“A friend is a gift you give yourself.” — Robert Louis Stevenson
More. Some of us have come to believe that more means better. But there are some things where less is more, and one of them is a close friendship. The truth is, we don’t have many special friends, and that is exactly what makes them special.
Between such friends, there is a bond of understanding, honesty, acceptance and love that is valued even more over time. Trusted friends offer us the opportunity to learn to be intimate and to let ourselves be known as we truly are, time and time again. From that mutual sharing, we receive what we need. We can take certain risks, secure in the knowledge that the friendship will endure the test. With our special friends, we don’t have to worry about being perfect because we’re loved for who we are; the way we are. These friendships possess an innate freedom.
Special friendships can be platonic or romantic. It doesn’t matter. Through good times and bad, we begin to sense a divine triangle of growth and love between ourselves, our special friends and our connection with the Universe.
To my close friends, Trish, Andrea, Scott, Kevin and Gregg, “Thank you for accepting “me” as me. The five of you were the special friendships I had in my mind when writing this blog.”
- On Friendship (christophersmark.wordpress.com)
- The Gift of Friends (christophersmark.wordpress.com)
- Her ‘other’ best friend (psychologytoday.com)
The only time I’ve ever paid attention to whether I was born under Chinese Astrology’s Year of the Rat, Year of the Pig, or the Monkey has been while waiting recently for my dinner in a local Chinese restaurant, reading the animal’s names and corresponding New Year dates only to find myself ruminating why my dinner wasn’t served in twenty minutes!
I’m learning only the beginnings of this complex astrology, and so far know that:
There are 12 animal representations, associated with a branch (of which there apparently is no English translation). Each animal and its associated branch are aligned with a New Year date. As I scan my place mat for my birth year of 1961, I discover I was born in the year of the Ox! Further reading tells me that we are in the “Year of the Rabbit” until February 3, 2011 after which time it will be the year of the Dragon.
Lately, with my fascination for the Zodiac and my own daily horoscope, I thought I might try expanding beyond and see what my outlook may be like for 2011 according to the Chinese Astrology.
The Year of the Metal Rabbit should bring progress and expansion. The Metal element exerts a beneficial influence on Water, which is this sign’s element. Last year certainly was a bumpy ride. There may still be a few obstacles in 2011, but there’ll be ten favorable months to look forward to, and only two not-so-favorable months. Being the typical Ox, one needs to work on being more flexible and less stubborn. Compromise is the mentor of teaching how to bend with the wind. A tough and powerful creature, the Ox might butt heads with others if forceful about being right. Borrow some creativity and gentleness from the Rabbit. Raise expectations, and practice diplomacy to get what the Ox wants.
While things should stay steady on the home front, there could be a few challenging moments in the land of love. The Rabbit is strong and stubborn like the Ox, so relationships might feel strained. When dealing with other strong personalities it may be wise to show one’s soft and sensitive side to everyone, including loved ones. Harmony and order will be important this year. Work on communication skills and heal any rifts with estranged friends or family.
A typical Ox might be a bit of a foodie. 2011 is a good time to restore balance to your digestive system and make sure you’re eating healthy. If there are any long-standing health issues, it’s time to discuss them from a holistic approach. A sensible diet is one piece of the puzzle, but consideration of the other factors that encourage balance and wellness. Exercise. Relaxation. Meditation. Laughter. Make sure life holds equal parts of each or the Ox could burn out quickly.
As the element of our year, Metal also rules several months in 2011, including the Ox. There will be several Triple Metal days — where the element of the year, month, and day all match — which could make for some incredible luck where money is concerned. Jump at the opportunities in favorable months but exercise caution in the unfavorable ones. More than anything, it is one’s Oxen diligence that will reap the most rewards. Avoid any get-rich-quick schemes and instead just let your talents bring in prosperity.
None of what I’ve discovered so far is really difficult to digest. For me personally, things have gotten out of hand lately and I do need to slow down a bit and check-in on those priorities. That stress level that had a hard time waiting for dinner needs things to be simpler; making sure what’s necessary is getting done without overextending one’s self.
- “Year of the Rabbit” and related posts (thediscerningbrute.com)
- Your Fortune for The Year 2011-part One (socyberty.com)
- A New Year rolls in (boston.com)
- Photos: The world rings in 2011 (news.nationalpost.com)
“In the darkest hour the soul is replenished and given strength to continue and endure.” — Heart Warrior Chosa
In the depths of our misery, some of us hated ourselves so much that we didn’t believe we deserved to live. Some of us had this idea planted in our minds when we were children. Some of us had lives that didn’t seem worth living. Some of us were suffering so much that we were willing to do anything to rid of what we thought of as our miserable life. When things are so difficult in life and it seems there is no other solution to our problems, some of us turn to thoughts of suicide.
How do we go on when we can’t any longer? Very gently. We use everything we can to help us stay alive; the thought of a beloved child, a special friendship, time-out from our normal life, or turning ourselves over to our spiritual source. When we feel suicidal, we may not care about anything; we feel alienated and isolated. But we’re not. To even keep breathing connects us to life; breathe in and out, slowly. If we open ourselves to the fullness of the moment, from this most basic act our connections expand infinitely. We’ve only to hang on, one minute at a time, and reasons to hope again will come. Life is precious because it was given to us by our Higher Power who loves us unconditionally.
When you’re laughing, I’d bet that you’re not feeling fear. When I’m adrift in all my issues, challenges or life’s drama, I take myself far too seriously and I feel as though I’m losing touch with reality. I become lost in fantasy and obsession. Life becomes joyless because I can’t see beyond what I see as my “burdens” and I find no real satisfaction there. I lose touch with the joy and humor of life and I find that everything around me and inside of me is grim and dark. This is when I most often begin to sense my fears.
