Crown of Stars

When several stars align tightly in the night sky, astrologers call it a “crown of stars.” You can tell by the name it’s something good, right? A new Crown of Stars will gather in 2021 on February 11. This particular constellation of stars is made up of the sun, Mercury, Venus, Jupiter and Saturn. What happens? Energy opens and pours forth. Energy for new projects. Energy releasing you where you were blocked or stuck. Yeah, it’s a good thing. I don’t know about you, but my creativity has been super low key for awhile now. Everything I thought would happen, and everything I planned on doing…none of it got done in January.

This is how bad it got. I have several cherished habits: yoga, meditation, daily morning diary, weekly blog post, usually on Monday, and of course, writing the next book in my new series Jane in St. Pete. All these activities were not stopped by Covid, like lots of other things I love to do on a regular basis. I still practice yoga and meditate daily. We all know what our fun is and, for almost everybody, at least some of that has been put on hold. I love my friends, and it wasn’t great when the hugs stopped, but we adapted. We survived.

*Moment of silence for those who have passed.*

My creative life started to unwind, bit by bit, and I let it. I figured I’d see what happened when I ran out of rope. So I didn’t write in my morning journal every day. Al’s retired and we like to chat over coffee. Some days I still journal, but not every day. Next to go was my weekly blog post. That was hard to reconcile. At first I just thought I needed a break, but eventually I figured I was beginning a new phase. And today is the introduction to that, at least for blogging. Once a month is better for me than once a week. This from a woman who blogged every single day for ten years! And once a week for nine years. Yes, in 2021 I will have been blogging 19 years.

Why did I stop? It felt right. What filled the void? Old fashioned email. We came to Florida in mid-December so we got lots of forwarded Christmas cards in January. I’m taking my time, but if you sent me a Christmas card and it made it’s way to Florida, I’ll be emailing you, if I haven’t already. I miss my friends and the holidays were hard in that respect. Al and I invited my dad over and we had a feast. My son called and Dad got to see his new house (new to Dad anyway) and his great-grandchildren. My other son called December 26, but with their Christmas card, they’d enclosed several “real” beautiful Christmas photos, and I let Dad choose one of those.

And for a long time, email and working on the next book, plus Zooming and conference calls with my writing friends to share helpful thoughts on manuscripts in process (I call this “critique” — a hangover from my teaching days) was more than enough. I didn’t worry about the journal or the blog. I didn’t even fret about not opening Facebook all that often. My thought was “something will happen.” I hoped it’d be sooner rather than later, but I just didn’t know when. I let ideas bubble up and pop into oblivion. I didn’t lecture myself about getting back on track. I considered that perhaps just writing the novel was enough.

Then I read my forecast for February on Astrology Zone by the amazing Susan Miller, all about the crown of stars this month, (and in Aries a stellium: three or more transiting planets in tight mathematical degree) I realized what was next for me. I already mentioned it once, but I’ll say it again, because it is stunning in its simplicity: I’ll be blogging once a month now instead of weekly. Oh, and yes, I’m still practicing Canva.

So that’s my news and I hope this month’s Crown of Stars brings lovely new energy your way, too.

Summer of Cindy

fall.dirt.photoThe trip called my life has been pretty smooth and predictable for the last year or so. Really nice ride on back dirt roads. Many pleasures, large and small. A tiny baby boy-to-be brings vast pleasure to this upcoming Granny.

That part of life flows effortlessly on…while other parts have taken a hit. My beautiful back road with the overarching trees, so green in summer that the air glowed with color, are gone. Concrete will replace dirt, houses will replace meadows, and I am sad about that. But life moves. Constantly and not always to our personal plan.

Assumptions about ourselves, plans we make, risks we take (or don’t), all of that life business, constantly shifts for me. Every day is an act of reinvention, major or minor. I feel the shift more than I used to … I glided for so long in a safe cocoon but something happened, I woke up, I freed parts of myself I didn’t realized I’d chained, I changed inside.

Almost every day a new epiphany. I am the center of one life. Mine. That was a shocker and it started happening way back in March in California when I saw Tim and Alicia. What I found out is that they love me but they don’t need me. Tim doesn’t need me. It is not necessary to plan my life around when I can come to California next. I have relaxed. I can go where I need to go, not where I thought I needed to be to keep this image I had of myself as “a good mom.” I am happy for all my visits to all of the places my children have gone since they left home. But I finally understand that I can be a good mom from wherever I happen to be on the planet. And with Mike and Jessica, their life is even more obviously in a place where I am welcome and beloved, but not necessary. It took me a really long time to finally relax into that realization and learn to hold on more loosely.

