Magical Twilight; card of the week 19th January 2016

card 1.19.2016

 

This i-Ching hexagram #36  sometimes called “twilight” or  “darkening of the light” relates to a similar theme we saw last week (don’t rush into motion, there might not be anything you can DO) and the re-view, re-negotiate, and be thoughtful themes of this month’s  mercury retrograde.   “Twilight” speaks of an especially fortunate time for  continuing to guard steady, amazing progress by sticking to our personal integrity and letting go instead of leaping into fevered motion.

When the twilight comes it’s a magical time of evening with fireflies glowing and stars beginning to shine.   But it’s also a time between rest and motion when visibility is low and when  not all the little day-creatures have found their safe nests.   Bound by day and night, the land between these two worlds creates the need for caution and consideration.     After all, you don’t want to be the day-mouse darting around haphazardly  under the watchful eyes of a night owl.

(this picture painted on a tiny wooden disc makes it hard to see – but there’s a little mouse peeking out of a hole)

This week, appreciate the beauty of the transitional energy underway.  Count the fireflies and stars, but be mindful about what you’re doing. Don’t get lured out of your nest before the time is right and don’t scurry without direction or a flashlight.  Even if you find yourself going to lots of social engagements, you’ll do best if you keep yourself grounded in your own immovable core as you have a good time or as you bring your wisdom and friendship to those who are having a tough go.

This week is not about dimming your PERSONAL light or living in the dark!   In fact,  this is a great week to think about ways in which you can stay true to yourself  without getting all caught up in what’s going on.  If you’re true to yourself  then your light can really shine the way it’s meant to and you’ll have way more fun that way.

Twilight hexagram is also about not always going along with what’s popular.     Conventional thinking  could lead you down a road that is just not YOU. The masses can be right about a lot of things but there’s also time when the conventional wisdom around you might suggest the most basic “little me” ego way to see the world – for example:    —   don’t try to understand another person’s pain or experience – ditch ‘em!  — don’t think about what role you played in things, blame someone else!  You shouldn’t have to be kind or loving, the person in the wrong should do it!

Think twice before you let what’s popular or common  define your direction.    You might even  find yourself swimming against the Zeitgeist this week.   Think about all those scientists who were laughed at; of Copernicus who had the crazy notion that the Earth revolves around the sun, and how very much AGAINST the grain of popular thinking that once was.

Yes, the  twilight brings dimmer light and with it, it’s harder to see far ahead and harder to connect the dots and see how everything fits together but sometimes it’s not important to see how it all fits and to trust the Heavens in their sparkling, infinite array of stars and potential ahead.   You’re safe, you’re you and you have an important light to bring to the world!

 

Have a great week!

About this deck: I made this oracle many years ago using wooden discs painted with wood pencils, varnish, and wood enamels.       It is inspired by the  I-CHING  or “Book of Changes” dating back to end of the second millennium BCE, it’s also one of the oldest books in recorded history.     The I-Ching comprises a set of 64 hexagrams (6 lines each)  which  represent all the possible six-line combinations  of yin/yang energy.   Yin and Yang energy are the dualistic building blocks of the universe;  feminine/masculine, active/passive, light/dark, etc.     Each hexagram is made up of two of the 8 “Hua” Trigrams that represent the classical  fundamental elements and which were said, in legend, to have been inspired when the first  Emperor of China Fu Hsi had visions related to the lines and dashes on a turtle’s back.   Because of some of the legends surrounding it, scholars believe some of the “I-Ching” material pre dates recorded history in Ancient China.

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How to Make Changes and New Year Resolutions Stick for Good

newyear2016

Happy New Year, everyone!  I can’t believe we’re almost a week into the brand new year. It’s going to be an awesome one!

A week ago or so, a lot of us started to reflect on the past year and think of what we want to accomplish in the New Year.  There’s tons of articles out now about setting New Year’s resolutions (and even whether doing that is a good idea or not) and it’s generally a time where people are geared up for “new habits” and thinking about the themes they want to change.

