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.

 

Serious Moonlight

If we let it, the full moon tonight will work in perfect harmony with things we want to come true in 2015. I’m not one to make resolutions in the new year. I resolve to make changes, take actions and move forward with my life’s purpose every single morning.

But 2014 was an unusual year for me, so with this first 2015 new moon I thought it couldn’t hurt to ritualize my daily habit of trying to do my best. First, do you know what you want to accomplish with your life? Try to clarify that if you can. I want to love and be loved. That’s really it, although this love business manifests in a few different ways for me: writing, relationships, health.

Writing

My goals for writing have always been simple: to write the best books I can and to keep a daily writing routine. I feel that writing is a sacred gift that steers me through life, so I am humbled and grateful when anyone else reads and appreciates my words. I’d do it even if I was certain I was the only person in the world who’d ever see a word I wrote. Me and Emily Dickinson:) But even Em, with her carefully stitched manuscripts tucked into a box under her bed, sent some of her work out into the world.

This year’s first new moon calls for us to take action on our life goals, and in that spirit I have stretched a bit further this year, resolving, like Emily, to take my work out into the world by setting up readings, book signings and some other things truly out of my comfort zone. Too often with resolutions, we don’t do the footwork so much as make a wish. This new moon demands we put in real effort, something beyond saying the words. So what else can you do to forward your goals? Maybe something you’ve been hesitant to try? Now is the time to go for it, because success is in the stars.

Relationships

I have a new grandchild coming. I was blessed with little Owen last year, and now his cousin is set to come into this world in 2015, and that kind of love, well, you need to experience it to understand it. I certainly had no idea of the bigness that would be my love for Owen. It’s pure and it’s powerful. I’d like all my relationships to be that way, so effortlessly full of kindness and compassion.

So, for the action portion of this intention, I will use a mindful meditation that focuses on lovingkindness. I have meditated daily for many years, and only occasionally have I added this extra piece to the practice. You begin by summoning up a mental image of a particular person. There is a sequence some teachers recommend: such as a friend, an acquaintance, an enemy, a loved one, a stranger. If you need self-love, as I do, include yourself. In fact, start there. I kind of just let this part flow as far as the mental pictures, and there are words too. These can be any variation on one Spirit Rock mantra: “May I feel protected and safe/may I feel contented and pleased/may my physical body support me with strength/may my life unfold smoothly, with ease.”

And of course, through it all, breathe, notice thoughts, let them go.

Health

Self-love. Self-care. I have not done much of it in this life. Writing has taken care of the inner me. For most of my life, I kind of just let the outer Cindy fend for herself. She’s getting on in years. In 2015, I will be 60 years old. I want to be kind to my physical body this year by giving it what it needs and reversing or slowing down the habits that help me stay in false security. I’m talking about soothing substances…food, drink, chemicals…I put into my body and the frequency and enthusiasm with which I choose unhealthy stuff.

Actions here include keeping a food journal, working on a book about health and diet with my friend Lisa, and getting rid of the pounds accumulated since Thanksgiving by working Lisa’s plan and counting calories. I’m also focused on physical movement, yoga every day, and walking more, because we writers are not known to be a particularly active bunch.

So that’s my third intention and the actions I will take as this new moon comes into fullness tonight. To love myself, body and soul, and to treat this slightly tattered package with the care it deserves.

What about you? What will you do for your one vast and beautiful life in 2015? Whatever it is, do it now, with sacred intention, and you will see serious moonlight results.

Hunters’ Moon

Photo on 10-5-14 at 10.55 AMA total eclipse of a full moon is a big deal, and we’ve got one coming this week. Native Americans called this moon “Hunters Moon” because it was time to go out, aim arrows, and bring home the meat that would see the tribe through winter.

We still have our hunters, and they are out during this lunar eclipse. Just about everyone will feel a shot through the heart on October 8, with shocking news, the big feature of a total eclipse full moon, taking each of us by surprise.

This news could be business-related, romantic, or even concerning your health. What eclipses do is reveal information about a situation that you were not fully aware of … and now that you know the full story, it changes everything. There is no turning back, so you have to deal. Eclipse news is always final, but you have a choice about how to handle it and the new information will help you make the best decision for you.

One caveat: we are also in a period of Mercury Retrograde, and because Mercury rules communication, it would be easy for you to misinterpret the information you receive. Pay close attention, ruminate, take notes, think back to that last eclipse April 15. Whatever came up then is likely to be resolved now, one way or the other, forever.

This is why I’m lying low in October. I’m going to take the blast from the eclipse (because the news will be jarring, whatever it is) and think about it, reflect upon it, write about it. And I’m going to wait to act until I’m sure I have all the facts straight.

I don’t know what to expect. This news can be in any number of spheres: personal, work, or health. Things have been stirred up for me for awhile, and I can think of something in each of these areas that needs resolution, so anything can happen. I’m excited about it, though, because even if the news that comes from this hunters’ moon seems sad at first, the stars promise that it is beneficial in the long run.

Total lunar eclipses, which always mean the end of one thing and the beginning of another, are not to be feared. They are here to help us understand a situation close to our hearts more clearly, and in positive ways.

And who knows? If your heart is a lonely hunter, cupid may draw back his bow and let his arrow fly. If work has been stagnant, a shake up may initially worry you, but in the end it will be so good for your career. As for health, take care of any little thing immediately and all will be repaired before it gets big.

Happy huntingJ