Saturday, June 21, 2014

6/21/14—Choosing Joy and Love

 PREVIOUS BLOG              I               MASTER LIST              I               NEXT BLOG                        

Today's post is special in that it is part of a Tarot Blog Hop in celebration of Litha or Midsummer or Summer Solstice. This means that, if you're reading this at my actual blog, you can click on the links above and hop from blog to blog, all focused around the theme of what brings us joy and how to bring joy to others. 

One of the things that brings me joy—or rather opens me up to more joy—is becoming the person I want to be. They say you're supposed to love yourself as you are but there have always been parts of me that made that hard. So half a lifetime ago I embarked on a journey of spiritual and personal development. While I have always experienced steady and satisfying growth, in the past few years I've taken a number of difficult leaps and experienced significant growth. 

Along the way, I have discovered a prescription for significant growth. First, you have to really know and understand your triggers, pains, fears and self-destructive habits. Then you have to start making different decisions than your pain and fear tell you to make. I think anyone who is truly self aware understands that many of the decisions we make are governed by things like fear, pain and self protection. It's natural. It's human. But being governed by them is not conducive to creating joy. 

Because this is a tarot blog post, I have a tarot story to help illustrate my point. As many of you may know, I'm the creator of the Deck of 1000 Spreads, a tool for creating your own spreads. As a creative person, I've heard over and over again that there are no truly original ideas. But it seems I lit on one. Nobody I knew of before, during or after its publication had ever heard of an idea like this. I pitched the idea to four publishers in the tarot world and they had never heard of an idea like this. So, as you can imagine, I was quite proud of what I created. It was something truly new and innovative. 

The Deck of 1000 Spreads made its debut in February 2013. For well over a year I enjoyed kudos and praise for my brilliant thinking. Then about a month ago, I see a picture from the Reader's Studio of people playing with something called The Dynamic Spreads Deck by BK Reichle. As you can imagine, I was all "WTF?" I couldn't really make out what it was from the pictures, but it looked like the same idea as my deck! 

So I messaged someone who had seen it, hoping they could describe it to me, but still didn't get the clarity I wanted. All I knew was that BK Reichle had apparently showed a prototype to some people at Reader's Studio years ago and was self printing (which is why none of the publishers had heard the idea before.) 

I didn't know what to think. I didn't know how to feel. If others knew about his deck, why hadn't anyone mentioned it to me? How is it my deck was out over a year and I had never heard of this!?

Despite my fears and insecurities, I did my best to calm down and just wait and see. Logic told me this guy wouldn't be pouring his own money into a nice, self-published set with a box and book and everything if his intention was merely to snatch a share of the bustling spreadcrafting marketplace. :D If you've ever created a deck, you know even the popular ones will barely pay for the time you put into them. So while my insecure self felt threatened, my reasonable self did not. 

And while I was "waiting and seeing", I ultimately realized that I really just wanted to know this wouldn't turn into a "thing"—a thing that would spark my paranoia and insecurity. A thing that would compromise my happiness. A thing that would take away from my deck or its success. I really just wanted to know I would be OK and my deck would be OK. And I realized that there was only one way to ensure that would happen—I needed to let go and make sure *I* didn't turn it into a thing. That's when I put both my fears and the unhealed pains of disappointments from a lifetime as a creative person aside and wrote BK Reichle.

See, the experience I had creating the Deck of 1000 Spreads was probably one of the best creative experiences of my life. Working with Llewellyn was great. I got things the way I wanted. My kit is beautiful. People have given me a website full of ideas for using the deck in ways I never imagined. Everywhere from Amazon to Aeclectic I have five-star reviews. And on Facebook feeds around the world, I've been lavished with praise. There has been nothing about this experience that, even for a moment, compromised my joy at having birthed this deck. The entire experience has been a spiritual experience for me through the practice of letting go, handing my baby over to the community I created it for and letting whatever praise or pushback just be. My entire career has been about birthing creative ideas for the inspection of others and it isn't always a fulfilling process. But this was. And letting BK have his turn at a joyful experience was part of that letting go. 

