Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Make New Year's Revolutions, Not Resolutions

It is traditional for people to make New Year's Resolutions, and it is just as traditional that a great many, if not most, of these fall by the wayside after just a few months. Why is that?

Perhaps it is because we put things on our list for the wrong reasons. For example, if we say that we want to quit smoking because everyone else tells us that it would be good for us, but in fact we really like the taste and feel of it, this resolution will maybe last a few weeks while everyone is encouraging us, then fall by the wayside as we resume smoking.

Now, when a person decides that they really don't feel like smoking any more and it is their own desire to quit, they will. I used to be a smoker myself, and nothing anyone else said about it made any difference until I decided to quit. Then it was over. No patch, no chewing gum, no support group. I just quit and have not smoked again for more than 30 years now.

What is the difference? Our own desire is always more powerful than whatever other people tell us is good for us.

The same holds true for the other most often mentioned resolutions, losing weight and working out. When we decide that we really will do it, we exert a great amount of will and desire, taking the appropriate actions to change what we eat and how much and get up and exercise.

When we are ready to actually make the conscious decision and take the actions because we decided to do so, we will be making New Year's Revolutions, and we will make changes happen in our lives. These will be Revolutions, Not Resultions. Don't waste time with resolutions. Only make revolutions.

Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Pattern Recognition # 7 - Smaller, Greener Houses

Yesterday I saw a fascinating article about how they are building more fuel efficient homes in Germany. They are built with more insulation, double windows, excellent weatherproofing, and they cost little to keep at comfortable temperatures. One noteworthy feature. They are built as 1500 square feet or 2000 feet, based on a calculation of 500 square feet per person. They are heated by passive solar energy and have the most advanced ventilation and air filter systems.

In the U.S. in 1950, the average house was 1000 square feet, by 1970, 1500 square feet, by 2006, it was 2500 square feet, and all during this time, the average American family was getting smaller. Today, many affluent American people have houses that range from 10,000 square feet to 30,000 square feet. Not only is that a lot of space to decorate and clean, but a lot of space to heat and cool.

All of this is interesting not only because of the green aspect of how much resources and energy it takes to live comfortably, but also a skewed sense of priorities also contributed to the current financial scandals in the mortgage and banking industries.

Not being a real estate professional, the significance of certain facts escaped me. For example, when I lived in Atlanta, I saw neighborhoods of sturdily built brick apartment buildings with plenty of greenery and trees in between torn down to make way for townhouses or condos sporting price tags "from the low 250s." It would be common to see one old house with a nice sized yard torn down to make way for a cul-de-sac with half a dozen McMansions squeezed in.

I used to live in those apartments that were torn down for a very reasonable rent, so I wondered how much the mortgage would be on those new places. I figured that I would need to get married and we would both need to be making a really good income, and both paying the mortgage in order to afford to live in the same neighborhood now.

When I looked around Colorado I saw similar patterns. All the home builders it seemed, wanted to be in the business of building really upscale neighborhoods. I can understand that desire and that reasoning. And I also know that there are lots more people making modest incomes than fabulous incomes.

So maybe that was one of the reasons lots of those crazy mortgage plans were born. Real estate agents had lots of inventory of quarter million dollar homes and half million dollar home and up to sell, but everybody was not making enough income to afford them. So the books were cooked and people who just had average incomes were placed in mansions. Perhaps if more home builders were building modest homes more people would have been able to afford them without all the screwy financing deals. That would have made the profit margins more modest, but then again, that would have followed a different plan. The push for bigger houses was about looking for a higher margin on each unit. Profits are good, of course. We are all in business to make money.

The valuable lesson from the pattern is this. More modest sales, but a greater quantity of them, produces a steady stream of profits over time. Putting more big ones on the market is a crapshoot. It could mean bigger profits, but that is only if there are enough customers who can afford them and want them. Now, of course, we have seen that the crapshoot did not pay off. Not only are there not profits because there were not enough customers for the products, but the foreclosures are making it harder for other people too. Less people are able to afford the bigger houses, plus the glut of foreclosures has driven down the value of the houses of people who did not have any problem affording what they bought.

Maybe the Germans have a better idea. Build greener, smaller, more affordable houses and all those people making modest incomes will be able to afford to live in them. That is what happened in the housing boom in the U.S. following WWII. Modest houses that everyone could afford were the main focus. Of course, luxury homes were build too, but there were many more houses that were affordable to anyone who had a decent paying steady job.

The lesson from the pattern can be this. Smaller, greener houses can work for everyone.

Monday, December 29, 2008

Books and Personal Growth

During the last 30 years or more bookstores have served an important place in our culture. Independent bookstores were traditionally places run by people who knew and loved books. For many of us interested in personal growth, independent stores were a place where you could go and find interesting titles. Store owners frequently could suggest things you might like, based on conversations with you. These same stores were the same ones that would invite authors in to speak and sign books. You could always depend on good independent stores to stock not just bestsellers and recent offerings, but usually some old classics and offbeat titles that maybe were never big sellers in the way popular romances or mysteries were, but would always be in vogue with seekers of all types. Independent stores were among the first to offer a cafe where readers could sit and talk.

Then came the huge wave of expansions of the two largest chains. First they wiped out the profit margins of the independents by offering best sellers for 30% or 40% off. They also expanded to carry things that formerly only the independents carried, like tarot decks. Mostly, they carried whatever was popular at the moment rather than a deep inventory, and they rotated it every three months. So that meant if you wanted a title that was not in stock, they would order it for you.

But then came the web, both Amazon and other sites where you could order out of print and hard to find books with a click of the mouse. Not only that, but frequently, they would have even lower prices than the chain stores. Now that the chain stores had build one in every mall and shopping center, many independent shops folded, now the chains themselves are struggling to keep up with the online stores.

I think that independently owned stores are a good thing. It is good to have a place where you can hear authors speak, relax with a cup of coffee and conversation on a night out, as an alternative to a bar. Independently owned metaphysical stores also could be depended on for their bulletin boards or referrals, if you were looking for an alternative health care practitioner, astrologer or psychic. They served as community gathering places.

It will be interesting to see how the next stage of evolution unfolds. Publishing and books are undergoing a radical change, and since books have always played an important role for seekers, the next shift will no doubt involve the web, but there will always be a place for hard copy.

Sunday, December 28, 2008

Our Enduring Love Affair with Cards

As soon as cards became popular in Europe in the Middle Ages, card printers sprung up as a new industry in Europe. These printers made only cards, not books or newspapers. Cards have a fascinating history in both senses, playing cards and tarot or fortune telling cards. Even in playing cards, there were differences from time to time and place to place. The four playing card suits were not always diamonds, hearts, clubs and spades. Not surprisingly, playing cards made the trip across the Atlantic when Europeans came to this continent.

To this day, there are companies who make not just tarot, but interesting artistic playing cards as their only business. If you look at playing cards in the U.S. today, mostly they are pretty identical looking, and unfortunately the colorful jokers have given way to advertisements. But if you look at playing cards made in Europe, they show flashes of creativity and innovative design, not just with the jokers, but even with the pips (the cards from one to ten).

There are artists in Europe who create limited edition signed and numbered prints of their sets. They just like being creative and treat making decks as an art form. In other cases they may not be numbered and signed, but artists just enjoy creating these works on a smaller scale that a person could carry around with them, or just keep in a desk drawer or on a coffee table, simply to admire them at their leisure, the same way we keep art books on coffee tables.

Some decks are beautifully created and then printed on a large scale, but if they do not become best sellers, the publishers quit printing them.

Cards have a universal appeal. You can find them in about every home. There are a variety of games that can be played with them, and before TV became a ubiquitous form of entertainment, playing cards after dinner was something that families and friends did for entertainment. I helped my kids to learn their numbers by playing cards with them. Cards and making music were entertainments that people made for themselves. For a very small amount of money, you could buy a form of entertainment that could provide many hours of fun. Games that did not involve gambling for money were popular with both young and old people, and there were games in which playing for money is the main attraction.

No wonder Europeans developed a long lasting love affair with this new form of entertainment which is so simple that people can play quite a number of games besides blackjack or poker, and yet, even at this date, people still invent new games to play. So even though many things have evolved, 600-700 years after cards became popular, they still are, even though we have computers, video games, TV, DVDs and all sorts of other things to play with.

There is still a lot of magic, both in the little playing card deck, and in tarot decks. There is no end to the love affair that we have with cards.

Saturday, December 27, 2008

Optimism for the New Year

We swing from optimistic to pessimistic and back again depending on how things are going in our life. Sometimes we have just gotten tired from the struggles. Then again, we can rest up, find a boost of energy from the support of our friends, and a solid perspective from our spiritual path.

There will be a new administration in Washington this coming year, and of course we hope that he will make some very strong, positive moves to make good things happen. Do I know for sure that Obama will do that? No, but I am optimistic that he will.

What about our own situations? Each one of us has to take that into our own hands and do what we can to improve our financial situation, get some exercise, make some new friends, learn something new that we can use.

And at the top of the list of tools that will keep us on track and help us to remain optimistic is staying in touch with our spiritual roots. By continuing our spiritual practices, we keep our eyes on the bigger picture. We have confidence that there is some pattern to all the things we do and have done, and from that draw some guidance as to where to head next.

