Saturday, February 28, 2009

Craziness and Gardening

I was reading an article about Victory Gardens and how people used to plant a vegetable garden in their yards so that they could grow enough to help them eat well during the Depression and World War 2 era. That whole movement was about encouraging people to survive difficult times by being creative. Along the way, lots of people discovered the spiritual sort of joy that comes from planting something, nurturing it, watching it grow, then harvesting and making a meal out of it. I am a gardener and do what I can with what space I have, and though there have been times when I have grown fruits and vegetables, my space now only allows for a few herbs and flowers.

Then, as the mind so often does, a loose thread connected back to another childhood memory which has to do with gardening.

Where I grew up, there was a state mental hospital, a big fenced in set of buildings with a farm adjacent to it, where the patients who were capable worked on the farm to help produce some of their own food.

Sometime later, politicians thought it would be better to close the facility and sell the land to real estate developers. They said that most patients could get the care they needed from outpatient facilities. The old mental facility property is now full of pricey condos. Kind of ironic, isn't it?

In the years since, when decisions like that were made all around the country, we have seen this new phenomenon of homeless people in every city. Many of these are people who may have been some of these former patients who are not quite capable of coping on their own and obviously are not getting their meds. Those who cannot find beds in a shelter end up sleeping on the streets, in cardboard boxes, under bridges and so on.

Now, of course, I have also seen One Flew Over the Cukoo's Nest and other such movies, and read books, and I know that not all of those mental hospitals were not great places. But it would seem that perhaps there should be more places for those people who simply cannot cope on their own. Some place where they can get treatment, counseling, medications and perhaps participate in working on a farm. It might do them a lot of good.

When I was growing up, and I grew up in a major city, we did not not have the homeless problem as we know it today. Kind of makes me wonder who were the crazy ones. The inmates or the ones who turned them all loose.

Gardening is good for body, mind and spirit.

Friday, February 27, 2009

Towering Influences

The Tower card in tarot is one that usually provokes a quick response in a reading, much as the Devil and Death do.

Think about what towers represent in general. People built them for protection, so that they could see their enemies coming from far away and also afford archers an advantage at striking at those enemies. They also build them for the glorious views they would afford, so sometimes you might say that they were vanity constructions, just like trying to build a big house as an extravagant demonstration of affluence. That same principle would apply to companies that try to build the tallest buildings so that they can dominate the skyline.

We know that it is simply a fact that lightning strikes high points on the landscape during a storm. In this way, tarot imagery showing a tower getting struck by lightning is simply factual. It is about sudden, shocking, unpredictable change.

So when the Tower appears in our spreads, we have to ask ourselves what is relevant to us now? Have we allowed vanity to have to great a part in our lives? Have we been so busy erecting defenses that we need to come back down to earth and open up and be playful and openhearted? Do we need to be pushed into a new adventure or a new chapter of our life because we have become too complacent? Do we have to venture out and try something new in order to expand our horizons and life experiences? Maybe the mother bird is coming to push the babies out of the nest so that they learn to fly. It is also true that the year after wildfires ravage an area, all kinds of new growth bursts through the ashes. Many people who became successful in business had failures that preceeded their success. Sometimes we need to challenge our limits and then learn from our failures in order to rise again.

Sudden layoffs, mergers or plant closings can cause us to explore other ways of making a living which may even offer us more happiness, after the rough part is over. Sudden health challenges, such as heart attacks, cancer, illness or injury can jolt us into adapting healthier lifestyles that lift our quality of life.

Sudden change can help to focus the mind on what is important and encourage us to make wiser use of our time and energy. The Tower signals an awakening. It may be rough. It may shock us. And in the end, it may have been the only way those new gateways, and opportunities would have been opened to us. Towers can open our eyes, both when we are standing at the top, and when we are left on the ground below.

Thursday, February 26, 2009

Pan Dancing All Over the Place

If you think that my idea that maybe the goal of spirits is to come to Earth is backwards, consider this. Why is the US the number one destination on this planet? Why do more immigrants and refugees want to come here than any other place on the planet?

