It will be interesting to say the least to see how the American presidential election goes next month. Astrologically speaking, we are at the very end of the Piscean age, most notably marked by patriarchy, and heading into a new epoch, a new 2000-year cycle. You’ve probably heard of it, the age of Aquarius. (: In December, just around the winter solstice, Saturn and Jupiter, representing the old guard and the new guard, both move into Aquarius. Although no respectable astrologer dares predict what that looks like specifically, archetypally it is an age marked by cooperation, communication, innovation, revolution, technology. etc. I think we can begin to imagine what that could look like given the advent of the computer, the Internet, the “sharing economy”, and even cryptocurrency in the last few decades. Of course, there is a shadow side to all archetypes. So, it is up to the people, us humans, and the choices we make. Depending on those choices, we will either be on an enlightened path, or heading down a darker road. In many ways, I feel Coronavirus has given us a preview of what each of those paths look like. The collective choices we make now, will determine which path we end up on. That’s why it feels like so much is riding on this election.

2020 has been a year like no other. Our happy little routines have been shaken to the core, forcing us to readjust our basic thought structures around all that we have taken for granted in our lives. How have events shown up for you personally? What is that you are confronting?

At the time of this writing, there are two major retrograde events happening at the same time. First, we have Mars retrograde in Aries, and second, we have Mercury retrograde in Scorpio. Depending on where these planets fall in your chart, you will be experiencing these energies in a particular area of your life, ie. relationships, career, etc. But, in general terms, these planets are speaking to the questions of…

Implicit in any retrograde is shadow work since these cycles ask us to stop and do a little reflection. If you find you are experiencing the “Trickster”, very cliché but things such as communication failures, computer glitches, lost keys, etc., or more seriously, things just not going right, this is simply the Universe’s way of trying to get your attention. It is asking you to stop and take a look at something that is out of balance.

My suggestion is to “treat” yourself to a little self-nurturing. Take time for yourself to reflect on what’s not working, what needs cleaning up, or what needs to be thrown away for good. You will save yourself from going around in circles, sleepless nights staring into the dark with worry, and the emotional eruptions that seem to come out of nowhere. Once we understand where our Mercury mind is, we will understand why our Mars will is or is not working for us.

In a larger context, we can ask where the collective mind is and how is it applying its will? Even more importantly, how does the collective mind need to heal so that the collective will can work in a way that benefits the whole of humanity and the world we live in? With so much at stake in the world today, we all need to do our own inner work, not only for the sake of our individual happiness and sanity, but also as a contribution to the health of the collective whole. Wouldn’t you agree?

Please make an appointment if you would like some support in your individual journey.

“Having compassion starts and ends with having compassion for all those unwanted parts of ourselves.” -Pema Chodron

Recently, I participated in a forgiveness meditation practice and was reminded of how difficult it can be for us to find compassion for ourselves when we feel we’ve done something that we need to ask forgiveness for.

(Spoiler alert!) None of us are perfect! We all make mistakes and have regrets about something we said or did to another person. Generally speaking, I believe that people are inherently “good” even if there are times when we might display “bad” behavior. Why would good people act badly?

Let’s look at an example using a 4-step process.

In this process we recognize our own unmet needs as indicated by our feelings in a given situation.

  1. Identify a situation or circumstance we need to ask forgiveness for.
  2. Identify the feelings present in the situation or circumstance.
  3. Identify the unmet need(s) that were behind the emotions.
  4. Identify an action to fulfill the unmet need(s).

Anger is a common feeling that arises in situations of conflict, so let’s start there. In our example, we will look at a situation where we blew up in anger at someone we love. One of the tools for finding more self-compassion that is available to each and every one of us at any given time is our emotions. Emotional education is a principle that helps us understand our internal world through our emotions. Feelings that we are embarrassed about or ashamed to admit are especially good indicators of a shadow, something we have either refused to acknowledge within ourselves or wouldn’t want anyone else to know about. Most of us have been taught that it is not okay to be angry. Again, recall that the feeling is an indicator of an unmet need. It’s tempting to get caught up in judgement and shame, but in this process, it is simply a piece of information, an indicator of an unmet need.

Great! Now that we have acknowledged our anger, the next step in the process is to uncover the unmet need. Perhaps the need was to be acknowledged, to be heard, or to be understood. Alternatively, it may have been a need for trust, honesty, or connection. There are many possibilities. There is no right or wrong answer.

