Friday, December 23, 2016

Holiday Blessing with a Side of Mercury Retrograde


Another holiday season is upon us. This one was preceded by a flurry of events that have left many people a bit out of sorts, if not genuinely stunned, for the holidays. Not only major national events, but also many local and personal events have shown up in very unusual ways.

Add in Mercury retrograde beginning just before Solstice. We could be in for a roller coaster ride. This round's intensity rises alongside its close alignment to Pluto, ruler of the Underworld actively guiding the Middle World. It's a good time for research, uncovering secrets, reconnecting with people, revisiting events, and redoing projects. Making it the perfect time for family gatherings ~ as long as communication happens with great love and care.

Mercury retrograde provides the opportunity for reflection and insight before responding to challenging circumstances. If we quiet ourselves, it's the time when our intuition can speak the most clearly ~ if we listen.

Mercury is the messenger of the gods, both between the deity and between gods and humans. As a planet, it's the director of alchemy. It communicates the changes and transformations we need to move to the next phase of our lives. During this one in particular, Mercury goes retrograde in Capricorn, the realm of responsibilities, career, plans, structures, goals, and control. If we quiet ourselves, we will receive the awareness and insight we need.

This year we will be entering 2017 with Mercury in retrograde. That gives us a slow, contemplative start of the new year. If we use this reflective time wisely, we can move into 2017 with more awareness, understanding and information than ever before.

As a messenger, Mercury also rules the throat chakra, the place from which we communicate and speak our truth. In retrograde, some of what may surface will be the secrets and old pains. we have the choice of how we speak our truth about those feelings. If we listen and choose to do so we bring awareness and understanding to the surface. In retrograde, Mercury gives us the reason to pause, look and listen to catch the fullness of what is being offered.

In this respect, fluid and retrograde Mercury is part of the blessing of the season. We can slow down and listen before we speak or we can rush right in and precipitate a quicker change by blurting things without thought or care. It's a gift of choice as we get together with family and friends.

What blessings do you have in this moment? How much time do you take for reflection during the holidays? What are you skimming over? What are you missing? To what do you need to pay more attention? What new responsibility are you considering taking on? How is your communication affected during this time? What creative ways can you use to slow yourself down? How can you help others have a better life?

Tuesday, December 20, 2016

Longest Night, Shortest Day


Tonight in the Northern Hemisphere marks the longest night of 2016. How fitting! The world has been through many changes this year ~ including an explosion of violence (phrasing intended).

Tonight we embrace the long darkness. Tonight we encounter the shadow within ourselves. Tonight, no matter which side of any quarrel or battle we may be on, we share as a collective in that reflective shadow.

We are entwined with that Shadow ~ the collective and the personal ~ through this long night. In many of the ancient traditions, fires were lit to stave off that darkness. Stories were told throughout the night. Tales of encounter and battle with unseen and unknown foe would be told by the many of the elders. Children would be allowed to stay up or, if they fell asleep, would be kept close to the fires themselves.

In some of the even more ancient places which were built like Newgrange in Ireland to catch the first rays of the Winter Solstice sun, the night was spent in other forms of rituals. We have no clear knowledge of them except that the very building of the passage place would have taken much planning. Some of the labyrinthine caves and rock passages may have been used for the same type of encounters with the Shadow on that darkest night.

In our day and age, we have electric lights or candles or kerosene lamps. Most places have some way to insure the longest night doesn't have to be encountered in the dark. But when we do, when we allow our spirits to face the Shadow, we find the energy and strength to face it. We get a better understanding of the palpable Darkness and the Spirits that inhabit the dark spaces. After all that's been done and come undone in 2016, we would be wise to spend the time gaining that understanding.

Tomorrow brings with it the shortest day, with the moment of Winter Solstice at 10:44 UT. Light is often described as wan on short days such as this. Yet it also brings with it the reassurance that the nights are growing incrementally shorter and the days ever longer. Warmth and sunshine will follow close behind. Bleak, overcast, dreary days will continue for awhile longer. Soon enough, we will find ourselves in the midst of greenery and bright colored blooms. But for now, the Shadow remains our sole comfort.... or discomfort, as the case may be.

What do you see when you encounter the Shadow? How do you embrace the darkness? What do you want to find when you awaken into tomorrow's light? What does the Shadow mean to you? How will you continue to prepare for the lengthening light of the days?

Saturday, December 17, 2016

Watching the Snow


People who don't live in my neck of the woods often laugh at the way 2-3 inches of snow shut down schools and municipal offices. This picture is from the first day of Snowmageddon. Yes, green grass, nearly ready for mowing peeked through the snow. In the previous week, there was talk about early flowers poking through. I wore an open flannel shirt as my coat. (Yes, I live in the Hipsterville side of the country.)

Even so, we also prayed for more snow for the ski season on the mountain an hour or so drive away. Our concern with the environment means we don't use salt. Add some hills to the mix (hills which might be labeled 'mountains' in other parts of the country) and it's a set up for trouble.

The first week, the first school closure day was a bit of a bust. The next was icy and well-called. As usual, winter precipitation disappeared in the next days. Week two, the forecasters faltered and downgraded the coming storm. It hit midday Wednesday. By the time schools let out, the streets were snow-covered and growing icy. Commuters left work early and everything ran late. People arrived home after harrowing four to ten hour drives, instead of the usual twenty to forty minutes. They saw accidents, abandoned cars, near-miss accidents of their own, and even occasional abandonment of their own cars. Schools closed for the following day and later for the final day before Winter Break. City officials were taken to task for not being prepared. School administrations were chided for the hundreds of students stuck in schools until 6 p.m. or later the first night and for the accidents school buses had and for the students left to walk treacherous stretches from emergency bus route stops.

Even though I ventured out, I could safely watch the snow gather on and defrost off my windshield as I sat within and waited for it to clear. I was a mile away from home and certain I could hoof it home safely if need be.

There's something relaxing about snow...it's soundless entry into the day.... it's shining brightness. The cold adds to the effect, enticing one to hibernation. But our work-a-day world, with its constant lights and demand that we work on a particular schedule, finds this disruptive, disquieting and disturbing. We feel pulled in different directions. Are we here to live, breathe and enjoy life? Or are we here to carry on and ignore what Nature Itself is providing? What is the consequence of our ignoring Nature?

What do you do when the weather changes are extreme? How do you work in extremes of heat? cold? wet? storms? How does the weather effect your focus? What do you think of when you see snow outside your window? How do you balance the flow of Nature with the flow of work?

Wednesday, December 14, 2016

Gemini Full Moon, December's Rose Moon


© 2016 Mary-Lynne Monroe
As I watched this moon grow to full, I found myself growing happier, as though the brighter the moon, the lighter my mood. Walking home on the eve of the Gemini Full Moon, I spotted a rose bright with life in the freezing December air. It's leafy tendril reached out to caress the brilliant orb of the Moon. I was awestruck.

Sometimes life presents us with shattering, breathtaking moments of beauty. I relish recognizing it. I love wresting images of those moments. It makes my heart soar!

This rose should not be so vibrantly alive after the recent snow, rain and ice. Yet... here it was, revealing its delicate beauty, honoring the Full Moon.

Joining this Gemini Full Moon is Pluto still reigning in Capricorn ~ the god of the underworld ruling in the middle world ~ who draws us deeply into our social and economic structures. Those structures shape our collective purpose as we engage with the dynamics of transformation in the areas of fairness, justice, honor, beauty and art. We are called to create it with our art and our actions.

We need to immerse ourselves in our own creative actions, our personal art, as well as support and honor the creatives among us. The Archetype of the Artist serves as a healer and teacher for the entire community. Artists always point the way when transformation is needed.

