It’s Change-Making Time

swtu17Many of us are still processing the U.S. election results and what they mean. It seems unthinkable to me that we’d regress, as a society, just when we’re finally beginning to understand that all beings have innate worth. Open bigotry and misogyny in the 21st century? Really?!

Still, perhaps it’s better out in the open. At least we’ll know who the racist, sexist, homophobic jerks are, so we can avoid them and boycott their businesses. Right?

It seems to me that, in the big picture, this is a temporary regression. It’s based in fear of the unknown.

For those of us who value compassion, diversity, and connection, it’s an opportunity to devote ourselves even more fully to creating positive change. You would think at this point that I’m going to advocate volunteering, protesting, and creating new alliances, and those things are all excellent courses of action.

However, I believe that the most lasting change begins within. When we can reprogram ourselves to be kind and compassionate to ourselves, within the privacy of our own minds, that’s when real progress will be seen. Growing up in the patriarchy, in a society that is fearful of difference, isn’t easy – especially for those of us unable or unwilling to conform. We often come out wounded, timid, and unsure of our self-worth. Yet we are the creative, spiritual beings that our society desperately needs.

Over the past several years, I’ve taken my own journey to reclaim my sense of self-love and worthiness. I’ve shared stories of it here on the blog. Now I want to share with you some of the most effective tools and techniques I’ve discovered along the way.

BlackLion and I are offering a free online workshop, A Self-Worth Tune-Up: Gear Up for an Epic 2017!, in order to help you dig up and transform old beliefs about your own innate worth. This is the perfect time of year to dive into the inner work that will help support you as  you create powerful change in 2017. Join us (and a tribe of like-minded seekers) on Wednesday, January 4th, at 7pm EST. Click here to sign up.

The world needs you to be strong, awakened, and living your soul’s purpose. Support yourself in your sacred work by tapping into your self-worth. Happy New Year!

We Are Not Misfit Toys

cuteshelfpicI’ve been seeing a lot of social media posts by friends and acquaintances who are feeling especially down and worthless lately. Some of them suffer from anxiety and depression, which I understand is caused by brain chemistry – but in my opinion, I think these conditions are often exacerbated by the false expectations our society has of us. And these expectations affect most of us, to one degree or another, making us feel like failures at life.

We’re “supposed to” have the perfect home, of course always pristinely clean and decorated like a magazine photo. The ideal career, providing us plenty of money (if not time) and prestige. Well-behaved compliant children who happily spend most of their waking hours in school or doing homework. A young and slim but curvy body, dressed fashionably and with tidy Barbie hair. And a long list of other “must-do” and “must-have” things that make us a paragon of etiquette, conformity, and consumerism.

What a load of crap!

Many of us see beyond the shallow surface of these expectations and revel in our creativity, wildness, and spirituality. We embrace our loving natures and see through pop culture into what really matters most to us – on our good days, anyway.

Yet living day in, day out in a culture that (almost) never talks about our real passions and struggles wears on us. Many of us begin to feel like the toys in the old Christmas special, the ones relegated to an island, perpetually lonely and misfit. The long-term effects of this can have an adverse impact on our mental and emotional health, whether or not we suffer from a chronic illness.

How can we avoid feeling like misfit toys? How can we stay authentic and strong in our own deepest values, which might have nothing to do with those of our society?

Here are a few tips:

Gather in like-minded community. No matter how niche your passions, there are likely others who share them. Find them online. Seek them out in person. One by one, create a tribe whose values and interests line up with yours. Cherish them. Support one another and spend time laughing and crying and dancing – or whatever floats your collective boat.

Ignore the mainstream media. The thing is, none of us really “has it all together.” We’re here on Earth to learn and grow. The images of the perfect family or career or home or whatever? They’re mostly ways of advertising products. Let go of the images you see and revel in your unique life.

Practice gratitude. Instead of looking at your flaws or what’s not working in your life, examine your blessings. Express thanks for your joys, both the biggies (like being loved) and the small daily ones (like that first steaming cup of coffee or tea). We’re taught to seek what’s wrong and fix it, so training your mind to look for blessings will take time, but it’s absolutely possible. And it will help.

Help someone else. The more real you can be with those you interact with, the better. Authenticity ripples outward. Reach past the normal boundaries and share a smile or a joke with a frazzled checkout clerk. Tip well. Admit when you’re struggling. Give little gifts or compliments to people who seem unhappy or stressed. Helping another will give you warm fuzzies, which uplifts your own feelings of worthiness.

