This time of year there are angels everywhere: in malls, on Christmas cards, hanging from my neighbor’s roof — you name it. I like the ones at Rockefeller Center myself:
We tend to focus on the one angel who brought the news of Jesus’s birth – and that would be Archangel Gabriel. Now I know she (yes, she’s the only one depicted as a girl in art and literature) works more than that one day a year. So I decided to find out more about this entity who was entrusted with the biggest Facebook post of all time.
Gabriel is — no surprise — the angel of communication. She’s the one to call upon if you’re a writer, artist, journalist, or anyone who needs to get their message out. This goes for psychic work as well; Gabriel can help unblock your Third Eye and send you angelic guidance, prophetic dreams and visions (might want to not be driving when you send up your request. Just sayin’).
Archangel Gabriel can send inspiration and motivation — and she will give you a righteous kick in the ass if you are held hostage by fear and procrastination.
If you feel like you’re not where you need to be, that you’ve fallen off your “path” — give her a shout . She’ll get you straightened out and send you hints, info and nudges that will reveal your true calling. So needless to say, when you’re considering a career or job change, add Gabriel to your LinkedIn contacts.
But she’s not just about communication themes: like most women, she’s got a practical streak. Call on Gabriel if you’re trying to either get pregnant or adopt a child. She can help if you’re buying or selling a house. She’s also gonna help you out if you’ve overdone it on junk food, booze or anything else not Dr. Oz-approved; Gabriel will help you put down that box of Franzia, those Salem menthols, and purify your body. This goes for toxic thoughts, too. After all the family dysfunction this season brings, that’ll come in handy.
Gabriel is one of only two angels mentioned by name in the Old Testament (Michael is the other); clearly, she made an impression. And she doesn’t mess around: when you call on her, she will push you into the kind of action that will lead to wonderful things. So ring her up — and then “hark” to what this amazing “herald angel” has to say to you. It will be life-changing.
One of my Facebook friends has been sharing some hairy details of a family feud. It’s not pretty. The stories she tells are awful: stalking, theft of property promised on a parent’s death bed, and far too many cruel words. Most of this seems to emanate from one member of the family, to the pain of everyone else. Underlying the gory details is frustration that this one awful person is “getting away with it,” that others still think of them as the epitome of a good Christian when privately, they act more like Rosemary’s Baby.
We’ve all known someone who can be the most terrible, sneaky human ever– and somehow, they manage to escape judgement. In public life, we’ve seen those who continue to succeed, despite heinous behavior (former Vice President Dick Cheney — who helped lie us into Iraq and outed CIA agent Valerie Plame is my personal bete noir). It makes you want to throw one righteous temper tantrum.
Yes, it would be enormously gratifying to see those people embarrassed, brought down and otherwise smacked in the face with rotten tomatoes. That would satisfy our egos. But just because a public shaming doesn’t occur, doesn’t mean they “get away with it.”
You know how they say that your life flashes before you when you die? It’s my belief that, at that moment, we experience a sense of both our good moments, and bad. If you accept that you had those dark moments, if you own it — then you pass into enlightenment. The owning of those moments can be tough; I think you get a true measure of the pain you have caused with every thoughtless, selfish gesture. It’s a fleeting moment, but being willing to suffer through it is the price we pay for enlightenment and entrance into the Light. This is how our soul grows.
There are those, however, who cannot bear to look at what they have done (and in some cases, with good reason. Would YOU want to trade places with Hitler? Didn’t think so). They turn away — literally — from the Light. The dark place where their soul stays stuck is a kind of punishment you can’t imagine. I supposed you could call it Hell –although minus any demons and pitchforks. It’s the absence of Light that’s the true torture.
I once went through a guided meditation that was meant to give us a taste of what this “low level” was like. I have to tell you, I felt sick to my stomach — and racked with sorrow for what people endure in that place. And that was about 1/100,000,000th of what they experience.
