Friday, January 21, 2011

Another Message from Black

This one from

Sara : Blend in, or shine differently?

I've stood out my entire life, whether I wanted to or not (and I rarely ever wanted to). I'm 6'2" now and was always the tallest girl in my class as well as taller than almost all of the boys. My elementary school let me skip grades, so I was two years younger than all of my classmates. I graduated high school and started college at the age of 16. My last name was Lebanese and drew a lot of negative attention and Arab insults. When I started college, I was majoring in aerospace engineering and minoring in math – two fields where I was often one of only a handful of women in a large lecture hall. Now I am a middle school teacher whose students frequently ask me questions about my tattoos and piercings. At most meals, I am the only vegan at the table. And everyone I run into seems a bit taken aback by the fact that I am an amateur Muay Thai kickboxer.

When we're younger, it seems that we make note of people's differences in order to tease them for the ways in which they are not like us. Being called "towel head" and "camel jockey" all throughout grade school certainly seemed to prove this point to me. So did being made fun of for my height and having men constantly imply that I was a lesbian simply because I was of larger stature than almost everyone else around me. The more I stood out, the more I wanted to blend in. I was always shy and a bit of a bookworm, so having attention drawn to me for negative reasons just made me retreat that much more. I was really fortunate to find a group of friends in high school that began to slowly draw me out of my shell.

As I've gotten older, the teasing and insults have given way to a whole new realm of issues concerning the ways that I stand out. The most noticeable area of my life where this occurs is in trying to start new relationships. I'm a combat-wounded veteran of several different dating sites, currently holding steady at one restraining order and a list of blocked phone numbers the length of my arm. Over years of dating, the one constant comment that I have gotten from potential suitors is that they are "intimidated" by me. Most of the time, this was based on my height and came from people that felt insecure about the idea of dating someone taller than them. Lately, I have also been getting the word "intimidating" thrown around because of the fact that I kickbox, regardless of the fact that I've never punched anyone no matter how badly a first date was going.

For a time, I was really bothered by this reaction. My first impulse was to change my profile – edit out the bits about my kickboxing, or being a vegan, or having an opinion on politics. Keep myself bland and neutral and, most importantly, unthreatening. Let me people find out about me just a little bit at a time, in tiny increments that they would hopefully be able to handle. Perhaps stop listing my height as well -- just leave it blank and let them discover this the first time they met me.

This all felt wrong though. Why should I have to hide who I am? And why would I want to get involved with someone who was so threatened by the person that I have turned out to be? It has taken a while, but I've finally started to come to terms with the fact that I will always stand out from the crowd in some way (and this will always be a bit scary for me, but that's okay). I've learned that the people who really matter will be able to view the things that set me apart from others and love me for these things, rather than feel threatened or intimidated by them. Most importantly of all though, I've learned that there is never a good reason for me to dim my own light simply to make other people feel more comfortable. To do so would be a discredit not only to myself but also to the people in my life who already love me, just as I am.

Bold emphasis mine! Did anyone else have this powerful message to Be ThemSelves when working with Black? To confront their deep dark secret Selves and Be OK with it? It seems like all I'm working through this time around...

Monday, January 17, 2011

Your Daily Black

Yes it seems that Black is speaking to me AGAIN. I really didn't have this happen last time I went through the colors.

As you know (or in case you didn't) I get the goddess of the week newsletters from; this week's goddess is Hathor, and here is what the newsletter says:

Hathor's esoteric attributes are about emotions and feelings. Hathor brings the gift of shapeshifting - she lets you transform from a woman coping with the daily mondo to the woman you really want to be.

MANTRA: Shape-shift

This part I found interesting because Black is all about self-acceptance and find your truth (at least that's how I am seeing her) and this goddess seems to be about hiding it, or putting on something that *isnt* you. So I was about to dismiss her, then I read her affirmations...