If we understand that many of our unmet needs are born out of some early childhood event that created an emotional wound within ourselves, we can start to feel a little compassion for ourselves. Inner work helps us identify unmet needs we didn’t realize we had. They were buried; hidden away in the shadows of our unconscious minds. In order to get the attention they crave, they must force their way through the repressive defenses of our conscious minds. The inevitable consequence is the sideways nature of their expression that is hurtful to us and/or others, disconnects us from Source, alienates us from others, and diminishes our life force energy.

It is so tempting to beat ourselves up for our actions and wither inside with the pain of shame and regret, but if you were to look at it from the perspective of the wounded, inner child, would you allow them to punish themselves that way? I doubt it. According to A Course in Miracles, every action is either an act of love or a call for love. Now we can recognize the attempt to get our unmet needs met as a call for love, and it becomes a little easier to feel compassion first, for our wounded, inner child, and then, by extension ourselves. The last step is to become the parent and take some action that will fill this unmet need.

Becoming conscious of your own needs and developing the capacity to meet them yourself, greatly reduces the chance they will inappropriately rear their ugly heads and force a regrettable situation. Most importantly, it opens the door to self-compassion and takes you down a path of forgiveness and healing.

So, the answer to the question at the beginning of this article, “Why would good people act badly?”, is not that we are bad people. We just have unmet needs.

Here are some questions you can use to get you started on the path of finding self-compassion. I highly recommend journaling your thoughts on these questions followed by either meditation or contemplation in a quiet space.

Questions for Reflection:

1) What do you need to ask for forgiveness for?
Ex. Criticizing my partner because he/she didn’t do what I wanted.

2) What feelings were alive in you at that moment?
Ex. annoyed, angry, frustrated, powerless

3) What need were you trying to get met? (There may be more than one.)
Ex. to be heard, to be understood, connection

Now that you have discovered the unmet need(s), ask yourself what you can do to meet this need for yourself.

If you would like to work with me personally, please book a free Discovery Call.

Recently, an op-ed in the New York Times asked this question, “Why do you think there are so many people denying the existence or severity of the coronavirus?”

This got me thinking about one of the key distinctions we teach in Integrative Coaching. Resistance.

Denial is a form of resistance. If you’ve ever been in resistance, and we all have at some point or other, then you know how much of a struggle it can be. Resistance takes a lot of energy, like trying to swim upstream. It’s tiring, exhausting, and gets us nowhere.

Why would we choose denial?

By adhering to the idea that it never existed, we absolve ourselves from having to take any responsible action toward resolving the situation or circumstance. We get to be lazy since accepting the situation means taking some new action that we don’t want to take. In other words, we get to stay (stuck) in our comfort zone.

For those who initially downplayed the virus or attributed it to a hoax or conspiracy theory, admitting they were wrong and acknowledging now that it actually is a problem may cause feelings of shame, which may be even further compounded as one is then forced to recognize the consequences of that denial. Without the courage to accept the truth of a situation, we will find ourselves headed down the path of self-sabotage.

When we find ourselves attached to a certain idea or belief, we may experience a crisis of insecurity and fear when that belief is taken away or pulled out from under us. Oddly enough, we would choose to identify with a certain belief even though it disempowers us, discredits our integrity, and fails not only ourselves but also those around us.

How do we get out of this predicament? Acceptance. But wouldn’t it be much more convenient if the virus just didn’t exist? Sure. But the fact is that it does exist. Taking that all-important step of accepting the situation as it is will allow us to surrender all of our excuses, blame, and story that keep us trapped in a losing battle. Now, instead of swimming upstream, we are now drifting along in the current; in the flow, instead of fighting against the tide.

The key is to recognize exactly what we are resisting. When we’re looking on a personal level, this takes a little inner work for most of us. It may require a little courage and support from a transformational coach. It’s hard to be eager and willing to dive into one’s own shadow if there’s some fear about what we might find there. But remember, a shadow is dispelled as soon as we shine a light on it. Fears are often born out of old, worn-out beliefs that were formed when we were small children, but no longer serve us. In this way, we remain rooted in the past. Bringing these limiting beliefs out of the shadows allows us to make peace with them, replace them with new, empowering beliefs, and envision an inspired future for ourselves.

We can see how denial is affecting us on a collective level as it plays out right in front of us on our national stage. But we also know that the outer world is a reflection of our inner world. So, I encourage you to take the current situation and use it as an opportunity to look within, apply it on an individual level, and see if there is anything you are denying that is limiting you in any way. You can use the following questions to get started.

