How I Became Obsessed with Astrology

If you have had any contact with me in the past year, you probably know that I have become obsessed with astrology. This is the story of how and why that happened.

Last year, when I was on a pilgrimage to the UK, there was an astrologer with us on our trip and I asked her how I could be a Pisces and not be a fan of baths, hot tubs, swimming or boats. Pisces is a fish (two fish, actually)! How could I not like water? (For some reason, this was the only astrological question I had at the time.)

She instructed me to enter the date, time, and place of my birth into a website to pull up something called a “birth chart”.

What happened next blew my mind. From looking at a bunch of cryptic symbols on a wheel divided in to 12 “houses”, this woman I had just met started saying some very accurate and profound things about me and my life. She also said that this wheel contained some guidance about what I was supposed to be doing with my life!!! How had I never heard about this beautiful, mysterious, magical wheel????

[Before I go on (because I am sure you are dying to know), being a Pisces is not really about actual, physical water. Each sign is associated with an element (fire, water, air, earth) that represents one of four personality temperaments. Water is the “feelings” temperament. Pisces don’t necessarily want to take baths all the time, but they do feel things very deeply. I have a lot of feelings. Mystery solved.]

So how does this crazy, magical wheel (aka birth chart or natal chart) have all of this information about who we are and what is happening in our lives?

Hang on now, because this gets a little woo woo.

First, you need to be open to the possibility that you have a soul and that this soul has lived many lifetimes with the purpose of learning and growing. (Souls love to learn and grow.) What’s the end game? I like to imagine that after you have conquered all of the hard things (without creating any new shitty karma) you can do cool stuff like relax on a hammock all day, look out at the universe, drink margaritas, and never get hungover. Some might call it… enlightenment.

In order to get to this relaxing hammock in the universe, you have to learn A LOT of stuff. To help you get there, each lifetime is perfectly crafted so you have the POTENTIAL to learn your next set of lessons. You might not successfully master all of the lessons, but your life is set up to give you the opportunity to do so. (It’s like a choose your own adventure book!) My astrology teacher believes that each of us has a soul advisor that we meet with before each lifetime to discuss the lessons we want to learn. Or it might make more sense to you that there is a divine being that sets this all up because she has a bigger plan.

Once the lesson plans are decided, your soul advisor (or the divine being) selects the exact time, place, and family you will be born in to, to give you the opportunity to learn those lessons. The location of the planets (and other celestial bodies) in the sky at the exact time and place of your birth, is your natal birth chart. Think of it as a map to your soul’s purpose in this lifetime. And this map is somehow coordinated with the maps of a bunch of other souls that you are supposed to interact with in this lifetime so you can learn some lessons together. (This soul advisor/divine being is super smart.)

But, how did anyone get the idea that the planets in the sky would have anything to do with what happens in our lifetime?

A long, long time ago (before electricity and television and Instagram), people had A LOT of time to look up at the sky. They paid very close attention (because they had nothing else to do, but survive) and noticed patterns between the locations of the stars and planets in the sky and people’s personalities, behaviors, and the events that happened in their lives (and in societies and on the earth overall!) For thousands of years, astrologers have been observing, confirming, refining and expanding on these observations and they prove to be true, over and over again.

This sounds crazy, I know, until YOU get an natal chart reading and you are blown away by what the position of those planets says about you.

This map (or lesson plan) is not like Google Maps which gives you specific routes to get you where you need to go and tells you how long each route will take. It’s more like a very complicated puzzle that has to be decoded. And it’s not like a jigsaw puzzle that can only be put together one way. Each symbol can be brought to life by different people in different ways. And the relationships between the planets create even more options. And the map might actually say something different later in your life as the planets continue to move through the sky and as you take different paths on your “chosen” adventure which will provide new contexts. Souls are complicated. Life on this planet is complicated. Unpacking all of that with astrology is complicated.

So you may be thinking, “If there are so many ways to put the pieces together, how do I know my astrologer is putting it together the right way?”

Excellent question. Even the BEST astrologer can’t tell you EXACTLY what will happen to you in your lifetime. If they have a lot of experience (and intuition) they can pick out the pieces that fit best with who you are and they work with you to put it all together. But only YOU will know in your gut if it feels right to you. I have only started to dabble in telling people what their charts say (and I know just enough to be dangerous) but so far I have a lot of peeps nodding their heads when I tell them what the planets and stars have to say about them.

Worst case, you dismiss it as nonsense and go on with your life. Best case, something really important becomes clear to you that you had never thought of before. Or something is unlocked inside you that you didn’t know was there. Or it brings you comfort to you to believe that there is a plan and all of the hard things you have been through (or are still going through) are lessons that you created for yourself and it might actually make sense! And it MIGHT be fun to believe that when you finally conquer your lessons, you can relax and drink margaritas ALL DAY with no repercussions!

All of this “best case” stuff is what happened to me! Learning about my own chart made me so curious that I took an astrology class, started reading astrology books, and have been viewing everything in my own life (and in the lives of everyone around me) through an astrology lens.

I mentioned above that my chart has some guidance about what my life’s purpose might be. I will spare you the play-by-play of my chart analysis (for now), but the net-net is that it appears my destiny might be to use astrology to help people. As much as I love understanding my own chart, I really want to help other people figure out what their lessons are so they can get through them and on to the next level of their own enlightenment (which may or may not involve a Universe hammock and margaritas.) The planets and stars (and my astrology teacher and dear friend Kim) keep telling me that I was born to do this.

I have a lot to learn before can hang up my shingle and call myself an astrologer. It takes many years to really learn astrology and I do have a full time job that I need to keep to support my new astrology book habit. So if I have your birth deets and I have not yet given you the full analysis of your chart, be patient! It feels right in my heart that this is what I am supposed to do, so I will get to it! I also plan to write a lot more about astrology, so hopefully, I have piqued your interest enough to keep you tuned in.

You may be wondering about the picture above. My amazingly talented mother drew this beautiful picture of me as a baby surrounded by my Pisces fish with a few astrological symbols in the mix. I have always loved this picture. Maybe it was because I knew deep down that it represented my destiny.

