Monday, December 31, 2012

1/1/13—Letting Go Of What No Longer Serves

Today's Draw: Queen of Swords from the Nigel Jackson Tarot. Do you have items that once belonged to a loved one who has passed over? Do you use them and appreciate them, or do they sit in a closet? What things are you holding on to that no longer honor or serve?

This tarot deck has made a home on my bedside table lately and I just love looking at it. So since I brought it downstairs for yesterday's reading, I may as well do an entire week with it. Just so tarot peeps know, Swords are the suit of fire in this deck. And Staves, like we had yesterday, are the suit of air. It's usually the other way around. 

The book that comes with the deck identifies the Queen of Swords as a widow engaged in a spiritual struggle over material odds. It's an interesting interpretation. If a spouse dies, you're left with all their stuff. You probably come into some insurance money. The money can't replace their absence in your life and you feel guilty letting go of anything that's theirs. That would certainly put you in a struggle over material things. 

I know I still keep things of my mother's because I feel too guilty to get rid of them. But I also believe that she no longer gives a crap about any of that stuff. She's been gone 28 years. That's a spiritual struggle, too. 

The same also holds true for those parts of us we've left behind...things that once meant something to use, but no longer do. I know I struggle over stuff like that. It was once something I loved. Like I have a pair of boots I'll probably never wear again. Who knows? But buying those boots was special for me. I had saved up and I loved those boots. They're kind of back in style, but they're more whimsical than I am these days. They're for a 30 year old woman, not a 50 year old. 

And yes, I know I can give all this stuff to charity and someone less fortunate than me can enjoy them. It's not about that. It's about emotional attachment to things. And there will always be things we have an emotional attachment to...unless we're a Buddhist nun or something. That's why they shave their release their attachment to ego concerns—things that hold value in the outer world. Buddhism is all about the inner world. 

So there's a struggle inside me. Part of me believes that, unless it's something I use and enjoy, I'm disrespecting it anyway. Part of me believes that holding on to things from the past that no longer serve is detrimental to my growth. And part of me just doesn't want to let go. It's a struggle over material things. And I believe deep down that holding on to this stuff is distracting me and slowing me down. And yet I feel frozen in the face of it.

Definitely something I need to look at. Every year I seem to make some indent in all of that, but not at the same speed at which I acquire new stuff. I'm cluttery. Probably no more than many people, but the size of my home and lack of storage space emphasizes it more. Ultimately, though, I'd like to be rid of it all. 

What are you holding on to that no longer honors and serves?

Sunday, December 30, 2012

12/31/12—Manifesting Happiness

Today's Draw: Ace of Staves from the Nigel Jackson. What do you want the New Year to bring you? What does that mean in terms of what you have to do to get it? What are you willing to give up in order to experience more happiness?

Since this is the last post of 2012, I asked for a card to indicate what we should consider as we move forward into 2013. Although the Ace of Staves might normally mean new thoughts and ideas or communication, this one screams to me, "higher thought". Lifting ourselves up higher. 

Many will wish for more peace, joy and happiness as we enter the New Year. And those are fabulous things to hope for. But I think the real secret to getting those things is to first understand where they come from. They come from detaching ourselves from our egos...that part of us that seeks fulfillment and approval from things outside of ourselves. Happiness and peace come from letting go of the petty things that run through our minds and manifest in our actions. And they come from living in the moment, instead of obsessing over something that happened five minutes or five years ago. 

In other words, peace, joy and happiness do not just descend upon us as a divine gift from God, they're gifts we give ourselves through honest assessment and conscious choice. They come from being willing to let go of behaviors that ultimately leave us feeling empty, ashamed, angry, frustrated, etc. 

An example for me would be disengaging from drama. I've put a lot of effort into that in recent years. That sometimes means setting aside the need for being right in order to fulfill the need for peace. It sometimes means resisting the habit to take everything personally in order to create a new habit that leads to happiness. Sometimes it means looking away when you see some sort of juicy train wreck of a meltdown happening online. And it sometimes means clearing out friendships and affiliations that still support your old drama-loving ways. In short, it takes hard choices and work. 

That is the reality of finding things like happiness and peace. They don't come from the outside and swaddle you in their warm arms, making everything right. They come slowly, in phases, over the years as you lift your thoughts, words and deeds ever higher. 

Lately I've found that my lack of motivation and discipline have been fueling unhappiness. So that's what I've put out into the universe this year...a desire to build my motivation and discipline day by day so I can make more positive changes in my life. Discipline sounds like such an unappealing thing, but I find that it makes me feel grounded and good about myself. Doing this blog daily is a discipline, for example. Making your bed each morning is a discipline. Personally, I know that the happier times of my life were times where I had discipline, motivation and vision. A lack of vision has never been my problem, but the other two have. 

So, while trying to manifest more self-discipline may not sound as exciting as manifesting happiness, they're really the same, as far as I'm concerned. The person who asks for more happiness will be faced with countless opportunities this year to move away from ego and move toward their higher self. So it's six of one, half dozen of the other. But I think a key part of greeting those opportunities successfully is having the self knowledge and self honesty to even know what they look like. 

Had I focused on happiness, instead releasing drama, the past couple of years, I might have misinterpreted why all the juicy drama opportunities presented themselves to me. And I might have indulged more often, deciding that a bit of drama here and there makes me happy. And I'll admit, it's fun. I'm sure heroin is fun, too...haha. But ultimately, neither of them fuel long-term happiness.

So that's just something to consider as you think about how you want 2012 to be different from 2013. We all want to be happier, of course. But what is it that really blocks you feeling that way? Sometimes it's a behavior or habit that's hard to see. In actuality, it's probably a number of things. So it may serve you to look inside and really be straight with yourself about how you get in your own way. That way when the opportunities come along to choose happiness or the same-old, same-old, you'll know what those opportunities look like. 

