Friday, December 13, 2013

12/14/13-12/15/13—Choosing Wisely

Today's Draw: Crossroads and Lady from my Keywordy Lenormand. So this weekend is going to include some sort of a choice made by a female. Yeah, I know. Brilliant fortune-telling. Because everything's a choice. Opening your eyes in the morning is a choice. Walking across the room is a choice. Voicing an opinion is a choice. Responding to an insult is a choice. Happiness is a choice. And maybe that's what this weekend's draw wants you to know. Life doesn't happen to you. You happen to life. So make your choices ones you can not only live with, but also ones that bring the most joy to all involved. 

Thursday, December 12, 2013

12/13/13—Being Always Growing

Today's Draw: The Gatemaker of Bells from the Ironwing tarot in the Answer position from the Deck of 1000 Spreads (the deck every tarotist wants for Christmas). Do you feel like you're spinning your wheels on some matter or another? Does it feel like you're in a fog where progress can't be made? Are you doing enough to reach your goals?

Each morning after everyone is fed and I have coffee in hand, the dogs look up at me expectantly. They want to go outside for the second time of the morning, but only if it's with me. If I don't join them, they want back in. I don't know why I make a difference since they pretty much ignore me when I'm out there. But they want me with them. No matter how cold it is. 

So we were out there this morning and I noticed my bearded irises were already peeking out of the ground. They won't bloom until April or May, so it was a little worrisome for me. But then again, I worry every year when the spring bulbs seem to poke through the earth way too early. So I kind of shrugged it off until I got today's card. 

The book for this deck has this to say about this card—"she seems to be asleep or lost in thought, but she is always growing." So that kind of reassured me that my irises aren't growing too early. They're always growing. Even before they break through the earth. And it also reminded me that humans do the same thing, too. 

Sometimes it gets frustrating waiting and working toward that "break through moment" when the wheels really start turning toward our desired goal. It may feel like we're not making progress. It might feel like we're not doing anything. Or not doing enough. It may even feel like we're never going to see the light of day. Then one day we break through. At just the right time to ensure us the best success. Like the iris and all the other spring bulbs, nothing ever really came to a standstill. Each moment, active or not, seen and unseen, was necessary to the process and contributed to the growth.

Personally I feel stuck in regard to a couple of matters in my life and I've been wondering what to do to break through this. If you feel similarly, todays draw comes to remind us of the innate wisdom that simmers beneath the surface of nature, life and the universe. You're doing enough. And this period of perceived non-growth is just that...a perception and not a reality. So keep on doing what you're doing (or not doing) and things will progress again when it's time. This period of stasis is integral to your future growth.

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

12/12/13—Winning the Lottery

Today's Draw: Life is a Gift from the Exner's and Broca's areas of Tierney's Brain. How often do you consider the privileges afforded you simply by being a human? Has it ever occurred to you what sensual pleasures you would lose if you weren't in human form? Do you take your greatest gift for granted?

So I learned today that the Exner's and Broca's areas of the left frontal lobe of the brain are responsible for the expressive aspects of writing. See, I didn't feel like drawing a card. I really just wanted to write about something I thought about recently and wanted to share. 

The holidays are a hard time. Life itself is a hard time...haha. But it occurred to me, what a great gift life as a human is to the consciousness. It's something we take for granted.

If you believe in reincarnation (and most do) then you understand on some level that the soul, consciousness or whatever you call that bit of energy that comes back time and time again, has different experiences. It has a "life" between lives, for example. And it may have lifetimes as critters other than human. In short, there is something common to all states of being that some part of us carries throughout millennia. For the purposes of this blog, we'll call it consciousness.

We really don't know what consciousness experiences when it's not on earth (or for that sake on any planet.) And we can't even say for sure what your cat's or dog's consciousness experiences here on earth. But imagine your consciousness never knowing the sensation of a cool breeze. The taste of a great meal. The thrill of first kiss. The satisfaction of a job well done. The bounce of a happy day. And great sex.

What we were given when we were given life is like a sensory amusement park ride....a ride that goes on for 60, 70, 80 years, if we're lucky. Like a roller coaster, it has ups and downs. Some things will make your stomach drop. Some things will build your excitement. Sometimes you'll feel on top of the world with a fabulous view. And other times you'll be jerked around by a loose track. But each sensation is a sensation that other minds and bodies on this earth don't have the capacity to process and experience the way humans do.

Of the trillions of living things on earth, only 8 billion hold the winning lottery ticket. And you're one of them. Many people with spiritual beliefs imagine that life after death is a release of worldly concerns...that you go to a "place" filled with love and joy and understanding. I do believe that. I believe that the consciousness takes on a whole new way of being when we die or are in between lives.

