All I could see was red. That’s what happened when my freshman college English professor Mrs. Nesselhof handed back an essay I and my classmates had been assigned to write. In that instant, when I saw all those red marks, I felt a “Scarlet I” had been imprinted on my chest and definitely in my mind. The “I” stood for INCOMPETENT! Now I had proof. I can’t write. The grade was irrelevant, probably a C or C-, but the message was not. So, so many red marks!

Fifty years later, I have not been able to erase the red stain from my memory. It has nestled itself in the recesses of my brain. To excavate it would mean major surgery, and I’m not sure I want to go that route. I just have to deal with it.

The Fragility of a Young Mind

I share this moment because we all need to be conscious of the fragility of young people’s minds. I am sure Mrs. Nesselhof was doing her best to let me know I could write better than I did. She had high standards and wanted me to perform at that level. But all those red marks did not propel me to the higher level she aspired for all her students. Instead they sent me straight into the halls of insecurity, a place from which I have struggled to escape for lo these many years.

Going back even farther, I have a vague recollection from high school. I was one of a few chosen seniors to prepare for the English Advanced Placement test. If I tested well, I could get placed in a more advanced English class in college. For some reason, as we prepped for the test, I was dropped from the group. I was never clearly informed as to why, but obviously my writing didn’t make the grade. My writing just wasn’t good enough.

A Way Around It

In an effort to succeed, I shifted my focus from English to foreign languages. I first chose French and later Russian. I figured I might be better able to communicate in a foreign language than in my own Mother tongue. It’s convoluted, I know. To communicate in another language you have so much to deal with—the mechanics of the language, the vocabulary, and the culture. What was I thinking? The mind is a curious thing. I could somehow handle all the red marks on those papers. After all, I was in the process of learning the language. I could forgive myself for my mistakes.

After I graduated from college, my initial goal was to become a translator. Using money my grandmother left me in her will, I studied French in Geneva, Switzerland, for a year and then French and Russian in Paris, France for the next year. During the summer in between I studied Russian with a group of American college students in what was at that time called the Soviet Union. After my two years abroad, I came home and enrolled in a Masters program in Russian Language and Literature. No longer wanting to be a translator, I set my sights on becoming a professor of Russian literature. Sounds impressive, but I graduated feeling I still had much more to learn in order to be fluent in Russian and to qualify as a professor.

A Detour

After my first year in the Masters program, I got a job as a Russian analyst at the National Security Agency (NSA). It may sound cool that I secured a Top Secret clearance and was doing work using Russian, but NSA and I were not meant to be together. Alas, deciphering intercepted, always garbled, Russian telephonic messages was something I could not do day in and day out. The blinds in the office were always closed because it was believed a scruffy band of Russians might be hiding in a copse of trees not far from our building. Why? They might be targeting laser beams at our windows. With those beams they could intercept our conversations. By shutting the blinds, we could not only block their efforts but the sunshine from our daily life. Did anyone ever see those Russians? Not while I was there!

I had accepted the NSA job to help pay for my schooling. In my naiveté I must have thought using Russian in a job like that would help me cement my knowledge of the language. In hindsight I discovered it wasn’t the language I was so enamored with. It was the stories written by those 19th century authors like Tolstoy, Dostoevsky, Gogol and the torrid relationships they described.

Returning to English

After two years of being sequestered in a windowless room, listening to conversations that showed no signs of espionage, I resigned. That’s when I ended up writing English again. My first stop was a non-profit organization, where I wrote four- to six paged single-spaced, typewritten letters to clients. In an effort to cut corners, the boss didn’t want staff making long-distance telephone calls. This was in the mid-1970s when each minute of a long-distance call cost money. My colleague and I had to resort to writing letters.

The job entailed helping people write grants to private foundations. Since grant applications can be complex, especially when describing ideas that may only be in their formative stage, my letters had to convey creative ways that would help clients make a convincing argument for their project’s need for financial support. This meant I had to write clearly and in an organized fashion. Mrs. Nesselhof never entered my mind. If I was going to keep that job, I had to write those letters and on an IBM Selectric typewriter no less.