Full disclosure, she also drew a similar and equally beautiful picture of my brother who is, so far, not super interested in astrology. But he is a Leo so he is doing his own thing.

My Winter of Rest and Relaxation

As the end of 2018 approached, I was craving rest.  November and December had been crazy busy and I was really looking forward to some time off.  But before I could rest, I had a last minute work project to finish, a trip upstate to celebrate Christmas , and a sleepover planned with my nieces.  As all of that approached, I started to feel like I was getting sick, but pushed through it. I got the work done. I got the pre-holiday errands done. I got the packing done. I got the cleaning done. I thought I was maybe fighting off the sickness, but as I got on the train to go upstate, the worst sinus infection of my life set in.

After spending Christmas on my brother’s couch feeling like I got hit by a truck, I managed to get myself on a train back to the city and cleared my calendar for the rest of the week.  I didn’t have the energy to read but I did muster up the energy for an Audio book. Audible had recommended a book called My Year of Rest and Relaxation by Ottessa Moshfegh, because I was a Pisces. It sounded very relaxing and exactly what I needed.

Not too far in, it became clear that this was not a book about rest and relaxation. This was a book about a young woman who wants to sedate herself, so she doesn’t have to live life or feel anything. She has decided that if she sedates herself for a year, she will be “re-set” and can then go on with her life and leave all of the stuff she didn’t want to deal with behind. But it’s a also a comedy. This book was seven hours of a lot of this….

”I took a Valium, two Benadryl’s, when to the Egyptians and got two coffees and a Klondike bar, watched Jumping Jack Flash and The Fugitive and drifted off to sleep.”

I listened to the whole thing.  (Spoiler alert, I am going to give you the play by play.)

Interspersed with reports of the medications she was taking, and the movies she was watching (starring her heroes Whoopie Goldberg and Harrison Ford), we did learn about the life of this no-named woman. She was beautiful, and she believed that no one really wanted to be her TRUE friend because she was so beautiful. She did have one friend she did not really like, who insisted on coming over and complaining about her life while the un-named woman made it very clear she did not want her there.  The main character’s parents gave her almost nothing emotionally and they both died while she was in college.  She was obsessed with an older man who was a complete ass.  She had an insane psychiatrist who kept forgetting her parents were dead and had no idea the woman was lying about having insomnia to get more meds.  Did I mention this was a comedy?  I had read a review that said the ending was worth reading the whole book.  So, I kept listening.

Every month or so, the un-named woman would go to her insane doctor to get more prescriptions.  At about 6 months in, they tried a new drug called Infermiterol (not a real drug) that would make her sleep for three days straight (score!), but she learned that during those three days, her subconscious would do crazy things, like go out partying, buy things online, order Chinese food, drunk-dial the older man, and get bikini waxes.  She wanted to stop doing these things, because they were counter to her goal to do NOTHING, so she tried to avoid this new drug. But after the Infermiterol no other sleep drug would work!  She was screwed!  It was painful to listen to her take more drugs and watch MORE Whoopie Goldberg and Harrison Ford movies and still not be able to sleep!!! But I kept listening.

She finally came up with a plan to have this creepy artist dude lock her in her apartment and make sure her basic needs were met (i.e. food) so she could take 40 of these pills in a row to finish out her “year of rest and relaxation” and NOT leave her apartment and not DO anything or FEEL anything.  In exchange for helping her with this, the creepy artist dude, got to make creepy art of her while she was “sleeping”.  (There is a whole undercurrent about the ridiculousness of the art world in this book that was sort of over my head because I am not in the art world.) Did I mention the no-named woman is independently wealthy because her parents were rich and left her all of their money? This was why she could sleep all day, not work, and still pay for drugs…in case you were wondering.

I kept listening to the book, because now I really had to see how it ended. And we were almost there.  Just three more months of sleep to go.  And luckily, they went quickly because she slept through most of it.

Here is how it ends. (Reminder…spoiler alert!) When she wakes up from her three months of slumber (somehow surviving on diet Sprite and some occasional light snacks and vitamins) she is emotionally healed!  AND she has NO drug withdrawal.  She does have to regain her strength with an egg salad sandwich so she can walk, but she does it.  She is now a person who can tolerate living in the world. And she is still, miraculously, beautiful.  She literally erased all of her angst by sleeping for a year, and then just woke up.  The book ends on 9/11 and she loses her one friend (who she didn’t really like) in the attack on the World Trade Center.  She records the footage of a woman jumping out of one of the towers and watches it over and over because she is sure this woman is her friend. And she thinks her friend is finally feeling alive in that moment. That is how it ends.

My first thought was… “That was a waste of seven hours of my life.”

I know there was all sorts of poignant commentary on our society in this book that I was supposed to pick up on. (I read about it in the literary reviews.) I didn’t pick up on any of that stuff. But it definitely, left an impression on me.  This was a CRAZY book and I could not stop thinking about it.  

I was thinking about how much I really needed to REST and how much I wanted to shut everything and everyone out and do absolutely nothing for a very long time. In those days, feeling sick and tired, I could totally relate to wanting to sleep and just ignore everything else.  And that freaked me out. 

I felt sad for this imaginary woman, of course. (I AM an empathetic Pisces sun/Cancer rising.) She had no tools to deal with her parent’s death. She had beauty, money, intelligence, a job in a cool art gallery (that she eventually lost because she kept taking naps there), but she was deeply unhappy. She didn’t want to face that, and she didn’t know how to fix it.  She did all the WRONG things to make it better. But then it WAS better.  And that freaked me out.  Life doesn’t work that way!!!

What was this book saying to me?  Why was it hitting me so hard?  I honestly wasn’t sure.  I continued to hibernate for the rest of the week and recover from the sinus infection.  I started this post about the book but had no conclusion, so I filed it away, incomplete.  I re-entered the world and went on with my life.  Things got crazy busy again.  I started flying around the country, working long hours, and squeezing in “creativity” on the side.

Then my body revolted on me again with another sinus infection. Whatever the message at Christmas, I didn’t get it.  My body loves to send me messages and if I don’t listen, it yells REALLY LOUD and the timing usually sucks.