The point is, is that no one gets away with anything. The best we can do when presented with these frustrating people is to stay in our own lane and remember that they will be held accountable at some point.
In plainer terms, “What goes around, comes around”….”Every dog has its day”…and my favorite, “Karma’s a big bitch with PMS.” Stay peaceful.
With Thanksgiving upon us, I’m seeing tons of ads for Black Friday. “Sale! Sale! Sale!” “Buy! Buy! Buy!”
This is the time of year when people line up at 5 in the morning, just to pick up some ginormous flatscreen TV. This is the time of year that feeds a never-ending appetite for stuff. There’s no diet that can kill that ravenous hunger. Unless….
Unless we start to appreciate what we already have. I was cleaning out a room in my house the other day, and it gave me a chance to notice things like my wonderful collection of books, the wall hanging my sister made me out of one of our grandmother’s quilts, the beautiful Maxfield Parrish print that makes me smile, the comfy love seat that my cat sleeps on while I read. It made me happy.
Sheryl Crow once sang, “It’s not having what you want, its wanting what you got.” Appreciating what we have brings a certain sense of peace. And ironically, it changes the energy, allowing “more” to flow into our life. I think it’s because, when we constantly want for more stuff, love, money, whatever, the underlying message is “lack.” We magnify that thought when we remain unsatisfied — but when we FEEL rich, that feeling also gets amped up.
It also helps to look at the blessing that a bad experience or challenge offers: adversity can offer us a gift if we look for it. When I was 19, I ran across a saying in my Philosophy class (don’t ALL 19 year olds take Philosophy?) that stayed with me: “What doesn’t kill me, makes me stronger.” Nietzche may have had plenty of issues, but he got it right with that observation. Turn your dark moments inside out and find the hidden gem within.
Anyway, stop right now and count your blessings. Literally. Make every day one where you “give thanks” for everything that’s going right in your life. Notice what happens after just a week or so. That flatscreen may not be so appealing after all.
It was about a week ago that I woke up and realized that my house was still standing after Hurricane Sandy. The days prior to it were a blur of stocking up on food, batteries, gasoline; taking down all my windchimes (I have a LOT of windchimes) and birdfeeders — and generally gazing at the sky a lot. Not to mention the many big trees in my yard.
When it started to blow, all I could do was pray. And when I saw that I had only suffered a ton of branches down in the yard, I was truly grateful.
There are many, many people in my area that were not so lucky. It’s been hard seeing people who’ve lost literally everything — and it put me in mind of this particular Tarot card:
The Tower shows a King and Queen being knocked out of their supposedly bullet-proof castle and flat onto their ass. Their wealth and prestige is useless. They are humbled before the forces of the Universe. But check out those little yellow “droplets” — they represent the Hebrew word for “wisdom.”
When you are knocked out of your castle — literally or figuratively –you have the option of either sitting in the wreckage, cursing your luck, or trying to learn and grow from the experience. Each person who has suffered from Sandy (that bitch) will have their own path to follow in the aftermath; but in the overview, I would say we have seen some good come out of this disaster. Communities pull together and grow closer. Friends with power are letting other friends without it stay in their homes. One of my neighbors has started a clothing drive. On the long line for coffee at the one place that has juice, people are good-naturedly chatting instead of politely ignoring each other. For crying out loud, my governor, Chris Christie, has practically become sleep-over buddies with President Obama (whom he’d just trashed in a speech a week earlier).
I’m also convinced that the hardships of Sandy will lead to innovation. It was the blizzard of 1884 that led to the creation of the New York City subway system; I betcha five bucks that five years from now, we’ll see some interesting changes in our infrastructure.
So while it was a terrifying 48 hours, Sandy has left something unexpected in her wake: a reminder of our interconnectedness, the fact that we are tribal by nature and do best when we come together. For all of those still picking up the pieces, know that we have your back.
It was one of those Bucket List things that brought me to Trapeze School in New York City. I figured it would be fun, not to mention a good cocktail party story (assuming that I didn’t end up in the orthopedic wing of the hospital). But I had no idea I’d experience so many “a ha!” moments while flying through the air.
