I've tried it all- trading in one identity for another, going from one job to the next, falling in and out of love, geographic solutions, and the quick fixes that don't actually fix- drugs, denial, distraction.
There is a phrase in the Mardi Gras Indian culture that has always called to me. The big chief sings it before going into mock battle with other tribes on the streets of New Orleans. Made cu defio...
It means into the wilderness.
For me it signaled going in, facing my fears and and the things I'd been denying (because those things have a way of catching up anyway). It meant accepting my past and all the disowned parts of myself. Seeing how my trials gave me the spiritual path I now walk and the wisdom I now share.
Knowing that our depth of character and maturity comes from the integration of our experiences is part of this year's Pluto, Saturn, and South Node conjunction.
The health and prosperity of every organism is based on the functioning communication and homeostasis of cells. At at a macro level, our society operates like any other organism and we are the cells of this planetary body.
Imagine you've been given a diagnosis and informed of how critical it is to make changes. That's basically what's happening with Uranus' transit through Taurus in the next 7 years. Taurus rules our physical body, our environment, and our agriculture. It also rules currency and what we place value on (Venus rules Taurus). The shadow of Taurus is greed, scarcity, and an inflexible attitude towards change. Uranus is a change agent. Wherever it travels, expect disruption of the status quo.
By changing our thoughts and behaviors around environmental stewardship, physical mindfulness, and how we value life on this planet, we are part of the healing process. A harmonious human "flora" can withstand the turbulence of deep sea change. The irreversible, necessary and cleansing change that is cresting now.
Today begins the year of Jî Hài, the yin earth pig. If you were born in 1935, 1947, 1959, 1971, 1983, 1995, or 2007 then this is your year. Whatever the focus was in 2007 is where you can expect growth and maturity. It's also worth mentioning that this cycle coincides perfectly with Jupiter's transit through Sagittarius.
Yin pigs are nurturing and resourceful with a knack for helping people grow into their fullest potential. They intuitively understand the value of a thorough process and are known for their slow, steady patience. Jupiter is the planet of expansion and opportunity. This can either create success or excess depending on how consciously we work with the energy.
Codependency is the shadow of the Helper. When we exalt others before ourselves, we create an inner imbalance and disharmony. If you're a yin pig this might be the year you allow others to help nurture your growth, as yin pigs tend to take a back seat in situations that trigger an unconscious fear of success.
This year, the challenge for pig year folks is to become more assertive and embodied. Also, making sustainable investments in personal growth is key to any success. We can't expect to handle power and money responsibly without first establishing an underlying sense of self value and worth. So do you, lil pig. Just. do. you. 🐖
Someone asked what I was looking forward to in 2019, and it totally threw me off. I'm used to being asked what my goals and intentions are, but I've been trained to think that expectations are a loser's gold. "Looking forward to" implies a confidence that things will go as planned. I recently realized that in avoiding expectation, I had also robbed myself of joyful anticipation.
Without anticipation we miss something important- I'm gonna call it the juicy middle. It's a spiritual place, teaching us to cultivate vulnerability. It opens doors for what you didn't consider possible. It let's something else in, whether you call it God, Higher Power, Universe, or Spirit. It's an openness and a humility that is grounded in surrender.
Letting go of old disappointments and opening to that exciting possibility, aka the juicy middle, feels like a risk to my survival brain. And that's it... shifting from surviving to thriving is what I'm most looking forward to 2019.
It's my favorite time of year in New Orleans. Other people might prefer carnival or festival season, but for me it's the pretty lights and cozy gemütlichkeit of winter. In my native Germany, gemütlichkeit is a cultural agreement that translates to friendliness and warmth. Even now I can almost taste the soft baked pretzels, warm mulled cider, and spicy gingerbread hearts that were sold at every corner kiosk during the holidays. I remember lighting candles on the advent's wreath every Sunday at my Oma's house where family and neighbors gathered for the midday meal.
In astrology, the time from Thanksgiving until the Winter Solstice is when the sun moves through the constellation of Sagittarius. According to mythology, Sagittarius was not a centaur but actually a satyr (half man / half goat) who lived on Mount Helicon with the nine Muses. Gifted in the arts and sciences as well as the hunt, Sagittarius was a wild and lusty fellow with little care for manners or authority. Unlike other half beasts, however, he was known to be kind and benevolent towards humans- even taking a few under his wing as students. Apparently the Muses so loved him that they asked their father Zeus (aka Jupiter) to place him among the stars. He is depicted with four legs because of his affinity for horses, and his arrow is aimed at the sky, a symbol of transcendence.
The archetype of Sagittarius perfectly captures the vibe of the season for me... or rather, how I want to feel this time of year. There is so much to be grateful for, yet the holidays can feel far from light. Relationship, health, or financial stress, not to mention shorter days and cold weather can cause depression and feelings of isolation for a lot of folks. It's important to reach out, stay connected, and prioritize self-care. Also, remembering what's going right rather than what's missing can help if you're feeling the blues. While I never endorse spiritual bypassing, a little optimism can go a long way under Jupiter's influence.
