THE LEARNING CURVE OF 2017

DAMN. 

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Although the general consensus is that most of us would like to, 2017 was a year that we won't soon forget. In the West, we felt the pangs of social, political and environmental unrest and the disillusionment of government. The election stirred the collective pot and from it arose a chaotic mix of deep fear and uncertainty.

For me, the first half of 2017 felt like somewhat of a dark hole of mental terror.  In the second half of the year, the clouds began to part and I began to see the sky open up like a bridge to something; a better, more whole way of life. While I won’t deny that 2017 has been filled with fuckery and full-fledged absurdity, I’m gonna put it out there that there are gems to be mined and diamonds to be discovered from this wild time in the continuum.  From a soul-centered perspective, we get put in these places of discomfort, disbelief, disillusionment to prepare us for new, expansive, brighter, better days. So with the acceleration of troubles and challenging experience, so goes the acceleration of our growth curve.  We may just be getting handed a true gift right now, through all of it's grit, to enter into more fulfilled, joyful, cooperative ways of being with ourselves and being in the world.

 

“Most people are afraid of suffering. But suffering is a kind of mud to help the lotus flower of happiness grow. There can be no lotus flower without the mud.” ― Thich Nhat Hanh said this in his book
 

“No mud, no lotus,” is the idea, and the overly simplified interpretation is that without shit we don't get flowers.  Fertilizer gives life to the growth of the flower, it blooms, and then returns to the earth.  The relationship between the mud and the lotus is is cyclical, reciprocal, and perfect in it's nature. 

If we are to believe that we are a part of nature, then we too can flow with it's cycles.  That means that we humans, with all of our depths, our mud, and our shit, within and without, are perfect in our nature, too.  Our flowers need the mud. Our lightness needs the dark. We must experience the one to have the other on a fundamental level, because it is in this contrast that we learn what is of true value and of worthiness in a life.  In a fleeting existence, in an uncertain world (which is the nature of reality regardless of the times we are living in) we learn how to drudge through the muck to extract what is necessary, vital, and true to life.  What is worth living for? What is worth letting go of? What is this flat out bizarre and disorienting experience we are having in the world and what can it give us to move forward in life with passion and purpose and hope?  

 "It's the circle of life. And it moves us all."

"It's the circle of life. And it moves us all."

Contrary to the results-centered, upward mobility focused mentality of the modern day, in my experience, life isn’t like climbing a ladder or a staircase, it’s more like riding a wave or a rollercoaster.  What seems like upward trajectory might coil us into a million inward or outward spirals.  And when it feels like we're going to free-fall, maybe we climb higher.  It's important to be wherever you're at in your rollercoaster ride and your lotus growing. So allow it.  Let it. Be.

 Scenes from "The Wall"

Scenes from "The Wall"

This is also to say that every path is unique and every ride is different. So, when I share a few things I've learned this year, or even my opinions in general, it is not to say that everyone will know what I mean or vibe with what I'm giving. Experience is like a kaleidoscope! And in that vein, along with the few nuggets of truth I took from this past rotation round the sun, I've also included submissions from other people about something they learned this year.  Here they are, for you:

 

"I learned that when you think you just can't take another hit you can. I learned that I used to think I was strong; now I know I am. I learned that the people I've chosen to have my back in this life actually do." - Sarah Miller Bate
 

Take it easy

"Don't let the sound of those old wheels drive you crazy." With the clutter of newsstreams, social media, our internal chatter, and the general over stimulation of our lives, our minds are very busy and very noisy.  This noisiness builds up mental resistances that keep us from getting shit done and accessing our potential. It's almost like a radio that just doesn't turn off.

If we do any amount of work within, we start to realize or notice that we can choose our thoughts and direct the nature of our own inner commentary.  This is one of our many powers as conscious beings!

In the second half of this year, a new mantra came to me from the Dream Freedom Beauty podcast which has reshaped the way I work with myself and my inner dialogue. 

"Grace and Ease" is the mantra. "How easy can I make this?" is the question.

Very simply put, let's say I have to start on a project.  My default mind usually is going to come up with barriers and restrictions that make it hard for me to get to work ("this is hard. you will fail. what's the point. this is too much. I can't do it"..blah blah blah) which is like lighter fluid for procrastination.  The moment I stop and ask myself, "How easy can I make this?" I feel instant clarity and like there is room in my mind to create new potentials, to do the things I need to do and to manifest (that word gets thrown around a lot but it is something powerful.)  My default mode is resistance, but when I ask myself the question, the walls break down and the field is wide open to create. The more I ask this question, the more that it becomes my default mode. And then I'm ready to fuck some shit up (in a very good way.)

This was such a breakthrough for me because I had never even thought to ask myself how I could make it easy.  I'm usually like, "why is this so hard?" But that question already has an assumption built into it that things are hard. It's gonna be hard if we already think it is. We immediately become victims to the "hard knock school" perspective of life.

We naturally think that things have to be hard to learn from them. Yes, there is learning by difficult lessons, walking through fire, being initiated.  It is the shamanic way.  It is a deep and resonate, trail blazing Phoenix from the ashes kind of way that I respect and honor. But just as the Phoenix's story isn't the only one of transformation, fire is not the only way.  Things can be easy; fluid like water, breezy like wind, if we allow them to be.  We don't have to adopt that story for our lives as hard earth tests if we don't want to.

There is so much freedom in making things easy on ourselves. Or at least entertaining the idea that things can be easy.

