Friday, March 29, 2013

3/30/13-3/31/13—Wielding Power Wisely

Weekend Reading: The Key and The Woman from Gidget London's ADORABLE Stick Figure Lenormand. So, basically, the woman has all the answers this weekend. She's always right. I usually demur from readings that put one sex ahead of the other, but today I have no choice. So if you're a man, just nod politely and do what you're told this Easter weekend. And if you're a woman and still don't know the answers, ask another woman. Women are the answer to all the world's problems. And while we don't ALWAYS have to be right, we do need to start kicking butts and naming names when it comes to the uglier things that testosterone hath wrought in this world. And part of having all the answers is to support, reward and care for good men who have their heads on straight, rather than fuel the testostofest by letting the other ones keep getting away with their BS. So listen to the ladies this weekend, gentlemen. But ladies, wield your power fairly and wisely.

Thursday, March 28, 2013

3/29/13—Zigging Toward Evolution

Today's Draw: Playing Off the Page in the What to Know Now That's Been Blocked or Covered in the Past position from Illuminate! Life Journey Cards and the Deck of 1000 Spreads. Do you have the courage to zig when others zag? Do you zig because you don't want to be a zagger? Or do you zig because every fiber of your being tells you that zigging is the right way to go?

Playing Off the Page is about stepping out of the boundaries and following your inner music. It's like thinking out of the box. But, spiritually speaking, it goes much deeper than that. 

In order for change to happen—in order for the ideals hippies sang about and Buddhists meditate on to ever happen—people have to stretch beyond what they've learned and done thus far. For the second or third time this week, I'm saying that we have to start doing the hard things...the things we resist because we hold on so tightly to the fear-based thinking of our past. 

In the 1940s, Nazis gathered up everyone who was Jewish or gay and mass exterminated them. Because they didn't like them. They felt they had legitimate reasons. Jews and gays weakened the human race. And slowly they convinced others that exterminating this kind of people would cleanse the population and the world and its people would be stronger than ever before. 

You'd think Americans would have learned something from the ideals we fought for when we battled the Nazis, but the fear of Communism in the 1950s brought about McCarthyism. We needed to rid American society, not just of all Communists, but of anyone who even associated with Communists. And like the witch hunts of the 1600s, word of mouth and casual proof was enough to slander a person, leading to loss of career and, in the case of the witch trials, even loss of life. Such was the fear of even coming into contact with someone who had come into contact with someone who had been identified as a scourge. 

We look back at all those things and say "those days are past. We're wiser now." But what we need to know today that's been blocked or covered from the past is that it's the people who dare play off the page—the ones who are trying to to break their little corner of the world out of the fear-based justifications that perpetuate Nazi or McCarthiest mentality—are the ones that often end up being silenced. Today. And if you're part of the silencing, you're part of the problem. 

Anytime you make any single person "other" than you...they're a monster, they're evil, they're archaic—you're part of the problem. Think about the way you felt about the "other side" in last year's presidential election, for example. I certainly thought the other side was irrational and THEY certainly made me angry and even fearful, because what if THEIR side won? This also happens frequently along the religious and sexuality divides. If you can't love and embrace them and look into their eyes and listen to them...if you avoid them, mock them, blackball, reject or otherwise derail're part of the problem. 

With McCarthyism, it went even further. If you were caught talking to a suspected Communist, you were lumped in with them. You were blacklisted. There was zero tolerance if you opened your heart and mind to someone who was an outcast. If you talked to them, you were dangerous. You, too, were supporting the Communist path. And others needed to know to avoid you. In short, if you dared play off the page, your music was taken away. 

We all struggle with doing the hard things. One of the hard things I'm trying to do is venture into the world of lovingkindness, a Buddhist principle where you love and open your heart to the "least of us" in the same way you open it to someone you love. This is why I will give money to "beggars" and never once concern myself with what they might use it for. It's not my job to question their need, but to serve it when moved. I'm also kind to people others have written off. It's not my place to judge why they might need kindness, compassion and love, but to offer it when I can. 

But wait, what if they're going to shoot heroin with the money you give? What if the person society has written off is unkind? Well, those are fear-based concerns. They're concerns that make those people "other". Only treating them as I would treat myself makes them one with me. Only releasing the fear that their unkindness may hurt me...only trusting in myself, having confidence in myself and trusting in the universe helps me rise above. 

