Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Six Of Pentacles, or knowing the measure of your giving


If you continually go above and beyond the call of duty, often exceeding expectations, the day you stop, the people you have enabled will feel let down because you've spoiled them. Communicating limits and expectations is important. Giving your all doesn't mean depleting or damaging yourself. Don't be a martyr about it, they make horrid role models.

Often we just need a chance to stand back. The bumps we encounter usually serve to show us the (often hidden) motives we have had in giving. Once we've had a chance to see these things we can give our head a shake and carry on, most of us go on giving, but in healthier measure and with better, clearer motivation. I don't know anyone who has truly learned this easily.

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Growth In Tough Times

I have found it a bit hard to write in the last few weeks. So much going on in the world. I am not a reader that purports to be able to predict world events. I work more on an individual basis with what I pick up in a person's immediate life experience. At the same time there are trends that I see affecting everyone. Sometimes I have to acknowledge that. I found, for instance, around the time of the 9/11 disaster that I had to differentiate between the overall stress of that time and how individual people were working through things. What I see in terms of mass / community consciousness IS important. Even before  many of these things started playing out, I have seen a lot coming in the next while that has to do with people reaching out, communities and neighborhoods growing to accomodate need and people putting their lives into a greater perspective.

Many things are having to work differently. How people look at separation, for instance, has economic and stress related aspects that are very different from even as little as two years ago. People are having to cooperate differently as families and colleagues. Our sense of personal security is vastly different than it was a decade ago. Retirement, for many is looking like a different kind of deal than the more "get away from it all" luxuries of the 1980s. At the same time, we seem to be actually getting back a different sense of worth that for many was lost.

In the last few weeks the terrible disaster in Japan has been either directly or indirectly affecting everyone. I give some mention to this in a reading when I feel it. Rather like a condition that colors a lot of other aspects. I don't have any easy answers but what I have the privilege of seeing in many people, both as customers as well as friends and family is how we are pulling through.

I have a younger relative that until recently was teaching in Japan. She is determined to go back and help out when she can. My family is pulling together to do what we can to support her and her friends overseas. Although the impetus for this was terrible. It also seems to be something that has my family coming together in a way we hadn't for a while. I am also seeing great differences in the issues clients are bringing. many have a greater world concern than I have ever seen before and that is inspiring. That I can share with you.

When the going gets tough, the tough get going, they say. Somewhere in the great wars of the last century someone also said "this is what seperates the men from the boys". Certainly there are times where upheaval and stress brings out the best and worst in all of us. I find both to be true in myself. The key thing seems to not try to manage it all. To do what we can, the best we can and to stay in the game.

Another saying I think of is "twenty percent of the people do eighty percent of the work". While this may be true I also notice that when world disturbances happen, there are about eighty percent that run about like Chicken Little, hollering that the sky is falling, while about twenty percent are like the Little Red Hen, doing what they can with what they find and not being side tracked by the unnecessary drama of others.

Whether we like it or not we are all affected by calamities in the world, whether it's the compassion of humanitarian concern or indirectly in gas prices and groceries and the stress of others. I see a lot of polarities in times like these. People are either drawn into distraction to escape themselves or in listening to their hearts to move with a sense of attraction toward growth and cooperation with whats going on.

Sometimes we cant have easy pat answers, so it's how we live with the questions. Faith certainly helps with that, or, for some, a kind of acceptance. I know people who don't necessarily practice a particular credo or faith path but still do a great deal that is constructive. Some of these people are relatively happy, useful and contribute to the well being of others. What most of these relatively content people have in common, whether it is with faith or not, is a basic sense of decency, recognition of worth (in self and others) and the ability to take what comes as a lesson, not a punishment or reward.

Last there is a story (I'm sure many have heard it, I'll tell it anyway) of a man walking on a beach where hundreds of starfish have washed ashore. When this happens the starfish dry up and die. He sees an old man out knee deep in the waves. The old fellow is smiling and throwing starfish back into the water. The younger fellow hollers to the old man "what are you doing"? The codger happily yells back "I'm saving starfish". The young man says "but there's so many...you won't really make a difference". The old man laughs and while throwing another one out over the waves says "made a difference to that one".

A Guest Post

My brother Ben  has a blog that I enjoy reading, much of it is about his experiences motorcycling with his wife, but he also posts about life and experiences. He has won some awards recently through Toast Masters and I am very proud of him. Here is a link to his recent post about dealing with rude people:
Rude People

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Sometimes the question IS the answer

I am often asked what kinds of questions bring people to a reading. Most folks are looking for insight into the lessons going on in their lives, a perspective outside their own immediate perceptions and, often, a double check on what their own intuition is telling them. A reading can give some validation to a person's own hunches. I believe it is not supposed to override or replace that.