Obviously, the opportunity to live crammed in an apartment or house with several other people, eating beans and rice every day is a step up from wherever they were. The water out of the tap tastes better than a lot of the water they had access to on the way here. Even in an apartment with little privacy and only the cheapest, most monotonous diet, they also have running water, electricity, a telephone, radio, TV, heat and air conditioning or at least fans.

When they go to the store, they are amazed at the variety of choices they have in all kinds of products. Compared to a life of hard work, near starvation and living in a hut, the taste of life here is paradise.

If it is that way here, why not in the cycle of rebirth?

Can you imagine that a spirit might desire an opportunity to feel what it is like to kiss, taste a nice piece of meat right off the BBQ with a glass of wine, the feel of dancing with a person in their arms, or taking a walk in the forest and drinking a cold glass of water at the trail's end?

In the same way that an immigrant would feel like it is a great experience to live in an apartment which might might be meager by our standards, but regal by theirs, perhaps a spirit might long for the pleasure of physical sensations after being disembodied.

Maybe even the opportunity to face tragedy and sadness is a uniquely human experience. We have opportunities to make our own lives better and help others. Feeling, in and of itself, might be a thing that pure spirits are incapable of.

If all potential lies within us, and if our thoughts can create things, then we are capable of creating our heaven right here on Earth. Life is what you make it. Maybe it is not better to be floating around up there somewhere. If going beyond is the big prize, why do we keep coming back here?

Maybe that whole thing of getting our rewards in the great beyond is merely a ruse to misdirect our attention again. What would you do differently if you acted as if we are in a place where we have the ability to make changes and enjoy life? What if we chose in each minute to do those things which would make this more of a paradise? Then our rewards would not have to wait until the great unknown.

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Pan Dancing

Perhaps we are on Earth for a vacation from the body-less realms. This is the only way we get an experience of this place, and experiece of living in a body. We learn to manage and do things in the dense physical reality that distinguishes us from the world of spirit, where everything is ethereal, light and airy.

What if this is our paradise? What if the most delightful place that we will ever know is right here? Maybe some of those ideas we got about paradise being up there somewere up there are all wrong. What if our whole understanding of this process of life, death and rebirth are all wrong? What if our understanding is all upside down?

Picture this. When you are out there somewhere, no more substantial than a breeze blowing across the plains, when your sense of yourself is intangible an undefinable at best, you are finally rewarded with an opportunity to be given a body and come here to experience what it is like to eat, drink, sleep, dream, have sex, work, play, dance and sing.

So when we die we go back to this in between zone where it is just misty and cloudy and we float around without any substance. Then we get reincarnated in these bodies to experience life again, savoring the experience and learning from our past mistakes.

Maybe the goal is not to go up there, but come back here.

Tuesday, February 24, 2009


During our lifetime, we face many perplexing and difficult situations, many difficult questions. Yet somehow we manage to survive. Some people have a plan for their life and follow it, never straying from their career path or family plan.

For an increasing number of us, we have to alter our plans to adapt to the changes in the economy, our health, our relationships and all the other variables.

Looking back over our lives we find that we had anything but a straight line of trajectory from there to here. With all these changes and how we have grown, sometimes it is simply a mystery how we took on careers that we never planned on, successfully moved to parts of the country we never planned on living in, got divorced, remarried, divorced, changed religions, changed eating and drinking habits, and yet somehow, we worked our way through mysteries and changes to arrive here now. What comes to mind is the lyrics of that old Bob Dylan song My Back Pages, when he says "I was so much older then, I'm younger than that now."

Remember how definite your answer was when you were in school and the teacher asked you what you were going to be when you grew up? It is the reverse now when people ask what we are going to do. For many of us the answer is that we will never retire, that we will simply keep doing something until we drop. Our grandparents might have spent their final years in the rocking chair watching TV, but that is not the way we are going to go out. Well, at least not some of us.

Mysteries? Who could have forseen our 80-something parents taking up email? Who could have forseen ever growing parts of the population making a living sitting around diddling with things on their computers? Who could have forseen so many people who need to make an effort to get out and get some exercise after work because we don't do anything physical at work? An earlier generation would have thought the idea ludicrous to come home from a day's work and lift weights or jog or whatever because they sweated and developed muscles doing all kinds of work.

