Sunday, May 31, 2009

Try Playing instead of Working Out

It is interesting how the things that are most easy to do to keep fit are also things that we can do for a lifetime. Walking, swimming, and dancing are activities that you can enjoy for a lifetime. Sometimes you walk simply because you want to get somewhere. That is one way to be fit. Then sometimes you walk for the simple pleasure of it. You don't need to stop and get special equipment in order to do it.

Swimming is something that a person can do until they are old. Water supports and is gentle on the body, so that even if you have weak or damaged knees or shoulders, you can move along and let the buoyancy of the water help. Older people and people who are recovering from injuries have discovered this value. Even if you are not in either of these categories, simply swimming offers the delicious feel of movement that is flexible, being able to turn and move easily.

And dancing? What better spontaneous expression of life than to dance just because you love the feel and sound of the music? You can do this forever, and if the music pleases you, you just might try and dance forever.

Funny how people are always looking to new inventions to keep them fit, when the simplest and more pleasant are right here, yours for the having, any time. We don't really need the inventions. We just need to get up and get moving. Pleasure and fitness are ours if we want it. Instead of working our, think of playing your way to fitness.

Saturday, May 30, 2009

Subtle Differences

Many tarot images offer subtle nuances as you study them, which can make a world of difference in interpretation. Even though more traditional definitions can be taken as someone else judging us and deciding whether we are good or bad, there is a sort of liberation if we accept that we are beyond that. In the deck I like to use, the card has been renamed Karma, which I like much better. It carries that sense of balancing out the reults of our actions and choices. Judgment can be a sign that you are ready to let go and move on. It could also indicate something that needs to be worked on right now. Acceptance is one comforting way of putting it as well. Once we accept that a certain phase of our life is over and quit misleading ourselves with false hopes, there is a sense of freedom that accompanies it. There is a sense of reconciliation that is part of this process. If we have taken an accurate assessment of our actions and results, we can be more clear eyed about the future. From that perspective Judgment can bring healing.
Here are another couple of quick turns, in different applications than we usually see.

In a question of a new person coming into your life, the Magician or the High Priestess could be someone you find enchanting or fascinating. They can also be high maintenance. The Chariot could indicate that a partner can be too controlling. Strength could sometimes show up when a person is too strong, stubborn. Alternate meanings sometimes appear as a reverse or downside of the quality portrayed, and sometimes just a whole different take on it.

What about the 3 Swords being able to cut through the nonsense to discover the truth? If you are getting this card, perhaps being totally deflated from a letdown, yet riding the pain to the very bottom in order to let go of it and be able to rise again in body, mind and spirit. Being a ble to face the truth, no matter how difficult. A relationship that where attentions are divided three ways. Could be good or bad. Perhaps peace is reached between warring factions. These alternative views can simply be opportunities for different interpretations that open up readings.

Friday, May 29, 2009

Manifesting Change

The Hierophant is another card that baffles people, yet it has many possible ways to be viewed. In some decks, this is also called the Pope. As such, it can symbolize order and conventional ideas relative to religion and spirituality. It can be about the influence of organized religion in society. But it can also be about order that rules over the outer form of religion, the structure that makes rules both for the clergy and the people, has the final word over individual churches, and sets policies. He is about following rules, not about being free spirited.

In my readings for people, this card seems to come up frequently when a person is undergoing some important heartfelt change in their life, such as changing their idea or practice of religion, a change in career or marital status, a change of major in school, or some aspect of spiritual awakening. Awakening to these changes is a sign of maturity as a person consciously chooses change. The Hierophant can symbolize a person in your life who admonishes you to heed convention and follow the rules. They can obviously be a priest, minister or some other spiritual teacher in your life. In one deck where the Hierophant is depicted as the Buddha, he can also imply compassion for the changes a person is going through, without judging the person's choices. When I see the Hierophant, I see it indicating that the person who is asking for the reading is feeling in their heart that it is time for a change and will be making changes that are visible to others, with the outer changes driven by the inner change.

If you look at the 2 of rods and the 3 of rods, at first glance they look very similar. There is a man standing looking out on the horizon, grasping a staff. However a closer look reveals in the 2 that he is holding a globe and considering his prospects. He is perhaps one who has formed a business partnership and is sending his crew and ships out into the world to do his business for him. The 3 shows with with perhaps a nicer robe, the ships returning to port laden with trade goods and the results of a profitable enterprise. So in the first scene, the ships are embarking on their journey, and in the next scene they return, with 3 being the number of manifestation, the results of the effort appear to be good.