One of the many touchstones of my personal growth and increasing sanity is the gift of laughter. Each day as I gain more energy and zest for life, I move into the world where I find many things that are humorous, in me and in other people. When I laugh, I don’t feel alone or afraid.
Laughter is a trait of a happy, healthy human being. Laughter shows that we are a part of humankind. It’s a sign that we’re alive, not afraid and that we’re getting better and better, day-by-day! I’m so grateful that the work I’ve done so far on myself has once again brought me the gift of laughter.
Avoid Old Patterns
STAR = STOP, THINK, ASSESS, REDIRECT
This is a tool I have found useful through my process of learning and personal growth. Whenever I feel I may be crossing over into one of my old patterns of behavior I use this simple process:
- Stop Stop the unhealthy behavior or process may be; take a few deep breaths
- Think Think about what is going on
- Assess Assess the situation and its alternatives
- Redirect Redirect your actions or behavior to the HEALTHIEST alternative
That’s the “STAR” technique received from a very good therapist more than ten years ago. She added this “tool” to my “tool belt” because I needed something to slow me down a bit. Slow me down when feeling like I’m beginning to react. I can be a very sarcastic person and have emotionally wounded many. The “STAR” technique helps me to be healthier in my interactions with others. This technique helps when I’m facing, or considering anything that may be unhealthy for me, or any behavior that I’m trying to correct.
At the time I first learned this technique, I had some tools available to me. They were added to my tool belt year’s earlier, maybe even during childhood. They worked well for me as a child, but as I grew into adulthood, I found that many of my old tools weren’t working anymore. They weren’t in the adult world. I loved my old tools and hung on to them. They were hard to give up! But to grow, I had to say goodbye to my outdated old standby’s, thanking them for protecting the little boy – me, and for keeping me safe when I so desperately needed them. I had to make room for new tools that would help me along my path of personal growth.
“We’re like that!” is what we say when we are trying to communicate how close we are to another, and by crossing our fingers together. A union, signified by the cross has been used as a representation since ancient times and implies complete harmony. Gebo is associated with the planet Venus, the goddess of love. Whenever this rune is drawn for the person being read, know without a doubt that the person is bringing a matter of the heart. Gebo is a benevolent influence; however the surrounding runes show more and may even show difficulties in relationships. When this rune is drawn, the person for whom the reading is occurring is, or will soon be in a general state of relaxation and peace with themselves and the rest of the world.
At one’s innermost level the appearance of Gebo may be issuing a form of warning that some gift – be it money, love or wisdom – is likely to come to the person being read. We all know that nothing in life comes for free and without some sort of cost. All gifts imply that equality must be attained; one must give back, equal in value to such a gift, either in this lifetime or the next. There’s always a price to pay. In a manner of speaking, this rune speaks to the innumerable laws of karma – “As you sow, so shall ye reap.”
As a result, I recommend that one doesn’t consider the appearance of this rune to be entirely positive. The outcome may prove to be productive, but not, necessarily positive. Ignore one’s inherent responsibilities and the outcome could be perilous.
“I shall tell you a great secret, my friend. Do not wait for the last judgment, it takes place every day.” — Albert Camus
It is easy to hope that at some time in the future we may redeem ourselves by some great act of heroism or undergo a dramatic conversion of sorts. But in the meantime, all too often, it’s business as usual. Too easily we can become used to our unhealthy behaviors, denying that our acting-out has harmed anyone… except ourselves and those we love and who love and trust us. Deep down we knew we were judging ourselves and being judged. Now, each day, we can assess our actions and evaluate our behavior. In this way, we learn how our behavior has affected every part of our lives and our relationships.
It is time to change. The longer we wait, the more ingrained are our habits and ways of perceiving and deceiving. If we live a lie, we will be judged accordingly, by ourselves and those close to us. We can change and grow and move ahead into the openness and fullness of each new day.
“There must be the listening ear, as well as the still small voice.” – God Calling
In the past when I needed help, I coped through addictions and tools in my emotional tool belt which no longer were appropriate. It helped me to escape, avoid reality and manipulate people. Now that I have greater, healthier options, I have begun to act differently. How can anyone do the same?
Well, practice makes perfect; I practice asking for help. We can all start by staying aware of where we are vulnerable. Prying shame from its grip on our self-esteem helps too. We can know that we do not have to live by different rules than other people; we don’t have to be separate and isolated. We don’t have to be perfect, only real and authentic. Asking for help is O.K.
The Universe or one’s own Higher Power will provide all that is needed, and provide all the answers beyond what any human being could possible offer. When we feel unable to reach out to others, even if we may want to, we can take a risk and turn to the Universe. Turning to our previous unhealthy ways or to an addiction never solves anything; turning to the Universe or Higher Power will.
“We yield, and we realize God has wrought something in us, and that the wings of our souls have learned to beat the upper air.” — Anonymous
Where is your “resting place”, that free space for nurturing and peace? As a child in kindergarten, like all of my classmates, I had a “resting mat.” Each day, for a period of forty-five minutes or so, my classmates and I took a little nap.
As an adult, my resting place is inside myself: a place where I live quietly, engaged in inarticulate creation. I go to that silent space because I am safe there. I find what I need to be replenished until I am ready to go into the world again.
For some, their resting places are primarily outside of themselves: the earth, the sea, the desert or the mountains. It is called “getting away from it all,” but it’s really going to something needed as much as air and food.
We all will find a resting place in anything to which our heart calls us: music, writing in a journal, books on personal growth or spirituality or simply in solitude. We all need sanctuary; time to be recreated; time to become reconnected to who we truly are.