My next move was with a higher education association—a move that led me to working in four professional associations during the next 15 years. Each job required me to write countless agendas, meeting minutes, letters, convention programs and even a published magazine article. The writing seemed so straightforward that I never questioned my ability to write. I analyzed, synthesized and summarized issues as well as other people’s writing.

One memorable moment was when one association president called me into his office regarding a letter I had written on his behalf. The intent of the letter was to counter another association president’s opinion on the issue of higher education accreditation. I thought he was going to criticize how I worded the letter. I was shocked to discover he wanted to compliment me on how diplomatically I conveyed his perspective. My fear of his criticism showed me just how stealthily Mrs. Nesselhof lived in my psyche.

If I Had Just Listened to My Mother

Writing this blog causes me to remember the several times my mother said I ought to write. When I was a child, she instilled the notion of writing thank you letters to anyone who gave me a gift. Each letter I wrote was always personal and conversational. I would take time to think about the gift, what it meant to me, how I was going to use it, and thank the giver for his/her thoughtfulness in giving this specific gift to me. She saw something in my thank you notes that was worth encouraging.

She, of course, was my mother and what do mothers know? Once I met Mrs. Nesselhof, I concluded my mother was just plain biased. Now, 50 years later, I wish I had heeded her encouragement. Here I am writing this blog and feeling vulnerable. I’ve gained confidence over the years, but the specter of Mrs. Nesselhof shows up periodically to nudge me to higher heights and also to question how competent I am. Someday I’ll tell her to “sit on a tack,” but until I do, I guess I’ll just keep writing.

This is the third in a three-part series on seeking life purpose. The first was posted on April 7 and the second on April 18, 2017.

A friend of mind came to me asking about her life purpose. A favorite way for me to explore complex issues like this one is using Tarot cards. She picked seven cards for a spread called “My Blind Spot.” Three, in particular, caught my attention.

In my first blog of this series we looked at the card she pulled for the position of “Blind Spot” – the Eight of Pentacles. The second blog examines the position of “What I don’t know, but everyone else does.” For that she pulled the King of Pentacles.

Even though these cards relate directly to my friend and her question, they may hold relevance for you as well. Since the cards and their meaning are all connected to each other in a spread, you may find it helpful to check out the two other blogs in this series.

At Last—A Feminine Counterpoint

The third card in my friend’s spread was the Queen of Cups. It landed in the position of “Insight.” Insight is the ability to see intuitively or to understand the inner nature of things. A card in this position can help us discern a deeper understanding of what was uncovered in the previous two cards and causes us to look at the situation through a different lens.

How interesting that a female figure shows up this time, and instead of a pentacle, she holds a cup. She is quite a contrast to the men in both the Eight and King of Pentacles. Let’s explore the differences as well as the details of the card.

First, she’s a queen! She has power and it resides within her. She knows what she wants and how to get it. How does she do that? With love! Cups represent emotions, intuition, love, and creativity—the intangible stuff, within and between people. This queen is also maternal. She’s sensitive to not only to her feelings, but to those of others. Cups are quite a contrast to the pentacles that showed up in the previous two cards. Pentacles represent things material like houses, jobs, cars and relationships (having a partner, friend, or colleague, but not necessarily loving him/her).

Listening to and Loving Oneself

At first blush, the Queen of Cups implies my friend could benefit by spending more time with and by herself. She may see this as a radical shift from how she spends time. The Eight of Pentacles is working, working, working while the King of Pentacles is doing for others or making sure others are taken care of on a material, tangible level. What if she were to simply love others, instead of doing for them?

The Tarot suggests she turn her focus inward for that is where the answer to her question resides. This queen stares intently at the ornate cup she’s holding. A.E. Waite, one of the creators of the Rider-Waite Tarot deck, describes the cup as one that she has created. He goes on to say that it “symbolizes achievement brought about through using imagination.” (Pollack, Rachel, Seventy-Eight Degrees of Wisdom). In other words, this queen, when she allows herself to imagine what she wants, can make it real. The message to my friend might well be, “Indulge yourself. Love yourself. Give yourself time to imagine what you want. You can create it.”

