Thursday, October 31, 2013

November: Prayer and Thanksgiving Month on The Radical Virgo





Dear Radical Readers,

By now you’ve probably noticed how 2013 has shaped up to become a very theme-oriented year on The Radical Virgo. In April, we had Poetry Month. May brought us the Planetary Fishing Trips where we went on a metaphorical outing to reel in each of our planets in hopes of catching a more personalized relationship with them. In July we did dreamwork. August found us dabbling in oracles.

In September, we celebrated Old Home Month, a homecoming of sorts to the sign this blog was named after and a deeper look at Virgo. During October we hosted my favorite articles from my spirited living blog, Hot Flashbacks, Cool Insights.

But wait—there’s more!

In the USA, we celebrate Thanksgiving in November--the perfect time to pray and count our blessings. Recently my husband had the second of two scary hospitalizations in five months. In an effort to turn the cusp of worry into something more productive and faith-full, I visited the chapel at UC-Davis Hospital in Sacramento. There I found brochures with prayers from every kind of spiritual path: Christian, Jewish, Buddhist, Native American and Islam, to name a few. It reminded me how important prayer has always been in my life and what a comfort it is in times of stress. While we tend to pray when someone needs healing or when thing go wrong, the best prayer of all is Thank God he’s going to be all right! Counting our blessings is a positive prayer, thanking God/Goddess/All That Is for what’s right in our world.

In the chapel that day, all alone except for the sound of a beautiful wall fountain running over a metal sculpture to rocks below in the basin, I was grateful for the faith of my childhood. It was both a rock for building a solid spiritual life and a place where there was always a lot of water in the form of holy water and baptismal fonts. As I grew spiritually to encompass the best of many paths, I became more involved in doing eclectic ritual, borrowing from them all, resonating to the core of strength and well-being evoked by prayer and spiritual poems.

You’ll see some of my favorites and new discoveries in November—and we’ll explore why prayer and gratitude are such potent practices for keeping our connection from Earth to Sky wired for miraculous results.

Every sunrise is a gift of the  recurring cycle of life. It deserves my favorite, most simple prayer of all: Thank God. [1] More specifically, thank God for another day of loving.

May every day be Thanksgiving,
Joyce

Photo  Credit: © Bernd S. - Fotolia.com

NOTE:

[1] Throughout this series, I’m going to invite you to substitute whatever is comfortable for you when it comes to describing Higher Power: God, Goddess, All That Is, Spirit, the Universe—or fill in the blank.  Just today a friend told me, “I still have trouble with the G-word.” She was raised in a fundamentalist religion, and having experienced the results of religious rigidity myself, I know how important it is can be to find a new vision of deity or the Divine All Together, as I sometimes call Him/Her/It/Them. What I hope we won’t do is throw out the baby with the holy water when it comes to a great prayer that just may need a minor edit of terms for you to find its healing gold.


Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Lessons from My Creep-o-Meter




Article © 2008 – 20013 by Joyce Mason
All Rights Reserved



During October, The Radical Virgo is hosting some of my favorite posts from my other blog, Hot Flashbacks, Cool Insights. See announcement


Even though I was born just hours after author Stephen King, I have no taste for anything too creepy. In 1973, I saw two movies that sent my Creep-o-Meter into overdrive.

It was before I moved to the Left Coast. I was visiting from Wisconsin, on vacation to see my poetry editor/ love interest in San Francisco. He suggested we see the movie,
Play Misty for Me. Remembering the beautiful song "Misty" by Johnny Mathis, I figured it was a love story. Turned out to be the Fatal Attraction of its time, the tale of a woman fan obsessed with a DJ, played by Clint Eastwood, also in his directorial debut. The suspense and slow revelation of his stalker’s mental imbalance sucked me in and scared me in the most visceral way. I wanted to crawl under the seat or inside my date’s jacket. I never considered seeing Fatal Attraction after the indelible impression Play Misty left on me. I was deeply weirded out by this movie and cannot erase some of the scenes from my mind to this day. Some people, who have seen them both, think Misty is actually creepier than Fatal Attraction. Misty starts out seeming like the love story I expected—then the twist. I didn’t mind doing the Twist in the ‘50s, but movies that were too twisted didn’t play well for me in any decade.

Then there was
Harold and Maude. It opens with young Harold in a bloody suicide attempt--slashed wrists--then minutes later, Harold’s mom walks into another room to find he has hang himself. She remains sarcastic and unflustered, and soon we learn the joke is on us. Harold stages all these death scenes—now we know they’re fakein a desperate attempt to connect with dear old Mom. I almost walked out until I recognized it as a dark comedy. I was glad I stayed the course, because this cult classic endeared itself to me, living on the border of life and death and total unpredictability. It scared, then delighted me. I cannot think of this movie without reliving the hilarious scene where a priest tries to counsel Harold about of his “unholy” relationship with Maude, old enough to be his great-grandmother. He imagines out loud, in increasing verbal crescendo, the commingling of his young, firm flesh and hers—wrinkled and sagging. I apologize in advance if I hurt the feelings of any baby boomer readers, in case this hits home too closely. (I meant robbing the cradle, of course, not the wrinkles.)

I have had many personal encounters with people and things that are not as they seem, and learning to deal with these scary surprises seems to be one of the great skills we acquire as we accumulate birthdays. There are the milder forms of the unexpected—the relationships we imagine through our rose-colored glasses to be soulmate material when they are really a joke on us for not seeing every red flag the love object is waving in our face, not even attempting to be dishonest. “Oh, the lies we tell for the sake of love!” Especially to ourselves. Or so goes the opening line of a poem I wrote that amuses me still for my moment of clarity while swimming in that much self-delusion.

