• Mysticism

    Realigning with My True Self – An Oracle Card Reading

    September has been emotionally difficult because every day feels like a futile fight to stay positive and to cultivate a future. It seems like a futile fight because most days I wake up already in a bad mood, and on the few days when I actually wake up excited and I work toward my goals, I end up feeling defeated and depressed by the end of the night.

    I try not to casually throw around the word, “depressed,” because I don’t want to misuse it…but I feel like after weeks of crying daily, instigating tons unnecessary fights with my mom and with my girlfriend, emotionally beating myself up, reducing myself to nothing, and wishing I could escape from reality warrants the use of the term, “depressed.”

    I have only wished I could disappear when I am struggling to cope with change, struggling to stay afloat, and struggling to thrive. Right now I’m struggling with all three, so it’s overwhelming.

    I’m not sharing this to worry anyone…I don’t want to hurt myself, I just don’t always want to deal with my life. Not because my life is bad or anything, because my life isn’t bad at all. I have food, a home, a caring family, health insurance, and I’m finally working part-time. My life is good and comfortable, which I’m grateful for and I try to remind myself of this all of the time.

    Despite acknowledging my blessings, I get caught up in my stagnancy. When I focus my energy on taking steps toward my goals so I can move forward, I doubt myself and I doubt my ability to move forward at all. It’s a toxic cycle that unfortunately has poisoned my emotional well-being as well as my relationships. I don’t want to be around anyone because I feel like poison. Isolation exacerbates my depression too.

    So…I pulled my Ganesha cards on Monday to get some insight and guidance that I can reflect upon. I’m not going to share a picture of my cards this time because most of them I have already shared on my blog.

    My Reading

    1. The first card, which represents where I am now, I pulled Positive Outlook. I was bewildered when I saw this card because as noted previously, I wouldn’t consider myself having a positive outlook at the moment. Well, the card is about how all circumstances are neutral, and it is one’s mental attitude that influences how it is perceived. It reminds me of what I have read in The Untethered Soul as well as something I had painted on a flowerpot after my grief group concluded two years ago: Your perception is your reality. I suppose I need to take a step back from judging my experiences as negative and to at least view things as neutral.
    2. Sustenance is the card that represents my next steps. The painting on the card is of Ganesha enjoying a buffet, but the card isn’t about food. It’s about how I need to acknowledge my blessings as well as acknowledge the abundance of ways to support my desires. I need to understand my needs and satiate them, even if it’s scary or unconventional.
    3. My obstacle is Cultivation, which is strongly linked to music. Music creates communities and it soothes the soul, causing music to be a method for connecting to spirits. I haven’t been listening to music too much…I either listen to podcasts or watch something on Netflix. When I’m not listening to these things, I spend my time in silence…but I suppose it’s a little too isolating right now. Perhaps replacing the silence with my yoga playlists would facilitate some more positive thinking, creativity, and a sense of belonging.
    4. My resource for overcoming my inability to cultivate is Reflection. When I saw this card, I was like “duh, I’m great at reflecting! I reflect and write weekly!” When I read the description of this card though, I was speechless. I’ll just share what it all says.

    “You have reached the point in your life’s journey where self-judgment and criticism no longer serve you. It is imperative that you understand and appreciate the distinctive persona that you bring into all situations. Each of us has our own unique path….Through reflection and visualization, get in touch with the wise person within you.” – Whispers of Lord Ganesha Oracle Cards by Angela Hartfield

    While this card is titled “Reflection,” I feel like it is about more than that…and it really resonated with me.

    5. My new outcome is “Acceptance,” which I’ve pulled multiple times because I’m always fighting with my true self. This relates back to alignment as well. Life will become easier when I accept my true self and when I accept that I don’t have to know everything. The reality that I don’t know anything about my future has been weighing on me because it’s an uncomfortable feeling. I haven’t been enjoying living in the unknown and not having all of the answers right now. My life will improve though when I look at my experiences and the world from a more spiritual perspective as well as by not placing so much value on my thoughts.

    All of these cards address connecting with who I really am…thus, that may be the key to transforming my perspective and my life. It will take some time and patience to realign with my true self via these suggestions from my Ganesha cards. My meditation practice, although not daily (yet), will help me get there too.

    Also…while I feel like I have been stagnant, that isn’t necessarily true. As I’ve mentioned previously, I am now working a part-time job. I am also almost done with the hiring process to teach a regular yoga class in my town. I doubted I was going to be able to teach yoga this year and if I hadn’t nailed the audition, I was going to postpone my teaching dreams…but the universe surprised me. Lastly, after avoiding and debating with myself for several months, I finally booked a GRE test date!

