Awakenings: The Day After

I’m currently in week three of the program called “The Artist’s Way”.  This is a very successful program that allows artists of any medium to remove the blocks stopping them from achieving their greatest potential.  The program has been around for over 20 years and is very effective.  There have been quite a few popular writers who credit the book with allowing them to write their first bestsellers.

The Artist’s Way is a book you must be ready for.  Several years ago when I first received the book as a gift, I quickly realized that going through the book was something that would take a lot of work.  I wasn’t ready to put in the time and energy to do so.  Therefore, the book went onto a shelf, forgotten, until I was reminded of it again by the person who gifted me the book in the first place.  She decided to go through the program again, and was excited at the results of the first several weeks.  Encouraged by her words, I decided to give it a try again.  And I’m glad I did, as the book has become the next logical step for me on my spiritual journey.

The first two weeks of the program deal with the baggage that we pick up and carry in our lives.  That baggage stops us from opening our creative and spiritual outlets.  This is Shadow Work at its deepest levels.  The book encourages you to go into those moments of baggage; the moments where you felt crushed, belittled and beaten down to the point where you decided that it wasn’t worth trying anymore.  Once there, you work through them by doing the exercises spelled out in the book to let them go.  The more you work with these moments, the more you open yourself up to the possibilities of reaching deeper creative potential.  (Or, in some circles, one would call it reaching the divine energy within each of us and allowing it to come to the surface in creative endeavors.)

Now that I’ve gotten through weeks one and two, I can see more opportunities for me to start writing, something I haven’t done since my childhood.  Poems have started to flow from my thoughts, and I’ve been inspired to start writing fictional work again.  I’m excited that I’ve reached this point.  It’s very much like the first initiation into a bigger world of opportunity and wonder.

Now, on week three, the author speaks to some of the synchronicity that can happen during this stage of the program.  If we truly have stuck with the exercises and gone deep, we have released some of the blocks to our creativity.  Now the path is clearing and we are open to new things to come into our lives and change us for the better.   The author speaks to possibilities of a class opening up, meeting the right person to mentor us, or any number of opportunities that can happen once we are opening ourselves back up.

I’ve been here before.  You and countless others have also been here before.  This is where the Gods/The Universe/whatever creative force you believe in starts paving the way for you to make permanent and lasting changes in your life.  You have been given the first bites of how a higher state of energy feels; an amuse-bouche of the clarity, wisdom and connection you will have.  Here is the opportunity to become more authentic to yourself and to grow in power and strength.  This is a beautiful and exciting place to be.  This is the flash of insight and surge of power we get after an initiation.  This is the “a-HA” moment of realization.  This is the decision that is finally made, the opportunity and resources that become available, or even the push of another door closing that forces you on the path you were meant to walk.

Everything is aligning the right way and it’s all there for the taking.  But are you ready?  Are you ready for the hard work that happens after the spiritual awakening or the initiation?  Sure, we have the moment of clarity, we feel altered, more in tune with the earth or with the Gods.  We feel the power within our hands, we see the path and opportunities open before us and we want to feel this way for the rest of our lives.  But these opportunities aren’t going to stay open without work.

Whenever we are trying to better ourselves in anything – school, career, personal life, physical changes to our bodies – everything we attempt to change pushes us to come to a point like this.  Any time we try to make ourselves better we first start to uncover the path, and now we need to change the daily habits to allow us to walk that path, one foot at a time.

So, how do you start to walk that path?  Perhaps we must radically change the way we eat, live, move or work to keep that moment of clarity in the forefront of our mind.  Perhaps we need to figure out the best way for us to get rid of habits, or take the time to meditate on why we have the habit in the first place.  Perhaps we need to learn to trust the new energy in our bodies more and not be as reactive to the negativity of others.

We can even have help to do these things.  Perhaps a new app, a new piece of jewelry or an affirmation posted to our bathroom mirror is enough to engage that spiritual energy within us, to remind us of the place we opened to and dared to go.  Maybe checking in with a mentor or teacher is a possibility.  If we feel like we need help on this journey, we will get what we need to stay on the path, as long as we choose to keep trying.

But keep trying we must.  Just because we ask for a crutch or additional aids doesn’t mean we are not relieved of our own work.  We can try getting up earlier all we want to do the meditations or prayers of gratitude.  But the alarm clock will only get us up if we stop hitting the snooze button.

And we must be vigilant with our changes.  Studies have shown that it takes a minimum of 21 days to get into a habit.  But drop that new habit, even for a day or two after those 21 days, and you may find yourself right back where you started.  No wonder most gyms in the United States get insanely busy in January, but die out in February.

