Keeping current in wellness, in and out of the water
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The best feature about New Moons is the feeling of starting anew, a fresh start, a new beginning. Although the New Moon data is not as popular as the Full Moon, the dates are sought out by many people who know just how meaningful the New Moon event can be. The August 2 New Moon […]
The hedonist archetype is both admired and disrespected in our society. We receive mixed messages about fun, enjoyment, and merchandise. “How much is too much?”, is a question we are in the process of answering. During our holiday season excess is encouraged in all things. We see images of over decorating, over eating, over indulging in sweets and alcohol as mandates to celebrate with certain products. If we give in to the marketing engines we will let our health and finances go in order to buy holiday goods. There is a fine line between genuine appreciation that brings joy and repetitive addictive habits that have flatlined. The solution is not to give up pleasure or fine things in life. To find balance we each need to find our own specific definitions of pleasure. We also need to monitor exactly how much pleasure is still left in long standing habits. We may be fooling ourselves sometimes.
Since I am a hedonist in the first house it is important for me to evaluate and stay aware of the ways in which I indulge myself. I am attached to sensuality and leisure which could easily lead to lack of discernment. In order to stay healthy I must stay clear about how much time, money and effort I spend to feel good. A feeling of wellbeing and good energy is the reward for putting health first. The shadow hedonist is like the cartoon red devil sitting on a shoulder acting as the conscience. This little delusion devil is persuasive. The dark side of hedonism is ironically anhedonia. The pursuit of pleasure to one’s detriment eventually results in a complete inability to experience pleasure. Addictions that require treatment are common now in America. What starts as a good time ends frequently in heartache.
When you think of the hedonist does someone you know come to mind? Do you recognize a hedonist in yourself? Calibrate the Fun-O-Meter to make sure you are still having some.
And all the men and women merely players;
They have their exits and their entrances,
And one man in his time plays many parts,
His acts being seven ages.
William Shakespeare sets out seven ages of man in this monologue from As You Like it. Carl Jung used characters as archetypes to describe the different aspects of one human life. These archetypes are played out in ancient Greek drama and mythology. From biblical proverbs to modern fiction characters based on eternal qualities of humanity are employed to tell stories. We embody different characters during our journey toward the end of life, sometimes joyous and other times somber. We act as students and as guides, as teachers and as pilgrims. Our energies are spent on our greatest passions, and we become known for our most obvious traits. Both our view of the world and the world’s view of us is constantly changing. The way we relate to one group may be different from the way we act toward another one.
Before we die we play parts that we have never considered. The soul is intricate and connected to the past as well as the future. Spirit and soul demand that our basic clay be sculpted into figures that arise from our dreams. The figures are fired in a kiln of experience and discernment. We are asked to step out on a ledge of unknowing in order to satisfy our inner longings. Some of our feelings come from the ancestors and some from our society. By observing our inner lives we can make the acquaintance of our own archetypes at work. By looking into patterns from the past and present we may notice how we fit into the story with other archetypes, the other players on the stage with us.
October is time for costuming and honoring the dead. Let us notice which characters cross our paths, and which ones we are playing. We are the casting directors of our own dramas….scary, isn’t it?
Each of us has a different scale by which to measure reward or gain. One man’s treasure is, indeed, another man’s trash. The movement toward minimalism and recycling is an uplifting worldwide trend to examine just how much we realistically need. Security is elusive as well as individually defined. One person may feel perfectly secure in a situation that another would find difficult or stressful. We are creatures of habit. Our spending and consumption is often kept hidden from ourselves in a self delusional zone. Many prefer not to confront financial reality until it rudely awakens us for some reason. Security is basically a figment of our imagination because life can deal out any card at any time.
The Midas/Miser character reminds us of the balance between enjoying our good fortune and maintaining high anxiety about loosing it. King Midas turns all he touches into gold. When he turned his daughter into gold he realized he had gone too far with his magical wealth creation. The miser archetype hoards possessions and emotions closely in the illusion that control is protection. King Midas, Mr Goldfinger and the hoarders on reality shows suffer from the same psychic complaint. Our culture has supported and praised the creation of wealth and consumerism as an economic religion. It is not a surprise that people have always had issues with gratitude and sharing. Now we die from diseases caused by over eating and leave behind a large pile of stuff that may have little value to others who inherit it. My own father was the spiting image of Midas when he died. I can tell you it is not a good way to go.
