Venus Retrograde Fridays

How’s everyone doing? Did you lose your mind after the first 30 days of stay-at-home orders or are you holding on to those last few brain cells? I have my good days and not-so-good days. This week has been really weird, with energy spikes and then 24-hour cycles of I-don’t-give-a-f**k.

But I have one thing I’ve been looking forward to every week since May 13: Venus Retrograde Fridays. I was inspired by Chani Nicholas’s workshops with a special section on Venus retrograde. Chani is a freakin’ brilliant astrologer who explains everything so clearly and with a focus on personal growth. If you’re not following her on social media, and you have even a passing interest in astrology, go follow her now and sign up for her mailing list. I’ll wait.

venus retrograde friday, girl with moxie blog, girl with moxie, venus retrograde 2020

 

A brief primer on Venus retrograde, taken from Café Astrology:

Occasionally, Venus appears to be moving backward in the sky. “Appears” is the key word here, because, technically speaking, no planet actually moves backward in their orbits around the Sun. In fact, they don’t even slow down. Retrograde-station-direct cycles are essentially illusions that result from our point of view from Earth, simply because the Earth is also orbiting the Sun at a different speed than the other planets. Venus is Retrograde approximately 40-43 days every 18 months.

Venus went retrograde in the sign of Gemini on May 13 and will station direct on June 25.

Why should you care? Well, Venus is the planet of beauty and aesthetics. She rules what we value, what makes us happy, and what creative pursuits we enjoy. She is all about sensory experiences: delicious food and drink, leisurely activities, delightful scents and sights. She also rules relationships – surprise, surprise.

So what happens when Venus is retrograde? Retrograde periods of any planet in astrology are a time when the areas ruled by that planet seem to go backwards or sideways. We have to reassess, reflect, re-do, rewrite, rethink; things might not move forward as fast or as easily as we’d like. Since Venus rules love, affection, beauty, values, aesthetics and relationships, that means these are the areas where we need to reconsider what we’re doing and where we want to be during a Venus retrograde cycle. You may start considering a new hairstyle or makeup palette. You might want to clean out your closet and reinvent your look. A romance that was already on shaky ground may end, or past loves may pop up and get you thinking about how that relationship helped or hindered your growth.

Most astrologers will advise you not to make any major changes during a retrograde period. During Venus retrograde, you shouldn’t cut your own hair or sell off your investment portfolio. I tend to agree with that, but I would also add: if you’re able to test out a change in a way that you can reverse it with minimal consequences, it might be worth trying.

Now that we have that out of the way, let’s talk about Venus Retrograde Fridays. Venus rules Friday, so Chani Nicholas recommends using this day to focus on Venusian activities. After nearly 8 months of intense client work and dealing with personal issues, I am all about taking better care of me while work is not as crazy busy. I’ve now had two Venus Retrograde Fridays and really enjoyed them, and figured I owed it to the last few regular readers of my blog to share how this works and ways you can honor Venus during this retrograde period.

Here’s a list of possible activities for Venus Retrograde Friday.

    • Lounge in bed for as long as you want.
    • Wear comfy clothes.
    • Play “closet” where you go through your clothes and try out new looks.
    • Reorganize your closet or dresser: by color, by type, by season, by outfit, by whatever.
    • Play “jewelry box” where you go through your baubles (as my fabulously fashionable friend Beth calls them) and put on all of them or try new combinations.
    • Put clean sheets on the bed and fresh linens in the bathroom.
    • Take a long soak in the tub with your favorite scents – bubbles, bath bomb or salts optional (bonus points if you have a glass of your favorite beverage nearby, or you eat a cupcake while in the tub).
    • Deep condition your hair.
    • Put on your favorite perfume or scented lotion.
    • Give yourself a mani/pedi or a facial (YouTube has tons of great tutorials).
    • Teach yourself a new updo for your hair (again, YouTube tutorials are the way to go).
    • Take a nap.
    • Bake your favorite treats and eat them slowly so you can enjoy every bite.
    • Make yourself a fabulous dinner and pair it with your favorite beverage – or order that meal for pickup/delivery.
    • Write a love letter to yourself to open after July 29 (when Venus ends its shadow period).
    • Write out affirmations focusing on loving yourself more, then read them aloud. Some good ones:
      • I am perfectly content to be me.
      • I am good enough just as I am.
      • I love and approve of myself.
      • I choose to love myself unconditionally.
    • Read love poems, a romance novel, chick lit, or erotica.
    • Watch a favorite rom-com.
    • Take a virtual tour of an art museum or historic residence/palace (my personal favorite is Versailles).
    • Write letters and cards to people you care about – or send happy mail to people who need encouragement and/or support. (Here’s a great site to start with if you’d like to write something semi-anonymous to someone in need. Here’s another one.)

