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Lovelandia

Lovelandia

For my going away party Kent and I found some letter balloons at a great party supply shop in San Diego. We agonized over what to say initially but when we finally strung them up I felt confident it would be the subject of an Instagram post in the future.

I didn’t anticipate it would take me over a week to get to it, and honestly it hardly seems possible it’s barely been a week since I took it. At the time my apartment with the the downtown views of LA was bare, the movers had come and gone and left me with an air mattress, and I was living out of my suitcase wearing jeans and a tee shirt pretty much 24/7.

Now I’m in Portland with the heat ON, I’m still living out of a suitcase but fortunately I packed all the sweaters I owned (that would be one) and I’m bundled up in that too. My movers can’t get my stuff to me till the middle of January, it’s been raining since I got here, and I caught a cold.

I’ve never been so happy. Well, maybe when I was a year and a half old, but I didn’t KNOW I was happy then, I just thought that was the way it was.

Now I know better. Happiness isn’t something I can take for granted. At least I don’t think I can. But something strange has been happening to me the past week, so I can’t entirely be sure. Because being able to wrap my arms around someone I love who loves me back pretty much whenever I want and laughing so hard I almost wee myself two to three times a day isn’t something I can intellectualize.

I mean, I know it could all end in a second – one of us could be hit by a bus or taken out by a virus or a madman or a tornado – but I don’t KNOW KNOW that. My body doesn’t know that. My body, which is where I live, is starting to get comfortable. Which is frankly really weird.

I don’t know who I am if I’m happy. But I have the feeling I’m about to find out.

One Door Closes

these boots were made for walking

I bought these boots shortly after I split from my ex years ago. They fit me perfectly the first time I tried them on, with plenty of room across the bridge and a low heel for long walks. I wore them to work so much the grease from the restaurant worked its way into the leather and cracked it. I didn’t care. They were perfectly distressed, stubborn, worn in, and wholly beautiful. I loved them.

I resoled them seven times. I found my current shoe smith after another guy refused to work on them again. My new cobbler earned my undying loyalty, saving my precious boots from the rubbish pile another two years, always laughing when I brought them in and promising to do his best. Finally, however, it’s time to say goodbye. The leather has cracked so much it’s flaked off in bits and left only a soft worn skin that stains and tears easily. I still love them, but I can’t wear them anymore.

Besides, I met someone and I’m moving to Oregon to be with him. Boots with holes in them might be all right for an LA winter, but it won’t do for the PNW.

So I bought new boots last week. They’re a little stiff. They pinch slightly in that way new leather shoes often do. The shaft of the boot is a little higher, the leather a dark chestnut instead of the burnished gold of my old friends. They have that sheen that comes with the promise of something new and unknown.

I know they won’t always be like this. Someday they’ll be worn and soft in all the right places, something I both cherish and take for granted, but that’s not today. Today they look like someone I’m going to be but haven’t quite worked out how yet. Today they’re only full of tomorrow.

And tomorrow can wait.

Venus Retrograde in Leo: Worry About Yourself

City lights

the sky was so purple last night I had to try to catch it

I don’t know about you guys, but this Venus Retrograde has been kicking my ass. I’ve tried to write about it a dozen times hoping I’d be able to locate some light in this hall of fun house mirrors, but no dice. Venus is the planet of love and relationships, so whenever she goes retrograde (about every year and a half) the traditional advice is to pay attention to your relationships and work it out. This time she’s going through Leo, though, so that advice is squared by a factor of about ten.

This is because Leo is the sign ruled by the Sun, so wherever it falls in your chart is the source of whatever light you have to shine. With Venus Retrograding in Leo it’s time for us to square our core mission and intention in life with those we love. If Leo or the Sun in your chart is well placed then this period is likely to be a pretty good time for you, with maybe a few bumps along the way while you adjust your ability to translate your enthusiasms to other people. But ultimately this is the time when the people you care about most will notice your shiny beautiful self and embrace it.