Forming a plan, taking action, making dreams come true, forming strategic partnerships and making good use of resources. A good omen to see these cards come up in the same spread, indicating successful manifestation of a person's plans.

Thursday, May 28, 2009

One Picture, many Stories

One of the classic works of film, Rashomon, is famous for the way it tells its story. Each character gets an opportunity to retell the same tale from a different point of view. You could say that it becomes several different stories, but it also offers several different ways to understand the same sequence of events.

So it is with the images in a tarot deck. It is said that every picture tells a story, yet it is also true that every picture in a tarot deck can tell a number of stories.

Look at the Tower. It is about rapid change. One viable interpretation of that includes events like layoffs, accidents, sudden illness, sudden death, divorce or other radical changes where a person is jolted out of their current circumstances. Those lightning bolts can also be wake up calls. Perhaps a person has let their ego become too large and they needed that jolt from the lightning bolt to bring them back down to earth. From the rubble, then there is a place to rebuild and create something new. If you have ever seen an old building demolished to make way for new construction, you know what I mean. Then there are other powerful, positive connotations. How about those people who get jolted out of their job and subsequently find a way to either create a new business for themselves or get into another job they like better? Ever know someone who became more peaceful or more fit as a result of finding ways to overcome a serious illness or injury? Ever hear someone who is in a new relationship describe how it "rocked their world"? Not a bad thing at all.

Take a look at the 6 of Cups. In Rider-Waite-Smith and other decks, the image is of a little boy offering a bouquet to a little girl. Waite said that the image could be about the influence of a past life. It can also be about a relationship between an older and younger person. It can be about a platonic (non-physical, non-sexual) relationship. It can also be about friendship. It can signify the openness, joy, sweetness and innocence that is common to children. It can signify a relationship that is protective with one person looking out for the other or one acting as a mentor to another. It can be about reconnecting with old friends from childhood. It can be about old patterns of the past.

Look at all the possibilities present in each picture. Of course, which meaning might apply to each reading is influenced by what other cards are drawn and the art of the reader to intuit what is going on and what is the most appropriate interpretation for this reading.

Sometimes we get locked into thinking that a card only has one meaning, and although there may be dominant possibilities, it is always refreshing to step back, take another look and consider other ways of seeing the same picture.

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Secret Adventures

So frequently it happens that when a person sits down for a reading, one of the things they say is "I wonder if I am going to get the Devil" or "I hope I don't get the Tower" or "I hope I can get through this reading without getting the Death card" and I wonder if they don't secretly wish that they do get these cards.

Why? These cards all presage a change and present some dramatic issue that is up for examination. While people may profess to not want these things, they may actually be desiring them. "How can this be?" you ask. For example, some people are in an unhappy marriage, but they don't want to be the one who files for divorce, so they are relieved when the other person does it. Some people may feel stuck in their current job and the only good thing that they have to say about it is that it gets them a regular paycheck. So when the company decides to lay some people off, merge with another company or close a facility, in a way they are relieved. They may dread the prospect of having to look for a new job, or become single again, but secretly they feel the excitement of the challenge, of the new opportunities. Once the initial shock and dismay have worn off, the world is full of exciting prospects. Of course, it will feel much better once that person begins dating again or finds another job that might even be more interesting or more pleasant.

That in turn gives way to three cards that people also puzzle over or feel that they may not be up to: The Fool, The Magician and The High Priestess. These represent the next stage of life that the person is presented with. Often times we sell ourselves short. We may think that we are not capable of greater success or more love, ecstatic joy or noteworthy achievements. Yet, how often is it true that we simply have to remove our own blockages, give ourselves permission to do what we want, take that project off the back burner and move it to the front burner raise our self esteem and claim our space?

In this stage of our evolution, we no longer care that the choir director told us that we were not good singers when we were young, and we cut loose and sing whatever we want, anyway we want and people tell us that they enjoy hearing it. This is the time of life where we set the spread sheets aside and write stories or poetry that other people enjoy reading. This is the stage of life where we just get comfortable in our own bodies and wear what we want feeling that we are just as attractive as anyone in the world, even though in earlier situation, it was always someone else who got the attention for their looks. These three cards remind us that we should dare to be whatever we want to be before we die. They remind us that grasping every opportunity for happiness is a challenge and a pleasure. It is life affirming to be a risk taker, and to dare to have our way in the world.

