Friday, January 27, 2012

The Week of 1/29—Holding a Space for the Breathtaking Unimaginable

I've become quite adept at hearing nothing lately. Either that or I'm going deaf. 

It all started when I began poking around a former President's home at sunrise...

The place is called Riverside Park. As you would expect, it's a park along the river...the Potomac River. And it's right at a bend, which makes everything more spectacular. It's part of what was once George Washington's property and it flanks the grounds of Mount Vernon today. Just beyond the trees there in the picture is George's home. He had impeccable taste, because there is something very special about this particular stretch of land. 

But before I get to that, I should mention that people truck in from surrounding zip codes just to see the sunsets at this park. They're spectacular, and if you're in the area on a fair day, I highly recommend catching one.

Riverside Park is situated along the GW Parkway. The Parkway runs through Northern Virginia, from Mount Vernon to McLean, cutting a swath across the Beltway, the DC area's circumferential highway. But it's more than a way to get from point A to point B. It is a breathtaking scenic highway, along which you can see spring's cherry blossoms against a backdrop of DC's monuments, July's fireworks reflecting on the Potomac and a display of fall color that, after summer's oppressive heat, reminds you why you live here.

As you can imagine, the GW Parkway is a significant route into DC and through the surrounding area. You have to at least cross it to reach DC from VA and you pretty much have to be on it to get to and from National Airport. Plus there's a bike path that runs along it. So it's well populated. With Riverside Park being maybe 100 yards off the parkway, "quiet" is not a word most people would use for this park. But what I discovered is that's it's only because they're not listening. 

Sunset over George's home comes with added magic.
I mentioned before about how popular sunsets are there. That's why I prefer the sunrises. I get to feel like I have the river all to myself. And the magic I discovered there soon after becoming a "regular" is that the loudness of the silence there drowns out the loudness of the noise.

I'm a big fan of quiet and have always sought it out in remote places. But even there you have to learn how to listen beneath the chirping birds and rustling leaves to hear the silence. Yet at Riverside Park, it's practically unavoidable, despite the cars whizzing by just paces away. I don't think I was conscious of hearing it it when I first started going there, but after a while you can't NOT hear it.

Now, I'm not talking about a quiet day. This is something even quieter than 3am after a heavy snowfall. This is the sound of complete stillness. The sound of creation. If there was a sound to the eons before the universe ever existed, this sound would be it. And I discovered it for the first time as an adult at a pull off place along a busy roadway during morning rush.

For a while, that's the only place I'd experienced it outside of meditating myself to the depths of nothingness. I say "experienced" because in meditation, it's not as much a sound as it is a way of being. They're two separate, but related, forms of stillness. Merging the two can bring you to a place of ultimate creation and communion. And in that place, everything is possible.

In the past year, I've begun to experience this profound "sound of silence" in my back yard and in my home. I imagine I'll be able to hear it everywhere soon. The more you know it, the more it comes around.

Both sunrises and sunsets are spectacular along this stretch.
Recently I realized that this silence makes the stillness people seek from meditation accessible OUTSIDE the self. So you don't have to go within to get "there". All you have to do is drink in the stillness all around you. Just listen to it. That's all. 

Cool, huh? It's like hitching a ride on nature's meditation session, which runs 24/7/365.

So this week, consider opening yourself to the possibility that this endlessly renewable store of peace, stillness and silence exists out there. If you can't do that much, you'll have a hard time hearing it past the skepticism in your head.

Then go outside and make a concerted effort to hear it. Pick a quiet spot to begin with. Rivers, lakes and ponds seem to make things even quieter, but if you don't have access to any of that, choose your favorite park or sitting spot. Close your eyes. And. Just. Listen. Listen beneath the chirps. Beneath the breeze. Beneath your breath. It's there under everything.

If you don't hear it on your first or second try, don't give up. What I know is this...once you know what it sounds like, you'll recognize it more and more often. And you'll want to hear it again. Also, if you only hear it for a second, count that as a win. I've been hearing it for years and there are still times I can't hold it in my ears for more than just a flash.

If you're the kind of person with relentless chatter in your head, try going about it differently. Sit in your quiet place. Close your eyes and make a point of hearing and acknowledging everything you hear. The chirps. The wind in the bamboo. A distant car. A fly scratching his face. :) Hear EVERYTHING. And while you're at it, feel the temperature and air on your skin. Smell everything in the air. Become so hyper aware of your environment that you feel like it's your superpower. Don't try to quiet your mind, but focus it on all the sensations instead. Somewhere in there you'll be hearing so deeply you'll begin to hear the silence.

