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September 2010
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October 2010

Card of the Week Grief

   Sample.Grief Card2

Keywords: distress over affliction or loss, disappointment, sorrow, anguish, heartache, sadness, melancholy, painful regret

Grief is an emotion that comes in response to a loss. It can be loss of a person, place, or thing, a dream, an ideal or an expectation of what was to be. The experience of grief can be moved through quickly, or prolonged; sometimes the experience can be complicated, entwined with other unacknowledged losses. When grief is particularly deep, we can experience it  as large waves of emotions that we are initially overtaken by, and then gradually becoming less and less intense untill the normal ebb and flow of emotions returns.  Often the “rule” is the greater the attachment, the greater the loss, and the greater the grief response. 

It is important to allow yourself to acknowledge and experience the myriad of feelings associated with the loss.  It is part of the process of moving through the stages of grief and loss, of acknowledging what was, and honoring those aspects of yourself that were connected to the loss.  Unacknowledged grief does not go away, but can arise years later, usually when triggered by something else.  Grief is part of the natural process of letting go.

The image on the Grief Card evokes sadness for me, from the tear-like stains on the blues and greens, to the dark line traveling up the card, separating one side from the other.   Loss is also about separation, real or imagined.

We all grieve to one degree or another.  Short-lived grief can be simply disappointment, sadness at something not working out.  It is moved through quickly when acknowledged, and let go of.  The deaths of my father, and of my dear cat of 17 years each impacted me differently, yet each with an honoring, review and acceptance of what was and what could no longer be in the relationship. 

How has grief impacted your life?  How have you moved through this process?  Are there areas in your life where you are holding on to grief?

© 2010 Leslie Helen Bambic Ciechanowski

Card of the Week: JOY


Definition:  A state of rejoicing; exultation. Passion or emotion excited by the acquisition or expectation of good; pleasurable feelings or emotions caused by success, good fortune, or exhilaration of spirit.

This is one of my favorite cards of the deck.  Yes, I love Joy!  This card causes my heart to leap and expand in the same way that the traditional Tarot sun card does.  I just want to smile! I feel the excitement of possibility, of fun, and the playfulness of a child.   

The image on the Joy card first came to me in meditation 4-5 years earlier. When it came time to actually find an image for the Joy card, the image came back to me with a flash of intuition. I feel that somewhere perhaps, this image reaches into my/our ancestral roots.  

When we are in joy our hearts are open, like an unfolding flower, a smile or laugh that cannot contain itself.  Joy is like sunshine for our soul.  When we have no joy, we start to shrivel up, and our life-force becomes dry, cracked and brittle.  When we are in tune with our heart’s desire, we are in joy. 

What brings me joy: the sound of children laughing; dancing; when I am creating; a happy dog; a purring cat; nature’s beauty; trees; “perfect timing” and other forms of synchronicity. 

What brings you joy?  Where is your joy in this very moment?


© 2010 Leslie Helen Bambic Ciechanowski

Overdoses in Roslyn: the call, the challenge, and the choices for transformation


It was late when we drove up to our mountain getaway in Roslyn, WA.  We were having one of those increasingly rare family weekends.  About one mile from town we pulled to the side to let an approaching ambulance pass, but thought nothing of it.  By the time we arrived at our destination, we were greeted by a kaleidoscope of strobing lights.  Ambulances and police cars littered our small block and the next street.  There was a bustle of activity that this small town of 900 rarely sees.  The authorities were checking in on an out of control party.  Though drastic and shocking, it is not that unusual in the world of our youth to have a  “party disaster”.  This one was more than usual.


The story of this party unfolded throughout the day and into the evening, and it is still unfolding.  It goes something like this:  It was homecoming night, an occasion for celebration; there was a dance, and then an “after party” where the young gathered at a local rental house that the renter’s son was using.  Not that uncommon of a story yet.   Here is where it gets unusual.  Someone had put something in the drinks that (predominately) the girls were drinking.   Cups were apparently color-coded to determine who got the spiked drinks and who did not.


The party was brought to the attention of the authorities by a young woman calling on behalf of her friend, who had been sexually assaulted and had passed out in the back seat of a car in a nearby grocery store parking lot.  When the authorities arrived at the scene of the party, there were numerous others in semi-consciousness and unconscious states.  Yet another woman was found semi-conscious in the process of being sexually assaulted.  The alleged sexual assaulter was arrested and has since been released.  Reports say over 12 people overdosed in total, 11 of whom were women.  One young woman was in critical condition for several days.  The authorities have not isolated the drug used, nor had they found drugs at the party.


So many lives were affected by this event: the people who overdosed, the people or person who organized it, the families immediately involved, the nearby university which was now strengthening their policy on student drug use.  And women in general now need to pay a different sort of attention to their personal safety.  The ripples continue. 