In the Light of this Full Moon, Gemini demands that we communicate the truth that Sagittarius calls for us to see and experience. We continue to be confronted by the Shadow side, ours as well as the greater community's. It's important to face and confront the Shadow and to to learn what it has to teach us. Saturn requires that we take responsibility for our beliefs, our thoughts and our actions. Saturn asks that we reconnect and rediscover who is responsible for our lives, who is writing our story.

As this year draws to its close, this being the final Full Moon of 2016, I am drawn back to the Rose of vitality where there should be none as it reaches for the glorious Full Moon. May 2017 blossom with your Rose always finding the Light.

What part of the general mindset no longer serves the greater good and goals of the collective? What truth are you called to communicate to others? What art or creative action calls to you for the healing of the community? How will you bring that forward in 2017? Who is writing the story of your life?

Friday, December 9, 2016

Winter's Bluster


Everyone awaits the arrival of the first snowfall of winter, whether in dread or excitement. Weather forecasters were touting a winter storm so most schools and even some offices closed in anticipation. Early morning unfolded itself with bright gray skies and negligible precipitation. Was this storm going to be another bust?

Our first snowfall arrived mid-morning starting with scattered flakes no bigger than dust motes. Eventually these grew to a significant enough size to form a passing white-out over time. We watched from the safety and warmth of the local Starbucks. When the bluster passed, I stepped outside to snap this picture. Nothing much to show for all the ruckus this storm caused. Then the storm shifted. The temperatures kept the snow on the ground while the snow flurries turned to rain. Everything got coated with a layer of crunchy, slippery ice. Ah.... this was what we'd been waiting for.

As I watched the storm front roll through, I thought how like us winter's bluster was. We put out signals to our friends, family, co-workers and acquaintances. Each person reads those signals differently. Some will see the approaching mood, our version of a storm, as dangerous and immediate. Others will recognize that it might bring some danger, but mostly it will blow over. Still others will call it a slippery, sliding place and steer carefully and clearly around it. The bluster that comes during the storm front of our moods occasionally shakes us and those around us into a new form of actions. Yet those who know us best, who have spent time with our moods, will weather them all in the best possible way.

Not all moods are negative, just as not all storms are bad. Whatever mood shows up ~ from excitement to playfulness to sullenness to anger ~ is part of the bluster that makes each of us human. We feel and we express those feelings in our moods. It's healthy, as much part of our nature as a wintry snowstorm is part of the Earth's nature. As with those wintry flashes, damages sometimes occur. We need to work together to repair those damages between people as diligently as we work to repair damages caused by ice and snow.

How do your storms show up? Can you predict their direction? What do you do when they reveal themselves? How do you assist in repairing the damage when damage arrives? Who can you count on to help you? What moods have shown up most recently in your life?

Thursday, December 8, 2016

Changing Oneself


One of the most quoted sayings in the world of activists is, Be the change you wish to see in the world. It's a great quote by Mahatma Gandhi. How many of us come to full comprehension of his meaning? He's not saying to go out and change the world. He's saying to be a living, breathing example of the change you wish to see. In the world of activists, that often is interpreted as making a way to change the world around us.

Tolstoy gets even more basic than that. Perhaps the world itself does need changing. Generally speaking, that's an understatement and certainly a given. Many situations in the world around us could use an uplift. Many people could use some assistance. Mother Earth herself requires care. What Tolstoy says is that even though changing the world around us may be important, changing ourselves is even more vital.

I find myself looking at people and situations with a critical eye. My mind flies to comparisons, many of which are often not positive. Next, I step into judgment. I look at the person and find strengths and traits lacking. I ponder the situation and note the down sides of them. This is not intentional. I truly want to support the betterment of the person or situation. My mistake lies in not consulting the person about their opinion or desire. Or in not requesting all the details of a situation. Tolstoy's statement challenges me, confronts us. He seems to suggest that we look at how we are and what effect we have on a situation in order to change ourselves before we seek to change the other. It's a concept I face and work with on a daily basis. Hopefully, I will focus more on the changes I need to make in myself and less on judging the changes need by the other.

How do you feel when you hear someone say, Be the change you want to see in the world? What change would you like to see happen? Is there a way you can be that change? or a reflection of it? How often do you find yourself either giving advice to others or biting your tongue so you don't? What topics show up most often when that happens? With whom does that most often happen? What small change could you make in yourself to ease the stress?

Saturday, December 3, 2016

Step onto the Road

It's a dangerous business, going out your door.....

There have been those times when I decided to step onto the road ~ that path that's not quite the usual neighborhood street, not precisely the work-a-day world ~ and found myself in new territory. My place in that territory unexplored and fresh, filled with adventure ~ and with moments of consequence.

What is that road? Where is it leading? Two questions I may ask ~ and to which I receive no responses. If I had all the information about where I was headed, I may be more reluctant to simply step onto the road. Like Bilbo and Frodo, I find some of my adventures painful or difficult. If I knew those times were in my future, well, I really don't know what I'd do.

This season, the run up to the New Year, is the perfect time to review how my stepping out has gifted and shifted me. One of my steps took me out of the work-a-day world and into the space of self-propelling my days. I feel a bit out of sync. As though the norm is having a 9-to-5 job and now I am no longer normal. I no longer spend time with my work friends. TGIFs are not only no longer necessary, I have no one with whom I can or need to commiserate about work.

 Along with stepping off that path, I've stepped onto another. Planning  out my days, my time has been a challenge. There are things I want to do, things that need to get done, places I want to go. With all the time in the world open to me, I get flummoxed by its vastness. With nothing to particularly plan around ~ like a work schedule, the amount of time itself can overwhelm. I'm continuing to work with finding my own personal flow.

Some people have shared that they are jealous of all the time I now have. I rarely respond with more than a smile, nod or simply 'yes' even though I'm thinking more about the fact that my path, my road, is not theirs. They will know soon enough what it means to have an uncharted path in front of you. Then they will find their own way.

What road did you step onto this past year? Was there more than one change? What challenges did you face? What gifts did you receive? What did you leave behind? How do you currently feel about your choice?

Wednesday, November 30, 2016

Unhurried Nature


Many of the great prophetic voices said this same thing in different ways. Today's Teabag Tarot is a translation of Lao Tzu's version: Nature does not hurry, yet everything is accomplished. The version from the book of Ecclesiastes reads: There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under the heavens.

We learn to rush through things, to hurry every process we can. Yet most things occur in their own course of time. When children or animals are born prematurely, a range of consequences can happen. When fruit is plucked before its time, its flavor and sweetness suffer. When we rush through traffic, we miss signs and cause accidents. No matter what motion or growth or activity is concerned, hurrying rarely helps.

I grew up around the Ecclesiastes version, including one turned into a folk song, Turn, Turn, Turn. Children often want to grow up more quickly. In today's bustle, even the seasonal celebrations are rushed: Halloween beginning right after school starts in September; Christmas following on the heels of Halloween; summer clothing showing up in February. The result of all this hurrying is anxiety ~~ the constant concern of never being ready, never being or having enough.

With one holiday over and another on the way, my plan is to allow for the pace of Nature. My trip to the beach reinforced the notion that nothing I do can change the progress of time or the fickleness of Nature. I wanted more time on the sands of the beach. Instead, I had time inside, watching the storms blow through. Quieting my body to the rhythm of Nature, allowing my mind to relax its vigilant pace. Winter is the time of Nature's hibernation. Rather than rush frantically around, I will allow for the quiet, leave time for rest, wake up to what Nature is teaching.

How do you pace yourself? What do you attempt to rush? What causes you to be more anxious? Over what do have control? What more can you learn from Nature about pacing?