Congratulations! You’re like mini avatars of self evolution and becoming. Now kindly fuck off. Oh, don’t take it that way, I don’t mean it. But the truth is you’re probably not even reading this, you’re too busy cuddling with your lover, because, like I said, FUCK OFF. For reals, this post is really for the rest of us.

Venus Retrograde Jazz hands

I was inspired to make a self portrait but first I had to take some test shots of my invisible hand

Because for the rest of us… well, there’s a reason “this summer has been like Christmas on steroids to divorce lawyers in Hollywood.” It’s because for a lot us locating that place where we shine doesn’t come so easy, and more often than not it’s wrapped up in all sorts of heavy baggage that looks like co-dependency, projection, and buried resentments. It’s that last one that will get you right now, though, because Venus retrograding through Leo is like a giant heart shaped shovel unearthing every last word you’ve kept bottled up for however long you’ve been doing it.

And Mars joining Venus in Leo two weeks ago raised the stakes significantly. Now is no time to be pretending you don’t care whether your significant other makes jokes at your expense, forgets your birthday, or simply doesn’t exist because you’ve been single for that long. Now is no time to shove your head underground pretending you don’t care. You care, all right. And no one is ever going to love what you love the way you do, so trying to get someone else to do it when you can’t even do it yourself is a very tough sell.

Venus Retrograde in Leo love yourself

What this time is good for is getting to the heart of what really matters to you. Who you are for you when no one else is listening. And then for shouting it to the rooftops. Or that person or people in your life who don’t seem to see it the way you need them too, whether it’s your boss, your sister, your father, your kid, your best friend, your business partner, the PTA, or your lover.

Now, they may not listen, and that’s ok. I know it doesn’t seem so, but you have to trust me on this. It really is ok. You’re not telling them how great you are for them. You’re not sharing your light with them to change them, fix them, or diminish them. You’re sharing your light with the world by way of them. This person, place, or thing that isn’t listening and doesn’t see you isn’t the obstacle here. The obstacle isn’t that anyone else can’t see the light you shine. It’s that you, yourself are getting in the way of shining your brightest by attracting people, attitudes, and ways of being that actively diminish your starshine.

This is your chance to change all that.

Will you lose people who want to see you one way and find your self-assertion disruptive? Maybe. I encourage you to think of those losses as dead weight. Necessary dead weight you’ve been carrying too long that it would be super awesome to let go of. Will you lose outdated attitudes about yourself and who you are that are not serving you? LET US HOPE SO. For the love of the Gods, make it so.

Venus Retrograde in Leo cannot delete

When I was taking all these pictures at my window last night I went through them to delete the ones I didn’t like. When I came to the one above I found that it was saved it on my camera as a “protected” image, meaning that I couldn’t delete it until I changed the protection on it.

Because I was thinking about all this stuff at the time, the image really struck me. The rawness of my core belief that I will never be loved by someone who stays with me is really potent and every time I get in there to delete it there’s some tiny sliver of it I find really tough to get out. But what if this sliver in my paw was the grain of sand in my oyster heart? What if, instead of backing away from the pain of it, from the agony of it, I chose to embrace it instead? What if it was the key to my kingdom rather than the locked door of it?

Pema Chödrön talks about this heart wisdom eloquently:

“When I was about six years old I received the essential bodhichitta teaching from an old woman sitting in the sun. I was walking by her house one day feeling lonely, unloved and mad, kicking anything I could find. Laughing, she said to me, “Little girl, don’t you go letting life harden your heart.”

Right there, I received this pith instruction: we can let the circumstances of our lives harden us so that we become increasingly resentful and afraid, or we can let them soften us and make us kinder and more open to what scares us. We always have this choice.

Venus Retrograde in Leo

So I don’t know about you, my little Chickadees, but I’m going to ride out the remainder of this Venus Retrograde through Leo determined to open up every time my instincts tell me to shut down. Leo doesn’t ask us to hide. Leo asks us to shine. It’s the least we can do.