And you know what happens next; all those good intentions, the containers from the Container Store, the new gym trainers, the new juicer and the new notebook for writing down household expenses, all gather dust in our guilt-closet before March if we’re not careful.

If you’ve done the most important part (listening to your own heart about what needs to change in your life, or what you’d love to create)  here’s some things I’ve learned about making the energy of change and creativity into NEW habits instead of just “resolutions”  –

 

elephantgraphic1

Big elephant, small bites

How do you eat a life-sized chocolate elephant? One bite at a time.

The biggest obstacle to making any new change is that seemingly insurmountable gap between the big dream (“Be a better person”  “Lose weight” “Move on from ex”  “Quit smoking”) and real results.  We’re often stymied when it comes to figuring out how to make nebulous or big plans reality.  In this case, the chocolate elephant in the room is your dreams, goals and visions.   You will need both big dreams and small bites to finish the job.   A big dream is a goal, an end-game, something you desire to attain for yourself in the long run.  Smaller “bites” are that big dream broken down into doable tasks that you do every day, which will add up to attaining your goal.

Small bites may not seem like much, but they’re just as important as the big dreams. Your mind needs a way to see that there are doable things you can do to make those visions concrete. Waiting for something to magically manifest won’t help, and sitting there looking at that huge chocolate elephant can cause you to give up before you even take a single bite.

Let’s say your big goal is to “be organized”, this instruction is so undefined and huge that you’ll never want to tackle it.  Small bites, on the other hand, can make the goal feel like a reality right now.   A small bite is your specific, small (remember it has to be doable!) action you’ll do today:

This morning I’m going to recycle all the magazines and take-out menus that aren’t current.

Create a small bite  objective for each big goal, each day… the smaller the better:

Today I’m going to create a mail centre with envelopes, stamps and a place to put incoming mail, and outgoing mail,  for example.

As those small bites add up, and the victory you feel when you accomplish them will help you be excited and creative about making new ones as the daunting task seems smaller and more manageable.   If you have trouble figuring out a small, doable task, find a book related to the goal you want to achieve.  A book can give you lots of ideas about actions you can take and you can invent your own.

 

Use your current habits

We’re creatures of habit, so why not use existing ingrained routines to get started on new ones?   New habits simply need repetition to become set and what better way than to use things you do each day already.

Use existing habits as a basis for your small-bite action goals wherever possible.  For example, if you want add extra steps to your pedometer, you can use a quick daily walk that is already a habit for you (to and from your car, your path to work) and make it a bit longer each day.  If you want to keep your briefcase tidy, associate a new habit with something you do already:
When I plop my briefcase on the table tonight, I’ll take out the papers and items I don’t need for tomorrow.
If you cook dinner at home every night, use this meal to create a new dietary habit instead of forcing yourself to make diet lunches:
For dinner tonight, I’ll make a dish with greens and whole grains

There’s no need to reinvent the wheel.  If you exercise in the evening already, then dreaming up a new scheme to wake up at the crack of dawn to go to the gym might be counter-productive for you.

Making defined, specific times to do your tasks and small-bite actions will help you introduce new habits to your routine and follow through.

The human brain builds synaptic connections and strengthens the efficiency of neurons in tasks that it does routinely. Synaptic “pruning” helps us put more energy into the things that we practice and do often by pruning away and eliminating connections we don’t use very often. Making new habits pair with existing strong connections helps you incorporate them faster.

The ivy effect

As an ivy plant grows, it senses progress and produces new cells which create tendrils, leaves and shoots. When the ivy comes in contact with objects, it alters its root structure to climb trees, and even walls. The more it grows, the better it can climb.  Your new habits and changes are just like that ivy, constantly building a bigger system and structure.  Seeing the results of your effort build an unbroken streak every day can be amazingly effective to help you keep going.  Use an app, calendar, journal or wipe board to keep track of your “streak”.    Each time you do your daily small-bite task, create a check mark.

