I Ching #30 – Brilliance


This is an actual photo I took at sunset. No editing. Just RED. A big ole fireball in the sky.







This post is #30 of 64 hexagrams in a series of posts about the I Ching, an ancient Taoist text that has many ties to the Tao Te Ching. For those of you new to this series, you may want to start by reading my post called “What is a Hexagram?” that helps to explain more about the general idea of the I Ching. If you are just starting this series, you may want to take a look at some of my other posts on the I Ching.

If you’ve been following my blog lately, you may know that a few weeks ago I told the story of my yarrow sticks and offered up some I Ching readings. I ended up getting more than I bargained for, but doing these readings has been super fun! I am still trying to catch up from that, but if anyone else wants one, let me know. It may just take me a while to get to you, so if you are cool with that I can let you know when I’m a bit more freed up.

This hexagram is Fire over Fire. That’s a lot of fire! Fire represents passion – it represents the mind and ideas coming up. Fire is warmth and light. It’s our spiritual essence.

In several of the translations, the commentary for this hexagram mentions taking care of the cow. Now, you have to realize that this book was written thousands of years ago in Ancient China! So what is “taking care of the cow” in today’s speak?

In Ni’s version, he talks about the Fire representing the mind and Water representing the body. He goes on to discuss how, in the later version of the trigram arrangements, the “Post-Heaven Phase”, Fire and Water were considered the forces that every other energy was based from – replacing Heaven and Earth as the main bases! This is how important Fire and Water are to us! We are made of water but it is our passion (fire) that fuels us.

So this hexagram is double fire, AKA Brilliance. If Fire is the mind, this hexagram represents the brilliance that we are capable of achieving with the right circumstances. We have great spiritual potential. But we must take care of the cow also. Chop wood and carry water. Take it slow and don’t burn yourself out.

Fire is strong and powerful but it can also be destructive. If a fire is too strong, it will burn itself out. Better to simmer things and let them last. Better to share the light with others and let them carry it on. Better to focus your light within and regenerate your being. Our brilliance is internal – not just external. What light is there within you that you can let shine out for others to see? What light can you uncover in others?

With the power of fire comes responsibility. How best can we tame our fire so that it can serve us as long as we would like?


Tell us what you think. What do you think of when you think of FIRE? How about double fire?

The Story of My Yarrow Sticks {The August Break}



A friend of mine is doing a challenge called The August Break, which is a challenge to take a photo every day for the month of August. I am already starting late, and I am not fully committed to doing one every day but I love playing along anyways. It’s fun to see what people come up with.

My first entry is the photo you see at the top of this post. I chose this one to start with because its got a great story behind it. The stack of books are my favorite I Ching books. I have been writing about the I Ching on this blog for a while now. A few weeks ago, I was talking with a friend of mine and she and I decided to exchange a dream interpretation for an I Ching reading. Although I had been studying the I Ching for some time, I hadn’t been doing many actual readings recently, so it was fun to do one. I mean really fun. The kind of fun that you have when you know that you are doing your true passion. It just flowed! It reminded me that I want to do them much more frequently.

I have a special set of Chinese coins that I use for the readings (see below). You toss the coins and they help you to determine what the different lines of the I Ching represent. This is the simple way of doing the readings.



The more traditional way of doing an I Ching reading is with yarrow sticks. This method is somewhat finicky and time-consuming but it is how they were done for thousands of years. The time it takes to achieve your results seems appropriate somehow. It forces you to consider if the weight of the question is worth the effort of the sticks before you consult the I Ching about it.

So, I was telling my husband how much I loved doing the reading and how it just felt so RIGHT. Then he comes out with this beautiful wooden box. Yes, the one in the photo. Perfectly nestled inside it are 50 yarrow sticks. These are not just any yarrow sticks. These sticks were hand-picked, cut to the size of this special box and dried in the basement of my husband’s childhood home when he was about 18 years old. Apparently, at the time he was curious about the I Ching so he just made them. He never used them. They were meant for ME. It was the sweetest present he’s ever given me and that is saying a lot because he is a really good gift giver. So now I have my sticks to do I Ching readings. If anyone wants one, let me know! I will be very happy to do one for you.