Recently Jupiter entered Sagittarius as well which hasn't happened since 2006. Think of where you were 12 years ago around this time. Whatever story was happening then is cycling back around as part of a 12 year continuum. I remember exactly where I was and how the choices I made that year have affected my life in big, SOUL fulfilling ways. Now is the time to envision how to deepen any significant commitments or changes we started at that time.
It bears mentioning that when Jupiter, the planet of expansion and opportunity, travels through its sign of rulership, we get a a double whammy of this expansive energy so pay attention to how you're being summoned to level up. There will be plenty of opportunities to receive divine "downloads" if we're open and receptive. We can also adopt a more Sagittarian attitude by learning a new skill, by spending more time in nature, through travel that expands cultural awareness, and by expanding our tolerance and acceptance of others. Be curious. Take a walk on the wild side, and let yourself roam into uncharted territory. The universe will reward you.
In my spiritual practice, the Winter Solstice is when I reflect on what I've learned and how I've grown over the year. It's also a time to release anything that feels complete, and one simple ritual is to write things down and feed the list to a fire (even a candle will do). Close with a prayer or just a "Thank You" to bless the ending.
This Solstice is extra special because we have a full moon at 0º Cancer with a helpful sextile to Uranus. Our best bet is to stay open-minded and flexible, trust spontaneous bursts of intuition, expect the unexpected, and practice acts of generosity by giving everyone the benefit of the doubt, especially family. With Venus finally out of her retrograde shadow, things are moving along, but in times of big change, the more grounding practices you have the better.
Soon the sun will begin to shine a little longer each day, ever reminding us of the continuous spiral that is life. As always, thank you for allowing me to be of service. Many of my clients don't know about the astrology and tarot coaching aspect of my business, so I hope that by writing this it will serve as a beacon of knowledge that is available for anyone seeking.
Wishing you all the very best this holiday season and good health & prosperity in the coming year.
When I decided to give up alcohol twelve years ago, it wasn't an easy decision. I hadn't lost a job, a relationship or a home because of my drinking. No one was laying down ultimatums or telling me to quit. In fact, my family was really upset when I announced that I stopped drinking and started going to 12 Step meetings. Overly concerned about what other people would think, they regarded my sobriety as more of an embarrassment than a triumph.
No one, at the time, wanted me to call myself an alcoholic. Friends and co-workers all jumped to my defense when I mentioned the word. Don't say you're an alcoholic! We all have those nights.
I knew I had a problem because those nights weren't the exception, they were the rule. Waking up with a hangover had become the norm. If my drinking felt like it was getting too out of control, I would tell myself to reign it in. By burying myself in work, taking on more responsibilities, and focusing on other people's problems, I auto-piloted into controlling behavior instead of getting the help I needed. I could go a week or even a month without drinking. Once I went almost five months, but the minute I picked up the first drink it was like being catapulted back into my addiction with a vengeance. I drank like I had never stopped but with the self righteousness of someone who could stop.
It took a long time to get help simply because no one was willing to admit I had a "real" problem. I was struggling to string more than 2 or 3 sober days together before I finally reached out to one of the only women I knew who didn't drink. I told her that I wanted to stop for a year this time- that I needed to reign it in. She laughed because it all sounded way too familiar. And then she told me where to go for the support and encouragement I needed.
I haven't looked back since. And today I am so thankful for the one dissenting voice that saved my life. It turns out that my liver was able to regenerate in the time I was sober before being diagnosed with an auto-immune disease. This is not a subject that I take lightly. Going to those meetings literally saved my life, in more ways than one.
When asked what an addict looks like, most of us picture someone in the late stages of their disease. This depiction is unrealistic by today's standards, and yet the general consensus is to stick to the story of a person with shaky hands grabbing for the bottle first thing in the morning. And while this is a common scenario, it's far from the only scenario.
I ask myself why a lot... why do we enable a story that perpetuates unnecessary suffering?
For one, there is profit to be made from staying in denial. Stress, disease, and the elusive search for fulfillment make us buy more products, fill more prescriptions, and consume on so many different levels. It's as though we're set up to look for love and empowerment everywhere but where it actually resides, which is inside of us.
I was taught to equate martyrdom with love and intensity with intimacy. I believed that alcohol and a relationship would fix everything about me that felt broken. I call this brokenness my hungry ghost, and I thought exerting more discipline could keep my hungry ghost in check when things spiraled out of control. But for me controlling was actually part of the problem... and therein lies the paradox of addictive thinking.
