Thursday, March 14, 2013

March Rebellion

I awoke this morning stiff and sore at the sight of winter’s black, littered sidewalks. It was in the low 30’s and my car didn't need warming. The snow is melting and spring is just toying with us. The clocks are shooting bullets and minutes and seconds into our daylight hours and when I awake it’s still dark out. The dreariness of winter has crept in. I rolled onto my yoga mat early like a bear this morning. Way before the sun was up, I started breathing. I glued my palms to the ground faithfully, but routinely: Down dog. Breathe. Stretch. Plank. Breathe. Flow. Reach. Wake up.Warrior. Breathe… Get up. Go to work. Make dinner. Make more money. Brush your teeth. Floss. Get your work done. Get to bed on time. Get up. Do it all over again…

The rebellion started in my yoga practice at a very distinct moment last March. I suddenly felt a piercing shot of sweetness in my lower back. A sharp shooting pain that started in my left butt cheek, creased into my hip, and shot straight up my spine. In a quick moment I just exhaled and collapsed into pain on the ground. Now traditionally,my usual response to something like this might be anger and frustration at myself, embarrassment, or blame on the yoga teacher for pushing us too hard. Perhaps it’s an old injury? Maybe I did the move wrong? Maybe I had just taken my usual moves for granted and stopped engaging my core for protection. All it takes isa second of disengagement; just a second of having your guard down, and you’re down for the count. I would frantically try to diagnose the problem and even panic while imagining what life would be like if I couldn't ever move my legs again. 

After years and years of self-masochism, something inside my heart finally clicked into place. I gathered myself in child’s pose. My forehead touched the ground in worship and gratitude. I just slowed the noise in my head and tears and sweat dripped onto my mat. I sat with the pain. I sat with the discomfort and didn't struggle. I was that girl crying in yoga class, but instead of judgment or justification for the tears, I just let it all go.

You’ll be okay. You’re strong enough. I told myself kindly. Sometimes these things happen. It’s not your fault,Amy, you’ll heal. A kind, inner voice started speaking to me compassionately. I stretched through the pain and tried to just breathe. I started to pick my body up but had to re-learn the most basic moves to compensate for my left hip.Finally, I didn't force movement; I just rested. I was forced to sit quietly and take up the usual space on my mat with just my breath alone. While still in savasana, the world moved frantically around me, but a peace came over me. Then,a fierce confidence in the universe hit me. I felt my body heavy and painless;a feast to the earth that supported it. Everything that was meant to happen will just happen, and I will be okay.

It was in that moment, with the ground underneath me, that I started receiving exactly what I wanted. I started manifesting my intentions  I stopped the usual cravings and pangs and started trusting in abundance. I stopped wishing for a partner to woo me with flowers and buy a home with me. I stopped crossing my fingers and toes to get through the next paycheck. I stopped longing to get married and have kids. I stopped craving a mother who made me soup when I was sick and I finally stopped yearning for a father who stopped drinking. This was my rebellion: A break in the patterns of yearning and replacing the frantic thoughts with trust. Suddenly I expected greatness and nothing less.

A year later, this March is even more insistent than the last. My brother called with a cryptic message explaining that my father was in the hospital again from drinking too much. I felt a twinge of pain in my lower back this morning on my mat; a simple reminder to slow down, breathe and sit with the discomfort of winter. My rebellion is to trust that spring will eventually come and I simply bow my head and say thank you for it when it does. 

I don’t search or grasp in downward dog anymore. I don’t look around at other people in class and reach for them. I just rest. I expect flowers and romance. I expect warm soup from my dear friends. I’m building a home for myself and I have children all around me. Life is not monotonous anymore. I just let my palms sink into the mat and my strong arms float my hips up, effortlessly. I dive and jump in. The pain in my hip always soothes eventually, but remains an occasional reminder not to lean too much onto the future. Letting go, living in the present, and being kind to myself, are all extreme acts of bravery. Trusting in the abundance of the universe is one of the most delicious acts of rebellion. 


This article first appeared in Minerva Rising. Visit their site and support them! So honored to be a contributor in this literary journal. 

Monday, November 19, 2012

On My Mat...

