Dying to Adapt

The Death card is following me. I drew it two days in a row now and I’m wondering what the Universe is trying to tell me.

Rarely does this tarot card represent physical death so I’m not too concerned about an imminent demise.

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I am actually happy to see this bare bones figure on his white horse because he represents not only an abrupt end but also a new beginning.

A transformation.

A rebirth.

Death is not always a bad thing. Sometimes bad things need to end.

Sometimes sclerotic obstacles need to be broken down and removed.

Just like the Tower card helped me focus on the significance of the radical change at hand, Death gives me hope that there is something refreshing and different coming after the destruction.

Like a cosmic etch-a-sketch, it feels good to shakes things up and have an invigorating start.

Death teaches us to let go of outworn and outgrown ways of life and nudges us to move forward.

In my last blog Tower of Change,  I listed some options we have when facing change. We can resist it, we can embrace it or we can accept it.

Maybe with Death we have other choices.

When contemplating this dramatic card in the world today, I am reminded of the Agile principles of iterative development.

In this process you build, you inspect and then you adapt.

Build, inspect, adapt; build, inspect, adapt in a continuous cycle of short iterations.

What if this card is telling us to inspect and reflect on the death, let it go and they take action to adapt and improve?

Why can’t Death be a positive and cleansing experience? A fresh start?

Out with the old and in with the new. Kind of like those expensive chemical peels all the ladies at the day spa are getting these days.

Are we Dying to Adapt or stuck in our old, unproductive and unhealthy ways?

I look forward to drawing more Deaths cards and hope that I am open and ready for the transformation and rebirth it represents.

 

A Tower of Change

This week’s featured Tarot card is The Tower– tall and ominous with lighting bolts, fire and falling bodies. It is an unsettling card that matches the mood of the nation in this incredibly tumultuous and divisive US election cycle. It is card number 16 of the major Arcana and reflects a dramatic jolt and shift in direction.

The Tower is a card of Change- the ultimate “ending the status quo” statement.

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Not everyone is a change junkie like me and many people find it disconcerting when a tsunami wave comes and wipes out carefully constructed sand castles (even if they were built on false premises). These sudden change experiences shake the very foundation of our current sense of security and force us to question our strongly-held beliefs, perceptions, attitudes and behaviors.

Some overall meanings and themes of the Tower card include:

  • Experiencing sudden change and upheaval
  • Realizing the truth after a major revelation
  • Breaking down false structures/ beliefs/ institutions
  • Falling down or being humbled

In America today, a tower of change looms ahead of us and change is a good thing, right?

But what if the change is a major disruption or crisis and is likely to bring chaos in its wake?

In the words of Charles Kettering, “The world hates change, yet it is the only thing that has brought progress.” 

Progress is sorely needed and dramatic change is required, even if it is unsettling.

According to Joan Bunning in her book “Learning the Tarot”, “How you respond to the Tower’s change makes all the difference in how uncomfortable the experience will be. Recognize that the disruption occurred because it was needed. Perhaps embracing the change is too much to ask, but try to find the positive in it. In fact, you may feel tremendous release that you have finally been forced in a new direction”.

Note the symbolism in the Tower card below  (from a traditional Universal-Waite deck).

Two people are falling head first from a tower that has been struck by a bolt of lighting (truth). The man in red has crazy light colored hair and the  woman in blue is wearing a crown.  I can’t help but feel that these two characters represent Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton in all their falling-from-grace glory.

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It is clear to me that change is desperately needed in our country but did we really need to go to such destructive extremes?

This quote from President Bill Clinton helps to justify and explain the situation the US is in, namely,

“The price of doing the same old thing is far higher than the price of change.”

And so the menacing Tower looms, reminding us that a wave of change is coming.

We have a choice in how we response to the inevitable alterations of life.  We can:

  1. Embrace the change.
  2. Resist the change and risk being snapped like a twig in the strong currents of a river.
  3. Accept the change we may not want or like and look for the positive aspects of it.

I leave you with a final quote from Sydney J. Harris.

“Our dilemma is that we hate change and love it at the same time; what we really want is for things to remain the same but get better.”

A Story to Tell: Changes, Connections and Mirror Neurons

What inspires you to take action?  A Poet and a Colonel motivated my first blog of 2014. It all started when I attended a stimulating interactive  workshop last Saturday called STORY UP.  Sharon and Norm Frickey, who I share adventures with in Toastmasters and the Veterans of Foreign Wars (VFW), facilitated the session.  During the workshop, they delved into the intricacies of mirror neurons and expressed the importance of “Finding your story in the experience” and sharing it with others in order to bridge awareness gaps.   They explained how story telling increases connectedness with our fellow humans.

Sharon passionately moved me when she said, “A story told with purpose and an authentic voice can change the world”.   This writer’s workshop was a strong Call to Action and has prompted me to share my stories.  Could I possibly change the world?

Sharon reflects on mirror neurons

Sharon reflects on mirror neurons.
Photo by Steve Smull.

Last night I gave a speech entitled “Traditions and Changes- the Last Quarter of a Century “ at my newly joined Titan Toastmaster club.  During the speech I realized the power and importance of telling a story.  I connected with my audience on many levels when I shared my 25 year journey from college, to the Army, to War deployment, to the VFW and to Toastmasters.   I explained that there is an interesting dichotomy in mind because I am a traditionalist who embraces change and new technology and I am an agile technophile who often longs for many old fashioned traditions.

In my speech I had fun with props as I detailed the numerous technological changes over the last 10 years and how it has altered the way that we communicate with one another.   I displayed my cell phone, iPod, Kindle, and iPad and contrasted them with the tossed-aside printed newspaper, vinyl LP record, a cassette tape and paperback novel.  I shared that although I have adopted and use all the most recent technological devices to communicate, I still value and yearn for live, verbal communications with my friends, family and colleagues.  One of the reasons I love Toastmasters so much is because it provides a warm, friendly environment to speak with others in a supportive setting.  Live, real-time dialogue and interactions with honest to goodness humans who actually smile, nod and react to my words and actions.  Wow- what a concept. 

It was heart warming and refreshing for me to tell a story about traditions, changes and the value and importance of how we communicate with each other.    Could the connectedness I felt during this small speech begin to help bridge the recent polarization in our public discourse?   I hope so.

Storytelling is a uniquely human experience

Storytelling is a uniquely human experience

The ability to verbalize your thoughts and feelings into a 10 minute face to face presentation is so much more fulfilling and better understood by others than a 3 sentence Facebook post or a 140 character tweet certainly is!

So here’s to STORY UP and sharing our experiences live with our fellow humans.

Thanks to Norm and Sharon for inspiring me to reach new heights of authentic expression!  My story telling has just begun.

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The Poet and the Colonel