Friday, September 20, 2013

9/21/13-9/22/13—Screwing the Devil

Weekend Reading: The Devil from Tarot of the Tattoo Age. You heard the man, indulge yourself this weekend. You earned it! Consider, though, that just as you can indulge in excess, you can also indulge yourself in doing something good for yourself...something that brings you more into balance. Imagine how indulgent it would be to catch up on all your chores so that you have a free mind. Or the indulgence of starting a new week without guilt about what you ate or drank over the weekend. The ultimate indulgence could just be adopting different perspective on what the word "indulgence" means. It's possible to do exactly what the Devil tells you to do and screw him at the same time. :D

FYI, the post I write this Sunday (aka Monday's post) will be part of a tarot blog hop—a collective blogging experience where you hop from blog to blog. This one celebrates the Autumnal equinox and is about divination and myth. Mine will be posted at 2pm eastern on Sunday and it will lead to 25 other blogs. Perhaps you could indulge yourself in that this Sunday afternoon. :)

Thursday, September 19, 2013

9/20/13—Following Your Star

Today's Draw: The Star from the Art of Life Tarot. What is your "star"? Do you know what it is? Are you following it?

Today's entry will be the shortest in Daily Draw history. Because the card says it all. 

And with that, I'm off to follow my star, which is watching the sunset from my favorite location with my favorite critter on earth, Kizzie Sadler (my boy dog). My two girl dogs followed their star earlier today as they sniffed their way through the neighborhood on a walkie with their mommy. 

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

9/1/9/13—Shutting Down Our Traps

Today's Draw: Seven of Feathers in the House of Coffin from the Margarete Petersen tarot and the Deck of Lenormand Houses. Do you set up traps for yourself in the way you think and act? Are you even consciously aware of all the ways we do stuff like that? Is it possible that "working through" an issue is the slowest path to healing?

The coffin signifies endings and the Seven of Feathers is a good thing to end. It's all about the self-fulfilling prophesies and traps we make for ourselves. So today's combo is about ending:

  • The desire to be like others or have what others have
  • The use of the phrases like, "I can't", "that's impossible", "I have to" and "it won't work anyway", along with negative self-talk
  • Predicting and/or attaching to outcomes
  • Comparing yourself to others
  • Thinking in absolutes, such as something is either good or bad and no in-between
  • Thinking you have to do or be anything other than what you naturally do and be
I'm sure there are some things I've left off the list. But think about all the things you do that send the wrong messages out into the universe or put you in a position where you feel obligated. Even feeling obligated to do anything (other than the obligation parents have to their children and following the laws of the land, imo) is a trap. You don't have to do anything you don't want to. But I'll bet you do tons of stuff you don't want to every day. We all do. Partly because we prefer the doing to the consequences of not doing. But also partly because we've trapped ourselves. 

Imagine that there's a big accountant in the sky whose job it is to record everything you place your focus on and give you more of it. So the things you like, you get more of! But you also get more of the stuff you don't like, too. Because we tend to focus on the things we don't like.  
The tricky thing about this accounting systems is that accepting and embracing something sends up a "she likes" flare. But resisting things you don't want also places attention on them, sending up more "she likes" flares. The only way to release things you don't want is to get past the anger, resistance, etc. to a more dispassionate letting go. 

Because I'm a meditator, I liken it to the way thoughts flow through your head in don't attach to them, nor do you resist or judge them. You note their presence and just let them flow through, "mindlessly". The same Zen principles can be applied to life in general. 

I happen to be someone who feels a need to work things through and feel and bleed everything that happens in my life...haha. But thinking I HAVE to because it's the only way to heal is one of these traps. Placing attention on things just causes more of those things to appear. It's possible the best way to heal is to just let them slip through mindlessly until the big accountant in the sky removes them altogether. Something to consider.  

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

9/18/13—Being a Man

Today's Draw: Emperor from the Tarot of the Hidden Realm in the Success position from the Deck of 1000 Spreads. What does "being a man" mean to you? How do you define a successful life? Do you have any "atypical" or "unlikely" Emperors in your life?