Tuesday, November 29, 2016

New Moon in Sagittarius 2016


Today's New Moon in Sagittarius carries an awakening, positive energy. It's moving us in a more outward and upward motion. It begins a cycle of awakening, rebirth and renewal after the rest of 2016 focusing mostly on cleaning up and clearing out.

The Sagittarius New Moon also draws attention to our creative potential for manifesting what we truly desire. It's time to focus on whatever change and newness we want in our lives ~ and plan accordingly. Although we may continue to feel drawn into ourselves, there is a fiery excitement also drawing us out.

There is a strong spiritual aspect to this New Moon, amplifying our intuition, awakening our imagination and focusing Divine energies. In the philosophical realm, we find our vision of core truths and honor expanded. Sagittarius is all about Truth. As the unbalanced patriarchy makes its last stand to gain power, the Divine Feminine continues to rise. From Hillary Clinton winning the popular vote in the U.S. election to the prayers of the women of Standing Rock to the increase of women finding their voices and standing together around the world, the masculine and feminine energies continue to rock our world as they seek to come into the balance of shared, give-and-take power.

An aspect of astrology to which I've recently been introduced is the Sabian Symbol. Dane Rudyher describes his work with them in astrology as "... presenting them as a contemporary American I CHING." The Sabian symbol for the Sun and the Moon at 8° Sagittarius is: Within the depths of the Earth, new elements are being formed. One interpretation of this is that this is a time with unconscious forces at work, helping us to awaken new responses and solutions.

All of this points to rebirths ~ which are good, often painful and definitely messy.

What newness is happening in your life? How are they affecting your relationships? How are you participating in the collective struggles and renewals? Are you finding yourself speaking up more frequently? If so, what is rising in you? How do you handle the swinging pendulum of masculine and feminine power? What images are surfacing in your dreams?

Monday, November 28, 2016

Choice and Miracles


ML Monroe 2016
Sometimes life brings miracles and we recognize them. Yesterday at the beach was crazy rainy and windy. Even our attempt to go for a short walk and take some photos was squelched by the weather.

This morning, we opened the curtains to see this incredible view. Clouds, reflected sun and waves on the other side of the parking lot and trees.

After taking a couple of photos from the balcony, we decided to head for the walk on the beach. We grabbed our various cameras (phones, point-and-shoot, mirrorless and DSLR), bundled up and headed across to the beach. It was perfect. As we walked the beach, we noticed every bit of the beauty along the way. Almost at the same time, we decided to turn around and head back. Perfect timing. As we crossed the parking lot heading back to the hotel, it started to mist and drizzle.

The morning was a miracle. A series of the small ones that often slip by. The bright clouds reflecting the sunlight, the reflection in the water on the parking lot. The crashing of the waves, the dancing sea foam. The incredible play of light and water. And the rain waiting until we were done to begin again.

We always have choice as to our perception of what happens in our lives. We can count things as miracles and blessings. We can take the good for granted. We can focus on the negative that shows up. It's not to say negative or bad things don't happen ~ or we can make them different by ignoring them. It is to say we get to choose our cynosure, our polestar. If we're open to the miracles, they show up ~ and rainy days bring moments of sheer radiant beauty.

On what do you focus when things don't go as you planned? Do you notice the miracles in your life? What have you noticed recently? When did you take the good in your life for granted? What recent happening struck you as influential?

Sunday, November 27, 2016

Power of Trip to the Sea


© ML Monroe 2016
Three months ago, a couple of friends contacted me. They were coming to the area in November and were wondering if I wanted to get together with them. Easy answer to that ~ Of course! As we talked, we decided to make an overnight trip to the beach ~ which would work out great for both of us since I would be their driver and they would make all the arrangements.

Little did we know as we made our plans the tenor of our travel time. Each of us brought with us some recently troubled or troubling experiences. Besides our own issues, the weather has been stormy and we're all still a bit off balance from both the elections and the holidays. Whew! Lots going on.

When we arrived, we barely settled ourselves in and set off for a walk on the beach. The rain that was misty turned to a downpour. The wind picked up and the temperature seemed to dip. A walk was simply not in the cards. So I snapped the picture and we set off to shop and find somewhere to have dinner.

Yet that simple moment when I was on the beach, looking at the sea and the fog healed my troubled heart. I felt calmer, stronger, safer even with the wind battering us with rain. When we got into the car, my friends mentioned the same thing. Simply being at the sea ~ Mama Ocean, Yemaya ~ we each and all breathed in Her Presence and it was enough.

What creates turmoil in your life? How do you work through it? Is there a place you go to find healing and solace? Where is it? Why do you think it has an effect on you?

Saturday, November 26, 2016

Flower or Weed?


Today's Teabag Tarot brought many recent discussions to mind. We've discussed the recent elections which brings out a full range of vocalized opinions. We've discussed various circles from family to friends to work buddies ~ and all the intricacies of being with and around them. We've discussed the weather, the traffic, the latest store closure or opening. We've discussed how to prepare turkey and what to put into the dressing and which bell-ringers should or should not be singing holiday songs. In other words, every possible topic under the sun.

As each topic arises and is discussed, everyone's personal opinion about it surfaces as well. Although some topics, such as the elections, may bring out fierce commentaries, most of them have the potential to create impassioned statements.

One topic thoroughly discussed in the past week was the preparation of the Thanksgiving turkey ~ specifically, the preparation of the dressing. Savory? Sweet? Giblets? Oyster? In the turkey? Separate? The list of topics goes on forever. Everyone has an opinion, a preference, and wants to be heard.

So ~ in the midst of these discussions, this Teabag Tarot appears: The difference between a flower and a week is a judgment. I paused in my listening to the specific words. Each person has their point of view. For one person, adding the giblets was the flower and for the other person, it was the weed. Each has their position, their judgment, and was not interested in budging from that spot.

I thought about other conversations I'd participated in or listened to. Most of them remained civil even when strongly different opinions surfaced. The Teabag Tarot revealed the core of the discourse: what we stand on is simply our judgment. It's good to reflect on that ~ and on the similarity we share with our opponent as we do.

How many discussions have you had today ~ or this week ~ where someone changed their position? How strongly did you feel about your flower? their weed? About what topics are you most passionate? Which topics matter less?

Friday, November 25, 2016

You Must Not Fear



 Mary-Lynne Monroe ©2015
"You must not fear, hold back, count or be a miser with your thoughts and feelings. It is also true that creation comes from an overflow, so you have to learn to intake, to imbibe, to nourish yourself and not be afraid of fullness. The fullness is like a tidal wave which then carries you, sweeps you into experience and into writing. Permit yourself to flow and overflow, allow for the rise in temperature, all the expansions and intensifications. something is always born of excess: great art was born of great terrors, great loneliness, great inhibitions, instabilities, and it always balances them. If it seems to you that I move in a world of certitudes, ... you move in a world of mysteries. But both must be ruled by faith."
~ Anais Nin, The Diary of Anais Nin, Vol. 4: 1944-47

In 1944, Anais Nin was 41 years old. She was famous for her diaries, her openness about the fullness of life and her expression of that fullness with passion and gusto. Earlier in this passage, she also writes:
What is it that attracts me to the young? When I am with mature people I feel their rigidities, their tight crystallizations. They have become, at least in my eyes, like the statues of the famous. Achieved. Final.

We live in a world both blessed and cursed by rigidity and crystallization. The rigidity creates the rules that keep order and flow in a reasonable fashion. It also creates the rifts as people grab for the tight space that they can call their own ~ forgetting that we get farther together. The crystallization polarizes us, freezes us into one form. We act as though we can't be flexible, can't change, can't learn new views on things.