And as of yesterday Venus has emerged from inside the disk of the Sun. If you go out in the early predawn hours tomorrow you will see her hanging in the sky above the horizon in her guise as the Morning Star. It’s now that she begins her journey towards a self-loving healing, turning her attention to what serves her own purposes best. Don’t fight it, consider that she knows better than you do.

And if that’s not enough to convince you, well, with Mars and Venus heading up to a conjunction at the end of August we may not have much of a choice in the matter. Things will come to a head then, no joke, so whatever and whoever you’re struggling with be prepared to surrender to it in a big way then. It’s no time to back down, my dumplings, don’t let the planets do all the work for you, get in there and work that shovel yourselves. I promise it’s easier that way.

For the record, as I discovered studying Gary Caton’s excellent article on the cycles of Venus and Mars in The Ascendent, it’s the first time Venus and Mars have conjoined in Leo since June of 1991, so if you can remember that far back you might check in with the younger version of yourself to see what lessons you learned then you’re having to re-remember now. Let’s put paid to them this time!

And if you need some help working out which direction to dig don’t forget I’m available for one on one consultations to strategize how to have that conversation with the person in your life you’re practicing these hardcore life/love lessons with.

Book a Heart to Heart with Wonder

Best of luck, Precious Treasures! I will see you on the other side!

Living With Heartbreak

You've Stolen My Heart

I’ve been working on a piece for almost a year about healing from heartbreak. The other day I realized that for some of us (maybe most) it will never be about healing from but living with. If you can trace the first breaking of your heart back to childhood it never goes away. Not really. It’s why I’ve been blocked writing about it for so long. I fell prey to the idea that it could be fixed, that fixing it would be righting it.

I thought there was somewhere to get. But there isn’t. There’s no passage across this river. The river is where I live. Sometimes I’ve fought the current, sometimes I’ve just let it take me, but it’s always been about escape or not being able to.

What if it was just about living on the river? What if loving someone and leaving someone were the same thing? What if we only get what we get while we’ve got it and knowing how fleeting it is means knowing it will never belong to you. It can only ever be borrowed.

Living with heartbreak means living with the highest highs and the lowest lows. Living with heartbreak expands you, it makes you more compassionate, it makes you patient with others because it teaches you patience with yourself. But only if you let it. Only if you stop fighting. The funny thing is, this is true whether you’re partnered or not. True love doesn’t end with the breaking of a marriage vow. That’s when true love begins.

RIP, Honey Wheeler

Honey WheelerI bought this truck nine years ago in the middle of the worst heartbreak. Along with T-Rex she got me through it. I always wanted a truck and she lived up to all my dreams. She made me feel like I was who I said I was and not who anyone else said I was. She made me feel like I could bust through any barrier. But eventually I got tired of her musty old smells and unquenchable gasoline thirst and unreliable ways. She was deeply dented. Today I sold her to a scrap yard for a grand. My tears surprised me. I thought we were through but I still loved her in the end.

Full Hearted

Space Heart

I used to think a broken heart was something you had to put back together, like a favorite dish that fell on the floor and would never be the same again. Now I see that heartbreak often comes from the need to expand. Like a snake shedding a skin, your heart is just too big for the cage you’ve been keeping it in.

 

 

A Valentine for Singles

positivewide

Years ago in San Francisco I visited a friend of a friend with my roommate.  This friend of a friend was an artist and her home was covered with paintings.  Sculptures littered the shelves.  While everyone chatted in the kitchen I wandered about looking intently.  I felt shy around my roommate’s friends, and I was happy to have something to focus on besides small talk.

positive med

A curved little figure sitting on a shelf caught my eye and held it.  I asked the artist if I could pick it up and she said yes.  I turned it over and over in my hands.  It was smooth and soft to the touch.  “It’s funny,” I said, “this isn’t a position most people think of as positive, but it is, it is positive.  It’s reflective.  And you’ve put a heart at the center of it.”

Her face lit up.  “Yes!” she said, “yes, exactly!”

“I love it,” I told her.  “This is beautiful.”

