I started this post a full moon ago. I couldn't finish the post for a variety of reasons.
A lot has happened in the past month. Because of the global virus pandemic, my upcoming living situations were cancelled and I was offered a temporary house for which I am incredibly grateful. If you are on earth, you understand what an unusual experience we've been having. Everyone is dealing with a new reality and no one knows what life will look like when the virus has run its course or we've developed immunity or a vaccine has been developed, tested and distributed, or...
This is why it's taken me an entire moon cycle to get back to and finish this post.
Tonight is the Full Pink Moon in Libra.
I've lived by the moon for decades but in earnest since I spent a year on a remote strip of beach in South Carolina. I could walk to the shoreline at night, lay back and see the Milky Way and more stars than I could comprehend. One of the reasons I kept a keen eye on the moon was because I planned my daily life by the tides because when the tide was high, there was no beach for walking. I had a tide app on my phone that I would check every evening to structure my following day.
Why live by the moon? It's an elegant way of marking time on earth and other things.
Here are my top reasons for living by the moon:
Watching the moon is a way of marking time on earth. It's good to know that the moon is waxing or becoming full. This helps us keep in mind that things on earth are swelling to some crescendo. That the tide is rising. That my body will feel more swollen as we move closer to the full moon.
I don't think that the lunar experience is the same for men as it is for women. I'm sure that men are affected in some ways (if only through their relations with women!) but I can only speak to my experience as a woman. I swell as the moon waxes and slim as the moon wanes. When I menstruated, it was usually quite close to the full moon. Makes sense. Water courses through our physical tissues. The human body is 57-60% water. The tides swell with the waxing moon. It only follows that our human bodies do as well.
In looking back from one new or full moon to the previous, we can assess what's transpired in the cycle we've just passed through. I find that it's tremendously helpful to pause for reflection and to have a framework for review.
The cycles of the moon provide opportunities for completions and new beginnings. As humans being on earth, I think that we're designed to create. If you acknowledge that thoughts become things and you recognize that the average brain has anywhere from 25,000 to 50,000 thoughts a day, then it sort of follows that some of those thoughts are dedicated to creating something or other.
If you have any experience with creating just about anything (and I would be hard pressed to believe that you have no experience with this) then you know that some things are manifested and some things are not.
I, personally, find great solace in being able to hang onto the spiritual or cosmic or metaphysical hook of the moon cycle. If one idea does not work out or if I am wanting to bring one sort of experience to a close, I have an opportunity to close that off with the full moon.
With a new moon, I have the opportunity of intending a new beginning. Twelve new beginnings in one year! I like the idea. It's one of my favorite gifts that comes with living by the moon.
With the energetic help of the moon, I can close the door on past thoughts and experiences. I can set intentions for new experiences. How fabulous is that?
Paying attention to the lunar cycle grounds me to planet earth. Where would our moon be without earth? For that matter, where would any of us be without earth? Watching the moon helps to remind us that we are alive on planet earth. If we look to the moon and the sky and the stars, we have the opportunity to be aware that our feet are planted on the earth. That we are just a spec of consciousness on a planet with one satellite hurtling through space revolving around a sun. One sun of many, many, many suns.
It's good to be on earth. Earth is a gorgeous planet. You and I are on earth at this fascinating moment. What a literally wonderful experience. Especially figuring in our emotions! What a laugh.
Finally, the moon is beautiful, even in it's seeming absence. At the new moon, we can more clearly see the universe beyond. We can see the other planets in our system and the stars beyond. Or what were once stars.
Living by the moon enriches our human lives and reminds us that we are mere and magnificent on earth. Just for a little while.
I confess. I have become a germaphobe in my advanced ago. I don't mind saying so especially these days. I wash my hands every time I come home from a public place and am so grossed out by people coughing and sniveling and sneezing without regard to others in the same air space that I will turn around and walk out of that space. Sometimes I think that I am being ridiculous but most of the time I honor my caution.
