Friday, November 22, 2013

11/23/13-11/24/13—Being True to You

Weekend Reading: The Rebel (Emperor) from the Osho Zen Tarot. Who rules your domain? Excuse me, I can't hear you! Who rules your domain? Yes, YOU DO! You're damn right you do. And because you do, you get to do anything you want this weekend. Even if people will stare and point. ESPECIALLY if people stare and point! The Rebel ain't afraid of looking silly or odd, because the Rebel knows that being true to who you are and what you want is worth a heck of a lot more than conformity and worrying about what others think. So as long as it's legal and doesn't hurt anyone, go ahead and do it. That includes getting the mail in your boxers, laughing in the rain and calling out the line cutter at the Safeway, you rebel you!

Thursday, November 21, 2013

11/22/13—Contemplating Success

Today's Draw: Success from the Osho Zen in the What To Leave In The Past position from the Deck of 1000 Spreads. Are you a success? How do you know? And is success even important to you?

Well, this is a fine kettle of fish, huh? The tarot wants us to leave success and celebration in the past? Screw you, tarot! Am I right? Do I get an amen?

But then again...

Remember back when you were in school and you knew exactly how well you were doing by the grade or percentage at the top of your paper? If you got anything in the 80s and above, it felt good, didn't it? You knew were doing well. 

Then adulthood happened and you stopped getting grades. All of a sudden you're not so sure how well you're doing. Many of us have jobs where we rarely get thanked or praised for what we do. We're getting paid and, as long as we're getting paid, we must be doing ok. Right?

I remember letting go of the "graded" measure of success in exchange for something that was more self-referenced. I'm sure a lot of careers are like this, but in advertising, your work is up for review on a daily basis. It's extremely rare for a project to go through with no edits from the client. People like to edit stuff. They don't feel like they're doing their job if they don't find anything "wrong" with your work. I don't mean that in a bad way, just that if something is passed by you to edit, you're going to find something wrong. It's human nature. So a writer or artist can't be sensitive. 

I'm lucky. I get a lot of positive feedback. But beyond doing my best and right for a client, I'm not in it for the feedback. I can't be. The nicest thing a client can say about my work is that it got results. And because none of my clients really can or do measure that kind of thing, I just have to know within me that I'm doing a good job and presenting them in the best light. (They actually CAN measure the success of something, but there are so many variables in an ad—design, publication, placement, timing, strategy—that they can't isolate the writing as the main contributor to an ad's success, for example.)

That's really true about anything in life. If your child ends up in prison, was it because you were a bad mother? Maybe. Maybe not. Some people fail despite their upbringing. Some people have depression,   unfortunate incidents or other non-nurture issues that contribute to the person they become in adulthood. 

Tonight I was lamenting again about my dog Mystic's manic behavior. I've worked on it with her. She's improved a lot. But certain lessons just aren't taking. My other two dogs are usually referred to as "sweet, well-behaved and quiet." But Mystic is frequently manic and barky. A year of work has yielded little in a couple of key areas, while in other areas she's been a real hero in the things she's learned. It's not because I'm not a good mother or a failure. There are other issues to consider, like what happened before we found each other and her breed and whether or not something got messed up when she was shot in her head. I mean, I grew up around dogs and have had dogs for much of my adult life. This one is not like the others. 

So while we all want to be a success, it's really up to us to define what success even is. Most people understand it's not about money or how many Pandora charms you have on your bracelet. But what's harder to understand is that it's not always about results, either. It's not about how many books you've sold or whether or not you've found that cure for cancer you've spent your life chasing. It's about showing up. Knowing you've done your best. Helping others. Being kind. Growing. Whatever. 

Today's combo comes to us today to get us to ask ourselves what really makes us a success and what yardstick we should use—if any—to measure it. Life success, for example, may have nothing to do with your job at all. And if you never take the time to define what success looks like to you, how will you know it when you see it? Moreover, instead of chasing the idea of "success", maybe we should be shooting for some other star. Like happiness. Or inner peace. Or balance. The reception you get upon attaining those things might be quieter, but it's also a lot longer lasting and more fulfilling. 

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

11/21/13—Trusting Yourself First

Today's Draw Classic*: Page of Swords from the Otherworld Tarot. How do you know who you can trust? What have you learned from past betrayals? And can see times where the person who ultimately betrayed you was yourself?

The Page of Swords is a card that can indicate gossip or deception in someone's words. The words on the card, "Think Things Through", tells us to consider the information we're given before making a decision. To not jump to conclusions, because not everything you hear will be true. And to also be careful with your secrets, because not everyone can be trusted. 