It sounds silly but it works. Seinfeld’s famous “habit chain” operates on this same principle. When Jerry Seinfeld was a rising comedian, he knew that he’d have to consistently develop new jokes. To keep at it, even when he wasn’t in the mood, he took a giant wall calendar and marked a red “x” on the date whenever he achieved his goal of writing every day. When he saw those “x” marks adding up like links in a chain, he was inspired to keep going.

If you’re into technology – there’s a ton of apps for tracking habits and reinforcing patterns so there’s sure to be one that works for you.  I’ve tried a few that have reminders like “Fabulous: Motivate Me!” for Android…  but I have found a visual representation of progress works best so using an app on my phone to write all over a pdf calendar page lets me see a string of habits collect.

 

Cut the distractions

The best way to create changes and new routines is to make your environment less cluttered with distraction.  Simplify wherever you can and make the items you need for your goal easy to reach and get to.
For months my goal of having a tidy house was thwarted by my bathroom vanity.   Somehow, in spite of my best intentions, it became a repository for old receipts, coins, empty jars, products, and other junk.   It was a disorganized mess and it was difficult to keep clean.

Finally, I decided to place out only those items I used every day out on the vanity and shelves nearby… nothing else!   Something strange happened immediately. Without effort, I kept the entire vanity neat as a pin, with items put away properly and the vanity and sink wiped down every day.  (I realized that all that clutter had made me give up and let junk land where it may.)  Being able to find things fast, when I needed them, was the reward that kept my habit going.

Be here now

Failure starts with unrealistic expectations and living in the future instead of the present.   Maybe you want to have a healthier diet and daydream about being skinny and having lots of romantic attention from partners who find the new, slimmer you irresistible.  But when you look in the mirror, it’s not happening fast enough and you beat yourself up for still being chubby, and because you don’t have six-pack abs and you can’t cook a gourmet twelve course raw feast, you give up on yourself and have a basket of French fries.

I have a long list of failed New Year’s resolutions in years past with crazy stuff like, “learn to read Ovid’s Metamorphosis in Latin,”  or,  “make all my food from scratch”  perfectly reasonable, creative goals for someone… but for me they just gathered failure dust because I didn’t create an expectation (learn more words in Latin, make some meals at home..)  that I could actually DO.   At the end of the day,  we can only do what matters to our heart in the PRESENT.

Instead of this defeating, demoralizing pattern of expecting instant results or living in fantasy imagination of the future, put your energy and focus on what you are doing today to attain your goals.   Be patient with yourself and tell yourself you’re doing a good job right here in the present.   Have your goals in mind, but focus on the small-bites and immediate tasks far more than anything in the future.   You will absolutely see progress if you stay grounded in the present.  If you slip up, the present moment is always a new beginning.

 

 

*article adapted from my article “Making New Years Resolutions Stick” Psychic Guidepost magazine

More for all…. Friday ‘toon

 

moreforall

 

 

We’re taught to mistrust sharing because we’re afraid to share too much, become drained, be a doormat, or be used.   We’re afraid to share because then we don’t have enough.     As children we’re taught more values and social concepts about getting, winning and having than we ever are about how to share.  Because of this, giving and sharing is something that most of us need to learn.

I know I did!   And that’s why I drew this cartoon.

The fact is, the more we share – the more we and others succeed.  It doesn’t matter what the “sharing” is about  … it could be our words, our honesty, our vulnerability, our resources, our time, our hearts, our minds, our food, our money.  When we give what we have to others, that value – whatever it is,  increases and expands.   We get better at it too.

Remember that really bad day you had when you shared your hostility and bad feelings with others and then things just got worse when people mirrored that back or responded with snark and pretty soon everyone was a swirling typhoon of bad feelings?   Yes, this really holds true of everything.  Good thing there’s an unlimited supply of energy and choices about how to use it.