Imagination Coupled with Love

Another important aspect must also be considered. Sheer will is not enough to create this cup. She must infuse the process with love—love of herself, her imagination, and her ability to create. This focus is starkly different from that of the pentacle cards. It’s not so much about doing (i.e., getting things done) or taking care of others, but letting oneself dream and getting excited about those dreams. That’s a form of self-love.

Maybe my friend hasn’t allowed herself this luxury of dreaming lately. Filling one’s day with a to-do list can easily block the tender dreams of a beginning life purpose seeker. How many times have we filled our day with tasks that don’t nourish our spirit or encroach on our alone-time? Probably, way too often.

The Insight

When it comes to answering the question of life purpose, this Queen must relinquish her role as King of Pentacles, that guy who spends most of his time overseeing his kingdom—the out there. It’s time for her to go inward and tend to her spiritual self.

In her book mentioned above, Rachel Pollack describes the cup this queen holds as having “a church-like shape.” Apparently before the modern age “all art expressed and glorified spiritual experience.” You see, for my friend to even ask the question about life purpose, indicates her spirit is nudging her for more attention. That elusive life purpose she seeks is within her. Spending more time meditating, walking in nature, and being by herself will likely lead to the next step of her self-discovery.

This may seem frivolous to a lot of us doers out there. When we are doing, we usually see the tangible results of our work. Spiritual work, however, doesn’t necessarily produce the tangible results we doers aim for. Instead it nurtures and nourishes our spirit. When that happens, life looks and feels different. What didn’t seem possible becomes possible.

The Tarot’s advice for my friend: “Seek the riches that lie within your spirit. The answer to your life purpose question will be revealed, especially if you listen to your spirit.”

For a Tarot reading, e-mail me at bev@alignyourlife.net or call  703.998.0880.

“You picked HIM!” That’s what a therapist said to me as I was licking my wounds from a failed relationship when I was in my twenties. My reply, “No, I didn’t!” Then I went on to explain that HE approached me and that some kind of chemistry enveloped me. I couldn’t escape. I was caught in the magical web of attraction.

Now more than 40 years later I finally got it—what the therapist was trying to tell me. I did choose HIM. I chose to write his name on my dance card, and then I chose to dance with him until he decided to dance with someone else. He left me. I was left holding the detritus of a fantasy.

I writhed in the grief of abandonment and victimhood for a good long while…actually too long. I claimed my victimhood, made depression my best friend and shrouded myself with self-protection. As much as I wanted another relationship, I wasn’t going to let this scenario happen again. The sad thing is that it happened several more times.

And why was I seeking a relationship anyway? I didn’t realize it at the time, but I was operating under the false premise that if I had a relationship I would be complete. It was the tangible proof I was lovable—a necessary notch in my self-esteem. Without it who was I?

Are You Really Taking Responsibility?

Taking responsibility is not an easy thing to do, especially if you’ve been ignoring its role in your life or worse—thinking you’ve been taking responsibility all along when, in fact, you haven’t been.

This notion started coming clear to me just a few years ago. The story begins in 2005, when I started a new career as a Tarot card reader. As destiny would have it, I quickly met and became friends with a Tarot entrepreneur in my area. I was hungry to learn. She offered classes, workshops with renowned Tarot experts and opportunities to read at Tarot parties. Why wouldn’t I befriend her?

About a year later, she suggested we teach a class together using Tarot cards and essential oils to unlock blocks to prosperity. It was a cool idea and since I teach and create classes, I was in. As we developed the class I started noticing her sidelining my ideas. She named the class, wrote the marketing materials and developed the agenda. My job was to say yes and carry out the role she had slotted for me.

Sacrificing Integrity

That insidious feeling of “being controlled” started inserting itself into my psyche. I expressed my concerns, but timidly because I felt beholden to her for all those opportunities previously mentioned that she appeared to offer. Ah, the classic case of sacrificing your integrity in order to get something you believe you can’t get on your own. I saw her as my doorway to new people, experiences and business. Arguing with her that my ideas merited attention wasn’t going to work. I couldn’t jeopardize the relationship if I wanted to get more of the “goodies” she offered.