Questions for Reflection

Transformation is a shift in perception and always brings about new and empowering action. When we are willing to accept the facts of a situation or circumstance, without story, judgment, or denial, we open the door to new and inspiring choices that empower us to achieve our goals and manifest the life we desire.

Just a few days ago, on June 17th, Mercury went retrograde in Cancer. Mercury retrogrades have become infamous for communication snafus, computer glitches, and missing keys. But that is only skimming the surface of this planetary cycle.

What is a retrograde?

A retrograde is a planet’s apparent backward movement in the sky. Apparent, only because it isn’t actually moving backwards; it is only slowing down in relation to Earth’s movement. It’s like clipping along on the freeway and passing a bicycle or a slower moving vehicle on the road. They are still moving forward, but because you are moving faster, they appear to be moving backward. So, astrologically speaking, retrogrades are periods of looking back.

What is a Mercury retrograde?

Any planet can go retrograde, but Mercury is the one we hear about most because it does this  3 times a year. Mercury is the Roman god of communication, patron of messengers, and a notorious trickster. Thus, Mercury retrogrades are regarded as periods best used for rethinking, reconsidering, re-evaluating, reconceptualizing whatever had been occurring in the 2-3 weeks leading up to the retrograde.

How can you use this retrograde to your advantage?

The current Mercury retrograde is occurring in the sign of Cancer. Some of the key archetypes at play here are home, family, nurturing, emotional security, family history/legacy. Look back to the beginning of June and see if any issues have arisen around any of these themes. How are your relationships with your family? Has your emotional security been upset? Has anything from your childhood upbringing been coming back to haunt you, or less dramatically, brought up deep, serious questions for you?

And don’t forget, Venus is also retrograde…

Coinciding with the start of the setup phase for this Mercury retrograde, mass protests against racism and police brutality sprang up in the U.S. and spread worldwide after George Floyd died at the hands of the police. All this occurred within the context of the worldwide Covid-19 pandemic and resulting economic crisis as well as the other retrograde cycle involving Venus in Gemini that started mid-May and finally ends on June 25th. I wrote about that in a previous blogpost. Briefly, some of the active themes in that retrograde focus in on our relationships, values, information, communication, and duality.

Mercury the trickster?

As humans, we have a tendency to do all we can to avoid pain and discomfort. The true source of any conflict will have been forced into the shadow of your consciousness if willfully ignored, dismissed, or unacknowledged. Whether the conflict presents itself in external circumstances or internal emotional or psychological turmoil, the unacknowledged shadow will find another way to get your attention. Mercury is happy to communicate what needs to be acknowledged!

Maybe your old computer goes down causing serious disruption to your business. Maybe an underperforming employee loses an important contract. Or maybe things finally come to a head and you end up falling out with a family member in a heated argument.

How does shadow work help?

There is a reason you kept an underperforming employee on the payroll. There is a reason you didn’t replace your old computer. There is a reason the situation had become so strained with that family member. Underlying the justifications and excuses that might roll off your tongue are shadows that held you back from taking care of those situations before they had a chance to blow up in your face and cause you unwanted stress, loss, and inconvenience.

The transformative purpose of Mercury retrograde is to bring something that has been unconscious into conscious awareness. This is where shadow work comes in to help us acknowledge that new awareness and integrate it back into our toolbox of conscious awareness, adding more power and fuel to our life force energy so that we can become the most fully expressed version of ourselves.

This is a pivotal moment in history. Two retrograde cycles have come together to show us that all of us could benefit from taking a step back and re-examine how our families helped us feel emotionally secure, how any unmet emotional security needs are showing up in our lives today, how our family histories and cultural legacies live within us, form the basis from which our values are derived, and inform how we view and feel about the world and our place in it. This is the perfect time for all of us to look at our values, our family histories, and who we choose to be in relationship with in these tumultuous times as we seek to process our way through masses of often conflicting information, reconcile duality such as social distancing and mass gatherings at protests, and communicate our truth in a way that honors and respects everyone no matter where they came from or the color of their skin.

