Friday, July 26, 2013

7/27/13-7/28/13—Enjoying Time Off

Weekend Reading: Seven of Pentacles from the Victorian Romantic. It seems like we've been getting this message a lot on the weekends—enjoy yourself. Traditionally this card speaks of the hard work being done and waiting to see what comes of it. But this version shows a woman lost in the moment as she gathers blooms and tends to the abundance she's created. So really just enjoy your weekend. You earned it.

Thursday, July 25, 2013

7/26/13—Distrusting Yourself

Today's Draw Classic*: Island of the Giant Cattle from the Celtic Book of the Dead oracle. Is there a situation in your life right now that you feel a need to exert control over? Is there one where you really just don't trust another person to do their job? Can you look beyond those issues to see where they are generated by your own fears and lack of self trust?

Also known as Island of the Beefy Nekkid Dude, the Island of the Giant Cattle is a card that talks about a couple of different concepts that are intertwined. The first is that, no matter how hard you try, there will always be some things that defeat you. And the second is that an inability to trust those who may know better, could be one of those things defeating you right now. And a third that I'm adding from my own head is that an inability to trust yourself could be what's really at the root of all that. 

As a nicely compensated consultant, I'm always surprised at the clients who don't trust your recommendations and/or actually stand in the way of doing your best work because they don't trust you to know your business. What it really comes down to is a fear...that if they don't exert control over every phase, that the project will most surely fail. Ultimately it's not me they don't trust, it's themselves, in one way or another. 

So they will hire me to write a website, for example, then they'll change so much of what I write that the content ends up sounding just like the last website they had...the one they wanted to change...the one they wanted to sound different from. And the reason it sounds like the last one, is because they did the same thing last time to some other copywriter who now won't take their calls. They don't trust themselves to make the right hiring and management decisions to set the stage for success, perhaps because they've never managed a project like this before or maybe they've been unsuccessful in the past. So they end up carefully shaping the very thing they fear—defeat—into reality. 

Just for the record, the people I maintain as clients aren't like that. I've said before and I'll say it again, I have the world's best clients...people who see my value and truly appreciate the work I do for them. Many of them have been working with me for 10-15 years. They put their trust in me and that's how I like to work. It makes me want to aspire to my best. 

So, when I'm so "strict" about letting the professionals do what they know how to do, how come I find myself ignoring advice I get from professionals who know better than me? I certainly don't do this all the time. Most of the time I trust. But I can see in two places of my life where I'm feeling "defeat", that I'm also not doing what the professionals I've hired are telling me to do. 

What could appear like overconfidence, an inflated sense of self importance or control issues to the professional whose advice is being ignored, is, in my case, my own self-trust issues. In one case I have so little trust in myself based on choices I've made in the past, that I'm just plain afraid to do what it takes to change. It's a very complex bundle of emotions with that particular issue. But in the end, I'm both afraid of failure and untrusting of myself. And the end result is a cycle of failure, the very thing I'm afraid of. 

In the other case, it appears more like I just don't trust life to take its own natural course. Because it's something that just needs time to work itself out. But underneath the difficulty in just surrendering to time and the process, is a lack of trust in my own ability to happily adapt to any eventuality. It isn't until I remind myself that I'm really good at doing that, that the stress and worry that causes the mistrust melts away. 

So you see how it works? Sometimes it's hard to see how your mistrust of others is actually mistrust of self. But it's there. What does all of this evoke in you?

*From 11/12/12

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

7/25/13—Creating Prosperity

Today's Draw: Maker Ten from Tarot of the Sidhe in the Immediate Future position from the Deck of 1000 Spreads. Do some have to be poor in order for others to prosper? Are there a limited number of spots on the prosperity train? And if not, what do you think keeps you from riding on it?

As you'll see on the card, it says "Kingdom Prospers" and that's what the Maker Ten is about. It's about having more than enough resources. But you'll notice the card says "kingdom", not "king". There's more than enough for everyone to share. 