Let something go. You know that thing that you think you “should” do but never quite achieve? Like all the laundry being done and folded, or a home-cooked meal every night, or cleaning out your car? Let it go. Release it and feel how that little piece of stress lightens your load as it floats away. Next week, find another one and let that sucker go, too. Bye-bye, unrealistic expectations!

It can be especially hard to conform to expectations around the holidays. Forget it. Celebrate your way. Enjoy your family and friends – the ones who love you and want to spend time with you. Minimize your time with the judgmental ones.

Do what feels good to you, and let go of the rest. Truly. You’re not a misfit toy. You’re a complex, creative, fantastic human being. There’s no need to try and comply with expectations that leave you feeling worthless. You can stop, and the world won’t end. Try it.

Starcat’s Favorites: Wrapping It Up

feistypercyIs it just me, or is it super hard to believe it’s December already? It’s the big winter holiday month, and time to start wrapping up, not just gifts, but 2016. Many of us are rather glad to see it go. For so many of us, it was a hard year, on both collective and personal levels.

Still, there are always blessings hidden in plain sight within the hard times. I have so much to be grateful for this year, and I’m counting those blessings as I begin to wrap up the year. Chief among them is that my Mom is feeling much better than she did last year at this time. I’m also super psyched that the book I’ve devoted so much energy to this year is, as of this writing, mere days from publication. I’m so thankful for the love and support of my dear family and close friends. And those are just the top three blessings. There are so many more! I encourage you to count your own blessings, as you traverse the often tricky holiday season. The more you focus on what you’re grateful for, the better you’ll feel. Really.

Here are some links for your weekend:

Here’s how to make your holidays more enjoyable and less hectic.

Watch out for these 9 distractions that can keep you from living a joyful life.

Concerned about what’s going on in the world around us? Um, yeah. You’re not alone. There has been some great writing about what we can (and can’t) do. Here are a few excellent posts you might have missed. I’m With Her (it’s not who you might think). Additional ways to support the Water Protectors and protesters at Standing Rock. Author Barbara Kingsolver’s message to her generation. This beautiful post about self-care during the Feminine Divine revolution.

Do you use the terms left brain and right brain? I do. Here’s an article (and interview) that focuses on the science behind our popular concepts of this idea.

Enjoy your weekend, and add some gratitude to your day. Blessings!

Surviving the Spiritual Apocalypse

suncatchThe title of today’s post is a joke, sort of. A couple of weeks ago, BlackLion and I were kicking around various ideas for a subtitle for my forthcoming book, The Heart of the Goddess. My daughter ElvenTiger was listening in, and her suggestion, with a gleam in her eye, was “Surviving the Spiritual Apocalypse.” We laughed.

Then there was this election…

Many of us are now feeling like some kind of “end of the world as we know it” is upon us. It sucks that racism, misogyny, and xenophobia are values that many of our newly elected officials espouse. There’s a lot of fear about what will happen over the next four years, and perhaps beyond. Rightfully so.

And yet…

In the big picture, what we’re seeing is the last gasp of the patriarchy. The Feminine Divine is on the rise. Human consciousness is awakening. The current political climate is a big old backlash against this awakening.

In The Heart of the Goddess, I talk about eight qualities associated with the Divine Feminine: compassion, creative expression, holistic health, intuition, respect for diversity, communion with Nature, spiritual connection, and collaboration. These are things that we’ve been seeing more of in our society over the past few decades, and that we’re going to need to focus on even more now.

I’m so excited to be able to share this vision of how we can learn to embody these qualities in our lives, and ripple them outward into society as a whole. It gives me hope, even when things seem rather bleak.

The book will be out in about three weeks, and I’ll be giving talks and workshops about the qualities of the Feminine Divine. If you’re called to read more on what it’s all about, check out our pre-order page. This is work that the world needs, and if you’re called to it, let’s do it together. We can survive – and thrive – through the spiritual apocalypse, and beyond. Blessings!

Universal Justice

Today seems like a good day to begin our series on the Tarot. I drew a card, asking what the readers of this blog needed to know, and here it is: Justice.

tarotjustice2

This is from the Mystic Faerie Tarot by Barbara Moore and Linda Ravenscroft. It’s a fabulous deck.

If you, like me, were on the losing side of the U.S. election last week, the notion of Justice being served might still smart a bit. Let’s take a closer look at what it might offer us for wisdom.

Looking at the big picture, which the Major Arcana cards certainly ask us to do, we see that Justice is most firmly connected to balance and the notion of karma.