This time it was my 50th birthday and my sister and my college friends were coming to town to celebrate with me. I managed to rally through the weekend with a lot of Sudafed, Advil, Augmentin, and Prednisone, but then I had to go back in to semi-hibernation to rest.  I felt a lot like the no-named beautiful, sad woman…with slightly fewer drugs and better entertainment.

The book and the unfinished blog post were haunting me (and not just because I am an ISTJ and hate having things incomplete.)  I think this book represents my own ongoing conflict between wanting to just “sleep” and hide out and wanting to be awake and alive – which is often scary and a lot harder.  And how much rest do I need? Am I resting enough?  I am not good at resting.  I am a type A person who always has a list of things to do, but maybe I need to just chill out more often. Does every weekend have to start with a to do list? Do I need to watch more movies and eat more Klondike bars?

I have been getting sick a lot the past few years, so I know something is out of alignment – physically, emotionally, spiritually.  To get back in alignment, I know I have to be IN the world more and go more deeply in to what I need to work on. But when I am sick, ALL I want to do is rest and hide out.  See the conundrum?

I have been debating all of this, thinking about my next move, and pondering how to end this blog post.

Then, last night, I had a dream about egg salad sandwiches. I think that was my sign that it’s time to wake up and come out the winter hibernation.  I have to figure out what my body needs to get healthy (and stay healthy) and find the right balance of resting and being in the world. What is out of alignment is probably some crazy shit that’s been building for 50 years (or maybe 50 lifetimes!) so this is not going to be easy, but I am going to figure it out. I might take a few naps along the way, and I will need to be patient, but I will get to the bottom of it. 

I did put my spiritual journey on the back burner a bit during this crazy time but its still simmering on the stove. All of this resting and being sick, ties in to the astrology stuff I have been studying but I will save that for another time.  If you are interested in my spiritual journey, you are in luck because I will be jumping back in hard core this spring.  Lots of good stuff coming up! I will be going deep. 

I learned this week, that between the full moon and the new moon, you should close things out, let things go, and make room for new stuff. I am letting go of this book.  I am letting go of this sinus infection. I am wrapping up this blog post and putting it out in to the world.

Bring on Spring and lots of new stuff!!!

My Thoughts on Leaving Neverland

I watched Leaving Neverland this weekend, the documentary just released on HBO about the experiences of two men who were sexually abused by Michael Jackson. I hadn’t read anything about it, but I wasn’t sure I wanted to watch it. I am trying to cut back on the media noise that comes at me from all directions every day. Did I really need to watch a sensationalized story about a famous person that has nothing to do with me? Will it make me not be able to listen to Michael Jackson music any more?

Of course, I was curious, so I watched it.

It was VERY hard to watch. It deeply touched me, so I feel compelled to share my thoughts and encourage others to watch it. I believe that it is everyone’s responsibility to watch this documentary. It’s so well done and important.

I have never been sexually abused and don’t know anyone, personally, who has shared this with me. So, I don’t speak on this topic from personal experience, but Oprah weighed in on the “After Neverland” special and she does know what she is talking about. It’s really an amazing documentary.

Be warned, the movie gets in to very explicit details about how Michael Jackson seduced and sexually abused two young boys for many, many years. As I was listening to these graphic details I was thinking “Why is this going in to so much specific detail?”, “Why am I watching this?”, “Is this helpful or sensational?” These are visuals that I now have in my head that will haunt me for a very long time. They are powerful and disturbing, but they are important part of the story. And because they are so specific (and similar) they are undeniable.

There is no way, listening to these men, that you could not believe them, unless you are in deep denial yourself. The sexual abuse is part of a bigger story of seduction and manipulation. This is the story that is important to understand, because this is how it happens, over and over, to so many children (according to Oprah who knows what she is talking about.) Those boys were in love with Michael Jackson and didn’t believe that what was happening was wrong. He convinced them to lie in court about what happened to protect him. Michael Jackson designed and built his home to facilitate the seduction and sexual abuse of young boys. That is a lot of planning and foresight. He was not a good man.

After watching this documentary, I felt complicit, in a way, to what happened to those boys. I only vaguely remembered the accusations. I probably believed that they were true but I don’t remember thinking much about it and it didn’t effect my opinion of Michael Jackson or his music. We kept loving him and buying his music, and he kept doing it. He manipulated the world.

The second half of the documentary is focused on what happened to the men as they became adults. They had this deep secret that waged a battle between their subconscious and conscious minds. They described this battle so well and explained how having children of their own triggered something inside that made them finally realize what had happened to them.

1 in 5 girls and 1 in 20 boys is a victim of child sexual abuse (National Center for Victims of Crime)

I encourage you to watch and listen to what these men have been courageous enough to share with the world. If there is something we can learn from this and bring in to our own lives to keep more children safe, it is worth 4 hours of being uncomfortable. Even if it means we can never listen to Michael Jackson music again. I thank Wade Robson and James Safechuck (and the boys who came forward before them) for their courage.

Media Deprivation Week

Week 4 of The Artist’s Way is “reading deprivation” week.  It was called “reading deprivation” in the early 90s when the book was written, but the world has evolved and now it is a full blown “media deprivation.” No reading, no TV, no movies, no newspapers, no social media, no podcasts, no blog posts, no internet surfing, and limited e-mail and texting. (If you have a job, you can work.)

Why would one do this, you ask? All of it? At one time?

The theory is that this noise is drowning out our own thoughts. The intent of The Artist’s Way is to uncover “blocked creativity” and our creative ideas have a harder time coming to the surface when your brain is drowning in information. All of this reading and consuming stuff can be one of the many ways we hide from ourselves.  In Julia Cameron’s words…

We gobble the words of others rather than digest our own thoughts and feelings, rather than cook something up of our own.

When I got to this assignment, I made excuses about why this was not a great time to do it, and I put it off. I went on a business trip and spent the week reading, listening to podcasts, and posting about my travels on Instagram.  But in the back of my mind, this “media deprivation” was calling to me. I was craving it and dreading it at the same time.

