What if?

Giant marshmallows. What if they were bears?

What if bears were made of marshmallow?

Would they melt in the summer heat?

What if policemen had to sing every interaction?

Would they give more tickets, or would stage fright keep them at bay? Would the number of arrests go down?

What if America adopted a four-day work week?

Would productivity go up? Would job satisfaction? Would hiring?

A policeman croons into a microphone.

What if I had a clear channel to my story world and all its characters?

How much time would I spend there each day? Would I disappear into it, forgetting to eat, go to the bathroom or shower? Would they follow me back through, pestering me to help them through their problems, weeping and whining about the obstacles in their path? Would I ever be able to write “the end” and leave them there? Perhaps I’d need to be rescued—have someone from this side stage an intervention or a shamanic soul retrieval. Close the portal. Let me edit and publish and move on. I don’t know, but I’d like to find out. I’d like to be enmeshed in a story, writing furiously and thinking about the characters when I’m not.

Sky-high beehive hairdo.

What if gravity let up, just a tenth of a tenth of a unit of however they measure gravity?

Would it revolutionize shoe design? What about transportation? Would cars lose their grip on the road? Would we create higher doorways and steeper stairways? What would happen to hair stylists’ jobs? Or plastic surgeons’? Would the demand for boob jobs decline?

What if more people got on board with the practice of telepathy?

Would we be less celebrity obsessed and perhaps living with fewer bad habits? I imagine we’d all start living in integrity, just because it’s less work than trying to lie to the self and everyone else.

But now I’m back to marshmallow bears. Would coyotes eat them? Would they develop diabetes?


Photo credits:
Marshmallow, Kate Ter Haar
Singing police, Elvert Barnes
Sky-high beehive, Francine

Does silence make you uncomfortable?

Does silence make you uncomfortable? Sally shares her journey.I’ve been thinking about silence. Why there’s so little of it, and why so many choose to avoid what little there is. And most importantly, my own evolving relationship with it.

There are lots of studies about the harmful effects of noise. It raises our blood pressure, weakens our immune system, makes it hard for us to learn, undermines our emotional stability, and so on.

You’d think we would seek out silence. You’d think we’d crave it. Value it above gold. And while it’s generally true that wealthy people can choose to avoid living near noisy roads or train lines, few truly embrace quiet.

What are we afraid of?

Last year, when I told friends I’d registered for a 10-day silent meditation retreat, some flat out said, “I could never do that!” Others were okay with the idea of not speaking, then became sweaty and uncomfortable when they learned “silence” also meant abstaining from reading, writing, or going online.

This near-panic at the prospect of stillness raises the question, what are we afraid of?

Before the end of the third day of last year’s retreat, more than 10% of the attendees had quit and left. The day before the rest of us would leave, silence was lifted and conversations began. Some attendees related extreme experiences. One woman had cried herself to sleep every night. Another had had spontaneous past life regressions. But the most common experiences seemed to be anxiety and difficulty in quieting the mind.

Aside from some super-realistic, otherwise un-extraordinary dreams, my experience had no such drama. My body hurt like hell a couple of days from sitting in meditation. A couple of days I felt so bored I thought I’d shout “Are we done yet?” in the middle of a group sit.

Silence makes us confront our fear that we're unlikeable.Weirdly, the thing I found most difficult was avoiding eye contact with those sharing the retreat experience. Of course, that was part of the point of silence. In silence, we cannot compare our experience with anyone else’s. And in silence, we can’t drown our thoughts with words or music. We can’t escape ourselves.

Are you scary company?

Perhaps the prospect of being left to face our true self is what makes so many of us avoid silence. What if we don’t like what we find? What if, without the validation of other people, we discover we’re completely unlikeable? What then? How would we go on?

It can take awhile to learn to defuse our self-judgement, relax in our own company and release any tendency to measure our worth against the actions (and reactions) of others. I call this process “shoveling sh*t out of the engine room,” and I’ve been digging it for years.

