the touchstones series: The Universe.

Back in March I wrote what I call “touchstones” for several major arcana – trump – cards of the tarot deck, and have been allowing people to draw one to keep as a message for the day or a meditation on an aspect of our Selves.. (I use the Thoth deck, amazing and powerful stuff, that!) They’re my own words, one interpretation of the cards’ essences.  I’m posting them here, one at a time, as I add them to the  “touchstones”  page, along with a photo of the corresponding card from a version of my deck.

Please do feel free to share the text or link back to here – as long as you include this credit:  © Kathleen McGloin 2014


XXI. UNIVERSE. The Universe.
Full circle. Completion of the Fool’s journey.
the knowing that all was already present –
existing all-at-once.
return from “the great forgetting”
to “the great remembering”.
completeness, wholeness.
ALL is part of the Universe. ALL is Sacred.
sorrows have transformed into joys of Be-ing.
new journeys to anticipate ~ next level!
the Fool has transformed, and yet remains the wisest
– child-of-the-Universe –
for the Fool knows the journey begins again.
all is well, all is as it should be.
{see also: square four, baby!}

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the frivolous unfolding of spring.

let us go from harsh winter’s end,
direct to fall harvest
have it all – sown and grown and ready –

wouldn’t you rather skip past the tedious waiting
for a seed planted, still hidden in the earth?

and the time,
oh, the time!
a growing thing takes.
being still. waving in the wind.
closing for the night with the moon.
gazing at,
the sun.

wouldn’t it be better to not endure the uncertainty
of every flower-before-fruit? (will it bloom? what color, what hue?)

(neither spring nor summer required)
(no frivolous time-wasting in delicious anticipation
of the next surprise unfolding)

wouldn’t you prefer to instant-same-time move
from an idea of an acorn
to the truth
of the great oak?

nah. didn’t think so!


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on right-and-perfect timing: the drop of water and the snowflake.

the single drop of water
does not in the summer say
“i must form myself into a perfect snowflake,
define my edges and my shape.”
it does not think
“i need to get myself up into the air, into a cloud – any cloud – and go there”
the snowflake that exists in the drop of water already knows the truth of its own self
the truth of perfect – right –  timing, too..
of the convergence of elements
of the rising up of all the other drops of water,
the movement toward the place where it will be released
to float gently toward its new place on the earth.

the single snowflake does not in the winter say
“a perfect drop of water i must become..”



drops of water – transitioning – their form

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hello, sugar fiend. er, friend.

I let go of a lifelong heavy sugar habit about two years ago.

That may sound like it was instantaneous. (it was not.)

And it may sound like I never eat sugar any more. (I do. and, it’s just not possible to ‘never eat sugar’ if you’re, say, a human who eats food ever.)

Over a period of three or four months I eliminated about 85-90% of the excess sugar in my diet, the majority of it refined, but a surprising amount “natural.”

As you can imagine there were some pretty sweet (see what I did there?) benefits: my moods stabilized, I lost weight. My immune system could support me better because I was supporting it better. Unexpected and oh-so-welcome results were the calm-focused-centered states that became my new normal.

But this ain’t gonna be all “This Is How I Did It So You Do It This Way Too”.

And it definitely ain’t gonna be “Sugar is the Evil Demon and We Must Battle It to Extinction!”

‘Cause, well.. NO. Surprising, maybe, but there it is… and if you love waving that battle flag, you’ll be wanting to slip out the side door right about now. (you’re welcome.)

I’m writing this as an honorarium of sorts, feeling strangely grateful.

A far lesser version of my sugar habit, without tentacles and hooks, has circled back to pay me a visit.

There’s been plenty-much discomfort, in psyche and in body.

I’m learning a lot during this visit (“hello, sugar, my old fiend friend, you’ve come to talk with me again.” Nod to Simon & Garfunkel.) I’m seeing how numbing out and self-medicating with sweets was a pretty savvy option for many years, sometimes the only one I knew to try. And I’m seeing how my judgment of myself for doing that, later (known as “hindsight bias”) turned into the bigger detriment to my health.

