As Above, So Below

Important news from the stars for writers here on earth. Mercury will be retrograde from Halloween until November 20. I had to look at my calendar twice this morning because obstacles are already throwing themselves in my writing path. Luckily, I am in revision mode with the WIP, and Mercury Retrograde is an absolutely awesome time for revision.

Not such a great time for signing contracts or making new electronic purchases. Communication is a bit fraught during Mercury Retrograde, so watch your words, in manuscript and real life. That goes for delivery of mail electronically or through USPS, Amazon or any other kind of mail system.

Yesterday I was determined to get down to business on my WIP. I’ve been doing okay, more or less keeping up with my schedule despite some minor setbacks, but felt it was time to put all the pieces into one pile, read through everything I have, and see what needs to be cut and what still needs to be added.

Got all the various files into one master document and decided to print the whole damn thing out. I’m about halfway through my revisions, and know what still needs to be fixed and written. I even know how I’m going to do it. I have a plan plus notes and an outline. Not flying blind, here.

Was happily printing out my 62K words so far, when things started going !!!!! Literally. Laptop printer icon said !!!!! and printer flashed same !!!!! Also, the last twenty or so pages printed made it clear I needed to change the ink cartridge. Alas, my grand plan was foiled for the moment. And my tech guy (Al) was at the football game. He had recently ordered extra ink cartridges and so even though it was a new printer, and laser not ink jet, I figured I’d try to change the cartridge.

Things did not go well. I figured okay Al will eventually come home and when he gets time he will fix everything for me and I will be humming a happy tune once again. Also, I don’t use the printer on Mondays because I blog and everything is online. Then I remembered I was hosting my book group on Thursday and I needed to shop, clean, and cook before then. So…maybe I can finish what I started on Friday.

As long as things get sorted before Mercury appears to move backward in the sky, I’m good. For more on exactly what Mercury Retrograde is, see Susan’s post here.

Studying the Stars

Last night’s full moon was in Aries. The constellation is an actual place in the sky, so “full moon in Aries” just means that’s where the moon is located in the sky for the next week or so. Full moons are significant scientifically because the moon’s gravitational force is greatest at this time, affecting the ocean tides more than any other time.

The fact that the moon rules the ocean tides amazes me. How can that be? How can the moon pull the ocean waves around? The moon has its own gravity is the short answer. The long answer is like higher math, incomprehensible but also beautiful, at least to me. For a long time, I used science facts about the moon to defend my reading of the stars.

These days, I don’t try to convince anybody that astrology has merit. It’s the same with reading the tarot. I interpret tarot and astrology because divination is in my blood. My great-grandmother read the cards and tea leaves. During the Great Depression, her readings kept her large family fed. That impresses me. Having been a single mom, I know how hard it is to raise a family on a woman’s wage.

The taboo against astrology began with the advent of the One God. Astrology was a pagan tool from ancient times, which is why believers in the One God were schooled not to look to the heavens, not to look to the stars, for answers about the meaning of life, for predictions about what happens next, for a clue about which path to follow. Not looking to the stars seems ironic, because the One God is in heaven, right?

I use tarot and astrology to spark ideas. They’re starting points for me, and they’re about possibilities more than predictions. The more esoteric meanings of a full moon in Aries engages passion, energy and courage. It’s a time to take action, break chains that would hold us back, and savor the freedom and confidence that ensues.

This moon may see a sudden and drastic change in your life. Or maybe not. What I like to do is be ready. Just in case. So far, I’ve not had any sudden or drastic change in my situation, but I will keep you posted if it happens. ūüôā

In general, full moons, and the two weeks after, are times of change. When events reach the fullness of their manifestation. Maybe what this full moon means for me is having the courage to lay some of my private inner practices out here on the page.

Astrology for Writers

IMG_4660July is an active month in the stars this year. There are two retrogrades and two eclipses this month, and they affect everyone, some more than others. If you were born in July you’ll feel these heavenly upheavals the most. I had the good luck to be born in March, but Mars (who rules Aries, my sun sign) has been in retrograde since June and will continue there until August 27, so I am not exactly jumping for joy. Retrogrades, and there’s a double whammy this month, with Mercury retrograding July 26-August 18, tend to slow things down, mess with plans and throw communication glitches, for writers that means your electronic tools may misbehave. So, you know, that’s not perfect for someone (me) with a book releasing on August 15. Or let’s say you have a deadline but your computer crashes. Hope you backed up that manuscript on an external drive.

General advice for retrogrades is to not plan too much, be flexible, and expect the unexpected. So for writers, you don’t want to begin querying agents at this time. The caveat is that if you are already in talks with an agent, or you already started any project, you’re fine. It’s mostly NEW things that might hiccup now.¬†I love retrogrades for revising a manuscript. I get quiet and go into my writing cave and work.¬†However, I am working on a first draft, so my Mercury retrograde revising plan won’t work.