  • I am who I am This is one of the Affirmations that Jacqueline wrote for Black, word for word!
  • Bring on joy!
  • I love who I am
  • People are inspired by my joy
  • I release negativity through dancing
  • I dance with abandon, and fear abandons me
These are *definitely* resonating with the Energy of Black!

Her Story
Hathor was revered as the ancient Queen of Heaven. She is the patron of dancers, a goddess of music, the generator of light and radiant power. She is also the patron of all women, no matter their station in life, but is particularly the protector of pregnant women.

Her Modern Energy
Her energy radiates through your core of creativity, your centre of emotion, while her wisdom shines in your third eye. Just as Hathor shape-shifts to meet each situation head-on in her most inspired and brilliant form, so can you.

If you are feeling down in the dumps, look inward and ask what is it that is causing you angst? Will this go away if you change your response and attitude? Hathor says, yes. Use her gift of shape- shifting to reinvent your habitual responses to situations.

Draw in her light, energise your being, and emerge with a new outlook that will see you succeed.

Reconnect With Your Inner Hathor
Hathor appeals to your creative core to dance. Release any anxieties through your feet as they hit the earth, and through your upraised arms as you reach for the stars. Dance with the rhythm of the earth, surrender to the pulse, embrace the emotion. Shape shift from a creature crippled with responsibilities and burdened with social expectation into a beautiful wild woman.

You are truly blessed to have Hathor speak to you today. Take a moment to look inward. Hold a related gemstone, or light a related essence. What is it that is causing you angst? Visualise the problem rolling itself into a ball. Take the ball, and throw it into the air as you leap into your week, light of step and glowing with radiance!

What Would Hathor Do?
... If she were in your situation she would imagine herself to be the animal or personality that can easily transcend the obstacle. (Excerpt from What Would Goddess Do? A Journal For Channelling Divine Guidance by Anita Revel)

Image by Thalia Took

It seems to me the lesson of Hathor could also be a lesson from Black. On the surface it seems though that they would be at odds, like I said earlier, one asking us to pretend/shapeshift/become what we are not, the other asking us to find our truth. But I think the truth is that we all carry these other parts of us that we hide most of the time because they are scary to us or disapproved of by others. Hathor asks us to pull those out when we need them, and Black asks us to see that these have been our truths all along...

Sunday, January 16, 2011

The Messages from Black Just Keep Coming!

Here's another one, this time from Positively Present...

the top 5 ways to love yourself now


Hard as it can be to realize sometimes, no matter what you think, you are good enough. With the onslaught of picture perfect images in the media and culturally defined ideas of what we "should" look like, sometimes it's so hard to just do one of the most basic things -- love ourselves. To me, loving yourself is the very first step to living a positive and present life. If you can't love yourself, you're going to have a hard time truly loving the world around you and enjoying the life you're living. However, loving yourself is no easy task sometimes. It actually takes a lot of hard work, which is why I've come up with the top five ways you can start loving yourself right now.

Top 5 Ways to Love Yourself

1. Stop comparing yourself to others. The entire world encourages us to compare, to want what others have, to want to be like others. In the post I wrote back in 2009, Stop Judging: 4 Reasons, 5 Things, 6 Ways, I talked about how much we lose when we waste time judging others and ourselves. If you truly want to love yourself, you must stop your comparisons. Focus on you and what's great about who you are, what you have, and what you do. Don't waste any more time comparing yourself to those around you. This is the first -- and most important -- step to loving yourself now.

2. Focus on your achievements -- big and small. To often, we focus on the things that went wrong (or could go wrong) and not on the things we did right. We'll dwell forever on a conversation that went poorly, but hardly think at all about a wonderful interaction with had with someone. Likewise, people are often more likely to focus on their failures than their achievements (probably as some sort of self-protection in order to avoid future failures). It's okay to acknowledge the things that didn't go swimmingly, but if you really want to love yourself, you have to spend most of your time thinking about what you did/said right. And, remember, even the little things deserve a pat on the back.

