Ever since I ordered ten, and I mean ten, total sheets of the “Views of Our Planets” stamps from the United States Postal Service (USPS) middle of last year, I’ve been one happy camper. Planetary aficionado that I am. I pay my bills with a song in my heart, knowing that I’ll be using my stamps to send them on their way. Too bad it’s not de rigueur anymore to send letters and cards by postal mail. Anyway, if you’ve heard of the old-fashioned adage, “collect, select, then reject,” pertaining to suitors, then may I just interject that when it comes to these USPS stamps, I’d rather collect, collect, collect all the way! In solidarity with Science and Earth Day.
A column by Bles Carmona
For the week of Dec. 24-30, 2014
HOLIDAY FORUM: WHICH LOVE LANGUAGE DO YOU SPEAK?
Whether you call this season Yule, Christmas, Hanukkah, Winter Solstice, Saturnalia, Nativity, Midwinter, Noël, or Pasko in Tagalog, this is a time of rejoicing, thanksgiving, and the traditional giving and receiving of gifts. So before we go on, please allow me to greet you first: Maligayang Pasko po sa inyong lahat!
I credit my professor in our “Passion and Purpose” class at Chabot College, Prof. Cherise Martinez-McBride, with alerting me to these “Five Love Languages” by pastor and marriage counselor Dr. Gary Chapman. The first book in his continuing series was published way back in 1992, “The 5 Love Languages: The Secret to Love That Lasts,” so I’m sure that some of you may already be familiar with these love languages. However, I will operate on the assumption that we all need a refresher course, especially since this season is a great time to express our love and appreciation to our nears and dears, whether family, relatives, and friends. Are we really speaking our loved one’s language when it comes to the emotional expression of love?
According to Dr. Chapman, based on his over 30 years of counseling couples, he determined that there are five distinct love languages:
1. Words of affirmation
2. Quality time
3. Receiving gifts
4. Acts of service
5. Physical touch
These languages are not only “spoken” by married couples, although the original books were geared towards spouses. These languages are also applicable to singles, children, teenagers, and co-workers, to name a few other groups. Here are brief descriptions of each love language. If you want to take the interactive profile quiz so that you can be sure which language/s you speak, you can go to http://www.fivelovelanguages.com
1. Words of affirmation — According to Dr. Chapman, “One way to express love emotionally is to use words that build up… Verbal compliments, or words of appreciation, are powerful communicators of love (Chapman, p 43).” You don’t have to exaggerate. Words of affirmation could be as simple as, “You look stylish in that dress,” or, “I really like how you fix my lunch box that I take to work with me every day.”
2. Quality time — If this is your love language, you appreciate time spent with your friend or partner doing something that both of you like to do. It also means focusing one’s attention, no fair glancing at your cell phone while your partner is talking, and maintaining eye contact to denote that you are here in the present. Quality time is about communicating, both speaking and listening.
3. Receiving gifts — If you think that this particular language is just about receiving “expensive” presents, you may be half-right. If you consider that the costly gift is an investment towards the longevity of your relationship, then money may be no object indeed and you would have made your partner happy. However, if your partner’s language is receiving gifts, then he or she may also be yearning for the gift of your presence — yes, of you just being there. Gifts could range from simple or handmade (a fresh flower plucked from the garden, an origami swan, etc.) to complex or expensive ( intricate jewelry, a dinner in a 5-star restaurant, etc.). The most important thing is that you put your partner’s needs and desires first because you genuinely want to see him/her happy.
4. Acts of service — This means doing things you know your partner would like you to do. As Dr. Chapman puts it, “Such actions as cooking a meal, setting a table, washing dishes, vacuuming, cleaning a commode, changing the baby’s diaper, dusting the bookcase, keeping the car in operating condition, paying the bills, trimming the shrubs, walking the dog, changing the cat’s litter box, and dealing with landlords and insurance companies are all acts of service. They require thought, planning, time, effort, and energy. If done with a positive spirit, they are indeed expressions of love (Chapman, p. 118-119).”
5. Physical touch — This language is spoken by people who feel loved and comforted when they are in close physical contact with their spouse, through holding hands, kissing, hugging, and sexual intercourse. These are all valid emotional expressions of one’s love for the partner, but most especially if it’s the language that your partner speaks.
What is the point of learning about these five different love languages? Well, first of all, we have to know ourselves. Do you know what love language you speak? You can use Goodsearch.com to look for free tests that you can take to evaluate yourself or go to http://www.fivelanguages.com. Next, ask your partner to take the test, too. Hopefully the test you both took will be the springboard to a stimulating discussion between you about your similarities and differences. You need not be discouraged if you somehow interpret the results to mean that you and your partner are “not compatible.” Really, it’s about learning to speak a second language. You won’t be adept at the new language at first, like for example, someone like me whose primary language is Tagalog trying to speak Deutsch, but with practice then I’ll get better at pleasing my partner by speaking his language.
