 8, 2011
Today's Draw Special Edition, Part 1: The Fly at the Window from The Book of Awakening by Mark Nepo. Have you ever prayed for one thing and gotten something different in response? Did you act like the-child-who-didn't-get-the-pony-they-wanted-for-Christmas about it? Are you hoping for the breath of something incomprehensible to show up in your life?
OK. Today and tomorrow we're doing something completely different here at The Daily Draw. It's called bibliomancy. As many of you may know, tarot is only one tool in a psychic's bag of tricks. Bibliomancy is one of the many other options. And what bibliomancy means is opening a book—any book—to a random page with a question or intention in mind and getting a spiritual or psychic message from what you see on that page.
Using something from The Book of Awakening is a little like cheating, because it's a book of spiritual lessons. So finding the wisdom on the page isn't hard. It came highly recommended from my good friend Oprah. As usual, though, I'll be putting my own imprint on what I found in the book. And what I found in that one entry is good enough for two entries here (what a value!), so I'm going to do another from this chapter tomorrow.
Basically, I just thumbed through the book and intuitively stopped on the October 1 entry in the book, titled "The Fly at the Window". This entry talks about how the antidote to fear and struggle is faith. We've talked about that a million times here, but there are a couple of interesting nuances in this entry.
He defines faith as the willingness and courage to enter into the stream of what is. And in the moment we release ego and control and accept surrender, we and the stream are one. The energy of that sacred moment and God are the same. And our experience of it is grace.
Here is a snippet from his entry that captures the feeling of our struggle against surrender perfectly:
"I remember one summer I was at the window when a fly near the latch was on its back spinning, legs furious, going nowhere. I thought to swat it, but something in its struggle was too much my own. It kept spinning and began to tire. Without moving closer, I exhaled steadily, my breath a sudden wind, and the fly found its legs, rubbed its face and flew away. I continued to stare at the latch hoping that someday, the breath of something incomprehensible would right me and enable me to fly."
Here's the thing: The "breath of something incomprehensible" can be as big as a life-threatening illness or as little as the exhale it took to right the fly. Just as you can relax your muscles by laying back, exhaling and letting go, you can relax your struggle against the wisdom and guidance of your higher power. Just by exhaling and going limp.
We move through life so certain we know better than our higher power when it comes to our lives. We count on its wisdom and power when we ask for something, then question it when they respond.
It's like the child who bemoans the fact they didn't get a pony so much that they neglect the hermit crab they *do* get. The child is not able to see the wisdom in learning how to care for a crab before it can care for a pony. And in fighting against the wisdom of the crab, they never lay the groundwork needed to own a pony.
Just as that child refuses to trust the wisdom of their parents, we don't trust the wisdom of our source. So we fight against what we're given, making it difficult for the source to move us toward what we say we want.
We've all heard this before. Sometimes it takes different words for us to get it, though.
Surrender. Let go. Trust. And be the breath of something incomprehensible in your life.
COMING UP IN PART II: The connection between surrender and compassion.
Wednesday, December 7, 2011
Today's Draw: The Hermit from the Pathfinder's Tarot. Are you having a hard time finding the path you want to walk these days? How do you think you lost sight of it? And what were YOUR Rite Aid bonus savings this month?
I was so excited to receive this deck in the mail that I didn't even wait for the book to arrive to do today's reading. You can't see it in the picture, but this deck uses gold metallic ink in very strategic ways. I'm a bit of a snob about that. I don't like metallic for metallic's sake, but if you use it wisely to enhance the art and meaning, I'm all about it. And I prefer the ink to the foil. Anyone who's ever seen a Bohemian Gothic Silver will know EXACTLY what I'm talking about.
Now that I'm done boring all the non-tarot peeps, I will say The Hermit is the solitary seeker, the one who sets out on a path for wisdom and enlightenment. It's a card of introspection and understanding. And it's also a card for someone who just wants to be alone.