I’m distracted by my book release next month. Before June 26 (when Mars retrograded) I hired a publicist to help with local promotion and (also before June 26) I started conversations with my publisher and their marketing team. I wanted to make sure I got my ducks in a row early, setting things in motion now to roll out on and after August 15. Retrogrades are easier to get through if projects are not brand new and if you have already laid the groundwork. Which I have, so I feel pretty safe as far as my new release goes, with one possible dramatic upheaval due to the eclipses this month.

Two eclipses this month are thrown into the mix. Eclipses average four a year, so two in one month along with two retrogrades (there are also lesser retrogrades but Mars and Mercury are the big ones) is quite unusual.¬†Everybody loves a solar eclipse, when the moon covers the sun and parts of the world go dark in broad daylight. The heavens have one scheduled for July 13 this year. The lunar eclipses are a bit less dramatic, although this month it is a blood moon eclipse. During a lunar eclipse the earth stands between the sun and full moon, making the moon invisible in the sky and, in a blood moon, gradually turning the moon red. We in the USA won’t see the blood moon, although the UK and Africa among other countries in their vicinity will.

Blood moons are very dramatic, and lunar eclipses affect many people, making a mark on their daily lives. Some folk will feel the effect of eclipses up to a week after. Eclipse events tend to be abrupt and out of the blue. The universe conspires to turn your world upside down or, best case scenario, point you in a brand new unexpected direction. Relationships end suddenly. Careers meet turning points. For writers it could be landing a book contract or moving into a new genre. It could also mean being dropped by your publisher. Whatever the change, it will give you a big push forward into the next stage of your life, whether you want to go there or not. Fallout from eclipses happen fast.

Things happen on the global stage, too, but for an individual, so much has to do with your personal astrological chart, because eclipse and retrograde periods have greater or lesser effect depending on exactly where and when you were born (down to the minute) and where the stars in the zodiac were at that time. It’s not that difficult to learn how to chart your own horoscope. I did it, and while it takes a bit of time, it’s vastly intriguing because it’s all about YOU. Typical Aries thinking. “OF course it is all about me!”

To learn more about myself, and my life path, I used The Only Astrology Book You’ll Ever Need¬†by Joanna Woolfolk. There are lots of places online that will cast ¬†your chart (sometimes for free, but I think you pay for what you get.) My favorite astrologer is Susan Miller at Astrology Zone.¬†Today (July 2) she’s still working on her free monthly horoscopes, and that’s because July forecasts are going to be huge.

I’m relieved these eclipses are in July and not in August. I’ll have time to absorb the news they bring by the time my book is released. As for the retrogrades, I just need to be patient and flexible. They’re coming to an end shortly after my book’s release and that is very good news.

 

 

Secrets & Passions

Scorpio Full Moon this weekend is complicated by several planet retrogrades, some already here, others moving into retrograde within the week. What this means to me, to everyone really, is that it is time to take the passionate engagement, even the fiery argument, inside. We would all do well to take a look at our unconscious motivations and deeper longings, the ones we keep hidden, even from ourselves.

This plays in several areas of my life right now, and of course, yours too. What did you start at the new moon? What ended, and for good? Well, I had one big ending, as I discussed last post. It was pretty public, well, I made it so, as did the rock band next door. Now, with the retrogrades, it’s time to focus that passion and energy inward. So you caused a ruckus with the new moon ending…it’s time to silently contemplate how those endings are helping you with new beginnings.

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I made inroads in several areas with the new moon energy. Most dramatically with writing. My creativity burst out in a totally different kind of novel, not something I’ve ever attempted before. I was shockingly pleased with the result. We’ll see what those New York editors think about it. Meanwhile, not just writing got a make over with the new moon. I ended my rigid diet program–it was just not working. Instead, I recommitted to meditation, determined to eat more mindfully, and promised myself I would actually pop that walking video in and even use it a few times a week.

All of that, and more, started out well, but when my inner and outer worlds collided in the most rude way (new moon energy isn’t always nice) everything took a nosedive, including my heath. Nothing serious just ongoing issues with my back–I need to walk!– and migraine–I need to meditate and not stress so much.

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I can make this Scorpio Full Moon with mega-retrograde work for me by taking a step inward. Not backward, but inward, recommitting to everything I’ve started with the Aries new moon. For writing that always means it’s a time to revise, and just as important, a time to back up the writing. I’m pulling out my external hard drive for the duration of the retrogrades.

And I’ll be keeping my secrets and passions to myself for a change. The whole world doesn’t need to know every bit of it all the time.

