Friday, August 17, 2012

8/18/12-8/19/12—Celebrating the Almighty You

Weekend Reading: The Garden from Chronata's Minute Lenormand by Robin Tisch Hollister. As Self Care Week draws to a close, it's now time for a celebration—a celebration of you! You don't need a special reason, because you ARE the special reason! So get some streamers and buy a cake, by golly. The Garden card wants you to be happy. It wants you to throw a party. It wants you to honor you like you've never honored you before. Heck, why not even pretend it's a surprise party? If you keep waiting for someone else to do it for you, you might wait forever. And, let's face it, they'll never get all the details right anyway! So, something special for yourself this weekend. Splurge a little on a giftie. Get yourself some birthday cake for no reason. Host an hour-long bubble bath in your honor. Walk around town in a sandwich board that says, "Kiss me. I'm special." Whatever your style, go all out for you this weekend. You deserve it!

Thursday, August 16, 2012

8/17/12—Stopping Your World

Today's Draw: Healing (Temperance) from the Threefold Oracle by Tara Cochrane. What do you do each month that is ONLY for you? Do you have a regular healing ritual you do for yourself? Or do you find that there just never seems to be time for stuff like that in your busy life?

First a word about this oracle because it's unique. What Tara Cochrane has done here is interpret the major arcana three different ways for a total of 66 cards. She's used three different mediums: mixed media with watercolor, block printing with watercolor, and pen and watercolor, which is what this card is. But it's not just the mediums that are different. It's also the imagery, her interpretations and the card names. The lwb is a pdf you can request for free from the artist or you can buy in print form. 

That said, the final day Self Care Week is pretty logical. Do something *special* to support your emotional, physical, spiritual healing on a regular basis. Make it an event. One that happens at least once a month. That can be a massage, a healing session, a meditation class, *gentle* yoga, a spa day, sitting silently in a church....whatever. This isn't about going to the mall and, while you're there, buying something for your daughter. It's also not about meeting the girls for drinks and listening to all their problems. This all about you. 

Take time off of work to do it, if you can. And if you can't do that, then let your spouse order Chinese while you're treating yourself. I say this because it makes it more special, imo. It's the difference between finding time in your busy schedule of caring for others and making your schedule of caring for others accommodate you, you know? A final tip—make it an *appointment* that is *non-negotiable*. Like the dentist. Or a mammogram. 

I take the first (sometimes second) Tuesday of every month off. I go to a healing session in the morning, then on the way home, I stop and take myself out for a nice lunch along the river. I buy myself Godivas and maybe even a trinket, if I'm in the mood. The entire day is mine. It happens while everyone else is working. That makes it more sweet. And it's always scheduled a month ahead of time, so I can work around it. I also leave work two hours early one or two Fridays a month, also for healing sessions. Call it a mental health day. 

In the past I also used to have something called Night of Beauty. I did it every Sunday. It would start around 7pm with a candlelit bath and deep conditioning. Then it would lead to chocolate and journaling. I probably kept this appointment with myself regularly for five or six years. It was non-negotiable. All my friends knew better than to try to get me on a Sunday. I also had a couple of years of twice-monthly massages. See how it works?

This is time that is ALL about you. Nobody else. And it's not second or third or when-you-can-get-to-it priority, it's first priority. Once you "make the date" you'll see. Life flows around it. It's not as big a deal as you think it is. And if anyone tries to make you feel guilty about it, don't buckle to their manipulation. 

Clearly it's not an issue for me anymore, but I know there are some of you out there full of reasons why you can't spare the time. I used to have those reasons myself...I've got to be there for my clients when they need me, it's not fair to leave the dogs all day when they're used to having me around, there's so much other stuff I could be doing with that time, it's selfish, blah, blah, blah. 

Trust me Atlas, the world won't stop spinning if you take a couple of hours a month for yourself. Your kids/spouse/boss/parakeet will adjust. And instead of modeling self-sacrifice for them, you'll be modeling self care. The harder it is to break away for something like this, the more you need it. It's time for other things to wait. Your self kindness and care have been waiting long enough. 

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

8/16/12—Feeling Full

Today's Draw: Five of Coins from the Medieval Chihuahua Tarot by Tarot Lyn. Is there something you still need to receive or achieve before you can be happy? Is there something that you don't have nearly enough of? Or are all areas of your life perfectly funded?