Within each person is a secret adventurer, and that is why people profess to dread the appearance of Death, the Devil and the Tower, and beam when seeing the Fool, Magician and High Priestess. Life is a road we travel, and tarot images are maps and signposts along the way.

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Every Picture Tells a Story

What does it mean when the same card comes up over and over again? The most obvious answer is that spirit has a lesson to teach that keeps coming through, so the same card keeps coming up so that you are certain to get the message.

In this way, there is a lesson for the reader as well as the readee. This wonderful teaching tool keeps speaking to us over and over again. Even after you have worked with a deck for a long time and done many readings with it, there are still more lessons to be gleaned from it.

There are always those instances where you see a card again for the first time. We get busy and so spirit focuses our attention by bringing the same picture back for us to look at again and again until we get the message we need to get from it. Every picture tells a story, but on different days, the same picture can tell different stories.

Monday, May 25, 2009

Big Events

As those of you who read this blog regularly know, I add a new article about every day, but this weekend I was just not up to it after working the Boulder Creek Festival.

Outdoor festivals always contain potential weather problems, and even though this is a well attended, long established event, our beautiful smooth flow was interrupted by serious rainstorms and dropping termperatures.

There is a certain altered state that readers get into after hours of reading and combine that with going from warm to cool to very wet, including breaking down the tent and packing up soaking wet, and the next thing on my mind was getting out of my wet clothes, showering and putting on something warm and dry. Sleep came rapidly after these long days.

It was wonderful, and it really required a lot of energy, and I am happy I did it. Not only were there people I know who dropped by to say hello or have a reading, but there were also many people who decided to have their first reading in the midst of the festival atmosphere.

Life is good.

Friday, May 22, 2009


It is a constant challenge to stay focused on our goals. It is natural that once we have planted a seed and visualized what we want to have happen, gathered our energy and taken steps to get there, that we find obstacles or distractions in our path.

We have to keep refocusing to get to where we want to go. It is kind of like adjusting the lens in a camera because we have shifted our position. We have to take another look at where we want to go and tune into it again, letting our dedication move us past the distraction.

Refocusing is a critical part of moving into that space where we want to be, achieving that which we want to achieve. It is an adjustment and it is natural that we have to keep making it to not only fine tune, but to reaffirm that we really do know what we want and are moving toward it.

It is a stimulant that we find intoxicating. It makes us feel more alive, more sensuous, more in love with life, to move into the flow that progresses into our dreams.

Thursday, May 21, 2009

TV: Good or Bad?

In a way, answering this question is just as nebulous as answering whether people are good or bad. There are brilliant, enlightening and educational programs, dazzling dramas and hilarious comedies. There are also utterly forgettable shows and really cheesy time wasters that make me wonder why anyone would ever watch them. And in the end, the answer can be as simple as there are tons of choices, watch what you want.

Yet there is one other factor in life it has influenced. If we do not depend on TV for our entertainment, we would probably spend more time with other people, live and in person.

Before everyone had a TV, it was more common to find that in the evenings people might talk or play cards or make music or dance, take walks, or find some other way to spend time together.

Today, many people just have the TV on all the time and let the broadcast wash over them. There have been times in my life when I have asked people to turn the TV off so that I did not have to compete for their attention.

You don't really need the company of other people to watch TV. Yes, there is a time for both visual entertainment and spending time with others in conversation or some other shared exchange of ideas and energy. TV has influenced that about us. Choosing consciously how much time we spend with TV or engaged with people is a quality of life decision.

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Creativity in Hard Times

While it is true that these are hard times for many people, it is also a good time for others. For example, there are many homes on the market cheap because they were foreclosed. If you have enough money to buy them and hold them a few years, you will make money. If you can afford to buy stocks at rock bottom prices, eventually, they will rise again.

There are manufacturing and other industries that will probably never return. However, that may leave an open for many smaller or more specialized businesses to spring up. For example, perhaps businesses that make some sort of unique pieces of furniture or clothing. Some creative people have made money selling handmade soaps and candles and other things. Recently when I needed some work done on my computer, I hired a geek (part of the name of his business) to come out and fix it. There are dog sitters and house cleaners. There are people who will cook for you in your own home or cook meals meals for people on special diets and deliver them to you frozen, and ready to heat and eat. There are people who offer private tutoring in Spanish. There are people who shop for deals at yard sales and garage sales and resell them. Of course, these are just a few things that come to mind. How many other possible ideas can you think of?

