Life Organizing: A Completely New Way to Flow with Time

By Jennifer Louden

Do you feel a pull to be present, to match your pace to the fluid and complex world ours has become? If so, the more traditional approaches to managing your life and structuring your days can hog-tie you, forcing you to relinquish the skills most needed in today’s world – like intuition, emotional intelligence, creativity, and big-picture thinking.

I’ve got an alternative. This process, what I call life organizing, is infinitely richer then plotting your days in fifteen-minute increments in your planner. But one warning: change can be frightening, especially at first. I will ask you, over and over, to trust, to loosen your grip on life. I will ask you to stop and feel, to tune in to what you really want and what you really know. The rewards of your courage are limitless – a life that sings, that moves with instead of against.

While a short article isn’t enough space to give all the knowledge, experiences, and thoughts I have about life organizing (I’d need to write a book to do that – and, in fact, I have!), I can provide the basics. Life organizing works in two complementary ways, easily adoptable and adaptable:

1) A life planner that you choose and create. This planner will enable you to discern what you want week by week while gently tracking where your time and energy are actually going, and what might be getting in your way of living a life you love. The life planner’s core is four to six weekly mindful questions that build on and refer to each other, and move you into a deeper mode of awareness and listening.

2) A check-in that consists of five steps and requires as little time as it takes to open the freezer, find the ice cream, and get a spoon.

1. Connect: Breathe deeper, stretch your arms overhead, step outside and feel the breeze on your skin – anything that connects you with the physical world.

2. Feel: Tune into your heart to access information unavailable to your head. Put your attention on your heart, placing your hand there. Recall a time you felt loved and appreciated or loving and appreciative. Linger there for a few seconds.

3. Inquire: Ask a mindful question to open up possibilities you literally couldn’t see before. My favorite: What do I need to know right now? (What if you really didn’t need to know more than the next immediate step?)

What do I want? (Creativity requires being in touch with your undiluted desires. Remember, you don’t have to act on what you want, and wanting doesn’t mean getting.)

What don’t I want? (Sometimes the process of elimination can be less intimidating than naming your desires outright!)

How can I be gentle with myself in this situation? (We can all benefit from asking this many times a day)

4. Allow: Trust that, by connecting, feeling, and inquiring, you’ll hear or see or feel or sense what your next step is—and only your next step. Allowing is about noticing your experience, and opening to your next step.

5. Apply: Action is where the practical and results-oriented parts of you get their due. Without action, without decision, you remain in possibility, which is safe and beautiful but eventually enervating and boring. That doesn’t mean eating the whole elephant in one bite; small steps aren’t just okay; they’re encouraged.

Life Organizing in the Moment in Action

It’s mid-morning, and your plan for the day is already in shambles. You’re reaching for a Diet Coke, hoping it will give you the energy to deal with the next crisis. Then you remember that there’s another way. You make the choice.

Feel your feet connecting with the ground beneath you. Take a deep breath and reach your arms overhead, exhaling with a huge sigh. Put your hand on your heart and recall feeling balanced and flowing. Ask, “What choice feels easiest in this moment?” Visualize bringing this question into your heart, and take a breath or two to infuse it with flow and peace.

Perhaps a brief image of your sister comes to mind, or you hear a refrain of an old song that reminds you of her. Or perhaps you remember the feeling of your sister hugging you. You call her, have a lovely chat, and when you get off the phone, you have new energy —enough to move you forward to the next task awaiting you.

Do you begin to see how this approach flows with life? I’m not proposing you sell your worldly possessions and move to the woods to live in an unheated yurt. I’m not recommending you consult crystals or the I Ching before moving a muscle. What I’m saying is when you think you’re lost, overwhelmed, and without direction, you do “know” what to do to restore your balance and your direction– but it’s a different kind of knowing, one you already possess, and need only be reminded of how to access.

About Jennifer Louden:
Jennifer Louden is the author of “The Life Organizer” and “The Woman’s Comfort Book”. A personal growth pioneer who helped launch the self-care movement, she’s written 4 additional books on well-being and whole living that have inspired women all over the world. Jen believes self-love + world-love = wholeness for all. Visit http://JenniferLouden.com/lifeorganizer for a life organizer app & other useful freebies.