Let me tell you a story of a couple whom we will call Julius and Carrie. Julius, a hardworking top management type, is the kind of person who gives directions by telling you the distance of their house from the nearest gas station in meters of measurement, like let’s say “200 meters north of the Shell station.” Carrie, on the other hand, would just tell you that their house is right across a sari-sari store called Aling Tinay’s as soon as you round the corner on the left. Julius’ primary love language is acts of service, and so since Carrie takes care of her housewifely duties, being a good wife to him and a great mom to their two boys, he thinks that everything’s OK. However, it turns out that Carrie has been unhappy for a long time. She says that no matter how hard she works around the house, she rarely hears anything like acknowledgment or appreciation from Julius. Now could you guess what Carrie’s primary love language is?
This wonderful season, I encourage you, my dear readers, to be agents of love by spreading the valuable lessons we’ve all learned along the way. The world we live in can be confusing and fearful, and it may be easy to give in to cynicism and doubt. Please don’t. Instead, choose to believe. Choose to hope. Choose to love. So yes, I say, Merry CHRISTmas to all of us!
*******************************Find advisor Blesilda44 at KEEN.com, 1-800-ASK-KEEN (1-800-275-5336), extension 05226567 either by phone or chat: Mon-Fri 7-10 pm, Sat-Sun 7-11 pm Pacific. I speak English, Tagalog, and some Spanish. For personal readings (fee required), email me here: firstname.lastname@example.org
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A column by Bles Carmona
For the week of Dec. 17-23, 2014
A LISTICLE: THE 10 BEST JOBS FOR INTROVERTS
First of all: what is as listicle? Apparently, a listicle is an article featuring a list of some sort, like: “6 Ways You Can Tell That’s He’s Not Into You” or “7 Things Not to Say to Someone Who’s Grieving,” and then elaborating on each numbered item in some detail. Why not join the bandwagon and come up with a listicle of our own?
Through serendipity – I was looking for something in my room and found something else instead – I found this list that I manually copied from “My Majors Transfer Guide Magazine,” Spring 2014 edition. The magazine was on a table near the Career and Transfer Center on the second floor of Bldg. 700 of Chabot College. The title of the article that caught my eye was: “10 Growing Jobs for Introverts.” To take a look at the article again, I used the search engine called http://www.goodsearch.com which donates 1 cent to the charity or cause of your choice each time you search for anything. For instance, I am supporting the University of Metaphysical Sciences-Wisdom of the Heart Church (www.umsonline.org) because I have met its founder, Dr. Christine Breese, at the 2008 New Living Expo in San Francisco, and I will never forget her kindness, empathy, and generosity toward me. I hope to study at UMS someday. It’s a distance learning facility so I can learn at my own pace.
Now let’s go back to our list. I actually have a couple of them, one dated 2013 and the other one is as I have described above. I am personally interested in these lists since, believe it or not, I am classified as an Introvert myself by no less than the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator. My MBTI Interpretive Report pegs me as an ISFJ: Introversion, Sensing, Feeling, and Judging. This basically means that I tend to relate easily to the inner world of ideas and impressions; I am interested in what the five senses show me and what exists in the present; I tend to base decisions on values and people-centered concerns; and I tend to like to have things decided so my life is likely to be planned and orderly. The Myers-Briggs is a common corporate and academic tool to classify people into 16 different types depending on 8 factors: extraversion (E) or introversion (I); sensing (S) or intuition (N); thinking (T) or feeling (F); judging (J) or perceiving (P). You can use Goodsearch to look for “free Myers-Briggs tests” that you can take, and one of these can be found at http://www.humanmetrics.com.
How can we tell if someone is an introvert? Are you energized by a crowd of people, as in a party, or would you rather skip the festivities and retire to your room with a good book? Suppose that you attended the party. Can you go on and on until the wee hours on adrenaline in the exciting company of your friends or do you find that you crave alone time afterwards to breathe and regroup? Does the prospect of interacting with others face-to-face on a daily basis make you enthusiastic or anxious? You might be an introvert. Now this is not necessarily a negative thing. We all have our place in the world and true enough, there are actually lucrative careers for those of us who are not that hot about the human interaction thing.
The 10 best jobs for introverts, according to the Sept. 18, 2013 issue of http://www.businessnewsdaily.com are: 1. Translator 2. Market research analyst 3. Lab technician 4. Long-haul truck driver 5. Computer programmer 6. Accountant 7. Technical writer 8. Graphic designer 9. Medical records technician 10. Paralegal. I just want to give you a general feel of what was out there in terms of “jobs for introverts” last year.
Now let’s go to the more recent list in “My Majors Transfer Guide Magazine (Spring 2014)” because the article includes the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS, http://www.bls.gov) Annual Median Salary and projected growth within that field by 2020. Another source for this list is CBSnews.com that featured the listicle authored by Suzanne Lucas for “MoneyWatch” in March of this year. A company called CareerCast was the one that chose careers for this lineup. So here they are: the “Ten Growing Jobs for Introverts.” Please note that this list is alphabetical, not according to annual median salary or job growth rank. We will do that analysis later.