The sun is shining bright this morning and I just did some sun salutations in the corner of my office. It's sparkling and glittering like Springtime. When I long for the Spring on these long, dark days before Winter Solstice, it's nice to find small moments of brightness and revelation on the mat. It feels good just to breathe and move and stretch out all the anxiety and bad dreams from the night before. I am not a morning person, so there is no gracefulness to a morning practice. It's rather bearlike; all paws. I wake up resistant, angry, resentful that I have to keep on. But... for some reason lately, I'm driven to climb onto the floor every morning and lift into a devotional down dog, even when my brain believes it to be a terrible, terrible idea.

I've committed to show up on my yoga mat everyday now, a daily practice, even if it's only 30 minutes or... 3 minutes... even on the days when I rush around, working 12 hours, and can't even manage to wash my dishes or my hair. A commitment to my practice is a commitment to myself. I'm at the point now that if I don't do yoga, for even a day, I feel off balance and agitated. A healthy addiction maybe? 

I recently pulled the Nine of Pentacles card in a reading. I call this card the yoga practice card because it shows the figure standing in beautiful, full garden alone. It represents all the discipline of a practice. The garden brings the figure many riches in the future and yet, because of her fierce discipline, she stands in the present, alone, lonely and sometimes dissatisfied.  In some decks there are animal friends depicted with her, usually a hooded falcon, still only representing an intense training regime, instead of a relationship. The lesson of this card is what follows. The following card, the Ten of Pentacles, shows a couple surrounded by a harvest and riches, suggesting that practice needs to happen to sustain a relationship and enjoy a bountiful harvest.

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Hello November! Mercury In Retrograde? Yikes...

Mercury is in retrograde again and there is a solar eclipse in Scorpio. WHAT? Yeah, and it started on Election Day, but despite the clear winnings on the 6th, we are still in for some rocky roads during the next few weeks. Time to conserve energy and not be social. Stay in. Don't date. Don't throw a birthday party. Is it football season? Don't go to a football game. Don't leave your house actually, or your bed. Just watch movies on your iPad all day under the covers. Tell your roommate she's being too loud. Don't even go to work, just hibernate all winter like a brown bear. Ok ok ok, for those of us who can't do this, best to just hunker down in your office and catch up on emails quietly. 

Social events and emotions are muddy, communication is a bust, and even though you thought you confirmed plans with your friend twice, she heard something else entirely. Best not to text message about the details or you might drive for hours and show up unannounced, or even run into car trouble on the way. Also, it will probably rain a lot and be dreary. You'll forget your umbrella.

You will however  have a very confusing sexual appetite all while wanting to burst into tears. This is the Scorpio's energy combined with the homeostasis of the retrograde. On December 15th the retrograde will stop and things will be less confusing. Clarity will come soon, just be patient. Take this opportunity to reflect on the past and heal the broken parts the best ways you know how, even if that means skipping the gym and having some comfort food. 

The Death Card is the Scorpio card in the tarot deck. It represents a dying out of some kind and a rebirth into a new you. It's the perfect card for November. You are planting the seeds and bulbs for the spring. How can you evolve? Who will you be? Who do you want on your team?  How do you want to feel about yourself? (Hopefully, this time around, you won't be that same old tired defensive controlling weird person you once were.) 
It is said that those who fight the changes and grieving process around the death card (and the month of November) end up making more problems for themselves in the long run. Why not try something different this time, don't fight it, just let go. My very wise-beyond-her-years pregnant friend said to me yesterday as we were cleaning up her yard and planting crocus bulbs: "planting bulbs in November is an act of faith". She's right. It's faith in the future, trust in ourselves, and trust that spring will come again. We will survive the winter, everything will unwind, we will find happiness again and again and again, we must be patient. 

Saturday, November 10, 2012

Ten Tarot Stages of a Healthy Break Up

1. Denial Stage. 
Wait. What? That's not healthy? Well, it is as long as it only lasts for a week or two. This is the stage where you are not together, but you're still acting like you are. Every little daily accomplishment, like brushing your teeth, warrants a text, but then you suddenly remember that you're not together anymore and hesitate while texting "I just brushed my teeth and thought of you". You try to resist thinking of them and you lesson the amount of times you talk to them throughout the day, phew! That was difficult. Later that night, you end up inviting yourself over and snuggling on the couch. Of course they still find you attractive. Of course you two make sense. Your friends are confused and ask things like "wait, I thought you broke up? Are you getting back together?"