I've found myself in that rigid, crystallized position a few times in my life. As though I had all the answers and no one could tell me anything. As though there was nothing new to learn. Most of the time, I'm there out of fear. Is it possible there is something I don't know or am not an expert in? For a knowledge-junkie, that is a frightening position to be in. Hence, my rigidity born of fear. Then there's the crystallization born from judgment and/or privilege. I've been guilty of thinking because someone holds a certain position or status (youth, inexperience, handicapping condition, socio-economic status), they don't have the capacity to know something I don't.

Fortunately, those times have been few and far between, but even being there once is something for which I am not proud. I'm humbled by the sharing, acceptance and knowledge of  others. Most of the time, I am no longer fearful to say there's something I don't know. I've learned to share the emotions as well, to open to the mystery ~ and the greater Mystery, and allow my intuition to lead. Then my "great art" ~ my writing ~ flows from the depths of me. Then I am willing to be with and among everyone, learning and sharing. All without certitude.

Where do you find yourself to be rigid? What crystallizes your attitude? your interactions with others? What is your "great art"? How do you practice it? What creates flow for you?

Thursday, November 24, 2016

Being Thankful


Today is the U.S. holiday of Thanksgiving: the most-traveled weekend and one of the most family-oriented holidays. Something about giving thanks reminds us of family even if our definition of family is different. For some it is blood relations. For others it is family-of-choice. For many it is a blending of blood relations, marriage relations and friends. A time when we open our hearts and our homes to others.

At some point, I learned to be thankful for everything. Perhaps it came in young adulthood with the Bible verse that says In everything give thanks. Although I don't recall ever following that as precisely as it directs, I learned to acknowledge and express my gratitude more and more.

According to the Law of Attraction, we draw to us whatever it is we think and talk about. The more I felt and expressed my gratitude, the more I found coming my way to be grateful for. I'm not sure if it was that more wonderful things happened or that I was noticing more of what was already there.

I plan to regularly acknowledge more of the things for which I am grateful even beyond this Thanksgiving season. At this moment, some of the things are simple: clean sheets, heat, cold pack for my jammed toe, the cat. Other things are essential: my partner, my daughter, my family and friends. Still others, though non-essential, bring me joy, peace, camaraderie: my Starbucks' kaffeeklatsch, my exercise class, my Facebook writing support. Once begun, I find myself on a roll until I mention even the most minute item. My best time to consider them is before falling asleep. In the space of being thankful, I sleep far more peacefully.

For what are you thankful? How do you categorize your gratitude? Do you have ~ or have you had ~ a gratitude practice? What is/was it? Have you noticed the more you express your gratitude, the more things come your way to be grateful for? Why do you think that is? How do you celebrate Thanksgiving?

Wednesday, November 23, 2016

Learning Emotional Hygiene


Whew! A month bubbling over with emotion, with many reasons for anger ~ rage, even ~ from financial insecurity to holiday preparations gone awry to campaigning and election results to treatment of protesters and law enforcement personnel. People on all sides of every issue have legitimate reasons for that anger. No one is immune; no one is excluded; no one has the corner on outrage.

I've found myself in the midst of various moments of outrage, having difficulty maintaining my composure. I use many techniques, including deep breathing and counting to 5 before responding. Yet I still find myself flopping into bed at night, overcome by physical exhaustion.

So I went in search of advice. Even though I know the truth of what the Dalai Lama says, I've had issues maintaining my emotional hygiene. Several conscious actions have helped me improve:

  • Breathe deeply when outdoors. I find that so much more grounding than deep breaths in the house, the store or the local pub. It's been raining on and off in my neighborhood and the ozone rejuvenates me.
  • Write down my dreams, whether from sleep or my lucid mind. That provides a time ~ while writing ~ to recognize, acknowledge and release whatever emotions are bubbling below the surface. When I'm done writing, I consciously let go. Sometimes they return ~ and that's okay. It simply gives me a reason to once again let go. No judgement.
  • Limit my contact with social media that may incite the anger. No, I don't stay totally away from it ~ not even for a day. I skim stories or headlines or read comments from particular trusted people or sites. Sometimes, I choose to read the entirety of the article so I have a clearer understanding.
  • Take my camera with me on walks in the neighborhood and in nature. I can use my phone camera too, but what I do is focus on finding several images of interest: rain dripping from yellowed leaves, the moonrise, children playing on park swings. Creativity takes me out of that other emotional state ~ whatever other it may be.
  • Listen to music. Music plays in the background of almost everywhere we go that isn't outdoors. I take a minute or five to sit or stroll listening to what is playing. Generally, it changes my mood too.
  • Do my spiritual practice. We each have something. Even people who are agnostics or atheists have something they do religiously to keep themselves present in the world. For me, it's meditation ~ and writing. Sometimes it even includes art. Something I do where my focus can be soft and my brain allowed to wander without my mind paying attention.

I like what these practices do to keep my emotions awake in the compassion arena without being too overrun by anger, frustration and confusion. I'm not saying they're easy. As I said, I'm still often exhausted when I go to bed at night.

What practice/s help you release anger or resentment? Do you agree with the Dalai Lama about emotional hygiene? about compassion? How do you practice self-compassion? How do you support others around you in/with their self-compassion?

Tuesday, November 22, 2016

Trees Breathing


Recently, I had the incredible experience of staying with a friend in a cabin in the woods. One of my favorite activities was walking among the trees. Looking up at those that soared above me, my heart filled with awe. Their majestic stance along with the silence of the otherwise empty forest left me without words.

My mind emptied. My eyes absorbed the beauty. My ears tuned in to the breath of nature. My heart slowed, as did my normally hurried pace. My nostrils took in the greenness of the area. I felt comforted by the loveliness and calm of my surroundings.

When we have experiences like this, especially after the rush and bother of our routines, it opens us to a changed view of ourselves in relationship to the wider world. It also reminds us that we are not here to conquer nature, but to live with it, to cherish it, to protect it. We need those moments of listening to the trees breathing, those moments of stillness, those moments of recognizing there is more to this world.

Being in that forest refreshed me. I returned to my routine life feeling less absorbed in me. It also presented me with a renewed vision of connection and relevance. The trees reminded me that even a brief time with them is revitalizing ~ and that I don't have to find my way to the woodlands to experience it. There are trees all around various parts of my neighborhood. Maybe next time, I'll slow down and commune with them as well!

Where do you find refreshment? How do you respond to the 'voices' of nature? What moves you to slow down? What is most important in your life? How do you combine and protect all that strike you as important?

Monday, November 21, 2016

Play a Role


When I first read The Alchemist, it absorbed me like no other book I was reading at the time. I poured over it relishing the phrasing, visualizing the setting, wondering where he came up with these ideas.

As we move through life, it's simpler to say we're powerless. Someone else made or makes the decisions. We only influence a small corner of our world.

Think about this. Especially in today's world with the capacity for instantaneous connections. I was responding to something a friend posted on Facebook recently. As is often the case, others had also responded. In the visible list was another friend's name. Someone I had no idea knew the person. So were were doubly connected in that instant.

Have you ever experienced someone telling you how some seemingly small act of your kindness had greatly affected them? It may not even have been directed toward them, may even have been something they heard about from someone else. Or a comment that was overheard. We make impressions on people we know ~ and people we do not know.

That puts Paulo Coelho's statement about "...every person on earth plays a central role in the history of the world" into the perspective of today's world. We aren't simply what we say or do, we are what and how we are seen, heard and remembered.

