Sunday, December 25, 2016

12/26/16—Wishing You a Peaceful Christmas

This repost from three years ago still has truth today. Merry Christmas to all of you and may we all find peace in our hearts in 2017.

It has been a long time since Christmas has been "magical" or even special to me. Part of that is age, I suppose. Part of it is because it's a season of togetherness and one of the rare times I almost wish I wasn't a loner ("almost" because I wouldn't feel like getting all dressed up and being social anyway...haha). 

But part of it is because, for many of us, Christmas' sparkles and cheer are a whitewash covering hurt that is going on inside. Because the season is so magical and because most of us remember how it's *supposed* to feel, the divide between what's going on inside us and all the blinking lights outside us becomes more pronounced. And because we all smile and greet others kindly as we're supposed to, there is this sense that everyone is able to feel the spirit of the season but you. (And while I'm talking about Christmas here, what I really mean is all the December holidays that people come together for, like Hanukkah and Kwanzaa.)

This past year, more than ever, I'm seeing people struggling all around me. Some are having monetary issues. Some have just experienced a loss. Some are alone and don't want to be. Some have just had surgeries. Some are facing serious family or health issues. Some are weighed down by enormous burdens or secrets. Some are incredibly stressed. And all of this is made worse by the fact we have extra down time in which to wallow in our pain. For me, even my good Christmas seasons have been colored by my mother's death 32 years ago. It was her favorite holiday and she died just days after. It's impossible not to think of her during the holidays. The loss of a mother is something that never fully heals. 

But this year, I also find myself haunted by the experiences of two of my Facebook friends—people I've never met in person, but whose stories are heartbreaking. One is a man who can't escape the loss of his two small children and their mother in a fire 10 years ago during the holiday season. The fact that his daughter, badly burned, fought to live for a couple of days, makes the story unbearable. Everything he lived for was gone just like that. And while he's rebuilt his life and now has a young son, how can you not think of the two you lost every year when you set up your tree? While you're grateful for the second chance, how do you ever stop wondering what could have been?

Another is a mother whose adult son has gone missing. He is mentally ill and without his medicine. He was seen a couple of days ago, but has eluded the police and others who are looking for him. She uses the word psychotic to describe his state, so I imagine his illness is quite serious and getting worse each day he is without medication. She had a birthday yesterday. And while she is a very spiritual and strong woman and her son is a fully grown adult, how can your heart not break with Christmas two days away and your baby out there somewhere in the weather, wandering the streets of NYC?

It puts things into perspective, doesn't it? Sure, I'm blue, but I have a warm, comfortable place to sleep, plenty of food for my belly, safe loved ones and three dogs that worship my every breath. And while the typical nuclear family might enjoy the holidays more, their pre-holiday rush and preparation has been nowhere near as peaceful as mine. It doesn't exactly convert my sadness to happiness, but it shows me all that I'm grateful for.  

All of this inspired me to do a ceremony last night for the solstice. I built a fire and placed the "burdens" I carry into the fire...thoughts and emotions I carry with me that weigh me down. Then I smudged my house. Then I took a long shower. All of this was to cleanse the pains and shortcomings of the previous year off of me and purify myself and my home for the next six months as the sun's light expands day by day in the world and in my heart. I'll probably do something similar at the end of the calendar year to honor this past year and the coming year. 

Anyway, I share all of this not to offer spiritual platitudes to people who are feeling down. "Buck up little beaver" isn't going to do the trick, because much of the pain that bubbles up during the holidays is deep seated and comes, I believe, to show us what we still have to heal. But really I just want people to know they're not alone. Not by a long shot. Behind many smiles you see on holiday faces—even among those who will experience the day's magic once all the rushing and shopping and cooking is done—there is a person just trying to cope until the season has passed and regular life can resume. Feeling what you feel doesn't make you abnormal or a killjoy. It just makes you human.

So if you know someone who might have reason to struggle this holiday season, be extra gentle and loving. Reach out to them even if they have carols blazing and a cup full of nog. And if you are that person, muddle through. It's OK to feel the way you're feeling. The other day I did a random act of kindness for a stranger and that helped my mood. But the person you most need to be kind to is yourself. So take a hot bath, maybe write everything down in a journal, or just binge watch movies. Whatever gets you through. And when you start to feel alone or broken, remember that you're not alone. We'll make it through together.

For those who are struggling, the number for the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline is 1-800-273-8255. 

Sunday, December 11, 2016

12/12/16—Asking A Sasquatch Out To Lunch

Life has been busy the past couple of weeks, so I'm taking the afternoon to chill. Therefore you get another classic post. This one is from two years ago.

I have this weird thing. I don't seem remember much about who I was in the past. It's like I'm totally detached from previous iterations of myself and I don't even feel like past "mes" were me at all.

There may be something deep and psychological to this. Or maybe everyone feels that way. But when I look into the eyes of the girls in this picture I know they all look like me, but I'm not sure I can say who they were. I just know I'm a very different person now. 

They all liked to write. They all had a sense of humor. And they were all on a journey of self discovery. But to one degree or another, I was always working to leave a part of them behind me where I would never have to look at it again. That's what growth is in many ways...a constant shedding of skin in search of the ever more luminous iterations of "me" hoping to reach the surface. Or maybe that's exfoliation. I'm not sure. :D Because, like exfoliation, the minute your "new skin" reaches the surface, it begins on a course of death and flakiness until it, itself, is shed. Just exposing it to the world to interact with outside forces sends it careening into certain obsolescence. 

The girl in the top row was really just trying to figure out who she was. The woman in the middle row...she's not someone I liked so much. She fell into a superficial trap and cared more about how others viewed her than how she viewed herself. The woman on the bottom row, well she's more like the woman I am today. Still searching. But looking more inside herself for the things she needs to be happy, rather than outside of herself.

Still, it bothers me in some ways that I can't identify with any of those women, not even the most recent—the one in the sparkly fortune teller's turban in the lower right hand corner. None of them seem to have captured the essence of me, not in photos or in reality.

