Libraries

There’s a meme/graphic floating around on Facebook about the importance of libraries and how they are safe havens for the vulnerable. I felt inclined to share it because it resonated with me so much. As I started to really think about it, it occurred to me that in every stage of my life, the library has played an essential role.

  • As a child it was a place for us to kill time after school when our parents were still at work. I remember the 19th century brick of the Bennington Free Library: probably the first place I felt a sense of independence. I could snuggle into the pillows of the children’s section, and borrow movies for FREE! I learned about the Birds & the Bees by a particularly humorous educational cartoon from this library lol . Before entering, I had to gather my courage to pass by the gaggle of teenagers who had laid claim to the front steps, drinking cokes and skateboarding off the handrails. I celebrated each tiny victory
  • As a teenager I would sneak off to the Romance section and peruse through the naughty parts of each book, too ashamed to check one out, but powered by hormones nonetheless. The thrill of hiding among the stacks while reading adult things was  kind of simple pleasure for a 14 year-old. As a young artist, I would wander through the community-featured paintings that libraries often display, wondering if my art would one day be on the wall. As a young writer, I was overjoyed to be invited to recite one of my poems (in front of an audience!) at the library. In the days before Siri, I knew the answers to any question I had could be found beyond those walls.
  • As a college student, I learned how to navigate microfilm, studying an America almost alien to my modern self. Like Indiana Jones, I delved into the ancient tomes: detective to a different era. Before Wikipedia, libraries were key to my success in college. They were also an escape from the chaos of the dorms. The ONLY place that guaranteed quiet.
  • As a homeless, unemployed pregnant 20-something, the library was literally a godsend. I had no money, no healthcare, no resources of my own. I was scared, uneducated about pre-natal care, and was living 1000 miles from home in Hurricane Katrina-ravaged Louisiana. Very few basic services were available, and the library was one of them. I was able to apply for Medicaid, find a doctor, a job, and most importantly read books about taking care of myself and baby. I am eternally grateful for the vital role the St. Tammany Parish Library played in me & my daughter’s life.
  • As a thirty-something single mom who eventually started WORKING for the Jefferson County Public Library System, the 2nd largest library system in Colorado, I discovered how diverse, vibrant and extensive library services were. Until then I had no idea the amount of programming goes on, how many non-profits are involved, how connected schools, teachers, parents, social workers, government officials, national organizations, local support groups, and dedicated individuals were to their community libraries. They were energy hubs, buzzing with all types of people and brimming opportunities. Yes, it wasn’t all candy and rainbows. Like any public space, libraries deal with struggles, criticism and misuse.

We may be living in a digital age, where people can download any book they want to their phones, tablets or computers. We can search the internet for any answer we want, and at the blink of an eye can access multitudes of information. But libraries provide more than that. They are safe havens. At every stage in my life, libraries were important to me in essential ways, beyond books and magazines. My life & (now) my daughter’s life are better because of libraries. I was a vulnerable kid, teenager, student, mom-to-be, and worker. And I’m eternally grateful for the resources available to me. Thank you libraries. I’ll always be happy to pay taxes that support you.

 

Mega Transit- Heightened Awareness

I’ve been trying to put my thoughts together on the epic week I had, starting with the full moon last Wednesday.  I don’t know if epiphany is the right word, or if you even believe in those (it made me think of the below movie..haha).

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I experienced sudden awareness, feeling “woke”, a heightened sensitivity, extreme receptiveness on an issue that was brought to my attention in one physical, mental and spiritual moment. As crazy as it sounds, I felt like I was receiving a message. The energies were that strong.

It began with a cake pop (lol).

Continue reading “Mega Transit- Heightened Awareness”

Old Soul

Happy 2017! As I scroll through Facebook, I see my friends overcome by a passionate determination NOT to repeat 2016; to put that hellish year behind them, to give the previous 12 months the proverbial FINGER. I want to get on the FU train as well, but unfortunately I’m “blessed” by the astrological knowledge that we’re not out of the woods yet. The major cosmic consensus is that 2017 is going to be 2016: Part 2. F.O.L, right?