Back at the cinema, from these two movies emerge two distinct kinds of unpleasant surprises. Play Misty for Me is an encounter with true danger, something to be avoided at all costs and to run from the minute you see the switch from Jekyll to Hyde or you get the scent of something that gives you goose bumps. Before online dating, I sometimes tried the local singles ads. I connected with a man so smooth; I actually agreed to meet him for the first time at his home—very risky. A switch flipped inside me during one of our conversations, and I called him and backed out. I said if he wanted to meet me, it’d have to be in a public place the first time. I just wasn’t comfortable on a first encounter any other way.

When we met at a restaurant, he chose to have more than one drink, and in the middle of a sentence, his Evil Other emerged. He criticized me unmercifully for not keeping my word about coming to his house—just the warm-up for an onslaught of verbal battering. It was amazing to me that I had given him so much ammunition and personal information in our phone conversations to turn against me. He glommed onto my strong sense of integrity, knowing that the worse thing he could accuse me of is not being forthright or true to my promise. I walked out, fuming, mostly at myself for being so vulnerable, but not without having the last word, which I threw over my shoulder, “You have just proven why I made the right decision not to go anywhere near your house.”

Harold and Maude, on the other hand, represents the experience that seems a little strange at first, but something inside you knows there’s a hitch—some incongruity just sucks you in. Like Harold’s mother acting irritated with his “suicide attempts” instead of screaming or calling the paramedics. Ironically, I almost left Harold and Maude faster than my brush with the singles-ads weirdo and my own potential
Looking for Mr. Goodbar. There’s another movie I avoided, knowing it would be too scary for me to see—especially considering the risks I probably had no idea I was taking during my “bar phase” in my twenties.

We all have an internal alarm system that will keep us out of harm’s way, if we choose to hear it, but sometimes it conflicts with our desire to keep an open mind—or the way too open heart, eager to find love anywhere. If you feel a chill up your spine or witness any kind of behavior that seems “off” when you really don’t know someone well, that’s the time to run, not walk to the nearest exit.

On the other hand, if something is tickling your funny bone or you can remind yourself it’s “just a movie,” maybe a touch of the creeps is a relatively cheap thrill worth the occasional indulgence. I admit it. I have an approach-avoidance conflict to the bizarre as witnessed by my love of the cult TV show,
Twin Peaks and movies like Fargo. I can take dark drama/comedy, no matter how bizarre, as long as there is a lot of comic relief. Often these flicks or shows are too crazy to be real—and somehow the humor dilutes the horror. For the same reason, I’m a fan of the “cocktail mysteries” by J.A. Konrath.

Life without a skipped heartbeat now ‘n’ then might be just a bit too boring for the generation that grew up in the era of sex, drugs, and rock ‘n’ roll. And, for me, before that, who grew up on
Shock Theatre every Saturday night. I thought I had the most liberal parents on earth in the 1950s because they didn’t censor my viewing and allowed Marvin and “Dear” to baby-sit me for a couple hours each weekend.

Meanwhile, ready, set, go—trick or treat! May all your things that go bump in the night be imaginary, not real.

Happy Halloweird!


Monday, October 28, 2013

Incognito: Costumes and Other Cheap Thrills


Gilda from Planet Glitz



© 2008 – 20013 by Joyce Mason
All Rights Reserved

During October, The Radical Virgo is hosting some of my favorite posts from my other blog, Hot Flashbacks, Cool Insights. See announcement


I have always loved costumes and reported in a previous post my penchant for getting up like Auntie Mame, the Purple People Eater, and a Christmas Tree, among other alter egos.

As most of you know, my first mystery novel, coming out next month, is set at a costume affair called The Crystal Ball. It’s the silver anniversary of a longevity organization in San Francisco. The revelers are invited to come as you will be in the next 25 years. You have no idea how much fun I’m having with that! I can invent costumes without regard to the problem I have in real life—mechanical execution. For example, Micki Michaels, the protagonist and head of IOPEA, the  Immortalists on Planet Earth Association, attends the bash as a DNA molecule. That one was a lot easier to pull off in print than in person. As to the rest of the party-goers, think the bar scene in Star Wars and a lot of other highly original characters.

What is it about costume parties, costume balls, and dressing up that gives us a cheap thrill like no other? In fact, the longstanding costume shop from the hippy dippy heyday of Sacramento is called
Cheap Thrills. It remains a local cultural icon.

Psychology of Costumes

 
No question in my mind will remain unanswered a click away from Google. It doesn’t take a psychiatrist to know that our choice of costume says something about us. However, I found a
fascinating exercise proposed for teachers of clinical psychology. In a way, that’s all of us. Life is the clinic! The exercise: (1) Write down costumes you have worn in the past, (2) Write the costumes you’d like to wear in the future—then, (3) Let others in a class setting (or a gathering of family or friends) tell you what costumes they’d choose for you. Do I want to know?

I even found suggested
costumes for introverts! Again, it doesn’t take a rocket scientist to figure out that introverts don’t like being the center of attention, but certain costumes are easier to hide behind than others. Or bestow a bit of of the brazen. And for those of you who want some costume interpretations without thinking too hard, click here for some expert opinions from a psychologist.