I am not proud to admit this. On the other hand, this friendship did give me many opportunities to learn more about who I am and how I choose to live my life. We had a friendship for at least nine years and during that time I learned a lot, not only about Tarot but about myself. The control factor, however, became intolerable. I found I didn’t trust her. I didn’t want to share my thoughts and feelings with her. I wanted her to go away. Eventually I went away.

Two years later I learned about the Emotional Freedom Technique, known as EFT or tapping. Because I kept stewing about this relationship, I decided to tap on it. (For those who don’t know about tapping, check out www.thetappingsolution.com.) I held no expectations that anything would happen when I started the tapping protocol.

Midway through lightning struck—a moment of blinding clarity came through. I saw my complicity in this relationship in a way I had never acknowledged before. It was visceral. I had to admit that once again I had written a name on my dance card and chosen to dance with that person. I had been feeling victimized and controlled when I was just as much a player as she. I had agreed to the tacit contract we both signed.

Here’s the Secret

Feeling like a victim takes time and energy. It can suck you dry. I spent an inordinate amount of time perseverating over the shards of this friendship gone awry, resenting her, feeling hurt and, yes, struggling with its loss. The moment I learned of my complicity in that tapping session was the moment I freed myself from those painful emotions. I could move on. I could take responsibility. I could claim my power again. I could independently blaze my own trail in the Tarot world.

Gregg Braden in his book The Spontaneous Healing of Belief, Shattering the Paradigm of False Limits (Hay House, 2008), underscores the point I am making:

“The fact that someone else did what they hadn’t been able to do themselves plays right into their subconscious beliefs of limitation.

When this happens, people tend to look to someone or something else to intervene where they feel powerless. They’re looking for a savior, whether it’s a drug or another person performing a miraculous healing. If we’re convinced that we’re powerless and dependent upon something beyond ourselves in order to have the experience, then we’ll also feel the need to return to that “something” again and again to get what we need. We will, that is, until we realize that we can do for ourselves what is being done by someone else for us. It’s at this point that the savior is no longer needed and we’re truly healed.”

In both cases with the boyfriend and the Tarot entrepreneur, I was seeking completion outside myself. I handed my power to them and deemed them my savior. These may seem like easily reached conclusions, but they’ve taken years to solidify in my mind. I can now pick them up, look them in the eye and claim responsibility for how things unfolded and turned out.

Starving and Obsessed

May 13, 2016

As a Tarot card reader, I am given the privilege of hearing people’s deepest desires, searing hurts and glorious dreams. I am honored to be privy to such intimacies.  In the searing hurts category, many come with a broken heart or one that is breaking.  More often than not I wish I could wave a magic wand and say, “You’re healed.”  But it doesn’t work that way.

Countless times people come to me stunned.  Someone they shared intimacies with has now blocked their calls and  texts. That “other person” has vanished without a goodbye or any indication they’ve chosen to recede into the annals of the past.  No discussion, no declaration that “We’re done here!”, no leaving in a huff.

This, to me, is a cowardly, despicable act, and it is so painful to the one on the receiving end.  Maybe the best way to describe the anguish my clients feel is being thrown out of a moving car and left by the side of the road—pretty much like roadkill.  The one left behind asks repeatedly, almost addictively, “What did I do? Why has this happened to me?”

The most asked question clients who’ve been through this scenario want answered is “Will I get back together with him/her?  Is there a chance?”  Some of the more wounded will bark, “That person will never find anyone as good as I am!”  Angry and bereft, they’re left starving for something they thought they had and obsessed with the disbelief they don’t.

The answer is not as simple as many would believe.  Subtleties, nuances and denial come into play.  By the time someone in this state of anguish comes to me, it’s likely it’s not the first time this has happened.  So, what transpired for this to happen again…and again?

Jumping the Gun

Perhaps it’s haste in making a judgment.  I, too, have had such experiences.  Finally with the help of a therapist I discovered I was the common denominator in each scenario.  Switching my focus from blaming the other person to taking responsibility was not a pretty picture.  You might think it was easy to flip the switch, but it wasn’t.