    So…things are moving. I’m progressing, contrary to what I believe.

    If you would like an oracle card reading, please comment below or email me at hello@unziptheselips.com.

    xx Vic

  • Speaking My Mind

    Who Am I?

    My sister and my girlfriend are going back to school this week, and for the first time in about seventeen years, I am not doing the same.

    Since I am no longer a formal student at an American institution, I’ve been reflecting a lot on who I am.

    Who am I without school?

    I’m still determining how to answer this question, but I started by creating a more detailed “about me” page. It was fun to do and while it’s not comprehensive by any means, I think it was a good place to start.

    Additionally, in the last week or so, I’ve been doing some things that I’ve put off because I was busy in school. For example, I’ve finished two books recently. I’m working on finishing two more before reading or buying a new one.

    The biggest way I’ve attempted to answer my question is by deciding not to rush grad school. It was a little scary to come to this decision because I find school comforting in the sense that I know what goal I have to achieve: to graduate. The means are provided as well such as you have to take classes and study. Without school, my goal is more focused on becoming self-sufficient… I need a job to do that but the types of jobs I can have are innumerable! To me, this goal is quite a bit more overwhelming.

    I want to tackle this goal, thus, I won’t be applying for grad school until next fall at the earliest.

    Delaying grad school would also allow my work experiences and whatever else I experience to influence which grad program I will eventually pursue. I still plan to take the GREs this year but instead of taking them in November, I will take them in December or January.

    In regards to jobs…I’ve had a ton of first interviews but it’s been slow to hear back about second interviews. I’m going to follow up with some places this week to see where I am at as a prospective employee. I will also begin to apply for part-time jobs so I don’t deplete my savings waiting for a full-time job.

    Some part-time job opportunities include teaching yoga. I’ve been postponing looking for yoga jobs in person lately but I’ll have to resume it. I just created a class about creativity because it’s something I’ve been struggling with lately, and I’m super excited to teach it! I have to fine-tune some things still, but it feels good on my body and I think it’d feel good to others too.

    I’ve been struggling with my creativity because I haven’t been using it to its full-extent these days. This is definitely partially attributed to school, which is one reason not being a student will be good for me because unless you allot time for creativity, school really hinders it. I was fortunate to have time to take two creative writing courses last year, but it has been difficult to maintain the drive to be creative because I was thrust from the cocoon of being a student to suddenly being a graduate who needs a job and wants to go to grad school and needs to study and…I was putting way too much on my plate.

    Once I decided to postpone grad school another year, I allowed myself the time to breathe and to allow my creative mind to flow. In fact, I’ve been dreaming a lot at night these days, which I think is a good sign. One thing I need to work on though is disconnecting from the internet before and after bed, because that definitely stifles creativity. Instead I want to reintegrate meditation for at least 10 minutes everyday. My goal is to then create something every three days.

    There are some other things I want to talk about and share, but perhaps that’ll be for a different time.

    xx Vic

  • me sitting on a tree stump
    Speaking My Mind

    Life Update: Jobs, Doctoral Programs, and Teaching Yoga!

    I wanted to take some time to update y’all on my life because although this whole website is about my life, I don’t really post details of my everyday life anymore. Some interesting and cool things that I’ve been writing about since my senior year of college as well as in my oracle reading posts have been happening though!

    As of this week, I have two job interviews. One of them is today, and I have another one next week. The cool thing is that I’m actually interested in these jobs! It’s so exciting to have some potential opportunities in jobs that I actually want to do. I spent so much time my junior and senior year trying to put myself into a box of what I thought I was supposed to do and want, but it didn’t fit at all and it also didn’t feel good. While I am still on my dharma journey, or I’m still figuring out my purpose in life, I feel more excited about the jobs I’ve been applying to, and perhaps that’s translating into getting some interviews! I’m interested in research jobs because I’m a naturally curious and studious person, and I believe I’d have the most content life doing research. This brings me to my next update…

    …I am officially preparing to attend a doctoral program next fall! I am aiming to finish my GRE books by the beginning of September to provide ample time to practice until I take the test sometime in November. I reached out to my mentor from my first gender studies class, and she was super helpful! She’s doing an art history PhD program now and she knows someone who’s doing a gender studies PhD program that she’s going to put me in contact with. I’m eager to converse with the other woman about her experiences in the field thus far! I am still a little wary that I won’t be prepared in time for the applications, but I’m going to do my best by making some deadlines and goals for myself.