My Stab at the Costume Exercise

 
1. Costumes Past: You already know I’ve been Auntie Mame, the Purple People Eater, a cosmic cowgirl, and a Christmas tree--and (pictured) Glitta from the Planet Glitz in a Golden Galaxy, dripping gold, not 14-carat.

2. Costumes Future: I decided I had to write down my pure desires, regardless of how ridiculous I might look in these get-ups at my current age, weight, etc. Try not to laugh too hard: trapeze artist, ballerina, CSI (complete with disposable gloves and that nifty specimen collection kit), and a private eye (beige trench coat and sunglasses). I suppose these all make sense, as I try to keep my balance while navigating the mysteries of life.

3. How My Friends Would Dress Me Up. Several of them were game! I just sent them an e-mail. Here’s are some of the surprising results with my parenthetical reactions:

  • I could see you in a Dorothy costume with cute little Toto in tow. (I hope it’s only my wide-eyed wonder of a child and my tendency toward glitzy accessories. I’d kill for those sparkly red shoes!) Yes, plus your persistence to get to your goal and help get others there, too, and to overcome obstacles and pick up friends along the way that are definitely not mainstream thinkers… which is a good thing! All of the Joseph Campbell mythic journey is wrapped up in the one little story... you’re living it!
  • I am not sure what costume I can see you wearing, but one of my favorite all- time costumes is a clear trash bag filled with colored balloons and the person inside wearing a leotard and tights in a bright color – and they are a bag of Jelly Bellies! (You were channeling! I love Jelly Bellies!)
  • Don’t laugh…I can see you in an Elvira costume. Also, Lily Tomlin as the little girl with the big lollypop. (I’m nothing if not versatile.)
 Now, don’t you just have to try this for yourself?

All-Time Favorite Costume Ideas and Incidents


I tend to be most impressed with costumes that are objects of some sort. I think it’s much easier to portray a person—I already am one—than a thing. Morphing into an animated object takes real talent. One costume that caught my eye was someone in a paper box crafted as a traffic light, complete with ovals of changing colors—Go, Caution, STOP!

Here’s my most hilarious costume incident. Our neighbor down the street, a fun guy, but never known to be on the bold side, showed up early on Halloween night as an adult trick-or-treater. He was wearing one of my coveted costumes—a trench coat—only he had a different job in mind for it. As I opened the door, he ripped opened his coat like the proverbial dirty old man played by
Arte Johnson on Rowan & Martin’s Laugh-In. His exposé revealed a large salami and two rounds of cheese hanging from his belt. (He was otherwise fully clothed.)

He got the last surprise when he stepped across the threshold and saw that he had just “exposed himself” to my sixty-something mother-in-law. A proper lady, Mom fortunately had a great sense of humor, but she still couldn’t put Paul at ease, who skulked home, embarrassed about his flashdance.

Probably the most clever costume party I ever heard of was called a Cocktail Party, and it was literal to its name. It happened in Wisconsin in the ‘70s. People came dressed as cocktails. I can only imagine the Harvey Wallbanger. I would have gone as a mint green Grasshopper. There was a Pink Lady, a Tequila Sunrise, and my favorite—six people who walked in together with a big brown box around them, bottle caps on their heads—a six-pack! Contest: Tell me how we’d adapt this to modern day. How would Carrie, Samantha, Miranda, or Charlotte from Sex & the City dress up like a Cosmo? I can’t begin to imagine where this would take one of my favorite bloggers, the
Martini Diva, but I know she’ll Comment and tell your herself! (Sex on the Beach-a-tini would, no doubt, be the life of the Cocktail Party!)

Sacred/Secular
Like Day of the Dead that follows it on November 1, Halloween is a mixture of the sacred and secular--of life and death. Overall, the holiday has become highly commercialized and more people, adults included, are into decorating and dressing up. Seasonal costume shops are cropping up on more corners. For those sensitive to it, there is no denying that All Hallow’s Eve is a night where the veil between worlds is thin.