Whenever I get cards like this, I start to feel paranoid. We've all been betrayed. In one case, the person I was confiding in—the last person I'd suspect—betrayed me repeatedly over the course of about two years, resulting in all sorts of issues in my life. In another case, betrayal cost the life of someone dear to me. In the first case, I didn't register anything odd in my gut. In the second case, I did, but couldn't put my finger on it. 

So how do we know who and when to trust? Well, of course, one thing is to honor those "odd" feelings you have about someone. If you're suspicious of someone, you may be right or you may be wrong. But honor the suspicion anyway. And another way to trust wisely is to not be so gullible. I'm a pretty smart person, but for a long stretch of my life I had a tendency to trust others' input over what I thought I knew. So if someone said 2+2=5, I might doubt my knowing that the answer is actually 4. So I suppose I would boil that down to say, "trust yourself first". 

Beyond that, consider what the intention of the person is who is giving you information or asking it of you. Everyone in every situation has an intention, imo. Most peoples' intentions are friendly or benign. But always consider where you think the person falls on the continuum between friendly and nefarious. Again, check your gut.

And finally, and this one is key, consider your own intentions. This woman who betrayed me over a couple of years was, imo, a psychopath. She left few clues. Even looking back, I can see how brilliant she was. She never pushed too hard when trying to get me to gossip. She always seemed friendly enough. And only once did she ever lose her game face in my presence. I have no idea what I ever did to her to drive her to launch such a campaign. There was never a time I didn't like her and if I ever said anything about her, it wasn't anything anyone would consider bad. But I learned at that time of my life that truly insecure people can go ballistic over the tiniest of slights. And I have to assume that's what this was. Unless it was sheer sport. 

But here's the thing, the only way she was able to take advantage of me like that was because I was vulnerable. I wanted to be liked. I wanted to fit in. I wanted to "run with a certain crowd". I was weak and needy. And people like that feed on the weak and needy. So consider your own intentions, too. *Why* are you trusting someone. And if, like in my case, you know someone is betraying you, but don't know who, ask yourself who the last person you'd expect is. And even ask who the second to last person you'd expect is...haha. The person who is in your face all the time, giving you information and pretending to be your friend, may not be friendly at all. But people like that can only get to you if you let them. I wanted her friendship. I wanted to hear her gossip. I needed someone to talk to and vent to. Looking back I feel like I was pretty pathetic. 

But before she ever betrayed me, I betrayed myself. And I have to take responsibility for that. I used to be a lot quicker to trust. I used to dive into friendships more quickly. And I used to make myself more vulnerable to people I barely knew...I used to invest too much, too soon. Still do in certain circumstances. But with each of these pains comes a gift...a clue as to how not to let it happen in the future.

So what about you? How do you know when to trust? And what have you learned along the way?

*From a post originally written on 5/26/11

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

11/20/13—Facing The Black Hole

Today's Draw Classic*: Nine of Swords—The Black Hole—from the Science Tarot. Do you often feel that something's missing in your life? Is there a bad habit or excess you'd like to eliminate from your life? How often do you spend time by yourself with no distractions—no radio, not when you're driving the car, not while you're reading—just you, yourself and thy sitting around being good to each other?

A black hole is when a star collapses in on itself, pulling all its mass into something so small it can't even been seen. Everything in its vicinity is pulled inside, too, never to be seen again. Not even light can escape the prison of a black hole.

Even though all that mass compressed into an invisible black hole is tough for even my favorite astrophysicist, Neil de Grasse Tyson (NdGT) to wrap his head around, on one level, we kind of understand it, don't we? Because each of us has one inside us...a black hole so vast that no amount of Oreos, no kilos of drugs, no number of children, no posse of pool boys and no storehouse of sparkly things can fill it. Its gravitational field pulls us in. Nothing can escape it, least of all the light of peace.

*nonchalantly filing my nails while some of you slit your wrists over this ugly truth*

So today's Nine of Swords comes to us for a couple of reasons on the final day of "how to create peace" week*. The first reason is that it's in the suit of swords, which is the suit of the mind. Yesterday's card was a Swords card, too.* And both of them are pretty dreaded cards to get in a reading. Not because they predict bad things, but because they point at things we're already doing—the  ways in which we allow our own minds to defeat us. Yesterday's card was about the negativities we dwell upon and today's is about disillusionment and the lies we tell ourselves. 

Really the two cards are very interconnected. Some of the negative stuff we dwell upon is about us and our abilities and potentials, for example. On one end of the scale we tell ourselves that a prince will come in on a white horse and we'll live happily ever after, thereby ruining every relationship we forge under that belief before it even starts. On the other end of the scale we tell ourselves in one way or another that we are somehow limited—not smart, lucky, pretty, creative or deserving enough to reach for the highest star. So these are some ways in which our minds defeat us. And with all that noise up there, with all our limited potential and dashed dreams, how will we ever find peace?

