Friday, May 4, 2012

5/5/12-5/6/12—Connecting With Joy

Weekend Reading: Knight of Discs from the Sacred India Tarot. This is a weekend to rise above it all. Instead of getting yourself drawn into the drama, detach and be the witness. Instead of being drawn in to negative feelings, stay focused on your higher self. And instead of doing all the crap you don't want to do, do what has to be done and let the rest fall away so you can take the time to just be. This weekend you can easily choose a higher vibration for yourself. The full moon energy is behind you, beaming down the message that joy is easy to find. It never strays. It can always be found by just being in the moment. So be present. Unfetter your mind. And connect with the sacred, the divine, the joyful this weekend.

Thursday, May 3, 2012

5/4/12—Clearing The Fields

Today's Draw: Ten of Fire from the Gaian Tarot. Is there a fire raging in your life right now? What are the good things being left exposed in the ash? And what of the bad things are worth starting a whole new fire, in order to consume them once and for all?

Maybe 10 years ago or so, I drove past a farmer's field that was smoking from a recent fire. I had never seen this before, so I thought something tragic had happened. But then a few miles down the road, I saw another burned out field. And another. This was the first time I realized that farmers occasionally burn fields to kill all the old growth and weeds. Then, I suppose, they turn the soil and plant something new. It's like a clean slate. A field that used to grow soybeans can now grow corn. 

The same concept is used by nature. Forest fires, for example, are actually necessary to keeping the forest healthy. Too much vegetation can prevent seeds from germinating, stopping the growth of new trees—and thus endangering the generational growth cycle. Also, the denser the forest, the hotter it burns and the more destructive the fire becomes. So occasional fires in the forest are mother nature's form of self-care and even damage control.

Usually when we see a Ten of Wands, it's depicting someone so overwhelmed, burdened or oppressed that they can't move. They feel trapped in the fire with no way out. Whether it's work or financial matters, family or relationships, we all feel that way at one time or another. Then once the flames subside, whether we wanted it or not, we're left with a fresh slate upon which to write. 

Over the past few months I have had a bunch of fires burning around me. And the ash they've left behind has exposed some things still left standing that no longer have a place in my life (along with a number of good things I want to keep). Some of them are the things I've written about here...attitudes toward family and the way I handle my own self care. But there are other things I haven't spoken so much about...thoughts about how I spend my time, who I call friend and where my energies have been misguided. 

Sometimes fires happen to you. And sometimes you set them yourself, clearing what no longer serves to make space for new growth and more evolved life. 

Anyone else out there need a light?

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

5/3/12—Pitting David Against Goliath

Today's Draw: Three of Pentacles from the Neuzeit Tarot. Are you a consumer advocate? When you complain, do you usually escalate your complaint to the top of the organization? And how would you feel if a terrorist were out there with proof they live in your home?

As the little french book (lfb) that accompanies this deck says, this is a good card for the investment, management and handling of money. It just so happens that I spent most of day distracted by just that. 

So my gas company, Washington Gas (aks MEAN Washington Gas), sent me a "final bill" for my gas services. I thought this was odd, so I called them. They told me someone else lives at my house now and has put the account in their name. I assured them this was not true.

Turns out that anyone can cancel your service and put it in their name. ANYONE. Without your knowledge. Which is great if you think they're going to pay the bills. But they won't. First of all, they'll get bills delivered to them electronically so you will never even know you're in arrears. Then they'll use that bill to prove they live at your house. And they'll use that information for god only knows what—I'm not a criminal! But I do know in the past I've been asked to show a bill to prove my residence, so that's what they'll use it for. 

And who knows what else in this day and age? The 911 terrorists all had Virginia licenses because they are so easy to get in VA. Back in the day, all you needed was third-party verification of residence (aka gas bill) and you've got a license! And the kicker is, when they don't pay your gas bill, you lose your gas service. By that time, their "crime" has been committed and they're nowhere to be found. Or they've driven a panel truck full of explosives legally into DC and left behind nothing but a VA license with MY address on it. Next thing you know there's an armed SWAT team bursting down my door when I'm bleaching my lady moustache!

