So… I made a portfolio site!

Announcement!

I haven’t been here lately because I’ve been making a website for myself, ridleyelise.com! I will continue my blog over there and keep this site up for maybe a year or so before taking it down. There’s an RSS subscribe link on the new blog, so you can re-subscribe.

You might want to check out my post about the Devil Tarot card, The Devil Brings Clarity – it’s got a great featured artwork.

devilclarity_feat

 

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Blazing May

I write a Monthly Passage, which I learned from Havi’s blog at The Fluent Self, to let go of last month and enter the new month with intention.

What worked in April

  • the Writer’s Oasis sparked my revelation that hiding doesn’t make me feel safe
  • [secret project]!
  • Past Me having done so much work and planning that’s relevant now
  • sitting with my fears
  • cooking about one new meal a week
  • making one page of Italian flashcards per week
  • planning outfits for the week on Sunday

Next time I might

  • re-establish my dance-meditate-chores habit
  • lower expectations
  • reduce my to-do list

Qualities I want for May
BOLD. Buoyancy. Wind in my hair from sailing forward! Reclaiming.

Things I’m working on

  • continuing [secret project]
  • gonna start my flower seeds sprouting
  • 10pm bed time

Looking forward to

  • sun and warmth
  • bold actions towards my potential

Asking and hoping for

  • opportunities

I’m ready for

  • moving on!

Hiding and Safety

Image credit: Alexas_Fotos

Jen Louden’s theme this month for the Writer’s Oasis is Hiding.

While journaling to one of her prompts about the cost of hiding, I realized that the type of hiding I’ve been forced into doesn’t actually make me feel 100% safe.

I have spent a lot of time hiding. I didn’t start out this way. As a kid, I liked performing, entertaining people, showing off, and arguing for what I believed was right. But as a teenager, I learned the importance of hiding information and hiding feelings to survive. Hiding was my default, bent my Body, became my identity.

During these decades of hiding, I have never felt completely safe.

Why? Because I have to give up something important.

I had to give up my desire to be happy and supported as a teen. As an adult, I’ve had to give up some of my principles to keep my job.

Hiding can be good, when it truly protects me and gives me time to rest. But not when my whole sense of self is rocked. Not when I don’t feel safe inside my own skin.

Real safety doesn’t require me to give up important aspects of myself. Real safety encourages me to share those aspects.

I don’t have to hide when I dance. I don’t have to hide when I make art. Real safety helps me grow.

So how do I grow into real safety? I struggle with this every day.

Two things help a lot: forgiveness and small steps. I forgive myself for wanting to feel even fake-safe, because no one can be blamed for wanting to stay physically safe, which includes staying employed. Small steps are really small things that feel a little dangerous but are probably okay – I make a sarcastic comment at work or post a comic online.

I hope one day I will have taken enough small steps to return to the place where I feel safe just being myself.

April Sprouts

I write a Monthly Passage, which I learned from Havi’s blog at The Fluent Self, to let go of last month and enter the new month with intention.

What worked in March

  • Monday Tarot
  • remembering March’s Quality was Courage
  • ruthless prioritizing and leaving things for later
  • preparing for Incoming Me
  • asking my partner to do stuff
  • eating mints when I feel a headache starting

Next time I might

  • getting ready for bed at 9.20 – it really works, and it’s also Alone Time

Qualities I want for April
Fresh Beginnings. Sprout! Reflection. Inside. Explore. Rest. Quiet.

Things I’m working on

  • [secret project]
  • another video project
  • re-learning Python
  • getting into bed at 10 pm
  • little steps towards not being terrified of conflict

Looking forward to

  • certainty
  • beginnings
  • moving towards my dreams

Asking and hoping for

  • [secret project] to be amazeballs! (It’s gonna be amazeballs)
  • my partner to move on from his obsession with outdated masculine accessories (wristwatches, pocketknives, etc.)
  • my cooking experiments to turn out yummy
  • a job interview at [place it took a lot of courage to apply to]

I’m ready for

  • being myself
  • exploration
  • progress
  • being a Hermit : )

Tarot Feature: The Wild Unknown Tarot

So guess who occupies Havi‘s old ballroom space?

The Wild Unknown – another amazing space for self-fluency! I encourage everyone to explore the Wild Unknown website, which has some great spreads that have helped me recently (notably The Way Out and The Year Ahead).