A number of years ago, a friend and I were discussing death. I commented that I stay in the background so much that I doubted anyone outside my family and a couple of close friends would notice my passing. Her jaw dropped. She put her hand on my shoulder and said, My friend, you have no idea how many people you have touched in the time we've known each other. It was my turn to be stunned. Was my comment false humility? I don't think so. I really didn't see what she saw. However, I accepted what she said at face value ~ and that brief comment and touch rocked my view of myself in the world.

Coelho says that's true for all of us. We each help to create the history of the world in which we live. Together we are more powerful than we know. It's time to step up and accept our role.

Who has influenced your world? Who's world do you influence? How powerful do you feel? What do you think is your greatest strength? How does it help strengthen the world? What would change in your life if you believed Coelho's words?

Sunday, November 20, 2016

Furious Dancing


As the nights grow longer and various holidays approach, many people find the season difficult. Busyness abounds, people's spirits bounce between happy and desperate, and the continual cheeriness of holiday music adds to the disorientation.

Add to that, the results of the US elections ~ no matter your vote ~ and the occasional rockiness of the financial markets. Whew! Lots of situations out of our immediate control! Together this suggests this is a difficult time.

Personally, I love the concept of furious dancing to counter the effect of the hard times. Women have always found movement alleviates stress. Although men in some cultures dance, they mostly participate in other movement-oriented patterns. Music, dancing, rhythmic swaying ~ all these ways of releasing and changing the energy. The harder we dance, the more we release our sadness, fears and worries. When our bodies are in a strong rhythmic place, our minds move with the same rhythm. The more furiously we move, the more quickly our thoughts slip through our minds. We literally move into a higher vibration of being ~ more awake and aware to our surroundings and less willing to hold onto the darker space. Let's all find time to dance up a storm to whatever rhythm and music we choose. If nothing else, it's great exercise!

What do you do to get through hard times? Can furious dancing fit into your plans? How do you shift energy when feeling overwhelm? What other form of movement could help you get through these times? Does the growing darkness affect your mood? What else can/do you do to alleviate that?

Saturday, November 19, 2016

Blessed are the Weird


Lately, I spend most of my time looking for rays of hope among the scads of craziness, anger and negativity out there. As I looked through quotes I captured in the past, this one popped out. I love that the words are subscript to an incredible image of nature and humanity mixed together. It warms my heart and brings a smile to my face.

The quote itself strikes me as very apropos for this particular post-election season. Much ado has been made of those who have felt or currently feel disenfranchised, separated and singled out or simply ignored. But it has always been those who think, write, speak and act differently who provide us all with a new way to envision the world.

We assume there are not many of these weird people. They fit in a category all their own. Maybe that's true. But as we move forward, we need to encourage their company. The poets, writers, troubadours use their words to bring us hope, to paint a different image of what the world can be. Or they explain to us what is broken and needs to be fixed. They have always been the ones to encourage us through any dark times.

The painters, sculptors, visual artists use their talents and abilities to show us what is, what is not, what could be. We have relied on them to point the way for us in the dark. They give us portals to each other, to the world around us and to ourselves.

When we lose our way so completely that even the words and music, even the visual arts presented to us only scratch the surface, then we rely on the mystics. They draw us into the deepest part of ourselves only to send us soaring out to the edges of the Universe. We find them out in the desert or high on the mountains or in a hermitage in the midst of the busiest cities. Although they baffle and confound us, we are drawn to them. Our connections with them, in whatever small or large way, bring us peace and joy.

We need the misfits in whatever guise they show up. Especially when the mundane worries of our lives grow heavy. What we also need to realize is that we each have the potential to be that misfit, to show up, to shine a light, to bring us closer to ourselves.

Who in your life is a misfit you trust? Which ones are living? Which are friends? How do they help you when you are down? How are you a misfit to others? How do you confound others?

Friday, November 18, 2016

Your Meaning



Multiple posts, anecdotes and stories have a seeker climbing a mountain or crossing rushing waters to reach a sage, yogi or guru. The seeker's ever-present question: What is the meaning of life? Responses range from sincere koans to multi-layered stories to snappy retorts. The replies remain open-ended. It's up to the seeker, the reader, to find meaning.

Joseph Campbell redirects the question. Life itself is not what holds meaning. We do. We are alive to bring purpose into the world. If we look at our lives, where do we find meaning? Generally, we find it in the presence of family and friends, in relationships with people and our surroundings. When we discover ourselves seeking life's meaning, it's often because we have lost touch with one of our primary or supporting relationships. This happens in various ways, from the death of a loved one to retirement to our childhood house being razed to a child's marriage and move. We feel grief because of the loss, whether it is something we deem positive such as retirement or our child's marriage or it is something we call negative such as death or a destroyed building. We think the positive losses should not create grief, but our hearts, our spirits, don't follow the course of our shoulds. We feel the loss and we are not able to control that sensation. This does not mean we aren't happy also. We often believe grief and joy don't occupy the same space ~ but they do. They both occupy our hearts.

What Campbell brings forward is that our search for meaning is truly the search for ourselves. Who are we? What brings us joy? How do we express ourselves in the world? When we feel lost or we have lost someone or something important to us, we have difficulty answering those questions. We want the outer world ~ or the Divine ~ to define the meaning of what we are feeling. But that doesn't happen. We are the meaning. All of what we feel is important and significant. It defines us.

In this moment, how do you define your life's meaning? What are you in the midst of doing? How are you living your life? What measure do you use to determine meaning? How do you deal with grief? Can you recall a time when both grief and joy were present in your life?

Thursday, November 17, 2016

Expanding Horizons


Haindl Tarot
from the guide book:
I Ching Hexagram: 50 The Cauldron (Success)
The ruin cathedral's window opens to the sky. The remains suggest that humanity's ancient need to give structure to religious feeling.
Today, I took an enjoyable class on the minor arcana of the tarot. Each person brought their own personal deck and focused on the cards as we went through the general meaning of the numbers and the suits. When we finished the teaching part, we shuffled our minor arcana cards and drew one.

As I shuffled, I thought about an opportunity that had surfaced in my life yesterday. I was already leaning toward accepting it, but there was that little bit of doubt ~ of feeling that, perhaps, I was making a mistake. The questions that played in my mind were: How do I respond to this opportunity? Does it offer me what I need for my next step? Show me an energy to direct me.

The card I drew was the Three of Wands. In the Haindl deck, which I use, the word Virtue is on it as well as the I Ching hexagram 50, The Cauldron. Perfect.

The Three of Wands is about being prepared to take risks and explore new opportunities. It represents initiative, ambition, drive and desire ~ with a dash of risk-taking. It symbolizes an inner balance and optimism as well as the energy needed to take on great adventures.

In some other Tarot decks, the Three of Wands features the Caduceus, Mercury's winged wand twined with two snakes, which is the symbol of the healer or shaman who can travel between worlds.

It's message is one of following one's intuition, staying in the moment and moving forward. It suggests to act quickly on an idea or desire because this is the perfect timing. There's nothing to lose from taking the risk. Embrace the change and follow the vision.

This was a surprising, as well as not surprising, card to draw. I chuckled when I saw it. Three weeks ago (to the day), I had voiced to the Universe that I wanted an opportunity like the one that showed up yesterday. And now, it seems, even the random-seeming draw of a Tarot card confirmed what I already knew: that it was time to move forward and expand my horizons on this one.

What method do you use to confirm decisions you feel may be a flight of fancy? What belief system do you have that helps you move forward? How do you work with your own intuition? How do you share what you intuit with others?

Wednesday, November 16, 2016

Sum Total


"Life did not begin at my birth. ... I am the sum total of [others'] experiences, their quests."