I’m even starting to grok that I may’ve been a wee bit invested in my roller-coastering mood states, conveniently held in place by my roller-coastering blood sugar levels and body chemistry. (Yeah, that’s a weird one to contemplate. And yet, as I simply acknowledge that investment, recognize it ever existed… I can feel it ceasing to exist. Farewell!)

I wasn’t ready for this stuff two years ago. So it’s back.

Thank goodness for that.
I was unable to see this front view of the mountain while I was still standing ON the mountain.

The wisdom goes that any habit we have – lotsa sugar, or smoking, excessive reading of words – exists because it is serving us somehow. It has something to teach us, or is there to help us/ protect us/ allow us to cope or function in some way.

When its work is done, it will go. Far, far away.

(If we will allow it to go.)

For now: no rush. A little gratitude. Glad to know that the parts I still need will come back when it is time. “That which is For Me, is never lost.”

Leaving the door open for this visiting teacher to slip out when it is time.

It really is that simple.


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the actual beauty of “false” hope.

shining through.

shining through.

I’ve had up-close experience with a few intense situations in the last many weeks.

Some, dire.

Critical illness, death and dying, life-changing decisions, rites of passage. Life, unfolding.

While these circumstances weren’t mine, I was involved by my proximity, my relationships, my presence. Heart, fully engaged.

Sometimes a witness, a watcher, or someone’s “person.” (I accept this as one of the great honors of my life, always completely draining me and completely filling me up with love at the same time.)

The nature of each different situation contained within it a delicate filament, a common thread, of Hope.

Hope that things would get better, that they’d turn out differently, that there would be a miracle that changed everything.

Remember, though – I said “dire”.

In the face of dire, “hope” can look more than a little like “denial.” And so hope is pushed against, shelved, found potentially harmful (maybe even dangerous.) Labeled “false” to make it undesirable and unsought-after.

I agreed with all that. It felt like the smart thing to do. I could see from a broader vantage point where things were really headed, so I nodded and comforted but quietly Knew Better. (Quietly, because I feel true-ness in the adage “Do not take someone’s hope away from them, for it may be all they have.”)

When the heart is allowed to take back over from the head, though, wisdom just might return. (Thank goodness!) I’ve had a lot of that these past many days.

So, today, I no longer agree. I don’t Know Better than to kindle “false hope.” Because I saw something happen when hope arrived, false or otherwise:

A deep breath, taken.
Or a breath held, exhaled.
A tailspin into fear, leveled off.

A step back just far enough to find footing and a moment of calm.

It only takes an instant, and the trajectory changes. Love can get in, choices can be made, presence can return.

Then we can be there for whatever happens next, with our honest pain and humanity, with the people we love.

Now, I get it.

THAT is the actual beauty of “false” hope.

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emptied. filled up.

On this date, ten years ago, my last Significant Other relationship ended. There have been none since.

Cry not “foul!” –  for I do not:  The simple “I can’t” that came in the face of my great need, hope and expectation was, I know now, the most honest… uh, something.  Yes, with colossally poor timing and, no, I did not take it gracefully at all. For days, in fact.  (Do not bet against me in a “top this!” contest. You will not win.)  Still – most honest thing. Even if it would be nearly a decade before I’d see that truth.

For the first few years after there were occasional hopeful flirtations that never led to anything, punctuated by flare-ups of culturally embedded self-doubt (ohmygod-I’maSPINSTER!) and bouts of loneliness that came naturally because I still believed so deeply in The One True Love.

Then came ever-longer periods of just being on my own, and a quiet realization of being okay with that.

Really, truly okay.

Because, here’s what happened:  the vast, empty space filled up.

Filled up with noticing fine little threads of connection between myself and every other being I have a relationship with. Relate to. And that’s more than one:  It is, realistically, hundreds of beings.

Filled up with the experience of subtle, powerful, real details that make up a friendship – indeed, that make up a friend. 

Filled up with the wisdom-that-has-no-words that lives in the spaces between me and each member of my family –  for shared DNA or history or both are what tether us in place, when we would otherwise run (far, far away!) from the truest understanding we could ever get of our own selves.  They are me, I am them.  When I grokked this.. Oh, wow.  Forgiveness came in a massive wave and then released, and an instant later there was no longer anything to forgive. All was always exactly as it ever should have been.