Happily, there are lots of tools available today to help speed the process. An online search for “How to live in the present moment” turns up thousands of suggestions, resources and videos.

My summer of silent basking

This summer offered me a different kind of retreat. For two months, I lived outside a small town, house-sitting amidst five lushly wooded acres. My daily soundtrack: the fountain by the front door, the wind chimes in the backyard, my cat’s purr, the distant lowing of cattle that freely roamed the area. Visual noise is just as disruptive as sound.

No traffic sounds to speak of. No car alarms. No neighbors’ barking dogs, loud conversations or music. Most of the time, I was alone in a huge 6-bedroom house without so much as a single ticking clock or dripping faucet.

Heaven.

I slipped so easily into the bliss of my quiet surroundings, a trip to a nearby mega store nearly crushed me. The giant product displays, oversized banners shouting “Great Price!” in letters as tall as the length of my arm. The 50” TV screens showing the latest children’s film releases, while classic rock music hummed over the store’s sound system.

Make it stop!

I felt sick to my stomach. I urgently wanted to leave the store. In fact, by the time I rounded the frozen food aisles and headed for the checkout, I knew if I didn’t get out soon, I would descend into hiccuping tears like a frightened toddler.

How had I ever coped with my old life, I wondered, with all the big-box stores and traffic and daily noise? How could I possibly ever go back?

Perhaps I’ve learned too well the preciousness of silence, to be so sensitive to its disruption. But go back I did, back to big-city life. Back to traffic and ticking clocks and Facebook.

Embrace silence and know you're loved.It hasn’t been easy. I tire more easily, and must make allowances to take care of myself. I’ve loaded a white-noise app on my mobile electronics, which at least masks other sounds—I let it play while I’m sleeping. And when I get a quiet moment, I revel in it, free of to-do lists or food or phone calls. Just. Being.

How’s your relationship with silence? Do you seek it or shun it? What would you do if someone offered you a 10-day experience of silence? What about a 10-minute experience?

Is your reaction different than it would have been ten years ago? Hmm. Interesting how things change. Maybe you and silence are ready to take your relationship to a new level.

Don’t worry. I won’t tell a soul.


Photo credit (shush): Mateus Lunardi Dutra

Soar winner, minus the poop on my legs

Turkey Vulture in majestic flight.
Given the chance to be a bird for a day, would you do it? What kind of bird would you be?

Me, I’d be a turkey vulture. Master of the air. I’d ride the thermals for hours on end. My wings would stretch wide and proud, creating a majestic silhouette in the sky.

Finding food, not a problem. I’d have sharp eyes and an olfactory sense so refined, I could find food miles away. My constitution could handle anything and my featherless head would enable me to push in and get all the good stuff without the embarrassing, “Oh, Sally, is that meat in your hair?”

But riding the thermals, that’d be the best. Up in the roaring silence. Wind in my feathers, I’d fly for the joy of it. At day’s end, I’d roost with my pals, all of us together. Maybe sharing our adventures. Maybe sharing silence, knowing our lives are good.

Perhaps I’d travel, not like migration—that seems such hard work. But I’d take my magnificent self to the mountains. Or explore the length of a river.

Chat with the natives.

Sample the local cuisine.

Ride the thermals until I no longer know where I am and, upon realizing this, rediscover myself all over again.

Texas bonus… in the summer, I would keep cool by defecating on my legs. (Not a strategy I’d be willing to try out in human form!)

So how ’bout you? If you dream of taking wing, I’d love to hear how you’d do it.


Photo credit: Tony Hisgett from Birmingham, UK

What does “personal brand” really mean?

Flip side Sally Felt biz card example designed by Kelly Mills
My business card

I carry two business cards. My main card describes me as WriterSpeakerAdventurer, same as this site. and you can see the art for yourself. What the description lacks in specificity, it seems to make up in memorability. Folks see it and smile. Some exclaim in delight, needing to repeat it out loud.

