Monday, September 12, 2011

Taking Our Own Medicine

It's been a while since my last post, summer with various commitments and distractions, personally and in terms of both work and community involvements was a whirlwind for me. It's nice to have a day to reflect on that and to be back in a frame of mind to write and share, sorry I've been away so long.

Often the things I post here arise out of questions that come up frequently, both in my own personal journey and in the issues I see others working with. We are moving through times of great change, not only in our circumstances, but also in how we are having to deal with these things. Priorities change and our self worth comes to be reflected in things differently.

I sometimes have my own struggles and times of doubt, I'd hardly be human if I didn't (and those who know me personally will assure you I'm VERY human indeed). I have the enormous privilege though of having work that I love and in that work the opportunity to learn in the doing and in the growth of others. In the nearly 30 years I have been a reader, I rarely take time off. Even in times of personal loss or setback, my job has helped me find direction. Being self employed too, time off comes when time off comes. There are slow periods and it always seems that these come at points where I need to shift gears, learn in other things or have time for solitude. It works out usually. Sometimes this has worried me but less so in the last few years. I've found a little more trust in my own resourcefulness.

A few years ago during such a period I decided to go back to school in my free time for a little upgrading. This led to a little side job in an adult learning environment. I had the great experience of being in the midst of many people from all over the world that were trying to improve themselves. I still like to do little side things like that from time to time, sometimes on a volunteer basis and occasionally during leaner seasons out of necessity. These are all things I bring back to my job as a reader.



I also have done a fair bit of community work on committees. They say if you want to face your imperfections, see where you need to grow (and grow up) get on a committee. That's very true. Being self employed I need the occasional experience of working with others and even sometimes getting a come-uppance. The last few years I have made some very good friends and done a lot of growing (some of it with the odd ego bruise or two). Through it all my work is a constant. Having these experiences makes me more fluent, able to relate and be intuitive to similar things for others. To empathise and to also then take my own medicine in seeing what's right for someone else. We all have blind spots, some of these things, the more egoic things, can seem to be glaring to a bystander. I try to follow the maxim that the irksome things in others are usually touching some nerve within myself. Being open, understanding and compassionate is a two way street. When I have the opportunity to be compassionate to others going through stuff, I can be more easy going with me. I try to be accountable and when I make a mistake or blunder, to stay in the game. Usually this is where I do the most growing.

My best friends are the ones that are able to take me with a grain of salt. When I get riled up they're able to look at me and say "oh you get this way", and they've taught me to do the same with me. That's the two way street. Part of why Tarot is such a useful tool is that it's archetypes reflect human experiences that we all have in different ways. I call reading an art form because like all creativity it is a sharing. A way of appreciating others unique experience but at the same time saying we are not alone, others have come through this too. I find great comfort in that.

An article that expresses some of this far better than I can and that I have benefitted from greatly (as well as many other things the author has written) can be found at:
Developing An Unconditional Friendship With yourself -by Pema Chodrun, Shamhala Sun Magazine, March 2011

Sunday, July 3, 2011

Intuitive Etiquette, (or the difference between reading and fortune telling)

I am sometimes asked "do you say bad things in a reading"? Sometimes I have to talk about difficult things like loss or hardship so in that sense, yes. Some people are under the assumption that readers have restrictions. Although many of the readers that I know (myself included) do have ethical boundaries, not all do. There are no enforced guidelines for readers as far as I know.

In my practice though there is a standard that I follow, what I receive is always information that can be used constructively. I don't leave people in worse shape than I found them. At the same time I might not always say what a person wants to hear. Sometimes people say "you never said anything about trips". To which I sometimes have to say that didn't seem to be an issue, I then ask "why are you planning one"? and often the answer is no.

I remember when I was beginning my career and working in an establishment where there were other readers it was suggested that we follow a certain format of what people wanted to hear, trips, romance, lucky numbers etc. I asked "but what if that is not the reality of things", and got a blank stare.

So now if asked about something like that, I try to respond to what is blocking the person, maybe they look after others so much there is never time for a trip. Maybe they need to set up a savings account for travel, maybe they need to go on a trip whether or not a stick in the mud in their life wants them to stay home or not.

This comes back to a basic difference between fortune telling and reading. Fortune telling is usually about things that may (or may not) happen in the future, usually with little grounding in the here and now. The "you will meet a tall, dark, handsome stranger who will take you to an island etc.". A reading is usually based more in the here and now and talks about the probable outcome of things that we are consciously and unconsciously setting in motion. A reading would approach the issue with something more like; "there seems to be an imbalance, you're working a great deal and have been operating in the same circles, maybe you need to expand your horizons". The reading could point to something such as an opportunity in the year ahead to re-connect with people and sometimes more specifically like;  "in the west, I'm getting associations this side of mountains, not a big city, more like Lethbridge, two homes close together, one a very new household that someone will be proud to show you", and further  "this trip could be an opportunity to re-connect not only with people but also with a part of your life that hasn't been explored in a long time". So the issue isn't JUST the trip but what it indicates constructively that the person can actually work with. Readings and Tarot, as far as I work with them are not just circumstantial weather reports but tie in more to how we are evolving.