The good news in this is that if we can’t make the change in habit or action, we will get another opportunity to do so.  Perhaps the class date will pass, perhaps the memory of the initiation falls away.  But another class will become available when you are ready.  The initiation energy and attunement is still there and still open, ready to be utilized.  If you have the will to keep trying, the opportunity will stay open.

Sometimes however the opportunity takes time to present itself again. I was reminded of “The Artists’ Way” about five years after I was first gifted the book.  I’m very glad I picked it up this time around.  And next time I hope I don’t have to wait another five years for the opportunity.

 

 

Photo from Deviant Art

Poem: Think About It

 

You never realize how much you damage yourself
Until you take a hard look in a mirror
And finally ask yourself
What do I like?

You never realize how much you hurt yourself
Until you take a hard look in a mirror
And finally ask yourself
Who am I?

You never realize how unkind you are to yourself
Until you take a hard look in a mirror
And finally ask yourself
Am I enough?

Betcha your answers match mine.

 

 

 

 

Remember – There Are Four Lights

As I reflect on what has happened since the inauguration, I realize that the next four years are going to be harder to deal with than I had ever imagined.  The first several days in office, and we are already introduced to things like the new presidential cheering section that follows the President to force other people to laugh and applaud at what he says.  We are also forced to deal with the new lovely term ‘alternative facts’ and the danger they can pose when people start believing them to be true.  And of course, this is just the icing on the cake; he’s already working to dismantle policies that could have detrimental effect on American citizens and our environment.  I hate to say it, but all of this has just made my mind spin.

Part of me wants all of this to stop.  Just days after the new government was installed, part of me doesn’t want to listen anymore.  My social medial feeds, already full of political posts are also now full of arguments between friends on what is ‘good’ and what is ‘bad’ for our country.  And while some of the conversations are civil, many get out of control pretty darn fast.

I thought I had put down enough of a plan of action in my post just after the election.  But now I realize I what I said I would do is not enough.  As I said in that post, I don’t want to be political.  I don’t want this blog to become a political activist page.  Certainly standing up for what you believe in is a spiritual pursuit, but it is not my role to be a politician or political activist 100% of the time.  And I know I’m not the only one who feels this way.  I know there are others that are just so fed up with it that they are ready to ignore the entire government and any action they take in the next four years.

But that’s what the current administration WANTS us to do.

I am betting that one of the reasons there is so much media coverage on the numbers of people present at the inauguration vs the Women’s March this weekend along with the other hotly debated items is to push people to do just that – stop.  Stop considering about becoming part of the democratic process by letting their voice be heard.  Stop pushing forward because no matter what you believe, the polarized social networks are now just so in-your-face about things that it’s just too hard to have a dissenting opinion.  The more the pundits speak, the more zinger tweets that get shared, the more spin gets out there and the more the real issues get buried.

A meme I saw last night put everything into perspective for me.  It took me a moment to remember the episode (I’m not as strong on Star Trek as I am Star Wars), but it was a meme based on an episode of “Star Trek the Next Generation.” In the episode, Captain Picard was being tortured by a Cardassian.  During the torture, he was shown four lights.  But he was told that his torture would stop if he would only agree that there were five lights that he was being shown, not four.  All he had to do was say there were five lights, and he could live in luxury for the rest of his life and all the pain would end.  The meme speaks for itself what the conclusion of that episode; he was rescued, and as he was leaving, he yelled at the Cardiassian that there were four lights. bbtio4l

And thanks to that meme, I realize that it’s time for more evasive action.  I needed to do more; to reevaluate my plans in how to deal with the issues coming up in these next four years.

While thinking about these things, I came across two posts from John Beckett on Patheos.com.  The first was about maintaining the Sovereignty of your Mind.  In that post he spoke about what I realized when I saw the above meme.  This truly is going to be a fight for the hearts and minds of the American People in the next four years.  And many people are going to give up; they are going to see all of the chaos caused by the media about the minuscule arguments, and it’s going to take its toll.  We need to be aware of that, and we need to be aware of that now.  We have to set our minds up to filter through the noise so that we can see the real issues that will need to be addressed.

Secondly, John spoke about having an agenda for the next four years.  And again, he is spot on.  Even when we start removing the noise from the media, we aren’t going to be able to save everything.  We are going to need to have our own agenda.  No one can make these decisions for us.  We are going to have to think deeply about what decisions we want to voice our opinion against, and what ones we can live with.  We need to also ensure that we remain healthy.  We still need to maintain a healthy balance in our lives, or else we will just burn out.  This is a marathon, not a sprint, and we haven’t even completed the first mile yet.  Pacing is going to be key, and having that balance between activism, spiritualism and other efforts in life is going to be our pacer.