1. Animal care and service worker – Some people prefer to care for and interact with animals rather than socialize with people. If so, this option is for them. BLS Annual Median Salary: $19,970 (caretakers)/$25,270 (trainers); Projected Growth by 2020: 15 percent
2. Archivist – This is an ideal job for someone who appreciates history and has a knack for organization. BLS Annual Median Salary: $47,340; Projected Growth by 2020: 11 percent
3. Astronomer – This is perfect for someone who wants to study the stars or work with satellites. BLS Annual Median Salary: $96,460; Projected Growth by 2020: 10%
4. Court reporter – Believe it or not, you also need to hone your listening skills for this one, aside from transcribing court proceedings with your stenotype machine. BLS Annual Median Salary: $48,160; Projected Growth by 2020: 10 percent
5. Film/video editor – This job allows the introvert to be “quietly creative,” as listicle author Lucas puts it, while putting together film and TV projects. BLS Annual Median Salary: $51,300; Projected Growth by 2020: 3 percent
6. Financial clerk – This job fascinates someone who wants to crunch numbers and keep financial records organized. BLS Median Salary: $46,920; Projected Growth by 2020: 17 percent
7. Geoscientist – This is an ideal job for the introvert with a yen for the outdoors. Study rocks and minerals in the field or in the lab. BLS Median Salary: $90,890; Projected Growth by 2020: 16 percent
8. Industrial machine repairer – This entails working with heavy duty machinery in a factory or a construction site. BLS Median Salary: $46,920; Projected Growth by 2020: 17 percent
9. Medical records technician – Another one for the organized introvert, this involves keeping files in an orderly fashion. BLS Annual Median Salary: $34,160; Projected Growth by 2020: 22 percent
10. Social media manager – This is actually a promising job for introverts since it allows them to interact with others without having to go face-to-face. BLS Annual Median Salary: $54,170; Projected Growth by 2020: 12 percent
Therefore, in terms of the BLS Annual Median Salary, the top 3 jobs are: astronomer ($ 96,460), geoscientist ($90,890), and social media manager ($54,170). However, at least for the first two, you’d need a specialized college degree for an entry-level position and you must really be interested in either astronomy or earth science. In terms of projected growth by year 2020, which means the percentage of demand for these jobs, the top 3 are: medical records technician (22%), industrial machine repairer (17%), and geoscientist (16%).
According to CareerCast, introverts overcome their nature just enough to land them a stable job with a routine and minimal exposure to new people. They may prefer a steady, quiet job to the prospect of career advancement. They tend not to seek promotions that require travel or meeting with new people. The thing here is that if a new job opening comes up, their fears may prevent them from taking on a new challenge that will increase their knowledge and skills and broaden their horizons. For most of the jobs on the list, it’s the intersection of new technology and stable career paths offered by these options that make young, shy professionals gravitate towards them.
Truly, there’s nothing wrong if you have identified yourself as an introvert. Welcome to the club, I say. What’s important is that you and I find a comfortable niche in the work world where advancement is not as crucial as contentment and peace of mind. “Ora et labora” – prayer and work – will still prove to be the salvation of us all in this work-oriented yet spiritual society.
Find advisor Blesilda44 at KEEN.com, 1-800-ASK-KEEN (1-800-275-5336), extension 05226567 either by phone or chat: Mon-Fri 7-10 pm, Sat-Sun 7-11 pm Pacific. I speak English, Tagalog, and some Spanish. For personal readings (fee required), email me here: email@example.com
A column by Bles Carmona
For the week of Dec. 10-16, 2014
CARING FOR YOUR LOVED ONE WITH A MENTAL ILLNESS THIS HOLIDAY SEASON
Early this year, I was browsing through the offerings of The Book Shop in Hayward, my favorite local bookstore, and came across a precious resource that I promptly snapped up. It’s a book called “When Someone You Love Has a Mental Illness: A Handbook for Family, Friends, and Caregivers,” revised and expanded, written by Rebecca Woolis, MFT, a licensed family therapist with more than 20 years of experience in working with people who suffer from mental illness, and with their families. She is in private practice in Berkeley, CA.
I felt that it would be helpful to approach the topic of mental illness and stress during the holiday season from the perspective of the family, caregivers, and friends of someone with a mental illness. Although statistics says that 1 in 5 Americans suffers from some form of mental illness, a happier flipside interpretation of this fact also means that the other 80% of you are free of any psychiatric symptoms. If you belong to the “sane” and “normal” 80%, please count your blessings. Someone like me with bipolar disorder and my 20% group mates would have to contend with the same life challenges like you do but we have a disability which may impact our coping skills in many ways.
Here is an excerpt from Woolis’ book, a quick reference guide (one among many within its pages) and this is “How to behave around people who have a mental illness”:
1. Treat them with respect, even if you do not understand some of the things they do or say.
2. Be as supportive, accepting, and positive as you can.
3. Be calm, clear, direct, and brief in your communication with them.
4. Engage them in casual conversation or activities with which you and they are comfortable.
5. Do not touch them or joke with them unless you know them well and know they are comfortable with such interactions.
6. Do not ask a lot of questions about their lives.
7. Do not give advice unless they request it.
8. Do not discuss in any detail religion, politics, or any other topic that is highly emotional for them, as these topics may be intertwined with delusional thinking. Explain that these are personal or individual issues that you prefer not to discuss.
