The Mother’s Wisdom Deck

Big changes are happening for all the women in my family–my Mom is retiring and moving to Providence to be near us, my grandmother is moving out of her home and in to assisted living, and my 4-year-old daughter is, well, 4 years old and thus making huge mental and emotional shifts on a daily (and sometimes hourly) basis. As for me, I’m blogging for the very first time. (Despite having launched a whopping 8 years ago!)

I’m also making some big shifts in my career and going from being a journalist who basically sits behind a computer all day, interacting with a keyboard, to teaching workshops, speaking, and coaching — meaning I leave the house a lot more, have many more two-way conversations, and am getting a big thrill out of connecting with living, breathing human beings.

It’s all good, and just what we all needed, and yet, it’s a lot. I’ve been feeling pretty tapped out, so that when the phone rings and it’s my mother or grandmother, I inwardly groan and either don’t answer it — which leads to me feeling guilty every time I think about that unreturned phone call — or answer it and am short, which then I also feel guilty about.

And when my daughter was up in the middle of the night last night I was patient for about 15 minutes and then got super irritable, super fast. Not my finest hour as a mother.

So, today, I used the time I had to myself in the morning to sleep in. I’m so grateful for that time, but that meant the 30 minutes of yoga and meditation I had planned didn’t happen. I knew I needed something to do during the workday that would help me get grounded, purge some tension, shift out of this “woe is me I have so much going on and so many people who need my help right now but I just want to crawl under a rock” thought loop that was playing inside my head.

That’s when I reached for The Mother’s Wisdom Deck — a gorgeous new deck of cards and guidebook by Niki Dewart and Elizabeth Marglin (full disclosure: Elizabeth and I know each other from when she was an editor at Alternative Medicine and I wrote a few stories for her). The deck contains 52 cards of symbols and archetypes — goddesses, animals, elements, and such — that offer guidance. It’s a little like Tarot, or angel, cards.

I shut the computer, sat with my feet flat on the floor, closed my eyes, held the deck in my hands, and took 4 deep complete breaths, inhaling and exhaling for a count of 4. I asked for guidance on the one thing I could do for myself that would also ripple out to the ladies in my life who need a little extra support at the moment. Then I opened my eyes, spread out the deck, and chose a card.

I drew Kuan Yin, the goddess of compassion. “Oh great,” I thought. “Selflessness — bummer!” I guess I was secretly hoping the deck would tell me to turn off the ringer and go watch Dr. Oz. Nope.

Then I looked at the image on the card and saw that even though Kuan Yin has the world inside her, she radiates with the strength of the sun, and even seems to have a forcefield around her. The companion guidebook said, “When Kuan Yin, the Chinese goddess of mercy, appears, it’s time to dissolve any bitterness that has calcified in your heart. Grudges are not welcome on her watch. Kuan Yin, whose name means ‘she who hears the cries of the world,’ comes to you with a simple message of loving others as yourself.”

Here’s what stuck out to me — if I’m going to be able to be good and loving toward others, I’ve got to start with being good and loving to myself. Not exactly a novel revelation, but that’s what practice it all about — learning and re-learning the same elemental truths and taking every reminder as a gift and an opportunity to lose some drama and resistance to what’s going on and rest in what simply is.

It also tells me that a nice, long, supported heart opener would help any of those calcifications move along. Amen. So tonight before I get in bed, I hereby vow to roll up a thick towel or thin blanket, put it on the floor so it runs horizontally to my body, the lie down on it so that my shoulder blades are resting on the blanket and everything else is on the floor. Meaning, my heart will be leading the way. Amen

Got a resource you love that helps you get right on those days you don’t have the time or energy for a full-fledged practice? I’d love to hear about it!

Take care and keep breathing,


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