There is a sense that there are limited resources in the universe. In order for one person to be rich, two or three people, perhaps, have to be poor. This is a notion that haunts the minds of the self employed. If Sue got a new client, there is less available work out there for me. In a universe of limited resources, that's how it works. There are haves and have nots. 

But what if the only reason there are haves and have nots is because some people apply themselves and some don't? Because some people believe in themselves and some don't? Because some people believe in a limited universe and some people believe in a limitless one?

We tend to have the notion that the more education you have, the better off you'll be financially. But Bill Gates was a college dropout. Or that where you come from defines where you'll go in life. Talk to Oprah about that one. Or that your level of intelligence determines your wealth. Consult your manager on that...haha. There are some things that may limit the prosperity of one's kingdom—mental illness, for one. But physical illness didn't stop the Crazy Sexy Cancer woman from making a buck. The stress of poverty didn't stop the Harry Potter woman. And while the checker at Safeway may not make as much money as a rap star, if she manages her money right she could end up in a better financial position. 

Sure, you could say "those are all exceptions to the rule". But do you really believe there are a limited number of "success spots" open to the exceptions to the rule...kind of like a cosmic equal opportunity quota? And I've just been talking about money here, because the word "prosperity" conjures up images of money. But it's really about more than that. It's about a richly lived life. 

What do you think might change if we began to think, "when I prosper, the kingdom prospers," rather than "when I prosper, someone loses?" What might change if we started to believe that things like riches and prosperity don't have anything to do with money? And what might change if we, as a society, stopped measuring worth based on what we have?" Is it possible our minds and our mindsets create more poverty than the universe does?

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

7/24/13—Setting Priorities

Today's Draw Classic*: Three of Cups from the Infinite Visions. Do you feel like your priorities are in order? Do you give proper attention to all the areas of your life that feed you? Or do you find yourself placing priority on things that don't fuel your heart?

The Three of Cups is about friendship, dancing, joyfulness, friendships and frivolity. It's a valuable reminder that life isn't always about work.

It's kind of sad that we'd need that kind of reminder, but I know I do. Too often I tend to put everything at a lower priority than work. So whatever leftover energy I have at the end of the day, I dole out to the other areas of, friends, ourselves. Kind of screwed up when you think of it in those terms, huh?

Every once in a while, we need to assess our priorities and see where we stand, making changes along the way. And we need to do this consciously, because we get into "normal" routines. While those routines may be normal, though, are they sane? Do they make sense in the context of the life you WANT to live? And, if not, when will you set routines that make sense in that context?

Tonight I met a couple of ladies in their 70s. They have their set lives doing whatever they do, but every once in a while they leave the husbands and other responsibilities behind for what they call their "Thelma and Louise" trips. They hang out together all the time. They're best friends and live close to each other. They don't have to take trips together. But they take these weekends to nurture and honor this side of their lives that much more.  

How many of us "simply can't" do a trip like that in order to make time for something that, when you really think about it, holds less value in your heart...or monopolizes your heart as though it's the only thing that matters? It's time to see how you portion up your energy. Work isn't a bad thing. But it's not the only thing. And every so often it doesn't hurt to check in and ask yourself why you really think you're here.

*Adapted from 10/20/11

Monday, July 22, 2013

7/23/13—Knowing Yourself and Others

Today's Draw: Fox in the Strength position from the Magpie Oracle. What kinds of things do you judge others for? When you judge or criticize others, do you take the extra step to see what it reflects within yourself? What is it time for you to face up to?

For those not up on the latest Magpie news, this is Carrie's second casting sheet for her charms. It mixes her oracle with tarot's Major Arcana. Her Strength position bears the word "Face" as in "face up to who you are." And tonight, Fox is telling us that we need to face our sly, manipulative, untrustworthy side...our con artist side. 

We could all gang up on Fox and beat the crap out of him for calling us names. Or we could listen to the wisdom he brings. Because here's the truth—we've all got it in us. There isn't a single person in my earshot who has never intentionally wrangled something in their own favor...or who hasn't been totally honest about something. 