Based on the new paperback edition of “The Life Organizer: A Woman’s Guide to a Mindful Year” © 2013 by Jennifer Louden. Printed with permission of New World Library, Novato, CA. www.newworldlibrary.com

Sixty-Minute Seder

A few of years back I admitted to being a “bad” Jew and hosting less than polished Seders. However each year we have a Passover Seder, a special ritual dinner where we tell the story of the Jews flight from Egypt. Seder comes from the Hebrew word for order, referring to the order of the ritual. I always hope that like in most things, it’s the thought that counts.

You know who are some awesome Jews? Cass (Yickezkale) and Nellie (Nechama) Foster. These guys aren’t “bad”, they’re Orthodox. They’re some hardcore, boxing up pots, pans, dishes, silverware, etc. keeping Kosher folks. That also means they were hosting what could politely be called marathon Passover Seders. 50 or more dinner guests were attending Passover Seders that would last 3 or 5 hours.

Cass Foster, known for having written “Sixty-Minute Shakespeare” plays was soon jokingly, or not so jokingly, being asked, “What about a Sixty-Minute Seder?” And so the “Sixty-Minute Seder: Preserving the Essence of the Passover Haggadah” by Cass (Yickezkale) and Nellie (Nechama) Foster was born.

The Haggadah helps guide you through the Passover Seder and there are tons available with loads of different focuses; ranging from feminism to children. “Sixty-Minute Seder” is traditional but simple enough to follow that even a below Reform level Jew can follow what’s going on. It also has recipes, and you all know how I love recipes!

With Passover in just a couple of weeks, now may be the time to consider taking a new Haggadah out for a test drive. Perhaps this will be the year you’ll have a “Sixty-Minute Seder”.

Encounters: UFO Experience

Good news for those who live near Myrtle Beach, South Carolina or those planning on visiting there this summer! Encounters: UFO Experience will be back and open as of April 1, 2014 for the spring and summer season!

This place sounds so neat! Encounters offers 7 different galleries to showcase artifacts, witness accounts, a wealth of debunking information to attract curious visitors and create the case for the existence of alien life. It includes more than 200 original and reproduction alien artifacts, films, recordings, conceptual models and interactive experiences. Visitors get to experience: Alien Hunter (a laser tag-style shooting gallery), Alien Autopsy (in a tribute to “Grossology,” visitors can grab alien guts and brains), Electromagnetic Propelled UFOs (a propulsion exhibit where UFOs are controlled by magnets and visitors), Alien Gods (a guide to ancient history of aliens), Speak to Aliens (send messages to outer space. A pre-recorded message is sent in response to kids.), Alien Specimens (new life forms have been recovered and are on display), and a Speaker Series (featuring UFOlogists including special guest Stanton Friedman).

Encounters looks like the kind of place that alien/UFO enthusiasts can get their geek on, and still bring the rest of the family for a fun day! For more details, like ticket prices, hours of operation, etc. visit their website ufoexhibition.com.

Moonlight Tarot’s Question Corner: Mystical Answers to Mundane Inquiries

By Angela Kaufman, Moonlight Tarot LLC

Allegedly, March will bring spring, at least according to the calendar. As we all look forward to sunny days, this month’s Querent would like to know the potential for her budding romance. A woman we will call Esther has been enjoying a gradually developing courtship and is beginning to wonder about the long term commitment potential as well as any potential roadblocks in this relationship.

First, Esther should be applauded for her approach, as her inquiry reflects her awareness that regardless of indications from a Tarot reading, she is ultimately the one to direct her own destiny. The Tarot can help Esther anticipate strengths and set backs along the way, yet the development of a relationship is like the growth of a garden and numerous factors contribute to a successful harvest.

But fall is a long way off, we are approaching the season of growth and Esther’s reading reflects this. The initial impressions are of light, excitement, and adventure. It feels like this relationship brings invigorating surprises and that it has brought rejuvenation and hope to Esther. It also feels like this couple is growing in comfort and familiarity with each other. This relationship feels committed and feels like it has strong potential for long term growth. The Tarot cards drawn for this reading are the 9 of Cups, the 2 of Wands, and The Fool.