The Wild Unknown Tarot deck itself, self-published by artist and children’s book author Kim Krans, is a gorgeous hybrid of vibrant watercolors and precise ink lines. The designs are very stark and focused, and the lines give the cards an interesting energy. Even what appear to be a solid black backgrounds are actually lots of ink hatch-marks.

There are no humans in the deck – they’ve been replaced by animals, insects, plants, or just removed altogether. Some beautiful examples of this are a red-leafed tree for the Empress, a white tiger for the High Priestess (echoing the black and white pillars from the Rider-Waite-Smith deck), and two Canadian geese for the Lovers (an excellent choice, as Canadian geese mate for life and are fairly egalitarian in raising their babies). In his review, Le Fanu says,

“This doesn’t proclaim to be either wiccan or pagan or shamanic, it is simply a deck which bears images of the quiet dignity of the animal kingdom.”

Krans decided to rename the Page, Knight, Queen, and King as Daughter, Son, Mother, and Father – which just reflects how most of us probably think of those royal cards anyway. I love whenever a deck balances the royal family with an additional female card.

The animals she chose for the royal cards are interesting:

  • wands = snakes
  • cups = swans
  • swords = owls
  • pentacles = deer

Benebell Wen notes that having snakes associated with wands – which is associated with fire – is more in keeping with East Asian culture.

Speaking of wands – can they really be called wands? They are basically branches. And I am totally into that.

Krans’s guidebook seems to be in keeping with traditional meanings but has some additions, such as associating the Sun with health – which seems only natural, now that I think about it. It’s written in an easy, conversational tone.

The Wild Unknown is truly a beautiful and intriguing deck and I encourage you to explore it further via the links below!

Crossposted at Sketch by Sketch

Courage

In Art History class, we learned that Michelangelo’s David was a major departure from previous works because it depicts David before he slays Goliath. Figures of David by Donatello and Verrocchio, for example, show him with Goliath’s head at his feet, but Michelangelo chose to present the tense moment before David kills the giant, when the choice has yet to be acted upon, when everything could go wrong.

David‘s expression has been interpreted in various ways, but he looks worried to me.

I’ve felt like David a lot recently. I’ve been looking at choices I could make and feeling afraid. But courage never means “fearless”. Courage is going ahead while feeling afraid.

Our culture wants us to believe not only that courage = fearless, but that one magical day, we “make it” and then never feel afraid again. We get to be triumphant Davids forever onward. But that’s not true.

As uncomfortable as fear makes me, I accept that feeling afraid is part of living, is natural for the choices available to me. I’m not treating fear as my enemy. I’m carrying fear along with me as I courageously journey towards my desires.

Easy-Breezy March

I write a Monthly Passage, which I learned from Havi’s blog at The Fluent Self, to let go of last month and enter the new month with intention.

What worked in February

  • Monday Tarot! I looooove picking a card every week instead of every month
  • my Google Keep dashboard – it has helped me get a magnitude of things done! (the sun doodle is from one of my fave webcomics, Lackadaisy Cats)

  • 2-3 to-dos at a time
  • one project at a time
  • writing or typing to-dos immediately when I think of them to free my brain up
  • getting up at 5.45 am
  • small steps
  • recognizing it takes me weeks to complete something – just accept it
  • putting my Monthly Tarot card as the background on my phone so I see it every day
  • making lots of food on the weekend and freezing it for dinners during the week
  • picking out the next week’s outfits on Sunday (frees up a LOT of time)
  • taking care of junk mail immediately
  • not giving a shit
  • Writer’s Oasis Saturday mornings
  • saying to myself emphatically: “NO, this can wait for tomorrow”

Next time I might

  • getting into bed at 10 pm is such a challenge, but I’ll try getting ready at 9.15

Qualities I want for March
Fun. Fancy Free. Explore. Budding. Ease. Rest. Courage. Shields Up.

Things I’m working on

  • adding items to my Amazon Seller store!! (It was a trial to get it set up, but I’ve already had one sale!)
  • finishing my video project

Looking forward to

  • fun
  • a haircut
  • my second Amazon sale!

Asking and hoping for

  • warmer weather
  • continuing from February: tenacity, nipping it in the bud, and not giving a shit

I’m ready for

  • making for the sake of making
  • fun exploration before [secret project] in April

The present moment is a mantra

Time is precious.