At the end of the week, which happened to be February 1st, I had dinner with a friend who mentioned an astrology web site that had given her a very accurate January horoscope. When I got home, I checked out my February scope which said…

The new moon of February 4th has you hunkering down in solitude to work on your strategy for 2019. Pisces does their best work when alone so carve out time to think, dream, draw, take notes, and plan…..whatever your aim, being alone will bring beautiful, thoughtful results. – Susan Miller

I took this as a clear sign that THIS was my week to tune out the world and tune in to myself.  I kicked off my “media deprivation” week the next day, and by the new moon on February 4th, I was well in to my week of solitude.

I did get sick on day one. (Not a surprise after four plane rides in two weeks.) I decided it was a test from the Universe. “Are you serious about this? Cuz I am going to make it REALLY hard for you not to turn on that TV and veg out, just to be sure you mean business.”

Well, the Universe should know that when I say I am going to do something, I (almost) always do it.  I felt like shit for a few days, but I did not break! When I was soooo tired and all I wanted to do was turn on the TV, I just went to bed.  I got A LOT of sleep!

With Sudafed and coffee to keep me going, I did actually get a lot of things done. I caught up on my Artist’s Way exercises. I called my parents. I cooked (twice)! I read my sister’s birth chart, which I had been putting off for months. (This was my one “reading” exception because I really wanted to knock this out.) I had a drink with a friend I had not seen in years. I was much more focused at work without the temptation of picking up my phone or flipping over to Facebook or reading the news.

Did the deprivation spark my creativity? Well, I did spend a lot of time on this vision board. (If you don’t know what a vision board is, read more here.)

This was a project I had already planned for the week, and then it turned out to be exactly what my horoscope told me to work on…”hunker down in solitude to work on your strategy for 2019… carve out time to think, dream, draw, take notes, and plan”  Hello! Vision board for 2019!

It was a delicate dance in the bookstore to find magazines for this project without actually reading anything, but I pulled it off! I spent hours picking out images and arranging and rearranging them on the page before I pulled out my glue stick and put it all together.

I love how it turned out. I managed to fill it up using mostly the magazines I intuitively selected for this purpose. I did print out a picture of Josh Radnor because I think he is the bomb and if I can call him in in 2019, then I will know I have truly stepped in to my spiritual power.  It also includes a washing machine with a portal to an “other world” (score for intuitively selecting a magazine that had that image in it!)

Would my vision board have been this awesome if I had not shut off all media which gave me extra hours to hunker down and do it? Who knows? Will it be more powerful because I created it in solitude on the new moon in Aquarius?  How could it not be?  We can circle back at the end of the year to see how much I end up manifesting for myself in 2019.  (If I call in Josh Radnor, you will hear about it way before then.)

In some ways, the “media deprivation” was like a week-long meditation. I paid attention every time I would normally pick up my phone and didn’t. I paid attention every time I thought I should take a picture to share on Instagram and didn’t. I stopped thinking about cool hash tags for my life, and just experienced it.

I felt like I was in a bubble of silence. Even when I was with people, it felt like I was in seclusion because I have become so used to this other layer of digital connection. I didn’t really miss the news or TV or podcasts or reading books.  But I missed the connection to my extended community. As an introvert, it would exhaust me to physically interact with lots of people all the time. But I like knowing what people are up to from a distance and I like them knowing what I am up to. But I also really liked the quiet of stepping away from it all.

The intent was to encourage you to tune in to your thoughts. I am not a person who runs away from my thoughts. I am a person who is more in my head that I should be. I personally think I need a mix of being alone with my own thoughts and being inspired by other people’s ideas to be creative. That was a key learning for me this week. I can do without the junk that fills my brain like empty calories, but the real quality stuff that I consume enhances my life, and my creativity. 

My week is up.  I have made it thought seven days, but I find myself resisting turning it all back on. I have this image in my mind of emerging from a dark cave in to a bright sunny day and the light is so overwhelming that you have to block your eyes from the sun.

I will ease my way back in to it with sunglasses on and try to continue with LESS of it all (especially those empty calories!) Perhaps a weekly re-set is in order to remind of the beauty of this silence.

I highly recommend this detox for everyone. It’s hard core, but you will learn something about yourself if you dive in and give it a shot. I promise!

My Imaginary Life as a Painter

This week, I started the The Artists Way, and one of my first assignments was called “Imaginary Lives”. Part 1 of this exercise was to think of five imaginary lives. What would I do (career wise) if I was not doing what I do now?

The first things that came to my mind were:

  • Pop singer
  • Astrologist
  • Writer
  • Painter
  • Vegetable Farmer

The vegetable farmer is weird, I know. I have always thought that maybe in a past life, I was a vegetable farmer. I get up early and go to bed early, like a farmer, even though I live in the city that never sleeps. I love vegetables and I am not a huge fan of animals. I am not sure if I really want to GROW vegetables, but this popped in to my head so on a subconscious level, maybe I do!

Part 2 of this exercise was to actually DO something related to one of these lives during the week. At first I thought I had to do ALL of them and I was like F&^*!!! I don’t have time for that. But just one, I thought I could manage.

I thought about corralling someone to go sing karaoke with me but I had a super busy week so I just couldn’t swing it.

Astrologer and writer were too easy because I am already doing both of those on a regular basis. (I know I haven’t written much about astrology yet, but I will!)

Painter came to mind because I had just seen a movie where a woman was painting and I thought “that looks like such a relaxing way to spend the day.” Growing up, I used to do paint-by-numbers all the time. I liked it because it had structure to it (open this paint color and paint where you see this number) but was also kind of creative. But paint-by-numbers take a really long time. You have to paint one color at a time and wait for it to dry. Its a process. (I should also note that my mother was a painter. I don’t remember her being particularly relaxed or un-relaxed about it but she made the most beautiful paintings. They far surpassed my paint-by-numbers of course, but she never rubbed my nose in it. Thanks mom!)

The plan at this point was to either paint or buy a plant.

I googled “tiny paint-by-number” and I found this! A super tiny Bob Ross paint by numbers kit. Score!!!! (This box fits in my hand. It’s tiny.)