Yesterday (9/17) was my brother J's 55th birthday. He didn't live to see it. He died a year ago last spring of lung cancer. 

He and I didn't always get always get along. There was a time when we were good buddies. But in the years leading up to his death, I didn't like being around him. His sense of humor could be very biting and hurtful. To me, it was abusive. And I felt a need to be "in a good place" emotionally before I put myself before him. And I was rarely in such a place that I would invite that. I'm a sensitive person. You can call me a lot of names and not pierce my armor. But siblings know each other well enough to know what buttons to push. 

Straight up, this caused tension felt by the whole family. I am someone who radiates a lot of energy and my anxiety about being around my brother spread to others in the family. I'm not the only one who didn't like to be around him. And there are those in the family that were completely unfazed by him. And the person who bore the brunt of the teasing over the years was my brother R, who's gay. J would always have a gay joke ready to tell. And it didn't bother R one bit. They were best friends. R thought it was funny. Different people respond to things differently. 

When someone dies, we rarely ever speak ill of them. But truth is, this is one dimension of who J was. And it was the dimension that shaped my relationship with him for many years. Until he was told he was going to die. The minute we heard "lung cancer", years of hurt fell to the wayside. And J made sure I knew how much he loved me. And I made sure he knew how sorry I was anything that transpired between us. We were, after all, siblings. 

But there's more truth to who my brother was. Many years back he lost his job as a professional. And he was out of work for a long time. He spent that time as a house husband. My brother, the "chauvinist jock", as he was considered in the family, took a back seat to his wife, who was the main bread winner. And while he was a smart guy and capable of so much, that was the role he played in the family...the "traditionally female" role of the one with the lower salary and more time to spend with the kids. 

And you know what? He was the best damned daddy to his four kids—way more attentive and emotionally involved than his own father. He coached his son in sports. He supported his girls in all their activities. Many of his daughters' friends considered him a second father. All his kids are all high achievers, like he was. I would venture to say he never missed an important moment in his kid's lives. There are boxes of photos to prove it. Those kids worship this man. And as it turned out, his entire community lauded him. I've never seen so many people show up for a funeral before. My elderly uncles even showed up, a tribute to all the funerals J attended as the representative of our branch of the family. He was loved, respected and admired more than he ever knew. And his wife...anyone who is still that loved after 25 years is doing something right. 

So one of the things I want to say about this pairing today is that my brother's life was a big success. He manned a very successful family—a wife and four kids who thought he hung the moon. He wasn't the richest or most "corporate" guy on the block. He wasn't always the most sensitive to others' feelings. But when it came to his family and his community, the man left nothing on the table. He went all in and had the love and support to show for it. 

When I first saw this Emperor card, the Shakespearean quote "uneasy is the head that wears the crown" came to mind. And that's what made me think of J. Because the mantle he had to carry on his shoulders those five or six months between learning he had cancer and dying, was quite heavy indeed. He was a lifelong smoker. He was young. His kids were teens. His wife needed him. His one boy (in a house with four females) hadn't yet become a man. And he couldn't stay to help. He had to leave everything he built over 25 years. I can't even imagine how hard the responsibility of that must have been for him to bear. 

And instead of going out angry or bitter, he went out with grace. He made amends. He made sure everyone knew he loved them. He got his ducks in a row. The Emperor is about leadership and responsibility. My brother didn't live in a McMansion. He didn't have a bunch of degrees. His last job was doing security for the school system. I'm guessing he was smarter and better educated than most of his peers, but I'm certain they never felt that way. In his humble way, he stood out as a leader. A beacon for those who knew him and needed him. His job made it so his kids always had a parent to come home to. And when it came time to accept that his life was going to end, he went bravely and gracefully. That's what being a man is.

I lost my parents 30 years ago. I know what it's like to lose someone you love. But I wasn't prepared for what it was to lose a sibling. For 49 years, I was one of six kids. That was an identity for me. Now I'm one of five. Someone I had known and shared a life with for 49 years was gone. I had no idea how much this would hurt and continue to hurt. You expect to lose parents. But you never really thinking about losing your siblings until one is gone. 