It was both difficult and easy for me to reach out and congratulate him and let him know I was on his side. Difficult because of ego concerns and also because he was a stranger and I had no idea what he thought of me or my deck. I can be a polarizing person...either you think I'm the bestest or you think I suck eggs. I had no idea which end of that continuum he might fall on. The decision was easy, though, because I genuinely wanted him to enjoy the amazing experience I've had over the past year. He and I share an entirely original idea we both conjured at roughly the same time, thousands of miles apart. Without knowing it, we have been energetically connected in this venture for four years. We both share a passion for this innovation. And regardless of how it all turned out, I knew I respected his decision to continue moving forward with his self published kit, even after he knew mine was on the market and widely distributed.

Gratefully, my message to BK didn't sit in the ether very long before he replied, relieved that I was friendly and supportive. The ice was broken and I discovered we're two nice people with creative minds fully deserving of our victories. Nobody is out to get anyone or resentful. We've exchanged many emails now. Both of us have made ourselves vulnerable to the other in regards to our creative lives and the decks, and both have received nothing but support in return. And it happened because we were able to put our baggage and competitiveness—our fear and pain—aside and just be kind to each other. 

Both of us decided to choose love over fear and pain. 

In the past I would have probably quietly seethed and resented. I might have allowed it to sully the whole experience for me. But instead, the wonderful experience of creating my deck just continues. In fact, now I get to share it with the only other person on earth who can truly understand how I feel about this whole spreadcrafting thing.

So the advent of BK Reichle's Dynamic Spreads Deck has been a gift to me. No jealousy. No animosity. Nobody stole any ideas from anybody. We just had the same idea and, in my mind, executed it in very different, yet impressive ways. I think each of us has something we admire in the other's deck, but both of us have created the deck that suits us best.

My ability to let go and welcome anything that comes throughout this entire process has not only been a huge leap for me, it has also been a revelation. For one thing, I managed to silence that voice inside me that allows situations (and myself) to "ruin" things for me, which surprised even me. For another, I held my insecurity and other triggers at bay long enough to make a different decision, a conscious decision—a decision that includes and embraces, rather than tries to control and hold others at arm's length. 

This particular lesson is something I've been working hard on for a couple of years and, of course, I'm still working on it. The process has been difficult and, at times painful. I won't lie. Because so many act from a place of fear and segregation, acting from a place of love and inclusion can be an unpopular decision. But I have found that the support you may lose by making it is so significantly outshone by the freedom, self respect and spiritual growth you receive in return, that it makes all the pain and struggle well worth it. On this midsummer's day, I'm embodying more and more of who I want to be. And that is what brings me joy. 

To read another post on the topic of joy, click on one of the links below. Happy Litha/Summer Solstice!

 PREVIOUS BLOG              I               MASTER LIST              I               NEXT BLOG                        

Thursday, June 19, 2014

6/20/14—Gaining Perspective

This was the scene throughout my neighborhood today as massive
trees came down. See the next pic to see the damage this one caused.
This has been a week of changing perspective for me. 

It started on Monday with some pretty crushing news. Well, crushing for my little world. It's nothing I won't survive. But just when I was feeling like my world was coming to an end, a storm hit. 

A real storm. With thunder and lightning and hail and wind. Last night, something evil this way came. And it was very localized. I came out unscathed. A limb went down in my back yard, but it literally fell just feet from where I drag all the fallen limbs to retire...haha. In my front yard, there was a lot of debris, but no damage anywhere. 

So that huge amount of tree threaded the needle between the
pine and the house and only caused that much damage!
The house next door was unscathed. 
All around me, though, enormous branches down. One guy had about half a tree land on two of his cars and all he got was a dent and a broken windshield. On the next block, a massive tree came down. It somehow managed to fall perfectly in the narrow space between two houses, circumventing another tree that you'd think would be in its way. There was very little damage done. I saw the same scenes, block after block—massive tree damage, very little personal property damage and zero damage to human beings. 