What’s Not Working

A few days ago, the new moon in Aries prompted me to look at my life and say “What’s not working?” and then let go of those things, making way for something new. At first I thought of little things. The colonial kitchen chairs that belonged to my grandmother and did not fit my newish contemporary home. That empty foyer I had painted last summer, and, except for the Christmas tree last winter, has sat empty, waiting for a special piece of accent furniture. The jeans that no longer fit, the clothes hanging in my closet I never wore.

I did a bit of shopping and redecorating and reorganizing my closet and all that stuff was easily handled. What else? Well, I’d been growing out my hair for several months. And it was shaggy and long to the point that I had to pull it up in a twist half the time. Clearly, that wasn’t working. I got a haircut and wow what a difference. No more mullet!

There’s one more thing that isn’t working for me, but it’s a tough one. After years of managing pretty well on a low-GL (glycemic load–it’s all about the sugar levels) diet, I’m seriously stalled. Despite eating well, avoiding the white stuff that shoots my blood sugar to the moon, I’m gaining weight. Why this diet worked so well for so long and then suddenly stopped working is a mystery.IMG_2209

Just avoiding foods that spike my sugar is clearly not working anymore. I can’t lose a pound, and in fact am gaining, and all without pizza or potato chips. I checked out my portions, and they were fine too. I don’t drink much wine these days, so it’s not that either. But after investigating deeper, I acknowledged there was still something I could improve eating-wise. I could stop eating mindlessly. That is, eating in front of the television or while reading a book.

When I started paying attention to the taste of my food, when I stopped eating mindlessly while watching television or reading, when I stopped doing anything but eating, focusing on the taste of my food and savoring it, I realized something big. I didn’t much like what I was eating. I had been eating these same foods, protein, dairy, veggies and fruit, in a somewhat limited repertoire (salad, yogurt, chicken, burger without a bun, apples, peanut butter, cheese, eggs) for years.

I cook dinner every night using the low GL cookbooks, I have had every salad combination, every stir fry, every casserole, every sort of meat and fish accompanied by broccoli, cauliflower, carrots, beets, even berries and apples. I’m not a real fan of cooking, but it was looking like I’d need to start cooking breakfast and lunch as well as dinner if I was going to get food I wasn’t bored to tears eating. I realized that’s why I ate watching television. It was so much easier to plow through another endless salad if I didn’t have to taste the sameness of it.

Mindful eating was causing me a problem. I wondered if I needed to alter my diet, since clearly it wasn’t working for me anymore. So I made a couple of small changes. I started making pizza for lunch with low carb tortillas. Yum. I went ahead and had burritos too. As long as you stick to ONE low carb tortilla a day, you’re good with the sugar. Pasta is something else with a low glycemic load, but in moderation, and done al dente. So I had a little pasta with my cheese and meat. Flavor!

Finally, I tried the low sugar ice cream with only 4 carbs for a 1/2 cup, which is not really enough for me. I don’t think I’ve had one scoop of ice cream ever. Also the artificial sweetener gave me indigestion. So out went the ice cream. Sigh. It’s really good with some nuts, a little bit of chocolate sauce, bananas or strawberries (or both!) and whipped cream. If I can ever get to the point of eating a half cup serving maybe I’ll try it again this summer.

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Still, I wish I could lose the extra weight. It’s not working for me being this size. What else can I do? I know that this is the diet that works best for my health, so I don’t want to abandon it for calorie counting or one of those diets with pre-packaged meals. I’ve done the food journal to the point that I pretty much know how many calories I put in my mouth. I can do that math in my head. And calorie consumption is not the problem.

What can it be?

Well, there is the one thing I have not been doing…I have not been exercising much this past winter. I clean house and stretch out my back and walk around doing errands and shopping, but that’s it. There’s something in the GL literature that talks about the slow twitch muscle. It’s actually an important component of the low GL diet. Basically, the theory says, that in addition to diet, we need to flex our low twitch muscles for at least 30 minutes a day three times a week. Very doable.

Low twitch muscles are the muscles you use without exerting too much energy. Like walking at a leisurely pace. Studies show that health improves and weight is lost just as efficiently walking at a steady pace for 20-30 minutes three times a week as it is doing a complicated gym routine for two hours or walking fast or even running. You don’t have to exert a whole lot of energy to engage the slow twitch muscles, but you do have to get moving. After a long winter spent writing, and resting the knee I reinjured last fall, I understand this is what I need to do.

But it’s still snowing in Michigan. At least this week. So I ordered a walking DVD. No excuses, I’m going to start firing up the slow twitch muscles. It might be the solution I’ve been seeking to this stubborn pound problem. It’s not as easy or as fun as buying new dining room chairs, but this Aries new moon invites us to let go of whats not working and embrace the new. So that’s what I’m going to do.

What’s not working for you anymore? New moon energy is such that even if you don’t drop it, it’s going to end, and that’s for the best. Now the challenge is to find something new (and fun!) that does work.