About what matters

Writing about what really matters

Month: March, 2014

How to make a difference

Kiva

Making a Kiva micro-loan is a fun way to make a difference in the life of another person you’ll likely never meet.

This is Kanyshbubu from Kurgyzstan, the woman whose loan I funded this week along with 22 other lenders (individuals, couples, and groups) from North America, Europe, and Asia. This is her story:

Kanyshbubu is 44 years old, married, and together with her husband is raising four children. Kanyshbubu has a higher education and works in a local school as a librarian. As a main source of income for her family, Kanyshbubu raises livestock, having begun 26 years ago with a livestock purchase of 15,000 som KGS. Thanks to her hard work, Kanyshbubu today has on her homestead: four dairy cows, one horse, and 35 sheep. Monthly income amounts to 13,000 som (KGS).

With the aim of further developing her homestead, Kanyshbubu applied to Bai Tushum Bank for a loan – to purchase calves to increase her livestock count. Kanyshbubu plans to invest income from the loan in further propagating the number of domestic animals, and plans to save money to purchase a plot of land. –kiva.org

Each translated story (you can also read it in the original language version if you’re fluent) is accompanied by a picture, and I use the pictures to help me make a decision. I’ve never had anyone default on a loan, so I consider my method successful–but defaulting is rare. I loan only to women–my way of helping to even the score–and only to individuals. I don’t loan to people who are scowling–this is not uncommon!–and I consider other elements in the photos as well. For example, in this photo, there’s a happy, well-cared-for animal (as well as a happy person),  both of which are right up my alley. When a retail establishment is involved (and there are many of those on Kiva), I consider aesthetics. I love someone who’s making the world a more beautiful place! I also consider other values, like the quality of the merchandise (will it last?), whether someone is buying organic fertilizer (like manure), engaging in reuse (like making discarded coconut shells into charcoal), and so on.

Those are aspects that appeal to me, but there’s something for everyone. Kiva has lending teams, some of which are based on shared affiliation or belief (alma mater, religious denomination, political party or candidate, etc.), and some lend based on theme, such as loans that are about to expire, green loans, animal-related loans, etc. I’m a member of the Women Empowering Women team.

The way Kiva works is …

  • The website presents loans that have already been made by many different micro-lenders around the world. When you participate, you take over a portion of the loan (the basic increment is $25, and you can assume multiple increments of the same loan if they’re available and you want to), freeing up the original funds so the lender can make another loan sooner than they’d otherwise be able to. This allows them to help more people.
  • Micro-loans do typically carry a higher rate of interest than you may be used to paying as they’re expensive to administer. However, all the evidence points to micro-loans being beneficial to those who receive them, and being an important stepping stone out of poverty.
  • You assume the risk of not getting paid back, which is minimal on Kiva. This risk is associated with both the individual or group being loaned to not repaying the loan, as well as the micro-lender itself failing. Statistics on the associated micro-lender are available on the same page as information about the individual or group. So far, I’ve never had a loan default, though I’ve had a number where payments were late. Right now I have one that’s delinquent, but so far, these situations have always resolved themselves. I did once make a loan where the micro-lender was having difficulty, and I was repaid.
  • If all goes well, and it almost always does, you get your principal back (the interest goes to the original lender), a bit at a time. You can then loan again, or get your money back (via PayPal). You can also give Kiva gift cards to others, so they can experience the fun of making their first Kiva loan.
  • You aren’t required to donate to Kiva, but you have the option of making a donation to help cover operating costs each time you make a loan. Sometimes these donations are matched.

So far I’ve made loans to women in 13 different countries on 3 different continents–Africa, Asia, and South America. (I guess as I think about it, I’m reaching people in more locations than that with my blog–30 different countries on 5 continents as of today–hello, Austria! And thank you, widely-read English language.) I find it another exciting way to impact other women around the world–and I hope you will too!

(You don’t need an invitation to join Kiva, but I’d be happy to send you one if you’d like. Just leave a comment with your e-mail address. If you want your e-mail address kept private, just note that as well and I’ll take care of it.)