Who would have thought that one day we would not print photos on paper, but simply store them on our computers? And if we do not occasionally back them up or print out any hard copies, one day if our computer crashes, all those photos could disappear as if they had never existed in the first place. Ahhhh, more mysteries.

Monday, February 23, 2009

Major Results with Minors

Most people who study tarot share a concensus that the major arcana contain the really big messages in a reading. So much so that many designers create "majors only" decks, which some people call "short decks" because they only contain 22 cards versus the normal 78. Some readers feel that this helps them to work faster in fairs, festivals, parties and other public events.

While I agree that the major cards contain big lessons like Love, Justice, Magic, Death and other blockbusters, the minor cards are said to depict scenes from everyday life.

I have done many readings using only the minors, and they work just fine. I got the idea one day because I had used the majors from a deck for another project. So I had this perfectly good set of minors left and it seemed like a shame to throw them away. So I kept them and used them.

Of course this is what has been happening for a long time with all those people who use a playing card deck to read with. Playing cards only contain court cards, pips, and the joker.

If you look at the everyday problems, challenges and situations people have to work through, obviously they will point to the bigger underlying problems that need to be solved. So it is perfectly possible to do very effective readings without the majors.

And there is one other plus to this method. All those people who get rattled when they see Death, Tower or the Devil come up will never have to face those cards in a minors only reading.

Go ahead and separate your decks into majors and minors and then see how it feels to read with just one or the other.

Sunday, February 22, 2009

Creative Progress

One of the most important ingredients in healing is creativity. One of the most important ingredients in making progress in our relationships or our careers is creativity. Why would this be so?

Because creativity encourages us to make us of all our resources and forge different neural pathways in our minds and bodies.

For example, if we have a health issue, we are challenged to change our eating and exercise habits. So we have to make it interesting to eat different foods and prepare them differently than we used to. If we accept this challenge, we find ourselves scouting for ideas about how to increase the appeal of foods through the use of herbs and spices. We learn which herbs and spices can strengthen our health to help remedy a problem.

So creativity helps us live healthier lives.

Take another aspect. We need more exercise, but a gym routine does not appeal to us. So we take up walking as a simple way to meet the need. We can either make it a point to be very observant and notice all the things in our surroundings, or we can walk while listening to a book or some other interesting program.

Many people who are finding the desire and need to start a new business of their own need to use creativity to make that successful. When we just check into somebody else's business and follow their rules and procedures, creativity is often discouraged. The opposite is true when we are building a new business of our own. We try all kinds of things to find ways to succeed.

Creativity, from dancing and music to writing, to painting, drawing, pottery and woodwork, all have been proven to help with problems like depression and recovery from serious illness.

Creativity is all about making more use of all our capacities as people. It means using knowledge and skills that had been dormant or underutilized. Creativity helps us live more fully. It is not the frilly, trivial stuff. It is actually the stuff that is essential.

Saturday, February 21, 2009

Dylan's Lyrics and Our Perceptions

Tonight I was watching a movie about Bob Dylan and I am remembering that when he came out with songs like Chimes of Freedom, Blowin in the Wind, The Times They Are A-Changin, Like A Rolling Stone, and so many others that were radically distanced from any other popular songs, that these songs opened up a whole new universe when I heard them, sang them, played them. To this day, I get chills when some of his songs come into memory or on the radio because the lyrics are still powerful now, maybe even more so.

There are a few times in our lives when we come across material that really causes us to see the world with new eyes. It could be a book, a movie, a work of art; many things could be the stimulus.

Consider this:
Flashing for the warriors whose strength is not to fight,
flashing for the refugees on the unarmed road of flight
and for each and every underdog soldier in the night
and we gazed upon the chimes of freedom flashing.

or this:
How does it feel? How does it feel?
to be on your own
like a complete unknown,
like rolling stone.

Come gather round people wherever you roam
and admit that the waters around you have grown
the old ways are rapidly aging
you'd better start swimming or sink like a stone
for the times they are a-changin.

He wrote songs like this more than 40 years ago, and yet they could have been written about what is going on all around us today.

