Friday, September 21, 2012

9/22/12-9/23/12—Breaking Good

Weekend Reading: Clover and Horse from Fairy Tale Fortune Cards. This weekend you get two cards, because Lenormand cards are usually read in pairs. And this pair is saying you'll have good luck in travel this weekend. Or some lucky-good-thing™ will come from a distance.  Or a good response to something will arrive quickly. No matter how it manifests, it will be good on good with an extra dash of good. So go boldly into your weekend!

Thursday, September 20, 2012

9/21/12—Romancing Your Relationships

Today's Draw: The Knight of Cups from the Lenormand Tarot. When was the last time you told a friend, partner or colleague something you really appreciate about them? When was the last time someone did that for you? Are you keeping the "romance" alive in your relationships?

The Knight of Cups is the tarot's romantic...the one who rides in on his white horse and sweeps you off his feet. 

This week is about relationships and so the way I'm going to interpret this one is fairly quick (this week has been exhausting!). Here it goes: Say something nice to someone you care about. 

Really. Think about it. When do you tell a friend how much you appreciate them or how neat they are? Sometimes we get so caught up in life that we forget to just "romance" our friends. Or our mate. Or our children. Sure we do stuff and assume they know we appreciate them, but how often do you say something like, "the way you xyz'd the other day really meant a lot to me"? When do you single out the LITTLE things?

And I'm also not talking about saying "I love you." That's one of those automatic things that rolls off the lips. No, I'm talking about noticing one of the many little things they do every day to support the relationship. Or pointing out something they did without thinking—because that's who they are—that made a difference to you. 

The funny thing is that I did this twice today before I ever pulled this card. I told one friend, who is also a colleague, how frickin' awesome she is and how much I respect her as a professional and not just as a friend. And I thanked another person today for something they did without even thinking...something that was profoundly meaningful to me. It was one of those things that I could have so easily let pass—to her it was nothing. But then she never would have known what a difference she makes in the lives of others. 

Somewhere in your world someone has done something to pick you up when you were down. Or maybe it's something that they just do because they're them. Give them the gift of letting them know. Out loud. Let them see on your face how much they mean to you. And if you're on the receiving en, don't just brush it off. Take it in and hold it precious, because it is.

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

9/20/12—Returning to the Mother

Today's Draw: The Empress from the Sacred Sites Tarot. Are you a mother? How is your relationship with your mother? How do relate to the myth of Demeter?

Each card in this deck is attributed to a sacred site. This card is about the Sanctuary of Demetra, dedicated to the Eleusinian mysteries. So today I learned that the Eleusinian mysteries were ceremonies held for the cult of Persephone and Demeter. 

So if you're not up on the scoop, Persephone was out gathering flowers one day when Hades popped out of the underworld and kidnapped her. Her distraught mother, Demeter, the goddess of agriculture and fertility, searched for her. Her distress caused a draught that left people starving and dying. Because of this Zeus interceded, because gods need people to worship them and when the people die, so does the worship. So he made a deal with Hades to let Persephone return to her mother part of the year. 

So when Persephone is with Demeter, the earth comes alive with the warmth of the sun and crops are abundant. And she returns to Hades, the earth grows cold and raw. And that, folks, is why we have seasons!

This is a perfect card for relationship week. But since this is about the mother/child relationship, I'm limited in my ability to address it. I don't know what it's like to have a human child. I only know what it's like to be one. 

A while back I watched a show about Jaycee Dugard. She's the woman that was kidnapped at 11 and remained in captivity for 18 years. Her mother never really gave up hope. There seems to be something in the programming between mother and child that tells one if the other is still alive. You hear these moms say it all the time...that they felt their child was gone when they were. Or that they felt their child was alive when they were. There's something remarkable about the connection between two bodies that once lived as one. 

Likewise, Jaycee had two daughters of her own while in captivity. And the circumstances of their birth did not change the depth of that connection. In fact, surviving that tragedy may have even made the connection that much more precious. Her mother also adores her grandchildren. The legacy of unconditional love cannot be broken any more than the energetic bond between mother and child. 