Every person is born with a lifetime of moments, and so many will be stolen from us by systems and events beyond our control.

The present moment is all we have. It’s not always pleasant, but being attentive to the present moment brings clarity and calm. In the present moment, we see what’s important, what’s wrong for us, what’s right for us, and what needs to change.

The past and the future don’t exist except in our minds. Yet we spend so much time there, remembering, regretting, planning, fearing. Or worse, we spend time thoughtlessly playing games, watching videos, or busying ourselves with work in an attempt to ease our normal anxious, empty state.

We live in systems that have trained us to do this while preventing us from realizing we’re doing this.

How can we be present more often?

Every person is born with a Body. A beautiful Body that does hir best to always be healthy and thriving. A beautiful Body that has desires and messages that we often ignore or don’t know how to listen to.

Turning to our Bodies, Earth, physical matter – these exist now. Being attentive to Bodies brings us back to where we really are and what’s really happening.

The present moment is a mantra.

When I learned how to meditate from Emily Fletcher, I learned that a mantra is a word that you want to focus on lightly and forgive yourself when you stray from it. You will always stray from the mantra because you have a human brain, but it’s your choice to come back to the mantra when you notice your attention has wandered.

Come back to the present moment by slowing down, breathing, noticing your surroundings, noticing your thoughts, noticing your Body.

Right now, I notice:

I am safe.

No predator is trying to eat me.

It’s cold outside but I am lucky to live in a place with heating.

It is quiet and I can think.

Who and what are you giving your precious time and attention to?

Is this serving your happiness?

What small changes can you make in your life to be more present?

In what ways can you pay attention to your Body? Can you be more loving or respectful towards your Body?

 

Being Present for February

I write a Monthly Passage, which I learned from Havi’s blog at The Fluent Self, to let go of last month and enter the new month with intention.

What worked in January

  • just three to-dos at a time (and having to prioritize)
  • Monday Tarot (a theme for each week)
  • writing
  • ablutions at 9.40 and in bed at 10! (most days)
  • getting up at 5.45 on weekdays = I’m less rushed and get more Me Time

Next time I might

Qualities I want
Presence. Appreciation. Gratitude. Excitement. Tenacity. Remembering.

Things I’m working on

Looking forward to

  • making a video = super fun
  • voice acting for my video, say whaaaaat

Asking and hoping for

  • tenacity to stick with my video project!

I’m ready for

  • feeling like I’m on my way to somewhere good

My Tarot Message for February

Rider Waite Smith deck

February’s card from my Year Spread is the IV of Cups. This card is about holding oneself back and being closed off from help, joy, and magic. It’s about forgetting to be present, which is why I chose the word Presence as my theme for this month. I very often feel like I don’t have enough time and money, and I forget all the support I do have. I also get dissatisfied and bored, forgetting that deeper exploration will mean greater excitement!

My Tarot resources are The Tarot Directory, Tarot Teachings, and Labyrinthos Academy.

Strength and Majesty

I have a special view of the Strength card. It is commonly described as showing our human/mental/rational traits subduing our animal/emotional/body-based traits – “containing the savage beast within us”1. It’s not a brutal subjugation – the woman doesn’t hurt the lion – but nonetheless, there is a polarity and hierarchy.

I started to view Strength differently when I read what Tarot Teachings says about the woman: she uses “compassion, love, patience, and cunning” to calm the lion. The cunning stood out to me right away because Havi uses sneaky, indirect ways to better know herself and solve problems.

I wondered, instead of the lion representing emotion/savage/body/bad, could he instead represent our Inner Overprotector? Could he, the King of the Animals, instead be the powerful force within us humans that cautions against change and risk to keep us safe?

Viewing the lion as the Inner Overprotector does a few positive things:

First, it breaks the binary between rational-emotional, mind-body, good-bad, etc. which needs to go already.

Second, the Inner Overprotector, a.k.a. Fear, Vampire Voices, Monsters, the Little Hater – gains legitimacy when it is portrayed as ruler of the animal kingdom. In our wider culture, the Inner Overprotector is treated like the enemy – kick your fears in the ass, power through your fears, be fear-less (and feel ashamed if you slide back into being afraid). The thing is, your Inner Overprotector is part of you – and will always be part of you, given how it has served humanity so well during our evolution – so kicking your fears in the ass is actually kicking yourself in the ass. For your entire life.