Thanks to an app called countable, I will be more up to date on what congress is actually doing without relying on media news feeds or listening to social action networks.  So my words will be more in line with what is actually going on, when it is going on, and will be appropriate responses.  I’m cutting down my intake of social media even more, and plan to keep my news intake to a minimum (10 minutes on NPR during a news update should be enough.)

I still firmly believe that human rights are not something that should be a political football; that they transcend politics, no matter what your race, creed, religion or your sexuality.  I also believe that we still need to be caretakers of this great earth of ours.  She is a giver of life, not a resource to be mined uncontrollably.  At this point I don’t care if you call me a liberal, a conservative, or whatever.  These fights transcend politics.  They are things that should be embedded in our hearts, and our actions day in and day out should reflect them.

I wish sometimes that I wasn’t the type of person that pushes through conflict.  I sometimes wish things were easier than what they have to be.  I wish for it, but I already know that this is one wish I shouldn’t have granted.  It’s the one thing that won’t change.  We live, we struggle, we grow from the struggle, and the growth allows us to get ready for the next struggle.  I guess this time the struggle is simply something outside my comfort zone.  The cycle sounds simple enough, but it is the basis for all of the growth of this planet.  It is so embedded in our DNA that it’s a part of growth itself.  And even though it’s a hard cycle to continue, by doing our best to honor it we also honor those that were a part of putting this cycle into motion.

The Next Steps

Yesterday I talked about how I realized that I was falling into the polarized mess that became this election.  Today, I still feel just as upset about who it was that won, but not because of that polarization.

The path of polarization has only brought hate and fear.  I learned that lesson from my own upbringing, and I learned it again yesterday.   We can no longer afford to automatically assume that someone who looks or thinks different than ourselves is the enemy.  We can no longer afford to get into the same arguments over and over, and have elections be ‘us v them’ like they have been for the past 20 years. We need to find a better way, and I believe that part of that way is trying to understand each other, to teach and educate, and not respond so harshly to one another.

That being said, we still have to stand for our own values, and ensure that everyone…EVERYONE has the same basic human rights.

Today, now more than ever, I fear for those who look, think and act differently. I fear for those who were just starting to feel safe loving someone that society says they should not. I fear for those who choose to be what society says not to.   We, who look more like we ‘fit in’, need to do what we can to help.  We need to say some thing when we see injustice, and be prepared to act if necessary.

I remember a bumper sticker I saw once, “If you are not outraged, you are not paying attention.”  Yes, I am outraged.  And yes, I’m upset.  It’s going to be a long, hard 4 years.  And that’s why my next steps are still going to have to include backing off of my intake of media attention.  And I’m backing off and filtering my social media feeds as well.  With the exception of National Public Radio (NPR), which is the least biased media I can find, I need to do this.  And my best is that I’m not the only one who should consider this.  We are only going to burn ourselves out if we start scrutinizing every move our government makes from this point on.  There will be plenty to be outraged about.  But we sill need to live our lives as well.  We still need to give ourselves rest and allow ourselves to heal.  What good will we be to others if we are burnt out from hearing story after story that induces frustration and anger?  We have to choose our battles now, and choose wisely.

There will be people out there with a better constitution than I who will be more active than I.  That doesn’t mean what I’m doing isn’t enough.  It means they will do what it is that they can, and I will do what I can.  I’m already thinking about what I can change in my budget to allow for more money to go to organizations like the ACLU, and other organizations that support LGBT rights.  Where others cannot afford to help monetarily, perhaps I can.

Finally, and what perhaps may be the hardest, we still have to reach out to those who think differently than we do.  We still should not judge others immediately by what we think they mean.  We need to be respectful, and we need to let their actions tell us what they truly feel and believe.  If they don’t believe in the basic premise of human decency, of basic human rights, THEN we need to get to work.  But until then, we need to see more people as potential allies, because we are going to need every one of them we can get to step forward together.

If You Want Change, you must Move

cocoon_by_vuzelMany times I see people in the Pagan community who get ‘stuck’.  Through no fault of their own, they get into a position that they don’t seem to get out of.  I myself has fallen into this predicament many times in my life.  It doesn’t matter if it is a physical, spiritual or mental issue.  You become unable to move.  And you may feel so lost that you aren’t sure what way is up.  The situation can feel hopeless.  Many times it may take someone else’s help to start you moving to get out of the situation.

