Wednesday Wisdom: Acknowledge Your Creativity & Genius

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Once a week or so, I pull a card from my Power of Intention deck. This 50-card deck uses content from Wayne Dyer’s book, The Power of Intention, alongside vintage/retro drawings, to explore concepts that he discusses at length in the book. It’s a great companion to the book and has helped me considerably in my own personal growth and spiritual practice.

This morning’s Power of Intention card is Acknowledge Your Creativity and Genius. “The qualities of creativity and genius are within you, awaiting your decision to match up with the power of intention. Genius is a characteristic of the creative force that allows all of material creation to come into form. It is an expression of the divine.”

Once again I laughed at the results of my card pull, as it’s definitely what I needed to see today. A couple months ago, I began shifting my focus for this 16-year-old blog toward more spiritual and personal growth content, and it’s brought me a lot of creative fulfillment and joy to write more content that aligns with this new focus. That said, there are a few key tasks that I have yet to complete, and I’ve had a long list of excuses as to why those tasks haven’t been done – the latest of which is ongoing pain in my right shoulder. (Watch your body alignment while doing yoga, folks! Especially if you are over 40!)

But the truth is that I am working through some deep-seated fear related to my self-worth, and a long-standing desire for outside validation. These things manifest in indecisiveness and procrastination when it comes to matching up with the power of intention. And I believe it’s also manifested as pain in my shoulder.

Calvin Coolidge, quotes, persistence, determination, nothing in the world can take the place of persistence, personal growth

There’s a quote by Calvin Coolidge that I’ve loved ever since I first read it:

“Nothing in the world can take the place of persistence. Talent will not: nothing is more common than unsuccessful men with talent. Genius will not: unrewarded genius is almost a proverb. Education will not: the world is full of educated derelicts. Persistence and determination alone are omnipotent.”

This quote has been a powerful motivator – and yet that motivation does nothing if that initial decision isn’t made to align with intention.

Once we acknowledge and address the fears and beliefs that keep us blocked, we get the power boost necessary to match up with intention and it sets us off on our journey toward self-awareness and spiritual growth. By allowing our creativity and genius to travel alongside persistence and determination, using intention as our compass, we will reach our destination.

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Mars Retrograde Tuesdays

Mars, red planet, Mars Retrograde, mars retrograde tuesdays, retrograde planets, retrograde, astrology

Mars, the planet of action, ambition, anger and athleticism, turns retrograde on September 9, 2020 in the sign of Aries, one of two signs the Red Planet rules (the other sign is Scorpio). It will appear to travel backward in Aries through November 13, 2020. During this time, we can expect to see some halted plans; any forward momentum we had may be thwarted. This can affect our activities at work, home, and school.

Retrograde isn’t all that bad, though. Any time a planet is in retrograde motion, we are given an opportunity to shift our focus to more inward pursuits:

  • Reflection
  • Review
  • Revision
  • Reassessment

The focus of the inner work is based on the areas ruled by that planet. In the case of Mars, those areas include:

  • Physical activity
  • Ambition and goals
  • Passion, lust, and sex

In the same vein as Venus Retrograde Fridays, I suggest taking one day a week during the retrograde cycle to do work in these areas. Since Mars rules Tuesday, set aside some time that day for Mars Retrograde Tuesdays. Beginning with September 15, 2020 and ending with November 10, 2020, here are some Martian activities to try:

Move your body.
If you haven’t already been exercising regularly, now is the time to get back on the bike, lace up the running shoes, roll out the yoga mat, and/or dust off the treadmill. Don’t push yourself if energy is low – lowered stamina is possible during Mars retrograde – but a 30-minute walk will get your circulation going and your heart pumping. One caveat: if you have been sedentary for a long time, don’t start a vigorous new exercise regimen. Use this time to research different physical activities you might want to try, or talk with your health care provider about ideas.