I've been thinking a lot lately about the things people do to hide or deny their shadow sides. There are the people who always talk about how perfect their life and relationships are, when nobody's life is that perfect. There are people who get deeply involved in religion so they'll be forgiven their shadow sides and not have to take responsibility for them. And then there's what a lot of us tend to do...judge others, both for stuff we do ourselves and stuff we don't do. All of that is denial in my book. And I'm guilty of the last one. 

Each time we point at someone else and call them manipulative, for example, we're being manipulative. We're manipulating a situation where we're saying "unlike me, that person is manipulative and a bad person." When we point the finger away from ourselves, we're pretending we're not guilty. And we're labeling someone as "manipulative" for random acts of manipulation, as if that's who they are at their very essence. Were we ourselves judged in such a manner, we certainly wouldn't appreciate it because we know where our intentions are. But when we say about someone else, we're only assuming things about their intentions. We can't possibly know what's in their heart, yet we're labeling them an absolute. Which means we're manipulating the thoughts of others to consider that possibility about the other person, too. 

There are also plenty of things we judge others for that we don't do. Let's say you judge someone for having an affair on their husband when you would never do anything like that. That's fair enough, but what about the times you've made choices that consider yourself over others around when you took the promotion your co-worker wanted? What about the time you went out to lunch with Patty, whom your best friend Lola hates and you didn't tell Lola about it? Or, on my part, what about the time you went to another person's house, left your dogs at home alone, and rolled on the floor with your friend's dog and told them THEY were most handsome? 

Whatever it is we're judging others for, we've all got it ourselves to some degree. When I look at the things I judge others for, they're things I'm in denial about some degree. I may not have robbed the grocery store at gunpoint, but I did steal a vial of glue once from the Base Exchange (BX) when I was a kid. For the thrill of it, I guess. To test my boundaries, I suppose. To see if I would still feel bad enough about it to write about it 40-some years later in search of some form of absolution...possibly. 

But the things I don't judge people for are things like smoking. You won't see me criticize a smoker, because I know what it's like. I was one too. And I'm usually pretty compassionate about all addictions, because I have my overeating issues, too. When you've faced your own guilt in a particular area, you're more likely to be compassionate than judgmental. And when I do make a remark about someone else's addictions, I immediately see it as something I'm criticizing myself over. I'm at a decent place of self awareness on that one. But there are other "judgments" I'm sure I'm in denial on. My quickness to judge others on things is both my measuring stick of denial and my reflection of what's lurking beneath my own surface. 

So the fox is asking us to face this side of us that places ourselves above others or separate from others in any way. We're all false to ourselves in some ways. And we're all false to others in some ways. It's not something we like to embrace about ourselves. But, as they say, monsters thrive in the dark. If we push these things into the dark, they will hold us back. They will eventually come out. And, I hate to say it, they will be seen. People know when something's up. They may never mention it or even know any details, but people know. 

We think we're protecting ourselves by hiding away our dark parts, but the truth is the only way to protect ourselves is to drag them out in the light and hack away at them—not so much to eliminate them to learn how to integrate them into a more authentic version of you and use them to their best advantage. Until we understand and accept the seedy underbelly of who we are, we can never truly know ourselves or others. 

Sunday, July 21, 2013

7/22/13—Offering True Friendship

Today's Draw: Child in the position of "A True Friend Offers This To You" from the Magpie Oracle from Carrie Paris. How good have you been at sustaining friendships over the years? What do you think the secret to sustaining long-term relationships is? What is it inside of you that stands between you and more successful relationships?

I started to write a whole thing about me and relationships not working very well, then I realized it was one of those tapes we play over in our mind...things that might have once been true and that we continue to believe out of force of habit. So instead of saying I suck at relationships, I'll say I haven't mastered them yet. 