The 9 of Cups reflects the happiness this pair finds in this relationship and suggests this is a match that meets Esther’s standards in many ways. Contentment and celebration are also suggested by this card, as well as a sense that this couple is very comfortable sitting at home together, but is more likely to get out, travel and have an active social life. Over about 3-9 months this relationship develops smoothly.

I feel that within the next 3-9 months the euphoric phase of this relationship will unfold followed by an important decision. I feel like this decision, represented by the 2 of Wands, deals with a change in direction that requires compromise and agreement in this partnership. It seems that development in a life area other than the relationship will require a move, it feels career related, and that this is a significant turning point for this couple. Their partnership can continue together, it feels like the commitment to this change is mutual. It seems initially that without moving in together right away, Esther’s partner will be spending more and more time in her home, it seems like living together without officially living together, until this point of change where it feels more like a commitment is made official but part of this requires venturing out of the comfort of familiar surroundings. The Two of Wands also suggests an opportunity that brings career advancement and coincides with growth in the relationship. It also indicates travel together, frequent adventures and a common starting point from which this relationship can develop.

The Fool is a significant card and bears no indication for the intelligence of Esther or her partner. Rather it signifies the beginning of a journey. I feel this card speaks to the journey for both partners although this is typically a carefree, independent energy. It feels like spontaneity and willingness to be open to travelling where opportunities offer without excess baggage from the past. This can have a twofold significance. Letting go of emotional baggage from the past in order to fully embrace this new relationship, as well as not being hindered by excess obligations, being able to move with the changes presented in this relationship. The Fool is about liberation and this relationship seems to follow a course of being inspiring, carefree and liberating. Esther will be confronted with new ideas and plans that may seem risky or out of the blue. She can expect good things to develop if she maintains an open mind. Faith in herself and courage to let go of what has not worked in the past will help her transcend limitations. This is not the time to give in to self doubt or fear based thinking.

In regard to any obstacles in this relationship, nothing from this reading stands out as a red flag or major issue to overcome. The only indicators of a challenge are the indicators of change requiring an open mind. I feel like there are aspects of Esther, or her partner’s career that potentially distracts from the relationship at times- particularly long hours or an unusual schedule seem to play a role in this, but it does not feel like this diminishes the relationship. When the time comes for change to take place it feels like relocation to someplace new is on the horizon, Miami feels related to this but Esther should be open minded to exploring the options as they present without feeling confined or limited to options that were not part of the original plan. It feels like faith in a major move will bring advancement both in the relationship and in career. It feels like an official commitment is made in the process of this transition and this solidifies long term potential.

Best of luck to Esther in all of her future endeavors. Remember, no matter where you are reading this, in accordance with NYS law all readings are intended for entertainment only.

Interested in being the Querent in next month’s column? Contact Angela at Trionfi78@gmail.com.

About Angela Kaufman:
Angela Kaufman has been exploring divination through Tarot cards for over a decade. She is a Certified Professional Tarot Reader and formed Moonlight Tarot in 2009 which would become Moonlight Tarot LLC in 2010. Angela uses the Tarot to assist clients in exploring personal growth and development, and in accordance with New York State Law offers readings for entertainment purposes. Angela began providing readings on a professional, “Moonlighting” basis in order to provide affordable readings to those seeking guidance, inspiration and fun. Angela is also co-author of the new book “Wicca, What’s the Real Deal? Breaking Through the Misconceptions.” And the newly released “Sacred Objects, Sacred Space, Everyday Tools for the Modern Day Witch” (Schiffer Publishing, 2011). In 2006 she joined ISIS Paranormal Investigations and has accompanied the team on numerous investigations in private residences and businesses throughout the capital region, Adirondacks, Vermont and Massachusetts.

For more information on services offered by Moonlight Tarot LLC, visit http://www.moonlighttarotllc.com

Check out Moonlight Tarot on Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/MoonlightTarotLlc

For more related to Tarot and Wicca, check out: Wicca, What’s the Real Deal? At www.wwtrd.webs.com

Want a chance to get a live Tarot Reading? Check out www.cafenolany.com for listing of Tarot events at Café Nola in Schenectady NY!

