Zombies and Personal Growth

I have spent the last several months in a state of low-level anxiety that occasionally spikes at inopportune moments. (Like there’s ever an opportune moment for anxiety.) For a while now, I assumed that the origin of the anxiety was my 6-day stay in the hospital last year – but the more I explore it, the more I realize that it’s a build-up of several life events and circumstances, and there isn’t any one thing that is the culprit. It’s not just my health, or my living situation, or my job — it’s all of these things and more. There’s not one catch-all solution because there’s not one catch-all problem. However, I do feel like I have a better handle on what’s going on, and I am taking steps in the right direction.

What I’ve discovered, both on my own and with a bit of guidance from others, is that the instinctive, animal part of my nature isn’t getting everything it needs – namely around shelter, pleasure, activity, and connection. I don’t feel particularly safe or comfortable in my home. The only way my job feeds me is financially, and even that is somewhat lacking. I am not able to be as physically active as I would like to be somewhat due to pain – but also due to the fear of throwing another blood clot or worse. And the list goes on. I have said before (and it is still true), that my anxiety is not debilitating – but the things that contribute to it are really piling up and making everyday life a challenge. So it’s high time I do something about it.

One thing I am trying to do is take a breath and recognize my wealth when I find myself in the deathgrip of a scarcity mindset. And as luck would have it, this past weekend, I had one of those all-too-rare opportunities to look around and realize how amazingly blessed with friendship I am. And, like many important life revelations, I have a zombie to thank for it.

A handful of my friends actually committed to being locked in a room with a zombie chained to a wall. We had to solve a series of puzzles in order to find the combination to the lock that would reveal the key that would allow us to escape the room. However, a buzzer would go off every 5 minutes, and the zombie’s chain would get a foot longer. If she touched you – you were “eaten” and could no longer physically participate in the solving. It was adrenaline-pumping, stressful, ridiculous, and SO MUCH FUN. I don’t think I have laughed that hard or squealed that much in years. (Here’s a link to their site. Go do this. You will not regret it.)

Here’s the thing … I’m a nerd. Many of my friends are not. Or at least not in the way that I am. But the one thing that draws me into a relationship is passion. If someone is passionate about what they love and finds a way to bring that passion into the world in some creative and life-affirming way, then I am undeniably drawn to them — and I definitely have some pretty magnetic friends. This event was not the sort of thing that at least ¾ of them would ever consider doing had I not asked them to join me. But they committed, they came (a couple from different states!), and they showed up, despite the fact that this wasn’t their thing. I couldn’t have asked for a better present if I tried. In fact — after the event, I found myself looking around the dinner table at the amazing people who had gathered to help me celebrate my birthday. And maybe it was coming down off of my adrenaline high, or maybe it was low blood sugar because the food was taking so long to get there — but I actually teared up a little and thought to myself:

This is my family. These are the people that show up.

The space for the zombie adventure was limited. I couldn’t invite everyone I wanted to invite, and I felt genuinely bad about that. It’s hard thing for me to be exclusive, even if inclusion is prohibitively impractical. So the people sitting around the table last Saturday are not the only people I consider beloved family. Not even close. There were many dear friends not present, and they are certainly friends that show up with just as much passion. It just goes to show that my abundance in this area is large, and my connections run deep.

I am making several changes over the next few months that I hope will bring my life back into balance. This past weekend served to get a jumpstart on those changes by motivating me towards pleasure, joy, creativity, and a whole lot of laughter – not to mention the recognition that I really do have an incredible support system. I’m not saying that zombies are the cure for all of my ailments, but it was a darn good way to start.

Devil Year

I picked up my first deck of Tarot cards when I was a teenager. I wasn’t even Pagan yet. I distinctly remember asking my mother if I could have a deck, and her replying, “You can, as long as you don’t believe in them.”

Well, I’ve always been kind of a rebel. Sorry, Mom.

Truth be told, I don’t believe in the cards, really. I’m not a predictive reader. I don’t think the cards give me any insight into the future, because I don’t believe that the future is set in stone – or that time is even linear. And the cards are just uniformly cut pieces of cardboard with pretty pictures on them. But what I do believe is that we already have access to all the answers we need – it’s just that sometimes we need translators to help us figure out that information. That’s what the cards are for me — visual translators.

What’s cool about this particular set of translators is that they contain a few very specific coded systems, and at least one of those systems works incredibly well for me — the numbers. There are 78 cards in the deck broken out into 22 major arcana (or trump cards) and 56 minor arcana (the regular suits). Every one of them is associated with a number, and the relationships between those numbers in a reading can often give me more information than the pictures themselves.

Another aspect of Tarot-based numerology that I find pretty cool is the idea of Life Cards and Year Cards. Just like you might be a Cancer or a Sagittarius, you also get (at least one) major arcana archetype that walks with you throughout your lifetime. You can figure it out by adding up your birthdate (month, day, year you were born.)

You can do the same process with your most recent birthday and see what archetype is influencing your year — also known as your Year Card. And herein lies the point of this post. Today is my birthday — a capital “B” Birthday in a couple of different ways: First, I turned 40. Second, I am starting my first ever “15” year — which in the Tarot is The Devil.

Here’s the Crowley-Harris Thoth Deck version, which I prefer:

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I have never had a Devil year. I have never known anyone who has. (Or if they have, they haven’t told me about it.) Mathematically, it hasn’t been possible for people in my generation to have a Devil Year – so this is my first one. When I do readings for clients, I can generally give a “here’s what my year was like” synopsis for most of the archetypes. But the Devil? No clue. I know what I think this year might be about – but I really have very little idea what to expect. So I thought it would make a decent blog post series. I’ll take a look at the events, thoughts, feelings, etc., of my year and record them here to see how this year shapes up for me. (Plus, how cool is the tag “Devil Year?”, amirite?)

So here’s what I think the year will be about … and we’ll see if I’m right when I turn 41:

I think this will be a year about contracts — exploring contracts I’ve made that no longer serve me, and entering into new ones with fresh and discerning eyes. I think this will be a year about secrets — uncovering some of the ones that I have hidden from myself and revealing ones that keep me from being more free and open in the world. I think this will be a year about desire — sexual, creative, life-affirming desire — and likely identifying those desires I already embrace and those I sabotage and keep tamped down. I already know that this year is going to hold a great deal of change for me — and I think that this year will be about how I embrace that change. Do I do it with joy or resistance? Passion or begrudging acceptance?

This could be a big year. And I am curious to see what it was really about when I sit down to write 365 days from now.