3. Look past the mirror to your true self. It's all too common for people to define themselves by the way they look. Remember: you are more than what you look like. Yes, it cannot be denied that appearance is important and has some merit, but it is not everything. The way culture is set up, it's hard to remember that sometimes. Next time you look in the mirror and find yourself filled with negative thoughts, remind yourself that you are more than what you see in that reflection. Your worth is more than the way you look. Once you convince yourself of the truth in those words, it will become much easier to love your true self.

4. View yourself from an another perspective. We all have the tendency from time to time to get wrapped up in our own minds. Our thoughts and ideas take over and we tend to forget that there are millions and millions of other opinions and ideas out there in the world. The next time you find that you're giving yourself a hard time, take a step back and try to look at the situation -- and yourself -- objectively. You may soon realize that the way you were looking at yourself or the situation is not the way that others would. Taking a step back and looking at yourself with fresh eyes will help you to realize that you are worth more than you realize -- and you are certainly deserving of your own love.

5. Make a list of all your awesome traits. Feeling like you're not quite up to par? Stop. Drop what you're doing. Grab paper and a pen. And get to work. The activity might seem like a silly one, but, seriously, taking some time to write about how great you are will help you to realize that, no matter how you might feel about yourself sometimes, you really are pretty awesome. And if you find yourself struggling with this exercise, enlist the help of friends and family. Hearing their input about your awesomeness will make you realize that, hey, if all of those people can love you, you can certainly love yourself!

As I said, loving yourself isn't easy. It seems like the kind of thing that should come naturally, but I think most people are filled with reasonable amount of self-doubt and, as a result, their minds fill with self-deprecating thoughts from time to time. It's okay to struggle with self-love, but it's not okay not to give it a really solid try. You deserve to love yourself because, no matter who you are, you are awesome. So start embracing your awesomeness and use the five tips above to start loving yourself now. There's no time like the present to learn to love yourself!

Saturday, January 15, 2011

Another Link to Black

Black, who challenges us to Know Ourselves, would approve of this article. (Originally posted at Heal Your Life, January 6, 2011.)

Love Your Inner Child
Releasing hurts of the past.


IT DOESN’T MATTER how old you are, there is a little child within who needs love and acceptance. If you’re a woman, no matter how self-reliant you are, you have a little girl who’s very tender and needs help. If you’re a man, no matter how macho you are, you still have a little boy inside who craves warmth and affection.

As children, when something went wrong, we tended to believe that there was something wrong with us. Children develop the idea that if they could only do it right, then parents and caregivers would love them, and they wouldn’t punish them. In time, the child believes, There is something wrong with me. I’m not good enough. As we grow older, we carry these false beliefs with us. We learn to reject ourselves.

There is a parent inside each of us, as well as a child. And most of the time, the parent scolds the child—almost nonstop! If we listen to our inner dialogue, we can hear the scolding. We can hear the parent tell the child what it is doing wrong or how it is not good enough. We need to allow our parent to become more nurturing to our child.

I have found that working with the inner child is most valuable in helping to heal the hurts of the past. At this point in our lives—right now—we need to begin to make ourselves whole and accept every part of who we are. We need to communicate with our inner child and let it know that we accept the part that did all the stupid things, the part that was funny looking, the part that was scared, the part that was very foolish and silly—every single part of ourselves.

Love is the greatest healing power I know. Love can heal even the deepest and most painful memories because love brings the light of understanding to the dark corners of our mind. No matter how painful our early childhood was, loving our inner child now will help us to heal it. In the privacy of our own minds we can make new choices and think new thoughts. Thoughts of forgiveness and love for our inner child will open pathways, and the Universe will support us in our efforts.

The following letter from my book, Letters to Louise, may help you better understand your inner child:

Dear Louise,

I was raised by parents who had very little love for themselves or others. They rarely praised me or validated my self-worth. Instead, they continually criticized and berated me, no matter how hard I tried to win their approval. And they frequently fought violently with each other.

As an adult, I have forgiven my parents, but I find myself locked in the shame and guilt and fear I was raised with. How can I rid myself of the many messages they taught me as a child and learn to love myself?