A few days before my brother died he had an episode that landed him in the hospital. It was a Monday night and I called R and told him to rush down to me via the subway so we could go see him together. J had mentioned a month earlier that he loved my chocolate chip cookies and my fried chicken. You think you're always going to have time to cook something up, but you never do. So I hurriedly made a batch of cookies while I was waiting for R. It was naive, in a way, because J was too sick to eat. But we got to the hospital and when I saw J, he pulled me to the side and whispered in my ear, "go to the gift shop and see if they have any beer." I laughed and said I doubted they sold beer at the hospital gift shop. He was pretty delirious. But I do think he wanted a beer...haha. 

I knew I would never see him again. Some things you just know. So before I left, I made sure I told him I loved him. And then I told him that he had fought hard and now it was OK to let go. He said he loved me. And that was the last I saw of him. 

A few days later I spoke to my brother M, who drove down that night to see J before he died. M mentioned to me that J had eaten a chocolate chip cookie in front of him, probably the last thing he ever ate. He gave me forgiveness and freedom from all the issues I'd had with him for so many years. Baking cookies was all I could do in return. Because my mother worked, I was the family cook for part of J's life. I think eating that cookie was a final nod to what lay beneath 49 years of history between us. It was his final gift to his baby sister. And it will forever make me smile. 

Monday, September 16, 2013

9/17/13—Finding Out You're Not Alone

Today's Draw: Moon + Ship + Stork from the hand-painted Lenormand Stones by Robyn Tisch Hollister. Have you ever listened to someone else's problem and, though you have had the same issue, not shared your story with them? Think of something from your past that you don't share with others...why do you not talk about it? And if you're on the other/finished side of menopause, what's the good/bad/ugly that those of us who aren't there need to know?

Reading Lenormand can be a very straightforward process of converting a card into a keyword and simply reading a sentence across however many cards you have. So if Moon=Recognition, Ship=Travel and Stork=Progress, then you have a sentence that reads, "recognition and travel bring progress" or "recognition progresses through travel" or some variation thereof.

If you're just learning Lenormand, you'll hear that there is no intuition in reading it. That it's straightforward. But that's not true. Instead of your intuition coming from visual cues, as it does with tarot, your intuition is put into use by what keywords you use and how you combine them to answer the question.

Each Lenormand card comes with a number of keywords that can apply. For example, while the Moon usually talks about fame and recognition, it can also speak of creativity, femininity, cycles, psychic ability and the arts. Ship usually suggests travel, but it can also signify a foreigner, separation, longing, departure or transition. And the Stork may usually signify progress or childbirth, but it can also speak to  milestones, restlessness and change.

So, unfortunately for the male readers, my first intuition when I got this combo was to talk about menopause (cycles departing and bringing changes to fertility).

Throughout their 40s, women go through perimenopause, which is basically a slow torture of disturbing medical symptoms that could signal anything from a bad day to impending death. (I should note the experience is easier or worse, faster or slower, depending on the individual.) You might have trouble sleeping for a few months at a time. Or maybe you wake each night in a pool of sweat. Or the refrigerator section of the grocery store suddenly feels alarmingly hot. Or you're fine and happy one minute and a raving shrew the next.

I call it a slow torture because you don't get all the symptoms at once. They come and go over as many as 10 years time before you even miss your first period. You can take all sorts of supplements and medications if you're into that. Or you can white knuckle it as I've done so far, seeking help only for the depression and mood swings.

Then comes the waiting as you cross your fingers and count missed periods until you've gone a year. That's the menopause part. And it's another slow torture because all it takes is one spot of blood to start you counting all over again. I got all the way to 9 before I had to start all over again this month. All of this is the thanks you get for being able to grow a baby in your body. Our periods are part of both a miracle and a burden women bear and we rarely ever talk about it.

Remember back in the days when women were institutionalized and given shock therapy for having "gone mad"? I'll bet many of them were on hormonal swings from either childbirth or menopause. Having experienced it myself, it does feel like you're going out of your mind. I wonder how many could have been spared by simply talking honestly with other women about what is a very natural phenomena.