Yes, some of us are having a difficult time, and some of us are going to be able to spot a good move, a good opportunity, and take it. Be optimistic that this can be you who finds a good move and acts on it.

Friday, December 26, 2008

In Tarot, Every Picture Tells a Story, and More

Recently I had the good fortune to acquire a tarot collection which included a number of unusual decks. It is really amazing to see how creative some artists have been in reinterpreting the cards to fit their vision.

You have decks that are aligned with certain mythologies, for example, with themes based on the legends and myths of that are Egyptian, Celtic, Arthurian, Greek, Norse, Voodoo, Native American and others.

There are also some based on various science fiction or fantasy themes, such as Lord of the Rings, Cat People, Vampires, and the Cosmic which features movie stars. There is also one based on the Classical Music Composers.

Back in the 70s, there were a few decks like Morgan's Tarot or New Tarot, that were very whimsical, done in black and white, with more of an editorial cartoon style of illustration and had humorous sayings and designs that might have been considered provocative at the time, such as interracial couples and a pot leaf.

There were also artists in France and Italy who produced tarot decks as a form of art, issuing limited edition, numbered and signed sets. And some that were not limited edition, but just not generally found in the US, which are beautiful and original in their design. One Italian set, that is major arcana only, is composed of all shamanic images, with the most striking being an image of the star as the sparks made from two stones striking each other, and strength depicted as a very pregnant woman. Another major arcana only set is based on classical art, with images from great paintings used as illustrations.

There are also new sets, which I have not seen, based on manga, a style of cartoons and illustrations developed in contemporary Japan.

Some of these I just like to look at, for the same reason I enjoy visiting art museums and galleries. Others are a course of study in addition to being a tarot set. For example, John & Caitlin Matthews' Hallowquest Guide that goes along with their Arthurian Tarot opens into new understandings and insights apart from any tarot reading you might do with it.

These sets of pictures can form a powerful set of tools that you can use with yourself or others. The ones that are most commonly available are the ones that have connected with people on the broadest level. The others that have been in and out of print have a lot to offer and unless you actually acquire one from another collector, you will probably never get to see one.

Of the non-tarot decks, there are some fabulous sets such as the Soul Cards, and there are also some interesting things that have been done with regular decks of playing cards by different designers. I have been delighted to see what beauty can be designed into a tool that we can use every day.

What I find is that even though I have more than one deck, there are a few that I like to look at and study and simply admire for the art and/or storytelling, there is one favorite that I always go to for readings. There is a familiarity which strengthens the readings, in the same way that a favorite baseball glove enhances your playing of that game, a favorite drum seems to invite more melodic playing, the way that a favorite recording soothes the soul, or the way a favorite chair seems to be the best place to read.

Tarot has given birth to a whole new field of art, where pictures are designed to tell stories and fit together as a set. Pocket sized art galleries as well as repositories of wisdom. And there is an artist for every taste.

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Peace On Earth, Goodwill Toward Men (Mankind)

Peace On Earth, Goodwill Toward Men (Mankind). This is one of the phrases we always hear at this time of year, and of course, it is a sentiment most people agree with.

December is a time of year when many religions celebrate a holiday that has to do with the returning of the light. Christmas, Winter Solstice, Yule, Hanukka, Kwanzaa, Bodhi Day and Saturnalia to name the most widely known.

I am just thinking how much more peaceful the world would be if every kind of religion simply did what they do with the people who choose to join them. In other words, no proselytizing by any religion. Just let everyone choose what they would like to be a part of. That also means allowing that there are those who wish to not be a part of any. Let people just gravitate to the choice they feel suits them best.

There are religions that just act that way, figuring that those who are interested will find their way to them. And then there are those who want to convert others to their way.

My wish for world peace is that it would be a good start if nobody tried to convert anyone else.

Peace On Earth, Goodwill Toward Men (Mankind)

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Does Having a Spiritual Practice Make a Person Optimistic?

Does having a spiritual practice, no matter what kind, tend to make us more optimistic?

My sense is that it does. If we have a practice, it tends to help us keep our bearings and see the bigger picture. For example, I am just as disgusted with the behavior of many corporations and government officials as other people. However, I keep in mind that if I keep on creating work that I love and focus on keeping appreciating the good people and the good things in my life that I will somehow make it through the difficult times. Staying connected to my spiritual roots gives me a way to connect with the universal life energy.

If we know that everything is cyclical, from the economy to fashion, our spirituality can give us the strength to do what we need to do to survive and succeed and also the patience to wait for the things that we cannot control to change.

In this way, spiritual practice and contemplative or reflective time that we set aside every day to connect with spirit serves to soothe us and bring us peace of mind. Something as simple as quietly enjoying a cup of tea, while simply mulling over our dreams, giving thanks for another day, pulling a card for the day, or reading something thought provoking can get our day off to a good start.

Pray or meditate in whatever way you see fit, and all the craziness in the world will seem a little less crazy. A sense of connection to spirit helps us discover the goodness in life and prompts us to look forward to doing whatever it is we do with renewed strength, vigor, hope and expectation of better things to come. Yes, this is an optimistic outlook.

To be spiritual is to know that whatever might be important right at this moment is not the way it always was or always will be. To be spiritual is to know that there are concepts that span great stretches of time and space. To be spiritual is to stretch our mind to embrace these larger concepts, these larger dimensions. To be spiritual is to greet this day and put one foot in front of the other as we walk toward our goal and look ahead to see what is on the horizon. If we are in touch with our spirit guides who walk with us, the conversation encourages us to keep on.

That is what our ancestors did. This is what we do.

Monday, December 22, 2008

Carrying the Raft?

A person asked me an interesting question the other day, then left before we got a chance to really discuss it, so here it is, for your consideration.

He was questioning why people need to continue using divination tools. He quoted what he said was an old Buddhist saying. Not sure if it is true, but I'll accept the question at face value.

It went like this, when you get to a river and use a raft to cross, you don't carry the raft with you when you get to the other side. So why keep using these tools. Why not just use them a few times to answer questions and then leave them behind.

As I mull this over, a few different things come to me. One is that tools such as tarot, runes or I Ching, can be useful every day. Some people use little meditation books to get a thought for the day to meditate on. Some people use joke a day tear off calendar pages to give them a laugh for the day (which can also be thought provoking.) Many people use these other tools to provide them a thought for the day. Unlike a calendar, a deck of cards, set of runes or I Ching book can be used for many years. So they represent an excellent value for the money.

The raft analogy may or may not be applicable for a simple reason. How many times do you need to cross the river? How many times in your life do you need to make a decision about love, money, business, family relationships, friendships, health issues and so on, where you could really use another opinion?

We use a dictionary when we want to know the meanings of words, so why not use a guide (tarot, runes, I Ching) that can offer guidance through a symbol that represents a pinciple? Many people consult other books they find value in, and you can consider tarot and runes to be types of picture books.

Maybe these tools are not so much rafts as they are bridges that you can cross over time and time again.

Sunday, December 21, 2008


Yesterday there was a problem with our cable, so we had no internet and no land line. Cell phone can replace land line, but no internet access really stirs the memory.

There was a time when we got our news from local newspapers. Little towns had papers with local news and events and great cities had great newspapers that employed reporters to go all over the world and write about what was happening. TV news was full of pictures and a little bit of story. Radio news, depending on the program, could be more insightful because they might take the time to interview and analyze a story. There was a local flavor to both radio stations and newspapers. TV always tended to be more homogenized.

Today, most of us get information from the internet. Not only that, but many of depend on it to send emails, and maybe even post our own blogs and websites.

So when it goes down, we really are stuck outside the loop. Personal and business messages are not received and cannot be responded to. We get news through the computer, but when the cable goes down, all that is left is the radio.

What a strange thought. If the computers that power the internet were to crash, how difficult would our lives be? We are so connected through this technology that we cannot imagine not having it. Or can we?

Friday, December 19, 2008

Shamanic Tests for Now

In ancient, remote and tribal cultures, shamanic tests were made up of challenges such as periods of seclusion in the wilderness with nothing but a blanket, a knife and a water bottle.

When a person survived such an ordeal, they came back with a new realization of life, new views and visions, a new sense that it really takes very little stuff to live in the world. Comfort can come from a fire, a blanket and a drink of water.

In today's urban and suburban world, we don't have to do that. Our challenges are different. For example, when people are forced to reevaluate because they have lost money in the stock market, their house note is getting harder to make, or they lost it. Or they got laid off from work, or got a pay cut or a lower paying job, now they will have to learn about shopping wisely.

For people who are used to just shopping for as much as they want on credit cards, frequently buying stuff that ends up in garage sales or yard sales barely used, the change in shopping to less frequent and more thoughtful can be a shamanic process.

The same is true for a person who really cleans house and decides to rearrange it to enhance the energy patterns. Sometimes we develop emotional attachments to things we have collected and are reluctant to part with them, even thought we do not use them. It is a sign of strength and growth to be able to let go of those things that no longer are useful to us, no longer increase our energy and ability, and have our space cleared enough so that now we have additional room to move in, to be in.