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How to set an intention

Compassion

This living of the contrast, which causes a focusing of desire, calls forth the Creative Energy of the Universe, and is, in fact, what causes all Life to evolve. –Esther and Jerry Hicks (The teachings of Abraham), in The Amazing Power of Deliberate Intent

Perhaps, like this little lion, you’ve been experiencing a bit of contrast (that is, what you don’t want) in your life of late. In my world, that means it’s time to set an intention or two.

At least in the US, the Law of Attraction is widely accepted in the culture at large, no doubt thanks to The Secret. But exactly how to set intentions effectively is probably not as widely understood. This is what works for me …

  1. Start small. Before you start on the major issues of your life, it’s a good idea to start with something small and inconsequential first, to play with the process and see how it works. For example, “I’d love to see something today that makes me laugh.” Or, “I’d love for someone I don’t know to strike up an interesting conversation with me.”
  2. Be clear about what you want. What is a must-have? Nice-to-have? Not important at all? I like to state, in addition to what’s non-negotiable, what I’d like to have if I can.
  3. Write it down, read it over, mull over it for awhile. (It wouldn’t be a bad idea to set aside a journal specifically for this purpose.) What’s missing? What doesn’t feel quite right? If anything’s amiss, write another draft that feels right to you. Meditate, and look at what you’ve written again.
  4. Be positive. As you probably already know, the Law of Attraction literature says the Universe can’t hear “not” or “no.” I’m not sure if that’s true or not, but I do remember reading in Arielle Ford’s The Soulmate Secret the story of a woman who put on her list of soulmate qualities “Must not be Irish.” She met someone who matched the rest of her list quite remarkably. They’d introduced themselves using first names only, so some time went by before she discovered that his last name was something along the lines of O’Malley. When she explained that she had been trying to avoid Irish men because two previous men in her life had been part Irish, he quickly explained that the real problem had been that they weren’t 100% Irish! She decided not to hold it against him. I have nothing against the Irish (let’s hope not, as I’m part Irish myself), but maybe it is best to be positive. So instead of “Absolutely no smokers!!” you could say “Free of addictions” and “Willing to accommodate my preferences with regard to smoking.”
  5. Keep your intentions general. You don’t need to include the “answer” in your intention–that part is the Universe’s to take care of. For example, “I want Bobby McGee to finally wake up and see that I’m The One!” There are several problems with this. You may or may not be The One for Bobby, but even if you are, Bobby has a mind and will of his own that only he controls. Also, by the time you had Bobby in hand and he opened his mouth, you might find that he bored you to tears. Many men are better in your imagination than in reality–sad, but true. There’s also just one Bobby, but perhaps many men who otherwise are exactly what you want. So instead of stating specifics, it’s best to generally describe what you want. If you must include Bobby, I would suggest creating a list of what you want as usual, and then add, “And I’d love it if this person could be Bobby McGee!” A nice-to-have rather than a must-have.
  6. Imagine what it will feel like when your intention is fulfilled.
  7. Turn your intention over to the Creative Energy of the Universe for fulfillment.
  8. Refer back to your intention on a regular basis. Make reading it, reiterating it, and imagining it part of your daily spiritual practice.
  9. Ask for guidance about whether there’s anything you can do or need to do to help manifest your intention. It’s a common modern (and perhaps particularly American) belief that we must continually be striving for what we want. In my experience though, sometimes you need to be still, and sometimes you need to act. There’s a time for every purpose under heaven (Eccl. 3:1).

Here’s an example intention. This is my list of what I want in my next job:

  • Fairly close to home–prefer about a 20-minute drive or less
  • A great boss–understanding, appreciative, fair, reasonable, ethical, has integrity
  • Flexible, pleasant work environment
  • A positive company that’s doing well financially
  • Reasonable, pleasant, supportive coworkers
  • Generous pay and benefits that meet all my needs
  • Challenging, interesting work that allows me to make a difference
  • Low stress
  • Full time
  • Allows me to feel settled, and for my personal life and writing to flower

I ask that information about jobs that meet my criteria flow to me, and that that everyone at these companies smile on me, my resume, and my references.