After the instructor tells us how to safely ascend the ladder and what to do when finally flying, its my turn. You climb up a rickety ladder, and there’s no other way down but to jump. So there I am, standing with toes over the edge of the platform, hands on the bar as another instructor grips the back of my safety harness. First command from the ground: “Get ready!” Second command: ’Hep!” (trapeze-speak for “Jump already!”) A nervous gulp and then I’m sailing through open space. And trying not to scream.
It’s an adrenaline rush. It’s terrifying and exciting. After landing in the net and clambering back to the ground, my inner 6 year old wants to do it again; my inner tax-paying citizen needs a stiff drink. The strongest thing they serve is bottled water, so I rally and take several more passes. By the end of the afternoon, I’ve finally mastered the Knee Hang – and even been caught by another instructor, mid-air.
Aside from the incredible memory (and a desire to go out and buy a spangly unitard), I also took away some unexpected spiritual lessons from hanging your ass out in the air, 23 feet up.
LESSON 1: Don’t try to do it all yourself. When you’re hanging off the bar, you’re keenly aware of physics in a way you never experienced in school. Gravity, Force, Momentum [G,F and M] become viscerally real. You have a physical sensation of them as they swirl around your body.
Trapeze “tricks” are more about timing than anything else: the more I try to wrestle my legs over the bar ahead of the right time, the harder it becomes. But when I trust in my invisible friends, G,F and M, the process is almost magical. It’s a reminder that, like with spirit guides and angels, there are plenty of things we can’t see – but they’re there to help us if we just let go a little and allow them.
LESSON 2: Listen. Our instructor was insistent we listen for his cues. He was almost cranky about it (guess he’d seen his share of Cirque du Soleil wannabes). He watched our timing and would tell us what to do, and when. Of course, I jumped the gun more than once and wound up flailing around like a fish on a hook. Not pretty. But when I turned off my own ego and actively listened to the Voice, the one who could see the big picture, it all just kind of happened. Note to self: listen to own Inner Voice more often to prevent unnecessary flailing.
LESSON 3: There’s always a net. The staff of Trapeze School told me that a lot of folks try the trapeze to conquer fears or learn about surrender and trust. Before I successfully got “caught” by my partner, I missed plenty of cues or catches and fell into the net. And I realized that no matter what happens in life, there’s always a net. It might be in the form of friends, helpful strangers or Providence. Screwing up isn’t the end of the world, so you may as well go for it.
So next time you’re standing atop the metaphorical platform, staring out into space, remember that Life is like the trapeze: even if you miss, you’ll bounce back. Literally.
Next Bucket List item: the Hot Dog eating contest at Coney Island.
Yesterday, I did a reading for a woman who’s family was less the Cleaversand more The AddamsFamily. Actually, now that I think about it, it was more like the Corleones.
Anyway, she was being driven absolutely ’round the bend by all kinds of dysfunction, fighting, back-biting and all that other fun stuff. Now, I’m all for professional counseling (or in some cases, heavy drinking) to navigate those stormy waters. But from a metaphysical sense, there’s another reason you’re giving each other the stinkeye across the Thanksgiving table.
You picked them.
Yup, before you hit the Universal Waterslide down into human form, you chose the family you entered into, because of the lessons that were going to be offered up. If you’re pulling your hair out at that idea, I feel ya. But think about it: who knows how to get under your skin, lift you up, beat you down, love you wildly or ignore you to the point of tears, better than your family? They offer a complete smorgasbord of human experience – and you’re gonna sample everything, even the stuff that tastes icky. And probably more than once.
I’m not saying this idea makes your family situation any easier — but understanding that there’s a reason behind all that friction offers a new perspective. Those are all opportunities to work through challenges and achieve some measure of growth.