Back in the days of the middle row, I used to feel like there was a "me inside of me" that was curled up in the fetal position, crying. Sad, I know. She would mostly come out at night, in the quiet moments as I lay down to sleep. She used to really bother me, because she felt trapped and I didn't know how to let her out. So I ignored her for years. Pretended she wasn't there. Those last two girls in the top row used to feel like her sometimes. It's like I swallowed them up and contained them within a new, shinier container, thinking it would make the pain go away. And it seemed to. For a while.

I did eventually make peace with her, though. I had to. She became to pained to ignore. So I nurtured her. I stopped a lot of negative self talk. I got rid of toxic and abusive people in my life. I learned how to handle my fears. And today the me inside of me is uncurled and living peacefully within me. But I still feel like she's captive to a degree...silent, content, but hoping to feel the air on her skin just once before she dies. She hasn't been fully integrated yet. She's just led by a kinder master.

Sometimes I wonder if "the real me" or the "authentic me" is elusive like a Sasquatch. You might catch glimpses of it, but you can never quite meet it head-on and ask it out to tea. No matter how times I've felt like I've finally reached my authentic self, I shed my skin again and that woman is lost to history. But with each layer shed and with each new iteration, I do feel like I understand my true self better. That "me inside of me" seems to fill out my skin more and more over the years. And I come more to peace with what I find inside of me, which brings me more to peace with the people and situation I find outside of me as well. 

I think we've been led to believe that "our true self" or our "authentic self" is a destination that we reach one day when we have amassed a lot of wisdom. But I'm coming more and more to believe that it doesn't exist. I think "authenticity" is more like a continually evolving journey. Sure, there's a core to us that remains constant throughout our lives. But that core is surrounded by a continually changing and evolving ether that, like quicksilver, is difficult to hold or contain. And I'm good with that. It makes life interesting. And I'm certain that if I ever stopped seeking—if there is a destination to ultimately reach—then life would lose its purpose. I've invested too much in this journey to ever be satisfied by reaching its end.

Sunday, December 4, 2016

12/4/16—Looking Below And To The Left Of Jupiter

I spent most of my day writing one blog, then scrapping it and starting another. Neither of those blogs are ready to release into the wild. So here's a classic post from two years ago. I think it's really relevant today. 

Last night there was a meteor shower. And all the shooting stars reminded me of a powerful lesson.

I went outside around 1am, my StarWalk application in tow, and checked to make sure I knew where to look in the sky. StarWalk had the meteors shooting just to the left of Jupiter and a bit lower in the sky. This was a good thing and bad thing. The good thing is that my view is relatively clear in that region of the sky. The bad thing is that, while only a half moon, the moon was very bright last night and positioned beneath Jupiter when I was out there. Ideally, you want a darker sky. 

Anyway, I got myself all comfy and glanced casually out where I was supposed to look. I didn't want the shooting stars to think I was desperate or needy or anything. There were supposed to be as many as 50 per hour, so I thought it was going to be like shooting fish in a barrel. But after about 15 minutes, I saw nothing. 

So then I decided to stare squarely at a point in the eastern sky, unblinking, as long as I could. Still nothing. By now, about a half hour has passed. I tend to see stuff in the corner of my eye, so I think I might have seen something, but there was nothing conclusive. So then I figured that maybe the moon was just too bright and they were too close to where the moon was in my field of vision to be seen. So I laid back and looked at all the stars directly overhead. It was a beautiful sight. 

Within seconds of laying my head back, however, I saw the most spectacular shooting star make a long, lingering arch across the sky. No doubt about it. I saw one! But before I was done making my wish, I saw another! Then another!

Seems that all that time, I had been looking in the wrong part of the sky. I had limited myself to what I knew—or thought I knew—about the Geminids meteor shower and I invested fully in that knowledge. But that knowledge turned out to be fruitless. I didn't see a shooting star until I put aside what I knew and looked at the sky from another perspective. 

We see this all the time, don't we? We even do it ourselves. We're so sure of something—so invested in our perspective being right—that we see it as the only way. But looking at things from another perspective doesn't have to mean you're wrong. It just means you're broadening your view of something. And as long as you hold on tightly to what you "know", you may be cheating yourself out of something quite special.

The truest thing I know about life is that none of us holds the truth about anything. We hold just one piece of the truth, a piece viewed from our unique viewpoint. But staring at, and knowing, and being certain about your part of the cosmos doesn't mean you understand the cosmos. The next time you're sure of something, remember that the magic comes not from being certain, but from opening yourself up to a part of the sky you never thought to look at. That's where the streaks of new enlightenment can be found, arching their way across the sky. 

Sunday, November 27, 2016

11/28/16—Breathing Into The Pain

Unbeknownst to my massage therapist, I'm learning something really deep from him. 

First, let me say, my interest in massage is entirely hedonistic. I like the way it feels and it doesn't hurt that it's being done by a fetching hunk of man. I always thought the idea of "releasing toxins" was BS. But a few weeks ago I was sick as a dog all weekend following a massage. It was like the flu, but not the flu.

But that's not the deep thing I learned. The deep thing I learned is that, when I'm on the massage table and he comes across a tense muscle, and it is painful, I place my attention on the spot, and do my best to let go into his pressure, so he can break up the tension and "release the toxins."

However, until recently, in the rest of my life, when I came across pain, I tended to tense up more around the painful spot and put my attention elsewhere, disregarding the tension and toxins building up. Thinking the pain will just pass if I distract myself enough.

In the past six months or so, I have had a lot of pain, seemingly coming from multiple directions. Some of these pains were fresh, but some were vintage ones coming up for air. So I've been trying to breathe into the pain, allowing the pressure to break up and dissipate. 

I'm not going to lie and tell you that I'm more joyous than ever. Right now I'm struggling under the weight of accepting and divesting of the things bringing me pain in my life. It has been one the darkest periods of my life and some of the people I thought would be there to support me were not. One who I was very close to chose to kick me when I was down, in fact, despite having full knowledge of the crisis I was in at that moment. 

So it has been an ugly and heartbreaking and illuminating time. It has been illuminating, in part, because it has shone a light on who is really there for me. I have to say I am blessed with some very wise woman friends and an adequate support network. But it has also shone a light on who is in my life out of love, who is not, and whose issues are such that they keep them from feeling entirely. 