Book Study Delayed


Hi there!

I just wanted to post a quick note out there in case any of you were thinking of doing my book study group for The Untethered Soul this month. I have decided to postpone this book study for a while. This has been a super busy summer and I haven’t been on the blog as much, so it really isn’t the time to do this book study. I will let you know when I decide to do it – probably late fall or winter.

Have a great summer, everyone!

I Ching #29 – Abyss


This is the Chinese word for Water (K’an). I drew this with my Buddha board, then modified it in Photoshop. K’an also means danger.



This post is #29 of 64 hexagrams in a series of posts about the I Ching, an ancient Taoist text that has many ties to the Tao Te Ching. For those of you new to this series, you may want to start by reading my post called “What is a Hexagram?” that helps to explain more about the general idea of the I Ching. If you are just starting this series, you may want to take a look at some of my other posts on the I Ching.

I’m not sure if I told you this, but I am memorizing the 64 hexagrams – at least the names of all of them – so that if I see a hexagram, I know what it is called. This one is a special one because it is one of 8 hexagrams that is doubled – water over water. I like to think of the Grand Canyon when I think of this hexagram, which aptly explains both the power of water and the potential for danger. You wouldn’t want to get caught in the bottom of the Grand Canyon during a flash flood!

I love the beautiful subtlety of the I Ching. This image of water, being one of the eight trigram images as well, is significant because it reminds us to stay true to the highest virtues. Water flows gently over everything in its path – it takes the low road and yet it is extremely powerful for this reason. Water stays true to itself because it holds no pretenses.

I especially loved what Deng Ming-Dao had to say about the potential of this hexagram:

It is indulgent when people claim that they cannot find the meaning of life. They can. They just do not want to risk danger to find it. And so they sit at the edge, never going into the darkness to seek the answers that will slake their thirst. 

The “Abyss”, as this hexagram is also known, is about seeking that depth of our souls. Are we afraid to go deep or can we be like water and be fearless enough to reach our lowest places?

I Ching #28 – Great Excess



28: Great Excess (Ta Kuo)



This post is #28 of 64 hexagrams in a series of posts about the I Ching, an ancient Taoist text that has many ties to the Tao Te Ching. For those of you new to this series, you may want to start by reading my post called “What is a Hexagram?” that helps to explain more about the general idea of the I Ching. If you are just starting this series, you may want to take a look at some of my other posts on the I Ching.

As I think of this hexagram, I think about my front yard – a gardener’s nightmare. It is completely overgrown from several summers of neglect! I took the photo above  in a cave in Puerto Rico.  It is a perfect example of my front yard and of this hexagram.

This hexagram is about being unbalanced. The other day I was having breakfast with a friend of mine and she was talking about housecleaning. She said if you handle things as you notice them, they don’t become a big problem. But if you ignore things, they quickly grow out of hand (like the weeds in my garden?)  You get overwhelmed and then you have trouble keeping up with it all. Isn’t that so true? If we are trying to keep our kitchen clean, the mess can quickly get out of hand if we forget about our commitment to our goal.

In Hua Ching Ni’s interpretation of this hexagram, he explains that it is important to stay on your spiritual path.  If we allow ourselves to get distracted by many of the myriad things life offers us, we will not achieve our spiritual goals. When I read this chapter a few days ago, I struggled to understand how this advice applied to my life. In my study of the I Ching, I have noticed that it frequently takes me several days to grasp a concept being shown to me. So I let it go and then came back to it to see what had come to the surface.


While my front yard is certainly not a spiritual path, per se, it represents the essence of great excess in my life. With Taoism, much of the practice is around seeing these sorts of patterns in your daily life. In Ni’s interpretation, he reminds us to stay flexible, soft, calm and patient. I need to practice this with myself when I get overwhelmed. I tend to be hard on myself sometimes because I feel like the spiritual path is supposed to be all the “important stuff” and keeping my sink clean or weeding the garden don’t seem to count. But this hexagram reminds me that they do.