9. If they behave in ways that are unacceptable to you, calmly tell them specifically what they can and cannot do. (pp. 106-107)
Now the holidays, for some mysterious reasons, seem to either excite or depress people with mental illnesses. Folks are hustling and bustling all around, making party and family reunion preparations, thinking up gift ideas, shopping, planning a vacation, sprucing up the home, and doing a million other things during this season. These could be positive sources of stress that bring out the best in a lot of people, inspiring them to give their all into this festive, joyous time. However, for someone with a mental illness, facing these situations could be daunting, overwhelming, or downright confusing. The result could either be feelings and thoughts of amped-up excitement as they look forward to all the celebrations, or paralyzing depression at the thought of having to go through what in their minds will be a joyless holiday for one reason or the other. Sometimes the anticipation, the very thought of all that has yet to happen, could rob a person of the appreciation for the present moment. Conversely, if this holiday reminds them of a significant event in the past, then they can get sad, agitated, stressed out. Notice here that in both cases, there is an under-appreciation of today. Who was it who said that today is a gift and that’s why it’s called the present? My sentiments exactly. With a measure of mindfulness, we can ditch the guilt about the past or anxiety about the future and just focus on how blessed we are today, right at this present moment. You may say, yeah, easier said than done, to which I will counter, hey, it’s worth a try.
Now here’s what Woolis suggests in her quick reference guide on “Handling the Holidays”: You can help your relative reduce stress by:
1. Discussing plans in advance
2. Acknowledging any mixed feelings he or she may have. Do not make assumptions about how he or she will feel or act.
3. Keeping expectations realistic, especially regarding whether your relative can tolerate a gathering, for how long, and what kind of participation he or she is capable of
4. Respecting and supporting your relative’s choices and decisions regarding whether he or she is comfortable participating and in what way
5. Accepting your and relative’s limits
6. Helping your relative figure out how to handle some of the stress (e.g., how the person might answer questions, what task he or she might like to focus on, how long to stay, places to go to take breaks), if he or she is willing and able to discuss the event and his or her feelings. It may be important to acknowledge all family members’ needs, preferences, and limits before a workable solution can be reached. (pp. 166-167)
Now let’s talk about “Minimizing relapses.” According to Woolis, you must see to it that your loved one with a mental illness has a “therapeutic day-to-day lifestyle” which includes regular exercise, recreational activities, a daily routine, eating a balanced diet, and avoiding the use of alcohol and illegal drugs. Make sure that you can identify the early warning signs of relapse, such as: any marked change in behavior patterns (eating, sleeping, social habits); absent, excessive, or inappropriate emotions and energy; odd or unusual beliefs, thoughts, perceptions; difficulty in carrying out usual activities; impairment in communication; and any idiosyncratic (i.e., unique to the person) behavior that preceded past relapses.
When warning signs do appear, do the following: Notify the doctor and request an evaluation, maybe an increase in medication is indicated; maintain involvement in any ongoing psychiatric treatment program; responsibly decrease any known environmental stressors; minimize any changes in routine; maintain the “therapeutic lifestyle” described above, especially keeping the environment as calm, safe, and predictable as possible; and discuss your observations with your relative, talk about steps he or she might take to prevent another relapse, hospitalization, or incarceration. To minimize the impact of a relapse, it pays to be prepared: Have a crisis plan ready for yourself; keep emergency phone numbers and procedures in a convenient place; know your limits and how you will proceed if they are exceeded; and tell your relative calmly and clearly what your limits are, what they need to do next, and what you will do if those limits are exceeded. In some cases, you may have to call the police.
Be prepared. But also be kind to yourself. Neither you nor your loved one with a mental illness had a choice about your respective roles. However, from this point on, you know that facts and awareness are now being thrust upon you. Ms. Rebecca Woolis, MFT, in her book, “When Someone You Love Has a Mental Illness,” talks about various other topics which are so crucial in your shared difficult journey with your loved one. Her book is a valuable resource to me personally because I get to appreciate how hard it must be for my family and friends to cope when I am undergoing either the delirious hyperactivity of mania or the energy-less stupor of depression. Now through this book, they can be equipped with the tools to deal with me while at the same time protecting themselves by being urged to set limits.
This year marks my second relapse-free year and I am thankful to Spirit for guiding my thoughts, feelings, and behavior. I thank my family and friends for their love, loyalty, and support. I am thankful for my caring, competent, and compassionate psychiatrist, Dr. Gilda Versales, my doctor since early 2009. To all of you, blessings and light! Maraming salamat po sa inyong lahat!