2. Working Late Stage. 
Loneliness sets in on the evenings you'd normally be at that person's house (you're still not ready to call them your "ex" yet), so you pick up a couple of extra shifts. You're on top of emails and you even save the day by taking a shift for your married co-worker whose husband needs something, something... (you stopped listening after she referenced her relationship). Your boss notices your sudden participation and general mopiness around the office, but she doesn't say much because, hey, it must be personal, and you're blowing through your reports like a rock star. You congratulate yourself when you leave the office at 11:30pm in a snow storm. You think to yourself and smile as you scrape the ice off your windshield: The promotion will come soon. I'm so productive. Also, I'm awesome. 

3. Empowering Breakup Music Mix Stage. 
You make the most amazing, empowering music mix on iTunes and justify purchasing an old Mariah Carey song from the 90's because it works with the musical transition between Whitney Houston and Cher. You decide on the Gloria Gainer version of "I Will Survive", instead of the Cake version, because you're a classy lady and there's no need to be vengeful. The mix also includes Adele remakes by the Glee Cast. You sing the line "Never-mind, I'll Find Someone Like You..." loudly in your Honda between work appointments. The mix becomes your mantra. 

4. Have You Been Working Out Stage. 
Suddenly your friends start asking you if you've been working out. You flex your biceps for them and say: "just a little bit, you know, whatever..." You just purchased a gym membership, resistance bands, running pants, and a new yoga mat. On days when you feel sad you go to a power yoga class and sweat it out. The guy next to you is sweating buckets and smells like Campbell's chicken noodle soup, but you don't care because you're being spiritual. You're yoga teacher is so kind and giving, she makes you hold plank for ten breaths. On days when you feel anger you put on your running shoes and scramble throughout the neighborhood listening to your Empowering Break-up Mix. As Kelly Clarkson belts out that she can finally breathe for the first time, you too finally get your wheezy breathing and anger under control. That's when you fantasize about whether or not you’d take them back if they asked. You finally resolve to deal with your feelings with a new weightlifting regime at the gym and some good old-fashioned aerobic exercise. At one point, in mile 3 on the elliptical, you're in the zone and think: This feels better than sex. Who needs sex? Nobody. That's who.   

5. Nesting Stage. 
Your roommate loves you and hates you because you just cleaned and re-arranged the entire apartment. Although she can cook in a spotless kitchen and eat off the floors, she can't find her coffee filters or soy sauce. You've rearranged and weeded through everything, even the Tupperware lids. Now that you're not moving in with said person, you are ready to nest and invest in your own space again. You were avoiding it, but you even weeded through some old love letters and kept only the essential ones, evidence that they did in fact love you. You finished the stage by changing the sheets and putting on fresh pillow cases. Your bed no longer smells like them. It smells like you, and your cat. Your cat is happy she no longer have to share you with anyone else. She rewards you by curling up and snuggling with you in the evenings and pawing at your face in the mornings. 

6. Looking Good Stage. 
Not only do you look good, you look hot. You go shopping in your own closet and find outfits said person never even got to see you in. You dress up for work meetings, look cute when running errands, and you even partake in tasteful, yet sexy public cleavage-dress photos on Facebook. You also go to Walgreen's at 9pm on a Monday night and decide it’s time to dye your hair a new, brilliant color to reflect the change of seasons. On Tuesday, said person texts you in a moment of regret and asks you to meet them at Whole Foods for lunch in 20 minutes (apparently they're still in denial stage). No time to go home and change, lucky for you, you already look hot. You’re wearing your skinny jeans, brown boots and scarf. Your ass looks great. Your hair is brilliant and not frizzy at all. As they attempt to not sexualize you and stick to their original decision to end things, they say you look: “so good, so different...” and you’re boots look: “so tall and brown...” They trail off and question to themselves if they actually made a mistake. It feels good knowing that you could have sex with them if you wanted to, right then and there in the Whole Foods parking lot, but you respect yourself too much for that. 

7. Social Stage. 
Instead of staying in with said person, you attend social events on Wednesday, Thursday, Friday, and Saturday nights. You try not to make faces at the cute couples surrounding you. People start expecting you to know certain details about parties and when you go out you always are meeting new people and running into old friends who haven’t seen you since, well, since the last time you were single. Friends even start setting you up with their single friends, but preface with:  "when you're ready, of course, no pressure". You're married friends ask you if you're going to go on OK Cupid again and then ask you to fill them in on the gossip. You know all the gossip, not just because you're connected on Facebook, but because you were actually there when it all went down. Also, you’re fucking awesome. 