I had to ask myself, “What caused me to pick the wrong person time and time again?”  First, I had to accept that I PICKED the person.  How could this be?  I was always looking for that magical zing.  The zing consisted mainly of the externals.  Was he good looking?  Did he have a good job?  Was he fun to be with?  Was he nice?  When I would meet a Mr. X, the zing had to be there and pretty instantaneously.  I concluded I wasn’t the one choosing Mr. X, but rather it was just a synchronous, albeit magical, encounter.

For the longest time I couldn’t admit I was making a choice based on external factors without getting better acquainted with the internal factors, the true makeup of his character.  I would attach myself to a person I didn’t really know.  I’ve since discovered it takes time to know someone—to really know.

Patterns Set By Our Parents

Now, this is where it gets tricky.  A good therapist can help you see how patterns set by your parents play a role.  For me, my father left an indelible imprint—he died when I was 10.  As an adult I would consistently choose partners who couldn’t be there for me either emotionally or physically or both.

Subconsciously the unavailable man was attractive to me.  I told myself that if I couldn’t keep my father alive, perhaps I could keep my relationships alive with the unavailable man.  I would do this with what therapists call—manipulation.  Unbeknownst to me until I finally wised up, I used manipulation as one of tools in my arsenal to hold onto a relationship.  When I did this, I was a shocked to discover I wasn’t being true to myself.  And I was  exhausted doing this time after time.

The Big Kahuna—I Must Not Be Worthy

The biggest reveal I learned from all this was my sense of self-worth.  If asked whether I was worthy of a wonderful, loving relationship, I would respond without hesitation that I am.  All my clients are, too.  But the subconscious is a stealthy predator.  For reasons we don’t always know, our subconscious self tells us we aren’t and then keeps directing us to the choices that are the perfect fit for fulfilling our diminished sense of self-worth.  For me, that would be choosing the unavailable man time and again.

For most of us, it takes time to understand this.  As our awareness grows, the kinds of choices that didn’t work for us in the past are not worth hanging onto.  We can choose to no longer passively stand by and wait for the other person to direct the relationship.  Instead we decide for ourselves and take whatever steps are necessary to end an unhealthy relationship.  In fact, once we’ve figured it out and we are ready to engage in a healthy relationship, the available partner will show up.  Not always on our timeline, but at a time and in a way that works best for both parties.

 Why Can’t We Bypass All This?

It turns out we all come into this life with specific lessons to learn.  These painful relationships are a catalyst for us to grow physically, emotionally, mentally and spiritually.  The sooner we get the lesson of each painful experience, we can move on.  Other lessons await us.  We progress.

Sometimes, though, we get only a piece of the lesson.  We may feel as if we are back where we started.  We aren’t.  Through each experience in intimate relationships we become more aware of our role in that situation.  We have choices at all times.  Knowing this, we are empowered to change, for the better, for ourselves.

Many people are averse to taking responsibility for what occurs in their life.  Looking within doesn’t seem to be an option.  After all, it’s got to be the other guy’s fault.  Introspection, however, is a necessary step to seeking and keeping a happy, healthy relationship.  Gaining awareness as to why we make the choices we make is essential.  A Tarot card reading can help us go within when we are in a relationship turmoil, or when we are ending or beginning one.

An Amazing and True Story

September 4, 2014

In preparation for my upcoming webinar, Power Up! Using Your High Vibration to Heal, I’ve been reading Gregg Braden’s The Spontaneous Healing of Belief.   He prefaces the following story with the definition of the word ‘miracle,’ as “an event that appears inexplicable by the laws of nature” (American Heritage Dictionary).

This story demonstrates how powerful our thoughts, feelings and intentions are.  Not only individuals, but a group of like-minded people with the same intentions, can create miraculous results.  To get the full impact of Braden’s story, you must read his book.