Using our emotions to understand our own unconscious motivations is a key element of shadow work. I doubt anyone would argue that the issues of racism, justice, and social responsibility we are facing today are highly charged. Are our emotions informing us as to the next right action, or are they blindly driving us to actions we’ll later regret? If you want to help make the world a better place, and I am sure most of us truly do, then the best place to start is with yourself. We cannot create a world based on integrity if we are not in integrity with ourselves first. This is the importance and value of shadow work.

In this unprecedented time of the pandemic created by the novel corona virus dubbed COVID-19, we are experiencing the trauma and fear of this new virus, social isolation, a broken economy, massive unemployment, and a multitude of confusing information.

How do we use the wisdom of Venus retrograde in Gemini to more successfully navigate these uncertain times?

Venus retrograde asks us to look at our values and what we truly desire. If our outer world is looking good, then we assume our values are in Venus is most famous for relationships, but it also says something about our values and what we desire. As our desires tend to be based on what we value, hopefully our values are in a place that aligns with our highest self, serves our highest purpose, and informs our choices in a way that benefits us individually and collectively.

On an individual level, we are thinking in terms of our relationship to ourselves. We have basic needs for food, clothing, shelter, and an income that preferably comes from some kind of meaningful work. On a global level, we are mindful of our relationships to each other, in our partnerships, families, our communities, and the world as a whole.

Any retrograde is an invitation to make what was previously unconscious conscious. When Venus goes retrograde, we are likely finding ourselves reflecting on our values and desires and whether or not they are actually in alignment with our higher selves. The current Venus retrograde happens to be in the sign of Gemini. What are we being asked to become aware of in terms of our mental patterns, communication, duality, information vs. disinformation, polarized patterns of thinking? A look at the quality of our relationships can give us a clue.

How do your values inform the choices you ultimately make?

On a personal level, in relationship to ourselves, we may be feeling torn between our own desire to go out and our worries about whether or not it is safe to do so. Most of us have been under stay at home orders for several weeks and we’re feeling a little pent up and worn down at the same time. As the economy reopens, we’re longing to get out and socialize but we’re also wary about whether or not it is safe or even responsible to do so.

How are our values allowing us to be in the right relationship with those we love?

For many, the stay at home orders have given family members the time they never had before in their busy daily routines to reconnect and spend quality with one another. On the other hand, relationships that were already strained, even before the pandemic, may now be facing the issues that had been previously ignored or avoided as families and couples are forced into sustained periods of proximity with each other and no means of escape, in the form of work or school. Am I being authentic in my communication? Am I communicating with integrity? Do I even know my authentic self well enough to know if I am being in integrity with my communication? Hmm…

How do we feel about our individual rights versus our social obligations?

Some shoppers are speaking out on their right to shop without a mask if they so choose. Others willingly wear them so as not to unintentionally infect others or put them at risk. The more vulnerable population feels at risk when others are not observing social distancing. Do they speak out, or do they walk away in silence and judgement?

How do we understand our need to earn a living versus our desire to avoid illness?

Economies need to reopen so that businesses can survive and employees can earn a living. At the same time, people need to be protected from the increased risk of exposure to the virus an open economy creates. What protections do I expect from my employer? What protections do I need to take for myself?

All of these questions arise within a framework of our Venusian theme of relationships, to others as well as to ourselves. Venus retrograde in Gemini will find us taking another look at how we are processing the enormous amount of information/dis-information, assimilating what is useful and discarding what is not. We have already been exploring novel ways of socializing, working, schooling, and going about our daily activities.

What are the values we hold, how did we come to hold those values in the first place, and how are they informing our conceptualization of the evolving situations we now find ourselves in so that we may make choices that are in the best interest of all involved? If we are willing to do the internal work of tuning in with ourselves and going into the depths of our unconscious so that we may become more aware of what truly motivates our desires and underlies our values, we will give ourselves the gift of making choices that allow all to thrive and survive in an uncertain world. I would even venture to say that it is imperative that we do our inner work and explore our shadows. It is essential that we be in alignment with our highest selves and maintain our integrity so that we can make the changes that need to be made in order to rebuild stronger and more sustainable communities, local and global. Our lives and our planet depend on it.

Happy New Year Heart Warriors!

The new year is here and it always starts in Capricorn, the sign of the sea goat. This is the perfect time for setting goals. Whenever we pass from one year to the next, we have the perfect opportunity to reflect upon what we want to release from the past year, what we want to carry into the new year, and what we want to birth in the new year. There are choices to make.

The sea goat is a terrific mountain climber, but does he know which mountain to climb?