And once that change was injected into pop music, music could never be exactly the same again, as simple and innocuous as it once was. Oh yes, there has been simple, innocuous, sappy and stupid pop music since then, but ever since Dylan gave it an injection of transcendental and metaphysical poetry, that strain has always been present, even though at times it is hidden well below the surface and at other times it rises up boldly again. Some music is fun, some music is great to dance to, and some music calls out to your soul.

Friday, February 20, 2009

Spinning the Cocoon, Preparing to Fly

We can easily create little cocoons to wrap ourselves in. We go to work and find a rhythm to the tasks that need to be done, we get along with co-workers, we find time to check our personal emails and favorite websites between tasks, we collect our pay and go home. We relax on the weekends and come back Monday to begin the cycle all over again.

That is how things work in a world in which there is some stability. Perhaps this wave of upsetting events in our economy is part of a cosmic tide that is eroding our stability so that we must venture out farther to discover what our capacities really are.

I have recently invested an enormous amount of energy into creating my new full time career as a reader. I had always wanted to do more of that, but the instability of my day job warrants further action. Not having a plan and depending on the company could lead to disaster. So the transition is still in progress and I just need for the day job to last long enough to build the reading business up substantially. Then I can make the transition on my own terms.

When we have the comfort of a job that we can count on, there is no real need to see what else is happening out there. Sometimes when we look and try to build our career based on our experience and education, we get a rude awakening. So we either adjust our goals, or we learn to create something new.

This is not the first time I have started my own business from scratch. I have done it before, and once it got going, it was wonderful. Always that alternating current that is so electric when you find work and then do the work. Meeting new people and creating new situations. Becoming more aware of everything, every possibility, every lead, every idea.

We spin the cocoon to gather our strength and make the transition in order to prepare to fly. It is scary learning to fly if you have not done it before. It can also be invigorating. It is also invigorating knowing that I am in the cocoon stage, gathering my strength. I am very aware of my circumstances. I am feeling very alive and connected.

I am very aware that not everyone wants excitement and change in their life. Some people would be happy if they could just have a steady job that they could count on and not worry about if they will get laid off or their company will close or merge. I can absolutely relate to having a job where you just log in, do your work, log out and go home. Some people function best that way, and the world needs those people in those ways too.

My feeling is that the cosmos is shifting and that a lot of us are going to need to be ready to fly as a matter of survival. However, if we try and build our flight plan around activities we enjoy, the transition will be an experience that opens us up to greater possibilities. Building from our strength is a good place to start.

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

The Future from Here

Novelists have been the most consistently accurate people at predicting the future. Why Because they let their imagination run freer than other people are used to doing. I have had one person tell me that they really are good at predicting the future because the powers that be gave them inside information, but that seems too paranoid for me. Another possibility is that they just look at the way certain things are going and let their mind follow the flow of the energies if they were to proceed on the course they are on.

Fiction writers are probably the ultimate example of people who can focus their minds for an extended period of time, consistently following a number of characters and events, and holding a vision in their mind while they write. They can also change the sequence of events as they rewrite. It is all about storytelling, and any good storyteller has to be able to see the story in their mind's eye.

Now think about that same process and how it figures into your life. When you hear people talking about positive thinking and affirmations, that is what they are doing, picturing themselves being in a particular place, doing a particular action, interacting with people, suing things.

The important difference is that a novelist will simply let those characters and events remain as mental creations, stories that we can read and bring to life in our imagination. When we are trying to bring about change in our life, we need to not only picture it happening, but also take action steps to make it real.

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Our Future is Now

Right now, we are living in a moment that we once could not imagine. When we were looking forward 35 years ago, we were looking at the future through the eyes we had then. We thought that daily newspapers would still be influential and important ways that we would get the news. We thought that houses would look a lot more streamlined and so would cars. We thought that people would still make sales calls from door to door or in person at businesses. We thought that contraception was so convenient and cheap that huge families would certainly be a thing of the past. Most people would not have guessed that their TV would somehow be able to broadcast hundreds of stations. Most people would never have guessed that personal computers would be smaller than the typical briefcase and have the ability to act as a combination of personal librarian, work station, and personal entertainment center or that email would replace personal letters and cards. Most people would never have guessed that telephones would become a lot smaller than a pack of cigarettes and more ubiquitous, rendering phone booths and even land lines at home obsolete.