To me, this Hermit feels like he's walking against the wind, hunched over to find his path through the darkness. I kind of feel that way myself these days. I'm in a situation right now where I've been hired by someone who has informed me that it doesn't matter what I write, they will be rewriting it. Because it's their "thing".
I'm not really taking that part of it personally, though it does show disregard for what a professional writer brings to the table. The person who said that isn't a writer themselves, nor do they claim to know anything about marketing. While I can deal with that, there are some other aspects of this situation that have pushed my buttons more. Add to that, I've been really stressed out by deadlines the past couple of days and my hand's been hurting and I've been typing for 10-12 hours straight each day. So I'm not in my spirit right now. And to top it all off, as I was writing this, my Rite Aid bonus card savings statement arrived in my email telling me the average customer saved $25.00 last month. And I saved $0.00. Even Rite Aid is saying I'm performing BELOW AVERAGE!!! Gah!
I don't really feel that. I'm just a bit..uninspired and sucked clean of my energy. But as I was sitting here, all introspective-like, wondering how and why I got myself in a situation that feels so no-win, a lightbulb went off. See, you've probably read before about how I have the world's best clients who shower me with praise and appreciation. I'm not being facetious. It's true. And it's due to some standards I've set for my business (namely only working for people who think I'm the bomb...haha.) But it occurred to me that this project is one I might not normally have said yes to, but did anyway.
So the path I'm all hunched over to see in the dim light was lost way back when I said yes to something I didn't feel good about. Any loss of pride or integrity of vision I'm "suffering" isn't coming at the hands of someone else. It's all on me. (For the curious, I said yes before the conversation about rewriting occurred.)
Look, I'm being overly dramatic here. My situation is far from dire. I'm making a good earning doing solid work for decent people. I'm not losing anything here but my patience and some pride. For many people, that wouldn't be "nothin' but a thang". For me, though, it equates to a sizeable portion of why I do what do.
See, I recently had the sheer pleasure of interviewing a bunch of executives about what their mission was in life. I can't tell you how wonderful it was to hear people light up in passion and realize the job they're doing right this minute is on course with their life's mission. It was also really cool guiding some of them through the process. Some people have never thought about it before and I got to give them that gift.
It makes me all weepy thinking about it even now. Because my vision includes moving people with my words. It's why I do these entries every day. It's why I work in advertising. It's why I read tarot. And it's why I want to write spiritual books. I think the older I get and the further down that path I travel, the less willing I am to share that with those who can't appreciate my craft. Look, I've been a professional writer for 25 years. I'm not whining about people making edits. This is about people not even caring whether what I write is good or not...they just want to rewrite it.
What I'm learning here is that it takes a lot of energy and spirit out of you to bend your mission and vision to accommodate others. More energy than it takes to say no or uphold your integrity of vision. I won't be letting these people down. I'll give my best as I always do, all the way to the end. Regardless of what they do with it. Because that's part of who I am, too. Even if it sucks the life out of me, I'll find the energy to do my best...haha.
This is a lesson I've learned many times before, but it snuck up on me. This is the surprise attack I warned you all about back in my 12/2 entry. It's just a toe over the line, compared to the lessons that started defining this part of my vision back in the day. The good news is I think I've finally got it this time.
Tuesday, December 6, 2011
Today's Draw: The Queen of Wands from the Joie de Vivre Tarot by Paulina Cassidy. How big is your dream for yourself? How much do you believe in yourself on a scale from 1-10, with 1 being not at all? What would it take for you to dream bigger and believe harder?
Her name is Queen Zest and she feeds her garden with love and the warmth of her spirit. If you listen closely, you may hear her whisper in your ear, "believe in yourself".
Such a simple request, but so hard to do. We're such complicated creatures made up of fears and baggage, all pointing us toward self doubt. But if you take the Hanged Man's advice from yesterday and look at it from a different perspective, you'll see a lifetime of right turns and successes. Sometimes we're so focused on what we don't have, that we neglect to see all we do have.