    The last update is that I have an audition for a yoga job at a studio near me! I’m excited and nervous, but hopefully, it’ll go really well. The MindBody App is an app that most yoga studios use for scheduling, and I’m listed as a teacher for the class I’m teaching, aka my audition. It was surprising and awesome to see my name there! Then, next week, I have the community class I’m teaching in NY, which will be good practice for me.

    The discipline and structure I’ve incorporated into my life, as well as the insight provided by my oracle cards, have been really helpful toward having these opportunities. The oracle cards have encouraged me to look at my life in a more positive light, and because they are so useful for reflection, I feel like they’ve facilitated the growth and positivity that I’ve harnessed. Daily yoga classes at a studio have also been helpful because it forces me to get up and start my day. I’m also forced to be around other people, which is super important for me to stay in a more positive headspace. Then, I added the library and Starbucks to my routine to do my GRE studying, PhD program research, and job applications. This forced me to get out of the house and encouraged me to focus, which has allowed me to make some progress towards my goals, which makes me feel better overall!

    So, that’s what has been going on with me these days. It’s nothing too crazy, nevertheless, it’s exciting and rewarding. Hopefully, some of these interview opportunities will become job opportunities, but if they don’t, that’s okay! I’ll have other interview opportunities coming my way. In the meantime, I want to be patient, be grateful for where I am now, and accept what is. I want to practice santosha, which is the Sanskrit word for contentment. It’s so hard to be content when things are going awry, but that’s when it’s most important to be content. Find contentment in discontent.

    So, I want to know…how can you practice more santosha in your life? I feel like this is a hard question, but it’s important to ponder it.

    xx Vic

  • Mysticism

    No Matter What, Stay Open – An Oracle Card Reading

    I’m excited to share a second oracle spread reading with you all! If you’re interested in your own card reading, please email me at hello@unziptheselips.com or comment below!

    Anyway…I’ve been feeling a little more confident in myself and more positive this week. Despite my more optimistic attitude, I value the insight that my Ganesha cards provide. Regardless of whether you believe in their mystical properties or not, I feel like these cards require me to be introspective, which is always important. So, let’s commence with the reading!

    Whispers of Ganesha Oracle Cards - A Spread
    Whispers of Ganesha Oracle Cards – A Spread

    The first card, Achievement, represents where I am in my life right now. I was a little surprised by this card because I tend to dismiss or undermine my achievements, which include graduating from college as well as graduating from yoga teacher training. This card reminded me that I have achieved many things in my short life thus far, and it reminded me that I will continue to achieve.

    The second card, Surrender, represents my next task. I smiled when I saw this card because I’ve been devoting many of my yoga classes to this theme since it comes up in my life frequently:

    I want to want a conventional 9-5 job in business, but deep down, I want to earn a PhD. I want to pursue a PhD in economics because it seems practical and “safer,” but in reality, I want to earn a PhD in gender studies.

    So, I’ve already been practicing surrendering to who I am. I’ve also been practicing surrendering to where I am in my life. Instead of being miserable about not working and being home all of the time, I’ve changed my perspective and I’ve taken advantage of this free time, which honestly, I may not have again until I retire. I’ve opted to go to the library or to Starbucks to devote my time to job applications, studying for the GRE, and looking up doctoral programs. Whenever I start working, I’ll have less time to focus on future academic plans, thus, I might as well do as much as I can now. While I feel like I’ve made significant progress in regards to surrendering, this card is indicating that I can surrender in other aspects of my life as well.

    Ganesha is pictured relaxing on this card, which I may need to do a little bit more of. I have been stressing myself out a teeny bit because I’m balancing these tasks that would enable me to reach my future goals, so this card is a reminder that while it’s important to do the work, I should also allow myself the opportunity to surrender by relaxing. This can include spending time with friends and family as well as spending some time on myself.

    The third card represents an obstacle I have to overcome, which for me is Openness. I agree that this is an obstacle I need to overcome because at the yoga studio that I’ve currently been going to, I have not talked to anyone. When I initially took classes there, I told myself I was going to talk to instructors after the classes I took with them. Well, three weeks later and I have not talked to any of them. I’m not mad at myself about it, but I suppose this card is a reminder that without being open to people, my opportunities are limited. The card description in the manual for this deck was about the importance of human relationships and how being open with others is valuable. I do understand its value but I don’t know…I feel like I don’t know what to say or ask and a lot of times the instructors are talking to regulars after class. I feel intimidated. So…since I only have about a week and a half left of attending this studio before my membership expires, I might as well try to interact with the instructors a bit more. Even if it’s just me introducing myself to them and thanking them personally for leading the class.