In good times, there is a pressure to produce certain kinds of popular things in response to the market. In hard times, people who are creative will sometimes come up with radically new approaches to things that catch people's fancy.

Creativity seems to blossom in times of adversity, just like seeds sprout when they are in the soil. The darkness and heaviness provide the climate for the seed to sprout and root.

As a tarot reader, I have been looking at all different kinds of venues to read in, and all kinds of ways to promote my readings. People may also choose to try alternative methods of healing both because of the promise that unusal approaches offer and because they are less expensive than conventional approaches to health care.

Hard times can be like the soil that gives a seed a place to grow. We have to be creative to flourish in hard times. Difficulty and adversity can be like the fertilizer that stimulate us. Creativity is our way of reaching toward the light.

Tuesday, May 19, 2009


Yes, I know it is idealistic to hope that one day there will be peace in every country. Perhaps it is not in human nature for that to be so, but that does not mean we should not hope that it becomes true one day.

This thought is prompted by the news that the battle between the government of Sri Lanka and the Tamil Tigers is finally over after about 30 years of killing. and for what? It seems like after bombing and shooting each other for a number of years that somehow the adversaries would find some resolution to the problem.

How long has it been that the nightly news reports include some new twist in the Arab-Israeli conflicts, or the Palestinian Israeli conflict. There have been peace talks and peace agreements, yet they always seem to come undone. It seems like someone should be able to figure out a solution that both parties can live with by now. I know. I am idealistic.

I remember in the 90s, after the old Communist government finally collapsed in Russia, I thought we were about to enter a new era a great peace. It struck me as so bizarre that the newly free people would be busy killing each other instead of partying and starting new businesses and celebrating life. In some countries they did. The Czech Republic and Poland just got busy getting on with their lives, but people in the former Yugoslavia got busy killing each other.

In Sierra Leone and Liberia in Africa, madmen fought to control the diamond business, even going so far as to just chop off people's limbs for the sheer purpose of putting fear into them. One crazy man after another would take control of a gang of thugs and run things for a while until another would get some followers and weapons and take over.

I guess that all over the world, wherever there is a power hungry, greedy maniac who is somewhat charismatic in their public speaking, they can get people to pick up weapons and follow them into the slaughter.

So yes, I am idealistic enough to dream about a world in which people work out their disputes and put an end to the bloodshed. Is it really human nature to try and rule other people out of fear? I know that for myself, I want my life to be pleasant and peaceful. What is human nature?

Monday, May 18, 2009

All Religions Are Based On Magic

Kind of interesting isn't it? Today Pagan religions and witchcraft are connected to the subject of magic, yet if we step back and take a look around, all religions are based on magic. Myths explain everything from how agriculture was developed to how successful hunts were done. Ancient Greeks had the Oracles at Delphi as well as how Haephestus could make metal or Cupid could make love spells.

Think about it. What are miracles if not magic? The stories of feeding crowds with a basket of loaves and fishes or turning water into wine. Rising from the dead? Was that not a story about Isis and Osiris as well as about Christ?

Are not mystical powers associated with Buddhist monks? Weren't monks the ones who created kung fu and tai chi? What about the Hindu fakirs and saddhus, the outrageous street magicians?

Aborigines in Australia believe that the earth and all creatures were sung into existence through magic words.

Indigenous tribes in this country have stories about the White Buffalo Woman and how the pipe came to be part of ceremonies, or how the coyote created the the first man, or the stars or other aspects of the world. Tribes of Alaska and the Northwest had stories about How the Raven Steals the Light.

Belief in magic is often controversial, yet magic is at the heart of every religion. Interesting, don't you think?

Saturday, May 16, 2009

Psychic Memory

When I read for people, particularly in a public event where I may read for quite a number of people in one day or one weekend, the memories of individual readings do not stay with me.

That is a byproduct of the fact that at each reading I am holding myself open to transmit messages from spirit to those who come to me for readings. Being open and allowing the messages to flow through operates on different frequencies than reading a book and trying to remember it.

That is why sometimes a person will call for an appointment and ask if I remember the reading I did for them last year and I have to answer no. Sometimes I will remember general things like a situation, but letting go of those details is normal.

It may seem odd, but it is a different process and that is why sometimes I can find myself remembering details of jobs I used to have and how I did them years ago, but not reads I did just a month ago.

Memory does not always work the same way. Different processes kick it into different modes. A good analogy is this. One time I was talking to Hank Wesselman, author of several books on shamanism, and he was talking about how the capacity to do shamanic work is built in, but not everyone uses it. So it is like starting up a program on your computer when you want to do a different type of task. The program doesn't do anything until you click on it and tell it to start. So it is with our psychic memories.