So you can see how Demeter's sorrow was powerful enough to cause a smothering drought. I imagine that's what Jaycee's mom felt inside all those years. 

I can only speak of this relationship from the other side. I'm a doggy mom and my commitment to them is all-in and unconditional, but right or wrong or whatever, we do hold human life more precious. It's a key difference in the relationships. But I do know this, I lost my mom at 21 and have not stopped missing her since. 

So today, honor that connection in whatever way you can. If you and your mom aren't the best of friends, give her a call anyway. I'm certain that, no matter what you think, her heart aches to know you've been thinking of her. If the two of you are close, call just to hear her voice and tell her so. If you are so incredibly lucky to have your mother still among the living, please take advantage of that. And if you don't, look inside your heart...that one that once beat within her womb and the one that was forever shaped by her love. She will always be there waiting for the day you reunite and life is abundant once again. 

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

9/19/12—Developing a Relationship with the Divine

Today's Draw: Ascension from Bead Chick's Day of the Dead Oracle. So, how's your relationship with the higher power? Do you have you want one? And if so, how do you go about forming one?

Based on the last two days' entries, it seems like this week is about relationship. And today's card follows that pattern by being about your relationship with the divine. 

For some, it's hard to even know what that means. How do you have a relationship with something you can't see, hear and are not even entirely sure exists? Or how do you have a relationship with a power that has allowed so much pain to enter your life?

To one degree or another, the answer to both of those questions is trust. If you have an inkling there's something greater than you, trust that it exists. And if doubt creeps in, you replace that doubt with trust. You trust until trust comes easy. 

The same is true for the other person...the one who has lost a child or is significantly debilitated or, for one reason or another, has lost faith. If you have an inkling there's something greater than you, trust that it exists. Then trust that it is good and has wisdom beyond your own to see a big picture where, for the soul of the deceased, death was necessary. Or for the growth of your own soul, challenge was necessary. 

Before you can manage all of that, however, you have to define what the divine is. And if nobody has told you this yet, YOU get to decide what the definition is. That's the beauty of the divine. Like water, it will conform to the container you give it. 

So what does it mean to be divine to you? What qualities would the divine have? What form might that divine take? Ask questions of yourself until you have a clear picture. The thing is, you already know or suspect the answer. You just haven't asked the questions yet. Or you've been too strongly influenced by other views of what it is that you no longer trust what your heart and soul tell you it is. So erase all prior notions and consult your inner wisdom. If it turns out being divine means having a long beard and leading with a firm and fearful hand, then that's what it is. If being divine looks like a big orange donut and helps you find a good parking space at the mall, then that's what it is. Really. 

My dog Magick jumps up on people and demands a lot of attention. Through my eyes, she's flawless. That's what love does. It allows you to see the other through eyes that no one else may be able to see through. And if "love" for a higher power isn't your gig, the same is true of respect. There are bosses that are just miserable people. But if they're competent and you're stuck with them, seeing them through the eyes of respect makes the relationship more solid. 

If you're going to build a relationship with a higher power, love and/or respect are probably key. They are the qualities that bridge the gap between you and the great unknown. And, as in any relationship, they're essential to success. So build a model of the divine you can either love or respect. That will make the relationship easier. ;)

In my opinion*, the goal in all of this is to become not just unconditional in your relationship, knowing that source is always on your side and there's a much bigger plan at play than can be contained in this lifetime. But it's also to find a place where you can see your oneness with source...that every part of your fallible self is made of that energy and blessed by it. Our failings and hurts come from only from our misuse and misunderstanding of the holiness within. 

*There are those who don't believe in anything beyond this lifetime and/or who do believe that the higher power is separate from us. And they may also believe that there is only one version of the divine. That's all good, too. It's all good. Thinking that it's not causes so much pain in our world. Most would agree that whatever this higher power is, it would rather we approach each other with love and respect despite our differences. 

Monday, September 17, 2012

9/18/12—Taking Stock of Our Defenses

Today's Draw: Ash from Rune Cards oracle by Tony Linsell & Brian Partridge. How do you defend yourself in relationships? And how might those defenses emanate from your own fears and issues? What kind of unhealthy relationships seem to be a pattern in your life and what does that reflect back to you?