My astrology group meets tomorrow and we’re going to have a 2017 round table. I’m excited to discuss the planetary movements, and expand my skills and knowledge of the upcoming transits. I’m also psyched to tell my group that I’ve been awarded the 2017 AFAN scholarship, to attend the NCGR astrology conference in Baltimore. Woo hoo! Hopefully there will be someone else attending and we can maybe split the cost of the hotel. I mean, so what if I’m 34 and they are all in their 50s and 60s? Don’t they know that deep down I’m practically ancient?

Since moving to Albuquerque almost 2 years ago (wow), I’ve been struggling to connect. There seems to be an odd gap in my peers: Either straight out of college or nearing retirement. Where are all the 30 somethings? Oh right, blissfully married with kids and buying houses. They aren’t looking to “make new friends”.  Honestly, until I branched out into looking at astrology meet-ups, I was pretty isolated in couplehood and motherhood as well.

I was working on a chart one day and I heard an exclamation from behind my desk.

“I love astrology! You do natal charts?”

I looked up to see snow white hair cascading down from a lined face. The woman was easily my mother’s age. Even so, it’s always exciting to find someone else who is interested in the same fringe topic as you, and we chatted for a while about the planets and our past loves (damn those Scorpios!). So I had made a friend. A friend twice my age, but EFF it.

It’s a good thing I’m an old soul, cuz I can’t wait to mingle among the silver-haired crowd at the conference in February. Maybe it’s not just friends I should be looking for at this point, it’s mentoring, wisdom, networking and guidance.  I hope I don’t look like too much of a newb.  And whatever 2017’s got in store for me, I’m ready to bring it too.

Post Election 2016

I had to go home from work yesterday because I started crying during Hillary’s (and then Obama’s) speech. In a government office where CNN is constantly on, I couldn’t escape it. I cried for my sister, who (due to pre-exisiting conditions) will probably lose her health care in the coming months, if Obamacare is repealed. My boyfriend (a mechanic turned student) would also lose his.  Like many Millenial couples, we’re not married so he can’t be added to my health plan.
I know many, many people in our country are unhappy with the state of their lives. We all had to face harsh realities in the past 8 years. But the key word was REALITY: the USA had a mess to clean up, serious economic, environmental and social issues we had to address. And we were, but the growing pains were VERY apparent. I understand that Obama was asking A LOT of from a country that was entrenched in the way things were.
But I really believe this country was moving forward. Thousands of people finally were able to get insurance. Love was no longer being discriminated against, and my own sister (plus many other friends) was able to finally get married to her partner. We had a president who was actually addressing the fact that our environment was collapsing, and for our kids to literally have a viable PLACE TO LIVE in the future, a major overhaul of the current dependence on fossil fuel was not only necessary but MANDATORY.
And yes, these things changes were extremely difficult for a lot of people. Jobs based on oil, coal and gas were going away, insurance premiums were going up, and people were suffering the brunt of that. I know this. I’m not ignoring this. I see my friends struggling with this everyday. I wish insurance companies and oil corporations had stepped up to offer a cushion for their employees, giving them incentives for being healthy, and ways to transition to green energy careers.  But they weren’t willing to take the financial hit the government was forced to hand out, and it ended up falling on the people. I don’t blame the government for trying to make us healthier and our environment cleaner. These are things that will benefit us in the longer run. But for half of our country, the immediacy of these decisions felt like an assault on their very livelihood. It was like a punch in the gut, which triggered a lot of anger.
For me, when faced with this reality, I had to ask myself “What’s more important? My personal finances or the viability of our planet? My bills, or a very sick person’s health?”  I suppose it all comes down to “me vs. them.” Are we willing to sacrifice parts of our lives in order for others to have a better one? I think that those 2 schools of thought are really the driving force behind what happened during this election. Are we able to look beyond our own struggles, or is the pain, loss, anger and hardship too much for us to bear? I think that when we are in a state of panic over the thought of eviction, bankruptcy, default and poverty (of our children!) we are unable to see beyond those psychological blinders. And as many Trump supporters might say “Why should we?”
But some of us really believe that if we pay our due then the government will return the favor. I am evidence of that. When the housing market crashed, and the economy was so bad I couldn’t afford my own rent, I moved in with my mom and saved until I could find a place (with government assistance). I relied on Head Start (a government funded child care), I lived off food stamps and did what I could (including donating my own DNA to a childless couple) to finally get where I could support myself. It was a combination of hard work, luck (or the planets :P), government help and support from family and friends. I used government programs the way they were intended. I watched my mother in her job as a Social Worker, and saw how our taxes went to work to help people. I saw the struggles, the defeats, the cheaters, but also the success stories (me).
 