I know there was a time when I did not pull down my sleeve to cover my hand to turn a public knob or use my elbow to push open a public door. I've tried remembering whether there was a point at which I suddenly became highly conscious of keeping my hands clean but I can't really pinpoint it. It was probably a gradual process.
That being said, I probably turned a corner when I came down with a long and horrid flu virus after cramming myself into a room full of children for a Henry Winkler workshop in a small indie book store. Never again will I attend a children's event. Pity but truth. Still, it's not only children who are germy.
I remember watching an episode of ER during one of its last seasons in which a staph infection was running through the facility. It was determined that an orderly in the ER was not washing his hands. At all. The scene I remember was of one of the doctors instructing and supervising his hand washing. Golly, I thought... How is it possible that hospital workers do not wash their hands or even understand how to or why it's necessary?
I remember my father washing his hands in the basement sink with Fels Naptha. We always had bars of that around the house. That stuff was super harsh. I could no longer use that on my skin today unless it was the last soap available. However, I'm fortunate in that my parents were both pretty keen on my hand washing.
Now I use Dr. Bronner's Castile liquid soaps most of the time. I also travel with charcoal soap and, if I pick up a sample, a small bar of some nice, fatty French olive oil soap. I always keep a little nail brush at each of my sinks.
I also wear gloves whenever possible especially "rubber" gloves while washing dishes. The truth is that my fingers have become almost allergic to water. The skin around my nails splits and my fingers break out in a sort of dermatitis rash. I finally found a solution after trying all sorts of creams, ointments and lotions to no avail but I'll write about that at the bottom of this post.
The CDC lays out clear instructions and here's what they say:
HOW TO WASH YOUR HANDS
1. Wet your hands with clean, running water (warm or cold), turn off the tap, and apply soap. If the water is too hot, you'll damage your skin.
2. Lather your hands by rubbing them together with the soap.
3. Keep rubbing your hands together for at least 20 seconds. After the very important length of 20 seconds, I pick up my nail brush to get around my nails and cuticles. If you use a nail brush, make sure that you rinse that, too.
4. Rinse your hands well (that means thoroughly) under clean, running water. Rinse all those germs off. Thoroughly.
5. Dry your hands using a clean towel or air dry them. It's better to pat your skin dry rather than rubbing. Patting dry reduces potential irritation.
6. If you can't use running water and soap, use hand sanitizer and cover all surfaces of both hands. Read my upcoming post on how to make home made hand sanitizer.
If your skin is sensitive, dry or delicate, follow with a protective cream or ointment. I have finally, after considerable trial and error found a product that works for me. It's Dr. PawPaw Original Balm which is the Brit version of the Aussie Lucas PawPaw Ointment. I'm planning a post on these product because it contains Vaseline which I've avoided for years. That's why I'm planning a post devoted to these products after I've had time to investigate the whole mineral oil conundrum. But, hey, the PawPaw ointment works for me like a miracle. Plus, it is a protective film.
The whole point of following good hand washing with a moisturizing and, ideally protective film is that excessively dry skin and/or broken skin will make you more susceptible to infections.
If you are a healer, you must know how important it is to wash your hands before and after every client or process. It's even a good process simply for the energetic value.
Okay. 'Nuff said. Wash your bleeping hands. Regularly!
Many moons ago, in the early 1980s when I was hanging out with the world music crowd in Los Angeles and studying African drumming, I visited an older African drummer, tall in a wafting white caftan, who lived in a tiny house in Venice. I must have been coming down with something otherwise I cannot imagine why he would have shared a recipe with me that I have relied on ever since.
He didn't write it down but just told me and I never forgot. He said that it would flush out all the bad stuff from my system and I believed him. It's worked for me every time no matter what.
I've found that this is great for viruses and for shaking off general dis-ease. Forty years later, I still rely on this for my go to home remedy. That says something about its effectiveness!