Let me pull one out of my own family archive: one of my sisters is 12 years older. Ever since I was born, she has been “the boss.” Once I was out of diapers, that never sat so well with me. Our arguments were not fun, and it really became a problem after our mother died. We fought over every stupid thing, and it just seemed like neither of us could “hear” what the other said. I finally decided to sit down and write her an old-school letter, rather than our usual weekly phone call. It let me express myself without interruption, and hopefully, move the conversation(s) forward rather than into the weeds as it so often happened. That new approach changed our game a little bit, and we were able to sort through some of our issues.
The bottom line is, our thorny relationship forced us to find a new way to communicate. We either had to do that, or write each other off. The write-off may have been the more appealing option, but the Universe doesn’t play that way. You’re here to become a stronger, better human being — even just a little bit –or repeat your lessons all over again.
One of my friends notes that she’s stopped playing into her ex-husband’s negative attitude. It doesn’t necessarily change that lousy view of the world, but by not doing her usual thing, she stops a lot of arguments before they start — and she feels a lot more peaceful (it doesn’t hurt that she secretly enjoys that flummoxed look on his face when he can’t quite figure out what just happened).
I’m not saying you’ll ever completely make peace with family members; the point is, you try. You try to get past the things that always set you off; you try to see the ones who do the setting off in a new way. You try to hold off from the same old knee-jerk reactions and find a way to change the game, even in a small way. Just by trying, you’re inching up the spiritual ladder.
So the next time you’re butting heads with someone in your family, remember that its an opportunity to learn something valuable. Take a breath, step back and see if you can figure out what it is. (And if you really want to rub it in, remember that THEIR bad behavior is helping YOU advance spiritually. I believe the correct phrase is, “Neener, neener, neener!”)
My great-niece, Ella Ruby, starts 2nd grade today. She is totally chuffed, excited about her new teacher, backpack and classroom. She doesn’t care that she knows nothing about 2nd grade math– she just plans to tackle it and get as many gold stars as she can grab.
There’s something wonderful about a 7 year old’s complete lack of fear. For the most part, everything new is an adventure. Their little egos are practically non-existent, so they don’t even think about how it will look if they fail. They just want to try the New Thing.
This is where the 8 of Pentacles comes in. While I don’t play favorites with the Tarot cards, I admit that I love when this one comes up. The message is an encouraging one — it means that whatever you’re faced with, even if you know zilch about it, you’re gonna totally dominate. The card is nicknamed “the talent card,” revealing hidden abilities.
Most of the time when it appears in a spread, my client has a hard time believing that they’ll be able to pull off whatever that hidden ability may be (“I don’t know ‘nuthin’ ’bout Excel spreadsheets…”). I remind them of one of my favorite quotes from Teddy Roosevelt: “When you are asked if you can do a job, tell ’em, ‘Certainly I can!’ Then get busy and find out how to do it.”
A few months back, I got a call at 4:30 PM inviting me to do some copywriting for a start-up tech firm. There was a conference call less than an hour later — and in that time, I had to Google the firm, download Skype and learn how to use it, and give myself a crash-course in tweeting. I was able to fake my way through the call, and landed a nice gig.
Second-graders like my niece embrace learning — it’s what they do. Somewhere after graduating, we grownups decided our days of learning were pretty much over. New things freak us out, make us feel uncertain. But taking the challenge posed by the 8 of Pentacles is always a good exercise in reaching a little further towards our full potential. Whether we succeed or fail at it, we still get a gold star for trying.
I just did a major purge of old books, DVDs and some truly hideous gifts. It wasn’t so much to provide shelf-filler for the local Goodwill as it was to make some feng shui fixes in my house.
Feng shui is essentially the art of placement: where you put the stuff in your home and office influences everything from your health and finances, to the state of your relationship or whether you can even have kids.
The Chinese take this so seriously that the construction of major office buildings won’t begin without the go-ahead from the feng shui master after he/she has scoped out the lay of the land –literally. Hey, if its good enough for the Donald Trumps of Hong Kong….