Gratuitous photo of my next-life boyfriend, the phenom known simply as NdGT.
But the other part of this Nine of Swords is this black hole inside us. The one we fill with food, alcohol, social engagements, television and other, more innocent sounding distractions like music, books and gardening. (Oh, yeah. THAT black hole.) None of those things are bad by any means, by themselves and in moderation. But when they build up into a ball of noise and roughage so huge we can't hear ourselves think...when we use them to numb the pain inside...when they keep us from listening to our inner voice...when we expect them to fill the void...that's when they create problems. 

I think this is probably the #1 thing society is in denial of. Somewhere inside us, though, we know. We know "something" is missing. We know something else is excessive. A big part of it comes from looking to something outside of you—romance, children, potato chips, possessions, thrills—to make you happy or rescue you from the burden of your "self." Our fears overtake us and that black hole looks like a source of comfort, but it always ends up leaving you cold.

So what's the answer? Some of the answers have been given this week*. Learn how to love and trust yourself, learn how to accept yourself and others and start a healthier relationship with yourself...listen to yourself, give yourself a break. That's the thing that's missing—a healthy, loving, respectful relationship with yourself. Yeah, I know it's hard to do. There's no Cliff Notes version. It takes time. Trust me, I'm still working on it myself. It's a practice, more than an event, meaning it's something you form the habit of doing every day. Just like you formed the habit of second-guessing yourself way back when. 

Still not sure who Neil deGrasse Tyson (NdGT) is?
But the biggest part—and, honestly, the reason I think you come here however often you do—is to stop being afraid of what you'll find when you look within. Have the balls to ask yourself the tough questions and be honest about the answers, which so many of you are already doing. So much is stuff we've been struggling with since childhood. The input we got from back then is deeply rooted and nobody escapes unscathed. Sometimes I swear I think we come here to this earth to heal our childhoods...haha. But another way of looking at it is that our childhoods happened the way they did to give us the cues we need to heal our souls. 

One of the reasons I'm so frank about my own life here at times is to show others they're not alone. Monsters thrive in the dark, and until we shine light on these things and deal with them as they are, we can't defeat them. But we can't do that if we think we're the only ones who feel emptiness or disappointment in our lives and in ourselves. The energy we spend holding on to the shame could be used to escape the black hole. This may not be possible in outer space, but it is possible within.

*Taken from a post originally written on 6/29/12. 

Monday, November 18, 2013

11/19/13—Waiting Until the Turkey Cooks

Today's Draw: Patience from the Osho Zen Tarot in the Heart of the Matter position from the Deck of 1000 Spreads. Do you feel unable to move forward on something you want? Are you impatient for an outcome in some situation? Are you afraid that, if you don't keep busy, you'll lose everything you've worked so hard to achieve?

Just last Friday we had a similar message when we got the Hanged Bird/Man. On Friday we talked about time in suspension and going with the flow of delays. And this card says much the same thing—sometimes all you can do is wait. 

We consider waiting to be a passive process. Like we're doing nothing. And when we have something we want to accomplish, we don't want to "do nothing". We want to make sure we've done everything we can to make our goal possible. But consider that waiting is one of the things under the heading "doing everything we can". 

In a couple of weeks, lots of people will be roasting a turkey. You'll brine the turkey overnight. You'll season the skin and rub it with butter. You'll make stuffing and stuff it. You'll place it in a roasting pan. And you'll put it in the oven. Then what do you do? You wait. And while you wait, you get hungry. And you check on the turkey. And you see the internal temperature is 100 degrees. 

And what does that mean? It means you have wait longer. Take the turkey out now and everyone dies a quick and horrible death of raw bird meat. And you don't want that. So you check it every five minutes, but it doesn't seem to be cooking any quicker. So you wait some more. Then you're sick and tired of waiting and check and the temperature is 130 degrees. Who cares if everyone dies? You want meat. And you want it NOW. 

So you decide to take out the turkey and microwave it. That will show the turkey! Because you've got to do SOMETHING. You can't just sit idly by. Everything else is cooked and ready to go. Now it's time you got the turkey you worked hard all morning to prepare, dammit! 

So you rip off the flaccid, not yet browned skin, you wrench off a breast, still raw in the middle and you toss it in the microwave until the meat turns white and has deposited a watery sludge on the plate that you'll tell yourself are juices. Then you microwave the stuffing. And then it's time for "here's your effin Thanksgiving everyone! I hope you're happy!"