Halloween is a celebration of the hidden mysteries of life and the mystery of our own multifaceted natures—the parts still hidden inside us. As you get ready for this annual night of tricks, sugar rush, and brushing elbows with ghosts and goblins, see what you discover about yourself in the fun, in the disguise—in the touch of the forbidden—in the magic.



~~~

Photo: Joyce as Gilda from the Planet Glitz, some Halloween in the late 1980s.



Are you on The Radical Virgo mailing list? If not, join in the upper right of the sidebar to be part of a drawing on Halloween for a signed copy of Golden Prose & Poetry, which contains Joyce's short-story, "Cruel Embroidery." It reminds some people of a modern-day Salem witch trial, just in time for All Hallow's Eve. 

Thursday, October 24, 2013

"Spiritual Mutts"





 A Soulful Canine © Gabe Palmer Dreamstime.com



Article © 2010 -2013 by Joyce Mason


During October, The Radical Virgo is hosting some of my favorite posts from my other blog, Hot Flashbacks, Cool Insights. See announcement

 
My friend Elizabeth and I have deeply spiritual discussions. One day in 2009,  I was struggling with my growing inability to feel comfortable attending my church, a liberal Catholic parish to which she had introduced me. It had been so much a part of my life at that point, but I was being called to move on—to reclaim my larger spirituality that transcends denomination or ritual.

That’s when she did it. Elizabeth called herself a “spiritual mutt,” someone who doesn’t quite fit into any one church. I knew instantly that I was the same kind of  mongrel.

The downside of this metaphor: Maybe it’s because I was raised Catholic with its historical shadow of darkness including the Inquisition. I couldn’t quite shake the idea of the Dogma Catcher coming after me.

Still, the concept really helped me sort out yet another phase of my never-ending journey. Elizabeth was instrumental in helping me find a Catholic church so welcoming and open-minded; I could go there and heal the dark side of my religious roots. I had a lot of hurt to heal. I had been away for 40 years.

My comeback was like most things I do—all or nothing. I dove into the deep end of the baptismal font. Before I knew it, I was back into the groove of weekly Mass and all the rituals I had missed for most of my adult life. I was involved in key ministries, including those that welcomed others to the community—or welcomed them back after long absences like mine.

I developed a new appreciation for the fact that the spiritual and spirited being I have become emanates from the same core beliefs that molded many of the mystics.

I was back to rediscover the good in my spiritual beginnings. I completed a circle that had been broken and desperately needed repair. It was one of the greatest losses of my lifetime, feeling that I couldn't remain in the church of my childhood. When I could once again be there—even for a while—it was heaven.

By far, I am not the only person on earth who has struggled with Catholicism (or perhaps your own, different religion) and how to relate to our religious upbringing as adults in a modern world. Most of my life I have known more “recovering” Catholics than practicing ones. By now, I have no beef with anyone who is in either camp, and not just because I’m old enough to remember meatless Fridays. It is a beautiful faith, and I envy those who can be there wholeheartedly. It must be wonderful to be a pedigreed Catholic or Baptist, Jew or Buddhist—to have a certain breed of spirituality that’s consistent with your internal beliefs that brings a community of support with it for the believer, not to mention activities and fun! I’ve had some of my best times ever in the church hall. (Catholics really know how to party!)



Jesus: Teacher and Radical

Still, a single religion isn’t big enough for me. My beliefs are more universal, and I see Jesus in a different light than more conservative or biblically literal Christians. I believe in less emphasis on Jesus dying for our sins and more on his teaching us how to live. The former is hard to take without inducing guilt for merely being alive, not a good psychological state from which to become all we can be—in the image and likeness of the divine. Jesus showed us how to put love in action. I doubt Jesus’ first choice for jobs would have been scapegoat. I believe he would have “saved” us whether or not he was executed, which was a political act. He saved us by showing us the path of compassion and universal love. The horrible way he died made his life more dramatic and memorable; we still talk about it all the time, over 2000 years later.

Even though conservatives have claimed him as their own, Jesus was a radical—a man who loved others regardless of class or status, saint or sinner. That was unusual in his day, and it’s too bad it’s still unusual now. He really rocked the status quo—why he was seen as a political threat, and why his life ended in capital punishment.

Jesus and his teachings remain the foundation of who I am; yet, I cannot deny or discard the boatload of blessings from other paths. Like an artist who wants to choose from all colors in the palette to make the most beautiful painting, I want my spiritual life to have the most color and beauty possible. That, for me, comes with universality—seeing the best in all paths and where they converge. It also minimizes prejudice. So much conflict and death has come out of religious differences; I can only feel that being ecumenical and embracing is the best possible thing I can do.



One thing I’m sure of: God has no religion.


Whatever way you perceive the spark of the divine, I believe Universal Love is so all encompassing; there couldn’t possibly be a “Catholics Only” heaven like I was taught in the 1950s. And if heaven’s truly a state of mind, which I also believe at many levels, then it’s also full of diversity—and not full enough!

Great Scotty!

If there’s a patron saint for spiritual mutts, in my mind, he’s Rev. Scotty McClennan. While his name might not exactly be a household word, a character based on him may have been to your house a lot in your life. Scotty is a good friend of cartoonist Gary Trudeau, and the character Rev. Scot Sloan in Doonesbury was inspired by him.

Scotty McClennan is a Unitarian Universalist minister (a denomination where I spent five years as an adult). He’s author of Finding Your Religion: When the Faith You Grew Up with Has Lost Its Meaning. That book has been a godsend for me, no pun intended. One of its neatest features is a spiritual evolutionary timeline. It goes from Stage 1 (Magic), where spirits, demons, fairy tales and a vision of God making everything happen through Stage 7 (Unity) where you feel community with all traditions and sense the divine in everything. As you can probably guess, spiritual mutts tend to be in Stage Seven or in 7th Heaven, as I like to think of it. I can’t recommend this book enough, if you’re struggling with how your religious roots fit into stretching your spiritual wings.

Another concept I heard at a Catholic women’s retreat also speaks to stages of spiritual evolution through the three persons in one God or Trinity. When we are young and need a simplified look at life, love, and God, we are likely to resonate most to God the Father. In the mid-stage, we spend much time identifying with Jesus, the Son. In the third and final stage, we resonate to the Holy Spirit—see God and signs of God everywhere.