Here it is:
Filtered or Spring Water
One large piece of Fresh Ginger Root
Slice up the Ginger Root and put it in a large pot of Filtered or Spring Water.
Bring it to a boil then reduce heat to low simmer.
Let the Ginger Root and Water simmer until the water is rich with ginger.
(I usually add a bit of water through the process because it evaporates some.)
Ladle out some of the ginger water into a mug.
Squeeze in Fresh Lemon.
Add a little Good Honey to taste.
Stir in a little bit of Cayenne Pepper. (You can always add more but you can't take it away!)
Sip it up.
Drink throughout the day and evening over a day or two.
See how you feel.
If you're going to learn to heal yourself, you have to learn to know yourself.
Learning to know yourself means learning to understand your body, your mind and your emotions.
Your body is your temple. It's made up of a variety of beautiful systems that work together energetically and it's fed and powered by food, air, water, light, and energies that we cannot or do not perceive with our five senses or that we do not fully understand at this point in time.
Becoming acquainted with your own body is a life-long pursuit because as we age, our body changes and so does its needs. What your body needs at the age of 17 is different from what it needs at 65.
The environments through which our body moves change, too. And, related, the world in which we live is changing ever more quickly it seems on a daily basis. As a general example, the way your body feels in bed on waking in the morning is different from the way it feels when you're out walking in the sunshine and different from the way that it feels when you go through a grocery store or crowded arena. The world of thirty years ago (let alone, fifty years ago) is radically different from today's world. There are more people, more cars, more chemicals, and more noise and information than we could ever have imagined. Our food is different. Our means of communication has changed.
All of these things generate energy. Some of the most beautiful and least understood sets of systems in our bodies are energetic. Without even scratching the surface of those energetic systems (because they are complex and varied and differently understood and deserve separate and more lengthy investigations), you know when you experience energetic interference in your body.
Food is energy. This is a simple place to start. If you eat a bag of M&M's (unless you are really out of touch with your bodily sensations), you feel differently from when you eat fresh vegetables from the garden. If you eat half a loaf of bread with cheese, you feel differently from when you drink half a glass of grapefruit juice.
People are fields of energy. Here we have another experience of energy. You know that if you come across a person and have a sense of foreboding or a gut reaction that your body is alerting you with a warning no matter how gentile and polite that person may seem in presentation. That's one instance of energetic fields at work.
If we forget about your interaction with another person, you can also gauge your energetic fields by your experience of your environment. For example, imagine your body as you walk through the woods in springtime when nature is coming back to life and the birds are singing and the sun is shimmering through the trees. Now imagine your body in a dark, cluttered room with stale beer, urine and cigarette smells clinging to the walls and fabrics with loud rock or rap music blaring with the bass turned up, pummeling your internal organs. Is one an experience of openness and nurture? Is another an experience of defense and closing down? It's not a trick question. Your body may prefer different environments than mine. I'm just saying that differnt environments have different effects on our bodies.
What you put into your body and what you put your body into affects your energetic systems.
The same is true of your thoughts. Your thinking affects your self as much as anything. When I was a kid, we used to joke about the signs on busses in Great Britain Mind Your Head was posted above the exit stairs. Now it's used for a SAD lamp brand and mental health campaigns. But it's a good slogan to remember. Watch your thoughts.
Watching your thoughts is a practice. Certainly not a 24/7 practice but you can get into the habit and I highly recommend it as a means to learning to know yourself.
The best instruction I have ever received on learning to watch my thoughts was a long study of meditation when I lived in Boston through Shambhala Meditations. I have a wild and racing mind. Also during the time that I lived in Boston, I consulted a highly recommended docor of Chinese medicine for some issue. I can't remember what. After our consultation, he told me, "Look. You have such an active mind that I want you to do this practice." He literally brought me back into his storefront office on Mass Ave and sat me down and said, "Just start counting backwards from 100. Practice this regularly by which he meant several times a day." I'm just telling you that story to demonstrate how wild my own mind is. I've been learning meditation techniques since I was a teenager and the older crowd who'd been into psychedelic drugs were then teaching Trancendetal Meditation. It was okay but it didnt' really stick with me. Or I did not stick with it.