I know when I first started experiencing the sleepless nights, I had no idea it was perimenopause. I was only 40. My doctor said it was because I was stressed and needed more exercise. After about 6 months with virtually no sleep, I was at my wit's end. Then I started sleeping. As suddenly and inexplicably as I had stopped. Until then, I had no idea what perimenopause was, how long it could last or what the symptoms are. My mother never spoke of it. My sisters, my friends...nobody said a word.

Today there are women out there who have been raped or abused or had an abortion and who feel all alone because nobody talks. On the flip side, there are women who have become CEOs and astronauts who never share how they got where they are. It's not so much that they don't want to help others, but they're either embarrassed or traumatized or whatever. These are things we don't talk about. There is a woman I know who has reached a goal I would like to reach and I have some rather personal questions to ask her about it. I've tried to ask a few times. I've known her for over 20 years. She's not talking.

You have no idea how much your story can help another....especially when it involves the things that embarrass us, shame us or are difficult to talk and ask about. These are things others need to hear. It doesn't have to be blogged about, just talked about. And if you're afraid of being betrayed and your secret getting out, I get that. But it might also help you be less ashamed because you'd find out you're not alone, either. 

I share a lot of things on this blog for precisely those reasons. Some things are hard for me to put out there in perpetuity on the net. But I do it because I've always been fascinated about the things we just don't talk about...traumas, mourning, operations, bodily mishaps, addictions, depression, embarrassing events. That said, there are some things I keep to myself. I'm willing to share, but not with the entire world. Not yet.

I often wonder how the world would be different if we all dropped our facades and allowed others to see our struggles and fears...our imperfections. All the energy we spend trying to maintain the image we've created for ourselves...what could we do with that? If we knew everyone was deeply flawed, how would that change the way we felt about ourselves? Just food for thought. 

Sunday, September 15, 2013

9/16/13—Embracing All of Who We Are

Today's Draw: Chariot from the Badger's Forest Tarot in the Hopes and Fears position from the Deck of 1000 Spreads. Do you acknowledge your personal dichotomies? Do you tend to hide certain things about yourself and promote other things? What would happen if others saw the good, bad and ugly sides of your humanity?

The Chariot is a card of movement and motion. Depending on the card, I sometimes read it as being pulled in two different directions or trying to get divergent agendas moving in a single direction. It is a card of goal-directed energy, control and, sometimes, victory. 

As I look at this card, I imagine this rat fell in the water as the approaching storm loomed, and he found a ferry of sorts to lead him to safety. Sometimes you don't want someone else driving the bus, but you also don't have the energy or want the responsibility to drive it yourself. So it becomes a two-edged sword. 

Consider the swan. It's doing all the work and putting up with a rat on its back that doesn't trust it to do what it does naturally...swim. And the rat, who is usually in control of their own gig has to give control over and trust the swan because its not a good enough swimmer to survive choppy waters. Both are compromised. Both are in unfamiliar circumstances. Both are exposed to each other in a vulnerable state. But both have agreed to a goal and they move forward together. 

In a way, hopes and fears are like those opposing forces we must tame in order to move forward. To move forward on hope alone could prove foolish because you're not on the lookout for things that could hobble you. But if all you have is fear, you won't take that first step because there's no hope to spur you along. You need that friction between hope and fear to power your dream forward and you need to tame both so they can move forward in harmony. 

We're full of divergent polarities—dark and light sides, sadness and happiness, strength and weakness. There's usually one side of the dichotomy that we want to deny, preferring to be seen as the happy strong one operating on the light side. But we need both sides to produce the friction that keeps moving us forward. 

Being conscious and being a spiritual warrior means putting aside the ego concerns that make you want to appear to be the happy, strong, light one, and understanding the role the other side plays in your life. It means allowing others to see you as weak, sad and dark if that's where you're landing this week. 

On the fears side it means letting others see you as the complex, real human being you are. On the hopes side, it means being fully seen by the world and loved anyway.