Friday, December 28, 2012

12/29/12-12/30/12—Letting Go of the Old

Weekend Reading: Death from the Morgan Greer. Could there be any more appropriate card for the year end? The Death card comes to speak of endings and new beginnings. Anytime you want to bring something new into your life, as you may do with your New Year's resolutions, you have to let go of the old way of being. That's the message Death brings...that's it's time to shed your old ways to make room for fresh new growth. So as you consider what you might want bring into being in the New Year, consider also what you need to let go of in order to make that happen. And honor the letting go. Whatever it is, it's something that once served you and it deserves respect. 

Thursday, December 27, 2012

12/28/12—Manifesting for the New Year

Today's Draw Classic*: Five of Pentacles from the Druidcraft Tarot. Do you suspect your thoughts may be defeating you? Do you generally come from a place of gratitude or lack? And would you rather have more money...or a greater feeling of wealth?

Tonight I'm putting together a New Year's manifestation ceremony that will take place during tomorrow's full moon. So when I stopped to pull a card for tonight's draw, I got the Five of Pentacles. Realizing the message I would give was the same as in this post from last February, I'm reprinting it with some revisions. In this week's theme, it's something to consider as we move forward into the New Year. 

The Five of Pentacles is usually a card of poverty or material loss of some sort...loss of a job, a poorly planned shopping spree or the effects of divorce. More often than not, however, when this card comes up in a reading it indicates a "poverty mindset." This woman wears beautiful, clean robes. She sports a richly bejeweled sash. Her hair is well kept, her skin pristine. She stands at the base of a budding tree. The sun shines brightly on rich, green hillside. In the background a hound is in hot pursuit of a hare. There is no poverty or material loss in this picture...except in her mind.

Poverty mindsets can happen to anyone. It doesn't matter how much you earn or how much you have saved. A poverty mindset is more about focusing on what you don't have than what you do have. And once it has you in its grips, it can literally limit any possibility you have of having more—more money, more love, more anything. Given the time and opportunity, one loss, perceived or otherwise, can act like a cancer in your life, penetrating every corner. You literally think your way into depression. And the more you focus on loss, the more you lose.

In metaphysics, it's called the Law of Attraction. It's a theory based on the belief that like attracts like. The spiritual piece to this belief is that, whatever you focus on, God or the universe will give you more of. So whatever energies you send out, will be returned to you. Therefore, if you think "I have more than everything I need," the universe will send you MORE "more than everything you need". If you think, "I don't have enough money", the universe will send you MORE "not enough money". After all, if it's what you're focusing on, it must be what you want.

Of course, much of it can be attributed to simple psychology. If you practice gratitude, you'll feel more abundant because you'll be focusing on what you have, instead of what you don't have. Conversely, if you focus on what you don't have, you'll feel more lack. Then whatever state you focus on is the one you'll carry out into the world and the one the world will respond to. Would you rather hire someone who feels like a loser or a winner? So even if you don't believe in the spiritual piece, the theory works regardless.

If you want to start putting this to work in your life, 1) begin by watching your thoughts and replacing the "negative" thoughts with positive ones. If you're not sure you're wording things correctly, put "I want more" in front of the thought. So if you want to exercise more and think "I need to exercise more", the universe will give you more reason to need to exercise. So a better way of saying it would be, at the very least, "I am exercising more" and, optimally, "I exercise the right amount for optimal physical and mental health." The important thing is to choose the statement you can most buy into and believe in.

Personally, I like to choose a thought that includes the word "feel"..."I feel healthy and fit", for example. Because, for me, it's not usually the "thing" that I want, but the feeling that comes along with it. And if you feel healthy and fit, you will protect that feeling by eating and doing the right things. As another example, having a million dollars in and of itself won't make you feel flush. If you win the money, it comes with tax issues and long-lost-cousins-finding-you issues. So asking for a million dollars when you really want to feel like you have more than enough money could actually work against you. Chances are, you want the feeling more than the money. So ask for the feeling and let the universe decide how to give it to you.

Then the next piece of this is 2) trust that it's going to happen. Don't obsess over your thought. State it once or twice a day, and then just trust that it will come to you. Then, 3) have gratitude for whatever comes. Sometimes interim steps have to happen before you can get what you want, so trust that whatever comes is in divine order and be grateful for it, even if it doesn't look like you thought it would. Finally, 4) move toward your goal, even if it means just planning at first. But set a plan, send out those resumes, go for that walk, whatever.

Like I said, it's a discipline, so if you try it for three days, then fall back into old habits, it's not the principles that didn't work. It's you. If you really want change, you'll take the steps necessary to make it happen. And if you take the steps necessary, you'll be showing the universe you're serious about this and you'll begin to see results.

*Adapted from a post made on 2/27/12.

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

12/27/12—Preparing For The New Cycle

Today's Draw: The Silverware Drawer (Judgment) from the Kitchen Tarot. How do you use the energies of year end and year beginning to re-create yourself? Or do you see December 31 and January 1 as no more significant than other dates when it comes to that? Do you review the previous year and set intentions for the new year?

I got this fabulous majors-only deck for a steal on the Hay House site recently and I'm glad I got it. I love decks with writing on them and this deck is created with visible and too-small-to-be-visible writing all over it. In fact, the artwork is made out of lines of writing. 

I feel like this week's entries are all about things we should consider as we head into the new year. Today's card is, in many ways, another iteration of the one we had on Christmas Day. It asks us to sort out the old year and make a fresh start in the new. It asks to look at the criticisms we've received as a conduit for our own growth. To step away from petty thoughts and make choices based on the greater good. To look through all aspects of our lives and raise our game. 

The Silverware Drawer is a tool box full of items to help us cut things out of our lives, move them around some, spoon things carefully and whisk toward our desires. We all have these tools, but are we using them effectively?