We used to think it was a long time if people lived into their 60s and 70s. Now people live well beyond that. We used to think we would retire in our 60s, but now many people do not have any plan to retire. We used to think that old people outlived their ability to enjoy sex by the time they retired. There are so many aspects of our future that have exceeded our expectation as we find ourselves living in it now.

So if we look around now and see how our lives are, can we even project into the future and imagine what they might be like 20 or 30 or 50 years from now?

Saturday, February 14, 2009

How All the Parts Fit Into the Bigger Picture

It is always amazing to comprehend how the symphony composers put all these pieces together in their mind. They write the parts for all those different instruments without actually playing all of those instruments. That is quite different than a band getting together and each musician contributes a part to the whole.

In the case of a composer, each instrument's part leads to the completion of the bigger picture. Think of how many different threads have to be woven together to create the whole effect.

How does that concept work in our lives? How often do we have to bring many parts together to bring a project to completion?

A composer's task seems huge because it does require a lot. But it is only one example, and it demonstrates the remarkable ability we all possess to keep many things going at once. Picture a symphony orchestra in your mind. That is an affirmation of how much one mind is capable of. When you face a daunting challenge, perhaps you have been underestimating yourself. We are all capable of more. What is the more that you want to do?

Friday, February 13, 2009

Lust & Love

Today Valentine's Day seems to be not much more than a sales promotion event for companies that produce chocolates, flowers, greeting cards and other gimmicks like diamond jewelry, teddy bears and special pajamas. But the only gift that actually comes close to the original spirit of the times might be sexy lingerie.

Back in the days of the Roman Empire, February was the time for a holiday known as Lupercalia, a very lusty holiday during which the followers of Pan would run wildly through the streets in animal skins with little whips, the playful touch of which were said to make a woman more fertile.

Women would bare their flesh in order to receive more strokes. People would play the ancient equivalent of spin the bottle and there was a general air of lusty playfulness everywhere.

It does not take much imagination to see why such a holiday would be immensely popular. So, like they did with other holidays, the church laid a more genteel veneer over the old pagan holiday, and thus, Valentine's Day was born.

In the blink of an eye, a day of lusty playfulness was suddenly turned into a day of dedication to love and faithful devotion. All of this was done with the same deft touch that turned Samhain into All Saints Day, Yule into Christmas and the Ostara into Easter. A little smidgen of politics and religion, and voila! the lusty antics, laughter and opportunity for people to stop working to sprout and sport their wild hairs was suddenly tamped down.

So if you are feeling a bit randy on Valentine's weekend, consider it a bit of the roots of the old holiday peeking back through the veneer of chocolates and roses.

Thursday, February 12, 2009

The Cloak of Invisibility

By simply withdrawing our energy, we can make ourselves invisible. Conversely, by projecting our energy outward, we can announce our presence and people are aware of us even before they see us.

If you have seen photos of auras, you see how the energy field surrounds the physical body like a halo. Another way to sense them is with dowsing rods. Ask a person to stand across the room from you and first, think a happy or loving thought and notice at what distance from them the rods move. Then ask them to think an unhappy, sad or disappointed mood. Then notice as you cross the room towards them where the rods start to move.

In most cases, happy and loving extends their field, and sad or disappointed will withdraw their field. So in this way, a person can move about invisibly if they wish, or grandly drawing attention to themselves if they wish.

There are a variety of ways to control the flow of energy and the way you maintain it around you. How and why you do that is up to you. The important thing to know is that conscious intent can shape perceptions.

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Gypsy Mysteries

People are always fascinated by gypsies. Not just the ethnic variety, but those who seem to wander through life, not particularly attached or weighed down, but just free spirits who flow in and out of different careers and homes and lives. There is something magical about the way they can blend in and transmute themselves whenever the need arises.

Once upon a time, people stayed close to the place where they were born. Family, school, church and work were all found within a 20 mile radius of where they lived. So when the circus came to town, it was a big event. Not just because there were colorful tents, ferris wheels, elephants and such, but because the people who worked in those shows were just as mysterious as anything. Locals would marvel at them.