This month’s Tarot reading was conducted using the traditional Rider Waite deck. For more information on this deck, please visit http://www.usgamesinc.com/Rider-Waite-Tarot-Card-Deck/. This deck was created by A.E Waite and Pamela Colman Smith and is currently under copyright by US Games Inc, 2012-14.

Fun with Icona Pop

I learned about the musical act Icona Pop on Huffington Post, which pretty much seals the deal, I am an old person. Despite perhaps the fudie dudie introduction, I quickly fell in love with their highly danceable tunes, filled with heartbreak lyrics, and sung in raucous accents. I bought their EP, and then I bought their album “This Is….Icona Pop”.

Anyway, the folks over at Teen Vogue do a video series “Breakfast with Bevan”. Generally Teen Vogue doesn’t cross over into my interests, or into what I think my readers may enjoy. However this time it’s “Breakfast with Bevan: Icona Pop”. And what follow is 5 minutes and 30 seconds of absolutely charming interview.

I love those ladies and now totally want to go out drinking with them some night. You know they would be a ton of fun!

Speaking of fun, here is their must fun song ever, “I Love It!”

For the record, I’m definitely a 90’s bitch. You?

She: A Celebration of Greatness in Every Woman

Each woman is different and unique, and author Mary Anne Radmacher and artist Liz Kallock aim to explore those diverse qualities in “She: A Celebration of Greatness in Every Woman”. Radmacher divides the woman into many different categories, which are celebrated in their own chapters: She is Willing, She is Nurturing, She is an Intrepid Traveler, She is Magical, She is a Purposeful Risk Taker, She is Cooperative and Collaborative, She is Compassionate, She is Resourceful, She is Mystical, She has a Voice, She is Inspiring, She is Happy, She Embodies Actions and Words, She is Regal, She is a Leader, She is Determined, She is a Life Long Learner, She is Imaginative, She is in Service, She is Creative, She is Welcoming, She is an Exquisite Aesthetic, She is Contentment, She is a Model of Balance, and She is a Fine, Kind Friend.

Text from She by Mary Anne Radmacher

These chapters are comprised of quotations from a wide variety of sources ranging from J.K. Rowling to Madonna, Marilyn Monroe to Gloria Steinem, and Margaret Cho to Madeleine L’Engle. These quotes are all related to the theme of the chapter. For instance, in the She is a Life Long Learner Chapter there is a quote from one of my favorites, Eartha Kitt, “I am learning all the time. The tombstone will be my diploma.”

She is Nurturing

The artwork in “She” is fabulous. Pages have a pressed flower look along with images of women that have a vintage artwork aesthetic. Viva Editions was wise to spare no expense in publishing “She” by making the book hardcover and full color throughout with thicker, studier paper stock that will withstand repeated viewings.

All of this comes together making “She: A Celebration of Greatness in Every Woman” a wonderful gift for young women graduating, Mother’s Day, or just a fun and inspiring coffee table book. Maybe it’s the gift you’ve been looking for to give yourself.

Geek Month in Review: February 2014

More ice and snow…

How Was the Expedition?
Found in the antarctic hut of explorer Captain Scott, left there over 100 years ago, was a clump of cellulose nitrate negatives Shackleton took of his expedition. See the developed pictures!

Blue-light Zombies
The City of Los Angeles is changing their sodium streetlights for LED ones — huge savings on energy, right? Well, yes, but it will seriously mess with filmmakers doing street shots in LA — the LED lights are heavily blue-tinted, as opposed to the amber of the sodium lights.
Then there’s the possible effect of LED lights on sleep and attention-span, leading to insomniacs wandering the streets.

Lighter Than Water, Stronger Than Steel
Welcome to the new age of material science, brought to you by Science! and 3D printing. Oh, and lasers.

Not This Earth
Here’s a roundup of “the most unusual alternate history novels ever written”, or in other words, here’s a list of popular alternate Earth novels.

Storm Photos That Make You Want to Run for the Basement
Crazy great photos, obviously taken in the midwest, of some storms as they really start to get going.

Vertigo-Inducing Photos of the Crumbling Remnants of the Soviet Union
See some crazy (CRAZY) urban explorers as they go that extra mile to climb to perilous heights on old industrial USSR stuff, and take photos of it all. Pretty breathtaking. Also some pretty awesome shots from underground parts, too. Warning: if you get vertigo easily, hold onto your chair.