This card is asking us to really take a good, honest look at ourselves. Not to be righteous. Not to insist the problem belongs to anyone else. But to really take sober stock of where we are and what our intentions are. To acknowledge what we have control over. In essence, to grow up and stop playing games, stop living in denial and take responsibility for who, what and where we are in our lives. 

It's a process that really never ends. It seems like each "self correction" shows you where you're out of alignment elsewhere. 

Years ago I tried folding some origami and the lesson I got from it was pretty profound...each new fold depends on the precise execution of the previous fold. If you're off just a hair, the next fold will be off and the next until you're left with a hinky swan with one wing shorter and a different color than the other. 

So sometimes we have to go back and fix our folds. Which means we have to find the first hinky fold and re-work our swan from there. Some will prefer to float along with mis-matched, poorly operational wings because it's easier than accepting that something's broken. It takes a lot of courage and humility to fess up to our lazy, rushed or misinformed handiwork. And sometimes it's really hard to make a new fold right alongside the old one. But in the end you'll have something that's better equipped to swim surely to wherever it wants to go. 

Tuesday, December 25, 2012

12/26/12—Aligning Your Vision With Your Desires

Today's Draw: The Seer, The Whip and The Stars from the Tattered Nomad Oracle by Shaheen Miro. What is it that you really want? Are the messages you're putting out to the universe in your words and deeds in conflict with that? How do you interpret this threesome using the meanings below?

The Tattered Nomad Oracle is a Lenormand deck and I'm working on reading Lenormand better. One of the things I'm learning is that, even though each card has a set meaning, eight different readers will interpret a reading eight different ways. 

Lenormand reading is different from tarot reading in many ways. One is that you don't read Lenormand intuitively in the way you read tarot. There's still some intuition in it, because there's a voice inside your head that tells you how to parse the Lenormand "sentence". But you don't look at the card and use the image intuitively. The card's meaning is the card's meaning. 

Another difference comes in that "sentence" I mentioned above. Although different readers do it differently, the first card is a noun or subject of the sentence and the second two cards are adjectives or the rest of the sentence. While tarot tells a big picture story, Lenormand gives you bytes of granular information. The three-card reading I would give with tarot would be significantly longer than the one I would give with Lenormand. 

So here are the meanings for these cards: 

-----The Seer is an extra card in this deck and it corresponds to vision, prophesy and clear insight. 
-----The Whip is an interesting card because it has some broader meanings...conflict and arguments, as well as sex and physicality. 
-----The Stars relates to possibilities, wishes and dreams. 

So here's how I'm reading this:

There is a conflict between what you're visualizing/manifesting and what you really want. 

Now, this could be read a number of different ways. It could actually be saying that you have conflicting visions of what you want...maybe your heart and mind want different things. Or it could say you'll be getting insight into a conflict with achieving your dreams. Or it could even mean that you'll be experiencing the kinky sex of your dreams in your future. So, as with any divination method, you just really have to trust the idea that comes to you first. 

And the idea that came to me first—and this is an excellent thing to consider as one year comes to a close and a new one begins—is that we need to think about whether or not we're acting or manifesting in alignment with what we really want. Or are we somehow subverting the manifestation of our dreams? 

An example of this would be if you wanted to meet a loyal, new partner, for example. And you're visualizing a charming, handsome man that all the women want, but he only has eyes for you. And let's say you're a little on the insecure and jealous side. Well, you might be able to see how this a conflict between what you visualize and what you really want. If you really want a guy you can feel secure with, then you might not want to choose a guy that all the women want. Because, regardless of how loyal he may be, your insecurities may keep you from experiencing him that way.  

I know I'm frequently caught up in this kind of conflict. I *want* to lose weight, but I visualize being able to do it on a diet of unlimited chocolate, fried chicken and ice cream. What I should be visualizing is a more disciplined and active approach to the rest of my life when it comes to food. I *want* to make more progress in my book writing career, but I indulge every vision of a nap or TV marathon that enters my head. In these areas, I need to visualize some reality that's in alignment with my desires. 

The hardest thing about going for what we want is to give up the habits and expectations of what we've had. If we could get what we want doing all the same stuff we're doing now, we'd have our dreams by now. So to get what we really want, we have to visualize—and act on—a different reality than the one we have now. Does this ring true to you? How can you visualize your way to something more in alignment with what you truly want?

Sunday, December 23, 2012

12/24/12-12/25/12—Shining Brighter

Today's Draw: Nativity (Death) from the Christmas Tarot by Corrine Kenner. Whether you believe in it from a religious standpoint or not, what does the story of Christ/Christmas mean to you? What does it inspire in you? How will the power of grace move through your life this week and in the coming year?

Today's Draw is more like "Two Days Draw" today, in that it covers Christmas Eve and Christmas. This card is traditionally called Death, but in this deck is used to commemorate the nativity. Spiritually speaking, every death or ending represents the beginning of something new, just as the birth of a child represents a new way of life for both the child and the parents. 

Another aspect of Jesus and the notion of physical death is that he was eluding death from the day he was born. Mary and Joseph kept him safe as a baby, fleeing from King Herod's soldiers who were out to kill him. But, as an adult, he eventually met death on the cross. This is really the story of all of us—we are all ultimately on an unavoidable collision course with death.

That being the case, one of the morals of the story of Jesus could be: "Life is limited. Do the most good." If you are judged at the end of your days here on earth, you won't be judged by how much money you earned, how young you look or what label is on your clothes. Ego concerns are part of the old way of life that ends when you "pass back over into the light" or go to heaven or whatever your beliefs hold. 

In fact, I personally don't even think you will be judged in the afterlife. I think you'll be met with the grace, understanding, compassion, forgiveness and overflowing love of the God energy that sent you here just so you *could* make all those mistakes and learn from them. 

But if you ARE judged, it will be on the good you do. The love you give. The compassion you offer. None of those things require money or any special tools. They're things you can give right here, right now, just by accessing the light within you...the light that never dims or dies, but is constantly being reborn brighter. Even the eternal within us has its own death and rebirth. 