There are certain questions that really answer themselves in the asking. When someone asks about a relationship "can I trust this person"? The question itself indicates the answer. It is not the same as asking "is this person trustworthy"? Whether a person is trustworthy or not is good to look at. Whether we can trust or not is our own stuff. Sometimes we aren't supposed to trust right away. Sometimes that's something that has to be built and if in that trust we are giving up our own sense of responsibility theres going to be problems.

Another question that answers itself is "is there hope"? If the question is being asked then it certainly seems there is, however remote that hope may be.

I should mention that this is a big part of why I don't allow questions to be asked verbally until the latter part of the reading. It's my job to pick up on uncertainties and issues without being told. This allows the querant (that's the fancy term for the person being read) to know if a reading is "on" or not. Part of what I try to address is the stuff that is under the ownership of the person being read. It is very tempting to want to use a reading to try and figure out what other people's motives might be. Classically I am often asked what someone else may be feeling. The old fortune teller question of "what does my boyfriend feel about me", or "why does my daughter in law not like me". Well often as not, the person with the boyfriend is going through their own ambivalence about the relationship. They might like the boyfriend but feel dissed when he puts work ahead of things or still has past issues with an old flame etc. The mother in law might have very little communication with the son's partner, so where does the crux of the problem lie? Maybe in whatever the son has issues with. We could get really lost in taking on other people's stuff. I do get some signals on these levels but the greater focus comes back to the querant.

Another way of looking at it is this analogy; when my old secondhand computer goes on the fritz, I could spend hours fiddling with it or (as I've learned the hard way). I can first pick up the phone and call my Internet service provider. If I get the message at the beginning of the call "attention customers we are experiencing technical difficulties" then I don't have to waste time fiddling. So often at the very start of a reading (usually before I even turn the cards over) I get a very strong sense of where the person is connected or where they may be in a distraction over someone else's stuff. If a relationship is giving them mixed feelings or giving them mixed signals I usually pick up on that pretty quickly. The mixed feelings are the querant's stuff, the mixed signals are external. This also where the tarot is a very helpful tool and where it works well alongside the intuition. People sometimes say "you don't really need the cards" , actually I do. The cards often give some objective insight about the cause and effect of things and it is often in the cards that we see, outcomes of what the intuition is picking up and also insight about things outside the client's realm of responsibility. Things we cannot be responsible for, but can be responsible to. We cant chang the weather but we can outfit ourselves appropriately to it.Part of what a reading (both the cards and the intuition) should do is shed a little light on these things.

We also aren't going to get answers about what is not our business and thank your lucky stars for that! Can you imagine how awful it would be to have to look out for the motives of others that don't want to look at them themselves? That's actually what many would consider the definition of a dysfunctional relationship and I see instances of it a lot and yes, as a professional know it all I have had to run into that brick wall quite a few times personally.

The old kindergarten rules always apply; it's not so much important what others think of us, but rather what (and how) we think of them. When  we work with our own stuff we get somewhere. We can share and work with others, that's a beautiful part of intimacy and co-operative, healthy relationships, but trying to work on someone else's stuff when they aren't interested is like drinking medicine to make someone else get well, You'll get a little green around the gills.

Saturday, January 29, 2011

Finding Playing Cards

It's a curious thing, and it has happened to me a number of times. Walking down the street and coming upon a playing card (or cards). It generally is more frequent in summer. What would be the reason for a playing card to be laying on the sidewalk? One explanation is the old trick of kids sticking them in the spokes of their bikes (it makes a vroom vroom sound the faster you go). But I doubt there's that many people playing crazy eights while they go for a walk. So I have come to regard "findings" as little signals. Opportunities to be woken up by life.

This has happened often enough to me that I have made a little game of it and some friends have too. Sometimes the instances of coming upon the card are also intriguing. On one occasion a friend and I were taking her nephew for a walk during a very trying time in her family. He was about 3 or so and at one point we had to stop and tie his shoe, I noticed under his foot was an Ace of Diamonds card. He has since proved himself to be an exceptional kid. I have had friends who have related that they've been out walking their dogs and come across playing cards too, often at a point where life has needed a little signal of some kind. I have my own hunches on how to interpret these things - I wouldn't call it a superstition, more just a kind of "food for thought" sort of thing.

I take notice of where the card is and especially whether it is face up or face down. A face up card is like a road sign (like trouble on the path of life, rest stop coming up, or romance ahead). A face down card is more a choice, you turn it over and your stuck with the lesson. You could turn it back over and leave it for someone else or you could rip it up into little pieces, or (and this is what I do) put it in your pocket and let it be a lesson card. This is especially nice when it's something positive, but difficult cards have their value too. I have a little box on a side table in my home, sort of a mindfulness table. It's where I put things I find, like marbles or rocks from the beach. I place the playing card there with these things and it serves as a little post it note to my consciousness.