Finally, there’s one more Great Scotty, his newest book, Jesus Was a Liberal: Reclaiming Christianity for All. It takes a new look at who Jesus was and how his teachings apply to all the big issues in modern ethical dilemmas and social justice.


Vocations

As an astrologer and a writer on spirituality, I sometimes I think of myself as a missionary on the frontiers of outer space. I help many grateful people; it is moving, gratifying work. I feel privileged that people trust me to journey with them to the deepest, most magnificent parts of themselves. These places of purest possibility are often hidden by our own evolutionary limits and unexamined habit patterns.

This mission is hard to do from most religious traditions because many religions condemn astrology. At least my favorite, open-minded Catholic parish says every Christmas—out loud!—that the Magi were astrologers. I find it paradoxical that the Three Wise Men who attended the birth of the Christ child were Zoroastrian priest-astrologers, yet astrology tends to make the religious hierarchy nervous. I suspect they fear it has something to do with giving one’s faith over to something other than God. On the contrary, I see God and Creator in the movement of the stars, planets, and the power behind the astrologers motto, “As above, so below.” The Bible is full of references to the stars as signs, not to mention heaven/the heavens, starting with the Star of Bethlehem. Yet, sadly, many people have not gotten out of the Dark Ages with their vision of astrology. As most modern astrologers practice it, astrology is about following divine hints and an actual, personalized roadmap of how to get to heaven—metaphorically, becoming all you can be as embodied spirit.

I have noted before in other articles my discontent, growing up, with the word “vocation” being used strictly to denote a call to the religious life as a priest, nun, monk, or similar dedicated life path with formal vows. (That in my mind is “vowcation.”) Vocation, more broadly, is whatever pursuit contains a divine calling for you. Mine is astrology and eclectic spirituality. Given the “faith of my fathers” has not been very friendly toward either astrology or women in leadership roles, there’s not a fit.

But I don’t have to have a fit. In the past, I would have bemoaned and groaned about this as small-minded on the part of the Church. Now, thanks to Rev. Scotty and others who have re-attuned me to the concept of spiritual evolution, I recognize that both institutions and people are on different roads or stages of their spiritual quest. I knew many Stage 7’s (Unity) in my Catholic parish, but the institutional church is more Stage 3 (Dependence).


Symbols and Spirit

I think most of us realize that the true divide, when it comes to religion, is the chasm of Literal and Figurative. It’s difficult to argue with people who view the Bible as literal. I don’t try; I just respect their view from a different place on the spiritual spectrum.



Symbolism is the life’s blood of my own spirituality, and because writing is where symbols meet communication, I write.


My own spirituality is a sort of Tevye in Fiddler on the Roof speaking to God meets the Cosmic Bonfire of Creativity or the Tao in the channeled Michael Teachings. The latter contain one of my favorite ways of seeing the spiritual world, a creation myth I paraphrase in a December 2007 holiday blog post, Turn on the Lights!

Symbols, to me, are sparks of the God stuff everywhere; synchronicities, omens, hunches and inklings all are Spirit, taking whatever form it needs to leave a message. Spirit is a shape shifter, after all, and when she leaves messages in writing, it doesn’t matter if it’s on paper, a coffee cup, or graffiti on a construction site fence. I have found guidance in all those places.


Theological Outlaws

Recently, I learned a more humorous vision of Spiritual Mutts from astrologer Steven Forrest. He calls us Theological Outlaws. (See The Mountain Astrologer, June/July 2010.) That certainly matches my self-image as a missionary on the frontier of spirituality and outer space. Actually, the trait of being a spiritual outlaw is one of nine for people who have a special characteristic of their Moon in astrology. It’s called Moon out-of-bounds (OOB). Without getting into all the technical astrobabble, it means you have an overdose of lunar characteristics and no bounds to where you’ll go, because your feeling and spiritual life are colored limitless. We are mutts that can’t be collared or confined to a dogma run! And let’s not forget; dog is God spelled backwards, and multi-breed spirited types just get to God from a different direction.

(See my post Moonwalk: Cancer on the Radical Virgo, if you want to learn more bout OOBies.)


Pack of Mutts

The one thing that religion provides that spiritual mutts sometimes miss is the convenient access to community the church structure provides. The denominations where I’ve most spent time as an adult are Unitarian Universalist (UU) and Unity. I think I like religions that start with a U because it reminds me of a smile. Also, the word Unity fits my Stage 7 unity consciousness.

Even when I get my most spirited match when it comes to a church, I still find myself not quite fitting in. That used to make me sad, but I finally had this epiphany, and it wasn’t even January 6th. There are all kinds of ways we wild dogs run together. Some examples are Facebook, Twitter, our spiritual mutt blogs (astrology, spirituality), and our local metaphysical centers. So, we don’t have bake sales. But the community is still there, even when it’s often virtual. (Upside: No plate is passed and there are no committees to draft you.)


I’m starting to realize that I have community as a spiritual mutt/ theological outlaw. Indeed, it’s mostly on the frontier of the Internet.


The other important insight: I used to feel I fit in nowhere; nowadays, I’m more apt to feel I can fit in most anywhere. Of course, like anyone else, I’ll choose to spend most of my time with people who are like-minded, but one of my favorite activities is church hopping. I love to go to different services, study various religions, and see Spirit from all angles.


Religion and Spirituality: Same or Different?

I’d love to hear your experiences in the Comments. Are religion and spirituality the same thing for you? (I think it can be “either/or” or “both/and.”)

One of my favorite sayings is, The best thing we can give our children is roots and wings. For me, religion is my roots, the recognition from baptism that I’m in communion with All That Is, everyone and everything under the sun and stars.

My wings span that God Has No Religion place, and yet, coming to terms with the part religion has played in molding me has been one of the most important passages of my life. While my ideas are dotted with Buddhist and Jewish concepts (I grew up in a Jewish neighborhood and absorbed much Jewish culture and perspective), my Catholic Christian core most fully formed who I am today, spirituality.

I’ve always been told by psychics that I’m an Old Soul. Wonder how that translates in dog years?