“Would you like to have it?” She asked.

“Oh no, I couldn’t,” I protested, shocked by her generosity.  But she insisted, and eventually I succumbed of course, how could I not?  So here it is now, some twenty-odd years later, still fitting warm and snug in the palm of my hand.  For the life of me I can’t remember what the young woman’s name was, though the initials JD are scratched into the figure.  I have no idea who she is or where she went but I’ve kept this piece of her and made it mine.

positive large

On its own it is such a good reminder to empty my mind and carry a light heart, to love myself best and value the stillness that comes from turning inwards.  But in some ways my very favorite thing about this little figurine is how it came to me.  Because it came through connection, through the experience of listening to another and being seen in return.  It came through generosity and genuine, authentic joy.  Through the spirit of sharing.

So while the figure is alone it is never lonely.  Single but never separate.  A perfect Valentine.

O V U M retrograde

Little Lonely did a masterful job on my make-up yesterday. I looked like a mash up between Elizabeth Taylor via Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf and Sheena Easton. Dreadful, really, but Lars liked it. We had a fun day on set shooting the first scenes of Ovum.

Here I am with Will, who made it easy to play a drunken sex crazed nut job. In a nice way. Seriously.

I was anxious about shooting this, my character is neurotic, masochistic, and wholly unstable. One of the reasons I really gave up acting is because it’s just too hard for me to go there without going there. I find it difficult to leave it behind and I’m a perfectionist. It makes it hard on a set or a stage because you have to move between extreme emotions and professional niceties in easy practiced strokes.

I’m a Capricorn. Bottling it up is easy, unleashing it takes a little more effort. And working with Lars sets all my control issues on edge. He writes fantastic, twisted, hilarious scripts, but rehearsals bore him and he doesn’t really care if we hit all his perfect words perfectly. He’s not interested in “good” films, he likes “bad” ones. He isn’t looking for perfection. He’s looking for something raw, rough, and awkward. Every scene he shot yesterday was done in one long wide angle take and we only got two chances. Working with him forces me to go against my instincts. I have to give up control, just release and surrender. You know, live. Lars, of course, is a Leo. I always tap into some raw life force collaborating with him. But it doesn’t come easy. I have to force it, and it’s a little scary.

So I was grateful to Will yesterday, because he grounded me. You can’t see it, but Will’s leg is pressed up against mine under the bar in this picture. One of the things you forget when you’re single for a long time is how important physical touch is, the effect it has on your heart. Well, you don’t forget, but touch isn’t something that lives in your mind, it can’t be remembered, it has to be experienced. Touch opens us up and binds us to one another and holds us fast to the moment.

So in between takes Will flirted with me and made me laugh and not take it all so seriously. And when he slapped me on camera and I had to go to a dark place and remember something I’d rather forget you know, for art, well, it helped that when I sat back down he was worried that the slap might have landed wrong and was I ok and finally, that his leg was pressed up against mine, reminding me to be here in the nowness of now.

You know yesterday when I said I was expecting to play out my shadow side on the set? Well, I got that part right, but it was only the half of it. The way the Venus conjunct Pluto conjunct my Sun transit really played out was that while I was pretending to be in a lovesick relationship with a man who was breaking my heart, I was actually on set with a solid sweetheart of a guy who was complimentary about my utterly mental makeup job, generally just really loving with me and also very easy on the eyes, ammirite, ladies?

Capricorn and Saturn are all about restriction and constraint. Or, as Rob Hand puts it, contemplation. But Venus could care less about any of that. Venus just wants contact. Immediate, real, true blue touch. The kind that makes you forget your own name or anyone else’s. She just wants to be loved. She never visits my Sun (the ruler of my 7th house of partnership and marriage) without reminding me of that and yesterday was no exception.