Last night, for the first time ever, I moved to a safer place to wait out the storm. As I was hunkered in my bathroom with my three dogs, it occurred to me that the news I got on Monday was nothing in comparison to if me or the babies got hurt...or the house got badly damaged...or all of us were swept up in a twister. And as I looked through the neighborhood today, I saw how fortunate even the hardest hit were. We were all under angel wings last night. 

I fared pretty well. I have no trees in my front yard, but
was the benefactor of a neighbor's tree. Look across the street
and there's nothing. But the guy next door to him had two cars
damaged and he had huge limbs that blew about 80 feet
into other yards. It was a very weird storm.
So I still have a mess to circumvent from the news earlier in the week. And it will be a journey. But I'm alive. And my dogs are alive. And I have electricity and a stable home to live in tonight. As I've learned so many times in my life, things could always be much worse, no matter how bad they are today. So we should be grateful to the challenges we have. Everything looks better in the light of something worse. 

As an FYI, there is going to be an extra post this week. Tune in Saturday to hear what happened when I discovered somebody came out with a deck and book a lot like the one I had published last year. It's a story you won't want to miss. ;)

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

6/18/14—Sharing Five Things About Happiness

Odd piece of trivia: people tend to like enumerated lists of things. So if you get an email with a subject line that says "Five Things Weird People Do," you're more likely to open that than an email that just says "Stuff Weird People Do." 

Before you protest and tell me all about how you'll read any email with "stuff" in the subject line, there are, no doubt, exceptions. And you, a board-certified snowflake, may be one of them. But it's just one of those things the advertising industry does research on, then pumps into my head. So I thought I'd share it with you. Because tonight I'm really tired. And instead of writing a brand new post from scratch, I'm going to share a classic one with you—Five Things To Know About Happiness. 

1. Happiness Isn't All It's Cracked Up to Be. You very well may be happy right now and not even know it. It doesn't necessarily come with a balloon and streamers attached. It's not necessarily something you get in exchange for something good you've done. It's merely a feeling of remarkable wellbeing in body, mind, emotion, and/or soul. And by "remarkable", I'm not talking "rare". I'm talking, "hey, I'm remarking that I'm happy!" (Notice the lone exclamation point?) So it's not quite joy or bliss (which *do* come with streamers...AND a few extra exclamation points). Happiness is just a nice smile that comes from within. :) 

2. Happiness is Not a Destination. It's part of the journey. There's never going to come a day when you're "Happy. Period." We all have ups and downs. We may be happy in one area of our lives and less than happy in another. It's not a place to land and plant roots. Nor do you want it to be. Because happiness should never become mundane. If it's how you felt all the time, it wouldn't be such a gift. 

3. Happiness is a Choice. In most moments, you can choose to be happy. You can choose to see your situation as a gift. Sure, if the bad guys are chasing you with guns, it's hard to be happy. Unless you like that sort of thing. But most of us lead pretty tame lives. And we can choose to let some inconsiderate person, for example, ruin our day. Or we can choose to focus on the positives, see how good we've got it and let our bodies and minds flow with gratitude. Now, chemicals in our body can make our moods shift. But even those, we can choose to improve through exercise or pharmaceuticals or whatever. But still, we're all human, so there will be times it won't be a choice. But many times it is. And since I promised you only five things...

3a. Gratitude is a Direct Route to Happiness. Want to be happy? Count your blessings. We are all so incredibly blessed and we don't even realize it half the time because we're looking at all the areas where life has fallen short of our expectations. Well what about the vastly larger number of areas in which it has met and exceeded...or at the very least mirrored the effort we put forth?

4. You Can't Know Another Person's Happiness. So stop looking over the fence and thinking that person is happy! C'mon...think about all the times you walk around with a smile on, even though you're less than happy. Well, newsflash. Everyone else is doing that, too. In fact, some people are significantly better at looking happy than you are. The Dalai Lama is probably the happiest person on earth (that I know of, at least) and even his moods modulate. Besides, he's waited on hand and foot, worshipped far and wide and hugely respected. He was literally born to be a leader and a holy leader. But he was a leader in exile most of his life and his people were oppressed...all this happening to a very compassionate man. You want his problems? I didn't think so. So be careful what you're wishing for. 