Sometimes people who are stuck like this come to me for an intuitive reading.  I have been honored to be the catalyst for some of these people to realize that there are issues in their life that they need to tend to, and that is what is making them stuck.  And I have been excited to watch as they start to lift themselves out of this situation, strengthen their spirit and find new ways to live and grow.  To see this transformation is a blessing in itself.  Someone who is willing to transform their energy also helps to lift others around them.  I think on these clients that have taken my suggestions and transformed with happiness and joy.  I am amazed at how powerful and strong they become.

I also get clients who aren’t for some reason willing to listen to my suggestions.  One pops out in particular, and I will use them for an example.  The reading brought out that this person’s spouse was cheating on them with the client’s best friend.  In fact, the client confirmed this, and went further to say that the best friend suggested to the client that they stay with their spouse because the spouse loved them so much. But the guidance from the reading was very much in disagreement.  The message I got for the client was that they needed to get out of the situation; that it was toxic for the client’s growth as well as their self-esteem.  Yet later, I ran into the client again at a local pagan event, still very much connected to the cheating spouse and best friend, who were at the event with the client.

Change isn’t easy.  It sounds easy, but it’s not.  In order to change, even a little, we have to be willing to change our habits and thinking.  We have to be willing to try something new and stick with those modifications in order to make a change stick.  It doesn’t matter if this change is physical, mental or spiritual; you have to put in the work to get what it is what you want.

In other words, you have to move toward that change.

The people who cannot move toward the change they wish may not be doing it purposefully.  Counselors are taught that when someone is in a situation they refuse to move from, it is because they are still getting something of value out of that change.  It may be negative feedback they are receiving, but they are still receiving something.  In the case of my client, perhaps they feel that they have an identity as a pushover, or a victim.  The client is getting feedback from the spouse and the best friend to stay in the relationship; in other words stay in the victim and/or the pushover role.   And until the client no longer wants that role, they will not make a move to change.

I know the theory sounds simple, and to those from the outside looking at someone stuck in a situation that is harmful to them, we may be flabbergasted that the person cannot change.  But this is far from simple to the person who needs to do the change.  It takes a great deal of courage to step out of that which is comfortable and try something new.  That is where those of us watching someone who is trying to make a change in their life need to tread carefully.  To us, the change a person is trying to make looks easy; but the person making the change feels like every move toward that change is a significant struggle.

Overall, the entire situation is frustrating for both sides, especially when the person who tries to make a change backslides.  It gets even worse when the person is so tied into the negative situation that they recognize it’s bad and constantly talk about the change they want yet never makes a move toward making things better. This happens a lot.  In cases where the person refuses to change, perhaps they are getting something from the people suggesting the changes.  Perhaps they are getting attention because of the situation they are in, and that is their reward for being in the negative situation. Another possibility is that there could be a reason why the change cannot occur yet.  Perhaps they need to understand what it is that is going on around them before they change, so when they are in a similar situation later, they know what they need to do, or could be of service to someone else facing the same change.

So why am I posting about this now?  It’s because I have seen it yet again this past weekend.  It’s the same scenario – someone wanting change, they were invited to come to a ceremony that would be a catalyst for that change, but suddenly they were not able to attend, even though they expressed an interest in trying to better their situation.  And after the event, those same people again started to lament that forces beyond their control forced them to not make it (which wasn’t entirely the case), and lament their woes because they yet again are stuck in a situation they cannot get out of.

It also doesn’t hurt to enlist help when making changes in your life.  In the scenario I presented above, the client might do well with a certified counselor.  Others may do well by looking into speaking with a trusted friend, a spiritual advisor, finding a support group, getting a divinatory reading or looking for help in an area that they have not yet tried.

Perhaps discussing in this post is the very basic theory of why people do and don’t change will help someone understand why they are stuck.  Perhaps someone will look at this and see the theory that is discussed, and have the a-ha moment to get out of this situation. Maybe not.  But writing about it is something that at least helps me.  I was not the only one who recognized that people who needed and wanted to be there to help get them out of the situation were not present.  I was not the only one this past weekend who gets frustrated with people who frequently complain about their situation but never do anything about it.  And perhaps I needed to re-remember the fact that it is THEIR lives, and perhaps they are stuck, but it isn’t my place to help them get ‘unstuck’ without their being a part of it.  I can’t force them to go do something that would force a change in their life.   They have to do it for themselves.  The only thing I can do is to ensure that should they get to the point where they refuse to help themselves, that I am aware that they are at that point and take care not to get involved in a situation with the person where I get pulled into their drama.

If you are someone who wants to make a change, don’t give up.  Even incremental movement is something.   Just being open to moving out of your comfort zone puts you way ahead of the game.  And for me, if people ask me for help, I’ll be there to do what I can, but it will be up to the person who wants to change to move.

Photo from Deviant Art