Eat something spicy or grilled – or both!
Mars rules garlic, ginger, and peppers, so cook up some Szechuan stir-fry, a Thai or Indian curry, or a Mexican feast. (You can check out my recipe for homemade salsa here!) Since Mars also rules fire, a grilled entrée or side dish would be perfect for Tuesday dinners.

Channel your anger.
This year has provided more than enough opportunity for outrage – but how are you working with that anger? How has it been manifesting in your life: physically, mentally, emotionally, spiritually? Some ways to work through your anger include:

  • writing letters to the people/places/things that make you angry (and not sending them – remember, you’re processing this anger for your own personal reflection and to get them out of your system)
  • joining a protest (if you can do so safely)
  • contacting your local and state legislators to express your frustrations
  • signing and sharing petitions related to causes you feel passionate about

Assess your personal and professional goals. Mars likes to make things happen, but during a retrograde period, that drive to achieve and succeed may be thwarted. Sit down with paper & pen and write out your personal and professional goals. Where do you want to see yourself in a year? In five years? Now’s the time to see where you’re at and where you want to go.

What about Sex?!

Mars also rules passion, lust, and sex – and it’s those aspects that often make the headlines for Mars. During a Mars retrograde cycle your sex drive may be the complete opposite of what it usually is, or you may find yourself sexually frustrated with your partner. If you’re not sexually active, Mars retrograde may leave you feeling restless, unmotivated or dealing with a creative blockage (especially if you are an artist or writer).

How to deal with all of this pent up sexual energy? A few suggestions:

Remember this is temporary. Even if you are skeptical about astrology and its effects on daily living, our sex drive ebbs and peaks over time. Shift your attention to something else when the frustration gets overwhelming: exercise, singing or dancing may help.

Open the toy chest. Since retrograde cycles are about reviewing and reassessing the areas of life ruled by the retrograde planet, take time to review what gives you pleasure sexually – and that means open up your toy chest, buy some batteries and figure out what turns you on.

Talk with your partner. Emotions may be running hot while your libido isn’t, and that can definitely cause friction (and not the good kind, either). Open up conversations with your partner about your sex life: what you love about it, what you’d like to try out, what you’d like to work on making even better.

You’re not restricted to just Tuesdays for these Mars-centric activities, of course. Working through anger issues is good at any time, and exercising at least 3 times a week is ideal. But sometimes it helps to know that there’s one day a week devoted to specific self-care rituals, and that’s what Mars Retrograde Tuesday is all about. Make the most of it!

 

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Image attributions:

By derivative work: QuartierLatin1968 (talk)Berlin_-_Brandenburger_Tor_-_Mars.jpg: Oliver Abels (SBT) – Berlin_-_Brandenburger_Tor_-_Mars.jpg, CC BY 2.5, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=74302639

Closeup of statue face
By Dosseman – Own work, CC BY-SA 4.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=78185777

Planet
By ESA & MPS for OSIRIS Team MPS/UPD/LAM/IAA/RSSD/INTA/UPM/DASP/IDA, CC BY-SA IGO 3.0, CC BY-SA 3.0-igo, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=56489423

Venus Retrograde Fridays

How’s everyone doing? Did you lose your mind after the first 30 days of stay-at-home orders or are you holding on to those last few brain cells? I have my good days and not-so-good days. This week has been really weird, with energy spikes and then 24-hour cycles of I-don’t-give-a-f**k.

But I have one thing I’ve been looking forward to every week since May 13: Venus Retrograde Fridays. I was inspired by Chani Nicholas’s workshops with a special section on Venus retrograde. Chani is a freakin’ brilliant astrologer who explains everything so clearly and with a focus on personal growth. If you’re not following her on social media, and you have even a passing interest in astrology, go follow her now and sign up for her mailing list. I’ll wait.

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A brief primer on Venus retrograde, taken from Café Astrology:

Occasionally, Venus appears to be moving backward in the sky. “Appears” is the key word here, because, technically speaking, no planet actually moves backward in their orbits around the Sun. In fact, they don’t even slow down. Retrograde-station-direct cycles are essentially illusions that result from our point of view from Earth, simply because the Earth is also orbiting the Sun at a different speed than the other planets. Venus is Retrograde approximately 40-43 days every 18 months.