Although my thoughts and my dreams often circle around my personal life, I am continually expanding those horizons. I have the choice of limiting myself, of putting blinders on. All I see then is what's in front of my own face. It's easier to live that way. I don't have to see, acknowledge or encounter what is going on around me. I don't have to read opinions or ideas that I don't already have or agree with. That would be the simpler way to live.

What Wiesel suggests is that life is not that simple. When we stop learning, refuse to expand our knowledge and experience, we miss the fullness of beauty. We lose sight of the beauty that lies in diversity and difference. Just as a flower garden is made up of a variety of sizes, colors and blossoms, so the world around us is made up of beauty.

His words ~ "divine beauty" ~ suggest that through diversity, exposing ourselves to what has come before as well as what walks beside us, we are lead to whatever we find or name as Divine or Holy.

As we look beyond ourselves, we have the choice to envision a different world and create a different mythos for the present and the future. We have the opportunity to leave things as they are, to believe we are powerless, or to broaden and share our experiences and our quests, adding them to the sum total that balances our world.

In light of recent events, what do you want to learn? How do the stories of your ancestors affect your choice? What do you want to leave for the generations that follow? How will you contribute to the sum total balancing the world?

Tuesday, November 15, 2016

Solitude and Community


...we need solitude and community simultaneously: what we learn in one mode can check and balance what we learn in the other. Together, they make us whole, like breathing in and breathing out. ....Solitude does not necessarily mean living apart from others; rather, it means never living apart from one's self. .... Community does not necessarily mean living face-to-face with others; rather it means never losing the awareness that we are connected to each other.
~ Parker J. Palmer

In the midst of all the shifts and sea-changes of the past weeks, I find myself pulling into my shell as well as seeking the comfort of simply being with others. Many around me expressed feeling the same tidal pulls. The full supermoon has only added to the depths and breadths of the shift.

There's the sense of being alone in a crowd. Like wandering through an unknown city, with hundreds of people rushing past, the feeling can be soft, almost unnoticed. Or harsh and overwhelming. What I've been feeling is simply drawing energy from the presence of others. This keeps me aligned, deep in my soul, centered. When it begins to swing to the harsh side, I make my way to a quiet corner, a place apart from others, though I continue to be aware of them.

I thought 'unplugging' from social media would help. Instead, I felt a sense of losing contact with my community. What I wanted, needed, was connection with others. Light touch connection. A friend texting with information about a personal issue we had previously discussed. Another messaging that she's doing okay after being ill. Someone posting he'd just received a job offer. A phone conversation about dreams. These are the people in my community, the ones who keep me awake and grounded.

Another thought darting through my head was to find gatherings of like-minded, like-hearted people. My basic introverted nature reeled at that one. Being with a few people with whom I have a connection is one thing; being in a crowd of mostly unknowns is another animal completely. Yet this path works better for some people. They need the energy of groups, the opportunity to 'get lost' in a common cause.

Whatever pattern you need in order to stay grounded, centered, deeply yourself and deeply connected, follow it. Trust the intuition that drives you forward.

How do you feel when in solitude? in community? What connects you most deeply to yourself? to your community? How would you describe your community? Are there more than one? How are they similar? different? How does solitude feed you? How does community feed you?

Monday, November 14, 2016

Be the Lighthouse


My latest Teabag Tarot took me by pleasant surprise today. By nature, I am clearly a dualist.... half light, half dark. I swing from one to the other and every stage and step in between.

When people tell me to change my beliefs, emotions or actions in some way, my first reaction is to dig in and refuse. I want to acknowledge what is currently true for me before stepping into the change space. Change is also part of my nature ~ early on in my life my mother called me Windy because my moods changed like or with the wind. I want to own the change myself. And I do. I swing back and forth ~ and I do it to my own tempo.

That made today's Teabag Tarot especially pertinent. It felt quixotic.... and it felt grounding. All at the same time. I look at what is most important to me, what feeds my soul, what rises out of the dark depths of my being. What I find in those depths is that gentle spreading of the light at dawn ~ or at the rise of the full moon. I love bathing in the often surprisingly soothing light of the full moon. Everything in me gets lighter. No matter what the situation around me, I find myself smiling, wanting to dance or prance in that light.

First, the light has to spread inside me ~ to fill my dark corners and brighten my senses. Then, I can stretch out and be the lighthouse. The light inside me beams out toward others. I know they see and feel it. It is reflected in them, in their responses to me. It's not particularly MY light or a glaringly bright light. It's gentle, accepting of where they are, helping to carry them on to the next place or moment or day.

Being a lighthouse means essentially two things: the light comes from within and it shines through the fog, the dark and the storm. There's no need for a lighthouse in the glaring noonday light or when everything is going our way. It's more important now than ever: when we are all in the midst of turmoil, darkness and change. I'll do what I can.

What are you doing to encourage the light within you? How are you being a lighthouse? Are you in need of a lighthouse? Where do you look to find that light? Who in your life spreads that light and encouragement? Are there moments when you can find the light within? and moments when you can't?

Sunday, November 13, 2016

Full SuperMoon in Taurus 2016


Tonight's ~ or tomorrow morning's ~ SuperMoon will be the largest since 1948 and will not happen again, in this range of size, until 2034. However, depending where you are, it may not be at its perigee until the wee hours of the morning. So the visual at sunset may seem disappointing.... or not. In all honesty, I haven't been able to discern the subtle difference in the nearness of the moon from one SuperMoon to another.

Some specific information:
A supermoon typically refers to the concurrence of two phenomena. One is when the moon is within 90% of its closest position to Earth in its orbit. ... The other phenomenon is syzygy, which is when the Earth, sun and moon all line up as the moon orbits Earth. When both a perigee and syzygy occur and the moon is located on the opposite of the earth from the sun we get a supermoon. (http://www.forbes.com/sites/trevornace/2016/11/13/tonight-record-breaking-supermoon-biggest-68-years/#58d05c0c6574)
Looking at other aspects of this moon, it occurs in Taurus, a steady, practical earth sign. Its energy is about illuminating the goal to motivate and realize our fullest potential. This particular SuperMoon will help us see things in practical and logical ways for implementing action plans with calm and clarity. It's a reminder to focus on worth ~ self-worth and emotional worth as well as financial issues ~ for the sake of security and overall, global responsibility.

There is conflict ~ or more precisely, a back-and-forth pull ~ between expansive Jupiter calling us out and Pluto in Capricorn wanting us to release the old and play it safe at the moment. It becomes a matter of letting go of people who no longer match with us as well as ideas that no longer serve our higher good and pacing ourselves to continue forward. All in all, it's about trusting the process ~ which in the moment, feels awkward at best, crazy at worst. Yet it remains our only way forward.

Are you living your life to your fullest potential? What self-limiting beliefs do you have? What are you willing to release? How do you feel in the large light of the SuperMoon? How are you creating security for yourself? and those you love? What darkness is this SuperMoon illuminating for you?

Saturday, November 12, 2016

Before Beginning


In the aftermath of any world-changing news or event, grief bubbles up and overflows. It's difficult to even consider moving forward. There is a stuckness in the heart and soul. All passion focuses on grief ~ and not necessarily by choice. Sometimes it feels as though we are not in our own skin ~ something or someone else occupies a significant part of us.

Honestly, world-changing events can deal with our personal world ~ e.g., losing a job, a partnership break-up, the death of a pet ~ or with the wider world around us ~ e.g., a favorite/popular store closing, a tornado hitting a neighboring town, unexpected election results. Any or all of these can throw us into emotional turmoil. We live in a culture that says, essentially, Suck it up and move on. Which adds to the burden because now we feel guilty or shamed for not being able to let go.