I am not an island. I would not be living a reasonably comfortable life without the help of my family and friends and YES the GOVERNMENT. As a head of household and primary breadwinner, I know I cannot do it alone. I too have a family relying on me to support them. I have bills to pay like everyone else. I think both sides of the divide can understand this!  However, I do not blame my struggles on minorities or “illegals taking our jobs” or those who abuse the system. I don’t blame Obama for having to face almost a decade of problems to fix and making some of the most difficult decisions a president can make.
I don’t care that if taxes are high if that means a better education, health care and community resources for our kids. Some people do. I think racism, sexism, classism, and bigotry are behind a great many American’s decision making, but I know that good people voted for Trump too. People who’s lives were thrown into total chaos because of the changes Obama was making. I feel for all who suffered.
But I’m scared. I see people unwilling to be understanding and compassionate. The IDGAF attitude that elected Trump wanted to set a bomb off in our country’s face. OK, but how are we going to deal with the fallout? Who’s going to clean up (if possible) the mess? I feel like lines will be drawn, and innocent people like our children will suffer. There doesn’t need to be a war, but it’s almost as if people would rather see our country become an episode of the Walking Dead than continue the way it was going. And that scares the shit out of me.

Baby Astrologer

Happy Halloween! Gather round ye children and let me tell you the tale of how I discovered the ancient art of Astrology  at the tender age of….

My mom always said I had an old soul. She also said it was my dad’s first time on Earth ….

When I was a young and impressionable tween in rural Vermont, I made the switch from public school to the crunchy granola establishment which I fondly refer to as “Hippie School”. At this school we had the freedom to choose any independent study we wanted.  It literally could be anything from Shakespeare to Klingon. Naturally, this loner was drawn to books. In particular… THIS BOOK:

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I was OBSESSED with this book and it’s weirdly intriguing illustrations. At age 11, I read it almost every day. After memorizing each sordid tale of the Gods and Goddesses, I started connecting the dots between Greek and Roman names and our own solar system.  You know… Zeus = Jupiter,  Ares = Mars, which eventually lead to discovering the names of other stars and constellations in the sky.  Independent Study led to book reports, which led to theatrical adaptations (the crown jewel being “The Abduction of Persephone”), which led to toga designing and epic hair braiding, which led to Julius Caesar, which led to the CD recording of Gustav Holst’s The Planets. 

I was also simultaneously reading YM and Tiger Beat at my friends’ houses, where I was introduced the infamous sun-sign horoscopes. Throw that juicy slice of pop-culture on top of my nerd-fueled obsession with Greek Myths, and it’s no wonder I threw myself wholeheartedly into the “New Age” world. Before you know it, I was buying crystals, burning incense, making dream catchers, writing  semi-erotic mythical fan fiction.