The thing about my years of studying Shambhala meditation practice is that, more than anything else, it taught me to watch my thoughts without judgement. In a nutshell, for this practice, we sat in a highly specific position, followed our out breath, and every time we because aware of ourselves thinking, the instruction was to label our thinking "Thinking" and go back to our out breath. Many, probably most people beat themselves up to some degree upon realizing that they were thinking. I took to heart and quite seriously the instruction of not judging myself for thinking. I can't say why. I can only say that I did and am glad of it because the practice truly allowed me to become highly aware of my thoughts. Shambhala Training has, sadly, gone the way of all things. There are many forms of meditation and what works for me is not necessarily what will work for you.
Now, I practice a Kundalini Yoga breath meditation at the end of my morning routine of yoga, physical therapy exercises and waking up my chakra system with essential oils and spinal exercises. I'm quite sloppy with my routine but I do it!
Also, one of the best meditation practices for me is drawing. That's why I taught drawing for over twenty years. Drawing forces you to sit still, observe an object or become involved in the drawing process and, when you allow it, completely bypass the thought stream. Most of the time, I try to draw on a daily basis without worrying about the outcome. Just for the sake of moving the pen or pencil across the paper and for the time it takes to do so.
Speaking of moving the pen across paper, I also journal every morning. This practice is such a part of me that I cannot imagine my life without writing every morning. I feed the animals, make a cup of strong (now Bulletproof) coffee, sit down with my Lamy Safari pen, commit the date and day of the week to the top of the page and start in. I'll write a good post on journaling as a means to self-knowledge later but suffice it to say that it works.
As for getting to know your emotional self, it's complicated and definitely relies on regular practice of paying attention to your emotional state as a practice and working to understand what triggers your emotions. That being said, the simplest way I have learned to discover your emotional self is to understand that emotions are a result of thoughts which is why it is critical to pay attention to your thoughts. I learned this from my brilliant coach and teacher, Brooke Castillo who devised her model after the work of Byron Katie, Pema Chödron and others. Essentially, the "model" is Circumstance, Thought, Feeling, Action, and Result. More on that later. But if you can get that your emotions are a result of your thoughts, you are well along in the game of knowing yourself.
Practice. Getting to know yourself is a practice. Learning to heal yourself is a practice that follows on gettting to know yourself. It's life long dance and it's worth everything you put into it.
Learning to know yourself and to heal yourself is not about trying to be happy. It's about being as healthy as you can be.
Life is short. Life is a gift. You are in a temporary body in temporary situations for a temporary blink of an eye .
Learn to know yourself, love yourself and experience your life for all it has to offer. There is only one of you and you're a glorious expression of cosmic energy come to earth for a fascinating ride.
I don't get sick very often but when I do, it sometimes feels like the end of the world.
I live on my own and when I do come down with something, I only have myself to rely on.
I have spent much of the past few days in bed. The only real symptom is extreme fatigue and a vague sense of not feeling "right". I don't have any overt cold or flu symptoms. I may just be run down after a few days of not eating very well. I could be depressed. Or it could be too much time alone. It's probably a combo of a variety of things. My joints are more achey and stiff than usual and I feel like I have anvils attached to my body. All I've wanted to do is to climb into bed and close my eyes. Also, it's February, it's been terribly rainy and overcast and now windy.
If I had a bathtub where I am staying, I would have taken long baths in Epsom Salts but, alas, no tub for the time being. I've stood under a warm shower once or twice a day and while I'm grateful for the hot water (seriously), it's just not the same as a good soak in magnesium.