When you tense up around pain long enough and completely enough, you can just stop feeling. Or desensitize yourself so much that it takes something huge to register. I won't say I ever quite got that far myself, but I know some who have. Which is why I finally started feeling my pain instead of putting it off. I didn't want to be one of those who were unable to feel for others because they were too busy holding their own feelings at bay. 

So I won't lie and tell you that it is easy or that I'm happier than ever. Just as with the massage, I had physical symptoms from the release of toxins, but lasting for weeks, instead of just a weekend. I do find myself healing things within me, though. And I find myself dealing with some of the fears that came along with all of this. And, whenever the deluge stops from the dam I broke, I think I will be much happier and more sure of myself. I know I've already made powerful changes in my life. And I also know that I'm seeing through a lot of people and situations that do not serve in my life. I'm seeing more clearly.

It's true that there is no growth without discomfort. In fact, discomfort is probably the most valuable tool in your spiritual armory. If you're having a hard time forgiving, you'll have to go someplace uncomfortable to get over the hump. If you're having a hard time letting go, you'll have to inconvenience yourself some to make it happen. If you're having difficulty trusting, you'll have to go into some scary places in order to learn. We have to stretch to grow.

So I've been choosing discomfort and I have been in some scary, dark places because of it.  I can talk about this now because I'm pretty sure I've made it through the worst of it, with the help of a few confidantes. And because acknowledging demons seems to work better than ignoring them. And also because, while it doesn't quite feel this way now, I trust I will  emerge stronger, better and closer to my spiritual goals. I always do.

There is a lot of fear and pain coming up for people lately. Acknowledging it is not the same as working through it. Neither is pretending it doesn't exist. When you step out of the noise and denial of your anger and, instead, explore the fear and pain behind it objectively—when you interview it and learn to understand it—you can gain the kind of clarity you need to rise above it and respond more effectively in the face of it. 

For those who are committed to stretching and growing—and feeling uncomfortable—times of pain and tumult come to test us. They come to poke us to see if we've gotten too comfortable. Sometimes we need to feel safe inside our patterns, so we look away. And sometimes we need to reach for a greater source of safety, so we look within. I'm choosing the latter right now, and when the pain comes, I'm learning to place my attention on it and breathe into it.

Sunday, November 20, 2016

11/21/16—Finding My Inspiration

I started doing some writing this week on a book I'm calling The Seeker's Guide to the Spiritual Path. And it was a truly mystical experience.

I was writing the story of how I started on my spiritual path and all the influences that shaped my beliefs. I've told short versions before, centered around how I learned about forgiveness and set out on my spiritual journey in the wake of my father's death.

The story I've never told before was the FULL story that includes a tiny red book my mother kept in her bedside table. Neither of my parents were religious and, if it weren't for this red book, I would claim neither were spiritual, also. But my mother would frequently pull this book out and read it. It seemed to bring her comfort.

At first I thought it was a book of love poems and thought it was odd my mother would refer to it over and over again throughout the years. But what I didn't realize until after she was gone was that the Rubaiyat by Omar Khayyam was a book of devotional poems written about the Divine. 

I was too young and atheistic and, frankly, heartbroken at the time she died to care too much about that little red book. But when I look back over my life, I see that I was always curious about it, just not curious enough. That is, not until I really started on my own spiritual journey. 

So, I was writing about all of this and got very emotional because I felt my mother all around me. I heard her in my ear and felt her in my fingers as I tapped the story out. My mother died when I was 21, so I'll never really know her relationship to that book, but I always thought it was like a Bible to her. And while she would quote from it from time to time, I suspect her relation to those words was something she kept private, as we all do with our most intimate and personal thoughts. 

Part of why I got emotional is because it has been rare in the past 32 years to feel my mother around me. And there have been times I have desperately needed her. Even when I dream about her, I dream about her not communicating with me! It makes no sense because I felt she and I had a deep soul bond in life. We locked horns many times, but underneath we both understood it was because we were too much alike. As she was dying, we were very close. There were times I was the only one allowed to touch her and care for her. I felt there was a deep understanding between us about a lot of things. I thought if she were to come back to anyone, it would be me, if for no other reason than that, with my psychic capabilities, I'd be the easiest to connect to. 

So I have felt hurt and been puzzled over this for years. I told myself it's because she and I have no unfinished business. My father and I had a lot of unfinished business and he came around A LOT during certain times of my life. 

So, as I was embarking on writing this particular book, and as I was insecure about my abilities and qualifications, and as my mother and her little red book were swirling up around me, I decided to randomly choose a quatrain from the Rubaiyat to read for inspiration. The number 28 popped into my head. This is what #28 says:

With them the seed of Wisdom did I sow,
And with mine own hand wrought to make it grow;
And this was all the Harvest that I reap'd--  

"I came like Water, and like Wind I go." 

OK. So. Wow. First, it speaks to the role of a spiritual teacher, walking the talk. And the transcendence that can come from that practice. But then it also speaks to the seed planted within me by my mother's deep connection to the book at her bedside, kind of like she had passed the baton to me. Of all the 101 verses in that book, this one in particular, speaks most to the role of the teacher, the student and the seeker. 

Then, I found my mother's favorite passage. As I read it, I connected to her sense of spirituality. As a child, I misunderstood the "Thou" for a lover. But the "Thou" is god and it speaks to solitary communion with the higher power (it also conjures up the thought of Buddha under the Bodhi tree):

A Book of Verses underneath the Bough,
A Jug of Wine, a Loaf of Bread--and Thou
Beside me singing in the Wilderness--
Oh, Wilderness were Paradise enow!

So as I was writing this part of my book, I dove deep into a swirl of my mother's energy for the first time in over 30 years. And I knew she'd be with me in some way as I wrote moving forward. And all of this gave me encouragement and peace on entering the author phase of my life. I'm already an author, I know. But the Deck of 1000 Spreads was more a product than a book to me. Books like the one I'm writing now are what I'm becoming an author to relate.

Another thought has occurred to me over the past week, too. It involves why my mother waited so long to come to me. I was raised in a home that was about as free as you can get from religious or spiritual input. And yet look at me...a blogger with 1200 posts on spirituality and multiple books in progress. A discussion with my mother about that little red book would have been lovely. Her insights on her journey would mean everything to me. She died too soon for us to share this in real time.