The same was true for those people who work various circuits like the Renaissance Festivals or craft shows. They may spend part of the year making merchandise to sell during the season, then hit the road for more than half a year, camping out for a few weeks at a time, then moving on to the next show not to return again for a year.

While they are in the company of their fellow festival members, there is a certain extended family feeling among them, which ebbs and flows as they break camp and then set up camp again, especially since they do not all follow exactly the same pattern all the time.

They have to earn all their money on the weekends, then during the week, they either restock or repair or relax. Camaraderie is found around a fire, with music and storytelling, much the same behind the scenes at a modern Renaissance Festival or craft fair, as behind the scenes at circuses or carnivals or the old fashioned gypsy camps.

They are here, and then they are gone. The shows are magical, the entertainment fetching and the mood celebratory and lively. Then camp is broken and the show disappears for another year, the grounds deserted, and the people regroup somewhere else to begin again, each day an adventure, each show with a little different flavor, each moment special in that it repeats, but not exactly, forever.

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Second Hand

Many people feel that second hand goods are not desirable. I once knew a woman who never would accept a used book. She didn't like the idea that "someone else's energy was all over it" so she only wanted new ones.

On the other hand, there are people like me who feel that there is something special about used things. For example, many times I have been delighted to be in a used bookstore and find a copy of a book that is out of print or hard to find at a very reasonable price. There have been times when I went to a big bookstore looking for a particular title only to be told that they did not have a copy and could not get one, yet I found a copy in a used bookstore. Because I really wanted to read what was in the book, it did not bother me at all that someone else had read it previously. In fact, probably someone else interested in the same subject used it previously.

Used music CDs can be that way too. Sometimes great recordings that just never got that popular will be in a used music store. Or perhaps they are popular old classics and now there are so many of them around that good copies are available at a bargain price.

I also have used tarot decks. Some of them are unusual designs that went out of print years ago. When I feel them, it feels like there is a history of being used, and I like that feeling. I feel like I am continuing to extend the life of the deck by reading with it and I feel that the deck has talked with many people and now it can talk with me and my clients as well. Cards feel different after they are broken in. They are softer, and give up their stories more easily because they are used to giving up their stories.

Think about antiques. People pay a lot of money for furniture or jewelry that is old and has been used. If we can find them out, there are often fascinating stories that go along with them.

For that matter, if you go to a library you are reading books that other people have read. If you rent DVDs or videos, you are watching movies someone else has watched.

If you buy something used, such as a tarot deck, CD, or book, you can always cleanse it by smudging, clearing with crystals, and then finally make it your own by using it yourself.

Second hand provides great opportunities. Major stores, chain stores tend to only stock what is popular right now. But there is great value in what was popular in the past as well.

And in today's economy, you get the added thrill of a great deal.

Monday, February 9, 2009

Constant Refinement

I am diabetic and have managed to control it for years through diet, exercise and medication. Then I stopped paying close attention because I was feeling better. Then I started feeling worse. Now I have to put an extra effort on my diet and exercise to get back on track. Those of us who have a chronic problem like diabetes we have to pay constant attention, but it is easy to lapse and forget when we are feeling well.

A recent check up reminded me that I have to refine my diet once again to really reduce blood sugar levels. That plus renewing my exercise schedule again. There is no shortcut. I simply have to make time for it. There was a time when I followed my plan more closely and got good results, then because I was getting good results, I let it slide.

I know what needs to be done, I just didn't do it for a while. So here I am this evening, preparing tomorrow's lunch so that I can stay on track.

Here I am going out for a walk every evening, and enjoying it.

Taking more medicines is just not what I want to look forward to. I am working my way off of them.

Sunday, February 8, 2009

Energy Exchanges with Friends

Do visits from your friends, whether in person or by phone, leave you feeling tired and downbeat, or do you feel enlivened and energized after you spend time with them?

This may seem a simple question, but think of how fundamental it is that our everyday interactions with people affect our overall energy level.

Good friends will cheer us on and encourage us. They explore a free exchange of dialogue and inspire the sharing of new ideas and deep desires. In these ways, they help motivate and support us in our efforts.

Then there are people who like to hang around with us, but when we finish with them, we feel like we need to take a nap, or we need to do something to sharply refocus our energy elsewhere. There are friends who make us feel like we wished we had spent our time doing something else.