I enjoyed Deng Ming-Dao’s interpretation of this chapter. He went further to explain that great excesses are our teachers if we chose to learn from them:

Great excess. Only the truly great can cope with it – and no one becomes great without being tested by great excess.”  ~Deng Ming-Dao, Hexagram 28, The Living I Ching

This reminds me of something that I learned reading Moonwalking with Einstein, a book I read recently about developing your memory. The author, Joshua Foer, was trying to become the U.S. Memory Champion from only a year of study and had come to a plateau in his training. No matter what he did, his ability to memorize cards did not improve. So he asked his coach and his coach recommended that he start tracking his own scores and to write down what he learned from his practices. It seems that, tracking your progress is a way of moving beyond these plateaus. Can we track our progress with our spiritual goals as well? I am curious to explore this idea further.

Deng Ming-Dao explains that the word Kuo in Chinese (part of the name of this hexagram) has an alternate meaning of “a crossing”. He likened it also to a snake shedding its skin. We become better human beings when we can surpass our own barriers. The “great excess” that we experience is sometimes represented by our outgrowing old patterns of behavior that no longer fit us.

The “great excess” highlighted in this chapter can also mean death. Like the Death card in Tarot, there are many ways to interpret death. Sometimes it is an actual death, but more often it is the death of an older, outdated part of yourself. Like another friend explained to me, death can also be about revisiting parts of your inner child that are not yet resolved.

As I connect this information about the extreme changes of death to Ni’s chapter on remembering your spiritual path, it occurred to me that his reminder to stay on your path is most important during times of extreme changes in your life, such as a death of someone close to you. While we cannot control the external circumstances of our lives, we can control our own behavior and choose what is best for our spirit in any given moment. Extreme changes are very difficult to navigate, but it is these changes that will challenge us to put our spiritual practices into action. But, unless we have been practicing improving ourselves on a daily basis, we will not have the strength to withstand these tumultuous times. We will crumble. Crumbling isn’t necessarily bad. Things often crumble to make way for a new beginning. And, like Deng Ming-Dao said, “no one becomes great without being tested by great excess”.

A Quiet June


I have decided to do a media fast during the month of June. Basically, this means that I will not be on Facebook, browsing the Internet, watching Internet television or blogging. I am allowing myself communications such as Facebook Messenger (app) and texting and cell phone usage, because the goal is to experiment with my dependence on the Internet rather than to cut off communications with my friends and family.

I will not be responding to comments during the month. Just know that I appreciate your visit and I apologize for that. When I return in July, I will respond to any that need an answer.

For those of you in my Conscious Living Book Club, I have decided to make it a quarterly thing – which means that we will be studying The Untethered Soul in August instead of June as originally discussed. I will also be moving the group to Facebook (rather than GoodReads) so stay tuned for future communications on that when I am back to blogging in July.

I will be back to both of my blogs in July. Have a wonderful month, everyone!



I Ching #27: Nourishment




This post is #27 of 64 hexagrams in a series of posts about the I Ching, an ancient Taoist text that has many ties to the Tao Te Ching. For those of you new to this series, you may want to start by reading my post called “What is a Hexagram?” that helps to explain more about the general idea of the I Ching. If you are just starting this series, you may want to take a look at some of my other posts on the I Ching.

This hexagram challenges us to look at what we nourish ourselves with. As with all things I Ching, this question is asked on many different levels. You could answer this literally, by looking at the foods that you are choosing for your sustenance. Are you choosing healthy foods? Unhealthy foods? Do the foods you choose match up with what you say is important to you?

You could look at this on another level and ask yourself, “What do I nourish myself with by how I spend my time?” Again, is there congruence between what you say is important and what you are spending your time on?

These are simple questions. The answers are simple, too. The key is not to beat yourself up about what is not congruent, but to notice these differences and make changes in your life to reflect that.


What about you? When I read this, I could think of all kinds of way that I am being incongruent. I am working on it, but I still have a ways to go. What came to mind for you as you read this post?

The Conscious Parent {Book Study}: Week 4



We are in the fourth and last week of our Conscious Parent book study. This week, we are talking about discipline. Dr. Tsabary purposely left this topic for the end of the book because she wanted parents to focus primarily on becoming conscious before worrying about the behavior of their children.