So maybe that was our unfinished business. I hadn't even realized how much that book of hers influenced me before I sat down to write about it. In fact, I've been realizing her influence a lot lately. I have zero doubt that if she were alive we would not only be kindred in our beliefs, but she would be my biggest fan in my efforts as an author. I'm feeling now that I am carrying a torch that she lit—a torch she couldn't carry for herself. And whether that's accurate or not, it is just the inspiration I've been looking for.

Sunday, November 13, 2016

11/14/16—Answering The Call To Healing

I saw a pretty wise post on a friend's Facebook wall regarding this election. It was directed to healers and lightworkers and it said "this is the moment you were born for."

That's true, not just for healing the people who are dejected over the campaign results, but also for healing this very divided country moving forward. Today's healers were born specifically to address this facet of this era in the world. 

There is an understanding that I want to clear up for those who will listen. Most of the Hillary supporters I know loved her message of Stronger Together. That's what healers want. They want everyone to get along and love each other despite differences. And many Hillary supporters saw Trump as creating a huge divide in this country. It hurt our hearts. But where the misunderstanding comes in is that Trump didn't create the divide, he shone a light on it. And yes, he capitalized on it. But he didn't create it. It was there all along. He unearthed it so you could see your mission. 

More than that, he created fears for us to address and heal. He brought outrage so we can examine our triggers. He brought conflict to test our understanding. He brought batshit crazy to test our patience. He brought wild ideas to test our capacities to keep our hearts and minds open. And he brought worry to test our faith in a higher power that doesn't make mistakes and has our greater good in mind. 

For me personally, his misogynistic comments inspired me to examine the misogyny I had experienced in the past, how I felt about feminism, the role society's white male patriarchy has played in my life, and all the ways I feel I've been silenced and bullied before. Now, I think we can all agree, that's huge and life changing. It's even evolutionary. And Trump was the vehicle. 

If you're someone invested in your own growth and helping others move forward, you have to look at these kinds of things, too. You don't have the luxury of being a victim. You're here to light the path forward. And if, instead, you choose to fill your head with angry disavowal and rejection of him, you will miss the goldmine of opportunity he offers. You'll also be focusing your formidable energy on hate and division. You'll hold yourself and those around you in a state of misery.

It's not acceptable to say, "well they have done worse." "They" have nothing to do with your choices. Your choices are your own responsibility and should not be made based on "them". If you are invested in healing and in your spirituality, you will carry the light, leading in the ways you can, instead of waiting for them to see the light first. 

It's not just about seeing the situation from a spiritual perspective, it's also about seeing situations from the perspectives that troubled you so during the campaigning. The misogyny and lack of respect for women I perceived on the other side means you won't be seeing me post nudies of Melania, which seems to be the liberal sport of the day. If slut shaming is wrong, it's wrong. When you objectify and degrade one of us, you objectify and degrade all of us.

If you want people to get along, you have to pass up the temptation to create conflict with those of differing viewpoints. A couple of my Facebook friends have invited conflict-free conversations with those of differing opinions and I'm understanding more of why Trump appeals to people. That alone is incredibly healing. When you don't attune to lower energies and urges, the more likely it is others will rise to yours. 

If you're worried about racists becoming emboldened, then support minorities however you can. Wear a "safety" pin. Smile as you pass people on the street. Speak up against racist comments. Be empathetic to the fears that cause ignorance about race. Examine your own fears in regard to race. Explore what you think and feel and can do to make a difference. Spreading worry, fear and negativity will probably not make a positive impact on the issue, so move away from that. Society has policed this behavior and moved tolerance forward incrementally over decades. Nothing has happened to keep that from continuing now. If something does happen, worry about it then. But don't create what you want to avoid through your fears.

And then there's hypocrisy. If you point at Trump supporters—people who have felt left out and marginalized in society—and mock or bully them, then you're doing what racists do to blacks and Muslims. I admit I have been guilty of this myself. See your own hypocrisy as I've seen mine. Don't hate them for overlooking his faults when you did some overlooking yourself when it came to hers. Don't complain about their lack of objectivity toward Hillary when you haven't *objectively* examined your issues with Trump. You're not going to do any of this perfectly, but just don't drop the ball entirely just because you're angry or bitter or needing to be right. The progress of peace, acceptance and togetherness is way more important than your need to be right.

On some level, we are all guilty of this crap. If you're a Trump supporter and reading this, that includes you, too. This is a time for you look within and ask yourself what you're contributing to this tension and divide, too. We all need to do a better job. We all need to put on our big person pants and live what we say about peace and unity and Christ's teachings and the Golden Rule. And unfortunately for you, my reader, you're one of the people born into the role of putting peace before ego, growth before anger and faith before fear. I know it's your calling because you're reading these words. Your interest in being a better human is what makes you most qualified. 

Listen. I'm disappointed. I have concerns. I'm one of those that lost my footing during this campaign. But I believe the universe doesn't make mistakes. And, as I explained a few days ago, I have found hope in the past week, and it has grown since then. 

If I can glean any message from this shitstorm of a presidential race, it's that we need to open our hearts and minds wider to each other. Because closing them is just going to create further division. There is pain all around this country in need of healing right now. This upheaval can only be a horrible mistake if we are too stubborn not to use it as a springboard for achieving the very unity we want...the unity our nation is named for. 

I, for one, will be avoiding words of fear or hate or hypocrisy, because that is not what I want to create in the universe. I'll enter into less conversations and read fewer publications that are stirring up shit. I need to be free of anxiety to access my own knowing clearly. That doesn't mean I won't have opinions, frustrations or disagreements. And if there is a time for action or words, we should bind together to act or speak. But constant bitching is neither healing, nor productive. It weakens the impact of your voice...of OUR voice. 

This may very well be a critical turning point in human history, but it won't be decided by Donald Trump. It will be decided by you.

Wednesday, November 9, 2016

11/9/16—Looking Toward The Star

Back in 1988, I stood in a courtroom and listened as the woman who killed my father was declared "not guilty". My legs literally went out beneath me as one of my brothers reached out to steady me. Everything I had believed about the American justice system and how it would always be fair and do right by people was yanked out from beneath me.

I'm a strong woman. I have great faith in a higher power. Things like fainting and losing my strength and panic attacks are not typically in my repertoire. To the best of my ability, I accept and move on. I'm a trooper, as so many of you out there are.