A significant "finding" occurred for a friend of mine the other day. Dodie is a very community minded person, very active in her neighborhood and with some groups working hard to bring an area that's seen difficulty back to vibrancy. There's been some crime and some absentee landlords and such but many people are putting down roots, reaching out and doing good things. Recently Dodie was out walking her dog Oban (who is a very wise old soul himself, known to rescue kittens but that's another story). I should mention here that Winnipeg has had a LOT of snow lately (it's over 3 feet deep in my yard). Dodie has been noticing found playing cards in the last few years too and this particular day she came upon the six of spades. The odd thing (and I have never known this to happen before), It was standing up in the snow!

Now many people have many interpretations to cards, my own are definitely biased to the translation to Tarot. In the Tarot system this card relates to the Six of Swords. I also see a relationship of the sixes to the guardian role of the knights. All of the sixes in the Rider Tarot have a kind of guardian figure that is helping a process, directing a force of energy or working through currents to improve a pattern. The Six of Swords particularly is often guidance through grief or conflict, protecting others in times of trouble. So the card standing upright, like a little sentinel and being found by Dodie who is very much the kind of guide mentioned, is kind of neat.

I'd love to hear other people's experiences along these lines, post a comment if you have any "finding" stories!

NOTE: This has been an extremely popular post over the years and I enjoy hearing people's experiences with this quirky little phenomenon, however I cannot offer interpretation of what the cards mean in these instances. It is outside of a reading and my area of work is with Tarot. You can relate the systems of playing cards to Tarot - they are related - but even the interpretations I have offered in other articles are outside of a reading and many of these articles and videos are just random thoughts and entertaining "food for thought", not meant in any way to be either definitive interpretations of the cards themselves nor the greater stretch of what finding a card could mean for you.

There is a great deal of good free resource on http://www.aeclectic.net/tarot/ and other websites that can give a lot more detailed information than what I have freely offered through this page.
If you wish to look comparatively at playing cards to Tarot, the usual associations are Wands = Clubs, Cups = Hearts, Swords = Spades and Pentacles = Diamonds. You can refer to my "Videos/Articles" section for some light takes on the cards.

UPDATE: I've been sent a link to a Facebook page devoted to the phenomena of finding playing cards, I'm quite happy to share that:
www.facebook.com/cardfinders/

Happy finding!

Friday, December 10, 2010

Happiness

The Sun card is often seen as one of the most positive cards in the Tarot deck. It often signifies clarity, honesty and optimism. it suggests a bright outlook, not necessarily that everything is entirely problem free, but that everything is out in the light of day. Nothing is hidden in the shadows here and we can bask in the light of reason.

It's a curious thing that so often difficulties and worries are accepted as facts of life and negativity seems to need little justification. Happiness is sought and sold to us as elusive. I don't buy into that.

There is never a moment when the sun stops shining on the earth. True at night we turn our backsides to it and things like clouds and pollution obscure it momentarily. Some would be quick to mention that the sun, as a physical entity, has a life span. Like other stars it will eventually burn out. But the very light of the stars goes on shining and ever moving outward long after their demise. Some stars that are visible to us burnt out long ago, the light continues to move forward.

Even what we see as a lower life form knows this. Plants evolve to capture light. Sunflowers (which are depicted more than once in the Rider Tarot as a symbol of self -honesty) adjust daily to follow and soak up the sun's rays. Dandelions manage to root into concrete and stretch to absorb light. Happiness is our connection to that sort of life force. When we are happy we radiate a kind of energy that is positively infectious and it continues to move forward. This is our natural state. We forget it and get preoccupied. We often buy into the lie that we need to have things or the right conditions or the right relationship in order to be happy, but there are moments where we get to forget that (probably what St. Francis of Assisi meant in "self forgetting") and experience this. It is what C.S. Lewis meant in the business of being "Surprised By Joy". Don't get me wrong, there's nothing wrong with wanting things, it's when the wanting hurts that we are out of line. Relationships are a prime example of this, when we want a relationship in order to be happy our odds aren't as good as when we want to share the happiness we do have with someone.

Some many years ago I was in a group that was trying to do some conscious inner work. We were working very hard at trying to be HAPPY people and there was a lot of focus on what our problems were. Some felt that they had repressed issues they needed to get in touch with and while in some areas this is a valid thing, it was also a bit of a blame game. I found myself questioning my childhood. Was there something I was blocking? Something I needed to "get in touch with"? I wondered, and at the time as I was distant from my father (and had blamed him for some things) it was a question of what did I maybe have bottled up that I needed to see. I talked to some people and fortunately someone very wise said "maybe you're so focused on the negative that you're blocking the positive". Well at first I found that annoying, (frankly I was in such a state that I found A LOT annoying those days), but it stayed with me. A few days later I was out with a friend and he asked me to pass him something on the table and as an off the cuff remark he called me sunshine..."could you pass me that sunshine". It hit me like a bolt from the blue...when I was very young my dad called me sunshine. I had forgotten that, along with a lot of other very positive little things he had done or said. It was at that time I began to re-connect with my father and came to have a happy relationship with him, he passed away peacefully in 2005 and  I was with him when he did.