When we clear things out, there is room for more energy, more spirit, more life to enter. There is a place for us and whatever is next in our lives. It is a shamanic test to let go and really clear our space and then bless it.

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Winter Strength

In winter, we see the strongest parts of the earth. The trunks and limbs of trees naked without their leaves, standing silhoutted against the sky. The snow covering the ground in white, making a stark contrast with everything else.

The strength it takes to bundle up and go out and do what you have to do. The care with which you have to drive and walk because of the ice.

The clarity of the night sky, dark blue with brilliant spots of light set in. Their light contrasted against the dark sky and the white snow.

We are looking at the bones of the earth, and we feel the cold in our bones.

It is a season for strength.

It is dark, and we love to stay in our cocoon, warm and cozy. A cup of something hot to drink. Some seasonal treat to eat. Staying close to someone we love.

That is also a strength in this season.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

How Much Do We Need to Know?

Dr. Andrew Weil in his book 8 Weeks to Optimum Health suggested a "news fast" as part of part of his stress reducing plan. While that may strike some as a foolish suggestion, just consider how quickly the $700 billion dollar bailout of the banking industry went from colossal news to no news.
Most banks, of course, would prefer we forget.

How many other stories were huge and then forgotten? If major things are happening in the world, we will know about it because people will be talking about it, and mention of it will be inescapable. And truly, what of the big news is surprising? That people are getting killed in Iraq? That growing numbers of people are in favor of green energy and that some are not? That some people are trying to think of negative things to say about our new president even before he takes office while many other people are optimistic and hopeful about what he does?

Now consider more personal news. What is happening with your family, friends and neighbors? What is more empowering? Focus on doing things that help you feel connected and make you feel good.

I am not advocating ignorance. I am only saying that I am eager to see our new president put some of his talk into action. I would like to see the war end. I would like to see the economy perk back up.

Just as importantly, I have to do things to maintain my own health. I have to do things to help me obtain a peaceful state of mind, at least for a while every day. I have to do those things that will help me focus on creating the best life for myself that I can. Part of that is by earning income so that I can pay for things I need. Part of that comes from doing things that are of service to other people.

So what do I need to do in order to do that?

Monday, December 15, 2008

Feeding the Soul with Art

Art is something that can stir our souls and our tastes in art are very individualistic. It is so common that what one person finds amazingly beautiful another person cannot stand to look at.

Sometimes our own tastes change too. I hjave long enjoyed going to art fairs and if I feel a real connection to a work, and especially if I meet the artist and have a good conversation with them, I will get a piece and enjoy looking at it, maybe for years. Sometimes I can gain equal enjoyment from a poster or print.

But eventually, you can run out of wall space. So over the years, I have found great enjoyment in giving away art to friends. Framed art can be a very delicate thing to move without damaging, so it also eases your move. In the process, someone now has a nice gift, and you get to change the look of your place. The new art can represent a change in perspective, and a new meditative device for you. Ancient people long have used art as a way to achieve an altered state, a meditative state, a magical state of awareness.

Look at how much is being communicated to us through cave paintings. Even to this day, the messages they communicate are powerful and mysterious.

I have found that there may be some pieces we keep for a lifetime, but overall, I have found that the art that really moves me needs to change as I change.

Art can be magical, meditative, aphrodisiac, inspiring, energizing, so many things. Inexpensive pieces can work as well as expensive pieces. Whatever moves you. If you need an energy shift in your life, try changing your art.

Sunday, December 14, 2008

So Much Abundance

Earlier in my life, I used to have huge collections of books, music and art. After a while, I came to realize that I could live without so much of it. There was a time when I had so many CDs that if I played different ones every day all year, I still could not hear them all.

It's not that I just went shopping all the time. I was a music reviewer for publications and got lots of free demo copies. The flood of new music was just so huge, that I really had to make split second decisions on what to review or not, because the publications only had room for so many reviews, so I would give it a quick listen and if I liked it right away, I would try and fit it in. If I didn't like it right away, it was probably set aside forever. Of course, I would always find time to play my favorites again and then I realized that out of 2,000 CDs, maybe 100 got played a lot.

That was an awakening experience. I enjoyed having and hearing it, but when you get right down to it, even if a person only bought all the things I gave good reviews to over the years, they would have more than they knew what to do with. Over time, I gave away a bunch to my friends and traded some at used music stores. And I still had tons.

It brings up the whole question of how much is enough? Sometimes I would just sit in front of my collection and try and select something I wanted to listen to, and find myself not even knowing where to start. To use another example, suppose you were at a buffet and they had all kinds of good food on it. So you try the things that look most appealing, then you go back and try a few more things. And you want more of the things you really liked, yet you see so many more things you have not even tasted yet. You feel full and can't even taste any more, yet it is tantalizing because there is so much more to taste.

Now I have only a small portion left of what I had, and I listen to only some of them over and over. 100 or 200 CDs is a lot of music. When you look at what you have, how would things change if you just kept what you really listened to. You would have more room on your shelf, wouldn't you? It is amazing how the abundance can be overwhelming. Less is more, when you really enjoy and appreciate it.

Saturday, December 13, 2008

The Entertainer

Today I was filling out a profile on a networking site that is business centered rather than social networking. You have to select from an established menu what type of business you are in. The only choice that was even sort of appropriate was "entertainer."

Some readers, tarot or otherwise, might take exception to being called an entertainer, since they may see themselves as performing a serious service for their clients. But I got used to being referred to as an entertainer years ago when I worked the Renaissance Festivals.

I have also worked parties hosted by business owners who regarded me as an entertainer for their guests. I feel that if regarding this as strictly entertainment allows you to relax and engage in the process, that is fine.

Of course it will seem mysterious to the person who wonders how it could possibly be that someone who merely interprets randomly dealt picture cards could tell them anything relevant. Yet, it happens all the time of course. It is mysterious, fascinating and beautiful to stare into the face of the mysteries of life and find a thread that describes a pattern in yours.

It also becomes fascinating when a person takes action on something the cards reveal and they find that it yields a good result in their life. So it can be entertaining because I always try and present what I am getting with liveliness and humor, where possible. And sometimes it is entertaining for the person getting the reading, because they are the main character in the story they are reading, and who doesn't enjoy taking a turn in the role of the star?

Yes, I am that kind of entertainer.

Friday, December 12, 2008

Belief and Knowing

Belief, by definition, means that we do not know. There are things we know from experience. Beliefs are a matter of choice. Knowing is what we have after experience. Belief is what we have when we like to think that things are a certain way.

We know that fire is hot and if we stick our hand on a hot stove we will get burned. We know that from experience. Thinking that heaven is some big picnic ground where angels play harps is what some people believe because they find that vision comforting.

Heaven may or may not be like that, but you can bet that if you put your hand on a hot stove, you will get burned. See the difference?

When we act from knowing, there is a strength. We can be fairly certain what will happen because of experience and history. If you say that you know something, there is a certainty based on experience. If you say you believe something you are saying that you think or hope it might be true, but you don't know.

Belief can also be a source of strength, but it must, by definition, be more flexible. When we choose to believe something, but then we have an experience, we must incorporate that into our belief system because we cannot simply ignore it. So then our beliefs may shift.

Have you ever contemplated the differences between what you know and what you believe?

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Isn't It All Just Preference?

In some ways spirituality is a form of entertainment. Yes, spirituality can be a serious subject, and sometimes it is good to take a lighter look at it.

Think about it. Those of you who prefer reading Neale Donald Walsch's books like his style and his story. Those who like reading Marianne Williamson like her style and her story. Those who like Tolle like his style and his story. Those who like the books and talks of any other popular author/speaker, it's just a preference.

So when you buy books by Wayne Dyer, Deepak Chopra, Julia Cameron or Louise Hay or anyone else, you pay some of your money to read their books or listen to their recordings. It's just a personal choice. No one has to listen to any of them. We just choose to. And we have chosen differently many times over the years.

That's why people whose books sold well and were much talked about 10, 15 or 20 years ago have given way to others. Some, like Ram Dass have had a long lasting influence. Brian Weiss has had a lasting influence. So has Dannion Brinkley. What was the impact of Shirley MacLaine or Marlo Morgan? James Redfield, Dan Millman or Bernie Siegel? Richard Bach, Leo Buscaglia, Shakti Gawain or Margo Anand? Gabrielle Roth, Dalai Lama or Caroline Myss, Abraham/Hicks?

The income of the whole bunch of them together wouldn't be a drop in the bucket compared to the collections taken up each week by organized churches.

And those represent choices in taste and style too. Whether you choose the local church or a guru from India to get advice and insights from, it is simply a preference for style.
Popular author/speakers only get money from you when you buy something from them. Churches, on the other hand, ask you to tithe 10% of your income. But isn't following the teachings of one author/speaker or another, then changing, the same as moving from one church to another because you like the style of the minister or the feeling of the facility?

Don't we all just choose teachers we enjoy listening to? Don't we all choose not only the message but the messenger we feel comfortable with? And why not? Doesn't it make sense?