Insatiable greed comes with a full-time fear of decline. Sharing and fully enjoying the bounty life offers requires discernment. To know when to hold ’em and when to fold ’em is a constant tightrope act. We have real needs and desires that must be met for our wellbeing. It is a fine goal to be healthy wealthy and wise. Presumably the wise part knows how to multiply the health and wealth by sharing it with others. As a global community we are learning this heavy lesson. Lifting everyone out of poverty is in everyone’s interest.
Symbols in dreams are personal. We dream only of faces we have seen before, even if we are barely familiar with the person. The character, or archetype played by the face depends completely on personal experience. Dream dictionaries and aids to interpret meaning found in dreams can only make references to universal archetypes. To grasp the personal message brought to the dreamer the images themselves must be savored and visited in waking time. Writing in a diary upon awaking before moving or engaging in the activities of the day is helpful. By keeping these notes on a regular basis you may discover themes that you can identify in a personal way.
Sometimes at crossroads in life a person will receive a vivid memorable message during sleep. The images and meaning of mythic dreams are significant beyond the every day way the unconscious communicates. The protagonists in the drama make a deep impression that lasts and speaks to the psyche for a long time. Carl Jung identified seven basic archetypes making appearances in dream time.
Loaded images and story lines float through our heads while we sleep. If we have a problem on the mind it is possible to solve it during a dream. Practice and meditation on our own dream images will make clearer the point of the communication. Our subconscious warns us, encourages us, and sometimes tells us we are foolish. It is never straightforward, but over time we can dig more deeply into the messages our dreams deliver on a nightly basis. Have you ever kept a dream diary, gentle reader? Have you ever had a mythic dream that changed your thinking?
Early years fill with nursery rhymes, stories designed to teach
Suspended between fictional characters dialog is made to preach
Current popular opinion, political outrage hidden between the lines
The villain and the hero match wits whilst the wicked witch opines
These morality plays change very little with the passage of time
Forces of good conquer evil and the story is set to rhyme
When you meet a character who comes straight from Mother Goose
You have discovered archetypal imagery that will help you to deduce
If you are the victim or the hero, the popular victor or the slimy creep
We all have parts to play, ego hiding under shadowy cover of sleep
The poetry train has almost arrived at the destination…May. Hop aboard for a poetic ride here.
What does the word masquerade mean to you? Do you have a secret identity known only to yourself? How would you dress if you had no formal dress code to satisfy? Do you think you would make any changes to your present wardrobe? When I was a child my mother kept a very big cardboard moving container in the basement full of her old dressy clothing. This box was provided for dress up when I had friends over to play. We used it extensively. I have some fuzzy memories of my friends in hats, gloves, and formal dresses. None of my other friends had one of these, but it was not until later that I knew it had been a great idea.
I had my first job in my life as a costumer and a singer in an outdoor drama. This show, Unto These Hills, was produced in a large amphitheater, so costumes were very important part of telling the story. One of my jobs was to assist in the quick changes of costumes. I helped an eagle dancer turn into Andrew Jackson, replete with long cape, in about 2 minutes. There were a couple of other quick changes, but that was the one that required the biggest transformation. I was never on stage in Cherokee, but in the choir behind a curtain when we sang. I was the youngest (17) and the lowest paid member of the staff. I think I made about $35 a week after they paid for my room and board out of my check. I don’t think about it very often, but last week I saw a bluegrass band from North Carolina and the memories came into my mind like a flood. I am craving hush puppies and thinking about some of our crew that have already left this world. I am remembering laughing so hard I thought I might die right there in the Great Smokey Mountains.