It didn’t help that my dad was a free-spirited musician and my mom a anti-establishment feminist. Until my 8th year of life, I don’t remember my dad wearing anything but sandals and shorts. My mom could not have cared less about my dabblings in the occult. As long as I wasn’t watching consumerist filth on TV and getting pregnant by age 21, I was the perfect child in her eyes. My

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1993- Fish outta water

father was generally uninterested in anything other than sheet music and guitar strings, so I took my freedom and ran with it.

Upon my entrance to teen age,  I started reading tarot cards for friends at school. I found out I was a Pisces, so naturally I bought my first astrology book to DUH.. learn more about myself!  I was in full blown self-discovery mode, and I was going to explore all possible avenues. Mostly it involved reading young adult romance novels with a sci-fi/fantasy theme, and studying magazine horoscopes. This was pre-internet, so I didn’t have the luxury of daily star reports. But I wanted more! How was I supposed to learn about the stars and planets and keep my place as the resident Middle School Fortune Teller?

Then one day my wonderful hippie teacher said the magic word: Ephemeris. She, being the utmost example of encouragement to a young weirdo, opened the pages of the dusty tome:

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OMG. It was incoherent to me. It looked like MATH! Ew. Wayyyyy too intimidating for a 13 year old fish like me. I didn’t open another Ephemeris for 10 years, but I never lost my interest in Astrology. I eagerly filled anyone’s ear who would listen, talking about modalities, elements, compatibility, personalities. It was mostly superficial, but hey it was more than most people knew and understood I discovered!

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1996-Me (in pink), with my Freshman peeps

As you can probably predict as well as any astrologer, my high school years were not filled with football games and pep rallies. I was the studious freak who shopped at thrift stores, listened to Loreena McKennit, played Penny Whistle, and spent my time hanging out the New Age store with people 3x my age. I had a circle of close friends, but by normal high school social standards, I was NOT cool. I was a 90-year old trapped in a teenage girl’s body. People kept telling me I was born in the wrong decade. HA! Try millennium! Astrology  became my solace, where my oddities were affirmed and explained.

I had a brief period of “cool” from 21-24. I was thin, I wore everage-24y horrible Y2K fashion trend out there (including trucker hats),  I went clubbing. I traveled. I got engaged.  I tried to pretend I wasn’t a sad little Pisces. The facade ended abruptly with pregnancy and single-momhood.

So here I am now, 34 with entire bookshelves full of Astrology books. I’ve studied, complied, written, calculated, graphed, and produced bits and pieces of the zodiac arts for indulging friends and neighbors. I’ve gotten astrology readings, and mentored with a family friend who is a professional astrologer. But how do you admit you want to do something laughable for a living? How do you reconcile all the practical, responsible, 9-5 job-holding parts of yourself? How do you get over the fear of not being able to support your own child because of a selfish career choice you made?

Well.. That’s where I’m going.

 

 

Energies

My sister has a PhD in Geology. She also got married last weekend. Let’s just say she’s the younger, smarter, more successful daughter 😉 I love my sister,  but we are exact opposites. She’s tall, blonde, gay and a scientist. I’m short, brunette, straight and an artist. She’s analytical, I’m intuitive. She trusts facts, I trust feelings. Even on the Astrological wheel we are opposites (Pisces/Virgo)..

Speaking of Astrology, I guess I should finally out myself as a believer and a student. I respect it as an ancient study, and it’s as close to organized religion as I am willing to get.  I know how lame that sounds… “believer” is someone who joins cults and watches televangelism. Astrology gets a bad rap: it’s up for public mockery in our society. Psychics, mystics, gypsies, fortune tellers, mediums (remember Miss Cleo?) are often touted as crazies, sensationalists, and even worse: money-hungry frauds who prey on the vulnerable and ignorant. The sun-sign columns you read in newspapers and pop culture magazines are toilet fodder, time killers, titular pieces of entertainment, nothing to be taken seriously.

So why? I am college-educated. I know money doesn’t grow on trees. I’ve worked hard for what I have, and I pride myself on being smart, resourceful and self-sacrificing above all my other attributes.  The planets don’t pay the bills, I DO.