Find advisor Blesilda44 at KEEN.com, 1-800-ASK-KEEN (1-800-275-5336), extension 05226567 either by phone or chat: Mon-Fri 7-10 pm, Sat-Sun 7-11 pm Pacific. I speak English, Tagalog, and some Spanish. For personal readings (fee required), email me here: firstname.lastname@example.org
A column by Bles Carmona
For the week of Nov. 5-11, 2014
LIVING IN HARMONY WITH THE EVER-CHANGING MOON
Practicum time!!! For those among my readers who may have more than a passing interest in astrology, we have now a fitting time interval in which to observe the effects of the Moon on our consciousness.
We will now pose our astrological question as: Given that the Moon entered the sign of Aries on November 3, 2014 at 10:53 AM PST, and given that the Moon moves sign-per-sign through the zodiac from Aries through Pisces approximately every 2 ½ days, journalize your impressions on how the Moon in each sign affected you, either positively or negatively. When were you inspired to action? When were you inhibited into inactivity? It may be helpful, in your journal, to distinguish your personal observations among the biological, psychological, social, and spiritual aspects of your life.
We have the whole month of November to make our observations and write in our personal astrological journal. The purpose of this activity is to consciously align our energies with the movements of the Moon so that when it makes its rounds among the zodiac signs again, we will have a better idea about which periods energize or enervate us, which types of activities are appropriate for you personally when the Moon is in a particular sign, when to push forward or when to pull back.
For instance, based on my personal experience, no matter what sign the Moon is in during a Full Moon and even if I’m not aware that there’s a full moon on a certain night, I always find it difficult to fall asleep, as in: I’m tossing and turning, asking myself why I can’t sleep, and then I take a look outside past the blinds on my window… duh! When I see the full moon up there, I wonder no more. Another observation I have is that when the Moon is in Pisces, I easily get tired and emotional. In my birth chart, I have my Moon in 18 degrees Pisces so you could imagine the effects gradually reaching a crescendo as the transiting Moon touches upon the exact degree of my natal Moon. I find myself most energized when the Moon is in Taurus, and the explanation I could give you is that my natal Venus, Saturn, and Mars are in – yes, 1, 8, and 19 degrees Taurus, respectively. Apparently, the effect on me as the transiting Moon touches these planets one after another in that order in my chart is to galvanize me into positive feelings and productive activities. But you know what? It’s all a cycle so after the buildup and crescendo, the influence gradually wanes, and then the cycle begins again.
The purpose of this journal of observations is for us to discover correspondences between the journey of our lives and the journey of the Moon, taking note of our personal best or worst times, activity or rest times, alone or socialization times – the list is practically endless as you identify which life activities you prioritize during which times. There are other planetary influences, of course, but we will start with the Moon’s symbolic effects since it’s the fastest-moving luminary and your reaction to the Moon’s move from one sign to another may be easily observed and recorded. Mark your calendars with the following changes. For the month of November 2014, here’s the sequence of the Moon’s movements across the signs (times are Pacific Standard Time):
Moon moves into Aries-Nov. 3 (Mon)-10:53 am
Into Taurus-Nov. 5 (Wed) – 1:33 pm (Note: Full Moon Nov. 6)
Into Gemini-Nov. 7 (Fri) – 5:45 pm
Into Cancer-Nov. 10 (Mon) – 0:38 am
Into Leo-Nov. 12 (Wed) – 10:44 am
Into Virgo-Nov. 14 (Fri) – 11:08 pm
Into Libra-Nov. 17 (Mon) – 11:30 am
Into Scorpio-Nov. (Wed) – 9:31 pm
Into Sagittarius-Nov. 22 (Sat) – 4:19 am (also the day of the New Moon in Sagittarius)
Into Capricorn-Nov. 24 (Mon) – 8:31 am
Into Aquarius-Nov. 26 (Wed) – 11:23 am
Into Pisces-Nov. 28 (Fri) – 2:03 pm
Here are some brief descriptions of the Moon through the Signs, excerpted from “Jim Maynard’s Celestial Guide 2014 – an astrological week-at-a-glance engagement calendar” (a handy scheduler with good-to-know articles, ephemeris, and other supplementary information):
MOON THROUGH THE SIGNS (Reference: “Jim Maynard’s Celestial Guide 2014)
Moon in Aries – key phrase: “I am,” enthusiasm, ambition, energetic activity; good time for beginning projects and for instigating change; watch out for temper flare-ups and selfishness; be mindful of the rights of others; Aries rules the head; people may be more susceptible to head injuries.
Moon in Taurus – key phrase: “I have,” people tend to be very cautious and unchanging; tendency to be bull-headed, stubborn; a feeling that it is necessary to protect the status quo or what one already has; need for financial and material security is strong; take time to continue or conclude projects already started; Taurus is ruled by Venus so this would be a good time to enjoy and appreciate the earthly beauty that surrounds us; Taurus rules the throat.
Moon in Gemini – people may never make up their minds; may see both sides of everything; feel more adaptable, changeable, talkative; a time for communication; a good time to write, take care of tasks that resemble mathematical puzzles, make speeches, just let your ideas fly through the clouds; emphasis on mind games and intellectual pursuits rather than practical concerns; people begin to feel restless; an inclination to rationalize emotions; Gemini rules the lungs, arms, hands, and nervous system.