8. Independence Stage.
You finally start imagining a future without your Ex. You plan out explicitly how you will buy a house and have children without them. You actually start making long-term plans for you and only you (just in case it’s in the cards that you remain single forever). Your friends assure you that you will eventually meet someone who is right and ready for you. You mostly believe them, but it is still imperative for you to plan how to get the things you want independently. You celebrate your independence with red velvet cupcakes from the local bakery and champagne. You are completely free. You can do anything and/or anyone. You. Can. Do. Anything. You. Want. You don’t have to negotiate time and weekend plans with said ex, you don’t have to plan meals for two, you can buy whatever type of laundry detergent you want because no one has opinions about it. No compromises here. 

9. Therapy Stage. 
You see your therapist weekly. She's brilliant, smart, funny, and validating. She's one of those Reike practitioners and even makes you pick a goddess card every visit. If this breakup were a baseball game, she'd sit in the stands quietly and consistently and root for your team. Finally you have a break-through on the quintessential therapy sofa and you cry in front of another adult. ...Therapists are kind of like a strangers, except they know all this stuff about you, and you pay them lots of money. It feels weird to cry in front of her, but you decide to give in and she tosses you the box of tissues. You discover you're quite boring and less intense than you thought were because you link the larger issues in your last relationship to your childhood. Thank god you have sunglasses in your bag so you can cover your bloodshot eyes upon exiting her office. The next guy in the waiting room looks worse off than you and you attempt a quick, reassuring smile. You spend the rest of the day napping. Therapy is exhausting. 

10. Gold Star Stage. 
Good Job. You’re amazing. If there were gold star stickers given out to evolved adults who handle tough situations with resilience, humor and ease, you’d get fifteen. You managed to successfully move through a breakup without posting passive aggressive songs on your Facebook wall, burning a hole in your bank account, losing your friends, ruining your reputation, or coping with sex, alcohol, drugs, or food. Continue to surround yourself with good friends and be patient, loving and open, because you’re fucking awesome.

Kenny Rogers & The Eight of Cups

"You got to know when to hold 'em, know when to fold 'em,
Know when to walk away and know when to run.
You never count your money when you're sittin' at the table.
There will be time enough for countin' when the dealin's done."

-The Gambler
The Eight of Cups always reminds me of that Kenny Rogers song I used to sing when I was little. It describes someone who is down on luck, riding a train in the middle of the night to god knows where. The narrator meets a gambler that dies on the train that night, but in his final words he reveals some wisdom about life. Using the cards as a metaphor, the gambler speaks about knowing when to hang on and trust the situation verses knowing when to leave. He also says that in every hand dealt, there are winning cards and losing cards, so it's about knowing what to throw away and what to keep. 

This is the spirit of the XIII of cups card. In the Wait deck you see the figure shrouded and ready to walk away from his cups and journey off into the distance towards the mountains. These mountains symbolize long-term goals, and perhaps the very reason the character knows it's time to leave. Sometimes we just know exactly when to leave the party, leave the job, leave the relationship, move away... These instincts are really important to listen to and it's important to follow through with these instincts in healthy ways or we'll just end up repeating the same situations over and over again. In the herbalist deck you see a similar image, only there's a ship sailing out into sea. Gravel Root is the plant depicted and is used medicinally to treat urinary tract problems and kidney stones. Read more here:

In career readings this is a great card to get if you are leaving a job. It means that you have learned all you can learn professionally in that position. It's time to think about the future and grow in different ways while doing different types of work. Often this card will appear in a drastic career change, instead of a promotion in the same type of job. Because the figure is shrouded and there are cups involved, it often suggests that the separation isn't easy and there are a ton of emotional ties we have to sever. This makes the change heavy and makes us have moments where we doubt our instincts to leave. Ultimately though, we know deep down that the time is right. (Paired with the Justice card, a person may not have that inherent knowledge and trust in their instincts, but they will still choose to leave because they need to try something different.)

In readings about relationships, it definitely can symbolize a breakup, but more realistically, it represents the time after the breakup when someone actually lets go of the relationship and just knows inherently that it's time to move on. If this card is in a future position it can mean someone taking a trip or moving; they are gaining actual physical distance from the place that the relationship happened. Regardless of the position of the card, this relationship was big and allowed both parties to access feelings they haven't felt before. It's best to take these gifts learned and continue on in healthy ways. Look for card pairings with the Two of Cups, Five of Pentacles or Five of Swords. (Two of Cups means you'll be friends in the end, Five of Pentacles suggest that this person was unhealthy for you, and Five of Swords means you should watch how you cope with feelings of jealousy and defeat.)