Venus went retrograde in the sign of Gemini on May 13 and will station direct on June 25.

Why should you care? Well, Venus is the planet of beauty and aesthetics. She rules what we value, what makes us happy, and what creative pursuits we enjoy. She is all about sensory experiences: delicious food and drink, leisurely activities, delightful scents and sights. She also rules relationships – surprise, surprise.

So what happens when Venus is retrograde? Retrograde periods of any planet in astrology are a time when the areas ruled by that planet seem to go backwards or sideways. We have to reassess, reflect, re-do, rewrite, rethink; things might not move forward as fast or as easily as we’d like. Since Venus rules love, affection, beauty, values, aesthetics and relationships, that means these are the areas where we need to reconsider what we’re doing and where we want to be during a Venus retrograde cycle. You may start considering a new hairstyle or makeup palette. You might want to clean out your closet and reinvent your look. A romance that was already on shaky ground may end, or past loves may pop up and get you thinking about how that relationship helped or hindered your growth.

Most astrologers will advise you not to make any major changes during a retrograde period. During Venus retrograde, you shouldn’t cut your own hair or sell off your investment portfolio. I tend to agree with that, but I would also add: if you’re able to test out a change in a way that you can reverse it with minimal consequences, it might be worth trying.

Now that we have that out of the way, let’s talk about Venus Retrograde Fridays. Venus rules Friday, so Chani Nicholas recommends using this day to focus on Venusian activities. After nearly 8 months of intense client work and dealing with personal issues, I am all about taking better care of me while work is not as crazy busy. I’ve now had two Venus Retrograde Fridays and really enjoyed them, and figured I owed it to the last few regular readers of my blog to share how this works and ways you can honor Venus during this retrograde period.

Here’s a list of possible activities for Venus Retrograde Friday.

    • Lounge in bed for as long as you want.
    • Wear comfy clothes.
    • Play “closet” where you go through your clothes and try out new looks.
    • Reorganize your closet or dresser: by color, by type, by season, by outfit, by whatever.
    • Play “jewelry box” where you go through your baubles (as my fabulously fashionable friend Beth calls them) and put on all of them or try new combinations.
    • Put clean sheets on the bed and fresh linens in the bathroom.
    • Take a long soak in the tub with your favorite scents – bubbles, bath bomb or salts optional (bonus points if you have a glass of your favorite beverage nearby, or you eat a cupcake while in the tub).
    • Deep condition your hair.
    • Put on your favorite perfume or scented lotion.
    • Give yourself a mani/pedi or a facial (YouTube has tons of great tutorials).
    • Teach yourself a new updo for your hair (again, YouTube tutorials are the way to go).
    • Take a nap.
    • Bake your favorite treats and eat them slowly so you can enjoy every bite.
    • Make yourself a fabulous dinner and pair it with your favorite beverage – or order that meal for pickup/delivery.
    • Write a love letter to yourself to open after July 29 (when Venus ends its shadow period).
    • Write out affirmations focusing on loving yourself more, then read them aloud. Some good ones:
      • I am perfectly content to be me.
      • I am good enough just as I am.
      • I love and approve of myself.
      • I choose to love myself unconditionally.
    • Read love poems, a romance novel, chick lit, or erotica.
    • Watch a favorite rom-com.
    • Take a virtual tour of an art museum or historic residence/palace (my personal favorite is Versailles).
    • Write letters and cards to people you care about – or send happy mail to people who need encouragement and/or support. (Here’s a great site to start with if you’d like to write something semi-anonymous to someone in need. Here’s another one.)

While you don’t have to do this on Fridays, it will certainly kick off the weekend on a positive note. And if you can only do one thing you really love on Friday, that’s still good. Venus Retrograde Fridays are all about loving on yourself the best way possible. Enjoy!