Moon in Cancer – Cancer is ruled by the Moon, so lunar influences are strongest and most easily expressed when focused through this sign. The Moon greatly influences the personality, the subconscious, the emotions, and molds instinctual behavior. Intense emotions, great sensitivity; take care not to wound or be wounded emotionally; people will be passive, easy-going, sentimental, loving, nurturing; it’s easy to overeat, good time for creating life and for growth; Cancer rules the breasts and stomach.
Moon in Leo – People need romance, affection, recognition; the desire to be admired and appreciated can be so strong that it may result in especially dramatic behavior; Leo ruled by the Sun: a time of ambition, independence, leadership; people may refuse to recognize limitations; a time for enjoyment and warmth; a time to show kindness and generosity to others; Leo rules the heart and the upper spine.
Moon in Virgo – A good time for intellectual pursuits requiring critical detail rather than innovative creativity; a good time for taking care of any matter requiring painstaking attention; people may become shy, retiring, discriminating, fastidious, and even overly critical at times; concerns about food and health; feel the urge to clean up their homes, which is a good way to channel Virgo energy; Virgo rules the intestines and the powers of assimilation.
Moon in Libra – People have a strong sensitivity to and attraction for others; search for harmony and balance; teamwork; a good time to form partnerships of all kinds – friendships, marriage, business; a friendly, tolerant nature and a desire to beautify; a lovely time for a social gathering; Libra rules the kidneys and the lower back.
Moon in Scorpio – People often become aggressive, critical, impatient, and moody; there is a marked increase of intensity, as heightened sensitivity to personal offenses and insults; suspicious, secretive nature; avoid social complications; beware of jealousy; remember to forgive and forget; be cautious interacting with the opposite sex; this could be a good time for an intense merging with another on a deep emotional level; Scorpio rules the generative system, reproductive system and the lower spine (sacrum); The Moon in Scorpio is a very bad time for surgical operations of any kind.
Moon in Sagittarius – Idealistic feeling, a sense of discontinuity, restlessness, desire for sports and adventures, a love for of change and motion, and the itch to travel; people will be warm and friendly, likely feel spontaneous, intuitive (even prophetic at times), easily animated; tendency toward superficial enthusiasm; strong need for independence and unable to endure restrictions; good time for learning, publishing, lecturing, and other intellectual activities; Sagittarius rules the thighs and the hips.
Moon in Capricorn – A time of material ambition and an awareness of work and duty; in the search for status and financial security, people might become insensitive, even unsympathetically cruel, but from selfish necessity rather than animosity; pessimism or negativity to creep in; generally while the Moon is in Capricorn, energy is sluggish; a time for diligently applying yourself to tasks while living solely in the present; Capricorn rules the knees, teeth, bones, and skin.
Moon in Aquarius – Public affairs become more important as there is an interest in the welfare of others in a social sense; people tend to be very friendly but in an impersonal manner; desire for freedom and a love for the innovative and unconventional; freedom in expressing thoughts and personal uniqueness; demanding the freedom to come and go without restrictions; Aquarius rules the ankles, the circulation, the electrical forces in the body and nervous system.
Moon in Pisces – Inclination toward psychic impressions; imagination is strong; heightened sensitivity to music and other intangible forces; tendencies are to be emotional, spiritual, self-sacrificing; can create feelings of vulnerability, drifting into withdrawal as an emotional protection; people may feel passive, sentimental, gentle, kind, cheerful, but too easily discouraged; may experience stirrings of memories or insights into the spiritual meaning of current situations during this time; Pisces rules the feet.
At the end of November, perhaps we can compare notes about what we thought of, felt, and experienced as the Moon stayed for 2 1/2 days in a sign before moving on to the next. I really encourage you to keep a journal and write your daily impressions. Please note that just because it says here, for example, energy is sluggish in general while the Moon is in Capricorn, that you have to agree without testing it out yourself. You may actually be more energetic when the Moon is in Capricorn. So note down your personal experiences in your journal and later, we will find an explanation. For now, the most important thing is to be aware of the Moon’s movement through the signs this month and writing in your journal. email@example.com
A column by Bles Carmona
For the week of Aug. 27-Sept. 2, 2014
USING THE TAROT FOR PROBLEM-SOLVING
In our English 1A class this summer, our professor asked the whole class what our respective passions are. I told my group mates Luis and Markus that mine are astrology, tarot, and metaphysics in general. I told them how I love the feeling of being able to inhabit that sacred circle with my client to counsel or simply to listen. I told them that it is my honor and privilege to be of help that way. All of that is true. Add to that my desire that my client leave the consulting session with renewed hope and a sense of wonder about the events in their life after seeing them in a different, more positive light, and I have the perfect formula for my personal passion, indeed.