OK. So I don't have a moustache. And I don't really know what someone can do TODAY with "proof they live at my address", but I have no doubt they're using it for evil. Unless it was just a clerical error. In which case it's exposed a HUGE threat to our national security. I mean, this stealer person could call a gas man to my house for an emergency, clunk him over the head, drive into the city and infiltrate every layer of government by saying there's a gas leak! Maybe. 

So today I have written scathing letters to people in the upper echelon of Washington Gas, I've filed a police report, I've contacted a friend who writes for Bloomberg and I got someone at the Post to forward my story to whomever it would concern. Oh! And I've written a blog post. With tags (visible at my blog) that will certainly alert our nation's crafty internet spies to this blog. *waving hello to THE MAN* :)

It may seem silly on the surface, but it's a privacy issue in an age where protection of privacy is huge. ANYONE can claim to live at my house and receive proof of that through a gas bill. This is big hole in the system that needs to be plugged. This really could be a national security issue just waiting to happen...keep in mind, this is WASHINGTON gas. Plus it puts me at risk of some form of identity theft. There have got to be upwards of 500,000 Washington Gas customers who would like to know they face the same risk. DESERVE to know they face the same risk. I'm not an isolated incident. Again, ANYONE can get proof of residence in my home without me knowing about it! This is Washington Gas' everyday policy!

I saw my sisters recently and we had a laugh about the Sadler ladies. You're really well-advised not to piss us off. We are all gifted writers and crafty complainers. And with all the stuff I've done in regard to this today, I'm a mere cub compared to the damage my sisters are able to do. I run out of spit and fire quickly. They have much greater lasting power. It's a gift passed down through generations of pissed off lady consumers in our lineage. :D

So what's your style? Are you someone who takes your issue to the top or do you stop at the customer service guy? And are you as aghast as I am at Washington Gas' policy around the cancellation and formation of accounts?

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

5/2/12—Showing Grace

Today's Draw: Bee from the Druid Animal Oracle. How kindly do you treat the Safeway checkers, burrito makers and "grease monkeys" of this world? How do you serve the public? And how quick are you with encouragement or a kind word?

Today's card comes from an oracle deck, so I'm veering off the tarot course, as I do from time to time. The book for this deck says that bee speaks to community, celebration and organization. When I think of bees, though, I usually think of how they can sting you if you swat at them. For most, they're a nuisance. But bees really have a lot to teach us, primarily about service and the value of things we take for granted. 

Probably since my 30s, I've devoted some time to service. Service doesn't have to be volunteerism per se. It can be anything that serves others. For example, I consider the time I spend writing my blogs to be service, because I know they help others. And, like most service, they also help me. We like to think of service as a selfless act, but in my experience it pays back richly.

I spent a number of years as a literacy volunteer. I never actually taught anyone to read, though. One of my students was learning English as a Second Language, and all the rest were preparing for their GEDs. The ladies in the halfway house who were trying to get their GED taught me the most. They were there, not by choice, but by court order. Street people. Crack addicts. We look at them much like we look at bees...they're a nuisance. But what they are is wily enough to survive for years in circumstances we couldn't even bear for a week. Come the apocalypse, they are who you want on your side. 

While service is something humans do in our spare time, it's a 24x7 thing for bees. You never see a bee kicking back, do you? If they're not pollinating crops, they're making honey, generating beeswax or feeding the queen. And to what benefit? Well, they get to live. But it's not like bees get vacations or anything to look forward to. 

One-third of the total human diet is made up of insect-pollinated crops, and bees are the world's pollinators. They work in an organized, cooperative manner. They have a clear purpose in life that they are razor focused upon. They are loyal to their queen. They live their lives to serve. Anyone would be proud to contribute that much to their community. And we swat at them, as though they have no value at all. 

What I learned from my years as a literacy tutor is the same as you can learn from bees. Everyone has their place and value in this life. One of my pet peeves is when someone calls another person stupid. There are many different kinds of smarts in this world. When a lawyer's Mercedes breaks down in the middle of nowhere and they wait two hours for hours because their radiator ran out of Evian, who's smarter...the lawyer or the roadside assistance guy? When an executive goes a day without electricity waiting for the handyman to come and flip the circuit breaker, who's the one who deserves the corner office?