Yesterday I caught a glimpse of someone from my past and it got me thinking. This is someone I used to be close to, but I moved on from the relationship when it became unhealthy for me. There are a lot of those lost friendships in my life...people you outgrow in one way or another. 

Some of these endings are really just a reflection of who we are at the time. Ladies from my 20s, that I used to go out to bars and parties with, for example. At some point or another, I became less interested in hanging out in bars and partying on the weekend and they didn't. A couple weren't interested in activities that didn't end in getting drunk. So the relationships ended. 

But other relationship issues are a reflection of our fears and internal issues. When you're someone who wants to be liked and seeks affirmation, as I've been for a good part of my life, you naturally attract those who take advantage of you or who take you for granted. This person I saw was someone I had in my life for a very long time. She was someone who had a whole lot of good qualities. But she could also be cold and dismissive and, frankly, downright cruel sometimes. 

Looking back, I'd say I spent way more than a decade unsuccessfully trying to get our friendship back into a good place...walking on eggshells and absorbing negativity every step of the way. In retrospect, the relationship was more about earning her approval than it was about being in an actual friendship. And that's the way she worked all her deeper relationships—part seeing how far she could push before you rejected her and part acting superior and dismissive. 

Because I had known her for a long time, I understood what made her the way she was. I don't mean to make her sound like an awful person that nobody would like. She had deep pains that, I guess, because I could understand them, I often overlooked. But the other side to her was that she was funny and smart. She was a good person to talk to, because she was very insightful. And for as thoughtless and selfish as she could be in many ways, she could also be thoughtful and generous in others. 

Anyway, seeing her made me think a lot of things. First, when I've seen "ghosts from the past" before, I've felt very anxious esteem has waned at the sight of them. None of that happened when saw her.  I didn't really feel inclined to take the opportunity to talk to her, but I also didn't feel anything negative toward her. After discovering that she had married since the last time we talked, I felt "well, good for her", followed by a twinge of "I feel sorry for that guy." But who knows what's she learned since last I saw her? After assimilating everything, I decided to stick with "well, good for her. I hope she's happy and learning and growing." I was glad to see that, while they wavered momentarily, my internal attitudes toward the whole thing matched the kind of person I project out into the world. 

The other thing I thought about was something she said to me a long time ago. She said that when I first meet people, I allow them liberties and/or I try harder than normal. Then when the relationship gets on, I don't like the liberties they take or expectations they have...liberties and expectations that I allowed them to believe were ok. I've thought of that many times since then. It's true. It was true about my friendship with her. And it's true about a whole lot of other friendships that have come and gone. 

So that, in turn, got me thinking of why I do be liked and affirmed. And it also got me thinking of how my defense is to eventually end the relationship, feeling taken advantage of by the liberties I allowed them to take. 

This is something I feel like I've stopped doing somewhere along the line. I feel like today my "defense" is to stop taking *myself* for granted in the first place. Because if I respect myself, then respect from others will follow. Today I have people in my life who like me and appreciate me for who I am. I don't have to "try harder" to earn their respect and affection. Nor am I afraid of losing their friendship for the same thing I've lost friendships for in the past. 

I've learned lessons, as is my intention to do, with each relationship I've left along the roadway as I've walked my path. And I feel like in the past couple of months so many "tests", big and small, have come into my life to tempt me, cajole me or otherwise measure how serious I am about not falling into the same traps I've fallen into in the past. And other things have come along to show me how much I've changed. I have to say, I'm quite pleased with the results of all of this. 

Which brings us to today's Rune Card, Ash. It's all about the defenses we put up around us. The facades we erect to capture another's favor. The ways we respond to dismissive behavior from those around us. The way we project ourselves out into the world. Ash is a wood that grows quickly. And when it's cut back, it produces that much more wood with which to build spears and fences and walls. 