Leonard Cohen ~ who's death this week touched millions of fans ~ had something to say about that: How can I begin anything new with all of yesterday in me? We can only get through when we allow yesterday to have its time in us, even if that moves on into tomorrow. To truncate that passage leaves us feeling even more uneasy, unsure and insecure.

Once we're working, crawling or climbing out of that grief ~ and it's not a linear action ~ we can begin the new work again. Some of the warriors among us can move on more quickly. That's part of who they are. Regroup and move forward. Some of the healers among us also move on more quickly. Assess the damages, move in to protect and heal. Some of the prophets among us are already making speeches, taking steps, encouraging. We need all of these people. We also need those who are open enough to feel the depth of the woundedness. Some of them are the recipients of the bigotry, fear and vitriol that is spewing forth. Each and all of us are needed. Some are quicker to get back to work. Others need more time to deal with all of yesterday. That's okay as we continue to support each other.

Where are you in the healing process? Where are those closest to you? What is your forest for trees blindness? How much of yesterday is still strong within you? What are you prepared to do to support others in moving on as well? What step will be your beginning?

Friday, November 11, 2016

Veterans Day 2016



In the midst of everything else that is going on in the United States right now, today is Veterans Day. I am proud that my state passed a measure to add to the monies for veterans benefits. Many of my friends and relatives have served in various branches of the Armed Forces. My father and uncles served in World War II. They all returned from their active duty. Other friends and relatives served in Korea, Vietnam and various bases around the world. Most of them returned as well.

What I recognized ~ with all but the WWII vets because I did not know them before they served ~ is that even if they returned with their bodies in tact, something had happened to their spirits. Not something I could define or label, though PTSD certainly comes to mind. What I noticed were those occasional times when they looked into the middle distance and I knew they weren't aware of my presence anymore. Some of those moments were subtle. I didn't see or hear any of the nightmares.

When I think of those things, I am humbled by their service. In their honor, I also pray that more will not be required to go to war.

Thursday, November 10, 2016

Dislodging the Grief







"I will not say: do not weep; for not all tears are an evil."
~ Gandalf 
The Return of the King






We're one more day past the US election. There have been demonstrations in the streets of many major cities across the country. The continue tonight. So far, the demonstrations have been peaceful. Though they haven't been overwhelming in size, they have provided many ~ participating and observing ~ with an outlet for their grief.

It's nigh unto impossible to expect people not to grieve. Or to insist that they express their grief in one particular way. It's good that they are expressing it at all ~ and in a manner that remains peaceful if disrupting.

Grief shows up in several stages:
Shock/disbelief
Denial
Bargaining
Guilt
Anger
Depression
Acceptance/hope
Though we may think it's easier, we don't go through these stages in a linear fashion. Speaking with other people today, we all fluctuated through several of them in the past 48 hours. One person, still registering shock, spoke of waking up with the sense that it had all been a bad dream. Another, in the midst of denial, insisted there must be a way to demand a recount. Someone shook her head wondering if only she had been part of the calling or door-to-door campaign, the results may have been different. And on it went..... Not that any of us stayed in one place. As each person spoke, others chimed in with their stories.

I've cycled through several of those stages myself. In my own grief-bearing terms: Shock that what was thought to be a significant win one way, went so horribly wrong. Bargaining for a calmer and less phobic atmosphere. Guilt that I could have done more. Anger at people telling me how I should feel or that I should just get over it. Hope .... well, that one hasn't arrived yet for me. Maybe hope that my community will be stronger together as we move forward into these unknown waters.

How do you feel about the election? Are you in grief? Are you rejoicing? Are you sensitive to others who feel differently? What hope can you name and claim for yourself at this juncture?

Wednesday, November 9, 2016

Pandora's Election Box


One day after the most amazing election in US history, I am still stunned and grasping for a way to make sense of it all. The US is obviously deeply divided ~ and those divides are not easily defined: rich vs poor? men vs women? establishment vs rogue? There are many, many areas where the answer could be yes or no or sort of.....

Reading my Facebook feed of friends, I have seen everything from those purging their friends' list of anyone who supported Trump to members of the LGBTQIA community raging to Bernie supporters complaining that he could have won to sweetly spiritual folks assurances that Trump is still a child of the Light to immigrants afraid they will be targeted to spiritual teachers chiding that they told us to deal with the Shadow to middle-roaders waiting and seeing what comes next to international vagabonds and citizens verbalizing their shaking heads to those who can only post the letters WTF. I could go on, but I'm sure you get the picture and have experienced something similar.

Pondering all of this, talking with friends, listening to the silence of others, a myth surfaces within me: Pandora's Box. Here's my new-and-improvised version:

Little by little over the past several years, the US has become a nation with cavernous reaches separating people. It has defined and redefined the haves and have-nots ~ from the Occupy Movement to the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge takeover to those who can afford health care and those who cannot to those who have a roof over their heads and those who do not to the college-educated and those who are not, the list goes on and touches into every area of our lives. The outside world for each person shifts and changes as they pass among the varied haves or have-nots. The lines are fluid, the passages permeable.

Enter into this scene a Presidential election cycle. Two major candidates emerge. In terms of curriculum vitae, one is highly qualified in the political arena; the other is a self-proclaimed outsider with money. Each has their defenders and each has their detractors. In terms of the myth, they are both flawed. And their battle rages like the proverbial tug-of-war, back and forth many times.

Now the time for the election arrives. Even before the ballot count begins, the candidate with the political qualifications is presumed to be in the winners circle. As the count progresses, however, the rogue candidate emerges the victor. What was not figured into the polls and posturing were the dark things emerging from Pandora's Election Box ~ all of the recent history of people feeling ignored, unheard, unsupported ~ rising like smoky Shadow. This is true for every single voter. The darkness within each of us rose up ~ for some, it came from ignorance of the bigger picture; for others, it came from fear of losing even more.

What else arrives within Pandora's Election Box is Hope. In the beginning, Hope is a small and frail thing compared to the overwhelm of the Shadow. That's where we stand right now, looking at the tiny Tinkerbell light of Hope flitting around and needing to do our strongest Shadow work ever.

What is your darkest fear coming out of this election? What is your greatest hope? What dark part of you has surfaced with the results of the election? How are you going to heal? Are you willing to do the work necessary to heal?


Tuesday, November 8, 2016

Contagious Courage


Today, as we look to the possibility of the first woman President of the United States, it is fitting to begin with a quote from the current First Lady. As I write this, ballots continue to be cast and counted across the nation. It is early in the day yet.

Looking at the identities of these two women, I see a pattern of courage. Michelle Obama is the first African American woman to occupy the White House as First Lady. She has spoken elegantly of her thoughts and feelings in her role. She has continued to be a helpmate to the President and a mother to their children. But she has shown herself to be so much more than that. Her continuing repetition of the phrase, "When they go low, we go high" moved the Democratic campaign toward a different track, one that moved away from mud-slinging. It takes indomitable courage to go that route.

Hillary Clinton has been First Lady. She has been investigated relentlessly by those who want to challenge her rise to power and prominence. She has borne up with incredible grace. She has been attacked for being too strong and sure of herself as well as for being too soft simply because she is a woman. Her courage and stamina in facing these accusations and all the others that have come her way show her worth.

These two women are Leader archetypes, although from different directions. Michelle Obama comes to it from the aspect of the Sage. Her words and actions show her aptitude for contemplation, intelligence and advise. She shares from the wisdom she has gained in her life. Hillary Clinton come from the aspect of the Creator. She wants to form something new out of the remnants of the old. She has been steadfast in her progress toward that end. They both exude the sense of confidence and calm in the midst of the storm of these times. Their courage sets the bar high for the next steps for the United States.