The website said was in stock at my local Barnes & Noble so I ran out in the freezing cold to pick it up. If you haven’t been to an actual bookstore recently, you might not remember how hard it is to find something there. It is A LOT easier to order stuff online. But, I like to “buy local” when I can, and I was in a rush. I stopped at three information booths that steered me in the wrong direction. When I asked guy #4 at Barnes & Noble, he told me that he had wanted a Bob Ross bobblehead, and although he knew it was in stock, even HE could not find it in the store, so he ordered it on-line. (True story). BUT since his personal failed quest, he had one more idea of a place he hadn’t checked, and we found it. If you want one (and after you see how amazing mine turned out, you might), check the “spinner” near the check out isle at your local Barnes & Noble. (You’re welcome.)

Below, you can see all of the supplies that come with the “Bob Ross by the Numbers” kit: three super tiny “canvases”, paint, a brush, instructions, and an easel (to display your art on your desk when its finished).

When I read the instructions, I learned that I was going to ,have to mix my own colors. I panicked a little bit. This was supposed to be an easy, quick slam dunk. I was tired and had a headache and that just seemed hard. But I always do my homework and as one of my inspirational heroes Glennon Doyle says “we can do hard things”, so I pressed on.

My first attempt was the actual picture of Bob Ross painting. I did have some issues with the color mixing (Bob’s hair should be a little darker and the sky should be a little lighter) but it’s not too bad, it really WAS relaxing!

I was pretty sure I could so better so I took on one more painting (and miraculously my headache was gone!) I think painting #2 is kind of a masterpiece, don’t you think? Have you ever seen a more beautiful 3 inch by 2 inch painting? Are you not impressed with the dark and light purples I had to mix on my own using blue, red, and white? And what about the various shades of green? FYI, I learned from experience that to get dark green, you should mix in dark blue, not black. (Again, you are welcome for all of the knowledge I am sharing with you today.)

I am definitely happy that I went the extra mile to complete my assignment this week. I may seem like a small thing (no pun intended), but it felt so good to tune out and use my brain in a different way for a few hours. I had a long list of stuff I wanted to do this weekend, but I made the time for this creative endeavor and it was relaxing and fun! I impressed myself with my creative skills, and I think mixing my own colors counts as leaving my paint-by-number comfort zone, for sure.

The bonus of this activity was that it killed two birds with one stone. As part of the Artists Way, I also have to do an artist date every week. An artists date is “a block of time where you are committed to nurturing your creative consciousness.” Done and done. I do like to be efficient!

My Year of Creativity is off to a great start!

2019: The Year of…..

I decided to keep it simple this year.  I am going with a one-word theme.

I debated setting another goal to do a set number of specific things and was (of course) obsessing over how many things and what exactly those things would be. And then last week, the idea of having a one-word theme was presented to me.

This is not a new idea, but it was a new idea to me and I loved it because it was simple. And I don’t want to keep doing the same old “new” things. I need to innovate!

And…..I already knew what my word would be.

I had been thinking a lot about what I wanted to focus on in 2019.  I want writing to be a big part of it, but I have other ideas.  I recently realized that I have a lot of ideas that I don’t pursue. I let them float through my head while I am busy checking off meaningless stuff on my to do list and I often just forget about them.  Or sometimes they keep coming back to me and I make excuses not to pursue them.  Then I sit around saying “I don’t know what I want to do with my life and I have no ideas.” Sigh.

At the end of 2017, I read Big Magic: Creative Living Beyond Fear by Elizabeth Gilbert.  I loved that book and its been milling around in the back of my mind with all of those ideas. The story from the book that stayed with me most vividly was one she told about this glimmer of an idea she had that she wanted a garden. And she didn’t just dismiss it (like I have many times with the plant wall I keep thinking about) but she ran with it. Then she got interested in learning about the flowers and she ran with that!  And THAT turned in to a book.

“The universe buries strange jewels deep within us all, and then stands back to see if we can find them.  The hunt to uncover those jewels – that’s creative living.” – Elizabeth Gilbert, Big Magic

This idea of following your curiosity, reminds me of Alice in Wonderland, I have loved Alice in Wonderland since I was a little girl. Now I realize she has been calling me to follow my curiosity and uncover the hidden jewels.

“Do you have the courage to bring forth the treasures that are hidden within you?”  – Elizabeth Gilbert, Big Magic

Yes!!!!  I want to find those treasures and create amazing things because it will be fun!!!  (Extra bonus points if I can inspire other people to do the same!!)

I recently stumbled on the Big Magic podcast and listened to the Brene Brown episode.  She basically told me that I have no choice but to start creating more things. Here is what Brene said to me last week while I was walking around the East Village:

“The only unique contribution we make in this world will be born of creativity.”

“Creativity is soul work. It’s not about what we do, it’s about who we are.”

So yeah, I gotta get on this.

First, I must start writing down the ideas that come to my head so I don’t forget them. Then I need to take inspired action on the ones that speak to me the loudest. Then I will start creating things. Some of those things I will share, and some will just be for me. Some of those things will be writing and some of them will be other cool stuff.  Some of it might not end up being that cool or important, and that’s OK.

“You are not required to save the world with your creativity.”  –– Elizabeth Gilbert, Big Magic

In case you have not figured it out yet, my word for 2019 is CREATIVITY. 

I am going to follow my curiosity and create things out of the ideas that I am no longer going to ignore.  I am not going to do a specific number of things. I am just going to do stuff. Maybe it will be one HUGE creative project and maybe it will be 100.  Who knows? Did Alice have any idea what she was getting in to?

I am going to kick the year off with the The Artist’s Way.  For those who are not in the know, The Artist’s Way, is a “12-week program of exercises and explorations to loosen up one’s artistic self.” (My creativity hero, Elizabeth Gilbert, is a huge fan)

I am on my way to being loose and even MORE artistic!

Welcome to my #YearofCreativity.  Let’s see how this goes!

PS: The artwork above is a print I bought on Amazon from Lone Star Art. You can find it here.

2018 Year in Review

2018I started my year with a complicated plan to “sort of” continue my New Things from 2017 but with the intention to focus more on quality over quantity. You can read the details here but essentially, I had dialed it back to only 18 new things that had to involve one of my five goals for the year: Fun, Creativity, Connection, Meaning, Nature. (I added “leaving my Comfort Zone” later as a sixth goal, primarily so I could count new thing #1 which ended up not being as fun as I thought it would be.) 