Consider the energy exchange when we interact with people. Choose to spend more time with those who are uplifting and encouraging. They are good for your spirits, and excellent companions. True friends would probably report back that you have the same effect on them. Choose your friends carefully. In this way, we can help each other out through difficult times, and we can inspire each other to do more than just get by.

Saturday, February 7, 2009

What We Learn from Our Own Stories

Have you ever taken the time to write your own life story?

Maybe tackling the whole thing might be too big a task, so try this approach. Think about some of the pivotal moments in your life. Events that changed your life, altered your path, shifted your perceptions. Focus on those and then let the story unwind about what happened, why it was significant and how your life changed from that point on.

Look back at various parts of your life that were either particularly bad or particularly good. Look back at your achievements and how you felt about them. What might that indicate for achievements still in front of you?

Taking a look at your own story can offer you valuable insight into what works for you and why, and maybe even what might be the best way forward for you.

Doing this exercise is not intended to produce a best selling book. It is simply intended to bring some clarity and joy to your own process of sorting things out and using the advantage of long range vision to more easily identify strengths, weaknesses, triumphs and missteps. Discovery, joy, resiliance and creativity.

Once you have written your story or stories, you have a tool in your possession that will prove useful. The time invested will be well worth it. If it turns out to be something you want to offer for sale on the internet, fine. If you want to try and get it published, fine. If it goes on you own website or blog, fine.

A good story contains benefits for both the writer and the reader. If you would like someone to help you with your stories, I have years of experience as a writing teacher and editor. I can help you get the ball rolling and I can also look over what you have and give you feedback which could strengthen your process and encourage you to keep going to unearth the stories that are like gold to you, valuable to negotiate your way in the coin of the realm.

The perspective we have now on events that have happened in the past may present us with the keys to our future. Often we need the clarity of time an distance to help us see. Then that sight turns into vision and expands our horizons and lets us see ourselves in the big picture. The realizations we get from writing our own stories can be highly effetive, because they are uniquely ours, and we have the ability to use them.

Friday, February 6, 2009

Choosing Friends

I think that sometimes we seek out friends who have a lot in common with us. Some of them represent qualities we want more of in life, and others are comfortable just the way they are.
Those who have some qualities or characteristics that we admire and want to emulate really are teachers even though we may not call them that.

I think that sometimes we want to pick up ideas and methods simply by emulation. We want to try those things on for size because we see them working well for others.

For one example, if we admire the way a person has been successful in business, we may want to get closer to them to pick up all the pointers we can. If we admire the way another handles their personal relationships, we try and pick up all the pointers from them that we can.

In a way, we want those things to rub off on us. Growth by association might be a good term for it. That is why friends change. Maybe the qualities and characteristics we admire now are different from those we admired a few years ago.

Thursday, February 5, 2009

Were Dragons Real?

This week the finding of the skeleton of a giant snake in South America stirs the imagination. Reporters said that it would have been longer than a bus, thick enough to be about waist high on a man, and could probably have swallowed whole cows or other creatures of that size.

Could it be that when ancient people saw such creatures they referred to them as dragons? Dragons are found in folklore and myths from around the world, and were said to live on land, sea and some could fly through the air.

In earlier posts on this blog, we considered the intersection of myth and reality in terms of people. Some say that the characters of myth were real people whose feats and adventures were told and retold long after their death until they became larger than life. Some say that perhaps, for example, Odin, Freya and Thor might have been real warriors of the Norse. In the U.S. what we know of Johnny Appleseed, Robert Johnson, Thomas Jefferson or the Salem Witch Trials may or may not be true and historically accurate.

Storytelling is as old as humankind, and judging from our hunger for stories, as much a needed part of our evolution as food and shelter to our survival, right there along with singing, herbal healing and seasonal rituals. Stories are important to help us understand the world and our place in it. As the giant snake might suggest, when we come face to face with something bigger and more different than we have experienced before or something that exceeds our expectations, stories are sure to follow for a long time to come.

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

Play Dates

I have heard people use this term and it just strikes me as so totally weird and bizarre. Some parents are so busy scheduling their kids lives that they have it planned out to shuttle them from soccer to ballet to piano to whatever that they have to schedule in a play date so that their kid can go play with somebody else's kid. Weird.