While you don’t have to do this on Fridays, it will certainly kick off the weekend on a positive note. And if you can only do one thing you really love on Friday, that’s still good. Venus Retrograde Fridays are all about loving on yourself the best way possible. Enjoy!

Wearing My Moxie on My Sleeve

For the past few months, I’ve been battling depression and anxiety. While I typically struggle with pre-birthday depression, this year also started off with an abrupt end to a new romantic relationship. I had big hopes, as we’d been flirting with each other for several years, and had much in common, but ultimately the big hopes couldn’t overcome the big hurdles.

As part of my self-prescribed therapy to help me move through the worst of my heartache, I wore my moxie bracelet (seen in the site header) on a daily basis. I’ve long been a fan of jewelry with a message, whether it’s symbolic or text. Wearing the bracelet was a daily reminder to be courageous and fearless in all things. Last autumn I had taken a big chance in telling this man I wanted to see if there was something more to our flirtation, and just because it didn’t work out was no reason to let fear take over again. But vulnerability is still something I struggle with – whether I’m being vulnerable or giving someone else the space to be vulnerable with me – as it bumps up against my profound insecurity, the voice in my head that tells me I will never be good enough. I let insecurity run the show all too often, and the result is I don’t take many risks.

Last week I watched researcher/storyteller Brené Brown’s 2010 TED talk on vulnerability. I don’t think I’d seen it before, or if I had, it didn’t resonate with me in that moment. What she said about her findings made so much sense to me in light of everything I’d been thinking about related to insecurity, vulnerability – and moxie.

Courage, the original definition of courage, when it first came into the English language — it’s from the Latin word cor, meaning heart — and the original definition was to tell the story of who you are with your whole heart. And so these folks had, very simply, the courage to be imperfect. They had the compassion to be kind to themselves first and then to others, because, as it turns out, we can’t practice compassion with other people if we can’t treat ourselves kindly. And the last was they had connection, and — this was the hard part — as a result of authenticity, they were willing to let go of who they thought they should be in order to be who they were, which you have to absolutely do that for connection.

The other thing that they had in common was this: They fully embraced vulnerability. They believed that what made them vulnerable made them beautiful. They didn’t talk about vulnerability being comfortable, nor did they really talk about it being excruciating…They just talked about it being necessary. They talked about the willingness to say, “I love you” first, the willingness to do something where there are no guarantees…They’re willing to invest in a relationship that may or may not work out. They thought this was fundamental.

In my professional life, I’m getting much better at risk taking. I’ve learned that the worst thing that can happen when you ask for a favor, a contract, an opportunity, is that you’re told no. You just go ask someone else. What I have found is that the more I ask, the more chances I get to hear a yes. It’s quite basic math.

In my personal life, though, I flounder. I don’t set my boundaries and fortify them. I don’t always ask for the love I want and need from friends or partners. I hear no and I hang around, waiting for the yes that I’m sure will come if they only see how compassionate or patient or kind I am. And it’s all because I am scared to say – to myself – that I am enough. That my boundaries are solid and firm, and anyone who attempts to diminish or vaporize them – even me – will be stopped. That I will let go and move forward without fear. That even if that annoying voice inside my head wants to keep me small, I will take the risk of being vulnerable, over and over again.

Brown talks about this self-acceptance as well.

This is what I have found: to let ourselves be seen, deeply seen, vulnerably seen; to love with our whole hearts, even though there’s no guarantee…instead of catastrophizing what might happen, to say, “I’m just so grateful, because to feel this vulnerable means I’m alive.”

…when we work from a place, I believe, that says, “I’m enough,” then we stop screaming and start listening, we’re kinder and gentler to the people around us, and we’re kinder and gentler to ourselves.

In late February, I found a new piece of jewelry, a silver bangle inscribed with the phrase “Live Your Life.” These days, as my heart is still healing, I’m wearing that bangle a lot, sometimes with the Moxie bracelet. That’s because I am finally accepting that part of living my life is being unafraid to tell the stories of my heart, believing that I am enough, taking the risks to get to the yes, and remembering that I contain an infinite amount of inner moxie that’s there when I need it most.

moxie, live your life, bracelets, inspirational jewelry

Finding Joy => Finding Love, Part 2: Marriage

Here’s another post that originally started in July 2011. It’s undergone some heavy editing, but the core idea of joy and love remains.