The beautiful thing about this gift we're given—the gift of life—is that we get to create it and recreate it infinitely...throughout eternity, really. But we also get to do that even just in the short time we're here on earth. Where today we have a sharp edge, tomorrow we can smooth it into a gentle curve. Some would call that grace or the power of God moving through us. And some might also agree that's the gift of this season. 

There are many who read my blog to whom the story of Jesus is just a story, albeit one that, to one degree or another, is based on real-life events. I remember that I loved the idea of Santa Claus as a child so much that, at a fairly young age, I decided that what was real about him was the spirit he embodied and spread in the hearts of man. From that point on, I knew Santa existed, simply because his spirit existed in my heart. 

If you, like me, are not a Christian, Jesus can be the same way. Whether he was divine or just a man really doesn't matter. It's the essence of what he represents and brings to this season that's important. We'd be remiss to allow our personal beliefs to cloud what this season is all about...the eternal light within all of us that can be born, reborn, brightened and whitened to inspire others and do more good in this world. 

For many of us, the coming week or so will offer many opportunities for reflection. Consider using some of that time to ask yourself what aspects of your current life are ready to meet the end of their cycle and what new things can be born in their place. How can you smooth the sharp edges to do the most good in your life? And how can that light within you be reborn brighter?

Friday, December 21, 2012

12/22/12-12/23/12—Making a Different Choice

Weekend Reading: Five of Fire from the Gaian Tarot. This weekend, something may be tempting you to act like a hothead or maybe even play with fire. When you feel yourself "going there", take a moment and consider what it is you might be afraid of. Anger and rage are often a mask for fear. And keep in mind the words of Ghandi..."We can let the circumstances of our lives harden us so that we become increasingly resentful and afraid. Or we can let them soften us and make us kinder. We always have the choice." Your anger is not someone else's fault. It's a choice you make. Stop and think before you blow a gasket this weekend and challenge yourself to make a different choice. 

Thursday, December 20, 2012

12/21/12—Seeing The Other Side

Today's Draw: Temperance from the Gaian. What views or beliefs are "extreme" about? On what topics do you fall more toward the center? Are you able to see the other side of the topics you're on the far right or left of?

I don't have a lot of time tonight, so I just chose a quick card asking what, if anything, 12/21/12 is about. Because if you haven't noticed, it's already Armageddon somewhere in the world. :D

Temperance is about balance. It's about finding the middle way. So I think what it's saying is that it's time for us to move closer to center in the way we move through this world. To see more of the "other side". To not be so extreme in our opinions and views. 

You may be very balanced in certain areas of your life and thinking, but there other places where you've taken a definitive stand somewhere to the right or left of center and dug a hole. This card just asks you to consider a more balanced view. It's not asking us all to think and be alike. It's asking us to soften our grip and allow more possibilities in. 

Wars and fights and hatred all break out between the folks at either side of extremes. Compromise is hard to come by at extremes. The closer people are to center, the less there is to have conflict over...the more opportunity for compromise. 

Temperance is a card of alchemy, of blending opposites. We have opposites within ourselves, too. Now is the time for us to begin to see all sides as having merit. We can still have our opinions and our stand, but when we can really listen to the other guy and understand where he's coming from—when we put our passion and need to be right aside—we can begin to see that point at which their side and our side meets. And from there we may be able to build more peace, cooperation and understanding within ourselves and within the world. 

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

12/20/12—Questioning Everything

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Today's Draw: The Fool: Percival from the Glastonbury Tarot. Are you someone who asks a lot of questions? Do you tend to keep your questioning on the surface, so as not to challenge or embarrass anyone? Or does your curiosity often lead you into potentially embarrassing rabbit holes?

Percival was one of King Arthur's knights. And he totally blew his first chance at securing the Holy Grail. Why? Because, even though he was curious about the goings on at a castle he was staying at, he didn't ask any questions that would satisfy his curiosity. He didn't want to be considered impolite. 

As you may have noticed, every Daily Draw starts with three questions. They're not always comfortable questions. A huge part of my job as a writer is asking questions and getting to the root of peoples' businesses. Sometimes I ask questions about things businesses don't want to talk about. But I need to know a company's strengths AND weaknesses in order to word things in such a way that it honestly presents the business in its best light. I can't do that effectively without knowing the whole story. 

So I'm a questioner from way back. Of course, I do my best to not be rude or invasive, but that doesn't mean I can't still ask the question. I owe my questioning nature to three things:

  • Teachers who encouraged us to ask question by reassuring us there were no stupid questions.
  • Stumbling upon the notion of "if you want something, ask for it." I was always afraid to ask for what I wanted until I tried. It's amazing how simple a solution it is! :D
  • My own natural intellectual curiosity. I don't know what came career or the curiosity...but the two have worked together in tandem and I think now my "minimum amount of information needed to get rid of me" may be higher than the average joe's.  

I have a pretty good BS meter, too. It sometimes doesn't kick in until after we're done talking, but when things don't add up, I feel it throughout my body. I'm not a good person to talk to if you want to be a victim or be in denial because I will hone in on the "truth" fairly quickly. I've had more than one person tell me that when they want someone to feel sorry for them, they call someone else. And when they want to hear the truth, they call me. All of that comes from the questioning, curious nature inside me. 

I say all of this because we often think of The Fool as being the guy who leaps before he looks and trusts the universe will guide him safely down. But he's also the guy who starts out on the journey of self awareness and awareness of the world around him that is the major arcana of the tarot. He is on a journey of discovery. Discovery requires curiosity. And curiosity relies on questions. 

There was a time, like Percival, that I held back on the questions out of some sort of anxiety. But that time is long past and I feel comfortable now. Like anything else, sometimes the timing will be off or someone will take offense. Those times teach you. You get a feel for how and how far to question someone. You get a sense for who might open up a little and who just has too many walls up. And you learn to respect others in pursuit of your curiosity. But even so you're still going to have times when you cringe because you stepped in a poo of your own making. 