With all the stigma still floating around, it takes courage to dig a little deeper and admit that our favorite coping skills may actually be hurting us, and that we, gasp, might have a problem with codependence or addiction. Keeping up appearances is one of the biggest obstacles for women when it comes to getting help. We are inundated with messages from a perfection-obsessed, I got this culture. No one wants to admit they are struggling, and yet, so many of us are.
The thing to keep in mind is that when a problem is named for what it is, the solution is easier to access, and the first thing we'll learn about that problem is that we're not alone.
We've been in an eclipse sandwich for several weeks along with six retrograding planets: Mercury, Mars, Saturn, Neptune, Pluto, and Uranus. That's A LOT of retrograde energy! The last of the eclipses happened on August 11th and Mercury stationed direct on August 19th which officially marked the end of eclipse season.
During heavy retrograde periods like the one we're in, slowing down and cultivating a detached awareness is often more productive than bulldozing through issues or conversely burying our heads in the sand. The goal is to observe and take stock while reserving judgment. (Notice I used the word goal.)
Eclipses are pauses and reboots. They give us an opportunity to acknowledge what's not working anymore. Rather than amputate a behavior, it's important to consider the driving need behind it which almost always comes back to 3 simple things: self-worth, self-care, and a yearning for connection & support. Even though the eclipses are over, we will be working with them for several months to come.
This is an excellent time to look at any patterns, behaviors, relationships, or beliefs that aren't serving you anymore. Sometimes the writing is on the wall and asking straightforward questions can be helpful. During this process, it's important to keep in mind that this isn't a morality check, it's a reality check. Self-judgment is counterproductive in healing.
However you approach this retrograde cycle, remember to hold yourself in a space of compassion and gentleness. But also, be honest. Confront what's uncomfortable. Believe there's a bigger life ahead of you if you can let go of fear and control.
Today as the sun moves from passionate, heart based Leo into practical, service oriented Virgo, place your hand on your heart and say, "I will love myself today by asking the hard questions and then by seeking the help and relief I need." When we heal ourselves, everyone else benefits. A healthier world starts with us.
May you be free of suffering and all the causes of suffering.
When I was a kid, I often had to choose sides. Whether on the playground, the bus, in the girl's bathroom, or at the dinner table I was perpetually caught in the middle of other people's "stuff". It didn't feel good, but I saw no other option than to stay put, squirming in messiness that wasn't mine.
At the time I didn't know how to say "May I be excused while you guys work it out?"
How I coped as an eight year old didn't look much different from how I coped as an adult. Sometimes I picked the side I could most benefit from. Sometimes I worked both sides, arrogantly assuming the voice of reason in an unreasonable dispute. Sometimes I sided with the person who I most needed love and approval from. And sometimes I just dodged bullets, suffering unnecessary casualties.
Sound like every episode of Game of Thrones? Welcome to my codependent life. (Spoiler: it's gotten better!)
I never learned how to consider my own neglected needs in the chaos of other people's drama, let alone express them. Instead I pretended to be okay and dissociated in self-harming ways which progressed as I got older. I settled for a temporary sense of intimacy that being in a triangle gave me. (It wasn't until much later that I learned the difference between intensity and intimacy.) And here's the mustard seed... when the conflict resolved itself and my role became obsolete, I felt very, very alone.
This loneliness followed me into every one of my relationships until I finally started doing the work of identifying, naming, and recovering my core needs.
I'm sharing this intensely personal and vulnerable thing about myself because shadow work has been so valuable in identifying patterns like this and releasing them with non-judgment and compassion. This work isn't about shaming ourselves or anyone else. It's about naming, freeing, and feeding those hungry parts of our spirit that have been malnourished. It's about asking, "How do I take care of myself right now without acting out of emotional scarcity?"
And when you're ready, it's about acknowledging the ways in which your shadow protected you. How certain defects are actually attributes once they've been exposed to the light.
This week Saturn in Capricorn is squaring Mercury in Aries which means we get a chance to set right the ways we communicate from the wound. We get to be warriors of love and loyalty TO OURSELVES by being aware of our shadow behaviors and cultivating kind, loving acceptance. When that happens, great healing is possible for the entire world.
My mantra for the week as I embrace my shadow is "Breathe, tell the truth, ask for help, remember this is all practice, and just show up the best you can."
Carry on witches.
Good read: The Language of Letting Go, Melody Beattie
It sure is an interesting time to be a woman. I bet every generation says that, but when smashing the patriarchy and slaying become standard vernacular for the average thirteen year old girl, it's obvious that something big is happening.
I'm the byproduct of war. Of generations of internal and external battle, so the idea of smashing anything reinforces a narrative to me around fear and violence. But endorsing the alternative wouldn't be as powerful a change agent, and I get that. We have a lot to fight for right now. If Beyonce had written, "I nap, hey I nap, you should nap, let's all nap" and shot a video all curled up in her pajamas, it wouldn't have gotten anyone's attention (though I'm sure she slayed some serious naps while she was pregnant with twins).