Super-Geek Shroud
Hand-stitched portrayal of all 6 episodes (however much we might wish it to be only 3) of the Star Wars saga on a shroud, now selling for $20,000 to a gallery in LA.

Buildings That Might Have Been
Take a look at this article and then imagine if some of these buildings had actually been built. We could have visited the giant wall-like building in Chicago, designed by Frank Lloyd Wright, clad in plates of etched copper. Or visited the observation deck on the mile-high skyscraper The Illinois (another Wright project). Or seen the hollow pyramid-buildings, sheltering gardens and expressways. There’s even a Civic Center that combined all transportation into one place: trains, cars, and even airplanes, landing on the top level.

Joker Armor
And no, not that modern junk — Medieval Joker armor. You have to see it to believe it. Creepy as heck.

7th Grader Builds Braille Printer With LEGOs
Kid uses $350 worth of LEGOSs to build a printer that does Braille, and what the hell was I doing in 7th grade? Reading, I think. Maybe a video game or two. Holy crap.

Voynich Manuscript Decoded??
One of the most mysterious and baffling manuscripts ever penned may have begun to be deciphered. The Voynich manuscript has tantalized scholars for centuries. If the professor in question has actually got a handle on the document, it will be huge.
Check out the Wikipedia article on it for the skinny on what the Voynich Manuscript is.

How Big?
Want to see a quick discussion of how big the universe is? It’s like an animated bit of Cosmos. Then they start talking about the multiverse, parallels worlds with different laws of physics, and it all just combines to make your head explode. But in a fun way.

About John:
John’s a geek from way back. He’s been floating between various computer-related jobs for years, until he settled into doing tech support in higher ed. Now he rules the Macs on campus with an iron hand (really, it’s on his desk).

Geek Credentials:
RPG: Blue box D&D, lead minis, been to GenCon in Milwaukee.
Computer: TRS-80 Color Computer, Amiga 1000, UNIX system w/reel-to-reel backup tape
Card games: bought Magic cards at GenCon in 1993
Science: Met Phil Plait, got time on a mainframe for astronomy project in 1983
His Blog:http://www.glenandtyler.com/

Fast and Easy Daily Divination

By Deborah Blake

Lots of people read their horoscope every morning, but for many of us, that is the only bit of “checking in” we do. After all, few people have the time (or inclination) to do a full tarot spread with their morning coffee. And mostly, we don’t need that much detailed information. Luckily, there are lots of fast and easy ways to get a quick hint at what your day holds, or what you need to know to make the most of it.

Years ago, when I was practicing with my first coven, my then-high priestess had us do an interesting experiment. Every day for a month, we pulled one rune stone at the beginning of the day. We wrote down the stone, and any flashes of intuition we got when we looked at it, and then checked in at the end of the day to see if there was, in fact, any relationship between the two. Not surprisingly, there often was.

This also turned out to be a great way of learning the runes themselves. I started out having to look up the meanings of each rune in a book [my favorite is Lisa Peschel’s A Practical Guide to the Runes—it’s old, but it is easy to use and understand], but by the end of the month, I was much more familiar with them. If you’re interested in becoming better acquainted with the stones or any other form of divination, try doing something like this. It’s a fun and practical way to learn. Either pull one out of a bag, if that’s what you store them in, or place them in a small bowl and just close your eyes and grab one.

If rune stones aren’t your thing, you can do this with tarot cards instead. If you’re not used to using the cards, I suggest starting with something basic like the classic Rider-Waite Tarot. That’s the one I started with, lo these many years ago, and I have been reading professionally for ages with this one pack. [It’s a bit battered by now, but it works so well for me, I’m rarely tempted to switch to something else, despite the bevy of beautiful decks out there.] However, there are lots of variations on the tarot card deck, and you can pick whichever one seems to “speak” to you the most loudly.

As with the rune stones, you can start your day by shuffling the deck and picking out a card at random. Sometimes one will even jump out of the deck at you. You can either ask a question (“What does my day hold?” “What do I need to know today?”) or just see what comes up. If you are dealing with something tricky, you can ask a specific question, like “Should I go out on a date with that hunky guy at the office?”