Friday, May 15, 2009

Is Each Turning Point A New Life?

Once we have considered the effects various turning points have had on our lives, another perspective comes into view.

At each of those junctures, it is as if we had an opportunity to begin our life again, learning new things, making new friends, seeing the world from a different point of view.

Sometimes I feel like I have lived more than one lifetime during this lifetime.

Perhaps it is because we are part of transitional generations that all of this seems so radical. Our parents and grandparents in many cases lived their entire lives living in one area, perhaps working most of their lives in a single career or single company or in a single marriage.

Today we have several careers, several moves, and maybe not several, but more than one marriage. Each of these events gives us the opportunity to start life over. It is neither good nor bad, it is simply the way our lives have evolved.

Thursday, May 14, 2009

How Many Turning Points Do We Have?

How many turning points do we have in our life? Did you ever stop to reflect on just how many times you have changed course over the years due to major life events?

In my own life, the sudden death of my father at a young age resulted in my becoming a hippie instead of enlisting in the military. That was one. My life opened up to very different experiences because of that.

Single life after my first divorce was one huge never ending party. After my second divorce, I moved, started a new career and a new relationship in a whole new part of the country and worked hard at changing my life.

A turning point came when an ad agency I was working for went out of business, so rather than look for another job, I launched my own freelance writing business which was very active for several years, until I accepted a job as the editor of a magazine.

Another was when I self published my second book of poetry. For a year and a half I called on boookstores, created special events, book signings, readings and everything else I could think of to sell my books. Met lots of people because of that and found out that even though lots of creativity goes into writing a book, tons more goes into the marketing.

After having a heart attack several years ago, I suddenly was faced with the realization that I could no longer eat and drink like I used to and needed to be more consistent with exercise.

When I really got into gardening, I discovered just how nurturing and life affirming this activity is. A lot of hard work goes into creating a garden, and many rewards come out of it.

When I discovered drumming, my perception of music opened up in a whole new way. People could come together simply by making sounds together, dancing and singing could erupt in the middle of it, and the differences between audience and performer were forever blurred.

There have been so many turning points in my life, and I am sure, many more to come.

How would you describe the turning points in your life?

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Stress and Health

We always did have to worry about food, clothing and shelter, but our world gets more complex as we go, producing different kinds of stress.

For example, our ancestors had to worry about a successful hunt or harvest, but being a good marksman or nurturer of a plot of land or finder of edible and medicinal wild plants would have been enough.

Today, though, we might train in one career and then get phased out of it and have to learn a new career. And that might be jeopardized by corporate mergers or off-shoring.

Stress can create false appetites and a person might eat more than they need to relieve their anxiety, whereas in earlier times they might simply have eaten to satisfy hunger.

People can get stressed from looking for jobs or better paying jobs. People can also get stressed from too many choices. Going to the store to shop for simple items can be a daunting task. Which ones have the combination of best ingredients and best price?

There is stress from worry over investments. People save money figuring that it will increase as they move toward retirement, but then they see the values go down.

Even though doctors or scientists may not agree, I think that a lot of modern illnesses are caused by stress. Everybody knows about high blood pressure and heart conditions and stress, but what about ADD or ADHD? Could a lot of that simply be a result of all the demands for multi-tasking? People get frazzled with short attention spans, but think about how often jobs demand that we take phone calls, do work on a number of computer screens and do something else all at the same time?

We have already mentioned stress related over eating. What about fibromyalgia? Could it be that stress plays a part in causing that too? I don't think that anyone has to use their imagination to see how short tempers in traffic or in stores result from stress.

How many forms of cancer might be fueled by stress? Maybe even Alzheimer's might be influenced by stress. Perhaps after a lifetime of the stress of work and responsibility, the brain just sporadically overloads and quits working.

Think of what happens with our computers. We have our email open to send some messages, we might be writing or designing a document, doing some calculations, and looking up some things on websites. Then all of a sudden it just freezes and needs to be rebooted.

As I say, I have no scientific proof to offer, just intuition. What I notice is that the more hectic the pace of our lives has become, the more new ailments pop up.

So, if you are interested, there are many ways to reduce stress. They may do you a lot of good. If you are looking for new ideas in this area, they are all around. If you would like me to show you some, just ask.