Herakles fighting the Nemean lion.

On the other hand, sometimes we are told to ignore our fears because they are silly. I don’t believe this is wise, either. Our Inner Overprotectors have valid concerns that need to be honored. Missing a deadline at work won’t result in immediate physical harm to us (in most occupations), but we still feel as if our lives are in danger – and our bodies can’t tell the difference. It’s real, and it’s not silly.

Third – and this is reflected well in the Golden Thread Tarot’s design, among others – it allows us to see the Inner Overprotector as a partner rather than a silly annoyance or an enemy to defeat once and for all.

The woman listens to – welcomes – the lion’s concerns, and sometimes he does indeed protect the woman from dangers. Most of the time she goes ahead with her plans, after assuring the lion she will be careful – and points out he’s actually not protecting her when he keeps her stagnant and unhappy.

The German word for strength is “kraft”, which of course sounds like “craft”. Welcoming fears and worries truly is a craft. It requires practice and consistency, and “compassion, love, patience, and cunning”. The Rolla Nordic Tarot goes so far as to re-name the card “the Enchantress”.

When the woman stands with the lion, rather than overpowering him or controlling him, they form a whole, positive, growing human being. Such a human is majestic, fully owning themselves, their choices, and their lives.

May we all know majesty. May we all know this kind of strength.

Please read Havi’s completely different and beautiful thoughts on Majesty also!

While writing this article, I found these images inspiring:

1The Tarot Directory by Annie Lionnet

Majestic January

I write a Monthly Passage, which I learned from Havi’s blog at The Fluent Self, to let go of last month and enter the new month with intention.

What worked in December

  • taking off Mercury in retrograde (just doing fun stuff once I got home from work)
  • journaling
  • chores after work
  • time containers
  • starting out with just 15 minutes
  • focusing on one project at a time
  • getting ready for bed at 9
  • watching the snow fall
  • hawthorn infusion in my canteen during the day instead of staying up too late to drink it!

Next time I might

  • interrupt an internet dopamine binge with hugging my Pusheen stuffie! She’s a little stuffie so I squish her to my face ^_^
  • knit at night

Qualities I want for January
Majesty. Strength. Welcoming. Acceptance.

Things I’m working on

Looking forward to

  • more glitter snow!
  • my partner feeling better
  • a raise

Asking and hoping for

  • a good raise
  • a chance to go into video work at my job
  • new students

I’m ready for

  • Hope
  • feeling more and more like earning enough money and enjoying my time here is not only deserved, but natural, like it’s my birthright.

My Tarot Message for January

In my Year Spread, January’s card is Strength. Strength is often described as depicting our elevated human nature conquering our base animal instincts, but I believe it is really about accepting and welcoming the “vampire voices” or monsters – the parts of ourselves that keep us small rather than let us change and grow into unfamiliar territory. The Strength card never shows the woman beating the lion into submission, after all – she gently touches it, instead.

My Tarot resources are The Tarot Directory, Tarot Teachings, and Labyrinthos Academy.

2018 is the year of Hope

I tried something new for this year – the Year Ahead Spread from The Wild Unknown. And it was awesome!! I was leery of seeing the whole year at once, but it’s given me such peace of mind and excitement.

There is a circle of twelve cards, one for each month, surrounding the central card, which is the theme for the year. The year card is last, and I audibly gasped in surprise. I have a special feeling about the Star, and for her to appear as a year-long theme is really inspirational.

I chose just one word from these cards as themes for the months – that in itself was hard, but I went with my intuition. So, here are the themes for my whole year:

  • January
    Strength
    Majesty (this is Havi’s word for January too, but I felt it fit)
  • February
    IV of Cups
    Presence
  • March
    V of Wands
    Courage
  • April
    The Hermit
    Reflection
  • May
    Knight of Wands
    Bold
  • June
    VIII of Pentacles
    Focus
  • July
    The Moon
    Flow
  • August
    The Devil
    Clarity
  • September
    The Fool
    Joy
  • October
    Ace of Pentacles
    Grounding
  • November
    II of Swords
    Trust
  • December
    III of Swords
    Core