If you think you've heard it before, but weren't in awe of it, you haven't heard it yet. If you've heard it but didn't feel it permeate your body, listen again. I walked the earth as a nature lover, quiet enthusiast and hiker for 40 years without hearing it simply because I didn't know it was there to hear. Being in the middle of nowhere in and of itself won't do it for you. You have to listen beneath even that quiet. 

The reason I'm so enthusiastic about this is because it holds within it another secret I've only glossed over so far. If you start hearing it for the first time after reading this, then you'll be clued in to the universe's biggest secret in a profound way—just because you haven't experienced something doesn't mean it's not there. And just holding the possibility that something MAY exist can fetch it from that void of creation and bring it into your everyday reality. 

There is so much going on out there we don't know about simply because we haven't opened our minds wide enough to see. And once we learn that lesson and start holding a space for the breathtaking unimaginable, we'll begin to experience it in our lives.

Thursday, January 26, 2012

1/27/12-1/29/12—Rising With The Moon

Weekend Reading: Storm Before the Calm/Bad Moon Rising from the Rock and Roll Oracle. If things have been—or are—insane in your life, expect relief soon. Maybe even this weekend. If you feel at all influenced by the moon, there's just a sliver of a waxing moon out there right now. Visualize that, as the moon fulls, peace and balance pour into your life. And remember that everything comes and goes in cycles—moon phases, days, years and even difficult times. If you're stretched to your limit right now, look upon it as a sign of better things to come.

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

1/26/12—Ranting for My Peeps

Today's Draw: Page of Swords from the Icelandic Tarot. Do you have an imagination? Are you a bit odd? Are you looked down upon by residents of Stepford? Read on!

This cool, black and white image reminds me of some sort of mid-century sculpture that would look great in my home. It also reminds me of the Man of La Mancha logos I've pictured below (FBFs can see them at On the card itself, it says, "Person adept at uncovering the unknown. Self control."

Man of La Mancha is about a dreamer who escapes into his imagination to put on a play in order to save his manuscript from other prisoners who want to destroy it during the Spanish Inquisition. This is the musical that made the song, "The Impossible Dream" famous (To dream, the impossible dream...). 

The way I see this connected to "person adept at uncovering the unknown" is this...dreamers and folks who are drawn to the unknown get a bad rap. We're considered silly. Stupid. Crazy. People roll their eyes at us and discount what we have to offer. Creative people get the same crap. We're just a bunch of frivolous Peter Pans in the minds of mainstream, boring America. And to that, I stick out my tongue, insert my thumbs into my ears and wiggle my fingers wildly. 

Nothing ever got discovered by someone who wasn't good at uncovering the unknown. (I mean, duh!)

Nothing ever got invented by someone who wasn't a dreamer or who didn't have an imagination. (Ditto duh!)

And nothing original was ever conceived by someone who wasn't creative. (Booyah! The triple-duh threat! A triumvirate of duhs! Duh cubed!)

Duh Quixote, aka Miguel Duh Cervantes
People who poo-poo imagination and creativity are really good at holding down the fort while we dreamers come up with better forts for them to build. I'll give them that. But I'm tired of my peeps being treated like idiots because we "sit around lost inside our heads all day" while they do all the heavy lifting. I mean, seriously. Who's the REAL idiot in that scenario?

So this is for all the stiff-collared "grown ups" who will never read this post anyway....

By Pablo "Silly Artist Boy" Picasso
Those people you like to call idiot, hippie-freak, head-in-the-clouds, over-imaginative, immature, woo-woo, creative dreamers get to have everything you get to have, only we get to have more fun doing it. And we also get to go down in history alongside names like Albert "the hair" Einstein, Steve "the game-changer" Jobs, Thomas "the imagi-holic" Edison, Leonardo "duh" Vinci and that crazy FREAK who thought the world was round, Christopher Columbus. 

Better yet, that "kick me" sign that's been stuck to your back all day? We put it there. 

So.... *sticking out tongue, inserting thumbs and wiggling fingers*      </rant>

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

1/25/12—Being Human

Today's Draw: Three of Swords from the Whispering Tarot. How do you handle bad news and heartbreak? Do you think you'll ever reach a place where you lose the ups and downs of life and everything is just even? When you look at this card, which woman are you?

The Three of Swords is a card of disappointment, heartbreak and sorrow. It also covers news of illness, loneliness, betrayal, exits and fear of abandonment.

Hooray! That's your reading! Have a nice day!

Yeah, this card usually sucks to receive. But this PARTICULAR Three of Swords is very interesting to examine. 