I say "when I can" because there will always be circumstances when I will act from fear or protection. And I won't walk up to someone threatening to shoot me if I come closer...that would be stupid. But I can push myself to do the difficult thing, even it means I stand alone. I can release my need to control what they do with the money or my fear of words they might say, little by little. And instead of cutting myself off from the chance to practice this principle by ever-tightening my circle the way McCarthy making others dangerous by association...I can try to see the sameness in even the source of the "other-ness". I can try to do that hard thing, even if I fail. Because this is the only chance I think our society has to move beyond the music we've written since the beginning of time. And it's the way I choose to challenge myself spiritually on my path. 

It hurts no one but the fearful. It threatens no one but the fearful. But in that way, walking this path can often feel lonely—there are a lot of the fearful out there. It can also feel profoundly free and moving. Because feeding the purest, most unconditionally loving places in our heart—as difficult and tenuous as it may sometimes be—pays back in peace and divine love in those moments when you can drop the fear of being misunderstood by the fearful, and you move confidently forward in your aloneness knowing you're doing what's right for both your own—and the planet's—evolution. 

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

3/28/13—Finding Perspective

Today's Draw: The Eight of Pentacles/Ginger in the Things That Work Against Us to Leave in the Past position from the Herbal Tarot and the Deck of 1000 Spreads. Do you feel like your whole life is threatened by something big right now? Do thoughts of it dominate your day? Do you feel like there's nowhere to turn?

Most people who know tarot would think there's nothing negative about the Eight of Pentacles. It's a card of hard work and laying roots so something solid can grow. But there's a shadow side to every tarot card and the shadow side to this is that we can sometimes get so bogged down in the details of our lives that we fail to see the big picture. 

This happens all the time when we focus on something going wrong in our lives. The more we focus on that thing, the bigger it gets. Maybe a dozen or so years ago I got a letter from the IRS that said I owed them taxes on over $250K of income I had earned in the previous year that I didn't claim....haha. Either I overlooked the fact that I earned over $250K that year or they had made a mistake. 

So I called them and told them they'd made a mistake. I even had proof, because the form that said I'd earned that money had some other tax ID on it instead of my social security number. Easy enough to handle, right? Well, when I called the IRS and told them there was some kind of mistake, they said (and I kid you not), "the IRS does not make mistakes." They told me I'd have to prove I didn't earn the money. I said "don't you have to prove I did?" And they said the fact that this form ended up in my file was the only proof the IRS needed. 


I called the IRS many times over the coming weeks as I did my best to gather evidence that this money was, indeed, not mine. I thought if I could just get one person to listen to me, they'd see that the social security number on the form wasn't mine. But no. So I gathered all the information and just when I was about to send it off to them, I saw that I had missed my deadline! A bad situation was about to get worse. 

Now, I stop the story here, because over the weeks of compiling evidence and calling the IRS, this issue consumed me. I was terrified that I'd have to go to jail or whatever they do to "felons" like me. Or that I'd have to sell my house to pay for this money I didn't earn. Or that I'd be turned out homeless on the streets. Every time I called them, that's the feeling they left me with. It was unreal. 

From my perspective today, I know that if they ever tried to sue me for this money, they'd easily lose. I mean, it wasn't my SSN! I'd know that if just one reasonable person in the IRS looked at this paperwork, they'd see the error. I'd realize I know people in the IRS that could help me. I'd probably still be scared because, let's face it, it's the IRS. But I don't think I'd have jumped, terrified, through so many hoops for so many weeks. I could have pulled back and seen a bigger picture. I might have remembered that, in this country, you're innocent until proven guilty. 

So back to the story. On the day I realized I'd missed the deadline, I called the IRS trembling and in tears. Really, I thought I was going to barf. The lady I got on the phone said, "calm down, tell me your story". And I did. And she said, "honey, this doesn't even have your SSN on it! This isn't your responsibility. If anything like this ever happens to you again, you keep calling until you get someone to listen to you." With that, my file was closed. Had I pulled back, I'd have seen I could have just called them and cried...haha. 

Now this might not be the perfect example, because I think anyone would be feel scared or threatened in a situation like that. But so often things happen that seem like they're the end of the world. Everyone is out to get us! Our reputation is ruined! Our lives are ruined! No one will ever talk to us again! Etc. The truth of the matter is that if we pull back just a little, we might see that this one thing is just a piece of a picture and not the whole picture. 