In some ways the afterlife may be better, but if our visions of that existence are true, we don't have the sensual experiences we have here on earth. First, we don't have a body filled with nerve endings that bring messages to the brain and set off emotions and hormones and all of that. So the fabulous meal? Well, we probably don't even eat. And second, if everything is love and light (or at least more loving and light) then you don't get the high highs or the low lows. And some people swear by those high highs. Some even covet their low lows in the manner of Gollum and his Precious. When you add up all the positives and negatives of different ways of being, there very well may not exist anything near as awesome as being a human.

Anyway, the holidays can be a low time. And so many are pulled down by the busyness, expense and stress of the season. It doesn't even have to be the holidays. Life can just suck sometimes. But returning to this thought about how incredibly lucky our consciousness is to be able to experience a sunset, for example, and on so many levels—aesthetically, emotionally...the loss of heat on our skin and the way it signals ancient patterns of cycles within us—well, it's just incredibly special. Even when I'm feeling down, the beauty of this gift can bring me to tears.

I know it sounds corny and trite. But I think if you can really absorb what I'm talking about, it gets less corny. We don't know how this whole soul/consciousness thing works. And we don't know how many options exist for our soul to take on some sort of shape and form. But when you stop taking the experiences of just simply being a human for granted—forget about rich, poor, pretty, ugly, able, disabled—our sensual experience alone is worth far more than the cost of our bad days and losses. When you see life through the eyes of these "little things", the things that are nothing more than the side effects of being human, you can't help but be grateful to be alive.

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

12/10/13—Embracing Service and Responsibility

Today's Draw Classic*: Ten of Bows from the Wildwood. Are you owning up to your responsibility? Do you see the value your skills provide to the whole? And do you carry your responsibility grudgingly or willingly?

Whether in your career, at home or in your relationships, the surface of this card is about taking responsibility for your role. But beneath the surface, it's about cooperation, self esteem and honoring the importance of your role in "the pack". 

The man in the foreground carries a heavy load of bows up to the hunters who are camped at the top of the hill. When he gets there, he will be able to put his burden down, enjoy the fire one of the community members built and eat the food the hunters provided. Sure, he's a lowly stick hunter in the pecking order of the community, but he's essential to their mission. Without his energy and strength, the community may not get as much food, because the hunters will have to focus on finding their own bows and arrows. They may not be able to live in such a protected camp, because who else has the juice to carry all that wood to the top of the hill? Without him, responsibilities may end up having to be split to make up for the service he provides to the community. 

Look at it one way and he's a lowly bow hunter. Look at it another and he's the linchpin of this community's survival. And that is the point of this card. The attitude you bring to your work and the way you view yourself in the pecking order changes everything. It changes the quality of the work you do, your self esteem about your work, your willingness to do it every day, the way you feel at the end of the day, and even how you feel about your time off. This is, at the very least, eight hours out of every day. Who are we serving if we're bitter about it? What are we achieving except our own depression and sense of worthlessness?

There are two good ways to be happy about your work. Do what you love. And if you can't do what you love, find a way to love what you do. I've had a number of such attitude adjustments in my career. I grew up in a household that thought advertising was evil and pointless. And as my spirituality began to grow, I also began to have a need to "serve". I was raised to believe that advertising served no one. But here's the thing, without advertising, businesses would fail. Competition would dry up and monopolies would rule. Small businesses wouldn't have a chance. And, as much as people hate to acknowledge advertising's role in this, you wouldn't know what was available, how it was different or where to buy it. Since I reframed the role of the career I love, I no longer have the conflicting feelings I did when my career choice didn't meet with the approval of my father or stand up to my desire to serve.

At a another point in my career, I felt underpaid and unappreciated. So I quit the agencies and went out on my own...finding a way to love what I do yet again. Since then, appreciation is lavished up on kidding...and I earn a fair wage for my job. Now, at no point did I ever feel I was in the wrong career, but at many points I felt certain clients or situations were taking away the love I had for it. So I found ways to love it again. 

All of this is about work because of the illustration on the card, but the same things can said about relationships, our roles in our personal lives and so on. Your situation or the other persons involved don't need to change at all. You don't have the power to change things outside of you anyway. But you do have the power to change the way you see, approach and respond to situations, which can change everything. Consider how this applies to your life. Change your outlook and you can change your world.

*Adapted from a post on 4/22/11

Monday, December 9, 2013

12/10/13—Using Your Power Responsibly

Today's Draw: The Magician from the Mini Bohemian Gothic Tarot by Baba Studio. Do you think you'd be a good leader? Can you handle the power responsibly? What do you think goes into making a good leader good?