One common misconception about setting intentions is that it’s not work. On the one hand, since you’re aligning yourself with the flow of the Universe, it’s very different from the salmon-swimming-upstream effect of a lot of striving. On the other hand, the commitment, faith, and focus associated with setting intentions are not exactly like falling off a log. I don’t really recommend making a list and putting it in your underwear drawer. I recommend keeping what you really want more top of mind.

You know that when you ask, it is always given; therefore, you have no desire to avoid contrast, because you understand the focusing power of contrast. –Esther and Jerry Hicks (The teachings of Abraham)

When you experience contrast–and you will–consider it an excellent opportunity to reiterate what you really want instead!

May your intentions and mine be fulfilled.

This post is illustrated with my SoulCollage card Compassion + The Lioness.

 

The hare grows tortoise feet

hare

When eating an elephant, take one bite at a time. –Creighton Abrams

When I was younger, I hopped on rabbit feet. Certain things came easily to me, and I generally did those things. In college, I’d write my papers overnight, usually starting around midnight when the dorm got quiet, and finishing around 5 am or so. I’d meet my roommate, a nursing student off to the early shift, as I went to bed.

I’m not sure if it’s a hare, a tortoise, or something else altogether that takes the path of least resistance. I remember being advised in my 20s that I should direct my passion toward work worth being passionate about. My view then was that there was no way I could abandon my investment in my career (a handful of years at that point) and start over–no way! Back then, making a decision out of fear seemed a wise and prudent thing to do. Or so, at any rate, I told myself.

In those days, I’d never have wanted to identify with the slow, steady tortoise of the fable. The hare had its issues, very true–but how much better to be quick! How fatal to be slow! I’m not sure I ever stopped to examine the finish line I was leaping towards, or the path I was on.

Lately I find myself taking comfort in the slow and steady accretion of my efforts. I may not be able to give hare-like, flat-out, all-or-nothing effort to everything I want to accomplish. (In fact, I’m not willing to give that kind of effort to anything nowadays, as that way lies burnout.) But a bit at a time, steadily and without fail, offered with unwavering commitment, will indeed get me where I want to go.

I wear my tortoise shell proudly.

What’s not to love about that?

Rosie

I find it fascinating how, when I feel compelled to organize and clean, so often some sort of insight or breakthrough follows right on its heels.

This past weekend, I did two clutter-clearing kinds of things. First, I bought and organized a filing cabinet I’d been wanting for a couple weeks or so. (Really it’s years that I’ve liked the look of these little cabinets, especially the bright red ones!)

I also got a massage. It became clear to me some years ago that I tend to store negative cell memories in my shoulders and neck. My aha moment came when I was getting a shoulder massage from a coworker who was also a massage therapist (and quite intuitive as well, as I think many of them are), and she immediately started picking up on information about my father. I hadn’t been thinking about him at all–but I had far less than normal range of motion when turning my head due to pain in my neck (ah, the much-discussed pain in the neck!) and shoulders.

Unfortunately when I called to make my weekend appointment, my semi-regular massage therapist had left my salon, and I made an appointment with someone I didn’t know who was available.

The massage seemed OK, but afterwards I could quickly feel what I think was (and is) toxicity and therefore pain (a painful, slightly burning and stagnant sensation) spreading around my shoulder muscles and lower back. This was unlike anything I’ve experienced with a massage before, but I’ve since talked to someone who used to work at a spa who’s heard of this type of reaction before. (My usual massage therapist would really go after it at certain points, and I’d often do breathwork in order to tolerate the intensity. By using breathwork, I wouldn’t need to ask her to back off. I’d be sore afterwards, but not like this.)