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Contrasts in Oracles

One of the most fascinating things about tarot decks is that so many artists have reinterpreted it using their own style, ideas and imagery. It is still a powerful set of symbols no matter which set we are speaking about. There are so many artists and so many styles. There are an infinite way of making a picture of lovers, a merchant, a soldier, a wise man, a priestess, a king, queen, magician, and the scenes from everyday life, people working together, quarreling, building, eating, playing, resting.

Some of the images are timeless, others are the flavor of today or this artist's imagination or philosophical preference. And other designs are very ephemeral, and will be known only by collectors of the odd and curious.

Runes, on the other hand, have remained impervious to all the artists over the millenniums that have come and gone. That suggests to me a reason for their staying power. They address primal needs, primal instincts and eternal values. A simple glyph indicates home, wealth, health, needfire, water, gambling, strength, the divine. Although over time our homes look different, our wealth takes different forms, our ideas about the divine change, these timeless marks represent things that have been important to people since caveman days.

The I Ching has also remained a reliable oracle, with different people trying their hand at translating the verses, but no one has changed the hexagrams. They are set and have been for thousands of years. Similar to the runes in that they represent things that have been important forever in civilizations, the particulars of how we perceive or portray what is important now can change. We may have different ways of saying it now, but what is important now was important to our ancestors.

Oracles can remind us of the roots of matters and as we let them play out, they may appear to be different, according to our individual imaginations.

Monday, December 8, 2008

Syncronicity 2

I think that Law of Attraction certainly is related to synchonicity. But there is a difference between times when our thoughts, words and actions are openly in agreement, or secretly in disagreement.

How many times do we have inner conflict that is not expressed?

Sometimes the synchronicity can be a wake up call to a person's true intentions. Maybe the universe knows that you are thinking of changing jobs, even though you have not said anything to anyone else, and all of a sudden here is information on a job opportunity. Perhaps a person is thinking to themselves of leaving a relationship suddenly meets someone who encourages them to go ahead and leave. Perhaps a person is thinking of paying more attention to their health when suddenly alarming news from their doctor is followed by a coupon for a heath club membership in that day's mail.

There are times when the synchronicity is answering a secret desire, and so appears to be more of surprise than something we have been openly and outwardly seeking.

So it can come to us subtely as well as loudly. Synchronicity can be quickly explosive or quietly unsettling. It send diffrerent messages in different ways. In either way, it opens the way for what we really want. Remember the saying: Be careful what you wish for.

Sunday, December 7, 2008


Synchronicity is one of the mysteries of life. Why is it that sometimes we think of a person, and all of a sudden we get a call or an email from them? Why is it that we are thinking about a certain subject, and all of a sudden there is a new article about it? Or we have a question on our mind, and we shuffle a tarot deck and the first card contains an image that pertains to our question?

There are no accidents. There are so many things happening simultaneously that I think that one of the keys is being open to seeing. When we focus our attention on something, we are able to see it. Synchronicity is a way of breaking our pattern when we find ourselves in a rut, always looking at things the same way. Synchronicity wakes us up with a surprise. It is the universe's way of saying "Hey look at this!"

For example, did you ever notice that when you are looking for information on a subject all of a sudden it is everywhere? It was always there, just that we weren't interested in seeing it.

Have you ever had the experience of wishing for an opportunity to do something, and all of a sudden that opportunity presents itself?

I feel that sometimes this synchronicity represents the confluence of events where we are applying our will and focus and so we draw things out of the chaos toward us.

In other words, we are meeting people, places and events in the world when we are ready. You know the old saying: When the student is ready, the teacher appears.

Friday, December 5, 2008

Engaging with Our Essential Self

Have you ever felt the different kinds of connections between kinds of energy?

It feels natural and effortless to feel the Reiki energy moving, sort of like swimming and feeling the ebb and flow of the water. Sometimes I have to reaffirm that I am opening to my fullest potential. Then I feel the energy increase and pulse even stronger. When I work on people, it is easy to see their inner beauty, the radiant, sweet soul who is really there.

Their faces appear to transform and reveal themselves to me. I also sense a lot of that when I read for people, and so I think that these two abilities really compliment each other well. Openness to this seeing is something I want and welcome, although I am sure that there are some who are reluctant to open that much.

If we work in jobs that we allow us an opportunity to connect with others in spiritual way, we already are approaching this consciousness, because in order to do these kinds of jobs, we have to set aside some of the ordinary considerations of glamor and other superficial considerations to do what needs to be done for all kinds of people.

Some people are more open and develop this consciousness earlier, due to the nature of the work they do every day. I didn't develop a different perspective of consciousness until much later. There are kinds of working environments that open us to different levels of consciousness, and then when combined with a spiritual awareness, a closeness between people is possible in ways that bypass the superficial.

I always affirm that when I am doing healings or readings for people that I am in service to them and that with the assistance of my spirit guides I will bring through something that will be useful for them at this time. So if they are needing a perspective or fresh idea that allows them to make better use of information that comes to them, or the healing energy brings comfort to them physically, spiritually, mentally or emotionally, whatever they need at the moment, I feel the connection and they do too.

In either case, reading or healing, what we are doing is taking a look at a person in a way that connects to the essential self, rather than the superficial self. These different energy levels that we experience awaken us from the trance of every day life to reveal the other life we sense. It is this that we love to stay engaged with and prolong our exposure to, through readings and healings.

Thursday, December 4, 2008

What We Do For A Living

Having worked in a number of different jobs during my life. there I will make an observation based on my experience, about how types of work affect us.

I have noticed that people who work in non-profits such as charities, environmental groups, or community service organizations are often possessed of a sense of mission and compassion that differs from much of private industry.

Frequently a characteristic you find among people who are serving what they feel to be an important purpose are willing to work long and hard for average wages and the whole time are consumed with an attitude of wanting to do the job as well as it can be done. This is related to the person's sense that what they are doing is more than just a job.

Now this same feeling can occur within a person working in private industry, most often those who came up with a new idea or invention and started their own business. They will feel the sense of mission and purpose in the same way that a person who is really devoted to a vegetarian lifestyle will feel perfectly at home in a health food store, or a person who loves literature working in a bookstore, or a person who loves music loves playing in a band or a person who loves exercise teaching aerobics classes.

Within the corporate world though, what most frequently happens is that we become mercenaries. We trade our time for a paycheck and there is no dream attached to the daily activities we do. We may be attentive and efficient and help the company make money, but our heart is not really in it.

Today, with all the turmoil in the markets, with jobs being offshored, long established businesses closing, corporations reducing or eliminating pensions, sick pay, vacation pay, group health insurance or other amenities, any sort of camaraderie or extended family type bonding is eroded, if not cut off completely. When our relationship to the company is strictly reduced to a bartering of hours for dollars, there is a certain sapping of our life force. It is a grind when people live for the weekend, when they just do what they have to until the two days a week when they can really do what they like.

Of course, there is a numbing to much of what constitutes the rest of a life too, when we are so dedicated to our work that it dominates all of our counsciousness. That is why I have changed careers a few times. When I worked in a corporate environment and was consumed with it to the point that I didn't have much of a social life, the company was happy, but I eventually was so unhappy that I had to quit. We need to have time to work and play.

And in choosing our work, we need to at least make an effort to find work that we can put some heart into. This doesn't have to be real ethereal. I mean you can tell the difference when you go to a restaurant and the server does a great job, has a good attitude versus one who looks like they are just marking time until they get off. You have also noticed it when you get your car repaired, the difference between someone who not only knows what they are doing, but also appears to care and be cost conscious too.

What we do for a living matters in a lot of ways.

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

It Makes So Much Sense, Why Not?

Just because an idea makes good sense, that doesn't mean that anything will come of it any time soon. Here are a couple of examples.

Marijuana has all kinds of uses, from medicinal to recreational, and its impotent cousin has many industrial uses, such as paper making, fabric making, rope making and so on.

Yet we have spent billions of dollars to try and eradicate it, but have we? No. It is still as popular and available as ever.

So why not just legalize it and tax it? Instead of spending money, the government would be making money. People would be able to partake of their pleasure just the same as if they were choosing to drink an alcoholic beverage or smoke a cigarette. Penalize people when they do something wrong. We don't try and arrest people if they have a beer at home. We do penalize them if they have a beer and then drive erratically, or commit a violent crime. So if we treated smoking the same way, lots of police would be free to pursue terrorists, rapists, robbers and murderers and others who cause problems.

How about one more example? The Cuban trade embargo. What purpose does it serve? It didn't drive Castro from power. He simply retired from old age. If we are not trading with them because they are a communist or socialist country, then how do we justify opening trade with China? The fact that one market is bigger than the other does not alter the principle. Or does it?

What would happen if we opened trade with Cuba? Well, probably the first thing that would happen is that it would become a favorite vacation spot for Americans. Then lots of new businesses would open up to import and export products. If trade can help build relations between countries and promote democratic ideas then we would be destined to succeed.

It Makes So Much Sense, Why Not?

Monday, December 1, 2008

Conscious Giving and Receiving

What is the essence of giving and receiving?

Now that may seem to be a simple question, but follow it through for a few moments. How often do we give a person something because they really need it or want it? How many times have we given gifts because we think it is what is expected of us on the occasion? How many times do we give gifts simply to curry favor with the other person? How many times have we given our children a gift because other children have one just like it, and we don't want them to feel left out?