Did I say unlimited supply?  YES!  Many years ago I worked in a field that exposed me to people who were ill, injured and often crabby.  I helped them, but at the end of the day I found myself drained and worn to the nubs and half dead.  I didn’t even want to talk to my friends or family.   It was then that I learned a valuable lesson:  there’s an unlimited supply of energy if you you hold the intention to SHARE.

Share means I’m giving you some of what I have, but not all of it.   Sharing means my intention is to GIVE instead of take because I’m starving for something or because I’ve given away all my resources too.     It does not mean “give you every ounce of energy I have” and it does not mean, “I’m giving to get something” or  “I’m giving to control” ( those lead us to untrue forms of giving where our boundaries and self care collapse).

I’ve seen this rule hold true over many years.    I have talked to people about some of the most painful times of their lives, and  I have friends who are therapists, or who are moms to enough kids to field a baseball team and friends who  treat patients who have had gunshot wounds or been in terrible accidents and the ones who stick to the principles of sharing have an almost unstoppable fountain of stamina and energy.       Yes, we’re all human, so we sometimes run out of juice….   but  more often than not  there’s a way to refill, replenish and have yet MORE to share for those who have learned this energetic rule!

Think about how when you love someone, you have more patience for them.  Or how when you’re brave and share  yourself, you find it easier to open up and talk about more things later.    If you’re real and honest, you will see friends being more real and you see them sharing that gift with others.     If you give time and effort to help other people be fed, safe, clothed, etc – you’ll see that energy of sharing expand  and other people will want to join in.  Even if you start small, sharing will get bigger and bigger and so will the gains for everyone.

There’s always MORE… we just have to learn to truly, legit share!

 

 

 

Friday Toon Butterfly Effect 11.20.2015

butterflyeffect

 

Have you ever heard of the butterfly effect?   This theory of inter-relatedness guided my cartoon illustration this week.    It says that the flapping wings of a single butterfly impacts the weather patterns of the entire world, that the tiniest change can have a big influence.     Is it any wonder we’re scared of metamorphosis and change?

We’re scared that we’ll flap our wing the wrong way and set some horrible typhoon in motion.  But by far the greatest fear we have is not being able to change at all, or that we’ll wake up another day,  month or year older and be unchanged.   We fear the insanity of doing the same thing over and over and expecting things to be different.

In this big month theme of “getting things done” and embracing change… it’s the perfect time to think of our relationship to change itself and cope with the main obstacles to creating new habits.

 

CHANGE IS ALWAYS POSSIBLE

Change is always possible because change is always happening.  This is the most important rule to remember of all.  It doesn’t matter what you’ve heard growing up ( a leopard doesn’t change its spots,  people don’t change, etc.)    you CAN change.   Honestly, I used to believe these negative statements myself, – but I’ve seen the dynamic and mind-blowing changes that I and others underwent through the process of growth for myself.     I’ve seen people who are terrified to be communicative and open become fantastic communicators,  I’ve seen people who used to be terrified, needy and attached in their relationships emerge as butterflies in solid, long term, trusting bonds with themselves and others.    I’ve seen such fantastic changes in myself that it would take months to write them all down.

Phobias, depression, fears,  mistakes or errors… are all changeable.  Believe it!

It doesn’t matter if a change is small (making a new habit stick)  or huge  (finding love)…. change is always possible. The next time you doubt this rule, think of an example from your own life of a way in which you have changed already.    Chances are, the you you are today is wiser than an old version of you.    Once you wore diapers and couldn’t find your feet;  now you can use a cell phone and make risotto!    See?  You’ve already changed … and that’s proof that it is not only possible but MANDATORY in this life.

so how do we get in a better relationship with change?

FIND WHERE CHANGE BEGINS

Change begins with you and depends on you.     Most of us get tricked into thinking that change somehow starts  OUTSIDE of us.  We wait for someone to change, for something to change, for circumstances to finally make something “happen” that we think we want.   We think that if that special circumstance were to happen  (house will sell, lotto number will hit, hunky guy will call, someone will see things the “right” way ) that THEN we’d have positive changes.