In many decks, this card would be depicted as three swords piercing a heart, like it's some over-toothpicked hors d'oeuvre. But this one is so layered. An angry wind is blowing and it affects each woman in the card differently. One is thrown to her knees. Another turns away, either in denial or as a way of remaining strong. And the third seems nearly impervious, offering a helping hand. 

Which one are you when things go bad?

I think I can say I'm likely to be any of the three, depending on the situation or when it hits me. There have been big disappointments I've just accepted and walked away from. Fears I've turned my back on. And then some seemingly insignificant slights have affected me intensely. 

Heartbreak? Or party food?
Sometimes I feel like I should be more even. I mean, I know that things happen for the best and everything is temporary. The Zen thing would be not to judge the situation as good or bad. But there are more factors at play than faith and belief, aren't there? There are deep-set wounds that can come to the surface. Insecurities. Hormones. And that series of straws that build up in our lives, allowing just one to knock us over. And then, of course, there's the fact that we're human, no matter how spiritual we aspire to be.

I suppose if I could be a monk and not have to make a living or deal with anything but devotion, it would be easier to be balanced all the time. But that's not the case. As we grow and move along our paths, we can shed ourselves of drama. We can build our compassion and understanding. We can intensify our faith. We can meditate and move energy. And we can whittle down the extremes of rollercoaster emotions. But we will still have crappy days. And we will still *feel*. That's what we came here to do. 

The good news is that the winds eventually get tired of blowing us down. And the swords that block our retreat will be circumvented. And the sun will shine again. But instead of turning away from feeling or denying it because we "should be beyond that" on our path, we just got to feel it while it's there. Take its lesson. And move forward knowing it wasn't a commentary on our spiritual shortcomings, but an opportunity to be human. Like we're meant to be. 

Monday, January 23, 2012

1/24/12—Stepping Into the Void

Today's Draw: Two of Wands from the Tarot of the Crone. Do you feel like you're in a little bit of limbo right now, or are you walking solidly toward your future? Have you ever had a premonition about something....anything? And where do you stand on the whole 2012 thing?

This Two of Wands depicts the passageway between this reality and another. It's a passageway you created—a passageway to your future. But beyond that, you can't know exactly where it leads.

I saw a quote from Sue Monk Kidd today that said: 
"When you can't go forward and you can't go backward and you can't stay where you are without killing off what is deep and vital in yourself, you are on the edge of creation."
It's interesting that a number of people said they felt that way right now. Like there's a mass limbo out there that has caught us in its grasp. So we stand poised in this passageway for a moment, getting up the energy and courage to meet our destinies. 

There are perfectly normal, non-woo-woo, non-conspiracy-theorist everyday folk out there who feel that way about 2012. This is probably the biggest "anticipated question mark" in many of our lives. Y2K was up there. The Cuban Missile Crisis. Maybe the moments after 9/11. I can't really remember a whole lot of times when so many were questioning the future—curious, anticipatory, powerless. 

A priest, a St. Bernard and an Octopalian walk into a bar...
I'm pretty curious myself. Like the feeling in this card, I don't know for sure what to make of it—a year like any other? Some sort of something that changes our worlds forever? I could totally go either way. I believe in ETs and I believe the Mayans had contact with them, so my best guess goes to "something extraterrestrial". IF anything happens, that is.

I could swear I've told the story before about how, when I was between 3 and 5 years old, I lived in my sister's closet? I couldn't find the story through search, so I'll tell it again. It was a walk-in closet just off my sister's bedroom, in a dormer. My sisters were 7 and 8 years older than me. So this was how I got my own room and they got their privacy. 

Anywho, this room—this house—was creepy. It was old. And I had to sleep in a closet just big enough for a single bed and a small dresser. And my sisters used to make me ask permission to leave my room so I didn't interrupt their private big-girl business. So I was like a little prisoner in this space that I was pretty convinced was haunted. Because the room was in a dormer, it just ripe for capturing whatever energies might be floating around, too. *shiver*

Many believe we'll attain higher levels of enlightenment in 2012.
Well, while I lived in this room I had a number of "experiences" and a few very clear "premonitions" that were beyond my years. One was that I'd be a writer who lived in Maine. One was about a past life. And another was that something would happen in my lifetime that would cause many people to disappear and I would survive it. It didn't occur to me until many years later how people would "disappear"...would they die or just "poof!" And it also didn't occur to me that maybe surviving it might not be a good thing. Who knows?

Anyway, that's the baggage I bring into 2012, yet I'm still open minded, because who's to say the premonition was about 2012? I didn't fear this thing as a child, and I don't fear it now. I err on the side of "positive outcome" regarding it, if there's any notable outcome at all. Certainly I'm making earthly plans for 2013 and beyond. 