    The fourth card, Steadfastness, is my strength and resource for overcoming my Openness obstacle. By persisting, by striving toward my goals, I will need to open up because networking is one of the most powerful tools for achievement. I find it interesting that this card is now not something I need to work on, but it’s a resource I have. I suppose it’s because I’ve devoted most of the summer toward unwavering. Even when I want to give up, I persist. It still is a lot of work to do this but some days it’s easier, especially when I surrender.

    I initially thought it’d be easier to be steadfast when you resist forces, but similarly to how I approach meditation, it’s easier to be steadfast when you surrender to what is and to who you are.

    It’s very interesting how these two themes work together. I find it so interesting that I developed a yoga class to these themes! It’s a community class at the yoga school I graduated from, and I’m really excited about it. I want to continue to create yoga classes as if I have a teaching gig, and I also want to teach them, even if only to myself, to my mom, or to stuffed animals. Perhaps I will film some classes to share on YouTube. Ideally though, I’d rather teach people in person because that is what I find to be the most powerful.

    The final card represents my new goal or outcome, which is Embrace. This can take several different interpretations including, by overcoming my Openness obstacle, I will be able to embrace others. This doesn’t mean to embrace them physically necessarily, but to embrace them into my life. Perhaps I will make a mentor or a friend by being open. It is important to embrace the people around me.

    Another interpretation could be that openess is indicative of fully embracing myself. By connecting with others, it means I am more confident in the future I want for myself…which means I am being more true to who I am. I am surrendering to who I am.

    I will definitely be taking the insight from these cards into my life over the next couple of weeks. These cards have facilitated changes in my life and they have provided interesting journal prompts. In addition to using these cards as a method for introspection, I also love using them as themes for yoga classes I make.

    Do any of the cards that I pulled this week resonate with you? What is an obstacle you want to overcome this week?

    Comment below and let’s chat!

    xx Vic

    I realized today that this post, which was supposed to post this weekend, was never posted. I believe it’s a WordPress scheduling error, which is surprising because I’ve been using WordPress for five years and I’ve never had an issue before…anyway, my apologies. I will be posting three posts this week to compensate!

  • Speaking My Mind

    What is Success?

    How do you define success? I’m currently unsure how I define it. What I do know, though, is that the past couple of days I’ve been a little envious of people who I feel are more successful than I am. Granted, they are older than I am, but only by a year. That means I only have a year to achieve what they have achieved, and at the rate I am going, I doubt I will be able to compare to them.

    One of my friends is finishing up her Master’s now and she’s hoping to get into a Ph.D. program. She’s also living with her boyfriend.

    My other friend is working and recently moved a second time, to a different state. She lives on her own and she just bought a new car.

    Right now, I feel skeptical about my ability to experience either of these desirable things: I want to continue my education and I also want to work, live with my girlfriend, and be independent. I’m not really pursuing these desires though. I didn’t take the GRE (I may not need to take it for some programs though), I’ve stopped applying for jobs, and I haven’t done any research (yet) on Ph.D. programs that I may be interested in.

    I was telling these two friends that I feel like whatever I will do next will be based on something I have yet to learn about but…after the fourth time I said it, I thought that perhaps it’s a lame excuse to just sit around and wait for a sign.

    I mean– I don’t feel like I’m waiting for a sign but maybe I’m not taking enough action. I feel like the main reason I’ve been resisting action though is because I don’t know what action to do.

    Although I’ve been relatively more peaceful this semester, I started worrying, after talking to my successful friends, that I’m going to end up being sad and bored come May. Once I graduate, it seems like I’m going to have a bit of a gap year where I enjoy my random hobbies and apply for jobs. In fact, one of my friends that graduated a semester early is currently in that position, and she affirms that it is super difficult.

    You know…it seems that I’m defining success as people that are pursuing cool goals. So what cool goals will I be pursuing after I graduate?

    Well, I do have some answers for that: I am interested in a research-based job. I would like to become a certified yoga teacher and I would also like to research PhD programs that would either allow me to research yoga and/or gender-related topics. Honestly, I would love to do a PhD in a gender studies department somewhere, but I’d have to research the benefits of that more as well as what the programs require. I would like to do a combination of quantitative and qualitative analysis so perhaps sociology would be better, but I could ensure that I have a gender focus? Oh, I’d also like to get published! I’d like to get published for either something creative I do or for academic work…or both! But I’d like to get published at some point, for something.

    My first year after college may be difficult but these are some goals that I need to invest time into, so it will be a productive year for sure.

    In the meantime, I will do some basic research and definitely apply for some jobs. My thesis is due at the end of March though so it’s hard to want to spend time on anything other than that right now. But it’ll probably make me feel better if I take some action to reach some of these goals I have.

    So, I want to know what you think! How do you define success?

    xx Vic

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