When I chose these three words, they represented my personal aspirations. True, I’d been a writer for decades. But I’d not yet had a real speaking gig, and with a few exceptions, my adventures were mostly spiritual.

It worked. I’ve grown into the description. It fits me. When I give someone this business card and get a reaction, I’m not just connecting—I’m paying it forward. Inspiring someone else to take a risk, be playful, stretch a bit. That’s a brand I happily inhabit.

Sally Felt biz card example designed by Kelly Mills
My card’s flip side.

So why carry more than one card? Let me start with a question (and a rant about my personal preferences in business card design).

What do your business cards say about you?

Do you carry cards? Perhaps, like me, several different ones? Trying to find a meaningful, memorable way to represent yourself on a 2 x 3.5” bit of card stock is confusing, isn’t it?

When working for someone else’s company, you take whatever is offered, even if the logo is ugly or your job title doesn’t reflect what you do.

When working a side hustle or are self employed (like me), you face delicious, agonizing freedom of choice all the way down the line.

Job title, yes or no?

If yes, what? I’ve seen quite a few that say President, or Owner. That doesn’t suit me, especially since I don’t operate under a business name. (“Owner of Sally Felt,” makes me giggle.)

I’m more drawn to cards that suggest what’s being offered, such as Illustrator, or Programmer, or Handyman, or Author. As time passes, cards like this help me remember who you are and why I kept your information.

Include Twitter, FB, LinkedIn, 2 phones, 2 webs, email etc.?

In the interest of helping clients, fans, colleagues and prospects reach us, it’s tempting to load up the business card with all our addresses, from email to website, social media, and maybe even snail mail address. Plus at least one phone number. Some authors I know include a list of book titles.

I prefer something sleeker. Simpler. Give me a card that doesn’t try to be all things to all people and I see you as a confident professional. I start to trust you before we’ve done more than exchange cards.

Paring down to essentials

The process of creating ideal business cards proved so tough that I’m currently carrying two cards while pondering how to get down to one.

Things I’ve solved: what to include

  • My name
  • A 2-3 word description of what I offer
  • My mobile number
  • One email address
  • This website

It makes for a clean, simple card that gives essential contact information. And I chose uncoated card stock so it’s easy to write on with an ordinary pen. (Do you like to make notes on people’s cards, like where and when you met them? I do.)

And at last, my answer to why two cards?

All that differs between my two business cards is the artwork and the self-description.

My second business card says Intuitive Tarot and uses striking close-up photos of dragonflies, suggesting the transformative potential of receiving a card reading. A Tarot reading is an intimate experience, and though my playful approach to life spills over into my Tarot business, I want a business card that reflects my client’s potential more than it reflects me.

Perhaps I’ll find a pare it down to just one card. Until then, I carry two. What’s a WriterSpeakerTarotAdventurer to do?


Business card design by Kelly Mills

The Lovers: Tarot energy of 2013

Keywords: Harmony, decisions, union, rite of passage, romance.
Keywords: Harmony, decisions, union, rite of passage, romance.

The year 2013 is a “6” year in numerology. (We get that by adding 2 + 0 + 1 + 3 = 6) The sixth card in Tarot’s Major Arcana is The Lovers, so expect the energy of this card to be widely available. If you have any dreams or plans with a Lovers-like flavor, dust ‘em off and put them into motion—there’s lots of support available this year.

Under the energy of The Lovers, an overall strategy of cooperation (or collaboration) will be more successful than competition. This is the year to release thoughts of us/them in favor of seeking win/win solutions. It’s a time to remember that our decisions impact others.

"Cream & Sugar" in The Kitchen Tarot by Susan Shie & Dennis Fairchild.
“Cream & Sugar” in The Kitchen Tarot by Susan Shie & Dennis Fairchild.