When we cut back in our own lives, we do the same thing. And not just when we cut back friends or habits or other external things...that doesn't address the root of the issue, only the symptoms. It's when we cut back internally, shedding the fears and issues that others reflect back to us—the crap that made us attract those situations in the first place—that we produce the kind of materials within that can not only give us stronger defenses, but also make the need for those defenses moot. 

Sunday, September 16, 2012

9/17/12—Honoring Our Partnerships

Today's Draw Classic*: Two of Cups from the Victorian Romantic Tarot. Is there any relationship more complex, annoying, supportive, surprising, loving, inescapable, comfortable and enduring than the one you share with your sibling?

NOTE: I wrote this entry exactly five months ago, the last night I saw my brother alive. He passed four days later in his home. He would have been 54 today. Happy birthday, John Sadler. You are missed. 

The Two of Cups is usually about romantic partnership—love, union and connection. It doesn't always indicate romance, though. It can be any kind of partnership, both the kind you enter into into willingly and enthusiastically and the kind that are just byproducts of life. 

Forty-nine years ago, I entered into a partnership with five people. It wasn't a partnership of my choosing. At least not consciously. Sometimes it's been like an albatross around my neck. Sometimes it's been a privilege. Most of the time it vacillates between the two. Those people are my brothers and sisters and tonight might have been the last time I saw one of them in their earthly form. 

My brother John is the jock in the family. He played baseball, football and basketball throughout high school. He's six foot three inches of someone you don't want to mess with. And as tough as he's always been in his visage and demeanor, underneath he's always been a very vulnerable and sensitive soul. It wasn't always easy to see or access, but it was there.

Growing up I thought he'd have a hard time finding anyone who would be able to put up with him. But what ended up happening is that he married his perfect match. He has four kids who, quite rightly, worship him. And the machismo that I once thought might be his undoing, faded away into a man who wasn't afraid to let you see his weakness. And that weakness was his family. It was also his strength. 

One of the things that really made me look at my brother see him as something other than the annoying jock who walked around like he owned the place...was many years back when he lost his professional job in software sales. He wasn't able to find another job readily and I doubted his ego could withstanding having a wife as the breadwinner. But you know what he did? He became the house dad and he thrived in the role of nurturer and "homemaker". And when he found another job, he found one that allowed him to continue being there for his kids. He gave to his children what his own father wasn't capable of giving...presence. Attention. Nurturing. 

Last November he came down with a really bad "chest cold" that he just couldn't seem to shake. It got worse and worse until he ended up in the hospital nearly drowning in his own fluids. Turns out he had lung cancer. He's done all the things you do...chemo, radiation, etc. But he has a very aggressive and incurable type of lung cancer. There's no telling how much time he has left. But the way he looked tonight in the intensive care unit at the hospital, it didn't look like it was going to be long. In fact, in the pain and presence of mind he was in, I pray it isn't long.

We enter into these partnerships with our siblings and the agreement is that we'll always love each other, even if we hate each other. We'll always be bound by blood and parentage and a string of memories we will never share with anyone else—memories from a time when we were too full of life to ever think of death. We're never ready for the day when those partnerships begin dissolving...or transforming into something less tangible. 

My siblings and I lost our parents young. My mother died when I was 21 and my father when I was 25. We're no strangers to loss. But you grow up knowing your parents will die someday. For some reason, you never think your siblings will die someday, too. One of us has to watch this happen five times. Is that a blessing or a curse?  

My brother John is 53. He has four children, including a young man he'll never get to see play high school football the way his father watched him play. I'm not sure what breaks my heart the most, but I'm pretty sure it's that. I do know he'll be there. The smell of cigarette smoke...or farts...will waft up suddenly in the stands for no apparent reason. And that will be how we'll know he's there. 

We make these partnerships for a lifetime. But they really never end, do they? They go on beyond anything we imagine. My belief tells me this is true, but the human part of me is heartbroken tonight over the inevitability of what's to come, whether it's days or weeks from now. What a blessing, though, that nothing has gone unspoken, and that no part of the partnership has been left unfulfilled.

Please hold my brother, his wife and their four children in your prayers over the coming days and weeks in hopes they may find peace and strength in their transition. Thank you.

* From an entry dated 4/17/12