Calling in the Help You Need

 Animal symbolism--an alternative infertility treatmentThis week I had lunch with my college roommate. When we first met at age 18, Schuyler’s passion was drawing pictures of women wearing gorgeous gowns. But she didn’t see how that would earn her a living so she had opted out of going to art school for a traditional liberal arts education. Now, after 20 years and a career in event planning, she’s left her job and boyfriend in Atlanta and moved to New York City to study fashion illustration at the Fashion Institute of Technology. Wave your hands in the air for Schuyler! Way to go for your dreams.

The only hitch is, in a classic NYC turn of events, her apartment has bugs. Lots of teeny tiny baby roaches. And it has Schuyler pretty freaked.

She’s already put herself way out of her comfort zone to move up here and pursue her passion, and now these little varmints are pushing her into a zone of extreme discomfort. She doesn’t want to store any food in her kitchen, much less cook. Not exactly the best way to embark on a challenging and important new phase of your life.

Exterminating tactics are outside my realm of expertise, but I did have one suggestion for her—to choose her own personal talisman. Own personal what-what, you say? Think of it as a good luck charm, a symbol of something you need that helps draw that particular quality in to your life.

Many ancient cultures considered each animal to have unique powers. I did a quick Google search (“symbolism of animals”), and found that both Native Americans and the Chinese consider the crab to a protector of the home (must be that hard shell) and a bringer of good luck and success–just the things that Schuyler needs. Placing a small figuring or drawing of a crab in her apartment would send a concrete signal to the universe that she needs a very particular kind of help. It’s a little bit feng shui, a little bit “The Secret,” and a little bit woo-woo paganism. But from my experience in using a talisman in my own life, I can tell you it works.

I knew from my studies with Sierra Bender—who combines yoga, Native American shamanism, and all things goddess-related in her Bootcamp for Goddesses workshops and Goddess to the Core book (which, full disclosure, I edited)—that the bee is a symbol of creativity and fertility. All that buzzing around results in a lot of fertilized plants, and reproducing is the ultimate creative act.

When I knew in my heart and my gut that I was ready to start a family, I bought a bee pin on Ebay. I put it on the altar I kept in the room where I practiced yoga—a small tray with stones, shells, and anything else that reminds me that there’s more to life than the daily grind—for a few weeks. And when I thought it had soaked up some of the good mojo I’d produced through my yoga practices, I started wearing it on a chain around my neck.

Boy, did it ever work. I got pregnant on our second try. And I sold my book proposal after a full year of shopping it around—meaning I was about to give birth to more than one creative project. After both those things happened within two weeks of each other, I have to tell you, I took that bee pin off! Because I didn’t know how much more creativity I would be able to handle. But I kept it until we were ready to try for baby number two.

Again, after a few weeks of wearing I got pregnant on the first try. I also had an offer to write a book come to me out of the blue (I’ll share details just as soon as the contract is signed, but I’m very excited about it.) And again, after all this happened I took that sucker off. But I’m saving it for a day when I can handle a little more fruitfulness.

What do you need help with?
What kinds of things do you wish you had a talisman for? Have you used one in your own life? Share your thoughts by leaving a comment, and if I publish your quote in the next Vegimental, I’ll send you a copy of Sierra’s fabulous Goddess to the Core book.

Congrats to Sarah!
She wrote in with a great story of how she learned to be gentle with her husband. Here’s her comment:
“When my husband and I were first married, I couldn’t believe how much the man ate. It was such a sinking feeling to finish the dinner I had worked so hard to prepare and see his eyes start darting around the room, searching for something, anything! else he could eat. After responding with annoyance (disguising hurt) a few too many times, I set out to change.

Other than adjusting my expectation of portion size, one day when he seemed still searching after a meal, I didn’t just offer to make him a sandwich. I told him, ‘I would love to make you a sandwich.’ Astonished, he repeated, ‘You would love to?’ and took me up on it. What a difference. Coming from a nonjudgememtal place of love and gentleness to my loved one was a priceless feeling. Good encouragement to try it again next time!”

So many of you wrote in with great advice on how to soften even when life gets hard. See everyone’s comments here.

Take care and keep breathing,


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5 thoughts on “Calling in the Help You Need

  1. I’m going to borrow your bee idea! Not for baby-making fertility, but creativity. I’ve finally gathered the courage and motivation to pursue a lifelong (very well hidden) dream of mine. Acting on this dream doesn’t mean any major moves or big lifestyle changes like your friend. I’m keeping it to myself for a while, because I want to do this for myself with no external expectations to meet. That bee sounds like a perfect quiet reminder for me.

    PS – I really like Sarah’s comment to the last Vegimental. Changing your own perception really can make miracles happen.

  2. I wish I had a talisman for negative thinking. I can be having a perfectly wonderful soak in a pool cleaner than Martha Stewart’s bathroom, and out of nowhere a voice pops in, “Oh COME ON, girl. Do you really deserve to relax? Your house is a mess. The kids are 7 and 5 and STILL in floaties! And for Godsake, you’re never going to fit in a bikini just lounging on a raft, now are you?” Hellooooooooo! Lame! I know it’s just a thought, so I try and ignore it and go on with day. But like carrying around a bowling ball, I can do it with a smile, but life would sure be easier if I could simply set it down. Talisman, please!

  3. Andrea, hmmm, talisman, talisman. Something that reminds you to embrace imperfection. What about something that has a healthy dose of wabi sabi — it’s a Japanese term that means basically nothing is perfect unless there’s something imperfect about it. Do you have a bowl or plate you love but that has a chip in it? Or a photo of yourself where you have a gorgeous smile but the wind is blowing a strand of hair straight up? Or a teddy bear you loved with its ear chewed off? Or, my great Aunt gave me a locket she had as a baby, and it has her teeth marks on it from where she chewed on it. That would be a great talisman for remembering that the good stuff has a little life in it–dings and all.

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