Ideally, your choices will lead you to your long term goals, especially if you already know what those goals are. Lucky you! Knowing what your goals are gives you a sense of direction and a basis upon which to make your choices.But there are some of us who aren’t in that place of clarity yet. Not to despair! This is not unusual. It simply means it is time to sit with yourself and be willing to take a look at what is working for you and what is not, what is working for you and what is not, and what you want to keep and what you want to change.

What path will you choose for your sea goat?

Whether or not your goals are clearly defined, working with your shadows will strongly support you in manifesting your highest potential. By definition, the shadow self is that part of yourself that you are not conscious of. This makes it harder to see how your shadows may be working in your life, but you will know that they are if you find yourself running into the same roadblocks over and over, feeling confused and frustrated because you are not getting to where you want to be or living the life you want to live, or simply feeling unsure of what you want for yourself in life.

How can Integrative Coaching™ support you?

Integrative Coaching™ supports you in investigating those unknown parts of yourself, teaches you how they have served you in the past, and gives you new insight into how they may now to be upgraded in order to better serve you in the present. Through a process of uncovering, acknowledging and embracing our shadows, we allow ourselves to become the highest expression of ourselves and live the life we were meant to live with awareness and compassion, not only for ourselves, but for others.

Before experiencing this process, I was hostage to ego-driven motivations that kept me rooted in my childhood wounds and imprisoned in a life of negativity regarding my own sense of value and self-worth and the purpose of my life. My passion is to support anyone who finds themselves stuck in a similar place.The evolution of my soul in through this process lead to a revolution in my life. And I know that this is available to anyone who desires it.

Last week’s full moon in Libra was, astrologically speaking, a time to look at how we put ourselves in service, a very Libran quality, and how we give ourselves over to servitude, the shadow side of Libra. What’s the difference between service and servitude? Service is an act that comes willingly from the heart and serves those in need. Opening the door for an elderly person who needs a cane to walk is an act of service. Providing meals for the homeless is an act of service. Servitude, on the other hand, is an act performed for someone that they could do themselves but for whatever reason choose not to. They may not want to do it. They may neglect doing it. They may think it is beneath them to do it. In previous eras it was a slave working the fields of the master. In modern eras, even though they are paid, even a bellhop is working in servitude when they are carrying bags for someone who is perfectly capable of doing it him/herself but would rather pay someone else to do it for them instead.

A more subtle form of servitude that on the surface may not appear to be of servitude is the co-worker who didn’t do their job, so you had to pick up their slack. You’re a CNA. Your co-worker didn’t give your patient their scheduled bath during the previous shift. Now the nurse is asking you to do it in addition to all your normally assigned duties. First, you question why you have to do it at all. But, grudgingly, you get it done. You know it wasn’t your responsibility, but something inside compelled you to do it anyway because you knew it was the right thing to do. Maybe you felt compassion for the patient who didn’t receive the care they deserved. Maybe you didn’t want to push back against your supervisor. Maybe you wanted to protect the reputation of the medical facility. On some level, you felt it was the right thing to do. But at the same time, you also felt resentment at best, anger at worst, toward the co-worker who dumped this on you and the supervisor who essentially poured salt in the wound by forcing you to do something your gut was telling you was not your responsibility. What is that gut feeling about? You know it’s not right. You know you are not being treated fairly. You feel guilty for feeling anger and resentment. Why these negative feelings when you think it’s the right thing to do? Service vs. service.

When you see someone genuinely struggling, your immediate reaction may be to rush to their assistance and help. But if someone wants you to do something only because they don’t want to do it themselves, your reaction is probably quite different. Doing something for someone who is truly in need feels a lot different than being asked to do something for someone because they are too lazy to do it themselves. Essentially we abandon ourselves when we are unable to set the boundary, stand up for ourselves, and say “No.” Service vs. servitude.

Tammy is stepping into her light and embracing her call to serve as an Integrative Coach Professional. Having studied spiritual self-help topics for years, divine timing led her to Debbie Ford’s books and inspired her to begin her own transformation. She completed a rigorous 15-month coaching training program through The Ford Institute for Transformational Training. Tammy’s life then shifted dramatically. She moved across continents, changed careers, and created an inspiring life that has liberated her to be a fully expressed person. Tammy resides in the beautiful Pacific Northwest city of Portland, Oregon. She enjoys yoga, astrology, theatre, long walks, the beach and, of course, good food … especially ice cream!
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