~~~

Photo credit: A Soulful Canine © Gabe Palmer Dreamstime.com


Are you on The Radical Virgo mailing list? If not, join in the upper right of the sidebar to be part of a drawing on Halloween for a signed copy of Golden Prose & Poetry, which contains Joyce's short-story, "Cruel Embroidery." It reminds some people of a modern-day Salem witch trial, just in time for All Hallow's Eve.

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Finding Love in Later Life--or Whenever Venus Is in the Neighborhood

Article © 2010-13 by Joyce Mason
All Rights Reserved



Authors Note: I promised Radical Readers some relationship material during this foray into Flashbacks and Insights in honor of Sun in Libra. While this article focuses on love on or after the Chiron Return, I think you'll find what I've learned about love, packed into this post, to be ageless wisdom synthesized from the pain and pleasure of being a Venus Girl.

This is the first article I wrote at the request of someone from the Cool Insighter community. Reader JuliaAna asked me to write: *


… a flower essence article for those of us who are older, but have never found the great love of our life and are now, as older women, looking at what is wrong with us and our energy, our projections, etc. … that has kept us from attracting that love we always wanted and still want in our lives. I have never been married, born in ’51. I’m a total romantic, but I have never found a true or great love.

This idea intrigued me. I feel eminently qualified to write it, since I did not reunite with my childhood sweetheart until I was almost 50. Turns out, he was “still the one,” as one of my favorite songs goes, and there is definitely a lot of learning I can share on how that happened for me—and for us. Tim had never married; I was single for most of my adult life, though married previously. What I learned about relationship in-between my first meeting with Tim at ages 12-14 and our reunion, 36 years later, could easily fill several books—and probably will someday. As it stands, this will be a longer than usual post, just to share the key points.

I’ll get to the flower essence question last, but first, I’d like to address some of the issues in JuliaAna’s request.



What’s Wrong with Me?

How many times I asked myself that same question as I, too, longed for the right relationship. This question needs to be balanced with reality and the clear vision of someone who has worked on him- or herself. Are your other relationships good—with friends, colleagues, bosses, and family? If yes, it’s probably “not you.” If you’ve looked deeply into your issues with intimacy, that usually means your Mom and Dad stuff, and feel you’ve done a good job healing them: there is nothing wrong with you.


One thing we often forget to examine is where relationship fits into our priorities. If you have kids from a prior relationship or a high-pressure job, you may need to make space for “romantic” love to enter. This happens on an energy level, and it can be also cured there.

Spend a lot of time envisioning how the right relationship would fit into your daily life. In advance, create the space for it. Nature abhors a vacuum and will fill it. Don’t let other activities take up your relationship space. It may take time to manifest it, but a relationship cannot enter a life with no room for it. You may actually have to allow yourself to feel lonely at times. I don’t mean you literally have to set aside two hours a day where you do nothing but wait for Mr. or Ms. Right… but have time set aside to do things that you can be easily downscale or let go when love arrives.

Being a romantic, in and of itself, can be a handicap in assessing your own role in keeping love at bay. By its very nature, being starry-eyed is not conducive to clear vision. If you work with astrology, we are the Neptune types (I’m one of them) who see the world—and love—through rose-colored glasses. That topic deserves its own section; it is such a stumbling block to finding a mature, lasting relationship.

Gauzy Vision and Other Romantic Handicaps

If you were born between 1942 - 1957, you have a particularly thorny issue with romanticism. We are the Neptune in Libra generation. When we were born, Neptune, which rules projections, dreaminess, and addiction, was in the sign of Libra —relationship, romance, and especially coo-some twosomes. We crave relationship like mother’s milk, but frankly, many of us are bad at it!

Why? That lack of visual clarity and the tendency to project what we want in a man or woman onto every passing could-be lover. More often than not, this results in harsh disappointment. We fall in love with what we think the other person is--and with what could have been between us—if s/he actually were that person. My own pain with just such a relationship took decades to get over. I just couldn’t give up who I thought he was and what we might have had … and I still occasionally catch myself wondering how our strong chemistry might have alchemized each other with more time together. I finally got over him in writing my memoir. I had to face, in black and white, that he was not good to me or for me. I had downplayed his cruelty and inflated his “loving moments”, often barely disguised manipulations, for 30-odd years. There’s a hint here.

Write about your relationships. Make a relationship history journal. Talk about hot flashbacks and cool insights! Patterns will leap off the pages. You’ll discover whatever you’re doing that’s not working with crystal clarity


The Time Factor

It is crucial to uncover as early as possible whether or not a love interest is real or a projection of your own mind. Most romantics don’t like this reminder, but here it is. To know someone takes time. I think it takes a minimum of a year—often longer. I suggest you consider not moving in with someone or commingling assets until a deep trust is established and you have cycled through several of life’s seasons and challenges. Then you’ll have a track record together and know how you both fare for better or worse before you say it—and seal it in ink.

One advantage: If you’re a woman 50 or older, you’re past the ringing alarm on your biological clock. In today’s world, there are few good reasons to hasten marriage. There’s no shotgun in sight. Allow yourself to grow through all the phases of relationship till you’re both ready to take the next natural step. Don’t worry. Don’t hurry. Be happy. And if it turns out in this process you find you’re not with the love of your life, don’t hesitate to move on.

There is more romance and sex going on these days in many senior housing complexes than on many high school prom nights.  Love knows no age limits.

Think you’re running out of time? There’s never any good reason for rushing in, given how painful a wrong decision and the wrong person can make your life.