The way I see it, we're all divine beings. That includes your grumpy boss, prisoners in jail and yes, even you. We were all borne from the higher consciousness and all of us have taken on different agendas in our lives. I don't know why my sister has had to struggle to find a job in this economy (until today!) or why my brother has to battle cancer. I don't know why some people can't be nice and why some who are keep getting bad breaks.
But I'm certain of two things—one is that you're a child of God or the universe or whatever you believe in. And the other is that whatever you're going through is absolutely necessary to your mission here on earth. You haven't made any mistakes or wrong turns. And you are infinitely capable of rising above whatever it is that is holding you down. All you have to do is accept and believe in your divine legacy.
Now, for the doubters out there, I'm not telling a quadriplegic they can become a professional football star. What I'm saying instead is that they can rise above their limitations and achieve great things. The internet is littered with stories of people who are bigger than their limitations. And they got that way by refusing to believe their challenges defined them or limited them. You and I don't have such dramatic roadblocks to overcome. So what's our excuse?
I recently spent some time with a friend who is a medium and he contacted my parents. My mother communicated to me that I was bigger than my current ambitions. I wouldn't normally see myself as someone who doubts my abilities, but I see now where she was right. The universe's dream for me is bigger than the dream I have for myself. And the same is true for all of you.
Consider this as you move through your day and see how much bigger you can make your dream. Then believe in yourself and move toward it, knowing you're supported by a vast and loving universe.
Monday, December 5, 2011
Today's Draw: The Hanged Man from the Touchstone Tarot. Are you currently trying to exert influence over a situation you just can't change? Have you even assessed whether or not it's within your control or are you just acting unconsciously? What aspects of the situation ARE you in control of?
The Hanged Man is a card that is traditionally about seeing things from a different perspective, time in suspension and surrender. The book for this deck states the main meaning as accepting the things you cannot change. That phrase is a key in 12-step programs and comes from the first stanza of The Serenity Prayer from Reinhold Niebuhr:
"God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change; courage to change the things I can; and wisdom to know the difference."
You don't have to be in a 12-step program to understand the wisdom of those words. How often do we continue to flail our will against people and situations it's not in our power to change? Meanwhile things we can change are left to go to weed.
I've never been in a 12-step program, but I imagine there are many nuances to accepting the things you cannot change. You can't change others. You can't change many situations in your life. And you also can't change the damage you have done and choices you have made in the past. But there's usually stuff you can change that's related to the stuff you can't. You may not be able to take back words you said in anger, but you can change the way you respond in the face of anger from this moment forward and, in doing so, if the other person is willing, regain the trust you lost.
Another thing I found interesting about this card is that it looks like Jesus, but it's not. It's Saint Sebastian, who was martyred for his beliefs. He's the Saint that protects us from the bubonic plague. With some notable exceptions in the 14th-18th century, including one that killed nearly 1/3 of the earth's population (oops!) he's done a pretty good job. People still get it, but Alexander Fleming, the patron mortal of penicillin, pretty much managed to wipe it out. That's a man who had the wisdom to know what he could change.
Anyway, for those following on my blog at http://thedailytarotdraw.blogspot.com/, you can get a hint into the process of what might be called a collage deck. This particular card is made up of elements of four different paintings. I've posted the main painting on my blog. The tree, halo and garden in the background have all replaced elements in the original. She also removed all the arrows from Saint Sebastian's body. So the artist, Kat Black, also has the wisdom to change the things she can.
So I've hopped all over the place in this entry...surrender, the Serenity Prayer, Saint Sebastian (not Jesus), the bubonic plague and tarot art. In an effort to tie it all together, I'd say that there's always more to things than what appears on the surface. Few things are as cut and dried as they appear. Which goes back to the Hanged Man's way of looking at things from a different perspective. If you're finding yourself occupied by focusing on the things you can't change right now, why not look, instead, for the parts of the situation you can and start there?