Of course, there’s a chance of getting carried away with the feel-good, romantic energy of The Lovers. The shadow side of The Lovers includes the temptation to over-sacrifice in the name of harmony. Or to get so swept off your feet that you make decisions you later regret.

That said, The Lovers can provide a welcome spirit of optimism and an interest in working together. To repair/renegotiate/release inharmonious relationships. To explore what’s possible when we embrace a more romantic view of life. Who will we meet? How will we treat the people we love? What happens when we our decisions arise from love, rather than fear?

This is the year to find out.


Check out The Kitchen Tarot at Hay House. It’s currently featured for just $1! (Not affiliated, just a fan.)

You have permission to be awesome

This year, I worked a Halloween party where no one had ever had a Tarot experience (or at least none of the folks who sat down at my table). What happened seemed truly miraculous.

Morgan Greer Tarot ©U.S. Games Systems, Inc.
Man with the mustache

First, there was the woman who wanted to know if her husband was hiding something from her. I threw some cards. One landed face down, with the Knight of Pentacles atop it. (I was using the Morgan Greer Tarot from U.S. Games Systems, Inc.) I knew the knight was her husband, and he was hiding the face-down card. My client exclaimed the card even looked like her husband.

Morgan Greer Tarot ©U.S. Games Systems, Inc.
The pot of gold

Then there was the man asking whether his sales lead-generation program would be successful within three months. I turned two cards and asked which one appealed to him. Without hesitation, he pounced on the 10 of Cups, also from the Morgan Greer Tarot. When we completed the reading, he pointed to that first card and explained how perfectly its artwork reflected his company’s name.

Literal translations like this are fun, but the true miracles were the shifts I saw in these people. How their Tarot experience encouraged them and validated them. How they straightened their spines, carrying their chests high.

Transformations before my very eyes

Another client arrived with a beer in either hand. I doubt he’d have sat at my table without a little buzz on. But he became more and more focused as we went through his cards. More clear-headed and thoughtful. He seemed positively inspired.

Were these clients truly looking for insight, or simply taking advantage of the night’s judgment-free atmosphere to sit for a reading as a lark? It doesn’t matter. Whatever brought them to me, I gave them my best and was awed to witness what they offered in return. I’m so grateful.

Shuck the rules and discover yourself

At Halloween, costumes give us permission to behave strangely. Like demanding candy. Or requesting a Tarot reading. The usual rules don’t apply. And when everything is just for fun, it’s amazing how easily we find our wings and fly.

Of sleep, rest and other mysteries

Through my life, I’ve noticed three distinct kinds of sleepiness.

  1. Classic drowsiness.

    The body’s gently persistent call to sleep comes with heavy eyelids and heavy limbs. It’s difficult to summon energy for facial expressions, and easy to share murmured secrets. Even when it’s inconvenient, there’s a sense that it’s healthy and natural. This is the sleepiness that eventually overtakes children at slumber parties.

  2. Exhaustion or “over-tired.”

    This is the tired of final-exams week, a long-anticipated conference or a competition. A relentlessly overstimulated body/brain eventually runs out of juice. The head may ache, there may be dizziness or trembling, digestion becomes irregular. It feels like the machinery of the body is revving in neutral. And even exhausted as the system is, it takes awhile to fall asleep.

  3. Reboot.

    The wild card of sleepiness. When reboot comes calling, there’s a sense I’ll be powering down soon, so I may as well find a comfortable place in which to lose consciousness. Unlike the other two types of sleepiness, reboot can happen regardless of what’s going on in my life or how well rested I feel.

Reboot stalked me throughout the final week of August, along with some other physically intense symptoms which have since eased.

Until now, I’ve not talked about reboot. Is it common? Do you experience it?

Time was, I suspected drops in barometric pressure were responsible for reboot. But lately, it’s seemed more random. Maybe it’s connected to the uptick in solar activity. If you have insight, please share.


Photo credit: Big D2122