If we don't pull back, the myopia/fear/isolation/paranoia we create by miring ourselves in these details can cause us to push away the people and opportunities that could actually be our salvation. We start seeing danger and villainy everywhere in our peripheral and that darkness eats at us, drawing us further and further into the drama. We blame it on the situation, but the real culprit is our inability to pull our heads out of the issue long enough to see how inconsequential something is in the context of our life. It's only consequential because we make it so. 

We have so many parts to our lives that have nothing to do with the threat at hand. A spat with your work friends, for example, makes you feel like everyone hates you. Then you talk to your husband or your neighbor or your best friend and realize that you have plenty of supporters. A rejected book proposal makes you feel like you'll never be published, then you sit down to write your blog and realize you're published every day. Your boyfriend leaves you and you're sure you'll never be loved again. Then you get home and are greeted by your adoring dogs and a message from your sister and you realize that you've only lost a little of the love you have in your life. 

Things are rarely ever as serious as they seem. You just need to pull your head out of the weeds far enough to see it. 

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

3/27/13—Embracing our Crazy Butterfly

Today's Draw Classic*: The Princess of Swords from the Tarot of the Silicon Dawn. Do you ever wonder if you're just a little too whacked out for this world? Do you ever worry that maybe something's just a little "off" or a little "broken" inside you? How would life be different if you could completely let go of self-criticism and self-doubt?

This particular Princess of Swords is a hot mess. She's ungrounded. A mix of contradictions. Riding an emotional rollercoaster. A little lost. But somehow it all works for her. This is who she is. And, as the book says, she's still so much more than she even realizes. 

I'm someone who has a pretty strong energy about me. And that energy is almost always positive and supportive and kind. Because of this, people sometimes make assumptions that I'm really easy going about things and won't mind if they're lax on their end of our relationship, whether it's a business or personal one. That's a bad assumption to make. Like the Princess of Swords, my blade cuts both ways. 

There's a saying "do not mistake my kindness for weakness." That's a perfect saying for me. I won't pitch a fit or go out in a blaze of fire. I'll just calmly state why it's not working out for me and quietly walk away. And when I'm done, I'm done. 

So how does this relate to the mess of contradictions that is the Princess of Swords? Well, because we all have contradicting natures. I can be—and am—a genuinely warm and supportive person. But take advantage of that—or fault me for that—and you don't get the best of me anymore. 

But the thing is, sometimes these contradictions cause us to question or diminish our own value. We wonder why we can't always be Super-Good Tierney and what must be broken when we're Snappish Tierney or Hormonally Deranged Tierney (For the record, I'm not normally the snappish type, I don't think. But hormonally deranged? *ahem* No comment.) 

Sure, maybe there are FREAKS out there who are terribly consistent in everything they do, walking through life with no contradictions (at least not any they'll let out of the closet). And then there are people who do have emotional and/or psychological issues that need tending. But the bulk of us rest uncomfortably in a middle ground where we're oddly all over the place, following a logic that only makes sense to us. And here's what the Princess of Swords has to say about that: It's OK. You and your weird mix of contradictions and eccentricities are as exotic and unique and beautiful as the flower in her hair or the mark of the butterfly on her cheeks. 

How would life be different if we could just believe this about ourselves? If we could move through each day knowing we're good just the way we are? Just imagine...things like passive-aggression and misunderstandings and taking things personally would just fade into the woodwork!

I'm not going to stand before you and tell you I'm there...haha. There is much about myself I still have to come to peace with. But what I can do is take a vacation from insecurity, self-criticism and doubt on Wednesday, March 27th. And if that doesn't work out, I can try again on Thursday, March 28th. Because as the book so eloquently tells us about the Princess of Swords (and, of course, ourselves), "Poor crazy butterfly. She's the only thing that holds herself back from flying."

*Taken from a post on 11/3/11

Monday, March 25, 2013

3/26/13—Revisiting Past Traumas

Today's Draw: The Five of Pentacles/Mugwort* from the Herbal Tarot in the What to Leave in the Past Surprise Friends and Family position from the Deck of 1000 Spreads. Is some past trauma or fear coming up again in your life? Do you feel powerless over the stuff going on around you? What can you change internally that could change the way you see what's going on outside of you?

Never heard of the What to Leave in the Past Surprise Friends and Family position in tarot? Well it's all the rage. But before I can get to that, I want to talk about this particular Five of Pentacles. Normally I read the Five of Pentacles as being about fear. And it is...fear of loss or a loss mentality. 

But the book for this deck has an interesting take. It talks about how, when our external conditions change, we need to look inside and see what needs changing internally. These problems that come up in our lives come because the universe wants us to evolve. We can greet that with self pity and fear. Or we can greet it as an opportunity. We may be powerless over our external conditions, but we're not powerless over our internal ones. 