Check out the next post for the “Stages of a Healthy Breakup...”

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

The Fool.

The Fool card reminds me of male adolescence. The character depicted has just set off on his journey through the major arcana cards and has no idea what is in store for him. He has his whole life ahead of him and he's about to seriously fuck some shit up. Pulling this card tells a story of adventure, playfulness, and ripe potential. The Fool has a reckless and carefree way about him. Ignorance is bliss. The Fool's travel companion a small white pup tugging on his pants reminding him, perhaps begging him, to be careful and watch where he is going so he will not be made a fool. Some see this as a warning card. In other readings it may symbolize a person that is playful and not quite mature enough to anticipate the consequences of their actions. This is not always a bad thing of course; for those of us who like to micro-manage and be in control, it is good to pull this card and be reminded of how adolescents can easily let things go and move onto a new trend/relationship/job effortlessly. Adults tend to hold on to things more tightly; way more than the awkward and messy teenager...

Saturday, February 11, 2012

The Lovers

February Special!  
All readings $15 Starting Feb. 14th. (Gift cards available). 

The Lovers card represents choices. A decision is to be made around romantic relationships and/or friendships. Sometimes in a career reading, for example, it can represent a more general life choice, but it always evokes us to ask what -or who- we truly love. It is a card representing duality; the yin and yang of a situation; masculinity and femininity. If reversed, it is harder for the querent to even see the options they have. (When paired with the seven of cups, there are too many options.) 

The reaction of people I read for when they pull The Lovers card is a testament to its power. People always think that if the card is present, it must be true love, or they will meet their person and live happily ever after. It's a tad more complicated... When pulling The Lovers card it's important to check out the cards surrounding it and remember that it doesn't represent the feeling of love, rather a decision concerning the concept of love. Cups cards speak more to the feelings of love and compassion. When using tarot cards in meditation or on your alter, I like using the Two of Cups card or the Queen of Cups card to conjure more love in my life. 

The Lovers card reversed can also symbolize a lack of communication within a relationship. The love that the querent has for the person may be strong in feeling, but is extremely clouded by other factors. Paired with the Eight of Swords or The Devil card, it can alert the querent to potentially harmful entanglements in a relationship. Some relationships, in other words, just are not good for us and our health. The tree card below depicts the entanglement idea nicely.

Sometimes The Lovers card can literally mean that the querent has to choose one of two loves. (Kind of like that Ani Difranco song School Night). The Lovers card also reminds me of the Robert Frost Poem, The Road Not Taken. Especially paired with The Emperor or The Hierophant, it reminds us to ignore societal conventions and familial expectations for our relationships and happy endings. It reminds us to make the choice that is less conventional, because life is not about happy endings or pleasing others or having a date for Valentine's Day, it's about our personal journey and how who we will become in relationships with other people. Sometimes this means that we must try a relationship, even when important people in our lives tell us we shouldn't. Watch for The Moon card (listening to your instincts) when this happens...

The Road Not Taken
Two roads diverged in a yellow wood,
And sorry I could not travel both
And be one traveler, long I stood
And looked down one as far as I could
To where it bent in the undergrowth;

Then took the other, as just as fair,
And having perhaps the better claim
Because it was grassy and wanted wear,
Though as for that the passing there
Had worn them really about the same,

And both that morning equally lay
In leaves no step had trodden black.
Oh, I marked the first for another day!
Yet knowing how way leads on to way
I doubted if I should ever come back.

I shall be telling this with a sigh
Somewhere ages and ages hence:
Two roads diverged in a wood, and I,
I took the one less traveled by,
And that has made all the difference.

Love or Lust? 
Sometimes I have difficulty telling the difference between the two. When The Lovers card is paired with the Two of cups card and The Moon card, the querent is in love. But I think many of us often confuse love and infatuation. I think love is a feeling and needs time to grow and solidify. Lust is more about physical attraction, and infatuation is the hope for that person new relationship to last. I think it's important to distinguish between the three... When The Lovers card is paired with a King or Queen of Wands, perhaps it's just really, really good sex. Throw an Ace card in there, in a future position, and you may meet one of your soul mates! (I believe we have multiple soul mates.) Throw The Fool card or a Page card in the mix and watch out for immaturity and drama.