Before long, my digestion was out of whack. And Monday morning I woke up nauseated–an unusual sensation for me. Fortunately I’d finished all pressing assignments before leaving the office on Friday, so had no reason not to stay home sick. By mid-morning, the promise of the nausea was fulfilled, and it wasn’t long before no particle of anything I’d eaten in recent memory remained in my body. (Talk about your clutter clearing.)

Meanwhile the ache had spread from the parts of my body that had been massaged (upper body only) to those that hadn’t. Note to self: Think of massage as less a salon service, more holistic healthcare. I’d actually gotten a recommendation of a massage therapist who sounds much more skillful prior to keeping my appointment … live and learn.

In my world, there are two kinds of sick–too sick to read, and the other, better kind. For a good while, I was too sick to read.

But, once I felt better, I really felt better. I got a bit of a post-illness high. I spring-cleaned some more, I felt cheery. (The high continued today. I asserted myself; there was no getting me down.) I also realized, when there was very little in the house appropriate for a sick person to eat, that my diet–organic, unprocessed, and delicious though it may be–really is too rich. I’m feeling ready to do something about that.

And … I was ready to hear the guidance that yes, at last, it is time to go. I can see clearly that now I’m in the right frame of mind to set intentions and parameters, and make good decisions about what’s next. “Get me the hell out of here” isn’t the best launching pad to success, I do see that now.

I don’t exactly regret anything, and I feel pretty pleased with the eventual outcome, but I do believe I’ll think twice about the skill of anyone in whose hands I place my body in the future. I also realized while writing this that probably the reason I have felt so traumatized recently by being treated unfairly (and I think betrayed is not too strong a word) by authority figures was a connection to past-life issues in this area. (So many of us have lost our lives and loved ones unjustly in the past. If you tend to seize up a bit around the so-called “important” people of this world, you very likely have this in common with me.) So probably the toxicity I’m feeling has not to do just with recent and earlier experiences, but likely some past-life stuff as well. All part of the clutter I’m here to clear.

The toxicity is certainly not all gone–I can clearly feel it still in my body, there’s more work to do–but today I feel lighter, as well as having a mandate to move forward. And what’s not to love about that?

This post is illustrated by my SoulCollage card Persistence + Rosie the Riveter.

How to create a filing system

Bisley silver

When you finish clearing paper clutter, what to do with what remains? You need a filing system.

For me, the purpose of a good filing system is to be able to lay your hands on the paperwork you need immediately, with an absolute minimum of hassle or stress. When your formerly-photographic memory starts to curl around the edges, a good filing system comes to the rescue!

This weekend I bought this lovely little filing cabinet on sale, and today I labeled its drawers and began using it.

Because I dislike hanging files, this is the first filing cabinet I’ve ever owned. The beauty of this one, with its 10 equally-sized 9 3/8 x 14 1/2″ drawers, is that each fits a small stack of papers, including tearsheets from just about any size magazine–no folders necessary.

My existing system consisted primarily of document boxes. I have both large and letter-size document boxes. What I’m currently buying are from Bigso Box of Sweden. They’re made of 70% post-consumer recycled fiberboard, and my color of choice is hot pink. (Sadly, Bisley doesn’t make filing cabinets in hot pink! I’d be all over that.) I’ve used these boxes for many years now–they’re sturdy and attractive.

In the letter-size boxes, I keep the images I’ve saved for SoulCollage:

  • People
  • Animals
  • Divine
  • Flowers and nature
  • Architecture
  • Objects
  • Backgrounds

I use the larger document boxes for everything else. I keep one for each year. In these boxes are

  • Paid bills
  • Receipts (except for wardrobe and flexible spending)
  • The completed kitchen calendar for the year, which shows when I did what
  • Completed tax return

There are other document boxes for

  • Important papers, like birth certificates, Social Security cards, adoption papers for the dogs, etc.
  • Collections, which has receipts for collectibles
  • Wardrobe–This includes a large manila envelope for each season (fashion seasons, Spring and Fall). On the front I write what I bought–date, store or website, manufacturer/designer, item description, price. I also keep a running total of what I’ve spent for the season. On the back I write what wore out and had to be discarded. Inside go all receipts, hang tags, catalog pages, packing slips, etc. This makes returns nearly effortless.