Today, I only managed to walk the dog for fifteen minutes in some challenging wind and rain but yesterday and the day before, we walked for at least an hour. I get through my morning routines of journaling, yoga, meditation, drawing and the like but by the time I'm back from the morning constitutional, I'm beat.
This morning, I made a big pot of chicken soup with cayenne and turmeric and ginger, carrots, celery, onion and garlic. I also made a big jar of strong ginger tea which I've been taking with fresh squeezed lemon. I've had soup for breakfast and lunch with a rice cake chased with ginger and lemon tea.
I did a couple of loads of laundry just to feel like I'd accomplished something.
But I've been thinking of the idea of just surrendering to feeling ill. I'm a do-er by nature so it is not easy for me to just lay around. In the past, I've always had to call friends who've talked me into just resting. That's actually pathetic and I don't do that any more although it's not a terrible idea to call friends on the phone when you're alone and feeling sick even though it doesn't make for great conversation.
Back to the notion of surrendering. We live in a combative culture. Fight cancer. The war on drugs (which is really a war on addiction in many ways). And then there's the behavior of carrying on with every day life—working, shopping, going out into the world to do whatever we think that we have to do no matter how sick we're feeling.
I am not suggesting that we lay down and die or risk losing a job as a result of being sick. However, a big component of healing is rest. And we don't live in a restful culture.
And then there's Doctor Google. Often, consulting the internet with your symptoms results in conviction that you have a terminal illness and are going to die. Yes, I've Googled this and that and I could have that or the other condition that is making me feel so poorly but I know that I am temporarily in a less than optimal living situation, that I did not eat very well for a few days, and (repeating myself, I know) it's February and the weather has not been so great. But even as I say that, the sun is out for a few minutes now and I did go for a slightly strenuous walk on the beach yesterday afternoon.
Speaking of doctors...Now listen. If you are really ill, get yourself to a clinic to see a PA or Dr. as soon as possible. Don't be silly and try to fend for yourself when it comes to a serious situation.
What I was getting at is the mental and emotional toll we experience while feeling unwell. Guilt, fear, depression, boredom, all is lost, I will always feel sick. I was reading that some of the mental and emotional Sturm und Drang is built into our systems to force our physical body into a state of rest. That makes sense to me. This does not excuse my self-diagnosis that I brought this illness on myself by eating poorly for a few days. But even that sentence is shaking a finger at myself for blaming myself for being ill.
Give it up! Surrender to rest and accept your condition remembering that all things pass. Thinking that my illness and ennui is all my own fault is a twisted sort of egotism. I don't have all the answers. I don't understand what's going on in the metasphere. My experience might be linked to astrological movements. I might need this time to take no action so that I have time to reconsider action to take when I'm feeling better.
Maybe I just have a little infection that's robbing my body of energy. I hope that you appreciate and find humor in the fact that I am writing this post in the midst of my low energy, foggy, depressed state.
My point is, when you need to, just chill. Be sick. Lay around. Listen to podcasts. Watch a flick. Pet your cat. Feed the dog. Drink some tea with lemon. Don't eat crap. Take a bath. Go back to bed. It's not always the best solution but sometimes it's the only one.
Sometimes, surrendering is the best solution.
Find the focus and strength to start working on your project again.
Mercury is in retrograde. I don't mind because I love periods of rest and self-reflection. Actually, I need these periods of rest and self-reflection.
But I've been through a long stint of rest and self-reflection which was sorely needed and now, I am making my way, slowly, back to the surface of doing work again. It's a challenge to set up a new schedule and to stick to the program even though I am right at the very beginnings. At least it feels that way. In fact, I have the general structure in place and at this time, it's about writing, researching, reaching out and taking baby steps. I like to leap tall buildings in a single bound but am old and experienced enough to know that what looks like a single bound is a process that includes many, many baby steps.
I started Mercury retrograde by dropping my iPhone in the toilet. After fishing around for what seemed like forever, I finally pulled it out and fortunately there was no real water damage, just a loss of sound as the thing dried out. Lucky!