Like Mid-East politics or the romantic life of the Kardashians, feng shui can get complicated. There are tons of good books on the subject*,many of which I have partially read before giving up and turning to Star magazine. But to give you a taste, here are a few super-easy things to try in your own space.
The main principle is that energy must flow freely; when it gets blocked, your life gets blocked. Walk into each room of your home: stand in the center, take a deep breath and see how you feel. Try and look at the room as if for the first time. Is it cluttered, dark, dusty? Do you trip over cat toys (wait –that’s MY living room). Do you feel energized and happy, or anxious, sad and in need of a Jello shot?
Really pay attention to how the space makes you feel. Then make a few fixes:
HEALTHY PLANTS Fresh greenery bring new life into a space. Bamboo plants are low-maintenance, and a traditional symbol of good fortune. I’ve put one right by my front door, to encourage luck to enter my home. NOTE: Artificial or dried arrangements are frowned upon for their absence of life force. Not to mention the dust.
MIRRORS Mirrors are the “aspirin” of feng shui. They can reflect good energy back into a room, or deflect bad energy away. One of my favorite tricks is to place a mirror behind your stove. The Chinese view the stove as the heart of the home; a mirror symbolically “doubles” the number of burners, increasing the wealth vibe. And you can put your makeup on while you’re stirring the marinara.
WIND CHIMES They sound pretty – and serve a purpose. Hang a chime anywhere you’d like some fresh energy. Every time you move past it, that pretty sound will also move the molecules around.
LEAKS, DRIPS, CHIPS Leaks and drips drain your energy – literally and figuratively. Items that are held together by duct tape are just a big drag on your mood. Make a list of those things that are not in good condition and either fix, toss or replace them.
KITCHENS AND BATHS According to feng shui, these are the two most important rooms in the home. The kitchen is where food is prepared (our microwaved, if its my kitchen), ensuring our survival; the bath is where we care for our bodies, and represents the state of our health. Keeping these two rooms clean, tidy and with all appliances/fixtures in shipshape order will go a looooong way towards making you feel good. NOTE: keep the toilet lid down. This symbolically keeps family finances from being “flushed away” [hey, that’s one way to get the men in your home to finally do it!]
BEDROOMS This is where we sleep and, uh, ya know… That’s what it should be about – so TVs, iPads and other distractions interfere with those two main objectives. Feng shui says that the electrical energy of these items will keep you awake all night, even if only on a subconscious level. So if you can’t ditch them altogether, store them in a cabinet or armoire. NOTE: if your own love life is lacking, encourage a fresh shot of “sumpin’ sumpin’” by getting new sheets.
CLUTTER—THE BIG “NO NO” As I mentioned, feng shui is all about the free flow of energy through a space. So clutter is not cool (another reason I just did my own closet purge).
You know how great it feels after you’ve done a major spring cleaning? That’s what you’re going for. Start with closets and cabinets; clearing out those little energy suckers will inspire you to go room by room until your whole house is Feng Shui Fabulous. Or at least a little cleaner. Have a Jello Shot to celebrate!
*One book I like is Move Your Stuff, Change Your Life/Karen Rauch Carter or anything on feng shui by Lillian Too. She’s written a ton of books.
I’m obsessed with drag queens. I love them. RuPaul’s Drag Race is my not-so-guilty pleasure, and To Wong Foo is one of my favorite movies.
Now what could a middle-aged Methodist from a small town who personally prefers Land’s End over Louboutins find in this world of sequins, wigs and general diva-liciousness? I think it boils down to the flat-out fearlessness of these guys.
Drag Race has showcased some of the backstories on their contestants. Not only have they each had to deal with the challenges of being a gay man, they add another layer by choosing to dress up as women. Sadly, that’s alienated some of them from their families, gotten them beaten up and frequently made their daily life less than fun.