The Magician has the power and the tools to create any reality in his world. Because the Bohemian Gothic is a deck often used to explore the dark side of things, this card makes me think of what happens when you misuse your power or use your tools and abilities for ill. 

I have some really particular views about people in power. See, my dad was a Major General (a two-star general) and he was in charge of one of the Air Force's larger commands. He had a lot of people working for him. He carried a lot of sway in the military. And, first and foremost, he led fairly and with integrity. 

There is an award given by non-commissioned officers (like those with the rank of Sergeant) in the Air Force called The Order of the Sword. My dad is #61 on the list on Wikipedia. This isn't an award that is automatically presented each year. You only get it if the people in "the cheap seats" consider you a great leader. It's completely discretionary. It comes from the heart. And because of that, my highly decorated father, a veteran of three wars, coveted this distinction most of all. 

The military can be a very insular environment. When you live on a base, it's like living in a small town. And when most of the people in that small town work for your father, you learn that prominence and leadership carry a certain responsibility. You live in a fishbowl. Everyone has eyes on you and so an officer's reputation and integrity ride along with that of his/her family. In fact, in order to even make General or gain a major command, you must have a wife worthy of the role of "first lady" and a family that's not going to embarrass the Air Force. 

It sounds dramatic. But anyone who has lived that life will tell you I'm not over-stating this. At least this is the way it was in the 1970s. 

So the idea of responsible use of power is in my blood. Power carries responsibility. It shouldn't be coveted. It shouldn't be used to advance personal agendas or vendettas. It shouldn't be used for manipulation. It should be used to lead. And if you're going to be a leader, you should be a role model to all who count on you or follow you. You shouldn't lead by virtue of your weaknesses, but by virtue of your strengths. And you should be conscientious enough of your weaknesses to either work on them or keep them out of your role as leader. You're not there to make friends or be popular, but to inspire others to be better people—not through force or fear, but by example.

This is how I was raised. It sounds like a pretty stiff order, but that's who my father was to his people and to the country he served. He was nowhere near a perfect man. He of the sometimes mismatched socks wasn't even a perfectionist. But he was a damned good leader....someone to look up to. Someone who inspired. Someone who took "duty, honor and country" very seriously. I can only remember him having maybe two or three friends in my lifetime, though he was the friendliest man you'd ever meet. He knew that leadership was more about earning respect than being popular. Which is why an award given by those with the least power meant the most to him. 

So while you may see me as a liberal idealist, you may be able to see why, nonetheless, I feel like Bill Clinton failed us as a leader. With Monica Lewinsky, he showed his weaknesses. He misrepresented himself in that regard under oath. His personal agenda was placed above the public's. And while many said "he's a man who made a mistake", I said "he only had to behave himself for eight years and he couldn't even manage to do that." His indiscretion doesn't erase the things he accomplished, but he can't go down in my book as a role model or good leader in his role as a president. He was a skilled Magician, but he used his power irresponsibly.  (I do, however, admire the leadership he's shown since with his altruistic work.)

So I'm tough. I admit it. The way a leader conducts themselves is more valuable to me than what they're able to accomplish. Both are very important. But I measure a person more by how they carry themselves through life than what they're able to achieve in it.

I had a long conversation about responsible leadership today, in fact, with someone I admire as a spiritual leader. We discussed how the further you progress as a leader, the lonelier it can be and the heavier the mantle you carry. See, if you're going to be a spiritual leader, you can't gossip behind the holywater cooler with your students. You can't indulge the darker aspects of your personality with them. You can't use them to further your personal agendas. Moreover, they don't have to practice what you preach, but you do. And to teach from a place of knowing, you have to be further along the path than your students. You lead by example. That's why it's lonely. That's why it's hard. Everyone makes mistakes, but because yours are magnified by your role, you have to try that much harder.

Not all leaders get that. Some are good at inspiring others, but lack character. For example, Osama bin Laden has often been described as charismatic and inspiring, but he led from a place of hate. Hitler got entire nations to support him, but he used that power to advance his personal agenda. Nixon's ego, short temper and desire to undermine his adversaries did him in. The world is full of powerful people.  But it lacks good leaders. With power comes responsibility and those who fail to take that seriously eventually seem to fall. 

Today's draw comes to remind us that every Magician has a dark side. But their magic isn't measured by the amount of power they wield. It's in the amount of light with which they wield it. 

Sunday, December 8, 2013

12/9/13—Understanding the Mirror

Today's Draw: The Lovers from the Badger's Forest tarot by Nakisha. Do you understand how mirroring works in relationships? Is there some sort of drama going on in your life, and what is it mirroring back to you? When you look at your friends and loved ones, what are their strengths and shortcomings mirroring back to you?