Dear One,

So many wonderful workshops are available to you. There are also 12-step programs of every sort. By reaching out and taking advantage of the help they offer, you can place yourself in a healing environment that may be helpful. You can also go within and silently ask the Universe to bring you to the appropriate next step in your healing process. Be sincere in really desiring to move into greater understanding.

Also, remind yourself every day that guilt is merely the feeling associated with a thought that you did something wrong. Shame is only a feeling associated with a thought that something was wrong with you.

Use the affirmation: I am perfect, whole, and compete, just as I am. The more you repeat this statement of truth about yourself, the quicker you will release the past.

And the affirmation she suggests is very similar to the one Jacqueline wrote: I am who I am. I am not ashamed.

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Affirmations for Black

I thought someone might be interested in printing out the affirmations that Jacqueline wrote and I decorated...

Click for Full Size
or take this link to buy cards, magnets, etc.

I'm not 100% happy with the fonts, but it's good enough for now.

Fear of the Unknown

Really! I just scroll through the newsletter and click on my freebies, 99% of the time! But a layout caught my eye today, and I slowed my scrolling down enough to catch the title of this...

Again, I think it fits in perfect with our Black studies, linking back to the affirmation Jacqueline wrote, "I will spend time with the unknown and be not afraid of it."

By Rozanne Paxman
Muse: To be absorbed in one's thoughts; engage in meditation. Not intended to solve the world's problems, another person's problems, or to cover topics completely. One does not have to agree with musings to enjoy them, just as one does not have to be the same as someone else to appreciate who they are.

Fear of the Unknown is a terrible fellow. He stands in hip boots and shakes fists in the air. He pulls frightening faces. He points, and he paces. He laughs when he scares you. He just doesn't care.

Fear of the Unknown is a terrible, wild man. He'll rip up your sofa and steal all your bread. He'll total your car and embezzle your money. He'll fire you, disown you, and leave you for dead.

Fear of the Unknown is a powerful fellow 'cause that's what he's told you and that's what you think. But the truth of the truth (and it's time that you knew it) is that Fear of the Unknown's a weak, sniveling stink.

He is vanquished forever when questions are answered – the ill-mannered questions that torment at night - the questions that stand in the back of your closet that jump out and get you and give you a fright.

"What if you fail here?" He whispers and teases. "What if they fire you and send you away? You'll starve, don't you know? You can't handle disasters. You're weak. You're a coward. You're foolish and lame."

"What if you're sick?" He mentions while moaning. "What if you're so sick that you pass away? You'll leave them behind without any money. They'll suffer and hate you when you're in your grave."

Fear of the Unknown is a persistent fellow. He sits in the parlor and rides in your truck. He follows you closely and sticks to your clothing. He walks in your shadow and laughs when you're stuck.

Fear of the Unknown is a sham of a fellow. His questions of terror you do need to hear. So listen and grab them and hold them and squeeze them. Write them and read them. Get rid of the fear.

Prepare for the worst things, the worst that he tells you. Decide what you'd do if your nightmares come true. Consider each one, from beginning to finish. How would you manage? What would you do?

And then he will leave you, old Fear of the Unknown. He'll leave you alone. He will go far away. Preparing and planning when you hear his questions are certain to scare him. He'll go without pay.

'Cause Fear of the Unknown loves shadows and darkness. Fear of the Unknown loves terror at night. He doesn't like bravery or courage or action. He doesn't like people who put up a fight.

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Accept Your Truth

Serendipity is a wonderful thing...

This was in my ScrapGirls daily newsletter today; I don't normally *read* it (it's full of ads, but does link to a daily freebie for digital scrapbookers), but I did today. I think this fits in perfect with our Black studies..

By Rozanne Paxman
Muse: To be absorbed in one's thoughts; engage in meditation. Not intended to solve the world's problems, another person's problems, or to cover topics completely. One does not have to agree with musings to enjoy them, just as one does not have to be the same as someone else to appreciate who they are.