All of life, whether it's in anticipation of some new dimension of our life or Armageddon, is like this red hallway to the mystery beyond. It takes incredible courage to be a human being and stand at this threshold repeatedly throughout our lives and take those steps forward. Because not even the best psychics and mediums know what lies beyond. (Most of them, by the way, believe it's a huge shift in consciousness that's going to happen. No harm. No foul.) 

I get the sense with this card that the further I go down this hallway, the more I'm going to see into the dark. I don't know if that's logical. But that's the feeling I get. We get this amazing opportunity at adventure every day we're alive. And since some may be concerned they only have about 300 of those days left, it makes sense to make the most of every one of them.

Sunday, January 22, 2012

1/23/12—Becoming an Expert

Today's Draw: Eight of Pentacles from the Crystal Visions. What are you an expert at? Who decides whether you're an expert or not? And is it possible you're selling yourself short in some area of expertise?

The Eight of Pentacles is about the apprentice...and often the late-in-life apprentice or second-time-around apprentice. Hard work, perseverance and attention to detail are required to master a new skill, so our weaver woman focuses on her work, regardless of what else may call to her. 

I don't feel like writing this blog today. And I don't have to. But for some yet-to-be-revealed-to-me reason, I've made a commitment to doing it. Until I'm done. Whenever that is. In the meantime, this exercise helps me practice my craft and refine my voice. It helps me build an audience. It helps me practice my tarot and intuitive skills. And it delivers a seemingly unlimited supply of encouragement from people like you. :)

This past weekend, my "new Saturday entry" debuted and I got such wonderful feedback. As I said before, I want to make a book full of those and will be using some of the ones I post here to send to publishers in a proposal.

I've been writing professionally for 25 years, but the kind of writing I do here is different from the "Sale! $59.99 Sansabelt Pants!" kind of writing I'm used to. For one thing, I use a lot less exclamation marks. For another, in more than a year of writing these entries, not a one of you has tried to edit my work. (Though "Sansabelt Pants Sale! $59.99!" certainly would be an inspired suggestion on your part.)

Awesome Woolen  iPod Pouch—Closed
There are times we tend to discount our skill or expertise. An engineer who's been honing their artistic skills for years might say their art "is just a hobby." An accountant who can fix anything mechanical might claim "awww, it's just something I picked up as a kid." A nurse who knits caps for patients might feel "I'm just trying to help out."

There are a few different ways to measure whether or not you're an expert at something. One is the 10,000 hour (or 10-years at about 20 hours a week of focused practice) rule made famous by Malcolm Gladwell. If you've been doing something that long, you can consider yourself an expert. Why? Because everyone else does.

Another way to define expertise is "continual, focused practice over time." No year limits. You just do it for a long time and declare yourself an expert. And this last part is key...there is no special dinner held when you become an cake in your office's speech or crown, no passing of the baton. It happens without fanfare or notice. It's a role you step into of your own accord.

Why is this important? Because you're probably selling yourself short on your skills and abilities. I've been reading tarot for 25 years, but a year ago I did not classify myself as an expert. I did not consider myself worthy of, say, writing a book on it. Or teaching classes. Or doing it professionally. The difference in the amount of actual, hands-on tarot experience I had last year and what I have this year is insignificant. The difference in the amount of confidence I have now, however, is paramount. The confidence is what made me take those steps to write and teach, not some outside source telling me it was time.

Awesome Woolen  iPod Pouch—Open
People are so afraid they'll be labeled "conceited" if they consider themselves an expert at anything. And really that just means less competition for those of us who are willing to step into our expert underpants...haha. Those of us who plan to get rich off our expertise NEED people like you to buy our stuff and look up to us. So it's cool if you'd rather stay humble. :D

My personal definition of being an expert is when you start realizing that the experts aren't saying anything you don't already know...and that they're not saying stuff you DO know. That's when you know it's time to share your voice with the world. Or at least claim your expert badge. Even if you've just got the first part of the equation, you're "expert enough". I mean, if they're expert enough and they've got nothing on you, then what else could you be?

Today I can say I'm an expert writer. I'm an expert in advertising, marketing and copywriting. I'm an expert in tarot. In dog rearing. And I'm an expert in the area of spiritual thought and personal growth. The last one was a little hard for me to claim because of my own insecurities. But I'm claiming it. I certainly meet the 10,000 hour quota in all areas mentioned. Soon I'll get my badge in making hand-sewn woolen pouches, too. Once that happens, expect to see me on Oprah.

So what are your areas of expertise? And what areas are you developing now?