We all make judgments. And we tend to do it as if our way is the better way. But the Safeway checker who takes forever looking up a code may have a much more successful home life than you. The exotic dancer might be studying for their MBA. And the barista at Starbucks might be making ends meet each month with zero debt, while you earn 5x as much and are buried in credit card bills. Meanwhile, without these people, you'd be checking out your own groceries, making your own lattes and twirling your own pasties at your bachelor party. 

Speaking of baristas...a few years back on Christmas day I was out and about for some reason and saw the Starbucks was open. So I stopped in for a chai latte. And I said to the girl behind the counter, "thank you so much for coming in on your Christmas day to serve us. We could have lived without Starbucks today, but I'm glad you're here." She got all emotional and said I was the only one who had said that all day.

You know, we all just want to be appreciated for the role we play. We want to be recognized for our special kind of smarts. We want our place in the world to be acknowledged. We want to know we're valued. We want to be proud of what we do. If you don't know how to serve others, start there. Tell someone what a good job they're doing. Or how much you appreciate that they're there everyday. Or even just smile and say "have a great day". Truth is, you need them to operate in this world. You'd better be grateful.

We all, no matter what we do, fit together like a huge machine that keeps the world going. None is more important than the other, though society tells us that money is the measure of worth. But consider that the real measure of worth is grace in matter what it is you do. See if you can take grace and service into your job today/tomorrow. See if you can recognize it in someone else. And see how it can change your heart, your mind, your judgment, your viewpoint and the way you move in the world.

Monday, April 30, 2012

5/1/12—Walking Someone Else's Path

Today's Draw: Control (Chariot) from the Today's Journey Tarot. Consider the situations in your there one you're trying to exert control over? What is your desire to control the situation mirroring back to you? What is it keeping from addressing in your own self? And what awful calamity might befall you if you just let go?

Usually when I do these things, I'm pretty strict about drawing one card and writing about it come hell or high water. I can probably count the number of times I've strayed from that on one hand. Today is one of those days. In fact, today I went through at least a dozen cards from three different decks. I decided to stop looking when I got the message "control". As in "you control freak, choose a frickin' card, fercryinoutloud!"

We all do it. Being controlling is when you try to exert your influence over something that is not within your control. That could be another person or a situation. Control is different from collaboration or compromise. Control is about pushing beyond boundaries and comfort zones. It's about making everything "your way", according to your agenda. It's about trying to elicit a desired response.

Here's the thing about control, can only steer one ship at a time. So people who habitually try to control others are people who are out of control of themselves. In fact, it is often from the fear of being out of control that we try to control others. 

There is a person I know who likes to lecture people about their issues. So-and-so drinks too much. They're not making anything out of their lives. Their god doesn't have the right name. And they should be ashamed of themselves, at this age, not having their stuff together. Meanwhile, the person making these judgments and trying to elicit shame and change in others, has been homeless for years, has substance abuse issues and can't manage to stay in a shelter long without getting thrown out.

So our desire to control others can often be a mirror into ourselves. It's so much easier seeing the flaws in someone else than to see them in yourself. It's easier the steer the ship of someone else than it is to steer yourself. But that example is dramatic and obvious. There are many more subtle ways we do it on a daily basis we may not even be aware of. 

Maybe we say that one extra thing to try to make someone feel guilty about something. Or we "rescue" someone, then tell them exactly how they should be from here on in. Or we tell someone the consequences they'll pay for not believing as we do. Or we push our agenda so strongly and loudly that others give in. Or we compliment something to get on someone's good side. We twist words to support our arguments. Shun those who don't act the way we like. Try to talk someone out of something they want to do. Tell people what they're thinking or feeling. Deny responsibility for things we've done. Create problems or dramas with others. Don't support others' dreams. Or are overly generous with gifts.

Like I said, we're not always aware that that's what we're doing, but we all do it from time to time—we try to "push" a situation, bring others in alignment with our agenda or elicit a desired response/reaction from others. We tell ourselves it's for their own good or they "should" be doing things this way, but the truth is, we have no idea what their own good is. We're not even sure what our own path is half the time, how can we know someone else's? Besides, if we're focused on walking someone else's path for them, then we're not making much progress on our own path. And many times that's the point.