That’s not really how it works though.  Change does NOT exist in just in the OUTSIDE world… it begins in the  INSIDE WORLD.  And that’s the only place it every *can* exist.   Woah. What a concept.  Don’t believe me?     Think of the person who gets all the things that they think they want .. fame, celebrity, money … and yet they’re still miserable.  How come?  Because change that happens outside of us doesn’t really make an impact on us unless our inside story agrees with that  reality.     Even if we get the guy, or the nose job, if our inner perception is one of unhappiness, the outside circumstance will never matter.

Always remember that change begins with you.  This is true whether your issue is a relationship, or something that involves others.  The amount of change you see in the world is equal to your willingness to see things in a different way and to commit to new thoughts and choices to create the kind of life you wish to live.

CHANGE BUILDS UP OVER TIME

We grow up believing that one BIG move changes our lives.      Nope!  Change energy is the same no matter what form it takes:  events can happen quickly  (blink of an eye!)   but lasting change evolves through lots of cumulative creations and new daily habits and routines.        That does NOT mean that positive changes take many years or that there’s always “hard work” to do.        In fact, change happens at an equal level to how willing we are.  That means that the more we commit to making changes and the more we trust ourselves in that process, the faster we will see results.

Change requires bravery and pushing ourselves for sure, but when we practice and make small steps every day, pretty soon those changes get easier and easier and we see more and more progress.   Imagine learning to run a marathon. At first it might seem hard to run more than a few minutes at a time, but as you consistently expand on the plan and make adjustments daily, pretty soon five minutes becomes ten and then the miles themselves start to fly by with ease.     Or imagine we meet someone great – then what? Then we have to learn to communicate and connect.   There’s always an adventure or lesson to learn – change never ends.

Our fearful ego asks,  “When does the good stuff finally arrive?”  like somehow magically it all happens at once and we just get all that messy, scary “unknowns” over with.    But change happens in an accumulation of habits, choices and actions no matter how fast events transpire.

Remind yourself that all the great works of art, relationships, businesses, and things of beauty in the world were ultimately the products of evolution, persistence and building even when miracles were delivered or inspiration hit like lightning.

 
1) Don’t give up on making new habits if you don’t get a “Reward” right away or in the way you think you should when you make your first few attempts do do something differently.    For example;   don’t go to a fun class and then despair because you didn’t meet a new man and then give up and quit the class.  Don’t stop taking care of your diet and exercise because you didn’t lose your goal weight in one day.

2) If you are frustrated and meeting obstacles, review your intentions   — Are you doing something for YOURSELF or are you doing things in the hopes it will change other people or force an external change?    If you are taking that class for YOU, then you don’t care who you meet and if you are changing your diet for your health then you don’t mind if you didn’t lose today’s weight goal because your intention is  on the big picture.

3) Don’t wait for other people, places or things to line up and make you happy.  Ask yourself what kind of day your soul wants to live out… and get busy doing small steps to make that a reality TODAY.     That way,  when external circumstances change, you won’t depend on them for your happiness.

4) Change builds up and accumulates, getting bigger and strong and more effective.  Small steps lead to BIG changes.  You can choose to see small steps and consistent routines your friends.   Consistency matters in all human habits and rewiring ourselves to do new routines.

5) Identify the positive changes you wish to make and make SPECIFIC plans to act them out during your day.  Don’t wait for something to “Finally arrive” make it arrive.  If you feel frustrated, it could be that your intention is about something EXTERNAL instead of internal.  Shift your intention and energy to your inner world.  For example… if you want loving communication, instead of waiting for someone to communicate kindly to you… how are YOU acting on this in your inner world?  Are you speaking lovingly to yourself?    Others?  Are you communicating with your partner in a loving clear way?  What SPECIFIC plans could you make to communicate lovingly today?

6)  When it comes to attracting supporters and things to you, those same specific plans are important.  Think about ways in which you are watering and nourishing habits and rituals every day that make this possible in practical reality.  For example, if you want to create financial success, are you  making a specific plan  to care for your finances?  Are you identifying what you can do better tomorrow?  Are you creating generous acts that you can do today?  Are you supporting others?