In the imagery on the card (see above photo), we see the Fae of Justice. She “represents an incredibly powerful magic that is tied deeply to the core of the universe” (p.56, Guide to Mystic Faerie Tarot). As in many Tarot images of Justice, she is blindfolded. This shows her neutrality – Justice doesn’t care about the particular results, only that the decision is balanced and fair.

This fairness relates to the Law of Reciprocity, of cosmic justice. This law says that “energy begets energy, lethargy begets lethargy, negativity begets negativity, kindness begets kindness” (p. 178, Tarot Celebrations). When faced with this card, we must look to the situation and see our part in how it came about. Look to your own past choices, understanding your power and responsibility. The essence of this card is that “what you put out returns to you.”

Looking at our current political situation, this doesn’t mean that you are personally responsible for what has happened. It does mean that what is going on is a result of past choices and actions on the part of many people. Whether it appears that way or not, what is currently happening is a way of “setting things right.” We are human, and often have trouble seeing that bigger picture. But cosmic justice is always in operation.

tarotjustice1The Justice card can help you to evaluate the current situation more clearly. Look at what is right in front of you, setting aside your emotions or attachment. Now examine how your own reactions will affect the future.

The reactions you have now, the actions you take, will help to create your future experiences. The Law of Reciprocity works for us, not against us, when we learn to use it correctly. If you understand that what you put out into the universe returns to you, then you’ll be more aware when making choices.

This card is also about decision-making. Careful deliberation is encouraged. How can you stay in harmony with universal order? Are you being true to your inner wisdom? What type of action would help to balance the situation? Making choices from a place of knowing that negativity will only beget more negativity puts the power back in your hands.

Astrologically, Justice dwells in the realm of Libra, which is all about peace, harmony, social justice, and balance. Libra is ruled by Venus, who teaches us the value of love and beauty. Forgiveness is an essential part of the process of deciding what to do in a crisis. You’ve seen what is in front of you, and whether or not you like it, you can choose to forgive and move on. You can have faith that karmic Justice will prevail. Things will set themselves right once again. You don’t have to take it all on yourself.

What you can do is to look at the deeper issues that underlie the challenge in front of you. Justice brings the ability to see multiple sides of a given situation. You are then more able to move forward in a way that honors the universal order. We are all interconnected; the Wheel of Karma emphasizes the connections between everything that exists. Universal order can seem mysterious, from our limited point of view. We are often given what we need, rather than what we want, and it is our work to accept where we are now, then take inspired action.

So, now that you are fully present with what is, what will you choose next?

What is your place in the cosmic order? What values do you bring to the table? What do you want to offer to the world? Are you willing to accept the energy you put out, when it returns to you? If you’re meeting your situation with anger and resistance, are you okay with creating more of the same?

No matter what you choose, can you forgive yourself for it? Can you forgive others whose choices you don’t agree with?

Returning to the imagery of the card, the Fae of Justice holds both a sword and a set of scales. She uses the scales to weigh what has occurred and determine how to balance the situation. The sword delivers the appropriate reward or punishment. When you stay connected with the awareness that what you put out returns to you, you won’t be so afraid of the consequences. Align yourself with cosmic justice, and act from a place of honoring your inner truths.

Affirm to yourself: “I am willing to be true to myself in all my decisions” (p. 211, Tarot for Your Self). No matter the decision or situation that presents itself, you can stay grounded in universal order by being true to your deepest knowing. Having faith that Justice will ultimately prevail can help you to face what is in front of you, forgive it, and move forward.

Resources:

Amaral, Geraldine and Cunningham, Nancy Brady, Tarot Celebrations: Honoring the Inner Voice (Samuel Weiser, York Beach, ME; 1997)

Greer, Mary K., Tarot for Your Self: A Workbook for Personal Transformation (Newcastle Publishing, North Hollywood, CA; 1984)

Moore, Barbara, A Guide to Mystic Faerie Tarot (Llewellyn, St. Paul, MN; 2007)

Noble, Vicki, Motherpeace: A Way to the Goddess Through Myth, Art, and Tarot (HarperCollins, New York, NY; 1983)

 

Starcat’s Favorites: Life Goes On

fd140716thepathOne of the things I love most about life is that, no matter what crises happen, big or small, life goes on. There are always a zillion opportunities to connect, to share kindness and compassion, to show our love. There are present moments, stretching out in a chain from now to forever, ready for us but to awaken.