OK. I need to get something off my chest. This deck of chihuahuas dressed up in Middle Age gear is the first all-dog, 78-card deck EVER in tarot history. To my knowledge. There is a major arcana deck of all dogs. And there will be another 78-card deck coming out soon. But ever since tarot was invented in, like, the 15th century, there has never been a dog deck. There have been rat decks, bear decks, gummi bear decks, rabbits, dolphins, dragons, name it. And cats! Cats in fancy costumes, cats who practice magick, medieval cats, anthropomorphic cats, white cats, cats being cats, cats taking a nap, cats taking a can't swing a pendulum without hitting a cat deck in the tarot world. But no dog deck. Until now. 

*caressing my sweet Medieval Chihuahua deck* 

And, as a bonus, all the proceeds of this deck go toward chihuahua rescue. So you're not only getting a dog deck and a piece of history, you're helping adorable pocket-sized pups. 

Anywho, so there I was mourning the lack of dog decks for YEARS, doing everything in my power to get a dog deck created, and yet I had a couple of hundred other really cool decks I was neglecting—and, quite frankly, disrespecting—because none of them were dog decks. Sure, I had decks I loved and all of that, but none of them were DOG decks!

And that's the lesson the chihuahuas bring us on Day Four of Self Care Week...the dangers of the poverty mindset. The Five of Coins is a card that signifies loss and poverty. But I tend to read it more as a poverty mentality—a focus on what you don't have, rather than a focus on what you do. 

See, as long as you're lacking, you're never "complete". You still have work to do. There's something missing from your idea of perfection. And you're probably not fully grateful for all the gifts in your midst. And if you're into manifestation and the energies you put out into the universe, then you're also blocking or delaying the flow of the very thing you want into your life. The only benefit of focusing on lack is....oh, right, THERE IS NO BENEFIT!!!!

So today's lesson in self care is to let yourself be enough, simply as you are. Have enough with whatever you already have. And do enough with what you're already doing. 

Sure, you want to always have ambition. And we all need our basic needs of food, shelter and water covered. But how different would life be if you stopped *wanting*? If everything that came to you was gravy...a blessing...from this moment on? How would that change the way you viewed your life? How would it change the way you feel about you?

I'll bet if every one of us looked hard enough at our lives, there's something we're mourning the lack of—money, love, respect, youthful beauty, peace, order, could be anything. It almost seems like, if you were to have it all, then life wouldn't be as fun. But imagine, instead, how fun getting showered with unexpected miracles could be! 

To someone less fortunate, you look like you've got it all. Don't you deserve to allow yourself to feel that way?

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

8/15/12—Daring to Dream

Today's Draw: A Thin Wrapping of Wishes from Illuminate! Life Journey Cards by Linda Clayton. Do you have a dream to look forward to? Have you built a modicum of magic into that dream? Or are you someone who only deals in realistic, well-measured pursuits?

As we approach the midpoint of Self Care Week at The Daily Draw, there's no better deck to use than my favorite yin-energy oracle, Illuminate! And today's draw doesn't disappoint. 

In terms of self care, I think "A Thin Wrapping of Wishes" is calling us to have something magical to believe in and/or look forward to. 

Remember when you were going to be a princess? Or the President of the United States? Remember when you used to practice your Oscar speech or sing into your hairbrush like you were a rock star? Remember how that used to make you feel? Shiny. Beautiful. Special. 

Well, what wishes and dreams do you have like that today? Are you so beaten down by the frog that Prince Charming turned out to be that you keep your dreams tediously realistic and attainable these days? Like seeing your kids graduate high school or moving into a new house?

Those are totally worthy dreams and they're absolutely enough. I'm not suggesting less. But those are things that are going to happen, bar some disaster. Where is the magic? The anticipation? The daydreaming? The succulent garden you get lost in when you think of it? Think back to when you were going to be a PRINCESS! That was wishing!

I'm not suggesting you invest heavily in fairytales. That's why it's a THIN wrapping of wishes. We are, after all, adults. But what is out there at the edge of possibility, yet still in the framework of your jaded mind?

For example, writing the kind of book I want to write and getting it published is a dream for me. But the MAGIC and the far edge of possibility includes my dreams of meeting Oprah, rubbing elbows with celebrities and being much beloved. Those things may never happen, but the sparkle of their fairy dust keeps me motivated and excited about the more realistic part of my dream. Those things keep me feeling shiny, beautiful and special while I work on the sweaty, bloody, hard work part of achieving my dream. 