The Addictive Factor

You don’t have to be born with Neptune in Libra to be a love addict. There are many more astrological signatures and people so inclined, whatever your year of birth. If you can’t live without a relationship or your longing for one makes your life miserable, it’s time to detox. It may take therapy. If it’s a full-blown sex addiction, it may take Sex Addicts Anonymous. It is unwise, unhealthy, and untenable to live a life where you cannot be alone. When you’d rather be in situations that are personally harmful than to be by yourself, please seek help. Even if you think you’re more compulsive than truly addictive—you could really stop if you just break the knee-jerk habit—the sooner the better.

Another sign of an unhealthy relationship to relationship is “trying too hard.” Relationships are like a handful of sand on the beach of time. The more you squeeze (want a relationship desperately); the more it runs through your fingers. The more you can live without it—the cooler you are way with being either single or partnered—the clearer your energy is for the right someone to pick up on your true self. See Your Cosmic Tractor Beam for more on how this energy dynamic works.

Let’s also talk for a minute about what squeezing sand feels like from the other side. Perhaps you’ve experienced someone who is so intensely “into” you before you even have a chance to decide whether you’re that interested. It feels icky and invasive. Too much, too fast, too soon—not conducive to good long-term relationships. Desperation makes would-be lovers run in the opposite direction at break-neck speed, as well they should. You’re in love with love. You don’t even know them. You’re cheating on them emotionally already.

Astrology has helped me more than any other tool to understand my own love addiction and to overcome it. More on that next …

You First, Us Second

If you’ve ever read my post, The Converse Golden Rule, you know I am still in the process of learning to make my needs as important as serving others. I have a lot of Libra planets in my chart, and I speak from the trenches of overcoming the malady, bit by bit.

It was working with my astrological passion, the centaur planet Chiron, when I first “got” why it is so important to become a fully realized individual before stepping into relationship. In the zodiac, the first half of the signs and houses from Aries (1st) to Virgo (6th) are about personal development. In Libra (7th) and Scorpio (8th), we bond with one other. In Sagittarius (9th) through Pisces (12th), we are developing our relationships with many others. (See Wholeness and the Inner Marriage.) You cannot give your Self in relationship until you fully become yourself. Until then, you don’t have your whole self to give.

The best relationships come from two whole people who walk the path of life together. Then, when they give themselves to relationship, they create synergy. The whole is more than the some of its parts. But relationship needs both its parts—two budded individuals.

How I Manifested My Man

1. I followed inner guidance, particularly in a very literal dream that predicted a reunion with Tim.

2. I was at a point where I had accepted I might be single for the rest of my life, and I was OK with it. Tim was in the same place. Consequently, we were both broadcasting the energy of our true selves, which made our energies clear to one another.

3. I had made affirmations recently about what I wanted in a relationship. I was quite specific. I wrote them down, put them in a corner of my office where I could look at them occasionally, but for the most part, I just let go, figuring the universe would handle the details.

4. I gave up wanting to control what this relationship or person “looked like” and figured Spirit knew best. (I had a psychic reading many years ago that foretold my reunion with Tim. I thought the woman was nuts at the time! After several other happy reunions, I was now open to new relationships with people from my past.)

5. I stepped out in faith, took a chance, and contacted him. While I wasn’t sure what the dream meant about reconnecting with Tim—he could be married with five kids—I did “get” that I was to re-encounter my very first boy/girl relationship for some reason. I left the rest up to Higher Power. Quite honestly, I wasn’t sure a man/woman relationship was the reason I was supposed to reconnect with him. I was somewhat surprised when it turned out that way.

I can’t overestimate the importance of Steps 2 and 5. We were both internally in the right place of surrendering a sense of having to have a relationship, but God helps those who help themselves. Tim admits he would have never thought to reconnect with me after all those years. Yet, he was the one who kept all the pictures from our ‘tween-age romance. He was keeping some sort of psychic channel open, even though he didn’t realize it—and it worked!

Once You’ve Got a Hot Prospect

Other than letting it grow into whatever it’s supposed to be—a friendship, romance, marriage, or a brother/sisterly bond—I think there’s a very important question to ask. Do you really like each other?

A good relationship, in my personal experience, is far more about friendship than any other type of love. Yes, I’m a romantic married to a romantic whose goal is to tell me every day that he loves me. Everyday living with its moments of anger, frustration, and annoyance are where you need that romanticism most to remind you why you were drawn to this person in the first place.

I can’t assume because you’re over 50 that you already know this. Physical attraction can so often be mistaken for love. I am embarrassed at how many times I did so in retrospect. There’s nothing like the early months of relationship—hot sex, romance, and your projections going wild all over one another. But basing a long-term relationship on body heat is a big mistake, especially if you don’t bother to find out how you like that person out of bed. With jobs, possibly kids, projects and just the demands of modern life, even people with the world’s biggest libidos are unlikely to spend more than 5 or 10% of their relationship in the bedroom. Why choose a partner based only on that factor?

For some of us, as we age, hormone levels decrease and take the edge off the need to compromise who we are in order to have sex. As a younger woman, I couldn’t count times I didn’t stand up for myself or smoothed over tensions so we’d still “be in the mood” on any given night in any one of my “wrong” relationships. My “loves” were almost always driven by physical attraction first, and everything else second. Hopefully, if your passions haven’t waned even a little, you’ve evolved to the point that the friendship and spiritual aspects of relationship are important to you. That’s when we’re willing to be a lot more discreet about taking that first step into the bedroom or stepping into it anytime later, when things aren’t right between you. Smothering conflict for any reason, including sex, is how you lose your own power in a relationship, bit by bit.