I think those of us who are particularly intelligent, in an academic brainy sort of sense, can get ourselves into trouble. We take things too seriously, too literally, too personally, sometimes. We forget about our intuition and our heart’s deep knowing. We block out our other perceptions, the ones that are connected to Source, rooted in Spirit. I would urge you, as a reader of this blog (and thus at least somewhat interested in things spiritual) to remember the bigger picture, and connect to that Divine Source.

Here are some fun and interesting links for your weekend. Relax and enjoy!

Have lots of varying interests? It’s fine to pursue all of them – you really don’t have to pick just one.

You don’t have to go out looking for your passion. It’s right there in front of you! Need a little nudge to help you notice it? Here’s a fun and useful tool.

Using permaculture to observe your inner landscape and regain your awareness of interconnectedness. Wow!

Maybe, even now, things are safer than you think. And we are all interconnected.

 “Small acts, when multiplied by millions of people, can transform the world.”

It’s That Time of Year

ainegirlyI woke up this morning with no blankets, and one tiny corner of the bed where I was squished to the edge of the mattress. Why? Snuggling dogs. We have two medium-sized dogs, who somehow become Great Big Giant Bed-Stealing Canines when the weather gets cooler. Still, they’re so cute – who could kick them off?

Both of the cat brothers are also sleeping indoors at night, now that the lows are in the 30s and 40s. The heat has been turned on, and slippers are essential.

It’s that time of year.

Sure, I’m a huge fan of summer. I love the hot weather and the chance to swim outdoors and lie in the hammock. But autumn is nice, too. I resist the cold weather and early sunsets for a while, and then I remember how much I love this inward-turning time of year.

This fall I’m working on my fourth book, called The Heart of the Goddess. The draft is done, and now I’m deep into the editing process. I’m loving my work, perched at the kitchen table with my laptop and a hot cup of tea. It sounds like bragging when I say it, but truly…this one is something special. I’m captivated.

I journal more, in the fall. I read more, if that’s possible. I sleep even more deeply. I muse and plan and envision new creative projects. My inner landscape unfolds as I go a bit further into hibernation mode.

There’s something truly special about this dark time of the year, between Samhain and Winter Solstice. It’s a time when we long to hunker down in our cozy homes and just BE. I encourage you to do just that. Never mind the long work hours, the perennial housework, and the other demands of a busy modern life. You can squeeze in some down time. You know it will feel good.

Take some extra time for relaxation, now or over the weekend. Plan an afternoon of doing only the things that you want to do. How often do you do that, really? It’s essential to take time to recharge now and then. You might want to devote your attention to a juicy novel, binge-watch your favorite series, bundle up and walk on the beach, or just dive head-first into a long nap.

What do you need?

Give yourself the gift of some extra rest and relaxation. After all, it’s that time of year.

 

Musings on the Tarot

rp_Queens-300x168.jpgFor years and years, I used a 3-card Tarot spread as part of my daily spiritual practice. Then I guess I sort of got tired of using the cards. Around 2011 or so, my practice evolved to focus more on meditation and journaling.

In 2014, I started doing a monthly Tarot reading for myself on the New Moon. I haven’t missed a month yet! It felt good to get back to using the cards regularly, if less often. I was still a bit resistant about doing readings for others, though. I’m not sure why.

Lately I’ve been gradually moving back toward using Tarot more often. I’ve given several readings for friends over the past few months. At a women’s group I attend, we used the cards while working with our ancestors, and the woman who was running the circle asked me to help her with interpreting the cards the women drew.

It feels good to be back to using Tarot in various parts of my life. I feel like I have a new appreciation for it, and a refreshed approach. So I thought it might be fun to do a little series on the Tarot, here on the blog.

What would be most useful to you? Here are some of the ideas I’ve had: I could choose or draw a card and then base a blog post on it (like this), write about how to use Tarot for personal growth work, review specific Tarot decks, or perhaps create my own Tarot layouts and share them here. Please let me know what sounds interesting to you. If you have additional ideas, please share those, too.

The decks I use most often currently are:

The Mystic Faerie Tarot by Barbara Moore and Linda Ravenscroft
Sacred Circle Tarot Deck by Anna Franklin and Paul Mason (shown in the picture, above)
Voyager Tarot by James Wanless

What do you think? Do you use Tarot in your spiritual practice? Would you like to learn about it? Please leave a comment and share your thoughts. Thanks!

Starcat’s Favorites: The Full Moon

mybeachspot2Happy Full Moon!

