Thursday, January 23, 2014

1/24/14—Reflecting the Sun's Light

Today's fabulous sunset. And this was just the beginning.
I'm getting a lot of inspiration from sunsets these days. I didn't really plan on making it an almost daily hobby to sit on my front stoop and watch the sunset. But that's what it has become. And taking that extra time (I already sit outside most mornings and before bed) has made a huge difference in my wellbeing lately. Today it was about 20 degrees out with a moderate, persistent wind. There I was, in a tank top and a blanket, sitting bare-footed on my concrete stoop for an hour (fingers FREEZING as I tried to take pics). :D

Most of the time my boy, Kizzie, joins me. He's got executive privilege in the house. He's the oldest, so he gets the biggest treats AND he gets to sit outside on the stoop with mommy. The other two dogs would try to attack every leaf that blew by, so he's really my only option. Besides, the poor boy is the only male in a house full of girls and he is often shoved aside by much younger rivals for mommy's attention. So I do what I can to give him extra snuggles and consideration.

Anyway, he wasn't out there today because, on my
way to the door, a spinning, gyrating, leaping Manic Mystic managed to break one of my crystal ringing bowls. These are very expensive things. I was disappointed and, while not angry per se (it's my fault the bowls are where they are...the dogs bump into them all the time) I lost my taste for dogs for the moment. It wasn't fair that Kizzie had to pay for Mystic's mania. He was upset to miss "our time." So I feel bad now. But in the moment I wasn't in the mood for dogs.

Yesterday's lovely, but lackluster, sunset.
Which brings me around to what I noticed in the sunset today. See, yesterday the skies were crystal clear. And while I watched the first part of the sunset, it was really kind of boring. Even when you can see the horizon (which I can't), sunsets, while always lovely, just aren't as interesting unless there are clouds in the sky. I included pics of both yesterday's and today's sunset, taken at roughly the same time, to illustrate my point.

Clouds give the sun an opportunity to show its beauty in the most spectacular ways. They reflect the sun's light...contain it in concentrated bursts instead of having it diffuse out to forever until it is just no longer visible. They make sunrises and sunsets more interesting and remarkable. They show that the sun isn't just some hard-working source of light and heat, it's also something that paints a palette of beauty on every eye it's cast upon. Although I'm a big moon lover myself, I believe the sun puts on a far more spiritual show, aesthetically speaking.

Today was a day when I had to deal with lots of little annoyances. My email wasn't working. Then I got it fixed. Then it stopped working again. So lots of time spent with my ISP on the phone and over chat. Same kind of technical issues with Blue Cross, who fixed their online issues just in time for me to discover they're raising my rates by nearly $100 month.

Today's spectacular sunset at its most cloudy and fabulous. 
Then there was an issue with my bank, because they showed a $0.83 charge from Paypal that I couldn't verify on Paypal, so I opened a dispute and changed all my passwords. Then I found the $0.83 charge and had to call them to close the dispute. I know that sounds petty, but the fact is that when scammers get your personal information, they will do small charges like $0.83 just to test the waters. Then they'll hit you hard. So those small charges are vital clues that could save your arse. If you weren't aware of this, you know it now.

Finally, of course, was the expensive bowl Mystic broke. See, all of these things are "clouds". And while too many clouds will block the sun altogether, we get to choose whether or not the clouds that cast shadows on our day will block the world from seeing our light, or reflect our light in the most spectacular and profound ways.

I like to think I made a good sunset from my day. I was very pleasant with all the customer service people I spoke to (and that's saying a lot because sitting on hold for 45 minutes like I did this morning  usually brings out my inner Kali.) And Mystic didn't get anything more than a talking to...later, when she curled up to me all sorry-like.

The usual front porch scene. Kizzie's fur is a sunset in itself!
The only place I fell short and blocked my light might have been with Kizzie. None of this was his fault and he was so disappointed. He tried desperately to get out the door with me. I feel terrible about it now. But in the moment I think it was best for all involved if I just had some time alone. So I'm going to count that as a win, too. BTW, Kizzie addressed the cloud of not getting to watch the sunset with me quite gracefully. He laid in front of the window and watched me and the sunset from inside the house. Where it was NOT 20 degrees and windy.

While it's nice to have days when everything is perfect and easy, sometimes it's more gratifying at the end of the day to know you made it through an obstacle course alive. Little clouds make days more interesting. But more than that, the way we handle them makes US more interesting. We could live our lives with a blandly content visage perfect day after perfect day. But try being bland or content on a bad's just not done!

Various clouds—wispy ones, small ones, stormy ones—along with varying amounts of cloud cover, combine in ways to really reflect who we are inside. Or they at least capture who we are on that particular day. Like I said before, some clouds are just born to block the sun and there's nothing we can do about days like that. But most days we have a choice of whether to reflect the light within or block it out. What kind of sunset will you choose to be?