Big hormonal needs as a younger woman took me places I would never have gone with rational forethought. We’re designed that way for perpetuation of the species. But, remember, we’re past child-bearing age. Sometimes, I swear, the oddest combinations of people seem necessary in the short-term for karmic reasons and/or to bring children into the world with a specific genetic make-up. One of the blessings of being over 50 is that there’s no other reason to be in a relationship except for your own reasons. This is liberating!

Help from Our Flower Friends

Because they work on emotions, flower essences are powerful allies in the tricky world of relationship where both head and heart need to be balanced for happiness. Here are some suggestions to match typical issues that come up, especially for mid-life lovers and beyond.

Bleeding Heart (FES) **– Never got over a specific relationship in the past; or having difficulty with a recent relationship that didn’t work out. You haven’t completed grieving. You can’t “move on.”

Swiss Glacier Essence (Ancient Forest) Melts any hardening that has congealed around the heart, great for people who still bear pain and scars from past relationships who want to heal and open up to love again.


Celtic Healing Springs (Ancient Forest)  Helps us awaken from illusion or preoccupation with our own story. Promotes grounding and wholeness. Good for those trying to be less dreamy about love and open to more grounded, life-affirming relationships.


Self-Heal (FES)– Another good one for past relationship hurts when it’s more a question of the cumulative hurt than one relationship in particular. Still, Self-Heal works well as a “binder” with many other essences and would enhance Bleeding Heart or any of the others in combination.

Impatiens (Bach, Healing Herbs) – Impatient about getting a relationship; trouble trusting the universe to bring it to you when the time is right

Shooting Star (FES) – A sense of alienation and not fitting in, perhaps because you’re single and have many married friends or acquaintances. Feeling you’re “too different” to find the right partner.

Sunflower (FES) – This essences is good if you’ve still got dad issues, but it’s also good for “being you,” that essential pre-requisite for becoming part of a dynamic duo. If you’re concerned about losing yourself or feel yourself slipping in a relationship, a round of Sunflower can put you back on track.

Mariposa Lily (FES) – Often called “mother love in a bottle,” this essence also handles any bottled-up, unfinished issues with your mom. When we are not at peace with our primary nurturer, assuming Mom held that job, it’s hard to nurture—or be nurtured—by others in a loving relationship.

The Monkeyflowers (FES) work on fears of intimacy. Try Pink Monkeyflower when you’re afraid to tell someone you’re true feelings or feel too vulnerable to take the risk. Sticky Monkeyflower is better when the fear of intimacy is specifically sexual, whether from fear of getting too close or past traumatic experiences involving sexuality.

Crab Apple (Bach, Healing Herbs) may stave off feelings of fading beauty or not feeling “enough” as you look for love in midlife or beyond.

Clematis (Bach, Healing Herbs) - Good choice, if you’re still too dreamy and romantic and your feet aren’t on the ground. Especially good to take at the beginning of a relationship where you think s/he might be the one.

Love: “Reality, What a Concept!” ~ Robin Williams

While my current marriage certainly has its shot of Neptune and romanticism, it is as real as it gets as far as the gifts of mature relationship. We are honest, loving, faithful, and loyal as puppy dogs to each other. (I shouldn’t have gotten so mad when we were kids and they called it puppy love. Puppies have some great qualities that make love work. And let’s face it, licking someone’s face can’t hurt!)

Our marriage isn’t as wild or heart fluttering as some of the romances of my youth; yet, it is so much more. It’s grounded, real, there for me—and something I would never trade for another one of those high adventures. We say, “I like you” almost as often as “I love you.” We are friends and family to each other.

Thanks to Hollywood, we are sold a bill of goods on what love is. To be truly happy, we have to stop making relationship “our everything” and become more realistic in our expectations. Fulfillment is your job, not your partner’s, although s/he may be part of what makes you happy. Love has many forms, and it’s probably the most important aspect of life where we shouldn’t put all our cookies in one basket. Imagine the pressure of being someone’s everything! No wonder the starry-eyed get dumped.

Sometimes we don’t even know it when real love is staring us in the face. Good example: If you caught the PBS Masterpiece Classics version of Jane Austen’s Emma. Who did Emma end up with? I’ll avoid a spoiler in case you haven’t seen it yet and still want to—but you can be sure it wasn’t the most exciting guy by Hollywood standards, but rather the one she never realized she had slowly but surely fallen in love with. It was predictable from the earliest scenes, yet fascinating to watch unfold. How many of us are missing someone right under our noses?

Speaking of noses, taking your rose-colored glasses off yours, now and then, might be the best thing you could ever do to find true love. This is especially true as you become more mature and more in touch with what makes life joyful. Take notice of people with similar values, looking in the same direction. Just be yourself and go places where you can meet people automatically, instead of in a contrived way. Awaken to those dynamic laws of attraction mentioned in Your Cosmic Tractor Beam. If you do, attracting the right person for you will be nearly inevitable. Less longing, more living. Dating services work for some people, I suspect in direct proportion to honesty and self-knowledge.

And when you know yourself that well, you’re on your cosmic beam. Love would have happened anyway, regardless of the mechanics.

~~
 

*Note: JuliaAna gave permission to share her name and e-mail excerpt.

** Links to essence manufacturers are made on first mention only.

Photo Credit: HAPPY COUPLE IN THEIR 50'S Creativest... Dreamstime.com


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