Remember, opportunity often comes wrapped in some pretty crappy clothes. A bad turn at my job, couple by fear of being fired led me to the best job I've ever current job as a self-employed writer. I have not once in my life met a distasteful moment that didn't come with a beautiful opportunity at its core. Sometimes my fears and my own desire or need to wallow in my situation have held that golden egg at arm's distance for quite some time before I finally saw the glint of something peeking through, but it was always there. 

Right now a few of the people in my friends and family group are going through some scary shizz. Myself included. But my problems are petty whinings compared to what they're faced with. If we can manage to detach ourselves from our own issues long enough to look around us, we can usually get up high enough to spot the perspective and the opportunity hiding in the room, you know? What looks to us like a situation that could ruin a life, may in time turn into the very thing that saved the life. 

So let's just say my issue involves a sort of "reliving a past trauma...lite". It's not the past trauma. It just feels like it in my paranoia and pain center. Things come up in our lives that set the old tapes playing. But that's just it. They're old tapes. They're like 8-tracks. They're no longer relevant. And the reason why they're no longer relevant is because we're no longer the same person. Our inner landscape has changed as a result of the opportunities brought on by the original issue and a million other issues in between. And our outer landscape is different, too. So while the situation my trigger the old way of responding, that kind of response is also no longer relevant. 

The fact that we've changed and the situation we're experiencing now is not the experience from before is part of the surprise the spread card indicates. Another part of the surprise is that what you're going through...whatever it hearkens up from the coming up again as an opportunity for you to heal that part of you and get rid of the tape altogether. And I think there's an element of "reliving a past trauma or fear" in everyone's issues. It may not be the main issue, but it may ride alongside the issue. And facing it from the perspective of "I'm not the same person and this isn't the same situation" could act like a release valve releasing some of the tension. Or in my case, most of it. 

We don't have dominion over those things that happen to or in our environment. But we do have dominion over how we internalize those things. Do we use this as an opportunity to trust in our higher power or ourselves? Do we use it to feel more powerless than we actually are? Our past traumas, even if unrelated, have a lot to teach us in that regard. We always have the opportunity to leave the trauma in the past and bring the lesson with us into the future. 

Whether what you're going through right now hearkens back to a time when you lost someone you cared about, when you felt unsafe, when you were bullied, when you were paralyzed with fear or when you nearly lost everything, you're not powerless like you thought you were the first time around. You don't have to internalize it like you did the first time around. You're not the person who experienced it the first time around. So leave that in the past. In the present, you're someone who's survived something like this before. You know what you have control over and what you don't. And you will survive this again. 

There are two things I can say for sure. 1. No matter how long or hard it rains, the sun always comes out again. This has been true for billions of years, and for every other trauma you've ever faced. It's true now, too. 2. Life's traumas and dramas are like Cracker Jacks. They may leave a stale taste in your mouth, but they do come with a surprise. Don't let this time pass without claiming your prize. 

And for the friend I talked to tonight, there may not be a lot of comfort in my words for you today. Some things truly are first-time fears and have to unfold quite a bit before you can exhale. I wish I could take away your worry and pain and feelings of powerlessness. I can't. But I can promise you that you need never feel alone. I love you and am thinking of you. 

*Appropriately enough Mugwort is a bitter tonic. It's often taken to relive nervousness and insomnia. It's burned for protection, as well as to give you a clearer view of life and a deeper sense of peace. 

Sunday, March 24, 2013

3/25/13—Going for the Gold Star

Today's Draw: Sun in the House of Child in the Heart of the Situation position from Ryder's Lenormand, the Deck of Lenormand Houses and the Deck of 1000 Spreads. What lesson is lighting up in your life right now? Where are you beginning to see the light? What's the spiritual gold star you want to earn?

This is funny. Ryder's Lenormand was created by an 8-year-old boy—he did it all himself, even created his own (adorable) bags to keep them in. His mom is Rana George, is a legend in the Lenormand world. But he did all the work himself, adorning bags during his spring break. Anyway, the thing that I find funny about this is that one way of reading this combo is "at the heart of the situation is a successful child." And that's Ryder. So congratulations to him for this successful endeavor!

Not having any successful children (or children period) myself, however, I can't write a whole blog post on successful children. Unless, of course, you want to hear me yap on endlessly about the progress Mystic the dog is making with her obsessive licking issues. :D 

So another way of seeing Child is as a beginning. The Sun most commonly means success, achievement or even illumination of some sort. So I'm going with "beginning to see the light at the heart of the situation."