Women and men are both being called to change.  Women have had many freedoms and liberties gained over the centuries, more in some parts of the world than others.  However, women are not yet free from fear.   This event though has the potential for positive transformation. 


I am going to step back and take a broader psycho-spiritual perspective on the event.  Without defining masculine and feminine in terms of gender but rather as “archetypal principles” at play in our world, I make the broad generalization that we are sadly out of balance – individually and collectively.   We need to dig deep within ourselves both personally and collectively to make change.


This is not an us-versus-them, male-versus-female perspective, but rather principles of the masculine and feminine - yin and yang if you will - that some would suggest have been out of balance for millennia. The yang energy (masculine) is a natural strong, assertive, outward-moving energy associated with the power of action, whereas the yin energy (feminine) is seen as receptive and inward-moving, with the power of yielding.


When the masculine is out of balance, we use force to get what we want, mistaking it for “true power”.  We take without asking, without discriminating, or without attention to who or what we are taking from – and we are left with strip mines, clear cuts, and gulf oil disasters - and with lost souls.  When the feminine is out of balance we use a more passive indirect use of force to get what we want.  We yield without discriminating, and accept so easily another’s worldview, belief system, propaganda, mind-numbing TV, and endless consumption of junk food, alcohol and yes, drugs.  We have managed our chaos, or Koyaanisquatsi (Inuit for life-out-of-balance) by becoming, in the words of Pink Floyd, “comfortably numb”.


I have witnessed many Internet comments on this particular news report.  Some blame the kids, some the drugs, some even blame Obama. One reporter even questioned whether the women were, in fact, targeted.  Eleven out of twelve receiving spiked drinks is statistically beyond any probability of it being chance.


Blaming is not useful.  Examination of what went wrong and how we can change this on all levels, internally and externally is a call to transformation.  How can we make changes in our busy daily lives to correct our own internal imbalance?  How can we be better models to our young and leave them a better legacy of a life of hope, joy, peace and yes, love?


Every event in our lives, every moment in our lives, we have the power of choice.  It may not be a big one, but it is our choice.  What choices will you make to transform the world around you?   What choices will you make towards right speech, right thinking, and right action in your life?


© 2010 Leslie Helen Bambic Ciechanowski


Card of the Week: Transformation

Transformation Card1

Definition:  A change or alteration, especially a radical one; the operation of changing one configuration or expression into another.

Energy can neither be created nor destroyed.  It can only change form.   This card represents radical changing of form in our lives, while our essence remains the same.  The change may be the way we view, experience, or express ourselves in the world.  This major shift can require us to see and feel differently.

Transformation may be initiated from an external source such as a critical event in our lives that causes a ripple effect of change in our internal and external world, or it may be from a slower inner process that occurs over longer incubation period, and “pushes” change out from our very being.

It is a shift that can feel as radical as the metamorphosis of a caterpillar into a butterfly.   It may occur suddenly, or it may be a slow process that is imperceptible, and when we look back through our life it feels like a lifetime ago.

I have had a number of transformations in my life.  One that stands out is the birth of my first child.  Education and books did not prepare me for the tremendous opening of feeling and requirements of being a mother.  I no longer wanted to skydive, or run a marathon - I felt I just had.  My primary focus for being in the world was to care for this child at all levels of her being.  I was guided by my instinct as a mother with such a deep visceral connection that I could not ignore.  I began to see everyone as once someone else’s child.  The future became even more important, as did becoming stewards of the earth and leaving a legacy for our children.

How have you experienced transformation in your life?  Have your transformation started from your external environment, or internal one?  Have your transformations always been positive ones?



© 2010 Leslie Helen Bambic Ciechanowski

Card for the Week: PASSION

Passion Card

As an adult who has long since passed the intense emotionality of adolescence, I have come to appreciate a balanced passion for both my work and creative endeavors.  My passions have become linked to my drive and motivation and I feel it as a fire in my heart that moves me forward in my life.  There are many things I am passionate about; all forms of creative expression, beauty, nature, soul healing, and deep emotional connection between people and spirit. 

I say “as and adult”, because I am the mother of two teenagers.  I have the privilege and honor of assisting and watching them become the women they are to become.  I also get to help them navigate through the world of their strong and ardent feelings – when allowed.  Sometimes the internal storms turn outward and seemingly throw their world out of balance. 

Passion is a beautiful thing; it is like the sacred fire within our soul that guides us to wholeness.  It both directs and drives us to our goals, and is an integral part of our becoming.  However, misdirected passion, or desires sometimes can create havoc in our world.   True passion comes from the heart, whereas desire comes from the appetite.


How do you differentiate “unbridled desire” from soul-centered passion?  What are you most passionate about?  How do your passions help you grow into your authenticity?  Does your passion ever cause conflict in your life? Do you need to be more in touch with your passions?  Where and how can you touch your passion in your daily life?


©Leslie Helen Bambic Ciechanowski