I soon regretted this plan because I felt like I was being lazy. Well, my higher self does not let me be lazy for too long.  In April, I dialed things back up and decided to go on a pilgrimage to find my life’s purpose.  That decision changed the course of my year (and probably my life) and got me back on track with the trajectory I set in motion in 2017.  Phew!

My life expanded in 2018.  I am not the same person I was when the year started.  I would say that counts as #quality.

I did 40 new things. Not too shabby. When I sat down to review the list, I realized I had at least five that I never shared!!! See the list here.

I quit therapy after 20 years. There were a few “ah ha” moments in 2018 that led to that decision.  I am a huge fan of therapy.  I needed it and I healed and grew a lot from it.  I think most people would benefit from a good therapist.  But I realized this year that I have the tools I need to carry on the rest of the way without that relationship. No regrets so far. I LOVE having my Saturday mornings back.  #leavingmycomfortzone

I embarked on a spiritual journey. I didn’t even realize that was happening. I sort of knew I was signing on to work with a spiritual energy healer when I decided to go on the pilgrimage, but I ignored that part. I was like “yeah, we’ll see what’s up with that, but I really just want to solve this thing eating away at me that I should be doing SOMETHING but I have no idea what”.  Little did I realize that that THING eating away at me is the Universe sending me messages that I have been ignoring. I am learning (slowly, and sometimes still reluctantly) to believe those messages and pay attention to them. Some of this “spiritual stuff” still does not resonate with me, but some if it is like WHAAAATTT??? That is amazing!!! Much more to come on all of this, I am sure.  #meaning

I made amazing new connections. I have a tribe of new fabulous women friends who are also on this spiritual journey with me that I have learned so much from. Dating went in an interesting direction this year. I manifested more cookies than kale (this post will explain what I mean by that) but the cookies were fun I have learned from those connections, too. #connection #fun

It was a big family year. I had all of my nieces and nephew together more than once which was so much fun. I learned about past lives with my siblings (wow!) and spent quality time with all of my parents. (This is extra challenging because they are double divorced and spread up and down the East Coast. I spend a lot of time on Amtrak) There were some intense family moments as well, but you know what they say (and by they, I mean the Buddhist monk Thich Nhat Hanh)…No Mud No Lotus.  #connection #fun #meaning

I thought I found my life’s purpose, twice, and was then like…hmmm…maybe this isn’t exactly it.  This fall, I realized (with the help of my new spiritual friends and various podcasts) that this path I am on IS my life’s purpose. Learning, sharing, growing, paying attention and helping other people to learn, grow, share, and pay attention. That’s it. Don’t try so hard. Don’t think so much. Have fun. Roll with it. Trust the process. The process IS the thing. (Remind me to come back and read this when I forget, again, that the process IS the thing.) #meaning

The Garden of Eden

I didn’t write as much as I wanted to, but I did churn out 13 posts this year. I took a poetry class.  I saw a couple of interesting plays. I went to a cool event about music and math. I had the Garden of Eden painted on my body. I started using more emojis ? ?. But overall, 2018 was a little bit weak on #creativity 

Nature was the category that got the least attention in 2018.  My pilgrimage was hard core on nature. I did Butoh in the rain. We did a healing in a field full of sheep. I stared at flowers and trees for longer periods of time than I thought possible. I hiked the Tor, immersed myself in the healing pool of a sacred spring, tried to talk to trees, and hung out with a lot of prehistoric rocks.  Since then I made one trip to the New York Botanical Garden but otherwise my life has been mostly #nature free. This is another area for improvement.

All in all, 2018 pretty much kicked ass. I was sick more than I would like, so there are some things that need to be tweaked, but I went pretty hard.  I chose 18 for this year because it represented the Hebrew word Chai which represents being alive. I took my life to a new level this year and definitely felt alive! I chose the name Genesis when I was on my pilgrimage which represents beginnings. This year was the beginning of so many things. I look forward to what will unfold in 2019 and beyond. More on that soon….

Wardrobe Upgrade

I hate shopping for clothes.  I don’t need a Kardashian closet of clothes, but when I leave my apartment, I want to feel good in what I am wearing.  I have been working from home a lot the past few years so I have spent most of my time in yoga pants and t-shirts while the rest of my wardrobe has not gotten much attention. Every time I opened my closet recently, I have been faced with stuff I didn’t like any more or didn’t really fit right or I was just tired of wearing.

With everything else going on in the world right now, this is clearly not a REAL problem. But when you are trying to push yourself to spend more time out in the world, it helps if you can feel amazing when you walk out the door.

On my pilgrimage to the UK, I met a woman who was starting a business helping people clear out their closets and fill them with clothes they actually love.  I was tempted to work with her but it seemed extravagant to hire someone to help me buy clothes. But when I talked with Chris more about what she does, I realized it was so much more than just “going shopping.” I really loved the idea of how she “curates closets” so I signed on as a client.  And here is how it went….

We started with a creative process to understand what I like and how I want to feel in my clothes. I filled out a questionnaire with questions like “What images come to mind that represent how you want to feel in my clothes”, “Who are your style icons?”, “What are your favorite body parts”?  Chris used the questionnaire to pull together images from the internet of my style icons in outfits that might interest me. I was initially skeptical about this questionnaire, but it was really amazing to see how Chris used those answers to bring wardrobe ideas to life! (See below!!) Chris is a professional costume designer and wardrobe stylist. She has spent years designing and shopping for TV and movie characters.  For her personal clients she is dressing them for the part they most want to play – their true, authentic and best selves.  (My style icons were used as examples, but the end result was a mix that is uniquely me.)

Style Icons

We went through the images and some were spot on and a few were rejected. As you can see illustrated above, my style icons are Jennifer Aniston and Gloria Steinham (classic, simple, and on trend) with just a touch of Cher (sexy and sparkly).  Chris came over for our second session with a story board of my style icons and lots of inspiration for cool clothes that I would love to own.  We used it as our starting point for shopping, but now I also have this beautiful style book that I can refer to when I shop in the future.