I’m using the drawers of my new cabinet for the following:

  • Tax paperwork–W2s, mortgage statements, etc. Previously I kept a large manila envelope recording donations in my “year” boxes. On the outside I’d record the date, organization, and amount, and inside I’d keep receipts, acknowledgment letters, etc. These envelopes are a bit too large to fit in the drawers of the new cabinet, so I’m planning to get a smaller size envelope, and keep donation information for the previous and current year here–until the tax return is complete, at which time I’ll file it in the appropriate “year” box.
  • Flexible spending receipts–I never know just when my flexible spending program will demand documentation. I’ve filed current year receipts and health insurance claim reports here. I’ve learned to ask for what I’d need while I’m still at the healthcare provider’s office. A couple minutes’ effort there saves me a big headache later.
  • Cards–my own business cards, blank cards for my beautiful handmade address file, extra drawer labels.
  • Garden inspiration–tearsheets and articles.
  • Interior inspiration
  • Products to try
  • Home improvement–sketches, estimates, products, ideas, tearsheets.
  • Work-related paperwork such as hardcopy resumes, reviews, notes, memos.
  • Summer recipes–Except for baking, I cook without recipes, so these are for inspiration.
  • Winter recipes

Adding my new filing cabinet inspired me to spring-clean my office, and pitch out a number of papers that were once important, but no longer are. I’ve added others that I couldn’t identify immediately to my paper basket, where I’ll identify whether they’re still relevant, and if so, to which category they belong.

What you care about and want to keep may be different from my categories, but I hope these ideas and strategies will be useful to you and adaptable to your needs. Happy spring cleaning and filing!

How to release bitterness

Mandiba

Resentment is like drinking poison and then hoping it will kill your enemies. –Nelson Mandela

As I walked out the door toward the gate that would lead to my freedom, I knew if I didn’t leave my bitterness and hatred behind, I’d still be in prison. –Nelson Mandela

I well remember the moment I realized I was, in fact, bitter. My father had frequently accused me of it–akin to sucker-punching someone and then later accusing them of being bruised–but I didn’t take him seriously.

The moment came in my Jewish-American Lit class. I was an undergrad, probably about 20 at the time. We were reading Philip Roth’s Goodbye, Columbus, and one of my classmates commented on the protagonist’s being bitter. I responded that no, he was perfectly normal, with just a little resentment about x, y, and z.

When all my classmates seemed to agree that Neil Klugman was bitter, and only I thought he was perfectly normal, I had an aha moment. Normal for me was bitter. I’d been marinating in bitter for pretty much my entire life thus far–it was my milieu.

I also remember very well the moment I decided that something had to change. It was years later, I was still explosively angry, and of course that anger had a way of showing up out of all proportion to the current situation.

I was at the big post office at the airport buying stamps (God love you if you’re old enough to remember when we used to have to buy stamps all the time, so we could pay our bills and write letters to people). When I left, my stamps set off the alarm. I took them back to the cashier to have the sensor deactivated. I then left again–and set off the alarm again. At which point I lost it–in a way that seemed quite normal to me, and was very consistent with what I’d witnessed growing up. But the wide eyes up and down the long line of those waiting for their own stamps clearly indicated my reaction wasn’t proportional to what had occurred.

At that moment I decided I was quite tired of carrying that much anger around, and something had to change. Perhaps you’ve decided that too.

The answer, of course, is forgiveness–but it’s not what you think.

For years I resisted forgiveness, because it wasn’t what I thought either. It seemed weak. Not at all–forgiveness requires strength.

Forgiveness is not letting anyone off the hook. I think the first, most important thing to realize it that’s it’s not you or I who has anyone on the hook to start with. Yes, you have been wronged. But (and hopefully you are relieved to hear this!) you are not the ultimate arbiter of justice.