So what I'm suggesting for today's self-care advice is this....have a dream to aspire to, like writing a book or visiting Europe or hitting all our country's National Parks. But sprinkle it in fairy dust for that extra sparkle—or have a totally separate fairy dust dream that makes you feel special and shiny.  BUT remember which is the dream and which is just window dressing. 

You see, we once dreamed of a white knight coming in, sweeping us off our feet and living happily ever after. And we became jaded against magical thinking when our knight ended up being a farting, fallible plebeian. But that was our own mistake. The REAL dream was getting married. But we attached ourselves to an image of perfection and magic that was really just supposed to be a thin wrapping. Instead of donning a feathery veil to add to the fun while we're waiting to meet the right man, we tattooed the fairy dust into our skin, thereby tainting any result less than Prince Charming.  

So self care is dreaming. And self care can be made more magical with fairy sparkles to help you feel shiny and special. But true self care is remembering the purpose of the fairy dust in the first place, so that when we reach our dreams, we won't dash them because Johnny Depp wasn't there when we arrived. 

The point is to keep ourselves hoping and dreaming and motivated. Having something to look forward to is part of life's sweet elixir, as is the belief that magic can still happen. These are the things that keep us vital, young and alive. We never get too old to lose ourselves in a beautiful dream. In fact, when we stop having those beautiful dreams, we risk losing ourselves in getting too old.  

Monday, August 13, 2012

8/14/12—Connecting With Someone You Trust

Today's Draw: The Rose Key from the Incidental Tarot by Holly DeFount. Do you have someone with whom you connect on a deep level? How often do you get a chance to see them? Is it something you find to be a healing relationship?

Day two of Self Care Week is greeted with the Rose Key, this deck's equivalent to the Ace of Cups. It's about connection... connecting to others. This isn't about superficial connections...chatting with the people next door or at the office. Not that those are always superficial relationships. But what today's card is talking about is the people you can be honest with. The ones you hold nothing back from. 

As it turns out, this is Tuesday's entry, but I'm writing it early Monday morning. I'm doing that because I won't have time to write it Monday night. I have a friend I see once a month. Diane. Our visits are part professional, part personal and entirely sacred. Once a month I get a healing session from her at her house. In exchange, I write stuff for her. Or I give her readings. That's the professional part. But that professional part is highly personal, as we each, by way of consulting each other, reveal things that few others know about us. 

I'm not ashamed to say Diane is older than me...haha. I know she'll be reading this, so I thought I'd make the point. And the point I'm making is that I've admired her for the entire 15 years I've known her. I've always seen her as a "spiritual elder". She won't take the credit for it, but a lot of people see her that way. She's a beautiful soul and a loyal servant to her beliefs.  

Anyway, like I said, we see each other once a month for the healing session, which also includes gabbing, but rarely outside of that. One reason is that she's wildly popular and it's hard to get on her social calendar. Another is that we live about an hour apart. And a third reason is that we're both pretty busy on weekends, me with my teaching and her with the regular ceremonies she hosts. But once a year Diane and I get together, sit by the river, eat crabs and just enjoy each others' company. And that's tonight. 

I don't know if I'm typical or not. People generally move in and out of my life and I have a lot of different friends that meet different needs. It's like each has a certain piece of me. But we only hand the most vulnerable pieces over to special people. That's the kind of connection today's card is talking about. It may be your spouse or a sibling or a special friend. And having someone you're relieved to see—someone who is always a soft place to fall or who carefully guides you back into line—is an important part of self care. It's not something you can seek. It's something that grows over time in a relationship between two people equally willing to participate.

Anyway, if you don't have someone like that in your life, look around and see who you can trust. Then slowly open up and start to build that kind of dynamic. Someone has got to trust first, which may as well be you. I say start slowly and see, because for every one person who is right to form this kind of relationship with, there are a hundred that aren't ready to go there. And you don't want to go so far as to tell them about your dreams of nude bubble dancing in the midst of a pygmy tribe while tripping on acid (not that there's anything wrong with that), only to find out they're not worthy of your trust. 

When you share your stuff with someone who's trustworthy and doesn't judge, it lifts a burden off your shoulders. It helps you feel understood. You develop an emotional vocabulary you may not have had before. It makes you feel less alone. Enables growth. And creates a sacred bond. It's important to break out of the mundane and just really have a good conversation with someone who gives as good as they get in terms of sharing and emotional accessibility and depth. 