Today, I wrote a long post here only to have my finger swipe the touch pad of my laptop sending the words into the ether. Oh, well. Begin again.
In a nutshell, I am dealing with a difficult client who is, frankly, abusive. I have 22 days left of this assignment and am determined to not let her get the best of me and to keep my head above water. However, this morning I woke to a set of nasty emails and messages. It took me a couple of hours of self-coaching and a good, long walk to rearrange my attitude and then I was met with a splattered mind when I just wanted to get down to work. So I pulled out one of my Tarot decks and did a reading.
Eventually, I intend to make regular Tarot readings a part of this overall project but not yet.
I am sharing all of this with you because you may find my situation familiar in some way and the enlightenment I gleaned of help.
I do not look to Tarot readings for predictive answers but rather as a way of helping me communicate with my higher self or with the collective unconscious. I consider the Tarot to be my wiser, higher friend connected to source and the enlightenment that is sometimes (often) not clear as I flail about on the material plane.
Today, I asked for help with finding the focus and strength to start working on building this project again. If you work for yourself or ever find yourself in the weeds when you need to buckle down again, this reading is for you, too.
Here's the query: Help me find the focus and strength to start working on building this project again.
Here's my interpretation:
These five cards from left to right represent — One: your situation, Two: your thoughts and expectations, Three: hidden forces, Four: guidance, and Five: the outcome.
Let's examine the above cards, then, based on this set up.
XIX The Sun. Find your focus and strength within yourself. It's there and it's big and bright and full of joy. Tap into it!
The Five of Pentacles. Your thoughts and expectations are inhibiting you. You have a serious lack mentality that includes lack of self-worth, fear of failing completely, victim mentality. All you have to do is to look within (the stained glass windows) to find the bright joy, focus and strength that lies within (the church). Get over your victim and lack mentality and find the light within.
The Queen of Cups. You are overwhelmed with emotion. You have come far and reached the status of queen but you are dwelling on your emotions and they are running away with you (and your focus and your strength). Turn away from your focus on emotion and get a grip!
The Three of Cups. Find your emotional joy. It's there. Look at your overall situation and your life so far. Look at what you've experienced and accomplished and celebrate. Joy is the emotion to find in the cup of the Queen. Use it. Keep that lovely yellowy sun color in your mind and let it light up your solar plexus chakra. That's where your power resides.
I The Magician. There it is! Work your way through these challenges of perceiving yourself through your ego. The challenge is merely temporary. The game is long. You have all of the tools you need to make magic happen. So get to it! You don't need the gift of an Ace. You ARE the ace.
I couldn't ask for a better reading. I love the Tarot and I do look forward to sharing my readings with you on a regular basis eventually. I hope that this helped you. Leave a comment below to let me know if it has.
Love and light. Till the next post...
Healing is all about everything.
Healing is about your attitude. No matter how many times you have fallen down, failed yourself, caught a bug, broken something, over indulged, healing is a matter of getting back up again. And again. It sucks to stand up again especially when you've fallen down more times than you can count but you have to. If you are determined to be healthy as a general rule, you absolutely have to find the courage and the motivation to pull yourself together when some noticeable aspect of yourself starts falling apart and to stand up again.
Healing is about your mental, emotional, physical, spiritual and energetic self. Tall order? Yes, it is.
I will write a post about each of these aspects of healing because each aspect needs attention and examination and there are many different approaches to try. One size, one approach does not suit everyone. The main thing is to try or, as Yoda once said, "Do or do not. There is no try." So, try by doing. Take action.
You must have the right mental attitude to say, Yes. I can do it. From your thought, that energetic imprint, the feeling will follow. Emotions are just energy in motion. Your body is the temple of you, your thoughts, your thoughts, your emotions, your nutrition, the air you breathe and the water you drink, the clothing you wear and the bedding you lie down in and, I might add, what you wash those things in.