The Lovers is one of those cards people like to see in a reading. Many readers will interpret the card as meaning "soul mates." While that's one of the meanings, it's not exactly how I see it. I generally see it as a choice that needs to be made...a choice between love and something else. For example if you love someone geographically undesirable, there may come a time when you have to choose between love and where you live. 

The other way I see it is, in a way, like soul mates, but not necessarily about romantic love. Someone has come into your life and created some sort of disturbance in the energy around you. Maybe it's romantic love. Maybe it's a great friendship. Maybe it's just someone passing through. Maybe it's someone who's a big frickin' thorn in your side. Any which way, for me, the Lovers signals someone significant coming in your life to aid in your expansion, whether you like it (or them) or not. They are coming into your life for the express purpose of challenging you to choose "love" and expansion over whatever other emotion they may spark in you. 

I can't recall us ever talking specifically about mirroring here, but I think it's something that's kind of misunderstood. First, mirroring reflects the positive, as well as the negative. And it's not tit for tat, meaning that someone with a short temper is not necessarily mirroring back a short temper in you. That may be one consideration, but perhaps they're *causing* you to have a short temper back and its simply to show you that you possess this trait if pushed hard enough. Once you understand the behavior, you can understand the person and once you understand the person, you can choose compassion and love over anger and withdrawal. 

Another thing it may be "mirroring" in you is any other response you might have. Do you tend to ignore short tempered people when they're being short tempered? Do you cry? Does someone like that lower your energy to their level or does your response raise their energy out of the temper tantrum? Do you get all judge-y and superior? What happens? There is greater self understanding to be found if you can see past your response.  

And what about the kind of mirroring that brings a positive response? One thing every woman would love to hear from a man in her life is, "you make me want to be a better man." In this case, he's not looking at her and seeing himself as the tender, loving woman she is. He's seeing himself as NOT tender or loving. But he's learning that, within him is a tender, loving person that wants to come out. And he wants to stop fighting that person. Her love makes him want to be better. 

In all of this, however, one thing seems pretty certain to me....nobody is in your life just to piss you off. Nobody is in your life to show you how perfect you are through the window of their imperfection. And nobody is in your life for you to judge their stuff while denying your own. They are there for a reason that is something you need to work on within you to grow. And you are there to bring them an opportunity to grow, too. In that way, you are like soul mates. You've found each other because, even if you find them unpalatable, they're the one perfect, star crossed person who can help you learn that lesson and heal. 

What do they make you feel? What animal response do they bring out in you? How do you see yourself thinking differently from the way before? How are they knocking you off kilter or creating a disturbance in your life? What kind of person are you when you're around them? What do they dredge up in you that most others cannot? All of this is valuable information that reflects something back at you. Because whatever they're dredging up, is being dredged up for healing. Whatever is reflected back is there for you to use for your expansion. And if you stuff it all down with anger and denial and hate, the wound will just grow within you. And the lesson will come back again. 

We've all seen people who encounter the same challenges over and over. Let's say there's a woman and every partner she has cheats on her. Is she just bad at choosing men? Just unlucky? No. In fact, she is excellent at choosing men, because she's choosing men who can help her heal abandonment, disloyalty or betrayal issues within her. Maybe there's some part of herself that is being disloyal to herself. Maybe he insists he's not cheating when she knows he is, and she's not trusting what she KNOWS. Maybe she finds that she blinds herself to all the clues because she's afraid of being alone. Maybe she sees how she abandoned the relationship, shut down and pushed him to seek comfort elsewhere. 

There are many possibilities OTHER THAN, his cheating is trying to mirror that she's a cheat herself. But it's still a mirror. And if she just keeps whining about her bad luck with men...or avoids men altogether...she's missing the lesson. And if those actions cause her to cheat back...or cheat first...then she IS seeing her own propensity to seek comfort elsewhere. And she can either blame it on him and get cheated on again and again until she learns her lesson....or she can heal that part of her personality and see the cheating as a contributing factor to her own expansion or growth. 

So whenever there's some sort of dance going on with someone in your life, whether brief or long lasting, unpleasant or inspiring, it's happening for a reason. And one of the ways to know you're NOT getting the lesson is if the mirror brings out the kinds of things that make you smaller—anger, vindictiveness, cruelty or a closed heart. If that is how you respond, look forward to it coming into your life again and again until you finally understand the idea of expansion—to widen your circle of love and understanding ever wider through genuine compassion, forgiveness and a live-and-let-live attitude. 

You can't rise above and beyond anything in your life with the darkness of hate weighing you down. Within every mirror is a hidden pathway that requires an open heart to uncover. And that is the pathway leads to your freedom. 

(P.S. I found this article online that pretty much says what I've said above, but with different words. It's worth a read.)