You don't get bumped to warrior goddess status by writing about the realness of adrenal exhaustion or how bad we all need self-care, things relevant in smashing patriarchy but not as impressive as, say, smashing windshields.
So today I woke up thinking, "How do I slay?" I have mad for respect for Queen Bey, but I'm not the Amazon she is. I'm sensitive and cry easily. I worry more than I used to and have to work at relaxing. I've spent a lot of time on my knees praying (which rhymes with slaying) and bowing to uncontrollable circumstances. In fact I can't recall a more humbling period of life, maybe ever.
This year it became obvious that saying I got this wasn't serving me anymore, and I would have to let people in, accept help, and embrace things that don't fit the strong woman archetype.
Maybe because society confuses vulnerability with weakness and stoicism with strength, admitting we don't got this is one of the biggest spiritual challenges we face as women. I've spent too much time comparing myself to other people, wishing I could handle things differently when I'm actually doing the best I can with the tools I have. I've inherited some not-so-great beliefs about self sufficiency and what it means to be "strong." I'm ready to let go. Instead of keeping up appearances, I'd rather be keeping it real.
So that's it. Fierce self compassion and humbling honesty is how I slayed 2017. Sometimes gracefully, but mostly in a state of awkward discomfort, I accept who I am when I'm not constructing a public image or branding myself as this or that. I listen to my body. I'm receptive. I ask for help.
"Life is uncertainty. Life is change. Life is growth. So I came to know that I did not know. The twist is that once I surrendered 'knowing', I was free to enjoy what life presented. And I learned to trust more and more the process of life." -Catherine Ann Jones
As always, my clients have been some of my greatest teachers, and I've been blessed with very wise, very brave women asking for support, wanting to get real. Women who struggle with vulnerability just like I do. Women who are bone tired but still manage to show up and do the thing day after day. I've listened and learned so much from your stories, taking it all to heart, and I feel humbled by the trust you've placed in me.
Our world is going through such an enormous paradigm shift, replete with the turbulence and trauma that all massive change pushes to the surface. We are at the crossroads, releasing the old, birthing the new, figuring out what we want to carry over and filing it all into context while it's happening. Patriarchy wounds all of us by de-sensitizing and robbing us of our softness. If you have the energy and the gumption, then by all means... go out there and slay like an Orisha. But don't confuse slaying with betraying your intuitive, emotional, and life-affirming feminine nature.
This morning the sun moved into Capricorn, marking the first day of winter. The rebirth of our sun on the Winter Solstice is symbolically my favorite time of year. A time of restored hope and deepened faith that everything comes back around, darkness doesn't last, and life is a great big spiral.
Capricorn brings much appreciated stability. While the sun is in the archetype of the engineer, we can use this time to draw up juicy plans for the spring. But first...
Catch up on some rest.
And remember that you are the gift. May the warmth of my heart join yours on this longest, darkest night.
So I had my follow-up appointment with a liver specialist last week.
"I'm not going to start any treatment yet. Just stick to what you've been doing, and come back in three months," says the nice lady at Tulane Organ Transplant Center.
Time. What I've been doing is buying myself more time.
In future blog posts, I'll be writing about things I feel might be helpful to anyone on a similar healing journey. But before any of that happens, I needed to be okay saying I have this thing. This chronic dis-ease. And I needed to believe that it doesn't make me defective. That I am not a fraud posing as a healer because I have something that is one of the most common and misunderstood epidemics of my generation, affecting more women than breast cancer or heart disease.
"While 2.2 million women are living with breast cancer and 7.2 million women have coronary disease, an estimated 9.8 million women are afflicted with one of the seven more common autoimmune diseases." -Donna Jackson Nakazawa
I'd love to de-stigmatize the word disease and to provide an emotionally safe environment for my clients to share their journey, which can often be isolating. The more we connect and empathize with each other, the better we feel. This philosophy has been the foundation of my professional practice for 18 years. It's the walk I am committed to.
But talking about your disease with friends and loved ones can be hard. I, myself, needed to cocoon for a while. To get used to the idea of living with something that will never go away. Like with any major transition in life, I needed time to adjust to my new reality without the pressure of a million reactions and well-meaning opinions. I have a lot on my plate, and it's my right to take care of myself in the way I need... apart from the needs and demands of others.
"We are human. Of the nature to grow older, to get sick, and eventually, to die." My therapist Nancy shared those words with me, and they are actually quite soothing.
While I don't want to think about aging, illness or death, it's been a relief to face such a giant a fear and retrain myself to believe nothing terrible is happening. My goal now is to learn how to adapt to these new circumstances, and override any hope of being the exception. Being part of the pack, embracing life as a moment to moment gig, feeling my feelings. That's the approach that feels most sane to me.
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