Sunday, December 4, 2011
Today's Draw: Two of Tridents from the Undersea Tarot. Are you conscious of the intentions, energies and subtexts beneath the interactions you participate in? Do you take responsibility for the energy you bring to a dynamic? Or have you never considered it before?
This card equates to the Two of Wands, which is about control and strategy and dominion. In the little white book for this deck, it words it as "influence over your surroundings," which made me think of something I heard once.
Many of you might be familiar with Dr. Jill Bolte Taylor, who is the neuroanatomist that wrote My Stroke of Insight and gave a TED talk that went uber viral. The story is that she had a stroke that, in conjunction with her existing expertise, helped her and the world better understand what happens during a stroke. One of the side effects of her stroke (based on where the damage happened) is that she now has a greater sense of peace, spirituality and understanding about the energies around her.
While she was in the hospital, without her ability speak and just basically in a bad way, nurses and visitors would come in her room and they might be having a bad day or being negative or sad about her condition and inside of her, she'd be thinking, "hey, I'm doing all I can do to recover here and am being bombarded by the negativity of others." What she wanted, but couldn't say at the time, is "take responsibility for the energy you bring to me."
Taking responsibility starts with being aware...of your mood, of your words and of your intention. Many times people are unaware of these things. But an interaction between two people has two intentions and two energies riding along with it. And our intentions pretty much always have to do with serving ourselves. If you're going to the hospital to comfort a friend, for example, chances are, beneath your desire to comfort your friend is another desire to assuage yourself and your feelings about your friend being sick. If you visit them, you'll feel like a good friend. You won't feel guilty. You'll soothe your feelings of helplessness by trying to help...there are a number of reasons that could run beneath it.
But bottom line, we don't do things that have no payoff for ourselves. At least we don't do them more than once. So, because we often feel we spend all our time serving others, it's important to understand that we serve them because of what we get out of it. Just that understanding alone can change our perspective the choices we make. And it's also important to understand that your intention comes with an energy attached. For example, if you visit a friend because you feel you have to, the energy will be different than if you really want to be there. And when it comes to energy, whether the other party is attuned to it or not, it has an effect on them.
A number the entries here have to do with being conscious of the way we walk through this world. The reality is, we'll still move through unconsciously much of the time. But the goal is to start becoming aware. In some ways it's like breaking a habit. There will be times you'll conscious of yourself acting in a way that is incongruous with who you are and who you want to be. And you'll keep acting that way anyway.
The other day I was in a conversation with someone who I consider fairly enlightened, but she was playing the victim about something. And I could tell that halfway through our conversation she realized she wasn't being honest with me or herself. But she kept up the ruse anyway and her responses became lamer and lamer and shorter and shorter until she finally just backed out as gracefully as she could. I didn't confront her about it. Or judge her. I just listened. But I also didn't say anything that supported her self deception. So she knew. And I knew. She *wanted* to feel the way she felt. And hopefully she asked herself why. This is how we move toward toward taking responsibility.
Once you start becoming conscious of your intentions and energies, it becomes harder and harder to deceive yourself. That's both good and bad. Bad because it's humbling and might bring up some pain. Good because it moves you closer to your authentic self. And it all starts with being aware of what you're bringing to those around you and taking responsibility for it.
Bottom line is we could all use to be kinder and more generous with our intentions. And while we may like to think we're doing it for others and the world, ultimately we're doing it for ourselves. We can come from a place of healing energies, neutral energies or toxic energies. And whichever we choose dictates what kind of energies and chemistries we want running through our veins.
That doesn't mean you have to let things others do to you slide, rather it means you can confront from a loving, compassionate place or you can do it from it an angry toxic place. A person who acts unconsciously lets the other person decide, because they are reacting to the others' energies. The conscious person stays in the drivers seat by having the presence of mind to take responsibility for their own energies and actions.