I had careers in both spa fitness and travel, which required me to switch costumes, sometimes quick change. I wore bathing suits a lot of the time for teaching, and often went to the travel agency at night to print tickets and work on my clients’ trips. They were two distinct work environments, so mixing them was a bad idea. I had one briefcase for each job, and had to make sure I kept them separate. This became more defined when I started to work in Mexico at Rancho la Puerta. I was asked to do something to perk up the bingo game because guests were complaining about it. Without consciously bringing it to mind, I reinvented my cardboard dress up box from the basement of my childhood home. We collected ridiculous Vana White style evening wear and used it for bingo. This bingo persona got out of control. Regularly guests would as me if I was there for the week just as bingo queen. Either they missed my classes, or did not know I was the same person who had taught them. This game went on for years, until the guests themselves wanted to dress up and wear wigs. Eventually I distributed all the contents of the bingo costume box and started again. I wore a sheet toga and flowers in my hair for bingo and said I was Spring, the season.
I recently did a big purge of my closet in order to feel focused and clear. This has been a wonderful change, leaving me space and a better curated wardrobe than I had. I no longer need to dress for a job, or to impress anyone. I dress for comfort and also like to express my personal style. My secret identity is ace detective. I am curious to a fault, and enjoy nothing more than stealth. I am not particularly fond of being recognized because I love to slip around in a crowd to eavesdrop. If I could use a cloak for invisibility I certainly would. My signature look, in my own estimation, should be one that shape shifts. I need to maintain a level of mystery. What do you want from your costuming, gentle reader?
April is Poetry month, with many activities and projects running around the country. I have taken the challenge to write a poem every day in April for the last two years. I push my way through the writing, with a fully punched card in participation, but have not really put my full attention into the whole process. We are lucky in Tucson to have a world-famous Poetry Center at the U of A, open to the public. Each time I visit the place I tell myself I will make a regular habit of spending time there. It is an inspiring place to read, write, meditate, or take part in one of the workshops or readings. The only resolution I need to make for 2015 is to honor the poet within me all year. There is a haunting feeling in my memory and in my dreams of a productive and expressive poet I believe is within my spirit. This artist/alchemist/poet has not been nurtured as well as it needs to be. I work with words daily but am not arching to new heights or even developing a larger vocabulary. When I do push myself to write poetry daily I can feel a response in my dream world toward more color and rich dramatic story lines. It is as if there are stories, poems, maybe even novels, deeply stored in my writing practice, but I do very little to develop my ability in these realms. The poetry is essentially trapped within my lazy writing practice. I plan to liberate this struggling poetic artist next year and allow her to explore and create in new ways.
As 2015 approaches I contemplate the 3 words I will use to ground my meditation, my health, and my creativity next year. This is a practice started and promoted by Chris Brogan. I have done it before and always find the quest for the right words to be very helpful. This year I want to make some kind of significant progress as a poet and creative writer. By using these key words all year I believe I can be a better poet in April and beyond. Moreover, I think these words fit perfectly with my goals to clear out excess clutter in my home and my life. I am working on this now, cleaning out my closet before the end of the year. I can honestly say that the results I see and feel in my closet after patiently and persistently ridding myself of extraneous clothing and accessories are nothing short of poetic. Poetry has more to do with what is edited than with what remains. The fewer words used to convey an idea, the more powerful each word becomes. Now my closet is more like a haiku than an epic drama. I am feeling much better when I walk into it now.
These words fit perfectly with my health and fitness goals. Movement and variety of enjoyable physical activities create strong healthy bodies. It does not matter if time is spent playing an active sport, hiking, swimming, or yoga, the key to success is always persistence. I like to cross train, in other words, do different physical activities, to keep things interesting. This is good for the body as well as the mind. I like doing some activities outdoors, but the gym makes me very happy too. In 2015 I plan to create a fitness regime that offers me a chance to improve my levels of grace, balance, and coordination. I plan to end 2015 as poetry in motion, retaining all my flexibility and enthusiasm for fitness and health. Too much of any one thing can cause burn out or injury, so there is no need to fixate on any one aspect of health or fitness. Balance is an important element of health.
My words have meaning for me in many aspects of living. They are good universal guiding principals that are easy to remember:
Do you do the 3 word challenge, Gentle Reader? Have you found it to be helpful?
The artist reaches just beyond the normal senses to bring creation into being. There is strong motivation and emotion driving the artist to produce. The medium is not as important as full artistic expression. Some of us are not making any money from art, but still live our lives involved with creating. Cooking, gardening, and all normal day to day tasks can be done in artful ways. Art truly is in the eye of the beholder; A strong desire to design and deliver creativity to the world is all that is needed to be an artist.