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

1/22/14—Limiting Our Possibilities

A dozen years before The Secret detailed its method of manifesting things in the universe, I read Deepak Chopra's Seven Spiritual Laws of Success. Although there might have been earlier books that handled this topic, I consider Seven Spiritual Laws of Success ground zero in the manifestation space.

Because I'd already had a decade of experience with Deepak's technique (and have written about it many times here), little in The Secret was new to me. But they did introduce me to the idea of creating vision boards. However, through laziness, lack of interest and perceived lack of need, I never made one. This year as I was considering things I could do differently in the new year, it occurred to me that, for my long term goals, I could create a vision board...maybe a digital one I could keep as the wallpaper on my computer.

See, I believe that the universe is always conspiring to bring us what we want and need based on our thoughts and actions. And so I pay attention to my thoughts and actions. While I do a very good job of manifesting things of immediate need, I'm not so sure about my success on achieving long-term goals. So I thought a vision board might make all the difference.

While I've just started collecting images and finding ways to put them together in a collage online, I've already discovered something that could be key in my ability to manifest my long term goals. As I've been searching through pictures online, I find myself looking at a grandiose home, for example, and thinking, "it's too fancy for me." Or "that idyllic little creek couldn't possibly be on the same property that overlooks the river (or ocean)." Or "that audience is too big for anything I would lecture about."

Now, those aren't my EXACT thoughts, but they're the *kind* of limiting thoughts I've been having. And if you would have asked me before I started looking for pics if I limited my dreams in any way, I would have said no. But clearly I am. And this turn of events has really opened my eyes.

I'm discovering there is a voice inside me that says, "I'll only take what I need or is my fair share," which, in itself, is a limiting thought. It assumes there there are limited resources and there is an average amount a person can ask for that won't leave another person poor as a result. There is also an air of "I don't serve anything that plush," in my thoughts. And some "I could never earn what it takes to maintain that," mixed in. And all of it is nonsense.

We are all entitled to live and manifest a life the size of our dreams. When we limit our dreams, we limit what is possible for us to manifest in the world. Limitation only exists because we limit ourselves by believing it does. That last sentence sounds crazy, but it's profound. What we believe shapes our reality. Limited availability and unlimited possibility are two beliefs we can choose between. They can even exist at the same time. But regardless, we shouldn't let them or anything else shape what we believe is possible for ourselves.

Sunday, January 19, 2014

1/20/14—Living With Angels

Me and my girl, contemplating life together. This is my favorite picture
and I had a woman on etsy make it into a night light for me. 
Most days I think of a handful of things I want to talk about here. I sit outside for a few minutes most mornings while the dogs do their business and I drink some coffee. Then I sit outside and meditate in the am hours before bed. Then I'll usually catch a sunset. These are all fertile times for inspiration to flow into my head.

Lately just watching the sun go down in and of itself inspires deep thought. For example, I might see the squirrels retiring for the night and think of the rhythms all (or most...I haven't researched this!) living things keep to the beat of the sun. Most are active during the day, but others like the neighborhood fox and crazy loud barred owls, prefer the night. But we all have our routine.

You can learn a lot about life from just watching the sunrise and sunset. For probably two years I kept a journal of twice-weekly sunrises along the river and never made the same entry twice. Now it's the sunsets that are calling me. But it's not just the insights from nature that happen during these times outside. Many times it triggers insights from things in my present or past.

In many ways, the two years of sunrises are what inspired the three years of tarot-inspired insights I has on this blog. And now we're moving back to nature...or rather back to whatever springs from me internally. Anyway, four paragraphs in and none of this is what I want to talk about today...haha.

Beautiful inside and out. 
What has been on my mind a lot this weekend is my deceased dog, Passion. As a person who never wanted kids, but always wanted dogs, Passion was my pride and joy. She was big and beautiful. Because she was a redhead with a lot of chow chow in her, many called her Mufasa. I have never seen the The Lion King, so I took their word for it.

I believe that all of us serve us an angel to others at one time or another. While we're always here to serve each other and the earth, I believe there are certain times when we are moved by an invisible hand to be just what another needs in a fleeting moment. Like the moment a woman whose name I can't even remember anymore once told me, "be sure you're running to something, rather than running away from something, Tierney." Those words were extremely important to me in that moment and completely changed my outlook on my career from that point forward. They were the words of an angel, delivered by a human.

Now, I'm not someone who necessarily believes in angels. So when I'm saying that word, I'm not thinking of a being with wings. I'm thinking of the voice or message or gesture of god or spirit or grace coming moving through another to bring you divine guidance. These moments have happened with friends, with strangers and, for 10 years straight, in many ways, from my dog Passion.