Have you ever been the recipient of a gift that you didn't want or need, because it filled the need of the giver to try and score points with you somehow, rather than a real heartfelt effort? Where did those gifts end up? Yard sales? Thrift shops? Passed on to someone else when you had to come up with something but didn't really care to put a lot of effort into it? The garbage?

How many times is our giving simply conforming to social convention, rather than coming from the heart? How differently would we approach gift giving if we let our heart direct us?

Saturday, November 29, 2008


Have you ever noticed how in a murder mystery how precise the investigators are when they say that a person did exactly this or that, had friendships with persons that those close to them didn't even know they knew?

Perhaps our fascination with detectives and mysteries is the precision with which they can take apart and put back together the exact story of a life.

How often does our own understanding of the patterns of our life or anyone else around us, so completely elude us that we do not really know what really feeds the fires in another person, what tastes bring them to other states of consciousness, what habits make up part of their every day, yet pass unnoticed by us?

The nature of our awareness and activity seem to be vague, yet the elements of our life are precise. Detectives take relatively little time to recognize these patterns, yet we can live with other people and not know as much even though we have had years more contact and experience with the person in question.

How closely, or how well do we really ever know another person?

Friday, November 28, 2008

Pattern Recognition # 6 - Black Friday

This grim sounding term is used to reference the day after Thanksgiving as the start of the Christmas shopping season. For some retailers, holiday sales account for as much as 25% or more of their annual sales. There is a lot of hope that people will go shopping to stimulate the economy.

One blast from the past is the return of the lay-away plan which was the way most people saved up for major purchases before everyone had a pocketful of credit cards. The concept was simple. People made payments toward their purchases, and then took possession of the goods once the payments were complete. But people were happy to pay the credit card interest in return for getting to take the goods home today. Lay-away may never go back to being the most popular method, but it may offer a great solution for a lot of people. And perhaps there is something good about giving more thoughtful consideration to our purchases. Have you ever gotten a credit card bill and noticed charges on there for purchases, but you can't remember what those purchases were? Probably a sign that it wasn't really important to you, and that you could have lived without it.

What other pattern may affect Black Friday? Perhaps this trend in becoming more conscious about what we are buying and why we are buying it can be seen in some of the trendy new products.

If you have gone to purchase a stereo recently, you probably have noticed that it is difficult to find one that will also play tapes. Even though CDs surpassed tape cassettes a long time ago, many of us still have music we like on tapes, books on tapes, talks or training programs on tapes. Most stereo systems now include ipod ports, and eventually discs may be phased out too, the same as tapes were. So if you want to listen to music, you will either find yourself purchasing downloads for your ipod or trying to find a stereo that still will play the older technologies.

Although the ipod is more convenient, should it get lost, stolen, damaged or develop a technical problem, all of a sudden you have to waste time reassembling or repurchasing your entire sound collection. And yet, I do see the attraction of having a whole library of music on one little gizmo. But all new technology hits a point where all the early adapters have the new thing, and then you hit the sales resistance from the people who just don't care that much about the new products.

Early adapters bought the iphone as soon as it came out. Of course, it is not just the device that is more expensive than a cell phone, it is also the monthly fees. I use my cell phone for making phone calls, and even though it has a built in camera, I have never taken a picture with it. When I want to surf the web, write emails, or make entries on my blog, I do it on my computer. Reading and writing on a 2-inch screen has no appeal for me.

How will all of this play out? Is there a bottomless appetite for video games, cell phones with miniature screens, ipods and all the other gizmos? Or will the purveyors of these goods find that many consumers have decided that they can live without them just fine, and increasing the market share for these things may get more difficult?

It looks like what we are really seeing is people reconsidering the wisdom of some purchases and getting the best price they can for what they do purchase. Maybe this is all about slowing down and savoring each moment instead of multi-tasking all the time.

Isn't it interesting that all of these changes in technology may spur an interest in slowing down our purchases? Maybe it is time to get off the merry-go-round of getting sucked into always buying new devices.

Then we might once again discover the pleasures of engaging in experiences such as attending a live music performance or play with the money we save by renting from Netflix rather than going to movie theatres or on cable subscriptions. We might rediscover the pleasures of reading a book or engaging in conversation. With the money we save on electronic devices, we could buy a number of readings or massages and get back to the personal touch.

Our economy could shift in a good way. What if the rush to buy gizmos was replaced by purchases of personal services and live entertainment?

Thursday, November 27, 2008

What's Up There?

Tonight as I was out for my evening walk, there was a configuration in the sky that seemed unusual to me. I saw it as a cluster of pulsating lights that remained stationary. Compared to other stars, the lights seemed different. It appeared that this cluster had a sort of filmy aura around it. Most of the stars do not pulsate, they glimmer. Planets seem to emanate a pulsating light, but this cluster seemed different.

I don't know if this is because I was up listening to a late night radio show about UFOs last night, so that is what I was looking for in the sky, consciously or subconsciously.

On the one hand I am curious, but on the other, I have no interest in being kidnapped and taken for a ride.

What was I seeing? I don't know. I like looking at the night sky while I walk because lately I have seen a number of shooting stars and a comet. And, of course, the moon, in all her phases.

I don't know what is out there. Sometimes I wonder if we just stare at the sky long enough that we think we are seeing things that are not there. Or are we? Or are they omens of some sort?

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

A Fable for Our Time

I work at a computer company during the weekdays. Employees of the client companies call us to make sure that their computers and blackberries are working so that they can keep working , not only in the office, but from home or on the road, wherever they are.

They call from being on vacation at some beach resort because they are having a problem logging into their work, and I wonder: What is the meaning of the word vacation? I thought that was when you unplugged, went to the beach to swim or sail, take leisurely walks and pick up shells, or sip on a fruit and rum drink or a cold beer while watching the sunset. Silly me.

Seems like some people forgot that part about having some play time. Being always on call is the price some people are willing to pay for the ability to climb that corporate ladder.

Recently a woman called and reported having a problem logging in. Said she is on vacation at her mother's house and can't get into her mother's computer. I informed her that since it was not a company computer, I could not do anything for her.

I said "Maybe your mother locked her computer so that you would go back downstairs and talk to her." She said, "Maybe you're right. I'll forget about logging in for now and go talk to mom."

Years ago, I worked for a man who said that he just viewed holidays as an interruption in the normal flow of business.

Of course that is the point. He didn't miss it, he just didn't like it. Holidays are meant to take us away from normal business so that we can rest, rejuvenate, celebrate life and then return to business. Holidays are a grace period for our soul as well as our body.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Thanks for Thanksgiving

Midway into the darkest time of the year, between Halloween and Yule we have this fine civic holiday that brings a lot of light and happiness into everyone's life.

In some ways it is the simplest of holidays, because it is all centered around being thankful for whatever we have received in our lives and celebrating by sharing a feast with family and friends. There are no special decorations that need to be put up, no costumes to make, no presents to buy, no other stuff that needs to be done other than to gather and share a meal.

There is conversation and storytelling and perhaps some games afterward, but no matter what little differences there may be from household to household, the focus remains on simply enjoying each other's company and relaxing.

For all these reasons, it has always been one of my favorite holidays. Just simply be thankful and enjoy. That is all you have to be about that day. So although it may be cold and dark, it is a way of bringing light into our lives.

I also give thanks for such a simple, beautiful holiday.

Monday, November 24, 2008

Make Love, Not War

Before you make a snap judgment and dismiss this slogan as nothing more than a quaint old popular saying from a long time ago, there is another aspect to consider.

It seems that PTSD (Post Traumatic Stress Disorder) among returning military veterans is a contributing factor to the rising number of cases of domestic violence in military families.

A reasonable conclusion is that if we increase the amount of vilence in the world, we feel it at home, and when we reduce the amount of violence in the world, we feel the results at home too.

Is the rate higher now than in earlier wars? That may be harder to prove because in many of our earlier wars, we did not even have a term for this, although related terms like "shell shock" were used.

A reasonable person might also surmise that there was less after World War 2 because it was generally agreed that that war was one that we needed to fight, and we were victorious. Not only were we victorious, but then the years following it were years of economic expansion and prosperity as people got back to more peaceful pursuits such as building homes, creating businesses, and starting families.

Today's veterans are returning to a difficult job market, having served in a war that most people think we should have never started in the first place. These are difficult pressures for any person to face. How many people with good educations and solid work histories are now having a hard time finding jobs with decent pay?

The cost of war is paid for in many ways besides the dollars we spend on arms and supporting the troops in other countries.

Make love, not war might be a better prescription than many people give it credit for being.

After all, how would our world look if our energy was devoted to creating and building and strengthening our country? What if we brought all the troops home that we could and got busy fixing up our country? What if more people were busy making love, not war?

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Thanksgiving & Request for Feedback

I want to take a moment to thank all of you who have been my clients and those of you who are readers of this blog. I am happy to have been of service to you.

Thanksgiving has always been one of my favorite holidays, because it is so simple, yet so profound. What can be better than to take a moment to express your appreciation to people who have been a positive influence in your life?

Since this blog does not require any registration or any other way of tracking who is reading it, I am just curious for your feedback about what articles you have enjoyed the most.