Another thing this reminds me of; a friend was going through a really tough time, a genuinely hard, tough time. Her partner had left her, had taken everything (even the dog), she was living in a hotel room, she was faced with so much uncertainty and had every justifiable reason to feel low. We were sitting in her car (which she was on the verge of losing) and she was talking about how tough things were. I didn't have any platitudes to offer (I'm bad for that - sorry). Something told me to just shut up and listen (and thankfully I did). She eventually just fell silent and we were staring ahead down the street. We were parked near my work on College street. Some grubby little kids (about 4 to 6 years old) were playing with an old tire they'd found. They found it uproariously funny to roll that old tire down the street. We just found ourselves watching and after a while when they laughed, we did too. My friend was very okay after that (maybe she just needed to see she was okay all along) still she had rough times but she came through them. I believe happiness is what children know and what we misplace (but I believe we never really lose).

This sort of thing has happened for me again and again, not on demand, not instantly, but often enough for me to know (but still need reminders), that happiness is a natural state. It does not distract us from grief, it does not solve everything, but it's there. We allow ourselves moments, we need reminders, we get preoccupied, some of us get very lost, there are dark states that can be quite lethal, but in those instances especially I believe that spiritually we all eventually find our way into the light.
Let the sunshine in.

Monday, December 6, 2010

Christmas Cheer

December in Winnipeg. The shortness of the days. The crisp mornings and long twilight of the afternoons. It's a season of extremes. The holidays are a time I look forward to. For me this is a time of year where the focus is more about just getting together with people, renewing connections and catching up. Professionally it's my month of greatest extremes. December is usually quiet through the early part of the month and then a scurry of people wanting to get in while they are off work. It's also very nice to see people who visit from out of town. Some people make coming for a reading part of their holiday tradition!

In my own family the kids are grown, there's not a lot of presents to buy (other than for my Mother) and, thankfully, most of us have what we need. A few years ago we started putting the emphasis more on just getting together. I don't much relish the craziness of shopping. I also volunteer a bit around different community areas. I usually help decorate a community centre and other stuff.

For a lot of people this season is challenging. Maybe because there's so much thrown at us about how it OUGHT to be and it's easy to feel we have fallen short if we aren't living some sort of Hallmark card version of the season. Also we often see a lot of old patterns arise as we go "home for the holidays". I see a lot of struggle 'round this time of year, but I also see a lot of progress and hope.

One of the symbols of the season that I have come to have a different appreciation of is the little nativity scene my mother puts out every year. She often threatens to give it away and I always get antsy when she does. It's one of our little struggles but it means something to me. She bought it when she worked at Eaton's back when I was very little. Eaton's was an amazing big old department store in it's day. The toy land at Christmas was (in my memory) a huge otherworldly adventure. It didn't have the same feel as the big box stores of today. Amid all the over the top stuff that our family went through at Christmas time, the little nativity scene or "creche" as my mom calls it, is one of the few things still around.  The papier mache figures that have survived many moves and jostling. I think we lost a barnyard animal or two and St. Joseph has a chip on him. The year our basement flooded we found the box waterlogged. Mom very carefully unwrapped each figure and let them dry, they could have crumbled at the touch.

My mom always did her best to make Christmas special for us ( I have three older brothers). In the years when she was a single parent, working secretarial jobs and, for the last while as an inspector on an assembly line in a computer plant, she  did her best to keep things together. By the time I was about 13, my older brothers had moved out and it was just her and I for a few years. I remember one afternoon about this time in December, I was home alone after school and there was a knock at the door. A guy from the Christmas Cheer board was there with a hamper. I thought he must have the wrong address and told him so. He had our names and suggested I call my mom and check before going away. I called my mom at work and when she heard why there was a long pause and she said "it's not a mistake". I had not known at the time how hard some things were. Someone had submitted our name for that turkey.

What that little Nativity scene represents to me more than anything now, is endurance, survival and hope in times of challenge. I'm looking forward to spending time with my mother this holiday season, like the little creche, we've come through a lot.
I'm including a link, for those who may be interested, for the Christmas Cheer Board's website, it gives information on how you can donate and the good things they do;
Winnipeg's Christmas Cheer Board

In a few weeks the days get longer again. Whatever our individual spiritual beliefs and traditions, it is a time for renewal and appreciation of what we have, what we can share and what we are here to do. To all my friends and clients, best wishes of peace, comfort and joy and to a good new year, cheers!