What I have been feeling since last night is similar to what I felt after the murder trial. My faith and everything I believe about what is right was yanked out from beneath my feet. Today I am crying inconsolably. I've been fighting full-on panic attacks—heart racing, chest aching, body numbing anxiety (no, I'm not having a heart attack, but I was worried for a bit.)

This isn't about the policies or issues Trump stands for. My god, how many times in all of our lives has "the wrong candidate" won? We move on. I see people talking about how they felt when Bush was elected. I remember being disappointed. Nothing more. I didn't like him as a president, but I knew we'd get through it.

And, intellectually, I know we'll get through this. I mean, of course we will. The upset comes when I think about who we are a society, and who we want to be. A Trump presidency represented to me that we were saying we want to be white and male and Christian and see everything else as less than in the hierarchy of society. Those were the ideals he stressed and it was what I saw coming out of the mouths of his supporters, and then also simply by virtue of the fact they were supporting someone with so much distaste and intolerance for those who are not like them.

Perhaps that was just my perspective because I wanted so badly for our society to turn a corner on division and judgment and for us to move forward together seeing everyone as equal and worthy. Perhaps, instead, it was all primarily about being sick of our government and the way it operates. And heck, we all have a bone to pick there. Even at the height of my issues with Trump, I could see good coming from out of the dark. Good always comes out of the dark. 

As many readers know, I have been reading tarot cards for 30 years. Those who don't know much about tarot see it as a fortune-telling tool or something dastardly. But people who understand the tarot know there is something way more sacred locked within its structure—the story of humanity's spiritual journey. It's a story that closely resembles Joseph Campbells's hero's journey—a monomyth detailing the process of man's journey into the unknown to seek transformation. It is the story behind Jesus and Buddha, not to mention every good book you've ever read. 

So, in the tarot deck, there is a tarot card called The Tower. It depicts a crumbling inferno of chaos, with people jumping out. It's one of those cards that some might hope not to see in a tarot reading. But there is more to The Tower than meets the eye. It crumbles because the foundation it was built upon was insufficient to withstand what The Tower had become. It crumbles as an opportunity to rebuild on stronger footing. 

Adding to The Tower story is where it falls within the tarot deck. It comes after The Devil, the guy who brings out our more baser tendencies—our limiting beliefs, addictions and dark desires. These are "truths" that we often deny about ourselves. And when we build on a foundation of embracing the good and castigating the bad, we build on a shaky foundation, because we're not building on the truth. Nobody likes ugly truths. But they are part of the fabric of who we are. 

The best part of The Tower story, however, is what happens moving forward. The next card in the deck is The Star, one of the more beloved cards in the deck. It symbolizes hope. As we progress through our journey and begin to feel like everything we believed was a lie, that's when The Star comes out. It doesn't come out to deny unrest exists. It comes out to promise a way through it. (Coincidentally, the deck I chose, Infinite Visions, depicts both The Tower and The Star as coming from divine influence, first the divine masculine, then the divine feminine.)

After that, is The Moon, which says that while there may be anxiety and things unknown, our path forward is now visible...dimly lit, but enough to guide us onward. Then The Sun comes out to illuminate not just the path, but also those places we "forgot to brush", like those tablets you took as a kid when learning about oral health...haha. It's actually one of the best cards in the deck—a card of joy and integration. Once we're fully integrated and in a good place, then we move to the Judgment card where we're seen and loved for ALL that is in our hearts in the most honest of ways. (And I don't care what we feel about yesterday, Americans, as a whole, are good, caring people, despite our flaws.) Then ultimately, we move to The World card, where we truly do embrace oneness and completion. 

So the tarot tells a story. There are unpalatable phases we must go through in order to get to where we're going. President Trump is not a destination. He's a NECESSARY part of the journey, just as the 44 others before him were. 

Is this moment utter devastation for those of who thought our visions were coming to pass starting today? Absolutely. But it's not the end of the story. It's the darkness before the dawn. 

As I told friends in the days leading up to the election...there is a momentum that cannot be stopped when it comes to civil rights and acceptance. Heck, just two elections from now we'll start to see young voters whose first memories of a president were of a black president. Ahead of them, we have a Millennial generation who has pioneered new ways of adding a "giving back" feature to consumer transactions. The Star is out there rising, it's just not high enough above the horizon to see yet. And we can't build that tomorrow on the foundation of where we were yesterday. Things had to (and have to continue to) crumble first, so we can build on more solid ground. 

This all feels so ugly right now. I was afraid to even come online because of the anxiety attack I was having and the deep grief I'm feeling. But when I did come online, I didn't see a whole lot of "I told you so" or "hooray, now it's open season on Muslims and gays" or any of that. I saw a lot of mourning and a good bit of people letting people mourn. And, yes, a little of the other stuff. But not as much as I'd been seeing for months. 

So I'm going to honor where I am now. Regardless of who you voted for, I suggest the same. I suggest looking within and aligning what you believe from your spiritual teachings with the way you hold others in your heart. And I suggesting healing whatever is not "Christlike" or godlike within you....whatever caused The Tower to crumble in the first place. I know for a fact that this election revealed things within me that I'm not proud of...things that I still need to heal. And it revealed things for those who are celebrating today, too. Some of the most solid, spiritual people I know have been knocked off center by all of this. It's not a function of hate, as much as it is a function of that which has yet to be healed within "deplorables", "libtards" and the world as a whole. 

One of the common threads that weaves through all of the world's religious and spiritual teachings is some variation of The Golden Rule...treat others with the respect you'd like to be shown yourself. Although I had no takers, I volunteered to be a voting buddy for anyone who felt intimidated to go to the polls. Now that the election is over, I'm dedicated to being a buddy to the same people I was worried about give them a step in when I see let them know they are loved and worthy of love. Because isn't that what we all want for ourselves? Even if someone doesn't like what we stand for, don't we want them to stand up for our right to be who we are regardless? Isn't that what Jesus and Buddha and Allah and all the others taught?

The Golden Rule sometimes takes courage and it takes stepping outside yourself and asking "how would I like to be treated in this situation?" Perhaps there was too much unrest for this to happen before. Perhaps we can do it now. I know that the American people are magnanimous at their core. This election may have masked that. The Devil may have toyed with it. But all of that had to happen in order to move beyond it. Our Tower has crumbled and we are on the cusp of The Star. 