You can post comments right here on the blog, or you can email me directly, whichever you prefer.

Saturday, November 22, 2008

What We Really Want

What do we really want? I know that sounds like a simple question, but can you really answer it?

Once you thought that when you got a new car that would make you happy. Those first few days of smelling that new car smell, admiring the graceful lines, appreciating how fast the heater and air conditioning kick in and go to work, or how good the stereo sounds.

But then how long does it take before it simply becomes the means to get you from point A to point B, and all the initial excitement has faded? It is no longer a source of great happiness, it is simply another thing we use.

Didn't the same thing happen when we got other new things? We would work the extra hours or take on the extra debt to get a big screen TV, and that was just great, until the bigger screen was just the thing we now watch movies on. We no longer even notice how much bigger it is than our old TV, it just is.

How many people have said that they would be happy if they got a new house in a certain neighborhood. Then after they were living in that house for a while, they wanted a different house. It made them happy only for a while.

Obviously, we could keep on repeating this cycle forever, and some people do. We want this car, this watch this suit, this TV, this house, jewelry, this kitchen gadget, this exercise machine, this whatever. And then how long is it before we see some of these kitchen gadgets and exercise equipment for sale? Or the jewelry or suit doesn't get worn that often. But at the time we decided to make that purchase, we were certain that it would make us happy.

So what are the things that really make us happy? What do we really want?

Perhaps the real happiness is found in our friendships, our communities, our neighbors, the people who enjoy some of the same activities that we enjoy.

Perhaps there is more real continuing joy from getting a massage every couple weeks or every month than in a diamond necklace and earrings. Perhaps going for walks every day will provide more pleasure than buying an exercise machine. Perhaps there is more lasting pleasure from cooking dinner with friends than from shopping for whatever is fashionable right now. Perhaps getting readings will provide more insight into what is really happening than watching the news.

Each person has to make their own choice. Maybe the next time we ask ourselves what do we really want, we will get a different answer.

Friday, November 21, 2008

Touched by Greatness

Do remember the times in your life when you felt that everything was just going great? When you wanted to do something and suddenly, everything was falling into place so that you could do it?

Do such memories give you the feeling that the world is almost perfect and that everything is just as beautiful as you imagined it would be?

Once you have experienced such a moment, and you recall it, can you think of other ways to get that feeling into your life? Can you get yourself into a groove so that events will unfold for you effortlessly once again?

In those moments of ecstasy, you are touched by greatness. The world is cooperating with you so that you can experience life as a gift, a dream, a sweet, flowing river that is carrying you along for a ride that is everything you wished for.

If you have been touched by greatness once, you can be touched again. Recall the feeling. Choose another event that you would like to experience and feel the flow carry you through. Then go with that flow, and let the world support you and cooperate with you and you, of course, will cooperate with the world.

Image how your life would feel if you could experience being touched by greatness many times over. You can do it, you know.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Wanting and Not Wanting

Have you ever noticed how simple it is? Have you noticed the difference between wanting something and really wanting something? Have you noticed how closely held desires will sometimes manifest where those more openly expressed do not?

The difference is that sometimes we need to hold the energy close to our heart in order for the power to intensify and for the battery to fully charge before releasing it into the world. There can be more power in desires closely held and constantly focused on. There is a pleasure that sort of presents itself to you day by day as you realize your dreams so that you find constant affirmations of the course you are on, rather than it hitting you all of a sudden and it pops up.

It is sort of like watching the moon reveal itself from behind a cloud bank, how you first see a little glow peeking out from behind the cover, until the clouds part and you are there you are in the full light of it, savoring the beauty and the joy and basking in the soft luminous presence.

When secret desires become real, it is as if you are dreaming and waking from the dream and you cannot distinguish between the two. What desires have you held close to you that you want to see manifest in the fullness of your life?

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Pattern Recognition #5 - Market Manipulation

During this year, we have seen gas prices range from $4.25 a gallon a few months ago to $1.50 today.

Some of us immediately suspected greed and manipulation behind these prices. Then apologists appeared and tried to persuade us that this was just the law of supply and demand in action, that it was simply that people in China and India were now using more oil.

So does this sudden price drop mean that China and India cut way back on consumption these last couple months?

Did Americans suddenly cut their driving in half?

No. We still drive the same distance to and from work, school, church, the grocery store, the hardware store, the office supply store, the dry cleaners, the doctor and whatever other places we need to go.

So the only reasonable conclusion is that it was the manipulation of speculators, not supply and demand that drove prices up.

It is the same sort of thing you can see in the stock market these days, when all of a sudden the price of one stock will run up $30 in the morning and drop by $20 in the afternoon. Or run up $30 this morning and go down $40 by tomorrow. These kinds of price fluctuations are not driven by any real change in the supply and demand for that company's products.

That is why we have to be careful about how we invest. There is a lot of manipulation and artificial influence in the market. What drives this? Greed. Can greed and manipulation be eliminated from the market place? Probably not.

We have to watch these things carefully to recognize the patterns. There are things that have real value. If you can, hold on to the things that have real value and eventually the true law of supply and demand will bring things to a right and fair price.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Wish Upon a Star

When we were little, there was a saying that if you see a falling star and make a wish, your wish will come true.

Lately, I have seen several falling stars while I am out on my evening walks. And the other night, a meteorite as well, trailing a beautiful shower of sparkling, glittering pieces behind it.

Actually, I forgot all about making a wish until just now because when I see falling stars, they are so quick that I just see them briefly, and I just admire the beauty of that brilliant light streaking across the night sky.

There may or may not be significance to seeing all these shooting stars. Maybe I am being granted all my wishes. Maybe it is a reminder that we all have our chance to shine brightly and become stars. Maybe it is just the pleasure of experiencing the free light show, courtesy of nature.

Whatever it is, the night sky is particularly beautiful right now. If you feel like making a wish, go ahead. If it gives you joy and hope, make a wish. Be like a child again for a moment. Experience the joy of the simple things in life. Wonder how the world works. Be unlimited in your dreams. Be unlimited in your life.

Monday, November 17, 2008

Finding Comfort in the Madness

As in other areas of life, sometimes the best way to get through a crisis is with patience. At the present time, a person would get depressed if they were to follow the stock market closely because they are depending on their stock portfolio for their retirement.

However, looking at the market reports every day will not change anything. Whatever goes down will go up again, but no one knows exactly when, and since worrying about it won't change it, perhaps just not looking at it is better for your nerves and blood pressure.

A person could be happy about the state of the stock market if they have plenty of money to invest and can afford to simply buy and hold for a long time. The same can be said of the current real estate market.

A related phenomenon right now is the growing popularity of yard sales and garage sales. The current crunch seems to have caused people to reevaluate and as a result, they are looking at all the stuff they had stashed in storage units as sources of potential income, rather than a monthly expense. So it is possible to make money off the sale and save money by eliminating a debt, obviously a good move for some people.

As a result, there will be many bargains out there. This crisis can be a good opportunity to reevaluate what we really need and what we can do without. A deep cleaning of this type can be very cathartic. It can be a challenging, life changing experience that becomes very liberating.

In other areas, such as stocks, it may be better to simply hold on and wait rather than sell at a loss. Of course, each person has to consider the details of their own situation. There are always positive results even from disasters. If a person can buy stocks or real estate at the bottom of the market and simply hold on, it eventually has to come back up.

The other thing is that it may be a good time to take up tai chi, yoga, meditation. working out or some other method of relieving stress while issues far bigger than us are getting worked out.

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Why It Is Different Now

My father would never have thought about going to the gym after coming home from work because he was a construction worker and he got his workout every day just earning his living.

My ancestors who were farmers certainly would never have thought of working out either. Doing what it takes to make a farm productive was plenty of activity to keep a person fit.

But things have changed.

Many of us now spend our working days sitting at a desk with a computer and a phone and so we need to get some exercise when we get home. We may also need more massages or chiropractic adjustments because we do not get enough movement in our daily routines.

Health care now is different because our work is different. Energy healing, herbs, and many other methods are now becoming more common to help us shift our bodies onto the best possible tracks. We have to make extra efforts and we have to try new things.

Since we are living longer now, we want those years to be as enjoyable as possible. Our bodies were designed to move, not be stationary all day. Movement then, has to be part of our medicine for a long and healthy life. Our flexibility refers to more than one aspect of life. Mental and physical flexibility are essential.

Saturday, November 15, 2008

Same Symbols, Different Meanings

The way of the world is to surprise us at every turn, no matter what our choices. How many of us thought our lives would go one way, only to have it change constantly?

Less of us do things like live in one town all our lives, work in one job or one career all our lives. So we find ourselves at 50 and 60 and 70 working, taking up new fitness routines, and still doing things we enjoyed doing when we were much younger and could not imagine getting old.

It is a wonderful thing to look at the possibilities that are ours. It is like a contrast in our understanding of the world that opens our eyes.

Consider this. If you were to get three of a kind in playing cards, it means that we may be winning a hand. But getting three of a kind in Tarot may mean something totally different. Same symbols, different meanings.

Friday, November 14, 2008

Chip Coffey's Paranormal State

One evening recently, we were scanning through the On Demand section of the cable service and spotted a listing for a show called Paranormal States. Just out of curiosity, we decided to watch an episode to see what it was like.