Casting into the Waters: Symbolism, Spiritual Practice and Tashlich

Judaism has interested me for many years, probably due in large part to the fact that I was raised Seventh Day Adventist (SDA) and there’s a correlation between SDAs and Jews in how they observe the Sabbath (Friday sundown to Saturday sundown) and their dietary restrictions (SDAs encourage and promote vegetarianism, but those who do eat meat will typically shun pork and shellfish). When you grow up in a religious tradition that is a bit outside of the box, even among other evangelical Christian groups, it’s nice to feel understood in some small part by another religious group without having to go into long explanations. This is particularly handy when you talk to fellow Gen X’ers about why you are completely unfamiliar with Friday night TV shows and Saturday morning cartoons during the pre-VCR years.

The Chosen, Chaim Potok I also had an English teacher at my SDA high school who was part Jewish and he had us read The Chosen by Chaim Potok, explaining to us about Jewish traditions and holidays. Momcat and I ended up reading all of Potok’s novels and she, too, was very interested in Judaism. Pops had a colleague whose father had been a rabbi, so she would ask him a bunch of questions about what services were like, the reasons for certain traditions (she particularly liked the use of stones on graves as a remembrance).

I think it’s all these things combined that make me very aware when the Jewish high holidays start. Tonight marks the first night of Rosh Hashanah, the beginning of the Jewish new year. I spent this morning reading about Rosh Hashanah traditions: the blowing of the shofar, eating round challah with honey, eating apples with honey, eating part of a fish or ram’s head. Not sure I would be up for that last one, but I do like the symbolism behind it.

It’s the symbolism behind many Jewish traditions that I find the most fascinating. I don’t recall feeling like it was okay to use or wear symbols of my faith or spirituality while growing up SDA. There were baby dedications in church, and full immersion baptism once you’d studied with your pastor, but iconography and talismans weren’t used or encouraged. I don’t remember any other symbolic gestures or rituals, and in hindsight I think I needed those to help me connect to a higher power.

During this morning’s research on Rosh Hashanah, I learned about Tashlich. The basic premise, as I understand it, is to cast your sins into a body of water. After the Tashlich prayer is recited, you shake your clothes as if to shake off the sins.

Tashlich, Tashlich prayer, Rosh Hashanah

Tashlich prayers (Image courtesy Chabad.org)

But here’s what really spoke to me about this tradition (taken from Chabad.org):

The goal of Tashlich is to cast both our sins and the Heavenly prosecutor (a.k.a. the Satan) into the Heavenly sea. And when we shake our clothes after the Tashlich prayer, this is a tangible act to achieve the spiritual goal of shaking sins from our soul.

Needless to say, the physical motions near the water and fish of Tashlich are not what grant us atonement. But if we pay attention to the symbolism and apply the sincere desire to heal our relationship with G‑d as portrayed in the physical demonstrations of Tashlich, then it serves as a crucial part in the process of repenting and returning to G‑d in purity.

When I lived in Southern California, I often went to the beach to look out at the ocean and have a talk with the universe about what was bothering me. Seeing dark, deep water stretched out in front of me, with no land in sight, was symbolic to me of how vast the soul is, how there is so much going on beneath the surface that I cannot even begin to fathom, but that as I dive down into the depths of my being I can find those parts of myself that need healing, bring them to the surface, then release them back into the water. Going to the beach to process was a huge part of my spiritual growth.

What’s clear to me in this moment is that what I was doing was a form of Tashlich: casting my troubles into the deep sea, letting a higher power help me release them from my soul. I found the symbols I needed and in so doing, I found the spiritual connection and inner peace I craved. And now, every time I go to the ocean, whether the Atlantic or Pacific, I know I can find it again.

Sunset Beach, CA – my favorite place to chat with the universe. (Image courtesy californiasbestbeaches.com)

Shanah Tovah to my Jewish friends, followers and readers.