When it comes down to asking an impolite question about something you feel a need to know about vs. not asking the question because you might be considered impolite, though, I'd go for the former every time. The only regrets I have about questions are regrets about the ones I never asked. 

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

12/19/12—Being The Ant

Today's Draw: #58 from the Golden Moth Illumination Deck by Aijung Kim. What value and import do you place on community? How much do you give to your community? Do you feel there's room in your life to kick it up a notch?

You may remember this deck from last week where there was a cracked egg visual. Oddly, that same card is the card I chose first tonight. So I chose again and got the ants. I want to use this card to talk some about community, but first I wanted to impart some ant trivia. 

  • The ant has the largest brain, in proportion to its size, in the animal kingdom. 
  • The little dude can lift 50x his weight and pull 30x times his weight (you'd think he could pull more than he can lift, but I guess not.)
  • Ants can yawn. 
  • An ant can live for up to two weeks under water. They're hard to drown because water can't penetrate their miniscule breathing tubes. 
  • Ants have two stomachs—one for their own needs and one to feed others. 

This last bit of trivia kind of dovetails with the community thing I was going to talk about. Ant colonies are strong communities where everyone works for the common good. In a way, they create socialist societies. And the understanding that runs those societies has, in part, made them one of earth's most successful species. They have roamed the earth for more than 100 million years and there are more than 20,000 species of ants living in nearly every climate on earth.

Everything I've ever read about survival and the success of the human race has stressed the importance of community. I've been thinking about the idea of community more and more lately. I'm a little of a loner and I like it that way. So the idea of my survival depending on me being part of a community scares me a little. But perhaps not as much as being alone in a survival situation does.

This thought of having two to feed yourself and one to feed others...seems to me to be the epitome of community and dedication. In humans, it's what happens during pregnancy and after birth where a mother shares her nutrients with her child. It's also kind of what people like Oprah and Bill Gates do when they share so much of their wealth with others.

For a long time now, I've devoted part of my life to helping others in one way or another. I was a literacy and ESL volunteer for many years. I lead free meetups for people wanting to learn tarot. I make blog posts to help others think more consciously about their lives. There is no such thing as being selfless. There's nothing we do that doesn't have some sort of payoff for us, even it just makes us feel good about our walk on earth. I know I've always gotten more back than I give.

But I don't have an extra stomach set aside to feed another. That's kicking it up a notch. Or three...haha. So it's got me thinking. Part of the path we've chosen to walk is that we kick it up a notch when we start to feel comfortable or when we see we might be lacking.

I love my lone wolf life. I have friends and family and they are part of my community. But I'm thinking more and more about how to feel more a part of my local community, as well as the larger community of man in more of that extra stomach way. I see a lot of "what best serves Tierney" going on in my life. And while I don't think that's any different than most people around me, I do believe I can do better. 

Monday, December 17, 2012

12/18/12—Contemplating The End Of All Life As We Know It

Today's Draw: The Tower from the Morgan Greer. How do you think humanity will end? When do you think this will happen? And, on a scale of 1 to 100, how much anxiety do you have over 12/21/12?

Today I cheated. I didn't randomly choose this card. I chose it on purpose because I wanted to say a few things about 12/21/12. 

Unless you've been living under a pickle barrel, you probably know that this is the date that the Mayan calendar ends. It's otherwise known as "this coming Friday". And people have interpreted it as the day the world ends, the day the world changes and, I'm sure, the day the world feels foolish for believing it was anything other than just plain, old Friday. 

The interesting thing is that the closer it gets, the less people seem to be talking about it. I'm not sure why that is, but it's probably because people are focused on just getting through today, as usual. And with the holidays on top of that, the date is not top of mind. 

I do believe something is happening in the world. I believe we're polarizing on a number of different poles. There are the warmongers and the peaceniks. The religious right and the "spiritually creative". The conscious and the unconscious. The poles go on and on. 

Of the above, I consider myself a conscious, spiritually creative peacenik. And I feel threatened by those at the other end of the poles, because they don't have my interests at heart. I think that's natural. I see that they feel threatened by me, too. Anyone who has diametrically opposed views to your own is a threat to causing a tower moment in your life...a moment where your world comes crashing down around you. 

We build towers and walls and structures to keep outside forces at bay. We do it out of an illusion of control. I call it an illusion because we think can and do have control over our lives, but we don't. If Iran has nukes, we might all be living in a different world tomorrow. We don't have control. Nor do they have control over the hell that will rain down upon them if they ever use the nukes. We can't control soccer moms from driving high on Ritalin, or telemarketers from calling or young men from mowing down a classroom of first graders. 

Sometimes life feels like a mine field that we walk through each day, just trying to do the least amount of damage. I'm not really sure at what I'm getting at here...haha. But regardless of what 12/21/12 is all about, we have no control over it. But what we might be able to do for ourselves and for millions of years of humanity henceforth, is to be more tolerable. Be kind to those who do not have our interests at heart. To open our hearts to them anyway. To see them as more than just someone sitting on the opposite side of the pole from you. 

There are some things that are universal enough to be considered universal. One is that we all want to know we matter. We all want to feel special in some way. We all want to be heard. We all want to be able to do the best for ourselves, even if we get in our own way doing it. We all want our families to be safe. We all have struggles. We all want a chance and a second chance. We all have shortcomings. We all want to be loved and accepted anyway. 

If we can remember that and connect with others from that point of commonality, we could make a difference. There will always be "bad guys". We will find that this young man in CT had a mental illness, just as is true about most mass murderers and serial killers. There will always be people with mental illness. We can't control them. We can help them, but we can't keep towers from being knocked down. There will always be those who slip through the cracks. 