Of course all bets are off when baby comes. I have no idea what that will do to my new-found inner peace:)

I don’t know what’s around the corner or what it will look like, but I’m not thinking I need to move to Oregon to be close to the boys anymore. Hawaii would be nice (it is closer to both of them than Detroit!) but Hawaii is a state of mind as well as an actual state.

Everything changes all the time and where I am needed most now is inside the heart of my very own singular life. So here we go into this summer of Cindy. I’ll send you a postcard.

waiting for the reveal

I will be as surprised as anyone when the new blog design’s finally unveiled. I did make a suggestion, so we’ll see what happens with that. Sometimes my suggestions are impractical or don’t fit the vibe.

This is a holiday weekend (happy fireworks!) so I’m not expecting anything for a while, but just wanted to say the default picture, while very nice, is not my final word. Also my name is way too small. And of course I need my blog roll back…

Another choice is just to go back to my old design, which I wasn’t tired of yet.

Everything Changes

Change is the only thing that never changes. Just when I think I’ve got my life all planned out, a new phase ready to go, everything changes. Everything I thought I had figured out gets tested, and some of my plans go comically awry.

Like my plan, after I wrote my book, to quit teaching college and start doing more public speaking, maybe teach in my community. Ha! Maybe you don’t know…my husband works for Chrysler. He works in a truck plant that is discontinuing one of its bread and butter lines. Well, honestly, the whole company may be discontinued at any moment.

All of this took us totally by surprise. We knew the auto industry was changing, but the crisis hit so fast it stole our breath. We figured we’d have three to five more years to get our retirement picture in order. Ha.

So, since my job is not in jeopardy, it suddenly seems wise to keep teaching at the college, to teach more instead of less, and to tuck my idea of public speaking and teaching in my community into a drawer. Because really I don’t want to do both. It would take too much time and energy away from my own writing.

Already set in motion–a commitment I need to honor before I can completely close the book on the public speaking idea. I hardly got this idea off the ground before everything changed. I am fine with the changes. Actually I’m more comfortable teaching at the college. I was going to try to stretch myself, try something new. Ha.

Now that I’m back in my safety zone, I can hardly remember WHY I wanted the change. Oh yeah, I wanted to use my book more, use my real life writing experience, talk to and work with people who were excited about writing. I wanted to be done with grading essays for bored kids forced to take my classes.

There’s always a trade-off. I’m not really the public speaker type. So really, I’m happy to retreat back into academia. Except I can’t quite yet.

This week (and next) I have to figure out what to say about writing to a community group. It’s not like a class or a workshop. They’re just coming to hear me talk about how to get started with writing. The talk is for 90 minutes. I’m not 90 minutes interesting. I’m 20 minutes max, so I have to work out how to get everyone writing. I have a few ideas.

Not that I want Chrsyler to go out of business or my husband to lose his job, but the introvert in me is really glad things changed so I don’t have to gear up for public appearances anymore. And that’s the thing I love about change. Even when it seems like it’s the worst thing that could happen, it usually turns out to be just fine.

Writing Makeover

Didn’t write a lot on vacation. Maybe five pages in my new notebook. Nothing on the story, which is barely a story. But vacation from writing is a good thing, and I got a new idea this morning, so R&B lives!

Now I just need to recover from jet lag, read Virgin Suicides for book group tonight, read the book due next week for review, restock the fridge, do the laundry, and I’ll be set to start on that new novel again.

My book group read Sue Monk Kidd’s The Secret Life of Bees a few years ago and we loved it. Just before vacation I finished The Dance of the Dissident Daughter — her memoir of breaking away from an identity as a Christian woman writer. This was no easy thing to give up. She had good contracts with magazines and was in demand as a speaker. She had cultivated her own little corner of fame. But then she stopped believing Christian doctrine, and couldn’t make the writing work anymore.

Imagine–your entire career, you one day realize, is a lie. You must start over. It took more than a day, in fact years, for Kidd to find the courage to walk away from her writing life and toward a new one. She’d always wanted to write fiction, so she started there, enrolling in classes and writing short stories. She also kept a journal of her spiritual journey, parts of which she used in the memoir.

The result of her courage to change is of course a career beyond her wildest dreams. I have been so afraid of change, so confused about what I should do with my life and my writing…I’ve got the spirit part straight, but everything else is for sure in flux. But reading Kidd’s story made me feel brave, like I could do my own makeover and not only survive but maybe, possibly, thrive beyond my wildest dreams.