Braden and other members of his group were in Egypt on their way to Cairo from St. Catherine’s Monastery in Sinai—an eight-hour drive minimum.  In their tour bus they had to cross the Sinai Desert and pass through a series of security checkpoints.  Due to the mercurial political situation at the time, more than five Egyptian soldiers were charged with escorting them safely to their destination.  Braden writes:

After clearing the first series of checkpoints, we soon found ourselves winding our way along the brilliant white beaches of the Red Sea toward the Suez Canal.  In the warmth of the late-morning sun pouring through our sightseeing coach, I closed my eyes and imagined the same scene more than 3,000 years ago as the people of Egypt traveled a similar route to the mountain from which we were returning.  Except for the buses and the paved roads, I wondered how much had really changed.  I soon found myself in conversation with members of the our group, anticipating our entrance into the ancient chambers of the Great Pyramid scheduled for later that evening in Cairo.

After four hours the tour bus came to a sudden stop along a busy metropolitan street.  They had arrived in Cairo.  The soldiers, the drivers, and the tour guides gathered outside the bus, all with looks of consternation and puzzlement.  “Some were tapping their wristwatches and holding them to their ears to see if they were running.  Others were anxiously shouting to one another in short bursts of Egyptian.”  Braden joined them.  He knew they were precisely where they ought be on their way to their hotel in Giza.  What was the problem?  Here’s one bus driver’s response:

‘No!’  he said.  ‘You don’t understand.  We cannot be here yet!  It hasn’t been long enough since our departure from St. Catherine’s Monastery in Sinai for us to be Cairo.  It takes at least eight hours for us to make the drive under the Suez Canal, across the desert, and into the mountains.  At least eight hours.  With the checkpoints, we should arrive even later.  Look at the guards–even they don’t believe their eyes.  It’s been only four hours.  Our being here is a miracle.’

What happened to those four other hours?

Braden gives credit to the conversations that took place on the bus.  The group’s private tour inside the Great Pyramid later that evening was to be the highlight of the trip and their excitement seemed palpable.  Braden explains that while en route, members of the group saw themselves as if the event had already happened.  What sounds would they utter in the king’s chamber?  What would it feel like being inside the Great Pyramid, a monument they had only seen in movies and documentaries?

They immersed themselves and their senses in the pyramid using their imagination.  Collectively they got to a place where they believed they had already arrived.  The result:  They bypassed four hours!

Sixty people shared a common feeling and their reality changed to reflect it.  Braden adds, even those people who didn’t participate, the soldiers, the bus drivers, and the tour guides, benefited from this reality.

In short, we can create our own reality.  The group members didn’t consciously want the trip to go faster.  They simply got excited about visiting the Great Pyramid.  Sitting in their bus seats they saw, felt and heard themselves in the pyramid, as if it were already happening.  And as a result,  “Their reality of time shifted to accommodate their experience.”

Braden’s awesome illustration means we can do amazing things—like heal ourselves.  My webinar Power Up!  Using Your High Vibration to Heal sheds light on the powers within us that use our thoughts, words and beliefs to achieve and maintain optimal health.

To complement our inner work, I introduce the benefit of using 12 therapeutic-grade essential oils.  This three-part series starts Monday, September 22 at 8:00 PM and continues September 29 and October 6.  Everyone who wants to take charge of his/her health and life will want this information!  To learn more, check out my website:  http://www.alignyourlife.net/classes.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Say No!

August 9, 2014

“Whenever we deny our need to say ‘no,’ our self-respect diminishes.  It is not only our right at certain times to say ‘no,’ it is our deepest responsibility.  For it is a gift to ourselves when we say ‘no’ to those old habits that dissipate our energy, ‘no’ to what robs us of our inner joy, ‘no’ to what distracts us from our purpose.  And it is a gift to others to say ‘no’ when their expectations do not ring true for us, for in so doing we free them to discover more fully the truth of their own path.  Saying ‘no’ can be liberating when it expresses our commitment to take a stand for what we believe we truly need.”

–John Robbins and Ann Mortifee, In Search of Balance: Discovering Harmony in a Changing World

See It and Believe It

August 8, 2014

“If, every morning for the next 30 days, you begin your day by saying, “I intend to see; I want to see; I expect to see; no matter who I am working with, no matter who I am talking with, no matter where I am, no matter what I am doing…I intend to see that which I want to see,” you will change the momentum of your life experience.  And all things that now displease you will be gone from your experience and will be replaced by things that do please you.  It is absolute.  It is Law.”

–Esther and Jerry Hicks, The Law of Attraction