My belief is that a universal and inescapable law of karma exists, bigger than you and me, bigger than all the wrongdoers and evildoers, bigger than this little planet where it all went down.

And that law says that if you hurt someone, there will be consequences for you. What you do will come back to you, no exceptions. When you throw someone’s life off course, there will be major consequences for you. Those consequences could last multiple lifetimes. If what you put out there is unpleasant, what comes back to you will be equally unpleasant–most likely even more so. And if you put love out there, it will come back to you multiplied. You either pay your karmic debts, or game over. Those are the choices.

The universe says, I got it.

So your concern is you, not the other guy. And it really all comes down to this–are you going to let what happened ruin your life and your health, or are you not? It is just that simple.

Forgiveness is taking your power back. If there is bitterness in your heart, that is like giving a piece of your power away to someone else. Someone who very likely should have less power, not more. Forgiving fully enables you to inhabit the fullness of your own personal power. And letting go of bitterness is a decision–one only you can make.

For me, the process looks like this …

  1. Understand that you are bitter. That’s not mother’s milk you’re soaking in!
  2. Understand that bitterness doesn’t serve you. It is not now, and never will be, your friend.
  3. Decide to release it. I’m not going to tell you it’s easy, but I am going to tell you it is so, so worth it!
  4. If you’re not sure how, ask for information about the right tool for you to flow to you. Information is abundant, one of the easiest things to manifest. Breathwork (sometimes referred to as rebirthing) is a tool that has worked for me in letting things go. I’ve done the therapy thing twice–once in my 20s and once in my 40s, once for each parent it seems–but for me it was a tool for understanding and making sense of things, not necessarily for releasing bitterness. Meditation is also a wonderful tool for letting go of unhelpful things like perfectionism and judgment, and brings you into the present and out of the past. I started meditating after I went through this process.
  5. As you release bitterness, watch the importance of your ‘enemy’ shrink. What a small person he turned out to be!
  6. Now that you have it back, get on with your beautiful life.

This post is illustrated with my SoulCollage card Forgiveness + Nelson Mandela. Nelson Mandela is a true hero to me, not least because he forgave so well. I was inspired by mindlovemisery’s Prompt 46–Bitter Loathing.

A time to act

Owl

This is the SoulCollage card I made last year to represent my sixth-chakra (third eye) companion, an owl.

During the guided meditation I used to identify my totem animals, I envisioned a British barn owl, which I think is particularly beautiful. But images of rare British owls are tough to come by in American magazines, which are the primary source of my images.

One day while standing in line at the grocery store, a misfiled wildlife magazine caught my eye. I opened it and found several large, beautiful images of snow owls. This is one of those images.

The key feature of my owl totem seemed to be a face in which its eyes were very prominent–except for a small beak, seemingly the only feature.

Here’s a new reading of my card from last night. I found it most interesting … hope you do too.

I am one who is wise–like you. Many different kinds of wisdom is what you’re developing over many lifetimes. The wisdom of nature, the wisdom of technology, the wisdom of writing.

I see and observe many things–so do you. I am still. When the time is right, I swoop and pounce. This is a lesson for you. You have been coming into this lately. A time to act, and a time not to act.

What I have to say to you about your current situation is: This advice will come in handy soon. Soon it will be time to act, and there will be no turning back. This is a good thing–you’ll see. That is all.

 

Bath nirvana

Lavender fields

Recently I put together a few simple elements that I thought resulted in the most relaxing bath ever–so of course I wanted to share!

It all started when I came across a magazine article about magnesium, “the relaxation mineral.” Magnesium fights stress, improves sleep, and not having a magnesium deficiency makes you only half as likely to die as other people. Sounds good to me! If you’ve noticed twitching around one or both of your eyes when you get stressed, that’s a symptom of magnesium deficiency, as are insomnia, high blood pressure, sensitivity to loud noises, and–you may have noticed others suffering from this!–irritability.