Just imagine how different the result would be if you had done the one most important thing you can do when roasting a turkey—nothing. Just wait until it's 165 degrees or the timer pops or whatever. That's all a perfect turkey asks you to do, frankly. It doesn't even care if you baste it. It just asks you to wait. 

And that's all our dreams and intentions and manifestations ask of us, too. To do all the prep work, then hand the rest over to the universe and wait. Don't try to rush it along. Don't do anything. Just wait until it's perfectly cooked. Even if you're anxious. Even if you're ready to move forward. And even if you figured 20 minutes per pound for a 10 pounder and it's been in for 3.5 hours and still isn't done. Wait. 

Society has us trained to think that do-do-do is the way you get things. And that waiting or being "unproductive" is akin to laziness. But like the pregnant woman in the picture, sometimes waiting is the most productive and necessary part of the process. And sometimes being over-productive can ruin endanger the very thing we want to create. 

So if you're in a situation where you feel unable to move forward or impatient for results or—and this is a big one—pushing toward something and circumnavigating situations in any way possible out of fear of not doing enough, then consider that the most important thing you can do to ensure success is to just sit back and wait. It's not the lazy or nonchalant thing to do, rather it's the necessary thing to do if you really want your vision to come to life. 

Sunday, November 17, 2013

11/18/13—Driving Through Fear

Today's Draw: Five of Spikes from the Ironwing in the Clarification position. Does something have you scared right now? Do you feel uncomfortable admitting to fear? What inside you is getting cleansed?

I love the depth of the Ironwing Tarot. The thought behind each card as she lays it out in the book is just so evocative. But I'll be damned if the images say a darned thing to me! 

For example, I'm thinking many tarotistas might understand why I looked at this card and thought "Three of Swords". And I was thinking what a cool representation with the top spike splitting the other two, which are going through a heart shaped sand dollar. Since the sand dollar has a spiritual connotation (the whole doves and star thing that you can make from the bones inside that are supposed to signify Jesus), I would have thought that something had come between a very spiritual love. In a weird way, that interpretation does work. But this isn't the Three of Swords. It's the Five of Wands. 

The story here is that these iron rods are striking against a sea urchin and they make a spark, but no fire. Cut to the chase, and this card is about how "great creative potential is temporarily thwarted by lack of lack of knowledge and self-confidence, insufficient preparation, or use of the wrong tool." So that's what the card wants to clarify for today. 

Thanks, card. Like I didn't already know. 

This describes me right now as my regular worked has slowed enough for me to dedicate a day or so each week to writing a book. Yet I'm finding all sorts of other stuff to distract me. I'm pretty sure self-confidence is my nemesis, though I'm intrigued by the "wrong tool" suggestion. But bottom line is I'm scared. I'm scared to write the book I want to write—or any book—because going down that road requires me to be bigger than I currently am. I'm also scared that I waited too long to make my move. 

Assuming I'm successful, writing and teaching on the scale I want to write and teach means I'll no longer be as anonymous and invisible as I am now. It means I have to be more careful of what I do and say and to whom I say it. It means I'll at least need to shower and get dressed before going out in public...haha. And it means that, no matter what I say or do, there will be some who see my words and opinions with more importance than they see their own, even though what I really want is for people to discover things for themselves. 

It also means there will be the next book and the next book to consider, while still talking about the ones that are on the shelves. And it means I'll have to rely on a whole other system of earning and budgeting than the system I know now. Add it all up and I need to grow up in a number of areas that are convenient for me to be immature in right now. 

On one hand, I feel like a critter who no longer fits into his shell. On the other, I feel like the new shell is far too large, fancy and intimidating for me to move into just yet. And all of this is accompanied by a  deep-seated calling to "move others with my words" on a large scale. I feel like this is what I was born to do. Regular readers might know that I "heard/knew" at the age of three or four I was going to be an author (living in Maine), but didn't actually become one until earlier this year. This "prophesy" might account for the fact that I just assume I'll succeed, not that I need anything else to be afraid of.

On one hand I'm prepared. I've done much of my inner and outer work. On the other hand, I'm afraid to no longer be what, so far, has been the best "me" I've been in this lifetime. It's not what you'd call writer's block. Words flow through me effortlessly and always have. It's just fear of growth and change. And like the description of this card says, it's temporary.

One of the things we can count on for certain is that whatever the vibe is in your life right now, it will change. It's like life is a series of drive through car washes we visit, getting caught up in the different suds of emotions and experiences at each one. And in between is open road, where one vibe gets resolved and another begins to build. Then we drive through again, either getting beaten around by the brushes or shined to a high gloss by the polish. Either way, something in our soul gets cleansed and we get to move further down the road again. This isn't the worst car wash I've been stuck in in my life, nor will it be the last.