As my first dog that was all mine (we had dogs growing up), Passion was filled with firsts for me. One of the firsts was the first time anyone ever recommended I put a dog down. See, before she even turned one, Passion went lame and needed very expensive hip surgery. I was told that most people would put a puppy like that professionals. She was going to be a big dog (100 lbs)...the surgery may not last...she would have difficulty all her life...blah, blah, I don't even remember all the reasons they gave me.

Growing up, our dogs were our dogs, but they weren't children, you know? So when all of this happened, I thought she was cute, I knew she was special, but was I prepared for a lifetime of challenges? My brother told me I shouldn't spend the money if I was going to resent it. This is a big thing, because it told me that if I decided in my head that I was going to do it, I should just do it and never think of it again. That helped me swallow that large bill.

The night light made from the image above. 
But there was still a place in my heart that hadn't committed to Passion yet. She was still a puppy. Still making trouble here and there. If she had the surgery, it was going to mean a lot of patience on my part while she recovered. I was going to have to be very gentle with her. Up until that time we'd had some debate over who was going to be the alpha and I would roll her and get in her face and bark at her (this was something I'd read online, and it did work...she was VERY alpha). Was I up to this? I had to make a decision.

I still remember the day when I looked her in the eye and decided to give her the surgery without resentment, love her even if she barfed and pooped on everything I owned, be more gentle with her, and hold her in my arms while she took her dying breath. There are a lot of differences between children and pets, but one of the most critical I think, is that every pet owner agrees on some level, going in, that they will ask someone to administer a lethal dose to their baby then hold their baby it as it dies.

What I learned that day as I looked in Passion's eyes is perhaps the most valuable lesson I will ever learn—to love unconditionally. It was a decision I made and I never looked back.

The reason I say Passion is an angel in fur is because, well, she was a unique girl. My boy Kizzie and my girl Magick (and possibly even my girl Mystic) are just dogs. They're dog souls in a dog body and  enjoy the rhythms and depth (or lack thereof) of a dog's life. Passion was not that way. Passion was clearly a "human soul" who chose to come down here and serve time in the prison of a dog suit and dog brain to live an incredibly boring dog life with me....all to teach me about love and dignity and limitations of various kinds.

Anyone with children knows what unconditional love is. It's different from the love parents receive in return, though that may be unconditional. It's different from what you feel for your spouse or any other person. It's a love that says "you can push all my buttons—neglect me, anger me, disappoint me—and I will be rendered incapable of offering you anything but my complete love." It's a thorough letting go of all present and future anger and resentment and judgment and yielding entirely to love. It is the highest form of love, imo. And for people who don't want children, our pets let us experience it.

This post is already too long. So trust me when I say Passion was magnificent and human in so many ways. She thrived when given situations where critical and analytical thought were key. A dog's life was way too limiting for her. I know this sounds crazy, but about the age of 9 she started telling me she was ready to go...she'd had enough. Within a year she developed the disease that would make that possible. One day she was fine...just an aging girl. The next day I was told that she needed to be put down immediately. This time I followed their advice.

I spent one last night with Passion. She was 10 years old. The professionals were wrong about her hip. It held out and never gave her trouble again. Had I listened to them, I never would have known her. I know it sounds crazy, but in so many ways she was my equal. In so many ways, she was my superior. She was stubborn and overbearing and she meted out her love completely conditionally...haha...but if I ever meet a human as incredibly amazing as her, I will be truly blessed.

We sat up together all night and talked. A few of the neighbors came by to pay their last respects to her. She was sort of the grand dame dog in the neighborhood. Then we just laid on her beddie boo by the window holding hands and talking all night. When I would have to get up to go to the bathroom, she got scared...the only times I ever saw that big toughie scared in her life. She knew what was happening and needed me to be there for her. She was too weak to keep being strong. And the next morning I sang her song to her as she died in my arms. When I finally let go and placed her on the ground, I leaned over her and kissed her and one final puff came from inside her. In that moment she was gone.

In the movie, Mufasa told Simba, "there's more to being a king than getting your way all the time." In many ways, that's the lesson Passion taught me. She taught me to open my heart enough to let someone else in...something no human relationship had ever taught me. And, of course, she taught me unconditional love. I would absolutely not be the person (or doggie mom) I am today without Passion reflecting my stubborn, impatient and overbearing ways back to me.

A while after her death, I drew a tarot card asking for a message from her. It showed a mother bear in spirit looking over her three baby bears while they slept. Because I often called her Pashie Bear, there was simply not a better message I could have gotten. She watches over us.

Passion gave up a human incarnation, imo, to be a dog with hip issues stuck in a non-challenging life...all to be my angel and saving grace. She loved me that much. Of course, it's not like she didn't learn any lessons from me. But outside of my parents, I don't know who would or could ever affect me as deeply. The lessons I learned from her were so huge they reshaped my life from that point forward. Does that soul exist for you? What lesson have you learned from them that you weren't able to learn from anyone else?