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Sweet, Like Honeysuckle

While I was walking this evening, I passed by this tree that was full of these clusters of beautiful little white blossoms that smelled sweet, like honeysuckle. I mean, I know that it was not honeysuckle, but it reminded me of that. The fragrance was delicious.

I know that I once knew the name of this plant, but for some reason it escapes me right now. Not knowing the name of this plant does not interfere with my enjoyment of the scent.

Have you ever gone for a walk and seen beautiful little wildflowers? Did it interfere with your enjoyment not knowing their names?

Have you ever opened the windows and doors and heard birds singing outside? Has it interfered with your pleasure to not know their names?
Now don't get me wrong. I am not against learning these things. I am just saying enjoy the scent and the sound. If some day you learn what it is called, fine. If not, you can still enjoy it, but don't let the quest for the name thwart your pleasure. Just being with the fragrance and the sound is enough to sweeten the evening for now.

As I walk on, I notice how frisky and nocturnal the rabbits are. I guess I had never noticed that before. I have seen them in the daylight. Never knew how much they liked to be out at night too. Well, you know what rabbits are famous for, and I hardly need the reminder, but they make me smile, slightly startling me every time they dart across my path and then sit stone still as I pass by. Lovers, indeed.

Monday, May 11, 2009

Flower Moon

The Farmer's Almanac refers to the full moon of this past Saturday as the Flower Moon. This is the onset of spring, and either we are seeing some flowers bloom or we are busy planting them by this time of year.

Monday is named after the moon, and so today I am still thinking about, there is still a dreamy sort of influence.

Whether or not we are gardeners, we cannot help looking for the signs of the world coming back to life. Every sprinkle of rain, every bit of color, even from weeds blossoming from between the cracks in the sidewalk or the stones in the patio. Those little bursts of color are life affirming.

It is symbolic of our return to life after the winter storms. It is the fertility of the earth giving birth to new hopes, new dreams, new ideas, new plans, new businesses, new growth, new opportunities.

What is it that we want to grow in our lives this year? We can reflect on this even if we are only watching weeds grow. The first green shoots with little purple flowers still are affirmations of new life, even if we did not plant them and don't know what they are.

Life is like that. There are surprises that could be interpreted as good or bad, however we choose to see them. I've always been amazed that plants can find a way to blossom from between cracks in a rock. Some people will view these little volunteers as a nuisance, while others may find them to be an attractive little addition to the yard.

Similarly, look at the developments in our lives. What surprises may be springing up in our lives? Are they welcome or unwelcome?

Sunday, May 10, 2009

Different Kinds of Love

The kind of love most often sung about in popular music has to do with romantic ideals of couples who get together and stay together, but in real life, there are different kinds of love.

Within couples relationships, it is just as normal for people to get together for some part of their lives, then go their separate ways and start over with someone else as they are to stay together. And although one is held up as the ideal, the other is no less valid.

There is also a love for humanity, the love we feel for others in a non-specific way. For example, the outpouring of compassion and aid when we hear of a disaster somewhere. It is also the sense of kindness and care we show to other people out of simple courtesy.

Is it possible that this larger sense of love toward other people is what makes it possible for individuals to experience more than one romantic relationship in their lifetime?

Friday, May 8, 2009

Chocolate Mystery

If there is a flavor that is almost universally popular, it is chocolate. Women more than men, although many men love it too, this is the taste that seems to always be a welcome gift.

I have heard explanations to the effect that it stimulates some good chemicals in the brain that activate the pleasure centers or that it enhances the hormones that lead to good moods. Whatever it is that happens, it seems that it works. What would Valentine's Day be without chocolates? Or Mother's Day, birthdays, anniversaries or unexpected gifts? It is the one thing you can always get that will be welcome.

Today there are designer chocolates from different countries, and organic and sugar free for the diabetics. There is chocolate covered just about everything, including chocolate flavored body oils and lotions.

Isn't it fascinating how this one flavor is so universally appealing? There are many other things in the world on which you may get divided opinion, but chocolate, chocolate just seems to be the way to a woman's heart.

Perhaps knowing why is not the most important thing here. Some delicious things should just remain mysteries.

Thursday, May 7, 2009

Ending Prohibition Again

Conversations are finally increasing about legalizing marijuana as a way to help the government make more money. Funny how the financial crisis shines a favorable light on something many people have been advocating for a long time. It is so obviously true that it is mind boggling that they have not changed the laws yet.

When they made alcohol illegal, it did not stop consumption. It simply drove the business into black markets. Ever since it became legal again, the government has profited from its sale.