One thing that stood out to me in this section of the book was about making mistakes. I have talked a lot about making mistakes on my blog. The Tao Te Ching has a lot to say about mistakes. Why should our children’s mistakes be treated any differently than our own? When I first read this chapter a month or so ago, I was a bit taken aback when I read about treating our children’s mistakes as we would want someone to treat ours. While it makes perfect sense, it is not at all what I have been doing. As a parent, I always felt like I was supposed to help create learning moments for my daughter. When she made a mistake, it was my job to point it out and recommend other ways of doing whatever it was that she was doing wrong. After reading the chapters on discipline, I struggled when I envisioned how I would feel if I made mistakes and my friends or family treated me like I treated my daughter when she made a mistake. It was difficult to accept, but she was right. I could see it.

I am not perfect, but my goal is to practice treating my daughter’s mistakes as I would want mine to be treated. It may not be perfect, but it’s a start.


What’s Next?

For those of you who are participating in our Conscious Living Book Study, I want to let you know that I have decided to wait until August to study our next book – The Untethered Soul. I have decided that one month per quarter is a good pace for studying books together. I have also decided that Facebook is a better medium for building community and participation so I will be creating a new group there for studying books together. I will let you know when it is ready to go – but it will probably be some time in July.

The Friday 56: #228 – May 22, 2015


This photo was part of a blog meme I did with Naomi Wittlin at www.poeticaperture.com.

My friend Deborah Weber has a way of introducing me to things that lead me to things, that lead me to other things. In my latest Alice-in-Wonderland romp through the Internet Looking Glass, I found this meme called The Friday 56. It’s apparently been going for some time as it is at #228 and it’s a weekly meme.

Anyways, you can learn more about it here but essentially the instructions are to pick up a book, any book, turn to page 56 and post a quote from somewhere on that page. I cheated a bit and went through a couple of books before I found a good one for you:

Nevertheless, his suspicion that plant tissues could pick up human thought and emotion slowly became more concrete in the light of Backster’s achievements. Lawrence was reminded that years previously Sir James Jeans, the British astronomer had written that ‘the stream of human knowledge is impartially leading toward a non-mechanical reality: the Universe begins to look more like a great thought than a great machine. Mind no longer appears as an accidental intruder into the realm of matter. We are beginning to suspect that we ought rather to hail it as the creator and governor of this realm.’ (Page 56, The Secret Life of Plants, 1989.)

Eckhart Tolle has said, “The future is a thought form. No one has ever encountered it, except as a thought.” (Along similar lines.)

So, really, most of what we spend our mental energy with – past and future – are just thoughts. We create our entire reality around what is either behind us or in front of us and most of us spend very little time in what is here in this moment.

Part of the beauty of plants is that they live forever in the present moment. A flower does not worry about its life being so short. It just is. How would our lives be different if we did that? What does it mean to live in the present moment? Plant tissues pick up human thoughts and emotion simply because those are the energetic stamps at that moment in time. Each moment, we display an emotional field. What is that field like? Some might say, “he carries around a dark cloud”. This is what the plants are sensing. This is what everyone is sensing. The energy is palatable. Even though the thought forms that this person is thinking about are in the past or the future, what is in the right now moment is this dark energy, this “cloud”.

This cloud comes along with the thought forms, but is not reality. Reality is that everything is just fine right in this moment. Even in the very worst of situations, if you chop it up into tiny bite-sized bits of reality, you are fine. You are going bankrupt? Fine. What is happening right now, at this very second? Nothing. The not-fine part is from thoughts of the future but has nothing to do with the right now.

Our job is to bring it back to this moment. We will undoubtedly stray. We may get very caught up in many emotional or psychological games with ourselves, but we are free at any moment to just BE. The more you practice this, the better you will get at it. The more you practice it, the more it will become just the way you live your life. That is Tao.

I hope you will join us for this Friday 56 next time or perhaps you would also like to join me for our weekly #whatareyouworkingon series where we share what we’ve been working on… either way, it’s fun to connect with other bloggers! Thanks for stopping by!

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