Thirty years ago I thought I'd never recover from the disappointment in the justice system after my father's murder. It was devastating to me...insult added to the injury of my father's horrid, premeditated murder. But in the years since, I have become—and my world has become—so much better and stronger than it ever was before. In fact, it was probably the biggest contributor to what is good and spiritual in me today. I think that's what we all have to look forward to. Working through it may not be easy or pretty, but we'll get there. 

For today, though, I reserve the right to morn and indulge my fears. And I'm not going to miss the part of this election where I was impatient, unkind or a prophet of irreparable doom...haha. I have to admit that I felt that way and still feel that. But I can't brush it off and pretend. I have to look at it and heal it. Only by doing that will I clear the foundation for the new. Tomorrow (or probably a bit further into the future) I will look for The Star. 

Sunday, November 6, 2016

11/7/16—Contemplating Our Humanity

A Classic Post. There's much I want to write about the election, but I don't want to jinx anything and I don't want a bunch of assholes peeing on top of stuff that is deeply personal for me and other people. I'm tired of all the peeing. So here is my classic post. I'll be back next week with something new. :)

Do you ever think to yourself, what would the caveman me be thinking about right now? Or what would the Native Americans who occupied this space be thinking? I do that sometimes when Kizzie and I sit outside on the porch, especially on the really cold days like we've been having lately.

Most of the time it has to do with the weather. One of the things I like most at this time of year is how profoundly quiet it gets at sunset and on into the night. All the yard working sounds go away. It's cold, so there aren't many people out. The colder it gets, the more peaceful the earth seems to become.

So last night I was thinking about how, each frigid fall, the threats changed for our ancestors who lived on the land changed. Bugs are gone. Bears go into hibernation. And while there may be fewer threats from them, if you didn't ferret away enough food and wood, and if you don't have adequate shelter, the threat of the weather takes center stage. At least it does in places where it freezes or gets cold.

While there's still plenty of fish and game to catch, the hunters and gatherers probably moved on to other tasks in winter. For them, the cold months brought on a different vibe, just as it is for us today. But with our heated homes, winter-ready cars and grocery stores full of food, you'd think that vibe wouldn't be as profound for us. Really, for us, it's just colder.

So that's the interesting thing. Because I certainly feel the change of seasons on a deep level...deeper than the temperature sensors on my skin can feel. It goes beyond that. And, of course, each season also has its particular scent and sounds. But it feels to me like it's something beyond the sensory conditioning of 50 years of seasonal changes. It feels almost I'm conjuring the cellular memories of all those whose DNA went into making my DNA, or like I'm experiencing some sort of encoded legacy, whether it has to do with genetics or not. 

When you think about it, DNA splits and is combined with other DNA each generation. But the DNA we all have in common—the DNA that makes us human—has been carried forth and refined since man's beginnings. Which doesn't mean we share early man's thoughts or feelings, necessarily, but we are, of course, built like them. So the feel of cold air upon the skin and inhaled through the nose, evoked thoughts and memories within them, just as it does us. And the wiring of the different kinds of thoughts it evokes and the different parts of the brain things go to is the same.

One time I was down by the river, thinking these things I think, and it was as if a young Indian woman appeared before me, washing clothes on the stones. Not like a ghost, really, but in my mind's a way that it was like I was seeing both through her eyes and mine. I don't know if I conjured it or "remembered" it. But, for a moment, everything about what she was doing and how warm a day it was...everything about her washing seemed so real to me. 

So many things are carried in our DNA, all the way down to "defects" that may run through our families. Legitimate news sources say that meditation can change the way our DNA is expressed within us. Of course, we know it changes over the course of millennia based on things like where you that people who live near the equator adapted to their environment by evolving darker hair and skin and those living in the northern climes evolved lighter hair and skin, based on the need to protect themselves from exposure to the sun. 

So the information carried in DNA is not just a cold, mechanical order that must be fulfilled by the body, it's more of a structured conversation that evolves (or doesn't) over time. And each of us is made up of those conversations—conversations that cause mutations or turn recessive traits off and on—each strand bearing a sort of family tree. And, I guess I get a bit fascinated with what else may be recorded, whether in that code or within our humanity. So on a night when the breeze evokes some vague sensory memory in me, I tend to wonder whether it's my memory being evoked or some ancient bit of history shared by me and my ancestors...or by all of a moment of timeless humanity. 

Sunday, October 30, 2016

10/31/16—Enjoying the View

I was giving a reading the other day and said something so wise I surprised even myself! :D I may not be the first to say it, but its worthy of repeating and reconsidering even if you've heard it before. Plus, I've been living it and considering it for a few days and it's a great thought to carry around...

At this very moment, your dream has come true and your future dreams are coming true. Today was a day you dreamed of. 

Think about it. THIS was a moment you dreamed into fruition. And even though it may feel like a "flawed moment"...or not as perfect as the dream you is nonetheless a moment of manifestation for you. A moment to cherish and celebrate. 

Consider that everything that happened today and will happen tomorrow is in response to a prayer you put out. Maybe it's not the end result of a prayer, but it's at least a prayer in progress. We're always making dreams of the future...always working toward a future dream that continually pushes ever further into the future as we meet goals, take unexpected turns and live our daily lives. And because of this, today just never seems like it's good enough. But today is the answer to a dream you had not that long ago. Rejoice in the answer to a dream rather than poo poo it as not as good as the revised vision you have now. You couldn't even have that vision if you didn't once dream the dream you're living today. 

A year ago I dreamed I'd be more mentally clear and more physically capable. And I am. And yet it's not good enough. I want even more now. And a curse of being human is that we don't know how to exist without a dream of something more. So we're never satisfied with what we have. The thirst for more serves a purpose in moving us forward. But with all these mountains we climb, we really should take the time to enjoy the view. Living a life of purpose that doesn't account for appreciating the beauty of the process is missing the point, imo. 

Part of the challenge of taking personal responsibility for having dreamed this and every day of our lives—whether consciously or unconsciously—is realizing that the things we dreamed of, in the reality we actually live in, have upsides and downsides. For example, I dreamed of having dogs. So when I carry three sacks of poo with me for a mile on a walk, that's a day I dreamed of. Because that's part of the reality of dogs. 