 

"One of many things that I learned this year is how to bend time. In the past, I used to buckle under stressful situations. I have developed a mental tool to stop myself and freeze while chaos is going on around me. When engaged, I can perform duties calmly with surgical precision." - Alex Pettai
 Jellyfish Image via Greek Diplomatic Life

Jellyfish Image via Greek Diplomatic Life

 

Take it slow

I like to do things slow.  And take time for myself to do nothing.  This is not very acceptable by current society but honestly "they're" not the boss of me and I don't give a shit. I walk slow. I talk slow. I sit and stare out the window often. I sit with my cards for hours, I paint my nails.  I feel time is like a fluid moving over and through me, and I can feel it more when I'm moving with it, instead of actively trying to speed it up or milk it for all it's worth. Maybe time is money, or maybe it's something we can't really wrap our heads around all together.  I spent a lot of time doing nothing this year, and it made space and readiness for the moments of action.  We have to slow down to be able to listen to our selves. Father Time and Mother Nature co-exist.  Slowing down can expand time. It gives a voice to the mother that is sometimes stifled in our masculine centered times. Slowing down allows us to listen and to be more open to receive. 

 

"Moving to NYC taught me to never be afraid of my potential. It takes just a few seconds to realize your bad habits that hold you back from your truest self and your worth. Also, crying in crowded subways provides the best fucking relief somehow." - Christofer Medina
 

There are more of us

Burning man. I got to experience that magical, mystical, ridiculous playplace for the first time this year.  While I was struck by an array of emotions and takeaways from the experience, one of the greatest was a sense of unity; that I was not alone.  There are people waking up everywhere, devoting their lives to service, play, enjoyment, expression, and growth; testing the boundaries and imagining new ways of living, being and cooperating to make the world a better place.

Despite the media frenzy of fear and death and destruction, there are those working both boldly and often undetected to bring love, peace and straight up pleasure into the world.  

 "The Man" courtesy of Billboard

"The Man" courtesy of Billboard

 

Seek teachers, guides, help

As echoed above, often times I have felt out on my own little island when it comes to my interests and path of growth. The beauty of the internet is that we are able to connect with others who share our joys and struggles no matter physical locations.  I have been blessed to connect with various teachers of tarot, astrology, and magic this year. There is always more to learn, and we don’t have to do this on our own. If you're seeking guidance or help along your path a tarot reading is a genuine method for connecting with your higher self.  If you're looking to connect with a teacher or mentor, here are my faves I worked with in 2017:

Lindsey Mack

Sabrina Monarch

Carolyn Elliot

 
"[I learned this year] How to trust my heart's guidance above anyone else's while still loving and understanding those that do not want this type of perspective in their own life." - Sarah Bennet
 

Know deep down that you know best

Any good teacher is only mining for what you already know within.  Don’t buy into what other people are selling as cure-alls, fix-alls, whatever.  I even had to check myself with tarot over this year, that I wasn’t leaning on my cards as an outward fixation to provide me a false sense of security. A healthy relationship is one that reflects what is within.  The cards, like any tool or teacher, are just guideposts on a map. They are revealing what is already there.  Our intuition is our most trustworthy guide. 

There’s a weird phenomena that started happening on social media this year when things starting becoming so politically focused.  With obvious social injustices happening left and right, I found myself very confused about the messages I was receiving from some of the healer community.  Women on women bullying about not sticking up for or speaking out against oppression, blaming, shaming, “calling out” in angry, righteous ways.  It was just very confusing and I had to think and reflect pretty intensely about my work, my mission and what I wanted to put forward into the world. 

 "After the game, the King & Pawn go back into the same box" (proverb)

"After the game, the King & Pawn go back into the same box" (proverb)

Here is the thing: everyone moves through the world in their own way.  We can’t wake people up by pointing fingers or bashing them over the head with rhetoric.  We can however, inspire thought and plant seeds of change when we move from a place of realness.  Some people are really angry, so it makes sense that they would react in an angry way.  Sometimes we are quick to spew onto social media in a fit of rage as well.  I get it. I've done it before. 

Spiritual people are just people too and we’re all figuring this human thing out together.  Through this confusion, that fact became even more clear to me. I love dancing with others viewpoints, and if they resonate, hell yes, but ultimately, I trust my inner compass and direct experience with life.  I will continue on my path with as much love and grace and compassion as possible, and hope that it spreads more of it around this place, even in the face of white supremacists carrying torches threatening or offending most of the US population. Those people need love the most. 

 

"She could not make sense of the things that were meant for her, but she was drawn to it all...and when she was alone...she felt like the moon.. terrified of the sky ... but completely in love with the way it held the stars.." - R.M Drake (submitted by Amber Chapell)
 

Surrender to the Void

This is the message of The Hanged Man. To Let Go.

Something we know for certain, is that we don't know anything for certain.  We don't know what tomorrow brings.  The only constant is change. The only constellation is that we are always moving in relation to the constellations. We can live in fear of the mystery, the void, the nothingness, or we can revel in it, swim in it and surrender to it (and most likely oscillate between both.)  There is some stability in the acceptance that nothing is stable, in the embrace of the wild unknown nature of the universe. It is both mud and lotus, because it is the pain of emptiness and the comfort of return that resides in that darkness. It is everything to surrender to the moment and the way that things are. To release our grip on how we think things should be, how they are not in alignment with highest ideals, how they are imperfect.  We are in it. Right now. And that's all we really truly know.  

 

I'm moving into 2018 with hopes of health and wealth and touching others through the practice I find most sacred and dear to my heart and soul; tarot.  I'm Ready to bloom and ready to move within this world with you guys with love. 

What did you take away from 2017? And what are you hoping for 2018?

To explore more of your inner world and unlock new levels in your experience, I'm currently booking New Years Reading- 12 Months of Magic Tarot reading. visit here to book. 

Thank you to those who contributed their stories to this post and to everyone for being on this journey with me. 

- Sarah