I have a friend who's done a pretty good job with relationships. She's married to her HS sweetheart and they're both in their 50s. So that's a long time and a lot of compromise. And her best friend from third grade is still someone she considers a best friend today. Certainly if either of them needed each other, they'd be there for each other. She's always been a really good friend to me, too. And while I've never been a BAD friend to her, I can see where I haven't always risen up to meet the hand she extends. And I feel bad about it. I think I don't know how to accept a hand like that for reasons we'll get to later. 

Her secret is that she's really good at letting "conditions" fall to the wayside. I hesitate to say "unconditional" because I do think there ARE conditions that would cause her to leave a friendship in the dust. But I've known her more than 20 years. Her small, strong circle of friends has been the same the entire time and the couple of us newbies that have known her for less than 25 years have been offered the same kind of friendship. 

It's important to note that she doesn't let go of transgressions only to let them fester. I mean, in a couple of situations I've seen her hold on to something. But the difference between her and me is that she still holds on to the relationship, despite being hurt. She doesn't see things as so "disposable". And, as her friend, you don't feel threatened by losing the friendship over some transgression or another. And she attracts people worthy of that in her life. Ultimately the difference between us is trust and sincerity. And that's what today's draw is about. 

In twenty-some years she has never given me reason not to trust her. The one time we had an issue about something, she chose the friendship over being right. That one simple gesture of saying "you're right, I shouldn't have done it" rather than arguing her point was big for me. It was a powerful lesson from her. She's someone who has told me many times, "I'm just not as deep as you, Tierney." And by saying that, she means that she just doesn't hold on to crap, inspect it, revisit it, resent it and embody it the way I do. She's built simpler than that. So when she trusts, she trusts. And when trust is broken, she forgives. AND, probably key to this whole thing, she trusts herself enough to navigate interpersonal BS in a way that won't leave her in tatters. She trusts herself enough to trust others to respect that trust. So instead of responding from a place of fear, she responds from a place of sincerity. 

Honestly, I haven't met a whole lot of people like her. There's a whole range of expressed emotion and neuroses she doesn't have. In some ways it's good. In other ways, there's an emotional distance that doesn't get breached with her. But emotion is more like an unfamiliar tool for her than something to armor against. Her simple way of viewing relationships is met with a simple way of viewing others. She's just not as petty as most of us are. And I'm not saying she's perfect...she has plenty of flaws. It's just that in this one thing, she's very successful. And I think she attracts people worthy of her trust because she trusts herself. 

So this trust and sincerity is what a true friend offers. And while I might think I extend that in the beginning, truth is that I don't trust myself to be as generous with it as she has been. I think that self trust is key. Because I'm not firmly footed in that, I tend to react more quickly to situations. And because I tend to analyze others, I also tend to be suspicious of them and their sincerity. The more you analyze people, the more untrustworthy we ALL appear. So ultimately, we have to trust ourselves and the system enough to know that, even if the friendship doesn't work out, there are no losers here. Only winners. And if we get taken advantage of, we'll brush it off and be fine. 

See, these tapes I was talking about at the beginning of the post tell me that people will try to use you. Or that there are ulterior motives. Or any of a number of other labels that doom most relationships before they ever get off the ground. This protection of the self...this lack of trust in the self's ability to effectively and efficiently manage disappointment...keeps a lot of opportunities at bay and actually attracts people who will test my assumptions. And I don't think I'm alone in that at all.

In the past couple of years I've discovered that disappointments don't hit so deeply within me anymore, however. I think it's because I'm looking for less from the other person. I'm not looking for them to fill any chinks in my cracked and knotted self perception. I'm more looking for kindred companions to walk forward with. And that's what I'm now finding. I still don't have it all figured out. But I do know that the more I trust myself, the less of an issue trust seems to be in my relationships. 

Why do you think The Child landed in the position of "What A True Friend Offers You" for you? Here are some keywords for Child: Trust, Beginnings, Baby Steps, Innocence, Sincerity, Fragility, New Starts, Student.