As they were going to this house to investigate a case of spirit possession, the narrator mentioned that they were being joined by Chip Coffey, and my ears immediately perked up because I used to know someone by that name. Then he entered the scene, and sure enough, it is the person I used to know.

Chip is a psychic and medium who specializes in communicating with the spirits of the dead, and apparently he is getting quite famous and popular these days. I like Chip because he is a nice guy, with a quick sense of humor and was always helpful. Back when I knew him, I was the editor of a metaphysical magazine, and he was one of my regular contributing writers. He was a good writer, and he possessed one of those other qualities that is highly prized among editors - he always got his work in on time.

Even many years ago, long before there was a TV show called Paranormal States, Chip was making a full time living as a psychic, so it is not a real surprise to see him being even more successful now. Still it was kind of a reality check to see someone I knew on TV. I mean, how often does it happen that you turn on the TV and suddenly, one of the main characters is someone you know.

Of course it is another kind of reality to make a full time living out of talking to dead people. One person's reality is another person's weirdness. The episodes we have seen include not only spirits of dead people, but also UFOs and unknown creatures, in other words, a range of possible entities that are being investigated and actions taken to remedy negative influences from any of these. Some of the entities and phenomena are simply curious and unexplained.

Life is a strange journey, and we never know if we will be surprised at who we meet or how or when we meet them. I am glad for my friend's success. In a way it is also encouraging because as we work to make our way in this world, we do not always know in what way the success will present itself.

Reality checks can come in strange packages. People who live in haunted houses have one version of reality check. Then comes another reality check in the form of people who want to help them deal with the haunted house, and instead of running from it, they head straight towards it. Guess it all depends on what you consider reality.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

The Snow Moon

One of the old names for this full moon is the Snow Moon. Look at how clear and cold the night sky is. Feel the winter really coming on now. It has not snowed yet, but you can feel that it may soon. It is a perfect time to reflect with an evening walk and later a relaxing time in front of the fire.

I feel very inclined right now just to relax with a good book. I am reading some poetry by Yeats, and he is one whose verse can stir the soul and seem very fitting for this time of year.

by: W. B. Yeats (1865-1939)
THESE are the clouds about the fallen sun,
The majesty that shuts his burning eye:
The weak lay hand on what the strong has done,
Till that be tumbled that was lifted high
And discord follow upon unison,
And all things at one common level lie.
And therefore, friend, if your great race were run
And these things came, so much the more thereby
Have you made greatness your companion,
Although it be for children that you sigh:
These are the clouds about the fallen sun,
The majesty that shuts his burning eye.

by: William Butler Yeats (1865-1939)
WHEN my arms wrap you round I press
My heart upon the loveliness
That has long faded from the world;
The jewelled crowns that kings have hurled
In shadowy pools, when armies fled;
The love-tales wrought with silken thread
By dreaming ladies upon cloth
That has made fat the murderous moth;
The roses that of old time were
Woven by ladies in their hair,
The dew-cold lilies ladies bore
Through many a sacred corridor
Where such grey clouds of incense rose
That only God's eyes did not close:
For that pale breast and lingering hand
Come from a more dream-heavy land,
A more dream-heavy hour than this;
And when you sigh from kiss to kiss
I hear white Beauty sighing, too,
For hours when all must fade like dew,
But flame on flame, and deep on deep,
Throne over throne where in half sleep,
Their swords upon their iron knees,
Brood her high lonely mysteries.

by: W. B. Yeats (1865-1939)
THE cat went here and there
And the moon spun round like a top,
And the nearest kin of the moon,
The creeping cat, looked up.
Black Minnaloushe stared at the moon,
For, wander and wail as he would,
The pure cold light in the sky
Troubled his animal blood.
Minnaloushe runs in the grass
Lifting his delicate feet.
Do you dance, Minnaloushe, do you dance?
When two close kindred meet,
What better than call a dance?
Maybe the moon may learn,
Tired of that courtly fashion,
A new dance turn.
Minnaloushe creeps through the grass
From moonlit place to place,
The sacred moon overhead
Has taken a new phase.
Does Minnaloushe know that his pupils
Will pass from change to change,
And that from round to crescent,
From crescent to round they range?
Minnaloushe creeps through the grass
Alone, important and wise,
And lifts to the changing moon
His changing eyes.

Great poetry has power to ignite our imagination, our heart, our soul. A fitting companion to an evening and a fire. Poetry lingers on the palate, the words as potent as red wine.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

The Pleasure of Your Own Perfume

Have you ever thought of making your own perfumes? It is not as hard as you think. Everyone likes things that smell good, and our tastes in what smells good are very individual.

I got started making my own oils and aftershaves because the manufacturers quit making some of my favorites. I tried other flavors, but they can get pretty expensive and if you do not get lots of compliments on them and are not entirely happy with them, it can be an expensive experiment.

The essential secret to making your own oil is simple. You start with a simple carrier like jojoba or almond oil. These do not have much of a scent of their own, and that is what you want, something neutral to start. Then you need something with a bass note, something heavy, but just a little bit of it. Then you add something in the midrange, and finally a top note, something lighter, brighter to round it out.

For aftershave, I use a base of witch hazel. It's great for the skin. It is one of the things that they used in old time barber shops after they shaved you. When I was a kid, they still had those kinds of barber shops where you could get a shave and a haircut (although I was too young to shave at the time).

Anyway, follow the same formula for adding the scent you want. Witch hazel does have a scent of its own, and I like it. Generally the scent I will add to it has the same elements as what I use for a perfume oil.

It is satisfying when people compliment me and ask what I am wearing. They are usually surprised when I tell them that I make it myself. You also have the added factor that it is very economical to blend your own. Bottles of essential oil can be purchased at any health food store or herb shop and even though a little bottle can cost a good bit, they will last quite a while and make quite a few batches.

Use whatever flavors you find appealing. I find it very joyful to experiment with different scents to see which combinations really work well together. Even if you somehow made a mistake and make a batch that you didn't like, you can just throw it away and start over and you still are way ahead of the cost of buying already made perfumes and aftershaves.

The other thing is that they are more natural. There is nothing in my oils except the oils. I never worry about them spoiling because I make small batches and use them up within a couple months and then make a new batch. When you look at the ingredients on most commercially manufactured perfumes, there usually is a long list of things you can't pronounce. Making your own is simple, natural and the end result can be exactly how you like it.

Monday, November 10, 2008

Friends and Our Evolution

It seems that friends may be part of our life for a while, that there are different friends for different stages of our life. Perhaps I should clarify that some friends may remain constant over time, and some we just gradually lose touch with because we moved far away and it is not convenient to visit any more.

As our life changes and we develop new interests, it is only natural that we find new people to share our experiences, feelings and conversations with. Many people have had an experience where they grew and embraced new ideas and their friends did not, so a rift formed. We don't all grow at the same pace, and so we move on while others stay put.

My mother, by comparison, has never moved in her whole life, whereas I have lived in several different parts of the country during my adult life, mostly moving for business reasons. Consequently, there were people I was close to at one time when I lived in one part of the country who now also live in some other part of the country, and we haven't seen each other since we lived in the same town.

What is a friend, really? For one thing, it seems like there are always those we meet who we feel comfortable talking to, sharing personal feelings and ideas easily. Some people we meet and we like them well enough to hang out with but never really feel moved to share secrets with them.

How the patterns change as careers and personal interests shape our moves and present us with new friends. For some of us, our lives have looked different in different decades, with not only a changed physical look, but changed ideas, concepts and attitudes as well.

Can you tell what your next stage of evolution looks like? Can you sense anything from the friends you already have or the new people you have been meeting?

Saturday, November 8, 2008

Following Our Dreams

You know that a person loves their work and is in exactly the right position if they suddenly won the lottery or came into an inheritance and wanted to continue doing what they were doing anyway.

Some people are lucky to have found their path and followed it in this way. There may even have been times in your life when you felt that the job you were doing was exactly what you wanted to be doing.

With the turmoil and shifts in the economy in recent days and years, it may sometimes seem that getting a dream job is slipping further and further from our grasp.

But we can still have our dreams. It may just require a little more determination to get there and numerous creative approaches to attain the result.

We all have dreams. Pursuing them is as natural as the pull of gravity. Do the things that help yourself get to that place so that you are doing something that you really want to be doing.

Do what you love and money will follow really is good advice. I would simply extend that definition to include doing all kinds of things until we get into the place where we are doing what we like and the money is following along very nicely.

Friday, November 7, 2008

Uncelebrated People

Studs Terkel, who died this past week at the age of 96, was a great and wise man who was a champion of what is called Oral History. In other words, he interviewed people and got them to tell their stories. For 45 years he had a show on radio station WFMT in Chicago. He published a number of books, but none of his books were novels. They were all interviews. I grew up in Chicago and I remember that radio station, and sometimes listening to Studs' show.

Sure, over the years Studs interviewed famous people. But the majority of his books were interviews with those he called the "uncelebrated people." In other words, not celebrities. People who may never have been quoted in print anywhere other than in one of his books, but who lived the experience they spoke about.