Same thing happened with marijuana. Making it illegal hasn't kept people from producing or consuming it. Legalize it and make money off of it. So simple.

No matter how the law of supply and demand shapes up, the government will quit wasting billions of dollars trying to stop it, and instead reverse the cash flow by letting people have it legally. How can you not recognize the truth?

Years from now people will wonder what ever motivated laws to be passed that made a natural plant illegal for people to enjoy. Especially a plant that has proven to be good medicine, a great relaxer and source of pleasure, and other members of the same plant family can be made into everything from clothing to paper to rope to oils for cooking and cleaning.

One of these days, we will be sitting around wondering how it all happened, the same way people now wonder how could anybody be so foolish as to outlaw beer, wine and liquor? But they did, and then they changed their mind, and magically, the cash flow reversed. Jobs were created, taxes were paid, and people enjoyed the freedom to have a drink without fear of arrest.

Think of the job related silliness and infringement on our freedoms that will stop. We all know that smoke produces a mellow feeling without hangovers, so it would be the preferred choice for many if there were no legal consequences. The number of smokers will increase as soon as people are no longer made to pee in a bottle in order to apply for a job. People who enjoy their cocktails are not excluded from applying for jobs, so legalizing smoke would end that discrimination.

It is simply ironic that all the other good arguments in favor of ending this prohibition were not as effective as considering the cash flow into the government's coffers. Interesting what actually drives change.

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Unleashing Creativity

Is creativity a result of extreme effort or of letting go? Actually it is a combination of both. Sometimes we have to plug away every day in order to refine our skills. Repetition of basic moves in a sport or music is what helps us flow through our practice in good form. There are, after all, certain moves that let that ball sail through the hoop time after time, and certain moves that make the chord change on the guitar sound fluid, certain combinations of words that not only make sense but sound pleasing to the ear.

Then after we have exerted ourselves and tried various ways of achieving our goals, we need to step back, take a deep breath, relax and see what comes. Sometimes, it is that effort to try and express ourselves in a certain way that just does not come across, but then we step back, take a break, and when we quit trying real hard, somehow it just slips out and we cross that bridge.

In that moment of letting go, suddenly comes a flash of enlightenment, that inner voice that suggests that we try it a different way and see how it goes, and then it opens up and flows. It is this dynamic tension that opens the floodgates to creativity.

No matter what it is that we are trying to do, our best efforts can emerge from that relaxation and letting go that lets our minds wander and our muscles flex and a new perspective emerge.

We have to develop basic skills, and then staying focused on our goal, sometimes it is that moment of silliness or sweetness that opens up in the break that lets it all flow and perhaps even surprises us with the result. That's why sometimes it also seems inconvenient that great ideas come to us while we are in the shower or driving the car and we try and hold that thought until we can write it down. Magical moments may prove elusive, but if we keep going, we will capture them more often than not.

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

The Wolf and Us

A century ago in this country, farmers and ranchers tried to make the wolf extinct through poisoning, trapping and shooting, but this was an ill guided policy.

Wolves attack people in fairy tales more than in real life. They also fulfill an important role in nature. Wolves help cull herds of wild animals. They will eat the deer who are lame, injured or slow moving. Without this natural predator, there is no check on the growth of deer and other populations of other game animals. In many parts of the country, they have had to have special, additional hunting seasons just to bring the herd size back down what the land can support.

Wolves will also eat smaller wild game, from mice to rabbits when they do not get deer. Every animal plays a part in the world. If we eliminate one from the cycle of life, others get out of balance. Wolves are also a natural adversary of coyotes. During the years when the wolves were artificially surpressed, there was nothing to check the rapid expansion of the coyote into urban areas.

The fact that the wolf population has come back is due to the efforts of various governent agencies and volunteer organizations like Defenders of Wildlife. They oversaw the reintroduction of wolves into various wild places around the country.

I am prompted to write about this today because once again, the government is planning on lifting sanctions agains wolves and some gun happy shooters cannot wait to shoot as many trophies as they can. This is not because they are hungry to eat wolf meat. In places like Alaska, it is hard to even consider it a sport when you see hunters in aircraft running down their prey, and in some cases using semi-automatic weapons to shoot them. That's not really much of a sport.

I am not against hunting. I am a meat eater and I think if a person wants to go out and shoot game so that they can take it home and eat it, that is perfectly fine. That is not what shoot wolves is about.

Wolves have long been an animal totem associated with the wild spirits of shamans, ancient gods, and symbols of the wild itself. We need our wild parts and our wild places and we need all creatures in the cycle of life.