I was a little raw at the end of the day, to be honest. It was hard to open up to all of that only to come home to an apartment that I’ve only shared with bed bugs as of late. (Venus in Capricorn has a sick sense of humor) I complained about it to my BFF Michael and he totally ignored the complaint and said he was glad my Venus got to come out and play at all. Fucker. What does he know? He’s got a totally hot husband in his bed NOT bed bugs. Whatever. But he’s probably right, (don’t tell him I said so!) you can’t put Venus in the corner for too long. That girl was made to DANCE.

Let Love In

My nephew ran at me yesterday with a joyful cry of “Auntie!!!” and jumped into my arms for one of his patented silent hugs that go on so long he has to shift his head and burrow it into the other side of my neck to stay comfortable.  I could live in that hug, just rocking him back and forth.  I’m there right now, and let me tell you, you guys, it makes everything better.  Yeah, yeah, eclipse season, yeah yeah, Mercury retrograde, whatever.

Every night I text my little girl, Beth, (she’s not really a little girl, but she will always be so to me!) five things I’m grateful for, and last night, among other things, I texted her about T’s hug.  You know what she wrote back? “life IS beautiful!  It sounds as though today was one of those magical moments when the stars aligned and you were able to truly witness and take in how loved and genuinely cherished you are.”  I didn’t see it that way until she wrote it, and when I first read what she’d written I balked.  Surely T’s hugs aren’t about me, surely they’re about how great he is!

But waking up this morning and I can see she is right!  Here she was, telling me she loved me and that she was happy I was feeling loved and my first impulse was to reject what she was saying.  It’s like she handed me the best, most beautifully wrapped present with everything I’d ever wanted inside and I just waved her off, saying, “no really, I couldn’t!”  WHAT WAS I THINKING?!

Don’t do that, you guys!!  It’s every bit as important to let others love you as it is to love them. Love is not some puny, selfish, grasping thing that sucks up all the light and leaves us gasping on the sand like beached whales.  Love expands, love embraces, love includes.  There’s enough for everybody.

So let love in, my little Winter Squashes!!  I’m gonna.

Sunrise in Chisapani

Chisopani
I know I shouldn’t hate things, I hate that I hate things, but I really do hate waking up in the city.  Most of the time I don’t think about it like that, because it happens pretty much every day, but the moment the bonds slip loose and I find myself somewhere far far from the smog and the streets and the noise and the cars and bustle – well, I remember.  I remember that I LOVE waking up in the country, I love waking up in the mountains, in the greenness and the blueness and the vastness of it all.

Back here in the city looking at pictures of it, like this picture I took of Chisopani, where my mum and I stayed the first night of our trek in Nepal last year, and it all comes flooding back.  Remembering that I love it and being far far away from it alerts me to the disconnect I feel with my current surroundings, and drops me into a quiet discontent I’m usually better able to ignore.

Sunrise in ChisopaniHere’s Mum, watching the sunrise that morning, see how the mountains in the back are catching the light of the early morning sun, all pink and glowy?  Sunrise is always beautiful, but there is something about sunrise on the mountains that makes you believe.  I don’t care if you’re an atheist, a Hindu, a Christian, or a toddler.  This sort of grand beauty starts in your chest and spreads outwards, leaving you grateful and curious about what’s going to happen next.

I know this because we lived in the mountains far from town for four years when I was a child, and I woke up every morning and spent the days outside wandering far from our house, swimming in the pond and the creek, poking anthills, playing hide and seek in the forest, sledding in the winter…  We were outside all the time, with minimal adult supervision.  Of course, it was a different time, and it’s probably not really like that anywhere anymore, but dammit, it should be.

I know there are many wonderful things about the city that are great for kids, but I can’t help it, I hate that my nephew doesn’t have that vastness of space and sprawling wonder right outside his door.  The city is good for connecting to people, but country is good for connecting to something else.  Something before, something beyond, something timeless and still, and ultimately much larger than any one of us small little beings.

Today is my mother’s birthday.  Of all the things I’m grateful to and for her for, today I’m just especially grateful she knew to give me and my brother this gift.  The gift of experiencing how small and insignificant we really are and for always pointing out to us what a blessing it was that we should know it.

I love you, Mama.  Namaste.