Step two of the process was closet clearing.  We took a full day and I tried on every single piece of clothing that I own. We decided what to keep and what to donate. If I wasn’t sure what I wanted to keep or toss, Chris would point out my body language and expression and help me make the right choice. We ended up with three bags of clothes and shoes to donate.  There was also some Reiki thrown in because Chris is one of my new spiritual friends. (This part is completely optional but highly recommended.)

The other amazing thing that happened when we went through my closet is that Chris helped me alter quite a few things that I was not wearing because they did just didn’t fit right.  Chris fitted them for me on the spot (with my collection of safety pins I never thought I would use) so all I had to do was drop them off and tell the tailor to make the changes.  She fixed another dress with double sided tape and removed buttons on a sweater that we decided would  better off without them.  We found combinations of things I would not have thought to wear together and identified some simple things to buy that would fix some other wardrobe issues (like this amazing body suit from Free People that I can now wear under three different tops that I wasn’t wearing because I didn’t have the right thing to wear under them! See results below.)

Body Suit

And this was all before we even spent one day shopping!

Next up was our first shopping trip just to explore what could be fun and help me think out of the wardrobe box!  We went to a popular thrift store in NYC, not with the intent to actually BUY anything but try things on and maybe bring out my Cher  side! It worked!  We had a lot of fun and I unexpectedly came home with this crazy rainbow unicorn dress.  I am not sure where or when I will wear it but I love it and I am sure Cher would too (and it only cost $16.)

Rainbow Unicorn

We had three more sessions of hard core shopping.  Shopping with Chris was a lot more fun than shopping by myself.  She loves the thrill of the hunt so she went through the racks looking for things that aligned to our storyboard and our list of what I needed to compliment what I already have.  I just followed her around and said…yes, no, maybe?  She encouraged me to try things on I might not otherwise try and gave honest feedback on what worked and what didn’t.  She was incredibly patient with me as I analyzed the pros and cons of every piece. Can I wear it with multiple different things? Is it comfortable? Do I have somewhere to wear it? Do I really like it?  Will I like it in a few months? Will I be hot? Do I have something to layer it with? (this is what its like to be in my head on a shopping trip!)

I ended up with so many beautiful things that I never would have taken the time to find on my own (see a sub-set below.) I learned which floor to hit at Bloomingdale’s on future solo shopping trips.  I have at least one wardrobe piece that reminds me of each of my style icons.  I donated a ton of stuff that someone else will wear and love and will no longer sit in my closet unused.  I fixed a bunch of wardrobe issues with clothes I already own. And I can no longer use the excuse that I don’t have anything to wear to keep me from leaving my house.

Wardrobe Upgrade 2

We all want to feel good and look good.  When I am wearing something that makes me feel amazing I give off a different energy than when I am wearing something that makes me feel blah.  I am more likely to smile at strangers and send out positive vibes which contributes to a more positive world.  This is why Chris does the work she does (she says it much more eloquently than I do) and why I decided I wanted her to help me upgrade my wardrobe.  And I am very happy that I did!

If you live in NYC and need a wardrobe overhaul and want some help to make that happen, I highly recommend getting your closed curated by my friend Chris Rumery!  (Find her at chrisrumery.com)

 

The Universe Has My Back

Things just keep happening.  So many things that I want to write about! But by the time I sit down to do it, I don’t even know where to start because there is so much!!

You might just have to wait until I write my first book.  Although I have not been writing all that much, I have come up with a working title for this future book:

“A Recovering TVaholic Finally Discovers her True Piscean Nature”

PiscesDrawing4This working title was inspired by the astrology class I am taking.  I was reminded that Pisceans are supposed to have the deepest connection to spirit and are usually healers, poets, dreamers, musicians, and visionaries.  I studied computer science and got an MBA.  My feet are solidly on the ground.  I live inside the box.  I get shit done.  I am practical.  I am the opposite of a visionary.  I am the one who pokes holes in the crazy visionary ideas people come up with!!

I have learned that astrology is complicated and it’s not all about your sun sign. There was a lot happening in the sky when we popped in to the world and it all contributes to who we are. (or its all nonsense, but let’s assume its not, because that’s way more fun!)

But I also know that all of this Pisces stuff is inside me and it’s part of my purpose to tap in to it more.

Let’s not forget that I did play bass guitar in an all women’s rock band (briefly) with my friends from college (MUSICIAN!)  And I also recently wrote this kick ass poem (POET!)

And…… THE UNIVERSE HAS ACTUALLY STARTED TALKING TO ME!!! This might sound a little crazy but here is the story.

This week, I was reading The Universe Has Your Back (which is the kind of thing people on a spiritual journey do) and Gabby said that I can choose a sign for the Universe to use to send me a message. When I want to confirm that I am on the right path or making the right decision, I can just ask the Universe to show me this sign.

I knew immediately when I read this that my sign was an elephant. I have no special relationship with elephants. I saw quite a few on safari last year, and they were beautiful and amazing, but they had no deep impact on me (that I was aware of.) But LAST week, I did ask my spirit guides to talk to me for the first time ever and they sent me the image of elephant.  I still don’t know why. (It’s kind of like the journeying pickle.) But they showed me an elephant. They also sent me on a mission to find a Fleetwood Mac song sung my Christine McVie.  True story.  I really wanted it to be “You Make Lovin’ Fun,” but I think they were sending me “Sweet Little Lies.” And I think that meant that someone in my life was not being completely truthful.  This has yet to be confirmed, but I can assure you I am paying close attention!

My spirit guides have been silent since the elephant/Fleetwood Mac incident, but after a rough week, struggling with a difficult decision, I decided to ask the Universe if I was making the right call.  I said, “Universe, if I am doing the right thing, please show me an elephant.”

Then I went shopping.  And I bought a dress with rainbows and unicorns on it.  And it was a fun day of shopping, but there were no elephants.  And I was wishing I had picked the unicorn as my sign, but I hadn’t.

When I got home, I hung up my rainbow unicorn dress and went on line to find a new lamp because mine had died earlier that day and I was in the dark. I was scrolling through Amazon, checking out lamps, and there it was. Elephant Night Light

An elephant night light.