Yet.. I’ve always had an innate sense of just how small I am; how minute a human being is in the scope of the universe. I know there are things beyond my control. I’ve witnessed instances of the inexplicable. I’ve been the recipient of incredibly good luck.

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Twisted Juniper Tree (Sedona, AZ)

There are things that have not yet been explained by science, and some, like the gravitational pull of planets, suns and moons.. that have. Just like the tides, there are things that effect humans on a molecular level.. dare I say it, energetic level.

My sister and I were visiting our Aunt in Sedona, AZ this weekend. If you haven’t been there, it’s a hot spot for psychics, astrologers; anyone who is into “New Age” living. The reason? Supposedly the red rock formations that encircle the valley are home to Vortexes of Energy. According to local believers, you can see evidence of the energy in the warped growth of nearby juniper trees. I’m pretty sure any biologist will disagree with this theory, citing a number of scientific reasons for the shape of the trees. But I think there is something to the “energies” of the vortexes.

Continue reading “Energies”

Lean on

My friend is going through a break-up. It’s been devastating for her, magnified x1000 because she also suffers from anxiety and depression. It’s  bad enough feeling severed from something even in the best of circumstances, so yeah..I feel terrible for her.

My last break-up was with my babydaddy, and it was so traumatic that I refused to be in a relationship for 8 years after. I spent a great deal of time in mourning, but eventually became a cheerleader for the single life. As hard as it was to be a single mom, it was easier than the alternative: trusting someone. I soon realized I was the in the minority. Most people prefer being partnered. I didn’t. I understand now that it was probably due to the circumstances that surrounded the end of my relationship (raising a daughter alone, watching her father get married and have a baby with a new woman..etc). I had bad taste in my mouth about relationships for a LONG time. It also didn’t help that I witnessed many of my friends cheating on their girlfriends/boyfriends, and watched my own parents’ marriage dissolve into a baffling series of events (more on that later).

I generally regarded articles like this with a degree of scorn and superiority. The following statement just didn’t apply to me:

Someone with a partner would have a person to lean on during this time.

I mean.. when I was single I’d lean on my friends, and that was enough for me..99% of the time. They gave me enough support, love, acceptance and strength so I could get through my daily life. Sure, I had moments where I’d feel alone, scared, hopeless and miserable. But those moments weren’t unmanageable. I realize now that I was lucky as HELL. For some people, it’s not just about moments that pass.. It’s about EVERY DAY being made up of  thousands of moments of pain and sadness.

Now that I’m coupled, I understand the luxury of having someone to lean on. My friends were amazing, but they didn’t offer the 24/7 access to comfort the way my boyfriend does. When I’m scared in the middle of the night,  he’s there. He also makes it easier to deal with many things, like mentally checking in when he sees me going down a Cortisol-induced spiral. It’s incredible having someone to put a dampener on your inner voice, the one that tells you “OMG THIS IS THE END OF THE WORLD!!!”. When you’re single, you don’t have that. It’s just you on the front lines of your own mind.

But life’s not a suffering competition . Nobody’s pain is more or less valid than someone else’s. We all have feelings, and we shouldn’t try to legitimatize of someone’s pain based on what we think they’ve been through. Unfortunately, I did a lot of comparing when I was single. It was my coping mechanism. It helped me get through the struggles and sadness I felt.

Confession: It gave me comfort knowing another person might have failed, or fallen apart when I succeeded. It was a selfish, prideful, self-promoting feeling, but I indulged in it, because I was alone. Because my friends were coupled, and I didn’t have someone to learn on.

Well guess what? I’m not a rock, not a f***ing superhuman, and I’ve failed just as many times as I’ve succeeded. Being in a relationship forced me to confront my false perceptions and vulnerabilities. Being single let me build a bubble around them. My bubble needed to be popped..

But more on that later..