Filled up with the deep loving sweetness that every animal on this planet simply IS, and is here to share with us. (Two such creatures are with me now, and another is in the next room. I can feel her sleeping. Peace.)

Filled up with me.  No longer only the me-as-others-see-me;  the me-as-I-see-me.  (I can’t quite explain how cool it is to let go of liking things just because someone else does, so they will like me, too.  Every single day I find something new to like, and it matters not if it is only a club of one.)

Somewhere around the midpoint of these past ten years I stopped dismissing anything that didn’t fit my old version of one-true-love and started seeing. All my attention, all my energy, had been for so long focused at any given time on one single person outside of myself  that I could not begin to fathom the truth of what was waiting.  (What waits, indeed, for every living being who thinks there’s only one way to have  luuuuvvvv.)

So, today, on Valentine’s Day, after ten years away from relationship-with-a-capital-R in any of its forms – after all that –  you know?  I still believe in the One True Love.

Because “one true love” is:

LOVE, itself.

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the only way to fix the world is:

.. to stop trying to fix the world.

Tell me if this rings a bell: most of my life, especially during my growing-up years, I knew an insatiable need to fix others’ hurts, stop their pain, and generally make it all better. The closer they were to me, the more I felt their pain and thought it my duty – my purpose on earth! – to relieve them of it.

I was certainly right about the part where I “felt their pain” because – I know now – I was taking something onboard that didn’t belong to me. I was feeling their pain, without any of the rich detail of their context, their experience, their life-view. Just, the pain.

The part I never understood: once I took it into myself, it wasn’t their pain anymore. It was mine, and I’d feed it like I’d found a starving stray animal… and by feeding the pain, I was flowing all my attention to it – insolently forgetting that whatever we give our attention to is amplified. Still, I’d think this existential discomfort was theirs. And I’d try to make it all better, y’know, for them.

So there they were, having their own experience and getting whatever they needed to get out of itbeing in their own business, doin’ their thang. Perhaps having some major life-crisis or mid-level growing pain, or (most often) the little misunderstandings between people who love, but do not understand, each other.

I was. not. okay. with. that. Here I’d come, watch what was happening, and put myself in their place and imagine how painful it must be. How painful it would be for me.

Then I’d assign myself the duty of – fixing it! (Hear that bell ringing again? welcome, friend!)

The simple truth: the real reason I’d try to fix someone else’s pain was to alleviate my own discomfort.

(I cringe, thinking of it. Even the memories sting. But stinging truth always feels better in the long run than cushy lies.)

I caught myself doing this again a few days ago with someone I’ve danced this particular dance with for a very very long time. (Details are their biz and not important here. Which I get. now.)

The great kindness of experience is that it shortens the frequency and duration of visits to our old hells, and when we remember to breathe back into calm and simply observe ourselves, it’s possible to See. With a measure of compassion.

So when my old hell returned as a new fresh one, I could See, first, that the level of pain I was experiencing “on someone else’s behalf” was completely under my control.

[interesting aside, here: in this case, observing myself, I noticed that the more I tried to “solve the problem” and mentally referee for the players involved, the more actual physical pain I felt. “I’ll be the diplomat, though you never asked, though you don’t even know I know what’s going on, and get a skull-splitting headache in the process.” Now, THAT got my attention!]

I’d put myself into their business, after all. I could take myself out! (and, lordylordy – they could .. have their own experience! how nice for them!)

And. and.

By letting them have their own experience, and refusing to take their pain and make it mine, I stopped hurting… and gave them space to do the same.

Instantly, and once and for all, I saw it: I’d been increasing their pain, and my own pain, by pouring the fuel of my attention on it.

The very opposite of my heart’s kindest wish.

Now I know. And when I perceive a dear one’s pain or struggle or discomfort and feel the old tug to insert myself, to “fix” it, I ask myself this question: is my desire to help born of discomfort?

Or compassion?

love to hear your thoughts on this… please share in the comments, or private message me. thanks for being here! Kathleen.

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