I began scolding myself in my journal because I caught myself trying to be something I am not.

"I want to be acceptable," the conversation began.

"Acceptable to whom?" I countered.

"Acceptable to... to..." I thought. "Everybody?"

"That's silly," I shot back. "You can't be acceptable to everyone."

"You're right," I agreed. "I can't control if anyone at all will accept me. There may be times when what I am doing isn't acceptable to anyone."

"Remember what Abraham Lincoln said?"

"You can please most of the people some of the time. You can please some of the people all the time. But you can't please all of the people every time," I paraphrased.

"Correct. So, tell me... who are you?"

"I'm a short, blond, 53-year-old woman with a husband, four children, and two grandchildren. I run a digital scrapbooking company...."

Interrupting the flow of the description, I commanded, "Don't tell me what you are. Tell me who you are. Tell me what your truth is about yourself."

As soon as the thought came to me, I realized that I had stumbled onto something. Who am I? What is my truth?

I began making a list:

  • I am spiritual. I love Heavenly Father and Christ. They are my North Star.
  • I am focused when I work. Perhaps, too focused. I sometimes become unaware of what is happening around me.
  • I am a deep thinker. In fact, I often think so deeply that I get lost in the forest.
  • I am always trying to improve myself. I usually fail, but at least I keep trying.
  • I am not cool. I don't care what is fashionable. I like what I like. The only time I feel unsure about what I like is when I start overanalyzing myself and worrying if people will think I'm dorky.
  • I am an introvert. I enjoy spending time alone with brief expeditions into sociality, which sometimes tire me physically.
  • I am easily bored.
  • I stop and start projects too often.
  • I am serious. Often, too serious.
  • I have a wry sense of humor.
  • I am a teacher.
  • I am a storyteller.
  • I speak in analogies.
  • I am a writer.
  • I am a musician (although not as much as I used to be).
As the list continued, I realized that I have more strengths than I give myself credit for. My strengths often counterbalance my weaknesses. I understood that it doesn't matter if other people see me differently than I see myself.

As I wrote my thoughts in my journal, I saw myself scrawl a phrase that caught my breath. "Accept your truth," it said.

I read the phrase over and over. "Accept your truth. Accept your truth. Accept your truth."

"Yes," I said. "That's it. If I accept my truth, I won't worry about being acceptable. This will open me to the freedom to accept others without worrying if they accept me."

I closed my journal and smiled.

Life is good.

Monday, January 10, 2011

A Month of Exploring Black

Last year, my partner, Jacqueline, and I dedicated each month to exploring the energy of the various signs of the zodiac as they came around. We would do a ritual each new moon; learn about the sign, its strengths and attributes; and spend a month meditating with some related affirmations.

This year we've decided to explore the colors, as described in Esmerelda Little Flame's book, Temple of the Twelve. This past new moon, we had planned an introduction feast & ritual to Lady Black, but were unable to do it until tonight. We discussed how Black is the color of Truth and Depth (or Troopth and Death as we all kept saying... XD ) and what that means to us, what our individual Truths are, and how we can bring this energy more into our lives.

Our affirmations are posted in the usual spot, and at the end of this month (perhaps closer to the next new moon), we'll be discussing any truths we may have discovered this month, no matter how big or small, that we weren't aware of before. I am also planning on doing another self-portrait and will answer the black questions again from the workbook before the month is up.

Oh, our affirmations, written by Jacqueline Parks, if anyone is interested:

Affirmations for the Energy of Black
~ I am who I am. I am not ashamed.
~ I will seek to know myself.
~ I will work to erase the influence of those things that are not part of the truth of me.
~ I will work to grow those things that are a part of the truth of me.
~ I will seek to know others.
~ I will seek truth in all things.
~ I will honor truth in my decisions.
~ I will spend time with the unknown and be not afraid of it.
~ I will release to black all of my fears, insecurities, and other demons.