Maybe I'm too idealistic, but I do believe we can raise the energy of mankind through tolerance and opening our hearts and minds to others. Will the guy at the other end of the pole follow suit? Maybe. Maybe he needs to be shown how. Maybe he needs to see it a hundred times before he tries himself. But that doesn't mean those of us who are capable of putting our need to control aside shouldn't do it. It's precisely why we should. 

Anyway, a lot of people think that this realization is what 12/21/12 is all about...entering a new era of consciousness. I believe it, but more than I believe it, I hope for it. When you compare us to the dinosaurs, we haven't been here very long. We've existed less than half a percent as long as they did. They were here 150-200 million years. When you absorb that and see what a state we've gotten ourselves into, you can see how man's "superiority" is really just putting us on a fast-track to extinction. I really don't think we can live another 150 million years treating each other the way we do. 

There was a lot of good response about yesterday's call for kindness. This is really just another plea, worded differently. I believe myself and the people who read this blog are among those are called to lead the way. And that means really thinking about the way we carry ourselves through the world. It means choosing peace over choosing the need to be right. 

Oh, and in answer to my own question, I'm going to put my anxiety over 12/21/12 at 15. I don't really believe it will be the end of the world or the end of life as we know it. But it is a little creepy that such a wise and advanced race ended the calendar on that date. And you just really never know. That said, I'm making plans for the weekend and I imagine Friday will be well under way before I think about what day it is. :)

Sunday, December 16, 2012

12/17/12—Being The Change

Today's Draw: The Elder of Water from the Gaian Tarot by Joanna Powell Colbert. Do you talk to strangers when you're out and about? Or do you just stand quietly in the grocery store line, possibly even checking your phone? How often in your daily life do you find opportunities to serve?

There's a special brand of stillness that comes at dawn and dusk. At dusk, the water will calm and all the day's noisy little critters will quieten and settle in their nests. At dawn, you find the world in the depths of its repose, just about to slowly awaken and get about the day's business. There exists a similar place inside of you that you can access anytime through meditation and practice. Sitting in silence at those liminal times of the day and attuning yourself to the vibe of nature can help you build that muscle. 

So many of us forget the importance of injecting peace and stillness into our days. Some may not even know how. It doesn't happen when you're watching TV or knitting, though you can enter a trance-like state doing anything. But true peace and stillness goes beyond a trance-like state. It comes from stilling our body, mind and emotions and just...being. There in the midst of all the nothing is where peace is found. 

I've talked about meditation here a million times. I'm not going to talk about it today. But I mention it because if we manage to find a way to reset ourselves every clear the galleys and go to that holy place inside us...we're in a better position to do what we've come here to do—serve. 

I think we've forgotten that. We have so much on our minds just trying to serve the demands of daily life...job, family, logistics. Of course, we're serving others when we do our work or take care of our family. But that's not just what I'm talking about. Nor am I talking about putting a check into an envelope, though that is service, too. 

What I'm talking about is more of a lifestyle of realizing that common kindnesses and thoughtful discourse can make a huge impression on someone. Of course, so can something more active like volunteering at a local charity. But what I'm really getting at is making a concerted effort to realize that any moment in our lives can change the life of another in some positive way. And I believe we're in a better position to do that if we're able to return back to source at some time each day and remember the special beings we are and have come here to be. 

We have no way of knowing when a smile or a kind word of ours will hit someone at a critical moment. I was recently talking to someone about the experiences we had in our lives that made a huge impact on us, but the other person didn't even remember saying it. You've all experienced something like that. Just the act of engaging another person holds so much potential for service. 

It's not like I'm thinking we all walk around like sad sacks all the time. But I do believe we all walk around "unconscious" much of the time. Distracted by thoughts of what needs to be done. Or with our head buried in an electronic device. Or too shy to tell the woman in front of you that you like her scarf. These are the moments I'm talking about...the moments that are ripe for potential for service. 

They don't take any extra time out your day. You were going to open the door anyway, why not hold it open for someone? You're standing in line anyway, why not compliment the person in front of you? You were walking down the street anyway, why not make eye contact with someone and smile?

Sometimes you'll be awkward. Sometimes the person will look at you like you're interrupting them from something. And sometimes you'll be the only other human contact that person has had all day. Or you'll help them turn their day around just by making them smile. Or you'll say something offhand that is actually quite profound to them in the moment. Over time you'll get the hang of it. 

Really all I'm talking about is engaging total strangers...or chatting with acquaintances that seem to need to talk...or just making eye contact and smiling at someone, ferchrissakes. You'll never know if or how you made an impression. And it doesn't matter. Because I promise you, this practice will make you feel more alive and connected. And over time it will turn you into a more accepting, compassionate and kind person who does stuff like this automatically all of the time. This is what is meant by "be the change you want to see in this world." Let the change start with you. 

Friday, December 14, 2012

12/15/12-12/16/12—Pacing Yourself

Weekend Reading: Ten of Wands from the Mermaid Tarot. Regular Life + Holiday Planning and Stress = Feeling Overburdened. And with just 10 days before the big day, you're likely to feel that way this weekend. So have a plan in place to do something to take care of yourself this weekend. Make sure you take that bubble bath. Fit in that yoga class. Stop and enjoy a coffee. Do something to equalize that stressed, oppressed and overburdened feeling. Sometimes we invest so much of ourselves in the planning of a holiday that we're too depleted to really enjoy ourselves and soak in the spirit of the season. Pacing yourself and taking mental breaks now will pay off when the holiday comes and you're "there" to enjoy it. 

Thursday, December 13, 2012

12/14/12—Polishing Your Shine

Today's Draw: Seven of Gats (Wands) from the Dark Carnival Tarot by Rachel Paul. Are you a target for haters? Are you a hater yourself? Is there someone out there trying to take away your shine?

I thought about this deck for a long time before I got it, because I wasn't sure I would like it. It's very much like the Joker from the Dark Knight...manic and crazy. That's not really my vibe. But what eventually won me over is the humor that lies beneath the cards and presents itself in the book. 