7)   The more specific you get, the more you can focus on small steps and goals. The more you feel as though you are acting and committing to small acts of bravery, the more you trust yourself to roll with change.

8) When you change within, and focus on your growth and watering your garden, your faith in Spirit grows and your faith in yourself grows. When that happens, just like in the BUTTERFLY EFFECT, you have a really profound effect on all the people you meet or interact with.   Small steps create endless ripples of change for the world!

Friday Toon 6 November 2015

todolist

 

When I drew this cartoon, I was drawing on many moments of creative procrastination.  Being “busy” with illegitimate tasks is the cousin of sitting around doing nothing.  Both help us avoid our purpose and passion.

It’s a time of getting things done.  As I’ve been trying to focus more of my efforts in towards those things that matter, I keep coming across tips to write to-do lists and to identify what it is we need to do. The trouble is, the silverware drawer is never more tidy than when something WORSE needs to be done ( like scheduling a root canal, taxes, giant expense report for the boss, etc).      It’s then that we get distracted with all kinds of suddenly VERY important missions.

I totally relate to having some pressing, timely and important thing to do and suddenly being possessed with an all encompassing desire to know how tall Hervez Villachaize was  (3’10”), or how long alligators can grow to.   Even when we DO get focused on our real to-do list, the procrastination demon can strike again and make distractions like email, texts, and other tasks rise up.

The thing that has helped me more is not just to make a to-do list. (I’m GREAT at making to-do lists, and I couldn’t live without ‘em – but sometimes they sit there stacked with things that never get checked off)   What works even better for someone working on multiple projects, deadlines or goals is to have a special separate list of the 1-3 MOST IMPORTANT things and to commit to focusing distraction free blocks of time just on those.   You will likely have time to do a lot more things, but those three are the ones you want to do no matter what!

I’m going to write more on some of the methods/tools/apps  I’ve come across later,  but trying this tip out over the last two weeks thanks to an app called Fabulous, it  has really helped me refine what is and isn’t important for the day.

 

Have a great weekend! Smile

friday toon 23rd October 2015

silenttreatment

 

Drawing this one was a lot of fun.    Yeah. I admit to having been Whiskers a time or two in my life.  When we’re hurting and giving someone else the “silent treatment”  it’s usually because we don’t see any other way.  We think that we’ve tried to really communicate,  and worse, that they just don’t get it, can’t get it, never will get it… and so forget ‘em!!!     FOREVER!!!

However, in the midst of all that “I’m done with you forever!” energy, what we really want is for the other person to SEE our pain, to understand the problem.  It’s a desperate plea for help.   We’re really not letting it go and getting rid of it like we think we are, “Well I don’t have time for this problem in my life… I’m distancing myself from it.”   But we’re not really ignoring it like we think we are (we’re chewing  on it mentally and emotionally)   It just puts it off for later.

The silent treatment is a form of punishment because we want to hurt the other person for how badly they misunderstood us or don’t respect our thoughts. We want to withdraw to the extent that they miss us or feel terrible and are FORCED to change.  Unfortunately it’s immature and it punishes ourselves just as much as it punishes them;  it injects greater pain and distance into the problem so that it just gets bigger and bigger.    It’s a totally ineffective bid for attention.  Most of the time your partner will either be closed down and hurt ,  or just as oblivious as Bob.

What works better? Plain old fashioned communication, making progress more important than our ego, and yes even some forgiveness and apology.    It’s funny how we are sometimes afraid to do those very things that will really take care of the problem instead of slapping a band-aid on it because we are afraid it can’t work.  But you know what can’t work?   The Silent Treatment  or any of its friends (punishment, slamming doors in the hopes someone notices you’re mad, etc.)

Being kind to yourself, and loving to yourself sometimes means forgiving others so that you can move forward and be understood.

 

Have a great weekend Smile