Chances are there is some situation in your life right now that you are trying to control or fighting back the urge to control. What is it telling you? Why do you really want what you're trying to get? What are you reactions trying to make someone else do or feel? What do you want someone to realize? And, if you believe in God, why might you be usurping his will by not just "letting go and letting God"?

Sunday, April 29, 2012

4/30/12—Loving Like You Were Dying

Today's Draw: The One of Water from the Today's Journey Tarot. Who or what do you love unconditionally....meaning no matter what they to to you or others? Do you think unconditional love is something reserved just for family members, or just for certain types of family members? How different would your life be if you were able to open your to more people without condition?

This One of Water (Ace of Cups) depicts an intensity and range of emotions, from calm to chaotic. This card also speaks of unconditional love. 

If you had asked me a year ago what kind of impact the loss of my brother John would have on me, I wouldn't have predicted the way I've been feeling the last five months. 

The first part of our lives, he and I didn't see much of each other. He was just enough older that our paths didn't cross in school or on playgrounds. Then, when I was in college, he was living at home again and we became closer. We were pretty good friends through my 20s. After he started having children, his focus changed and we had less in common again. 

To a sensitive person like myself, his "sense of humor" could be unnecessarily hurtful. On top of that, it seemed like a lot of things got lost in communication between us. I think it's fair to say that neither one of us quite trusted the other. So, for the past 10 years of his life, I didn't seek opportunities to be around him. I never lost sight of how good a father he was, along with other good qualities of his. But I was happy to admire those qualities from afar. 

Pop psychology would say that the reason I've taken this so hard is guilt—guilt over lost opportunities and blah, blah, blah. But that's not the case at all. I don't feel bad or unjustified about any of the choices I made in regard to him. But what I think I didn't realize until I turned over this card today is that, even though it really didn't look that way, there was unconditional love between us. I never would have guessed it, because on the surface I would think all my love with my brothers and sisters was conditional. But now I'm rethinking that. 

My oldest brother, Bob, is someone who emanates unconditional love for his siblings and I always thought he was a bit sappy for it. But today I'm realizing how wise he is. He is a good example of how you surrender to something like that. He'll get mad at you, but he won't hate you. He'll always be gentle with you. He's the one who will always say, "don't say you don't love him. He's your brother." I finally get that.

When John found out he had cancer, all the walls that caused him to say some of the hurtful things he said tumbled down. Actually, he had already been working on it when he got sick because it pushed more than one of us away from him. But when he learned he had cancer, he surrendered. Anything that was in the past was in the past. 

That made an imprint on me, because when you're faced with death, all those other struggles with the ego don't matter. And he got that immediately. I never would have predicted that of him, either. But he got it immediately. Although "grace" was not a word you would normally use in conjunction with him, there became a grace about him. This opened the door for both of us to set bygones aside and let each other know how we felt about each other.

My mother was the same way when she was dying. Both she and my brother made sure nothing was left unsaid. Both found the courage to express themselves in ways they couldn't when they still held the illusion of having limitless time on this earth. They played that song "Live Like You Were Dying" at my brother's funeral. But I wonder how different this world would be if we could all LOVE like we were dying. How different would your life be? 

I've known for a while that I hold on to hurts way too long. Right now there are a few people who have really let me down. One is a family member. When I surrender to the notion that I love him unconditionally, regardless of whether I like him or not, it softens my position. Much of my inner tension regarding this relationship is in trying to convince myself I don't need him or love him. I think if I could believe that was true, then his actions wouldn't hurt so much. But what really causes the pain is fighting against that part of me that can't NOT love him. His thoughts about me still hurt, but there can be less of a struggle around them when I'm not trying so hard to hate him back. He's my brother. I'm stuck loving him. 

There's a part of me that wants to be someone who can open up their heart enough to love everyone unconditionally. I'm nowhere near that, but I've made progress over the years. I may not ever make it to "love", but I'm pretty sure I can make a dent in "accept". My position on this topic has changed considerably over the years. I used to think unconditional love was only for parents and their children (or pets). But now I'm seeing it can be more. Certainly the Dalai Lama has unconditional love for everyone and everything. What do you think about all of this?