However, as we know, there are segments of our society that are against the use of divination methods such as astrology and tarot for the following reasons: 1. Only God knows the future. 2. The Bible warns against soothsayers, especially in the last days (see the Book of Revelation). 3. Fortune-telling is like listening to angels and then predicting the future from angelic messages and this is haram (forbidden), as can be read from The Quran chapter 53-The Star (especially 53/38). (Technical note: That’s how we write chapter and verse from The Quran, so the previous numbers mean “chapter 53, verse 38.”) 4. Other people turn it into a fate-versus-free will issue and believe that they alone are the masters of their own fate. 5. Astrology can go hang, and the tarot, too, in their estimation. They simply do not believe in these things.
Well, you could say that I’m a tarot apologist, having used these cards to my clients’ satisfaction since 2004. My personal tarot story actually began during Christmas 2003, when I was still in the Philippines. With the usual Balikbayan Box from my parents and youngest sister living in Hayward, California came gifts and goodies of all sorts, of course, but included with all those great stuff is this large-ish red box addressed to no one. I was immediately drawn to it because the transparent hard plastic cover reveals what’s inside: “The Tarot – The Traditional Tarot Reinterpreted for the Modern World” by Adam Fronteras. I immediately thought that this, among others, is surely a gift to me of my youngest sister Edna, my benefactress and moral supporter from afar.
I appropriated the book-and-deck set for myself and started teaching myself the meanings of all the 78 cards. I found that writing down the meanings straight from the book and into my journal aided me a lot in retaining what I was trying to memorize. I read the cards for myself. I read for my relatives and friends. When enough people had been telling me months after their reading that “what I said” actually came true for them (more on this later), that’s when I decided that I could do this: read tarot for others, and that’s exactly what I did.
These days I prefer giving tarot readings rather than astrological readings, which requires more “prep time.” A tarot reading to me is more in-the-moment, more spontaneous, but no less helpful than an astrological reading, in which I have to ask the client for date/time/place of birth. Usually people don’t know what time they were born, so only an “approximate chart” could be done in the meantime. With a tarot reading, on the other hand, birth data is optional so my client and I can concentrate on: problem-solving.
Here are some facts that I know to be true about the tarot:
1. If you’ve been browsing through tarot books like “Seventy Eight Degrees of Wisdom” by Rachel Pollack, “Pictorial Key to the Tarot” by Arthur Edward Waite, or “Tarot for Yourself: A Workbook for Personal Transformation” by Mary K. Greer (all in my personal library), you will find out that these books designate the element of Air to the Suit of Swords and Fire to the Suit of Wands. Contrary to that, Adam Fronteras assigns Fire to the Suit of Swords because one needs fire to fashion this weapon, and he assigns Air to the Suit of Wands because its original material, wood, needs air to grow and thrive. Although Fronteras’ view is not the conventional one, I have followed his system from the very start and as I did more and more readings, his system made more and more sense. So the suits’ designations in my reading style are: Swords-Fire, Pentacles-Earth, Wands-Air, and Cups-Water.
2. Please do not be afraid of the Death card (XIII; the Scorpio card) or the Devil card (XV; the Capricorn card). The Death card is “NOT about physical death but more about transformation, the death of the old self and the birth of a new person (Fronteras).” When this card appears in the reading, one needs to regenerate and set new goals for herself. It is advisable to “welcome the changes – refuse them and they will be forced upon you.” On the other hand, the Devil card warns about getting too materialistic and being excessively under the influence of others. Like the Death card, this one is also about change, “the person can and should make changes in his/her life.” The Devil card may also indicate “excessive concern with sexual conquest” and as a card of temptation, it serves as a warning to the “seeker” or “querent” (what we formally call our clients).
3. The lowdown on “what I said came true”: If any of the seekers whom I have served are reading this, I hope you remember what I told you about this in my introductory spiel before or during the reading. The reading is totally about you! You’re the one who shuffled the tarot cards while thinking of a wish (remember?) so right from the outset, from that point on until the end of the reading at least, the tarot cards are yours. You’ve imbued them with your energy and if you were truly totally open, you were accessing your subconscious/spirit/whatever you want to call it so that you can contribute your share to the consultation. The ten cards you chose for the first part of the reading (there are 5 to 6 parts of the readings I give) are the choices of your Higher Self, which according to some is just another name for an Angel. In effect, your Higher Self=Angel was sending you messages through the cards that you pick from a face-down deck that you had just shuffled. That should be enough to baffle and mystify you. So therefore it’s NOT I who “said something that came true”: it was YOU, yes it’s you who made it happen! You manifested in physical reality what was already said and done first in the higher realms, the realm of God. “Thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven,” right? One prays, one consults oracles trying to confirm a fervent hope, one prays some more, and if it’s God’s will, then it shall come to pass. As above, so below.