Once he selected a theme for his books, such as American Dreams Lost & Found (people talking about their dreams), Hard Times (about the Great Depression), Working (people talking about what they do and how they feel about it), Will the Circle Be Unbroken (about death, rebirth and hunger for faith) Coming of Age (growing up in the 20th century), The Good War (World War 2), Race (how blacks and whites think and feel about it) he interviewed all kinds of people who lived through it and asked them to talk about what it was like. He would paint us a large picture on a broad canvas, made up of these incredible little slices of life that people would share. You would come away with a whole different picture of a great subject told through these voices, which told different stories from a different perspective than, say, biographies of generals, politicians or celebrities.

There are recordings of his work as well as his books. What he did was unique to unique to our experience in this country and the way he did it was timeless. Stories passed down from generation to generation are part of human history and human evolution. All too often we get a small sampling of the big picture from our own family stories, and we have the books by and about famous people, but Studs took the time to get the stories from a lot of people we would never have heard from otherwise, and gave us an opportunity to get a look at the bigger picture by putting all the little pieces together.

If you are looking for something interesting to read or listen to one day, try one of his books or recordings of his interviews. They are amazing pieces of work and an incredible legacy he left us.

Perhaps exploring a bit of this can help you find your voice to tell your own story, if you have been looking around for encouragement or inspiration.

Thursday, November 6, 2008

We Are All Stars

Andy Warhol once predicted that "in the future, everyone will be famous for 15 minutes."

He made this prediction even before the the internet and cell phones that double as cameras, and the other technologies we now have.

And his prediction has been accurate. Athletes, authors, movie stars, pop music stars, politicians, inventors, tycoons, and on and on, have all been the subject of a day or a few months, and suddenly, they are so last year.

People became household names briefly, for being criminals or doing stupid things. Some people are famous for being famous. There are some celebrities who are featured on TV shows and in magazines, yet they have never done anything significant.

The ephemeral fame can confuse us as to what real stardom is. If one person is a star because they are considered "hot" this year, how does that compare to someone who has been considered an attractive accomplished actress for years? How does this year's controversial singer compare to the singer who has recorded and performed memorable songs for years?

In some of these cases, only time will tell. Can this year's hottie continue to surprise and amaze us for years to come? Will the person who was on TV talking about their popular book this year, still be saying interesting things and writing good books next year or the year after?

Are the ones who are famous for a brief time necessary to open the way for greater stars, and noteworthy people to come? Does the spreading of fame to a greater number increase the possibility that more of us can imagine ourselves rising to greater heights and becoming more of who we want to be?

Do you notice some of these other people getting their 15 minutes and think to your self that maybe you would like your 15 minutes too?

Does this proliferation of opportunies encourage us to go for it too? Go for what? Go for whatever we want!

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Personal Taste and Great Art

Frequently, what we decide is great art is what suits our tastes. That is why a piece of music you can't relate to makes someone else ecstatic.

Ever have it happen that someone else gives their highest recommendation to a book or movie, and when you try to read it or watch it, you don't even finish it?

That's personal taste at work.

In a larger, longer term view though, there is a concensus of opinion formed.

For example, Van Gogh only sold one painting during his lifetime. Today, the originals command a fortune, and countless people have reprints of his art in their homes. Stravinsky's Rites of Spring was not liked by many people, and provoked a riot when it premiered. Today it is very popular, performed by many orchestras. Many books we now enjoy reading were not popular when they were first published. For example, Kurt Vonnegut's first books, Welcome to the Monkey House, Player Piano, and Sirens of Titan, were not immediately successful, although Cat's Cradle and Slaughterhouse Five became popular and today he is considered a great contemporary author. Herman Melville's Moby Dick was not considered a masterpiece until long after he died. It may be hard for us to believe now, but there was controversy in the beginning as to whether photography, such as that of Ansel Adams, should be considered art.

Obviously, over a period of time, more people accepted these creations as groundbreaking and worth study, and have become standards in their fields as well as inspirations for newer generations of artists.

We choose what we like, but what society as a whole sees as great is often different than what we like. Certain styles of art, novels, music and movies will in time be regarded as great, while others may simply languish as lightweight decorations and entertainments that were popular for a while. We may not know which is which until later. For now, it may be enough that you like it, and it makes you feel good to look at it or listen to it. And for now, that is the only purpose it needs to serve.

Only time will tell whether it has the power to move people in future generations. For now, the fact that it has the power to move you is enough.

Art is always in the eye of the beholder.

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Is It Easy to Love?

If we know that all motivations come from either love or fear, why does it sometimes seem hard to love? In this context, I am not just talking about the romantic love between a couple, but the love of life that is exhibited between ourselves and everyone we deal with, from co-workers to customers to neighbors to people we do business with, in other words, just everyone we come in contact with.

Is fear that strong a motivator that we find it easier to live from that perspective, from that motivation?

Living from love means letting go of judgments, letting go of preconceived ideas, of expectations. Living from love means allowing and accepting and going with the flow.

Is it our self defense mechanism that makes us feel like we need more fear? Is it love that allows us enjoy life more easily?

What happens if we loosen up a bit and live more with love than fear? Does life seem to work better for us?

Wayne Dyer once said "Next time you have to choose between being right and being kind, choose being kind. Then see what happens."

Monday, November 3, 2008

Enticing Mysteries

I believe that there is other life in the universe and I do not know what it consists of. I find the photos of crop circles to be fascinating and beautiful. They tried to attribute those creations to a group of pranksters years ago, but I don't think that anyone ever proved that a couple of people dragging boards across a field could create those intricate designs.

Sometimes when I stare up at the night sky I see things that look unusual, but who knows what they are? I am not familiar enough with the constellations to name all the bigger planets, stars and configurations.

There have been many shows about various sightings, with some convincing sort of testimonies. Are they all wrong? Or all right? O just some of them?

Have you ever hear any of the recordings from SETI (Search for Extra Terrestrial Intelligence) radar scopes that search for sounds from out there? Quite eerie. The sound of nothing is full of subtle intricacies.

I enjoy the fact that there are some mysteries that we cannot figure out. The fact that we don't know everything makes the world a more interesting place.

Have you ever wondered about what you hear and see?

Sunday, November 2, 2008

Where We Go After Death

As the season of spirits swirls about us, the essence of Samhain, Day of the Dead, and All Souls Day bring into focus an interesting thought.

Written accounts by near death survivors contain a common thread where the person dying travels through a tunnel of light and waiting for them at the end of that tunnel are all the friends and relatives who went before them.

Since these are written by people who have returned, we don't really know what happens beyond that point. However, that one glimpse of the afterlife is interesting. The accounts do not say that only the good people were there.

If we accept just that much of the story, that all of our friends and relatives who have gone before are there, then perhaps we all go to the same place after death, whatever you want to call that place.

I am not certain what this means, but I am thinking about it.

Saturday, November 1, 2008

Can it flow through us like it did through Mozart?

Mozart had music pouring through him. He wrote whole symphonies in three weeks. Many of his compositions were completed on the first draft, with no revisions or corrections. You can hear the seamless, sweet flow of the notes in his music, how one movement just gracefully opens up into the next.

How many times in our life have we ever experienced that? I am not just referring to music. It could be anything that we are doing, where we are conscious we are doing something, and it is almost effortless to accomplish what we are working on.

What are we really connected to when this happens? Is it that in those moments we are connected to our real well of creativity? Is it that spirit is guiding us to show us what we can do if we just get out of the way and allow the work to happen without ego or expectation to get in the way?

No, we cannot all be Mozart, but what about being so in touch with the flow of energy and creativity, that we achieve something beautiful without the struggle that frequently is part of our efforts. Perhaps when everything feels right, we can set aside struggle and the flow will come through us too.

Try this and see if you can connect with that relaxed state that enables you to let the beauty and creativity express itself in your works, but without the struggle.

Friday, October 31, 2008

Halloween and the Spirit Dance

Here we are at Halloween, a beautifully dark fall evening. What began as a Celtic holiday, Samhain, for remembering our dead and wishing them well on their journey into the next world, is also celebrated by Mexicans as The Day of the Dead. Two different cultures, half a world apart, yet at the heart of the holiday is exactly the same sentiment.

There is another holiday specifically for remembering those killed in war, but this one is a time to say farewell to anyone we know who died this year. We speak our appreciation for those who we remember and acknowledge that part of the cycle of life, the ending of this physical reality as we know it.

This weekend also brings daylight savings time, so we set our clock back and enjoy the darkness. Tomorrow will also be a night at the symphony for music that summons richness and the orchestration of many different instruments, many different sounds into one coordinated sequence of movements celebrating harmony and beauty.

It is fun watching all the little kids in their costumes continuing the tradition, even though they do not know yet the roots of the traditions they follow, that of the soul cakes and the dumb supper. They celebrate the harvest of candy, and it is a great holiday for kids as a fun time to dress up and get treats from their neighbors.

Falling leaves signal the shift in seasons with more certainty every day, as less leaves are on the branches and more on the ground. We celebrate all that we have harvested this year as well, and we have some food on our shelves for the winter and we work and look toward the future, pulling a card for the year.

Spirits always dance on this fall holiday, and we dance with them.