Whatever your belief system, you are better plugged into the force of creation, something greater than your earthly physique and the material plane than attached to the toys of mankind.
And therefore as a stranger give it welcome.
There are more things in heaven and earth, Horatio,
Than are dreamt of in your philosophy.
—Hamlet, Act 1, Scene 5
And as for your energetic self, it's vital to keep that healthy, too, but we don't yet have the language for me to wrap that up succinctly. Those more things in heaven and earth are multiple and complex and we'll tease those out in posts to come. But I know for sure that they're real and have great impact.
Sure, you can take supplements. Those may help you in the long run. Supplements take time to assimilate and then to do whatever they're designed to do to help re-balance your system, if in fact you need them. You'll have to experiment and when whatever it is you start taking does kick in and start to help your system, there may be a time you don't need them anymore.
Once, when I landed in a less than desirable situation that was at the end of a long journey, a friend turned to me and said, "The difference between an ordeal and an adventure is your attitude." Words to live by.
Healing is an adventure. Healing is about getting to know yourself. Inside and out.
γνῶθι σεαυτόν (know thyself) is one of the Delphic Maxims inscribed in the forecourt of the Temple of Apollo at Delphi. It meant that to know oneself is the beginning of wisdom and has reverberated as a truth throughout the ages as a truth, if not the truth of life.
It is life.
Healing is a process of learning how to treat yourself from what you allow to run through your thoughts to what you put in and on your body. Healing takes time. Healing is a spiral dance.
The process of healing is a dance that moves through space and time in a spiral up and down and in and out. Dance with yourself. It's a celebration of life. Your life.
I was both laying the foundation to change my life and becoming more and more ill from the tail end of this most recent phase of my life (which I absobloomin'lutely needed to change).
At this moment, it's a few minutes before 9 pm on the last night of a four week retreat in the mountains. I want to finish the laundry, go sit in the jacuzzi under the stars and maybe watch one more episode of Madame Secretary.
One of my several goals on this retreat was to start blogging again. I did post a couple of watercolors I made on my original blogger site that I've used primarily as a watercolor artist since 2006. Wow. That now seems like ages ago. So much has changed and changed again. What radical swings in the world!
It's vitally important to me to get this site up and running again. I think that I'll just paste here most of what I re-opened that blog with. Just a recounting of sorts. It both honors my limited time and last, unchecked goal.
Start where you are. That's Pema Chödrön's wise advice.
I'm in Asheville, North Carolina. I am sitting on the covered deck looking over the railing past the gurgling jacuzzi though the tall, delicate trees at the not so distant mountain top.
I've been planted in this comfy, heavy, sturdy armchair with my feet propped up on the square, heavy, sturdy ottoman since my arrival on 11 June. Just to be out in the fresh air, listening to bird song and allowing the days to pass has been enough to make this trip worthwhile. But the value of this long retreat is incalculable.
The last eighteen months of my life feel as though they've evaporated into thin air. Without going into details of why and how, late last November (2018), I started putting changes in motion. I made a radical decision about my finances, had eye surgery, and made long-range plans to end my weekly teaching job. The stress of my finances and teaching situation and my coping mechanisms were killing me. My primary coping mechanism would be alcohol. But more on that at a later date. Also, right, In October, I was pulled off my feet by a very strong dog and, for the first time in my life, was in excruciating lower back pain for many months. Almost forgot about that.
As a result of the lower back pain, I discovered that I have a herniated disk and osteoporosis. More on that at a later date, too.
I went through the lengthy, highly detailed process of addressing my finances in other words filing Chapter 7 and acting as my own attorney. When the last straw broke the proverbial camel's back at my long-term teaching job, I gave notice.
No sooner had I given notice than indoor chain smokers moved into the two apartments next to me.