When I was a kid, my parents would simply say "go on outside and play." They just figured we would find some other kid in the neighborhood to play with. If it wasn't basket ball or softball, we would play handball off the wall of a garage or the front stairs. Maybe we would ride our bicycle over to the library and find a book to read. Maybe I would turn on the garden hose and look for somebody to squirt. Depends on the time of year. Maybe we would get into a snowball fight.

After I got old enough to have dates where I would go out and play, they usually involved a girl, and my parents didn't make them for me.

Maybe it is just me, but some of the changes I see in the world just strike me as oddly funny.

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

The Language of Illness

It is interesting when we look at the language we use to refer to illness. We "fight" a cold or flu, we "battle" with cancer. We "fight" heart disease. All this sounds like there is this enemy we do battle with, rather than our own body we are working with.

I work with my body to strengthen it and provide it more of what it needs. I pay attention to what I eat and drink and how and how much I exercise. When I do not pay attention to these things, my body gives me reminders. When I allow myself to become too stressed, my body gives me reminders to change my ways. I have come to embrace having a cold or flu as a few days to rest and rebuild and take time out of my regular schedule. Illness is not my enemy, it is part of the cycle of life, and it serves a useful purpose.

I am not just referring to colds and flu. I was born with a condition that required much surgery to correct. I had a heart attack 8 years ago, and at that time discovered I also had diabetes. It is something I have to live with every day. I had to make some adjustments to keep going. I am having to make more adjustments now. The principle of working with our bodies is true for these big things too.

I do not discount serious illnesses and cannot explain why some people who apparently live a healthy lifestyle would also get a stroke or heart attack or other disease. That is a mystery.

I remember Wayne Dyer talking about his own reaction to his own heart attack. "I remember thinking the sudden onset of the pain and the inability to get up off my bed. I remember thinking I am Wayne Dyer, Mr. Positive Thinking. I jog every day, I eat healthy, I love and take good care of my wife and kids, and I don't smoke or drink. Why am I getting a heart attack?"

I do feel that there are lessons about living that come with all illness. We may not always know what that is until much later, or maybe never. Still, we have to work with what we've got.

We have to work with our bodies. They are always in communication with us, but are we listening? Sometimes they have to derail our plans and activities in order to communicate something important to our minds and spirits. Notice the language we use to refer to our own bodies. It is telling us something.

Monday, February 2, 2009

Fire of Life

There are fires for cleansing, fires for inspiration, fires for cooking, fires for gathering friends. Let us light all of these fires to purify ourselves, to heat our homes and to inspire our passions.

We light a candle to add atmosphere to our space. We write on a paper those things we want to eliminate from our life, whether it is a bad habit or goal we are going to let go of, a memory or thought process it is time to put to rest. We give them to the fire, so that as they symbollically go away, and their physical and mental hold on us is gone with the ashes into the fire.

When we expose our selves to heat like in a sauna or a sweat, we release our tensions, pains and fears into mother earth for recycling. As the sweat drips from us, so does the weight of the things we carry.

As we light our homes,the fire chases the cold away. There is nothing like the warmth of a home cooked meal on a cold evening to warm the spirits.

Our friends gather around all of these fires, and when we are out in the woods, around our campfires where we drum, dance, tell stories and sing.

It is always fire that illuminates our life, the fire without and the fire within.

Sunday, February 1, 2009

The Value of Our Own Stories

What is the value of a story well told? That depends on who the reader is. Not all of us will write something that will win a literary prize or bestseller status.

However in recent years, people have realized the value of writing down family stories, as a way of letting the future generations know what it was like to come to this country or tell what it was like to live and work in the not so distant past.

There are younger people growing up who have no sense of just how much the world has changed in the time leading up to their birth. Just as many people born in the last 40 years struggle to imagine what it was like to grow up in a house without electricity or running water or even a neighborhood without a fast food burger franchise or video games.

Telling your own story can be a valuable experience to help you get perspective on your own life, and it can also open a window for illumination for those who follow. Even if the only people who read these stories are your own family members, they can serve a valuable purpose.