There are plenty of alternatives for those who don’t have or don’t like either rune stones or tarot cards. I have a number of interesting decks that I use for inspiration, answers, or just a way to get in touch with spirit quickly and easily.

One of my favorites, which I’ve used numerous times in ritual with my group Blue Moon Circle, is the Goddess Inspiration Oracle deck, by Kris Waldherr. She’s well known for her beautiful goddess-themed artwork, and this deck is filled with amazing images, as well as lovely descriptions of the 80 goddesses featured on the cards—yet another way to learn while being inspired and guided.

The Conscious Spirit Oracle Deck by Kim Dreyer

My current favorite was a Yule gift from my friend Rebecca Elson of this very blog, The Magical Buffet. The Conscious Spirit Oracle Deck by Kim Dreyer has lovely pictures and inspiring affirmations. I’ve taken to pulling one each morning, standing at my altar, and reading it out loud. Then I try to carry its message through the rest of my day. For instance, this morning’s card was number 18: Air Elemental. And the affirmation said, “I embrace the element of air and am open to all knowledge and wisdom.” Isn’t that a great way to start out the day? (Also, I have to do research today, so it makes a certain amount of sense.)

I’m not sure exactly what it is about the Conscious Spirit Oracle Deck that has me so captivated. Some of it is the sheer gorgeousness of the cards themselves. (Even the back of the deck is amazing.) The introduction says the deck was created “to honor, celebrate, and reconnect to Nature, Spirit and the Divine Feminine in all her forms: the angel, fairy, goddess, the maiden, mother and crone,” and it does just that. The deck (from U.S. Game Systems, which puts out many of my favorites) comes with a 44 page guidebook, and gives you the option of working through the cards from beginning to end, or using them randomly, as I have chosen to do. Kim Dreyer, who did both the illustrations and the writing, had done exactly what the introduction suggests, and created a deck that can help guide you, connect you, and inspire you. Little wonder it is my new favorite.

The simplest way to use either of these options is to choose one and simply pull one card each morning. Take a minute to focus on it, and you’re done.

To move a little more deeply (and I highly recommend trying this, at least for a month sometime), write down your card, and any thoughts or feelings you have about it, and keep track of them in a small notebook. (If you already journal, you can add this to your daily jottings.) At the end of a day, a week, or a month, take a look back and see if you can make out any patterns that could be helpful.

Asking for guidance and/or inspiration doesn’t have to be complicated or take a lot of time. You certainly don’t have to be an expert card reader to do it. And the Conscious Spirit Oracle Deck is just one option, but it is a great one.

About Deborah Blake:
Deborah Blake is the author of six books on modern witchcraft from Llewellyn Worldwide. Her seventh, “The Witch’s Broom”, will be coming out in April, and her first two novels (about a modern version of the Baba Yaga fairy tales) are coming from Berkley Publishing in September and December.

You can learn more about Deborah at her website, DeborahBlakeAuthor.com, and you can follow her exploits at her blog.

Wychwood’s Scarecrow

Back in 2012 I shared with you my experience trying out Wychcraft from Wychwood Brewery. That’s when I learned that you guys love talking about booze! I knew I liked you guys. Anyway, I’m back again with another bottle from Wychwood Brewery, Scarecrow.

As I outlined in my previous article, I tend to prefer lighter beers like pilsners. Scarecrow is described on the label as a “Golden Pale Ale”; between that and how much I like Wychcraft I had to give it a try. It’s like the pilsner of the gods; light, refreshing, and with just enough body to let you know you’re drinking an English ale. What makes an interesting side note is that Scarecrow is USDA certified organic.

Yep, Scarecrow is an organic beer. The description on the back of the bottle reads, “Scarecrow Organic Ale is brewed using organically grown Plumage Archer barley malt & Target hops to create a refreshing tasting beer of exceptional flavor & character. Ingredients grown to organic standards prohibits the use of synthetic pesticides & fertilizers.”

Is it the organic nature of Scarecrow that makes it so delicious? Proponents of organic food and drink I’m sure would say yes. However I suspect it’s just the inherent magical nature of Wychwood Brewery that makes Scarecrow taste so darn good. It’s just what they do.