Who exemplifies courage for you? Why? What archetype does that person represent? How do you experience and express courage yourself? Do you feel more courageous as others reveal theirs? Or do you prefer to be the first?



Monday, November 7, 2016

Preponderance of the Great


Haindl Tarot


From the guide, on the Three of Cups, Overflowing:
Three cups are in an upward triangle symbolic of fire. The cave indicated that the card deals with inner experience. Rock at the bottom hint of danger; however, the cups overflow with joy.
I Ching Hexagram in upper left:
28 Preponderance of the Great.
The divinatory meaning of this card begins with great feeling, an extreme joy that can turn to tears. Cups are indicative of emotion. The three also evokes celebration, community and creativity. It represents coming together for the greater good of the community. Its creative focus suggests pursuing creativity in a group environment for connection and full access.

On the bottom of the card, it shows the link to Mercury in Cancer and the expression of the mind, language, learning and information for survival. The Haindl image shows emotions in the natural flow of the water, filling the cups and overflowing with the outpouring of emotions with significant others.

My question as I drew this card was: What energy will carry me through the final day of this election season? 

As usual, I'm amazed that the card drawn fit so well. Although this indicates that the experience is predominantly inner, my circle of friends ~ with our connection and understanding of each other ~ will slip it into the realm a shared experience as well. 

Another way I shared an experience tonight was by observing a speech online as it was being given in Philadelphia. I commented and watched my comment roll through with everyone else's. I felt a part of history in the making. Yet I sat at home alone while doing it.

With the undertones of rocky times, the entire election also carries an energy of joy ~ of the possibility of breaking another glass ceiling. Even with the dark undertone, the sense of hope and joy bodes well. Community joining together to support and celebrate brings joy, even if there are some rocky or dangerous moments. What might the danger be? What might bring us to those difficult places? How much will it darken the mood of the election?

Mercury in Cancer brings the focus of communication on all levels ~ with the result being the survival and strength of the community. Lots of emotion, which indeed is true around this election. 

My favorite pointer on the card is the I Ching numeration of 28 spotlighting Preponderance of the Great. This refers to an advantage for standing in personal power, fully accepting the need for change and fully present to the flow necessary for success with a knowing that the current situation cannot last and change must come. It is also being prepared for that change. 

What is the change and creativity this brings for me? My personal power rests in creativity. I look forward to the energy shifting through the next couple of days ~ being able to let go of the collective breath and find my own pattern again.

What does the Preponderance of the Great mean to you? for you? What do you look forward to as this election draws to a close? How do you find the pattern for your own creativity? How does your community support you through this time? What are you willing to let go of in order to bring about change?

Sunday, November 6, 2016

Hearing Our Own Music


When I am in the midst of chasing around, I find that I more easily pay attention to the busyness around me. I fall into line with whatever shows up as the norm because I am paying less attention to that still small voice within.

In this autumnal season of dying, resting and slowing down, in the midst the ever-darkening beauty of its colors, I find myself quieting, paying more attention to my own personal rhythms. My movements beginning to follow another pattern ~ one I alone seem to be hearing. Or, if others are hearing it, we haven't taken note of each other!

Also, as I grow ever older and into whoever that older person is becoming, I am less concerned about people noticing me dancing ~ or talking to myself ~ or answering myself ~ or, well, everyone has those actions they do that allow others to step aside or join in. My actions may be different from yours, or from those around me, but they originate from the same place.

I've also been privileged to have many friends who are artists in various arenas from spoken to written to visual to musical. They have taught me to be less concerned about what others may think and more concerned about where my heart and soul ~ where that vague Being I call the Divine ~ is leading me. As I write this, I recall that one of those artists is no longer with us: a beautiful, smiling, gentle soul who danced alone on an empty dance floor simply as the music moved her. She is a guardian angel guiding me ~ and perhaps others who knew her ~ to listen for and respond to the music I hear.

What kind of music do you hear? How do you respond? Are you concerned with what others may think of you? How do you respond to those who dance or mutter to their own music? How could you respond more freely or spontaneously to your music?

Saturday, November 5, 2016

Continuing the Season of Death


When death comes
like the hungry bear in autumn; ....
I want to step through the door full of curiosity, wondering:
what is it going to be like, that cottage of darkness?
And therefore I look upon everything 
as a brotherhood and a sisterhood,
and I look upon time as no more than an idea,
and I consider eternity as another possibility

~ Mary Oliver

Today was a day for encountering and addressing death.
As I volunteered at a literary fair early in the day, a young woman shared that she was writing a book about death. We discussed the awkward way our culture encounters or ignores both death and the processes that bring us closer to it. We shared resources on the topic and I felt that simple sensation of synchronicity ~ being in the right place at the right time and paying attention to what surfaces. When I asked her what she was writing, she could have dodged the question. She didn't. Her directness opened me to share a resource I'd recently received on the same topic. A brief, but touching conversation and a recognition of not being alone in my explorations of topics relating to death.

Leaving that setting, I received a message from a friend about the likelihood of taking her old dog to the vet to have him put to sleep. She was struggling between her desire to have him out of pain and her attachment to having him in her life. We spent a few moments slipping between that quiet space of friends sharing the unknown sadness and conversing about how or when it might happen.

My next stop of the day was the church where we were going to celebrate the life of a friend who had recently died. I was helping set the hall for the reception happening afterward. During the memorial service, family members and friends shared stories and memories of our absent friend. It was good to share the space, the stories, the farewells. Continuing the celebration and memorial at a local pub, we chatted about the health of other friends and what those challenges might mean in the near future.

As I drove home, I reflected on the conversations and the deep heart space I shared with each and all of the people on this day. I thought of Mary Oliver's poem When Death Comes. Her words talk about grabbing life for all its worth, being alive fully, so that when death comes, which it will for each of us, we can say we were present to all life had to offer.

Until death comes for me or for those close to me, I face the choice of avoiding it or confronting it or embracing it or acknowledging it. They aren't mutually exclusive choices ~ and my choices may change from one moment to the next.

Where do you stand in your expression of life? How much do you invest in avoiding the topic of death? How do you want to be remembered when you die? What more would you like to do in your life?

Friday, November 4, 2016

Memory and Music


Every now and again, a song or a performer strikes the heart deeply enough to rock us to the depths of our souls. The right music. Different songs for many people. Different performers for them as well.

Last night, one of those performers played his heart out in one small bar. Why was this performer different? What did he have that touched our souls? Not an easy answer. Perhaps it is that all who were there to hear him were immersed in the same mythos ~ the one created by and for this particular performer.

Over a decade ago, we celebrated this performer with and at a fundraiser because we were certain he'd be leaving our presence soon. He'd been living with AIDS for a decade and things were looking dubious. He remains with us, in this world, on this side of the veil, and filled with a passion when he performs that puts all in his presence to shame.

Although he no longer has the stamina to play three or four hour gigs, what he does play brings all of us to that point of letting go and riding the wave of the music to forgetfulness or remembrance, whichever place we need to reach at the moment. During one of the songs, with a band consisting of drums, piano, trumpet and trombone complementing his guitar and vocals, I was swept into an ecstasy of spirit that had nothing to do with the half-glass of wine I'd consumed. I could feel the music within and beneath me, carrying me away. Even as a music lover, very few performers and performances bring me to that point. Suddenly, everything was in its proper perspective, The music, the people, the time ~ all was right with the world.

What music brings you to that place of forgetting or remembering? Is it a type of music? a performer? a particular song? Does certain music bring amnesia? Other music bring memory? Are you in the moment with the music? To what era/time in your life does it transport you?