I have supported the reintroduction of the wolves and am against the delisting of them as an endangered species, which allows the laws to change so that some trigger happy shooters can go out and try and make them extinct again. This is not a wise choice.

Monday, May 4, 2009

Love Hate Relationships

When we have a love hate relationship with something what does that mean? Let us use tarot as an example.

Let's say you have purchased a tarot deck because you have seen some images and loved them, but you have a hard time reading with it. Frequently that means you need to spend some time getting familiar with it. You have already established a comfort zone with your old favorite. Now you have to get comfortable with a new one with new images. You could learn many lessons from this as a self teaching tool, and later use it for readings.

We may have to grow into it, and learn new things as we do. We might also have to learn new ways to work with it. Once we move on to a new deck, the old one may be set aside for a long time, and sometimes we may not return to it. There are, of course, some decks that just do not work well for readings and we may trade or sell them.

You have to ask yourself what makes it appealing? What makes it difficult? Perhaps the lessons are difficult because we are called on to break through to a new level of understanding. How can it be that you love some of the images but cannot read with it? Meditating on the images you like best can lead to a breakthrough in learning to work with the new set. Reminds me of the saying about when the student is ready the teacher appears.

Sunday, May 3, 2009

Recognizing Each Other

Why is it that sometimes we sense deep connections with other people quickly? In some instances, it could be a past life connection, and in other instances, it might simply be a recognition of a kindred spirit.

How deep do these connections go? So much of it depends on our free will that it varies with every person. There may be times when we choose to open up to a relationship and other times when we do not.

Deja vu usually refers to the kind of recall we get when something from a past life strikes a familiar chord with us, but I believe that this feeling can come from a familiar person or situation within this lifetime. There may be a person who appears in our life at this point in time who reminds us of someone we knew earlier.

As with all such occurences, this represents an opportunity to handle our decisions differently this time, and learn from our experiences.

Saturday, May 2, 2009

Why We Need Artists

First Friday evening every month, the galleries in Denver have an art walk. There is a huge cluster of art galleries on Santa Fe Drive and they all stay open late, and people walk around looking, listening to live music, sampling food and wine. Quite a good time.

As I was looking at how many galleries had been set up in old buildings that used to house a variety of retail outlets that had been subdivided and added onto, it really sank in that what really draws people is all the creative energy that is generated by all the different works on display.

Given, we all have different tastes, so what I thought was best you may or may not agree with, but what they all have in common is that some person expended their energy and used their imagination to make something. Even though today, we can find all kinds of art on line, and lots of artists are now using computer generated imagery, there is still a sense of aliveness that comes through from a painting that someone fashioned, stroke by stroke, or drawings, or pottery, or carvings, or jewelry or photos that someone took the time to compose and develop. You can sense the energy and imagination that went into these efforts, and when a piece connects with us, we can feel ourselves go into a trance and travel to another place.

So even in this age of computers, there is still a hunger to connect with something made by hand by another person. Galleries and studios have a different feel than a museum, because a museum is a finely finished space, and visitors are expected to appreciate the art quietly. But these gallery and studio shows are throbbing with life. People are talking, there is a festive atmosphere and in many cities I have lived in, I have been to shows where the artists simply show their work in old factories or old school buildings where they have rented space. Many of these old buildings have been stripped down to provide the simplest plain wall space to show off the work.

There is something very life affirming about all that creativity bubbling up from all these different people in all these different places. Joy, sorrow, excitement, awe, mystery and wonder emanate from these gatherings of artists. And that is why we always need artists among us. They remind us just how much more we are capable of, if we just give ourselves permission. That plus the fact that they help us find different perspectives to view the world, and different ways of relating. An imaginitive picture reframes our view of the world.

Friday, May 1, 2009

Our Capacity for Change

Yesterday's movie still has me thinking. How completely can we change? Does it seem that when we have an opportunity to start all over again, that we start to replicate the same patterns all over again, or do we really change? What is your experience?

In the movie, the main character starts doing something she had put off all her life, and for her that was playing guitar. The music was healing to her and opened up her freedom of expression.
What is it that you have been thinking about for years but never got around to doing? What is it that you keep thinking you will do some day when you have more time?

Or are there health habits, eating habits or dating habits you would change if you had the chance?

How completely would you change? Would it make a difference if the change was stimulated by a diagnosis of cancer, loss of a job, a heart attack or divorce or separation?