Most of my energy right now is wrapped up in finishing my book draft. Still, a writer needs a break now and then, so I’ll be hitting the beach tomorrow evening to howl at the moon with my wild women sisters. (Thank goodness for the warmth of the campfire!) I’ve been doing some crafting, which for me seems to go along with cooler weather. And I discovered some cool new links for you, in my random glances at the internet between writing sessions. Enjoy!

Taking advantage of the fall energies to get back to the basics.

My friend Julie wrote this inspiring story about The Spirit Pub.

I love this post about how to support introverted kids – not only because it’s useful for parents, but also for the simple, clear description of what it means to be an introvert.

I’m still in the midst of learning about ethical business and prosperity, and so several of my links this week are along those lines. Like this one about focusing on giving, simplifying, and listening to your heart. Gratitude practices are rocking my world, and I’m not the only one. Here’s an article on how to add spunk to your writing.

This week’s money inspiration: a sweet post about loving your bills, and how to manifest faster. What? I’m only a little impatient.

Back to the book-writing now. Have a terrific weekend!

Authenticity in Community

wp_20130826_015My Word of the Year for 2016, which I chose late last fall, is AUTHENTIC. I made a good choice. It’s been really fulfilling, and quite freeing. My good friend Dawn recently posted the following goal in an online group we’re both part of (shared with permission):

“My goal right now, in life and in my business, is to be my authentic self 100% rather than trying to ‘fit in,’ which leaves me feeling insecure and awkward. I am so much happier and successful when I am ME without apologies.”

Such an awesome goal! Yet it can be tough to reconcile being yourself fully, and being a part of your various communities. Think about it – is your personality the same no matter who you’re with? Even when you’re being authentic?

Mine isn’t.

When I’m with my wild women full moon sisters, I get giggly and sometimes loud, and more daring than I might otherwise be (skinny dipping? I’m in!). If I’m in a group of people I don’t know very well, like at the women’s business dinners I’ve been attending, I’m much more likely to be quiet and observant. I’m not putting a damper on my wild-woman self, I just feel more authentic scoping out the situation first, before I open up. There’s nothing wrong with either scenario, or with opening up to varying degrees.

For me, being my authentic self in community means going with the flow and following my intuition as I interact with others.

It’s also important to be kind and respectful, even when you’re being authentic. I had another friend, years ago, who felt it was okay to yell and make accusations when she was upset with someone. “I’m just being authentic,” she would say. She felt comfortable enough with certain friends to lash out at them when she was angry. Is that being authentic, though, or just plain rude? Acknowledging when you’re upset with someone is authentic, but I feel like it should be done in a way that’s respectful of their feelings.

Here’s Dawn’s insightful take on how to keep things balanced:

“An important part of me being authentic is empathy. Empathy for others keeps me in check even when I have loud opinions and strong feelings. Empathy for myself allows me to speak up for my self even if it is not a popular opinion or easy emotion.”

So, if you’re sometimes your wildest self and sometimes playing it cool, if you share your feelings in ways that are both empowering and respectful, what does being authentic really mean?

What I’ve discovered this year is that being authentic means that I get to decide where (and how) I place my attention. When I follow this flow, in community or on my own, my intuition won’t steer me wrong. Here’s an example. This year I wanted to be part of starting a women’s full moon group with some friends. Organizing activities in advance and trying to get women to come – wasn’t really satisfying. Scheduling time to meet at the beach and celebrating with whoever could make it by doing whatever felt right – amazing and powerful!

It also means knowing when to let go. I’ve stopped participating in some activities and groups I was formerly part of, because it was no longer fun or fulfilling. I’m no longer friends with the woman who wanted to vent her anger loudly, because it made me feel afraid and hurt. I don’t generally hang out with people that I feel anxious around – or if I have a good reason to do so occasionally, I’m careful about setting my boundaries and staying centered in my own self-worth.

To me, being my authentic self means staying in tune with my intuition and following her cues. To return to my earlier example, sometimes howling at the moon and dancing around the campfire with my wild sisters is the most wonderful thing I can imagine. Other times, I want to stay home in my pajamas and curl up with a book, or take a quiet walk with just one friend.

Being true to yourself isn’t always easy. Choosing to stay home might disappoint friends who were excited to see me. But ultimately I think they’d rather I spend time with them when I’m feeling joyful about it, rather than obligated.

Being your most authentic self in community allows you to go with the flow and follow your heart. It means you trust yourself to know what’s right for you in each situation. It’s so freeing, and deeply rewarding. And your authentic tribe will understand.