That's relevant to me in many ways right now. You know, I believe there's a place in our spiritual journeys where we feel we've done a pretty good job. We're good people. We're aware of many things.  And we're comfortable. 

But when it comes to my spiritual development, I'm always trying to push myself to over-achieve...haha. If I can. I talk about "doing the hard things" here and I know I'm not alone in doing that because I have a solid audience. There are many people who want to earn a gold star or do extra credit on their path. Although the hard things differ for different people, some of the stuff we all tend to struggle with includes letting go and surrendering fully to the universe, non-judgment and showing grace to others, regardless. 

It's easy to do these things under optimal trust the universe when things are going well, to not judge when people are doing normal stuff and to show grace to people who show grace to you. But the harder row to hoe is to trust the universe when life to turns to crap, to refrain from judgement when someone offends you and to show grace to even the worst of humanity's lot. That's the gold star stuff, because it's where a lot of people fall apart and slip back into habits of negative thought and action. It's so easy to do. We all indulge in it. And I believe the lure of that comfortable place never leaves. 

Some of these "gold star" things hearken to the discipline of Buddhist practice for me. I'm not a Buddhist, but when you see people like Pema Chodron, she didn't get to where she is in her spiritual development and wisdom by staying in the comfortable area. I was talking to a Pema groupie about this tonight, in fact. Pema is a Buddhist nun and teacher. And she's fabulous because  you know she's someone who's ahead of you on the path, but she still struggles to maintain her forward motion along that path sometimes. And she's not afraid to share her failings with you. Every once in a while, stuff happens to show her how much farther she still has to go. Just like it does for me and you. The trick is to use it as a springboard, rather than as cement shoes...haha. 

When it comes to spirituality, we never get "there". It's not a destination. It's a journey. We just spiral continually higher, coming to new insights and gaining new enlightenment along the way. 

The principle that's come back around to me lately is another of those "gold star" things. It's beautifully described in Don Miguel Ruiz's book, The Four Agreements: A Practical Guide to Personal Freedom—Don't Take Anything Personally. 

That's got to be the hardest thing for a human being to do...haha. We KNOW intellectually that anything another person says or does is about THEM, not YOU. But we each live in worlds that revolve around us, so we naturally assume it's about us. And boy does it push buttons of insecurity and control issues and needing to be right! And that's just the tip of the iceberg. This one, for me, brings up LOTS of stuff. 

Another way I've heard it said before is, "another person's opinion of you is none of your business." It literally isn't any of your business. It reflects the way they feel about themselves...their own frustrations and their own struggles with insecurity and control issues, etc.. No matter how much they want to put it on you, so it's not something THEY have to deal with, it's still not about you. You can consider it and see what relevance it has for you...what lesson you can take from it...but it doesn't belong to you.

We all have our paths to walk in life. And when someone is looking over at your path and critiquing the way you're walking, the direction you're moving in and your failure to walk in the "right" direction, then they're not really focused on their own growth, are they? So why would you even listen? It's not. About. You. 

It's hard to keep remembering you're OK in the center of that, though. It's hard to keep focused on your path in the center of that. You get caught up in their reality...a reality that has nothing to do with your own. And then you generally get swept down into their energy and whatever it is that's going on within them. And before you know it, you're off your path. Because I haven't been good at this lesson in the past, I've allowed it to deter me and compromise my integrity to my vision. But I'm beginning to see the light. 

So if any of that rings true to you...if you think you might be looking at someone else's path, or if you think someone is trying to impose theirs on you...if someone is has a bad opinion of you, or if you have a bad opinion of someone else...if someone acts out against you, or you act out against them....just mind your own business. Let them have their tantrum and remain centered in knowing it has nothing to do with you. Because if you get caught up in the energy of it, you begin to become the very thing you dislike. (That said, this probably has come to you, in particular, for a reason. There are lessons in it, to be sure. But the lessons are yours to determine, not someone else's. It rarely ever has to do with anything they're saying about you or doing to you. That's about them.) 

This has always been a difficult thing for me because my ego wants to fight against get think I must be want everyone to like me, etc. and so on. But I'm beginning to see the light of why this is coming around to me again. None of it is any of my business and I'm not going to let it drag me down or deter me from my path as it has in the past. There are gold stars to earn. And I'm going to get one of them, dammit! :D