Making a living at art is risky, and yet rewarding. The starving artist and the crazed genius artist are examples of the shadow aspect of this archetype. I used to make my living as a potter. I worked at a school mixing glazes and firing the kiln. I was paid in clay, glazes and firing; I had to turn that into money by selling my work. I was very good at being a starving artist and never starved at all. I remember that time as an extremely abundant phase, full of friends, travel, and unlimited creative freedom. Clay is a fast medium initially. Throwing a pot on a wheel is pure zen. It must be centered and formed quickly so the clay body does not get too wet and collapse. The pot must be dried slowly to avoid cracking. The glaze firing is an alchemical process that has slightly different results each time it is done. From the first time you touch the clay you know that some of your pots will not make it. If you are lucky the problem occurs when the clay has not been fired, so you can just turn it into wet clay and try it again. I used to take finished pots I thought were too ugly to sell out to the desert and shoot them with a 22 pistol to destroy the evidence. I used to joke that anthropologists in the future will wonder what kind of civilization felt the need to shoot pottery. I am glad I still have a few pieces I made that have survived, and equally glad I shot the ugly ones.
In May I was asked to draw a time line of my spiritual life. The participants in Thomas Moore’s workshop at Kripalu gathered in small groups to discuss what we found drawing the timelines. The brief discussion among 3 students was revealing and gave me much to ponder. One of us had been drawn to church and attending mass by herself as a child, with no particular parental support for her daily devotion to Catholic ritual. The other woman in my group had been influenced heavily by her environment and felt trapped without a known exit strategy. My own timeline referred to my parents and briefly to church (because I only had to be a Sunday school student for a couple of years) but after the age of 16 had nothing to do with formal religion. The exercise was quite challenging, finding the major spiritual events or pivotal points in the soul’s journey.
My studies in Sacred Contracts with Carolyn Myss also includes assignments to create archetype timelines. I am finding this practice to be the most powerful of all the exercises I have ever used. It seems we warp the past and forget much of what seems extraneous, storing symbols that represent the events or people rather than storing an accurate version of reality in the past. I went to my elementary school a few months ago in the company of the people with whom I attended elementary school. We reminded each other of the past, but we had different versions edited and stored in our vaults of memory. When we toured the auditorium I knew it was the scene of one of my first encounters with the rebel archetype. On the occasion of my third polio shot I became violent with the nurse, principal and staff who were trying to inoculate me. I curled up in a chair in the front row and used my feet to strike out at the adults. I won the battle and did not get that shot. The school never informed my parents, so I was 3rd vaccination free until the oral type came out and we all took it again. Victory was sweet, and I felt that I had vanquished a dangerous and vicious foe. It was Valentine’s Day. I returned to my classroom uninoculated in my little red and white dress. A rebel was born.
When I saw the auditorium as an adult I found myself walking next to a classmate who has become a medical doctor. I also found myself giving Dr. Kenny, who was extremely popular and cool as a kid, a very hard time about his decision to practice medicine. I don’t dislike Kenny at all, but was completely involved in a highly displaced freak out over medical procedures I do not trust. This rebel theme continues throughout my life with a special concern over medical professionals and everything they do. Rational or not, my mistrust for all things allopathic has grown and I believe it has served me well. What I have discovered by creating timelines to assist my memory is that these themes that started early in life have shaped our lives and decisions in profound ways. Opposite my rebel archetype is the teacher archetype who wants to teach others healthy alternatives and self care. Duality is inherent in looking into the past. We are the actor, director, and the script writer of our own dramas. Once we have edited the memory of events it is likely we have hidden our own shadow qualities from ourselves. To make peace with past agreements and commitments gone sour it is necessary to find what part one played at the time. Timelines are like story boards that illustrate the flow of events and emotions that created our past. Our futures will be defined by our understanding of the past. I think I am having a big breakthrough realizing that Kenny would never hurt me, and maybe I have vexed myself unnecessarily over fear of medical professionals giving me shots. I can probably stop striking out at the adults with my patent leather shoes. Thanks, Dr. Kenny, for the fabulous Jungian analysis. I feel much better now.