5. Happiness Shouldn't Necessarily Be Your Goal. Contentment should. See, the ultimate goal in life is supposed to be balance, right? Well, happiness is weighted to one side of the spectrum. It's not in the center. And the things beyond center are harder to maintain. Not only that, but in order to have balance, things that are weighted to one end eventually have to be mirrored by things weighted at the other end. But contentment is at the center. It's satisfaction. It's upturned lips and a relaxed brow, but not quite a full-on smile. With contentment, there may be things in your life that are less than hunky dory, but you'll take it. Because it's pretty good overall...pretty good for a Wednesday. It's the wellbeing without the exclamation point. And it feels really nice. And, with the right mindset, you can maintain it longer. 

Sunday, June 15, 2014

6/16/14—Calling In Reinforcements

Lately I've been having a difficult patch in a number of areas of my life. And while friends can listen and give advice, they can only help so much. Ultimately we're alone in these things. But then I remembered a resource I always forget to access and it has made all the difference.

I make no secret of the fact I believe in a higher power and ghosts, and even guides and angels to a degree. While I connect with my higher power frequently, I rarely seek to connect with the others intentionally. I've always heard that guides and angels won't intervene on your behalf unless you specifically call on them. And since I always forget to call on them, they're just kind of there, I guess. While many who share my beliefs have an ongoing relationship with a spirit guide, I've just never been too motivated to build one. I believe we all have them, but I'm just not that into it.

So, as I said, I have been struggling with a few different issues lately and depression and hormones and tiredness and fear all combined to the point I was questioning whether or not I had the energy or desire to shoulder whatever load it would take to crawl out of the abyss. I'm being a tad dramatic, I admit. We're talking about a few weeks of feeling low. But then I remembered I had the option of calling on my higher power, guides, teachers and spirits to help. So that's what I did.

Calling on spirits is as easy as praying. In fact, that's what it is. It's taking a few moments of silence to ask God or your dead uncle or an angel or your spirit guides—or all of them—to guide you through this time and help you make the right choices. So that's what I did. And the result, so far, has been remarkable.

Just in the past couple of days, things that had been lying fallow in my life have started to show a new vitality. I feel more motivated. I've gotten a couple of answers to problems. And I've gotten perspective on one issue in particular that has been weighing on my mind for years.

So everyone understands, the help you receive when you call on spirits can come in many forms. In regard to this issue I mentioned, I had it on my mind the other day when I got in my car and the first song I heard on the radio was freakishly appropriate to the situation. Then last night I go to a gathering and have a chat with a woman who opened my eyes to a whole new perspective regarding the situation. She somehow was able to hone in on the situation with very little information. Both of these incidences were literally answers to my prayer. 

In the past I've gotten messages from something I read in a book or saw on TV, a spontaneous thought in my head, situations that pop up out of nowhere and hold clues, situations that seem crappy at first, overheard conversations, a scent or photo that triggered an important memory, and voices, either internal or external, that give me a message. One time, I even got important insight from the vanity plate on the car in front of me in traffic. So it's not like the room fills with light and you hear a choir of angels and Jesus himself manifests to guide you. The guidance and messages come from everyday things that might be considered "coincidence" or "an odd occurrence".

So if you've got a big decision to make or are wallowing in depression or in the midst of a big life transition—or even if you're just trying to make it through everyday life—remember to call on your god, angels, teachers, spirits and/or guides to help you through. It doesn't have to be a big issue you're working on. Most of these resources are there specifically to help you. So access them and, when these odd coincidences happen, see them as the messages they are. 

Like I said before, most won't intervene without an invitation, so you have to take the first step. I don't quote the Bible often, but Matthew 7:7 says it perfectly—"Ask and it will be given to you. Seek and you will find. Knock and the door will be open to you."