I have some magnesium malate tablets (horse pills if I’m honest) that I take occasionally. (It’s difficult to get the timing right for optimal absorption, I find.) But then the article I was reading mentioned that I could simply take a bath with epsom salts and absorb magnesium through my skin. Aha! I pulled the carton of epsom salts out of the linen closet.

Package instructions on epsom salts often say to use 2 cups in a bath. I’ve found that’s far too much for my sensitive skin. In a hot bath (I like to run a bath just shy of as hot as I can stand), I have gotten excellent results with 1/3 to 1/2 cup epsom salts + 6 pumps of Dermalogica Stress Relief Treatment Oil, which includes lavender. If you have lavender essential oil, such as Aveda’s, you can substitute about a dozen drops. The oil balances out any drying effects of the salts. I like to soak in this bath for about 30 minutes, flipping over so all of my skin can participate!

The first time I tried this, I cannot tell you how mellow I was–and the effect was quite noticeable for at least 24 hours. It also noticeably improved the quality and depth of my sleep. At this rate, it’s possible I could become more laid-back than my herb-smoking uncle. (OK, on further thought, that’s probably not possible.) Maybe the answer’s been completely legal and lurking in an obscure aisle of the health & beauty section all along …

Peace out.

This post is illustrated with my SoulCollage card Lavender fields.

SoulCollage® cards are for personal use, and are not for sale, barter, or trade.

Just love

Source

Since I posted my Soul Essence card yesterday, I thought I’d post my Source card today. It’s another of the Transpersonal cards that make up a SoulCollage deck. The Source card represents, of course, the source of all that is.

According to the SoulCollage book, Transpersonal cards don’t speak and cannot be read. So I was a little surprised to feel guided to make one, as typically there would be a message associated with this process. Sure enough–and perhaps to be expected, given that I am just a little different–no sooner did I have the card in my hands than it did exactly what it wasn’t ‘supposed to’ do.

Perhaps Source has very few rules. Perhaps only one (from my reading of the card) …

Just love.

The essence of a soul

Soul Essence

We are a living, breathing manifestation of this beautiful and generous planet. –Thich Nhat Hanh

In a SoulCollage deck, there are several Transpersonal cards–Source, Witness, and Soul Essence. I made a Source card some time ago, I haven’t found images for my Witness card yet–and here’s the Soul Essence card I made today. The Soul Essence card represents the maker’s eternal soul and its unique potential.

I found this card a challenge. It’s difficult to conceptualize your soul while you’re incarnated, or so it seems to me. A number of Soul Essence cards I’ve seen include images that reflect the maker’s current gender, but that didn’t feel right to me.

Thanks to various past-life explorations, I know that I’ve been Jacob, a shepherd in the Bronze Age; a master mason who worked on Rouen Cathedral and Canterbury Cathedral; and a stern, humorless, old-school English fisherman–none of whom shared my current gender.

I do see a couple of threads running consistently through these lives–one being strength, the other mastery. In my life as Jacob–a calm, peaceful, idyllic life–I was known for my wisdom about nature, and was a leader among the other shepherds. In my current life I have a tendency to become an expert on whatever I’m working on, almost without intending to. I have to say, I do not enjoy my own incompetence.

I am undeniably an incompetent bowler–unless we change the rules and gutter balls become a good thing–and I would much rather watch others who have grace and skill play, than play myself.

The other common thread is that, as far as I know, all of my incarnations (I’ve been told more than a hundred) have been on this planet. It makes me quite sad to think that due to our foolhardy destructiveness over a relatively short period of time (i.e., the Industrial Age), it might not be possible for me to finish my soul’s education here on planet Earth. I’ve read in several places that our little planet is generally considered a difficult school. Would it be the Harvard of the universe? Perhaps it’s more of an MIT, Penn, or Duke. All I know is that it’s been my home–or perhaps better, home away from home–for millennia. I hope enough of us wake up to reality and take action in time.

Long may we be nurtured by Mother Earth.

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