Say that, years back, you dreamed of the day you'd be married to the spouse you have now. Or say you dreamed of getting the job you have now. And now you're unhappy with that situation, whatever it is.  Dreams, when translated into reality, have upsides and downsides. So this is a day you dreamed of. 

And so imagine that today you're dreaming of being free of that job or marriage. Then, in reality, things are probably going to get worse before they get better, because most of us need to be pretty miserable to take on changes like that. Therefore, the miserable times are all days you dreamed would happen. And now imagine that you're free of that situation, at last. But you're feeling lonely on Friday night or are unemployed or maybe having trouble settling in to your new job. Those are all days you dreamed of, too. And if you want to change that, it's likely it will all get worse before it gets better, so those are the days you're dreaming of now when you dream of changing the situation. 

And the same goes for all the happy and neutral days we all have, too. I just didn't mention them, because it's easier to imagine the good days being days you dreamed of. We'll readily take credit for having brought those into fruition using our powerful dreaming abilities...haha.

So consider taking your head out of all that you want to accomplish before next month, next year or the end of your life and spend some time appreciating the powerful fact that you created today. It is an answer to a prayer. You are that good. So good, in fact, that all the dreams you have for tomorrow are unfolding effortlessly as we speak, just as today unfolded from yesterday's dreams. 

By the time we fulfill our intentions and reach the places we dreamed of yesterday, it's too late to enjoy the process. And, besides, we already have a new dream in mind that we're focused on instead. The only time to really appreciate and enjoy the striving is not when we've reached our destination, because we never really do. It's day by day as we're experiencing it. 

Today is the day you once dreamed of. You are magic. You are literally living the dream. Celebrate the beauty of this moment. 

Sunday, October 23, 2016

10/24/16—Missing A Part Of Me

This past week I unexpectedly connected with a lost part of my youth. And it brought me great joy, as well as a good bit of insight. In fact, it felt divinely arranged for me.

It happened when I saw that Hillary Clinton's campaign was hosting a live, online fundraiser from Broadway. It just seemed to happen out of the blue. I mean, it was clear a lot of people were watching from how fast the comment feeds were moving, but I think most people didn't even know it was happening. And if you didn't watch it live, you're out of luck. I've only been able to find part of it online since it happened. So the fact that few people knew about it and all evidence disappeared as soon as it was done, it felt like maybe it happened just for me. 

Anyway, it was FABULOUS. I missed the whole first hour, which is why I keep looking for it online. But the two hours I did see were entrancing. Neil Patrick Harris, Sarah Jessica Parker, Emily Blunt, Bernadette Peters, Billy Crystal, BARBRA EFFIN STREISAND...I mean, my god. The performances were such a treat! I was captivated and filled with joy.

You see, when I was a little girl, in the mornings, as my mother was getting ready for work, she would play one of two things on the stereo—Tony Martin, her favorite singer, or show tunes, usually Hello Dolly. And I would sing along with her. After the age of 10 or so, she would take me to the Kennedy Center or Broadway to see live shows. Then as I got into my teen years, I was in all the school plays and musicals. I minored in Theater in college and studied voice all four years. I even won the National College Theater Festival one-act playwriting contest my senior year...a national award.

By the time I graduated, I kind of lost the theater bug, though. It began to wane earlier in one of my acting classes, then took a nose dive in one class in particular. It was a Shakespeare class. I got the only A in the class. Acting finally clicked for me in a big way that year. I did a Lady MacBeth monologue and completely blacked out while I was doing it. Tierney left her body and returned when the scene was over. Afterward, the teacher asked me "what were you thinking about when you were up there?" And I said, "I don't know. I can't remember." And he replied, "that's because you were doing it right."

You'd think I'd have have celebrated an achievement like that, but it really kind turned me off entirely. It was probably my first conscious encounter with "Tierney likes to maintain control." See, when you embody a character like Lady MacBeth, your body and emotions go through her body and emotions. It had happened to me once before in another scene in another class which involved rape and sexual assault. And I didn't like that. I didn't like checking out, then checking back in to deal with the physical and emotional aftermath of some sort of unconscionable trauma.

Up until then I thought my limitation in the acting world would be my large size. But when I experienced this, I knew ultimately my limitation would be my discomfort in having something else inhabit my body and not being in control. When I meditate, I'll also leave my body. But nothing else inhabits it while I'm gone. It's not the leaving of the body. It's the not being in the driver's seat. So that's when I gave up theater. There were no wistful goodbyes, either. It was more like, "OK, I'm moving on." And that was that. Frankly, it always bothered me that I had dropped it so easily.

So I probably hadn't seen a live Broadway performance in 20 or 30 years until I saw this fundraiser. I really hadn't had the desire. Which is why seeing this was such an unexpected pleasure. And also frustrating because one of the acts I missed was Hugh Jackman singing "Oh, What a Beautiful Morning", the song that opens Oklahoma! One of my all-time favorite scenes in movie musicals is Gordon MacRae's performance of that song. 

Anyway, as I was thinking about all of this, I realized that, as my mother was dying, so was my love for theater. That had never occurred to me before, because I thought I knew why I had lost my love for the theater. I thought it was the story I told about Lady MacBeth. But now I realize it may not have been that simple. Two days after she died, I won that awardfor a play I wrote about my dying mother. And while my love had been waning for years (as my mother was waning), that pretty much marked the end of it for me. How did I never see the correlation before?

Leading up to the Broadway fundraiser, I'd had a couple of signs that were curious to me...a white moth had taken up residence on my front door. And there was a bird in my house. Both can speak either of death or spirits. My mother's birthday is in less than a week. I think all of this is connected. I mean, I'm usually pretty ADD when I'm online, but I was entranced by this livecast. 

It's true that you never stop missing your mother. Mine has been gone for 32 years and it still brings me to tears. It was easily the greatest loss of my life. She and I could drive each other mad. And we could also be best buddies. At no point did I ever question her love for me. She is the only human that I ever felt loved me unconditionally, so I've lived most of my life without that. 