Fortune telling in it's healthiest aspect is entertaining and escapist, there are some who approach it that way and that's fine. A reading can also be approached in an entertaining lighter way. Sometimes people are just coming from a place of curiosity, food for thought or diversion. I'm fine with that too.

Different tools also work well with different types of intuitive work. I've experienced profound as well as entertaining things from tea reading (which, when done well, is a beautiful art). Tarot can be utilised in many different ways too. Generally when I have had to do shorter readings, such as in restaurants, fairs or still occasionally for charity drives. I work in that lighter way. I sometimes use humor in how the information is conveyed. Above all a reading should be INTERESTING. It is a personal service where the client is the focal point. the type of work I do is relevant to the person being read.

In that same vein, questions about other people are somewhat limited. I cannot, for instance, pick up on what your ex from 4 years ago, that you haven't heard from, thinks of you. I can, however, help with what you might be needing to resolve. A reading could say; "you seem to have some resolution going on with someone who factored in your life from a chapter of about 4 years ago. There's an opportunity to see differing values and to see what you have outgrown".

Tarot is also subjective, what could be a knight of cups to one person might be an entirely different aspect to another. A reading can warn about difficulties like abuse, issues around addiction or other pitfalls. It cannot diagnose or judge. I am not about to say something is good or bad in itself but I can say this doesn't seem to be a healthy situation.

One of the premises of Tarot is the "law of attraction". This works along with the idea that there is a connection running through our life experiences. Attraction is not the same as retribution. No one deserves to be in an abusive relationship. We can look though at our issues of self worth where we seem to be attracting negativity. This is also a major difference between fortune telling which places an emphasis on luck or curses and reading which (hopefully) will talk instead about what is in our power to change.

in the sense of discussing difficult things, I also have to be diplomatic in addressing the client's issues. A person having difficulty with work, for instance. Might be carrying a lack of respect for a boss they feel is incompetent or there may be a serious lack of admiration to their colleagues. Sometimes the answer is looking for another opportunity in that work environment, changing fields OR it may be that they have to make a change in their attitude. Working intuitively as well as with the cards often helps a good reader to point out what is in our realm to change and what isn't.

Sadly I sometimes encounter people who don't want to look at their stuff. Over the years I have encountered numerous parents who think an in law has done some form of voodoo that their married adult kids don't want to talk to them rather than look at their own state and demeanor in dealing with others. People like that will go for readings, making the rounds regularly, spend inordinate amounts of money until they hear what they want to hear somewhere.I try in a situation like that to steer the person to things that can ease the relationship. Are they doing things to be happy even if they have this difficult person in their life? Can they enjoy the positive aspects like other people in the environment? Often in this particular situation there are different cultural values that have to be met halfway and given a little credit when others try. Sometimes a reading can also help us identify what is NOT our stuff. Sometimes, like in the previous example, the other person IS in the wrong, so how do we behave in these circumstances? I know of one such person who got involved with others in the same boat, became supportive of them and found their life somewhat happier through the compassion that came from that. After a while, by not dwelling on the difficult person they found their overall relationship with family improved, because they had changed their relationship with themselves.

In the end a reading gives us some alternatives and choices, as well as some feedback, maybe a different outlook on our circumstances as well as insight to how we are evolving. One of the reasons I love my job is when people come back happier, not just because of luck or good weather, but because they have grown.

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Watching Our Words

"Returning violence for violence multiplies violence, adding deeper darkness to a night already devoid of stars. Darkness cannot drive out darkness: only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate: only love can do that."
 - Dr. Martin Luther King (1929-1968)

These are words I have found stirring and inspiring in the last few days. They showed up on some friend's statuses in social media. The only problem was in a seemingly harmless distortion.Nowadays in our new world of social media, it is so easy to take a quote at face value. The old saying "don't believe everything you read" is a good thing to remember. In my family background, my father worked in the printing industry. I remember, as a small boy. seeing typesetters setting type by hand. In just the last five decades we have seen tremendous change. The upside is the ease of sharing information. The downside is in how easily that can be distorted.

One of my father's great pet peeves was seeing printed material that had not been properly proof-read. We rely on computers to do a lot of our checking for us. Don't get me wrong, were it not for these resources you wouldn't be reading this. I have also done a little side work doing some proof reading and helping with essays and such. It's extremely important to check sources and, to give credit where that is due in quoting others. Also to look at context etc. I admit I get lazy sometimes in this regard. Usually in social exchanges like facebook where discussions are happening in the moment. I am blessed with good friends that set me straight when I err.

This last weekend there was so much buzz going on in the news and in the midst of it all, many people put up a status that expressed a sentiment. The words were inspiring but the problem was that someone had taken the above quote from Dr.Martin Luther King, preceded it with their own words and in the original post had put the quotation marks in the right place (which is fine, quite appropriate). In subsequent posts the quotation marks were moved. The problem is that this misuse is an appropriation that detracts from credibility. Here's a link to a further article on this
lessons-in-social-media-the-fake-martin-luther-king-jr-quote

In a time when words and rhetoric can be a rallying cry, a reassurance, and a driving force, I'm glad to have this reminder to question, check, and when in error, promptly acknowledge that.

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.