But has it stopped them? Hellllll-to the-no. These guys embrace their wildly creative visions and put ’em out there in the world with a hip snap and “How ya like me now?” fierceness. They are role models for overcoming Fear — or at least, not letting it hold them back from being who they want to be.
And this is where The Devil comes in (and no, not in the fundagelical homophobic sense). Whenever this card comes up in someone’s reading, I remind them that the scary dude pictured is not actually Satan — it’s what he represents, which is fear. Take a closer look:
He’s huge and scary. The people beneath him are wearing chains, attached to heavy stones. They are too terrified to move and think the stones wouldn’t budge anyway. But wait– check out those chains again. They’re loose and could easily be taken off. It’s just that the folks are too freaked out by the Devil’s “ooga booga” hollering above them that they don’t know it.
To me, those stones represent the things that make us feel “stuck” in a bad place. It frequently comes up with folks dealing with drug, alcohol, gambling, toxic relationships or other unhealthy things, but it also applies to any issue that makes you feel powerless. The notion of change can be so overwhelming that it’s easier to stay stuck. That’s the Devil, in your head, telling you that you’ll fail, its too risky, you’re not good enough, yadda yadda yadda.
One thing I’ve learned is that the IDEA of your worst fear is actually worse than if it actually happens. I once worried about losing a particular relationship; the thought of him ending it was too painful to even think about. But when it happened, I had a revelation — I was still alive, it didn’t destroy me after all. I was still my same bad-assed self –even with mascara running down my face (which a drag queen would never let happen).
So next time you’re facing That Thing That Always Trips You Up, remember the lesson of the drag queens: put on your sparkly heels, lift off those tacky chains, tell Mr. Satan to kiss your fabulous ass and start walking towards something better.
There’s something really tantalizing about the idea of having lived before. I’m not talking about that life before entering the Witness Protection Program — I mean the ones that had you riding alongside Charlemagne, or hanging on a barge with Cleopatra. [Funny, you never want to think about the one you had as a chimney sweep in 18th century London…]
The Past Life Club essentially argues that we have lived multiple times, and that each of those lives were essentially one more “class” in the school of existence. We had experiences, dealt with other humans, learned lessons. You die, spend some time assessing it all, then come back for another go. When you finally get it right, you get to hang out indefinitely in the heavenly stratosphere getting your feet rubbed while the rest of us slobs return to deal once again with human stuff like difficult relationships, making a living and acid reflux.
Like vacations, some past lives will be more memorable than others. Hint: if you are interested in any particular time period in history, that’s a pretty good indicator you lived back then. For me, I’ve been obsessed with this guy:
…and his daughter….
Ever since I was a kid, anything about Tudor England has fascinated me — and I never knew why. Then a psychic told me that I had been a court jester — specifically, a FEMALE court jester — during that era. And a little research revealed that female jesters were relatively rare, and indeed, Elizabeth DID have one. So that explains two things:
1) my interest in the time period and
2) my inherent wise-assiness
On two separate occasions, I was told that I’d had lives in medieval France, as a nun…
Again, doesn’t explain my lousy command of the French language. DOES explain my currently-dismal dating life.
Decoding past lives is one way to shed some light on patterns we’ve carried over into this one. Again, it’s one way (therapy is another). But for some, the idea of past lives can become addictive. I’ve encountered more than a few people who routinely blame whatever’s going on right now on a “past life.” One client of mine refused to actively engage in the life he had going on right here, right now, because he was waiting to be “reunited” with someone from a past life. Another spends all his time seeking out hypnotherapists who will help him explore yet another existence….and another…and another (yawn). Personally, I think it’s ’cause he’s bored with his present situation.
The purpose of examining a past life lies in what it can teach you about THIS one. If you can spot a pattern, find a lesson, learn something, then it becomes more than just New Age wallpaper. The key is to discover it, use it — then move forward. Your task is to make the most out of the life you’ve been given NOW. Because if you spend all your time looking backwards, you’re gonna get run over by the Express Bus to the future. And skid marks on the face are not a good look on anyone.