The Seven of Gats corresponds to Wands. Evidently "gat" is a synonym for gun. Wands are fire and energy and the deck's creator identifies gats as modern fire power. While the Seven of Wands would signify conflict and struggle, the Seven of Gats signifies, "haters trying to stop your shine." Haha. 

I love that. It feels like my life has been marked by haters trying to stop my shine. If the haters weren't hating on me for my weight, they were hating on me for some other aspect of who I am. Most of the haters in my life have been who had some sort of power over me. Either they were a boss or a lover or a relative—men I sought approval from on some level. 

It always fascinated me that these people never picked on me for my intelligence or competency. They might use those things against me (as in "watch out for her. She's smart, so she can trick you into something without you even realizing it,") but nobody has ever called me stupid or incompetent. Or if they did, it never even so much as caused a blip on my radar. 

However, when I was thin, there were those who called me fat. When I was feeling good, there were those who said I was off balance. When I was genuine, there were those who called me manipulative..things like that. And each of those comments would succeed in "stopping my shine" to one degree or another. 

Slowly I came to learn—and am still learning—that the reason they never picked on me for certain things is because I was very secure in those things. There was no tender area to poke. There was something in my aura that told them those would be fruitless avenues. It was, instead, the things that I was insecure about that they chose to pick on. Or, more accurately, it was my insecurities that chose them as the ones whose opinions counted in my life. 

I know what you're thinking—"But, Tierney, you're a glamorous blogger, beloved in places like Finland. Your work is published daily on the World Wide Web and seen by as many as 100 people. You're so proud of your neuroses that you've written over 600 blog posts about them over the years. What could you possibly be insecure about?" Well, as it turns out, I'm insecure about a number of things. Glamor and all, I'm no different than you. ;)

Which brings us back to the haters. It really is true that nobody can hate on you without your permission. Because you're the one that decides how your body and emotions...your psyche...absorb the "hate". You are the one that views the exchange as either hate or criticism against you, or self-hatred, anger, fear or pain on the part of the attacker. 

And when you're hating on someone else...being critical or causing disruption in another's life—regardless of how much you think the other person "deserves" it—you're not really hating on them. You're using them as a dart board upon which to fling your own inner dislike, anger, fear or pain. Again, regardless of how much you think the other person "deserves" it. Because people who have healed their own pains, fears and dislikes have far too much compassion and empathy for the path of healing to intentionally inflict pain on others. 

A friend of mine recently reminded me that I get to choose how to use the conflicts and upsets that come into my life. I can use them as an invitation to feel bad about myself and feed the pains that keep me chained to the cycle of "losing my shine". Or I can see them as projections made by others—or even made by myself upon myself—and allow myself the confidence of knowing I'm ok just the way I am. Because regardless of how many people come into your life with their belittling comments, and regardless of how many "idiots" there are out there that need to be put in their place by you, there is only one true hater and one "hated" in your life. And both of them are you. 

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

12/13/12—Letting Go Of The Shore

Today's Draw: Ace of Wands from the Wild Unknown Tarot. Do you feel a change happening in the world? Are you prepared to demand more from yourself? Are you ready to let go of your safety nets?

The Ace of Wands is a card of insight and inspiration. And, on my way back from a meeting tonight, I was listening to a CD that was talking about the Hopi Elder Prophecy. I'd heard the words before, but considered them differently tonight. 

This message was created in our generation, for our generation by elders from the Hopi tribe. And it dovetails with the idea that our personal and spiritual evolutions are quickening. This whole 12/21/12 Mayan Prophecy thing is considered by many to really just indicate a time where enter into a new phase of being in the world. It's a process, not a specific happening...a tipping point if you will. And this Hopi message complements it nicely:
You have been telling the people that this is the eleventh hour. Now you must go back and tell the people that this is THE hour.  And there are things to be considered : 
Where are you living? What are you doing? What are your relationships? Are you in right relation? Where is your water?
Know your garden. It is time to speak your truth. Create your community. Be good to each other. And do not look outside yourself for the leader. 
There is a river flowing now very fast.  It is so great and swift that there are those who will be afraid.  They will try to hold on to the shore. They will feel they are torn apart and will suffer greatly. 
Know the river has its destination.  The elders say we must let go of the shore, push off into the middle of the river, keep our eyes open, and our heads above water.   And I say, see who is in there with you and celebrate.  At this time in history, we are to take nothing personally, least of all ourselves.  For the moment that we do,  our spiritual growth and journey comes to a halt. 
The time for the lone wolf is over.  Gather yourselves!  Banish the word struggle from your attitude and your vocabulary.  All that we do now must be done in a sacred manner and in celebration.  
We are the ones we've been waiting for.

There is so much in this message to contemplate. And so much of it depends on our personal perspective on the questions it asks and the challenges it poses. It asks us to take a personal inventory of where we are in our lives. To say the things we hold back from saying. To let go of our safety nets. To conquer our fears. 

I can't speak for other countries, but I feel like we've lost sight of our priorities in the US. Those who criticize us for our capitalism and wanton ways are right. We place far too much emphasis on the material things that feed our ego—the things that feed our desires. And we place far too little emphasis on the things that feed our soul. We look everywhere but within for the answer to our happiness. 

For me, one key idea from this message is that of letting go of the things we hold on to...material accomplishments and items, mindsets, personal stories, the concept of right and wrong. Another is that taking life and ourselves personally is a block to our spiritual evolution—that's a big one. And, of course, the last one....that we are the answer. We are the solution. We are the only heroes who will ride in on their white horses to save us. 

What does all of this inspire in you?

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

12/12/12—Righting a Past Wrong

Today's Draw: The Daughter of Swords from the Wild Unknown Tarot. Have you ever gotten a second chance to right some bad karma you created for yourself with a partner? Do you ever look back on ways you've treated yourself and others with sorrow or regret? Whatever happened to your most passionate lover?