I have been told that because I have a mole on the right side of my upper lip directly under my right nostril, I am a “powerful psychic woman.” I tried to make sense of this remark because I don’t feel psychic at all vis-à-vis my clients saying, “Hey Bles, what you told me actually happened. How did you know what’s down the road?” How? Like I told you, I merely translate/interpret the cards that the seeker has chosen. He/she is also entitled to three questions answerable by Yes or No. We also read from the Spiritual Rx, Fairy Oracle, Angel Oracle, and Saint Raphael Healing Cards. For “audience participation,” I usually have the client write down his/her own affirmations and card meanings based on what was picked from each deck. After doing all of that, it is my hope that the client will come away feeling that some of her prayers have already been answered through the reading, or that she has been asking for a sign and a particular card turns up for her, or it may be one of those yes-no questions that finally settles some matter in her mind – it could be anything. The entire process gives me personal joy and fulfillment, knowing that I am helping my client, just being present with her, lending a listening ear or a giving a word of advice, when asked. Like I mentioned earlier, the sacred space enveloping the both of us, counselor and counselee, is what energizes the two of us into an insightful exploration of her dilemma. Tarot at its finest is not just about fortune-telling, and I do not have anything against fortune-telling. But I do feel that for those of us charged with using the tarot to actually help clients solve their problems through symbols and metaphors, then we have a serious responsibility indeed.
As Spiderman’s Uncle Ben had said, God bless his soul: “With great power comes great responsibility.” Please smile. Let me try an Oscar Wilde-ish quote of my own: “Think only with half of your mind and leave the other half for thinking about nothing at all.” —original quote by yours truly. Now please smile again. Abyssinia next week!
For comments, feedback and other stuff, email me at firstname.lastname@example.org
A column by Bles Carmona
For the week of June 4-10, 2014
HOW TO INTERVENE IN A CRISIS SITUATION
Crisis intervention is a needed skill in this topsy-turvy world of ours when almost anything can happen in the blink of an eye: natural or man-made disasters, accidents, health crises, medical emergencies, or even some child’s pet being run over by a vehicle. It is thus very important to be prepared with at least the very basic skills needed to intervene in a crisis.
Assessing is a pervasive strategy by the crisis worker – that’s you – throughout crisis intervention. This assessment is action-oriented and situation-based, fluid and non-mechanistic, able to adjust to even the slightest change in circumstances. The first three steps you will read are more of LISTENING activities than they are actions. The final three steps are largely ACTION behaviors on your part as the crisis worker, although you are continuing to listen and assess the whole time.
As to difficulty: These steps could be moderately challenging. You may need special training to be able to respond effectively to crises. However, in a pinch, these steps can serve as the broad outlines of what you need to do in a crisis situation.
1. Step One: Define the problem. Understand the problem from the client’s point of view. You are addressing how the client is reacting to the crisis event, not the event itself. Try to perceive the crisis situation as the client sees it, so that your intervention may not miss its mark. Practice the core listening skills of empathy, genuineness, and acceptance or positive regard. For example, a client just broke up with her boyfriend of 3 months. It may not seem like much of a crisis to you, but it may be a huge crisis to her and that is why she’s in the emergency room with imperfectly slashed wrists talking to you in a hushed monotone.
2. Step Two: Ensure the client’s safety. This means minimizing further physical and psychological danger to the client and others. Although we put this down as Step Two, we apply this step in a fluid way, meaning that client safety is actually a primary concern throughout crisis intervention. I encourage you to make client safety a natural part of your thoughts or behavior as a crisis responder.
3. Step Three: Provide support. Communicate to the client that you care about her. You cannot assume that a client experiences feeling valued, prized, or cared for. This is your opportunity to show the client that someone actually cares about her, and that someone is you in an unconditional, positive way, regardless of whether the client can reciprocate or not.
4. Step Four: Examine alternatives. Given the present crisis, explore people, situations, and coping mechanisms, positive and constructive thinking patterns that may just provide a way out of the current dilemma. Think with the client about what would get her out of her present state of numb immobility or hysterical panic.
5. Step Five: Make plans. This flows directly from Step Four. The plan should identify additional persons, groups, and other referral sources that can be contacted for immediate support, and provide coping mechanisms. By these I mean that the client should be given something concrete and positive for the client to do now, definite action steps that the client can own and understand. Help the client problem-solve and cope.
6. Step Six: Obtain a firm commitment from the client. This means that you ask the client to verbally summarize the plan. Remember the SMART goal? A goal has a better chance of being achieved if it is SMART: S- specific, M- measurable, A- attainable, R- relevant, and T- time-bound. So it is with goal-setting with your client. Make sure that they get out of that ER/clinic/specific setting in a pre-crisis mode before terminating the contact with the client.
Later, follow up on the client’s progress and make the necessary and appropriate reports. Remember the overarching strategy of assessment and the twin components of listening and acting which are incorporated in the six steps of crisis intervention – and you’re all set! Remember that in crisis intervention, it’s not enough that you have good intentions: you have to have certain skills as well. This six-step model is a good way to get you started. Good luck!
Find advisor Blesilda44 at KEEN.com, 1-800-ASK-KEEN (1-800-275-5336), extension 05226567 either by phone or chat: Mon-Fri 7-10 pm, Sat-Sun 7-11 pm Pacific. I speak English, Tagalog, and some Spanish. For personal readings, email me here: email@example.com