By the time you read this, I will probably be just emerging from my crab coma of the night before. Diane and I will have helped each other explore our psyches in our regular healing exchange. And we will have hung like homeys on the edge of some river near Annapolis on a perfect summer's evening, indulging in a rare drink of alcohol, laughing our heads off and wondering why we don't do this more often. And it will be just the self care each of us needed. 

Sunday, August 12, 2012

8/13/12–Laying Back into the Arms of What Is

Today's Draw: Dreamer Four from Tarot of the Sidhe by Emily Carding. Do you hold yourself up to some version of what and who you should be? Do you find yourself fighting things like aging and life changes, only to find you're fighting an unconquerable beast? Do you give yourself permission to be who and where you are in this very moment?

Self care has been on my mind a lot lately and today's card is prompting me to do an entire week of talk about it. So welcome to Self Care Week!

I don't think I've ever said this here before, but this is the lowest point in my life health wise. It's all my fault. I have nothing wrong with me that I didn't do to myself. It began when I nearly doubled in size, like a yeasty dough, about a decade ago. It was the combination of a number of things. A change in lifestyle from the city to the suburbs...a dog who went lame and couldn't go on walks...depression in the wake of 9/11 and the DC sniper. I just stopped caring. 

I remember one day I was holding something I shouldn't eat in my hand and I looked at it said "if I don't stop myself this time, there's no going back." And I didn't stop. Prior to that, I was fit, actively engaged in life, healthy...I got things done. I can't say I was any happier than I am today. I was happier with the way I looked, but I wasn't as connected to my spiritual side. I did a reading a few years back about the spiritual reason as to why I gained weight and I concluded that there were lessons I couldn't have learned as the person I was before. I needed the weight to take me out of the more superficial head I was in at the time. 

Anyway, to shorten a story I could go on and on about and get all weepy over—it really does cause me great emotional pain—part of all that extra weight is that I developed sleep apnea. I haven't had a good night's sleep in years. That, combined with its follow-on issues—exhaustion, diabetes, shortness of breath—makes it hard to get through a day, much less go for jaunty hike. So I'm caught in a murky cycle of sleep deprivation and beating myself up over the ensuing depression and difficulty in losing weight and exercising. 

And while I view myself as sitting here doing nothing all the time, I still manage to create and teach three classes every month, do all my professional work to my clients' delight, work on a book and write this blog six days a week. When I look at it from that perspective, I'm doing well. But after all that's done, I'm too exhausted to move. 

Which leads to today's card—Restoration. For a while, I was beating myself up over taking my daytime naps. It didn't matter that I was only getting a few hours of interrupted sleep each night, I still felt like a bad person for taking a nap when I could be productive. But there comes a time of the day I can't even keep my eyes open anymore. About a year ago, though, I gave myself permission to nap guilt-free. I have plenty of days where I don't nap at all, but most days I do. Recently I consulted a medical intuitive (I have a traditional doctor, too) who said I should nap THREE times a day! Haha. She means 20 minute naps, but it was nice to get the affirmation that I, indeed, needed these naps. 

And yes, so I've seen a medical intuitive and am on her program right now to clear out things that are dragging me down. I already feel a little better from that. Good enough that I'm ready to commit the sleep study I've been reluctant to take in order to get this sleep apnea problem taken care of. And maybe from there, I can start to exercise again and lose weight. 

We have these images of the way we're supposed to be. And the way we want to be. And the way we should be. And of who we are when we fall terribly short of the mark of all three. I admit that I fall in the trap of all four on a physical level (I should note that I think I'm pretty neat on other other levels) and each of them is like an anvil holding me firmly in place where I am. 

Sometimes we just have to accept where we are and work with it before we can move forward. Sometimes we need to be less than we want to be in order to heal or regenerate. When I look at all the energy I've spent beating myself up and feeling guilty—all energy I could have invested back into my own self care—I regret it. I've fought against accepting what is and have paid the price of that in terms of digging myself further into the hole. 

While my situation may be different than your own, the same concept works for aging, recovering from surgery, adjusting to new conditions like diabetes or whatever. It also applies to other issues like divorce, job loss, making life changes. All these things can make you struggle with who you want to be, versus who you are in this moment. Beating ourselves up just makes it worse. It won't be until we lay back into the arms of what is and begin to restore ourselves at that level, that we'll gain the strength, will and perspective to begin to see our way out.