It's interesting that the "classic" post I chose for yesterday was one about gathering all the little bits of "stardust" or clues that present in your life to point you toward where you need to go. Because little did I know at the time...less than 24 hours ago...that a bunch of dust was accumulating to lead me to a shocking revelation—one that I'm sure I'll be processing for some time. 

Twenty years ago I had a "fated" relationship with a guy named Jack. We were absolutely meant to be in each others' lives, but that didn't mean our relationship would be a good or healthy one. It was one of those "can't live with him, can't live without him" relationships—passionate, intimate, hungering. It lasted for the better part of two years and, ultimately, it wrote upon the soul of who I was in ways both good and bad.

Jack was a talented artist. And there was a pastel he had done as a teenager of a tiger that was really beautiful. It was a focal piece in his apartment and it meant a lot to him. To me, it had become symbolic of him. 

Jack wasn't a good financial steward. And when our relationship was deteriorating, he needed money. I gave it to him for the tiger. It wasn't a kind move on my part as much as it was opportune. I knew, somewhere inside me, I wanted that tiger simply because it meant so much to him. He had taken so much of me in that relationship, now I was taking something of him. I hate admitting that, but that's where I was at the time. 

The tiger has always had a place on a wall in my home, not unlike a stuffed head from some trophy kill. And, over time, as I "evolved" as a human, the tiger became more of just a piece of art. Then it became something of lesser significance. Then I moved it to a wall in a room I never enter. Then I decided I no longer wanted it. But I couldn't destroy it or shove it in a closet to collect dust. So I decided, one day, I would find a way to get it to his son, the little boy (now a nearly 30 year old man) we cared for on alternate weekends. But my desire to avoid interaction with anyone in that family has, thus far, outweighed my desire to do right by the tiger (and my personal karma). 

For some, this would be an insignificant issue. I've known women who have done awful things in vengeance and in spite. Many, I'm sure, would have gotten rid of the darned thing by now, not in a mean way, but just to be rid of it. Regardless of how damaged this relationship left me, though, that Tiger was loved by someone I had once loved. And it should remain in his family. I wouldn't feel right mindlessly tossing away someone's heirloom. I had that done to me when my father died and I know what "things" that have no measurable material value mean to the bereaved. 

Anyway, in the last four or five days, things have repeatedly happened to remind me of Jack. I saw something that reminded me of him in a drug store. I drew a Tiger card for this past weekend's reading. I had a dream where he was trying to tell me something and I wouldn't listen. And, finally, last night I saw a man who reminded me of him. Especially after the dream, it began to eat at me. All these years without really thinking of him and here I am unable to shake him. 

So, hopped up on iced tea, not able to sleep and with all this "stardust" floating around in my brain, I googled him. About a month ago, he was riding his motorcycle at a high rate of speed, crossed the yellow line and careened head on into an SUV. The accident was so violent it broke his bike in half and sent his body all the way into the cabin of the SUV. He died instantly. 

All of this leads to the Daughter of Swords. She is insightful. She is wise. And she wields her weapon judiciously. Twenty years ago when I, effectively, used his treasured possession as a pawn in our relationship, I did not wield my weapon judiciously. And now I have another chance. I may legally own that Tiger, but, in my heart, it's not rightfully mine. It belongs to his son. And it's time to figure out a way to get it to him. I think that's what all the stardust was coming to tell me. It's time let go entirely. In more ways than one. 

Monday, December 10, 2012

12/11/12—Peering Into Our Trail of Stardust

Today's Draw Classic*: Ace of Wands from the Science Tarot—Nebula. Is there something you're doing right now based solely on gut instinct? When you look back on your life, do you see a lot of "clues" that haven't yet materialized into anything? What do you see in your trail of stardust?

The book for this deck says, "apparently from nothing, the star stuff comes together and begins to take shape. But what will become of this gathering of dust, this mass of potential, this nebulous form just beginning to emerge?"

The Ace of Wands signals a beginning of some creative effort...the first steps into a sea of possibilities. Maybe you're just now thinking of pursuing a new hobby. That thought is a speck of stardust. The class you're taking? That hunch your following? Another speck. And another speck. 

Sometimes we don't know what we're building until it's half built. After ten years of working in advertising agencies, I stunned myself by making a split-second decision to become a freelancer. In the very moment I made my decision, I realized it was the trajectory I'd been on my entire career. A minute before, I was clueless. A minute afterward, I had a calling. True story. And when I looked back on the previous ten years, all the specks of stardust leading me there became visible in ways I hadn't seen before. 

That was 15 years ago. And now I'm seeing another trail of stardust gathering with these blogs and other work I'm doing. It hasn't quite formed into anything tangible yet. I'm not sure what I'm doing or why. But I'm following my instinct. 

I think we all have times in our lives that we wonder what the heck we're doing it all for. Our path may seem fruitless, thankless or unforgiving. But we're throwing out specks of stardust and, somewhere out of our view, something is, nonetheless, in the process of forming. 

We may have no idea what we're doing, but we can still maintain control over the energy those specks are wrapped up in. Are they wrapped in bitterness? Exhaustion? Hopelessness? Or are they wrapped like the gift they are?

This is the second time this week that stardust has been a part of this reading. I have no idea why. But maybe it's a clue that there's magic afoot for us. Even if it's not, we can still proceed like there is, though.

I often think back to that day 15 years ago when I made a life-changing decision, seemingly out of the blue. Calling the days and weeks after it blessed or freeing or magic just doesn't seem to do it justice. Everything suddenly made sense and I had complete trust and faith I wasn't being led down this path to fail. Over the past five years I've done a number of things just from my gut without needing to know why. This blog, a series of meditations by the river and all this poking around into tarot teaching and book writing are among them. All specks of stardust gathering into a form I can't quite make out, but sense this year will bring into greater clarity.

What might your own stardust be telling you?

*From a post made on 1/18/12