I'm not sure what this all means. I went more than 30 years of my life without realizing the correlation between the loss of my mother and the loss of my love for theater. So, what else may I not be seeing fully? And what if all of this...the bird, the moth, the livecast, the upcoming birthday...was brought together via divine means? Certainly there is something important in there for me to learn, but I don't know what. Yet. I do feel this is a time of great transformation for me. I wonder what other mysteries the future will unfold?

Saturday, October 15, 2016

10/17/16—Putting Assault in Its Place

Let's talk about my first sexual assault.

But before we do, a little background. The US Department of Justice defines sexual assault as "any type of sexual contact or behavior that occurs without the explicit consent of the recipient." They go on to list everything from uninvited fondling to rape.

In response to the Trump audio where he bragged that he can grope a woman and get away with it because he is a celebrity (aka sexual assault), a woman named Kelly Oxford (@kellyoxford) started the hashtag #NotOkay. She asked women to tweet about their first sexual assault..."first", because so many women have been assaulted multiple times. During the first 14 hours, she estimates she received 50 tweets per MINUTE.

Trump's comments clearly conjured up a whole lot of emotional stuff that women had shoved away in a corner—unhealed, unaffirmed and, in many cases, brushed off by society—hopefully never to be dredged up again. Even I, a woman who has escaped relatively unscathed, have had a lot to think about this week.

It's estimated that nearly one in five women will be raped in her lifetime. And, after talking to friends and reading accounts and googling statistics, I estimate nearly every woman will be stunned and/or traumatized by otherwise unwanted, uninvited and inappropriate sexual actions from a man. It is not rape, and in some cases, is not even sexual assault. But that doesn't mean it's not damaging, intimidating and completely inappropriate.

So here are two of my stories. Like most women, I have more, especially if you include the category of "inappropriate sexual behavior". My first story is one of those. I was 16 and walking back to my car in a mall parking lot. When I got to my car, I look over and see the man parked next to me jacking off. I still remember it clearly 35 years later, because it killed a little piece of me. It wasn't violent, nor was it even directed at me, but right or wrong, it was an introduction to "men aren't safe".

This episode left me feeling vulnerable and scared because I didn't know what it meant. If he was doing that, would he try to attack me? I didn't know. So it was also the first time I felt sexually vulnerable and endangered by a man. An innocence and trust was lost. It was, for lack of better words, heartbreaking. At that time in my life, I had not even had a boyfriend yet. Read a few accounts from other women and you'll see that 16 was kind of old to encounter behavior like this for the first time.

My second story fits into the category of sexual assault. It happened in my early 30s. I was on a city bus I rode to and from the Metro every day with pretty much the same group of people getting on and off at my stop. So one evening, a man swoops into the seat next to me. I'm at the window, so I'm blocked from exit. And he starts running his hand up my thigh and into my skirt.

I'm shocked. I had no idea what to do. So I stand up and push past him to change seats, and he tries to lift my skirt as I pass. I get to the next seat and sit on the outside so he can't get next to me. Passengers get off the bus and he takes the seat across the aisle from me. He reaches across the aisle and does it again. I scream at the top of my lungs, "What the eff is wrong with you?" He then gets up, pulls the cord and runs off the bus.

To add insult to injury, the people I shared that bus with every day just sat there staring straight ahead. Nobody came to my aid. Not one came up to me afterward and asked what happened. As we were walking back to our complex after we got off the bus, not a word was spoken. Worse, when I told my best friend about the situation, she said, "That's what you get when you wear short skirts."

I felt traumatized and alone. And I had no idea what to do with that trauma. When the first person you tell blames you, and when everyone who witnessed it pretends it didn't happen, you learn not to reach out. So you cry and try to make sense of it alone. Eventually, you shove it into some corner of your psyche where you can't see it as it ferments over the course of a lifetime...until something like recent events happens and it comes up again. Until ALL of them, from inappropriate advances to assault, come up again.

So if you wonder why some women don't say anything, that's one reason. You've already been traumatized enough, so why risk being traumatized again by telling the story to people who blame the victim, cops included. Or maybe the abuser is an authority figure in your life and you're scared of the consequences. Or a family member. Maybe you've been threatened with harm. Maybe you're ashamed and self blaming. The reasons why we never tell are many. But make no mistake, not telling does not mean it doesn't cause permanent damage and pain that goes unhealed. Approximately 70% of rape or sexual assault victims experience moderate to severe distress—more than for any other violent crime.

Rape is the most under-reported crime in this country. It's estimated 63% of all sexual assaults go unreported. One third of rape victims contemplate suicide. False claims are estimated to happen 2% to 10% of the time—there is no accurate data for that. When you consider the kind of abuse women risk by reporting these things—being called a liar, being told it's your fault or being called ugly and unworthy of sexual assault by your assaulter—the chances of a woman lying about this on an internationally televised stage just so she can "get attention" are probably pretty slim. It's your word against the man's, and when the man is a famous comedian or running for president, it's an even greater risk.

From catcalls to "carjackers", in the eyes of a woman, even the less criminal acts are intimidating. Men are, on average, larger, stronger and more violent than women. And the types of men who do these things clearly think they're entitled. Often, our court system reinforces that belief, as we saw recently when a judge didn't want to "ruin a young man's life" just because he violently raped a woman. So these acts of intimidation meant to debase and degrade women for the man's pleasure are often deemed acceptable. And when a presidential candidate brags about it and demeans his accusers, whether in a locker room or bus, whether he actually did it or not, it further promotes a culture that says this kind of behavior is OK. It's a threatening affront to both the women and decent, upstanding men of this country.

There are a lot of people out there who think all this talk of assault is a "political distraction". Instead, it's an under-voiced issue of REAL concern in this nation. Most women have a story to tell regarding this and, of course, men can also be the victims of sexual assault. This is a population—possibly a majority population—who is being criminally victimized in this country while people look the other way. It's an issue that knows no political divide. 

If we can obsess over the threat of terrorism in this country, we can obsess about this more frequent, more likely and equally traumatic issue. For many, this issue is long overdue for discussion and just as relevant to "life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness." To dismiss it as a distraction is an insult. In fact, calling it a distraction is actually the distraction. The reason it's not going away is not because of some vast global conspiracy. It's because society has finally evolved to the point that behavior that compromises, insults and victimizes others is simply #NotOkay.