An elephant night light is not a “thing”.  One does not run in to elephants while searching for lamps. But there it was. My elephant.

And in less than 24 hours after that, I saw two more elephants!  I stumbled on an elephant charm while browsing necklaces online and then I saw an elephant birthday card at Papyrus!

The Universe has my Back!!!

The Universe (and all of the elephants) have confirmed that I made the right decision this week and that I am on the right path.  And this is good news for you if you are looking forward to my book, because my Pisces is starting to show!

PS: OK, so it’s possible that elephants might just be everywhere and I never noticed it before, but I choose to believe that the Universe has my back. You can believe whatever you want.

PSS: What’s also super weird is that when I went to find the specific elephant night light that the Universe sent me to include a nice picture with this post, I could not find it anywhere on Amazon.  It no longer exists on the internet!!!!  Weird a.f.!!! I did snap a picture of the O.E. (original elephant.) Here he is. Spiritual proof on my phone.

Elephant Night Light - Original

 

My First Shamanic Journey

I had my first shamanic journeying session a couple of weeks ago.  I decided to journey because my astrology/natal chart reading uncovered that I have some past life karma in my houses of family and committed partnerships that I am apparently working through in this lifetime. I am a super curious person and these are definitely areas of my life that have some angst,  so when my friend Kim (who did the natal chart reading) offered to do a journeying session to uncover and release some karma, I was all in!

So what is a shamanic journey? When I sat down to write this, I wasn’t really sure myself how to explain it but Google hooked me up.

“Shamanic journeying is a way of communicating with your inner or spirit self and retrieving information”  (source: Shamanic Drumming)

Who doesn’t want to get information from their inner self? I sure do!

What I did not realize was that a shaman can see in to other people’s inner/spirit selves – which is a very good thing because my attempt did not get very far (spoiler alert for three paragraphs down.)

So how does this work?  Did you know that you can journey with a Shaman through the internet? You sure can!  Kim and I connected on a Zoom call and chatted for a bit. We revisited my natal chart and talked about some stuff going on and then we jumped in.

I had my sacred space set up with crystals and incense and candles (yup, I have this stuff, now) and I laid back on my bed, relaxed and ready to go!  Kim led me through a sort of guided meditation and then started the shamanic drumming and rattling while she kept saying “shamanic” things that, full disclosure, I could not totally hear because of the drumming and rattling.

I tried REALLY hard to “see” stuff. I am sure I was trying too hard, but that’s how I roll. I saw a few images of the old west, desert and mountains, a porcupine, a cactus, a wagon, a fire pit, a woman in a white dress, a baby, a gun, and a pickle. Yes, a pickle.

At the point I saw the pickle, I was thought, “Clearly this is not working for me. Random stuff is coming in to my head and it can’t really mean anything.”  I told Kim what I saw and she said everything that comes in to your head means something, so maybe it did. So far, the meaning of the pickle is unknown.

But Kim saw a full on past life of mine. She went right in to my soul and pulled it out. Because she is a shaman and that is what shamans do. How do I know she really saw a past life? Well, I have no scientific proof, of course, but when she told me about it, I could feel that is was true. And every time I tell someone else about it, I can feel that it is true. Writing this now, I can feel that it is true. It feels true. That’s all I know.

It was a tragic story. It doesn’t feel right to reveal all of the details on the internet. It wasn’t just my lifetime, it was also the lifetimes of my brother and sister, who in this past lifetime were my children. They key takeaways were that I tried to hide all of us to protect us from something horrible and I couldn’t protect us. It did not end well.

This all made sense to me in terms of my relationships with my siblings. They are my heart and I completely believe they were my children in a previous lifetime.  The “hiding out” part Kim related to me hiding my true self from the world in this lifetime.  Holding back and not letting people see me. Metaphorically and literally.  This is definitely something I do.  I have dabbled in busting out, but I always run back. Laying low, avoiding connection, and staying quiet is where I am most comfortable.  In this past life something super scary happened and I hid to protect myself from it.  In this life my soul still wants to keep hiding. But we are here to learn lessons and clearly this is one I am working on.

Sure, the logical side of my brain understands that Kim could have intuited this story from everything she and I talked about and what she knows about me.  And I am sure some of you are thinking that, too. Does a Shaman see “past lives” or do they “see” stories that help people understand things about themselves in new ways and push through them.  Does it matter?  Isn’t ANY way to help people understand things about themselves and become a happier/better person a good thing?

I know Kim believes 100% that she is seeing stories from people’s souls that they carry with them from lifetime to lifetime.  (And she said it always surprises her when she does it!)  I know how this story FEELS to me, so I believe it, too.

What shamans can also do, I learned,  is bring back a part of your soul to re-integrate it. A part that is missing and holding you back. Kim convinced my former self (who’s name was Agnes) that I am not in danger now so I can come out.  It’s not quite that simple. I have not morphed in to an adventurous extrovert who always speaks her mind overnight. I have to work with Agnes on this now that we have been reunited, but it is kind of fun to tell myself “Let’s go Agnes, we’re stepping out!” (which I have been doing a bit more). I dragged my co-workers to a happy hour because I told them I was re-integrate part of my soul. They were awesome and supportive and went with me. I mean, how can you say no when someone tells you their soul depends on it!

What’s also awesome is that this work I am doing on my soul can apparently help the souls of my brother and sister! There definitely seemed to be some energetic shifts that happened. My somewhat skeptical sister (aka Matilda) became somewhat curious and could not stop thinking about this story. It made her feel elated even though the ending was tragic. Some karma release perhaps?  And my brother (aka Bobby, short for Robert) has been unusually communicative with my sister and I since this Shamanic Journey. Coincidence? Karma release? Hmmm….

It’s still crazy to me that I am on this path. I met someone last week and I found myself talking about all of this new spiritual stuff I am learning about.  At one point he asked me, “When did you go on this Pilgrimage?” I told him it was just in May. And he said, “So this is all new? Who were you in March? What would we be talking about if I met you in March?”  That really blew my mind.  It feels like light years since March.  And who will I be NEXT March?  Or in my next lifetime? There is so much yet to be revealed….