I've lived in a relatively charming but poorly maintained 1940s garden apartment. The walls are paper thin, the roaches are indomitable but I've had the end unit of the best spot on the property, overlooking and partially sheltered by a grove of willow oak out front and a beautiful and productive garden that I've built out back. I appreciate most of my neighbors and have been centrally located in the absolute best neighborhood in town.
However, the city has changed dramatically in my six years here. Growth without planning. Clear-cutting lots, building new penitentiary style "luxury units" smack up to the edge of the sidewalks along two-lane roads never designed for the sudden influx of traffic. Plus, there's a new fire station catty-corner to my property that will undoubtedly withstand a tornado. Easy. I can only imagine the noise and energetic change when that thing is up and running.
I tried (really, really hard) to mitigate the second-hand smoke issue and after my doctor wrote a letter to the management describing the damage to my lungs, eyes and nasal passages, they kindly released me from all obligations to my lease and all the excellent references I might need.
With nothing and no one to hold me to this place that has presented me with a string of mighty challenges over the past six years, and no real idea of where I'd want to move or how I'd go about that, I thought, I would just like to house sit for a while.
So, after some research and work on the process, that's what I'm doing. Indefinitely. And this is my first stop.
I had no idea how burned out, weak, and ill I was until I arrived here. It took me about two weeks to just land and understand what condition I was in, to deal with the exceptionally neurotic (let's say) homeowner, to discover that I had an infection, and to completely let go of the alcohol.
I dealt with the homeowner, took antibiotics, daily jacuzzis, have stuck like glue to my morning yoga practice and meditation, and have taken the darling (very strong) dog for morning and late afternoon walks straight up the mountain road and then back down again with a round of fetch in between. I am also now on my twelfth day free of alcohol with (I am compelled to say) stretches of 3- to 6-days AF in the first two weeks.
In the last two weeks, I have made four pages of drawing and watercolor work, strung two necklaces of semi-precious healing stones, re-read a book (The Drowned World by J.G. Ballard), given notice at my apartment, started blogging again, and booked a few more housesitting situations. Check, check, and check (I am such a Virgo).
That's it in a nutshell. Except for a mysterious stretch of September into early October, I am booked for mostly long housesits through the end of November. I am also covered with bug bites but really don't care.
Wow. Well, that's a start. My goals were too many for what was really in order... a vacation retreat. The freelance life is stupidly stressful, risky, and fraught with uncertainty. I completely burned out. I lost my self. My soul. I am en route to rediscovering and honoring my soul.
For the public, I'm calling this my long-overdue sabbatical. At least, that's the elevator pitch.
It's dark now. The stars are out. I'm going to go gaze. Arcturus awaits.
Back at'cha real soon.
"Success is no accident. It is hard work, perseverance, learning, studying, sacrifice and most of all, love of what you are doing or learning to do."
At the moment, I'm teaching a class called Introduction to Astrology and the Tarot.
This afternoon, we were going over the cards in the Minor Arcana and their traditional meanings. As we touched on Pamela Coleman Smith's Four of Swords from the Waite-Ryder deck whose standard meaning indicates rest (possibly after suffering). The setting is a church and the hands of the resting knight are in prayer pose. Today, I looked closely at the stained glass window, perhaps for the first time.
The window shows either Christ or some other spiritual being blessing a kneeling supplicant. This window and image are rarely described in interpretations of this card.
Fresh on yesterday's post about relaxation, I was keen on the image in the window and intuitively (but, of course) arrived at my own interpretation (which is exactly how the Tarot should work).
In the Four of Swords we have a figure at rest above what is commonly called the "Sword of Truth" with three additional swords hanging at rest on the background wall. Taking into account the stained glass window image, I realized that this image is the archetype of turning a problem (or our suffering) over to a higher power.
To me, this card clearly describes the mechanics of asking the universe for help and then resting with the sure knowledge that help is on the way.
Most things are beyond our control. Why not ask the universe for help, hang up your swords and surrender to a snooze on the Sword of Truth?
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