A few years ago I had a couple single folks tell me that a divorcé(e) is someone who was once loved enough to have had someone marry them. My mind is still boggled by this logic, because it seems to discount the possibility that love wasn’t even a factor in getting married. Some marriages happen because “we’ve been together for [insert number] years, I guess I owe him/her,” “he/she asked and I didn’t want to hurt their feelings by saying I wasn’t ready,” family pressure/expectations, a pregnancy. In some cases, marriage is used by abusers as a way to gain control over a partner. Those things don’t constitute love. Obligation and fear, yes. Love, no.

Part of the issue here is that society and the media can really screw with our notions of what makes for a healthy relationship, what constitutes a good, loving marriage, and what love is. I know I’ve had some wacky ideas for a number of years about love and relationships. Personally, I blame “Love Boat.” I should have never been allowed to watch that show. The story lines basically went like this:

  • boy and girl meet, flirt, sit at the Captain’s table for dinner
  • boy and girl look at the stars and share a passionate kiss, then end up knockin’ boots in someone’s cabin (which are WAY bigger on the show than actual cruise ships, as I understand it)
  • boy and girl fight on the Lido deck the next morning over some crazy misunderstanding, with the girl stomping off, nearly flattening Jill in the process
  • boy gets sage advice from Isaac the bartender, while girl flirts with Doc and realizes she can do way better with whats-his-name from the night before
  • boy and girl reconcile and leave the ship arm in arm, telling Julie the cruise director and Gopher they’ll be back on their honeymoon

The truth is more like the Supremes’ hit song “You Can’t Hurry Love”, or Frank Sinatra’s “Nice and Easy.” Love needs time to grow roots and blossom. Rushing to get to the good parts rarely leads to a loving, supportive relationship, much less a lasting marriage. You want all of that? You have to work for it – and it starts with working on YOU.

I try to be compassionate to the men & women I know who want to be married, or in a long-term relationship. But so often the conversations descend into whining and bitching over the dating pool and a big honkin’ glass of self-loathing. Sometimes the self-loathing is couched in “I’m totally fine being single” or “I’m happy with my life,” as if that negates all the whining and bitching. Sorry, I’m not buying it.

Because here’s the thing: if you truly are happy, you’re not going to throw any energy at those moments when your phone isn’t blowing up with OKCupid messages or when the person you thought was Mr./Ms. Perfect (and potentially Mr./Ms. Right) turns out to be emotionally unstable, a philandering narcissistic asshole, or worse. If you have faith that, at some point in your life, you’re going to find the perfect partner, those instances of dealing with nitwits will be like a SnapChat image in the big Smartphone of Life: it will (ideally) disappear within seconds.

How do you get to that level of happiness? I recommend a three-step process.

  1. Shut the hell up. Drop the bitterness and the attitude problem. Stop telling the world how upset you are with online dating, with the guys/girls in the town where you live, with navigating relationships. Even if you feel that way, stop talking, tweeting or posting about it, because you’re putting all this negativity out in the world and it’s harshing any possible mellow you could achieve.
  2. Fight your demons from the inside out. Y’all know how I love analogies, so here’s a good one: some of us have nasty demons or dragons inside of us, put there by unfortunate circumstance or choices we’ve made over the years. These creatures demand food and attention, and can be so unruly that often we don’t know how to tame them. Work with a counselor or therapist if necessary to do one or both of the following: a) find your sword that will slay the beasts; b) find compassion to turn those monsters into docile pets.
  3. Open your heart, even if it’s just to the smallest things. Maybe it’s working with those in need, such as shelter animals, disabled veterans or the homeless. Maybe it’s being compassionate to friends and loved ones who are struggling with personal challenges. Whatever it is, opening your heart and filling it with light that comes from being kind to others is the best way I know to show the universe that you’re in a space where joy and love are welcome.

There’s no guarantee that you’ll end up married if you follow these steps, but at the very least you’ll feel better about yourself. That being said, I’ve seen enough friends find the relationships they were longing for, all because they stopped working against their own best interests and started loving.

Are you ready to try? Isaac thinks so.

Isaac Washington, Ted Lange, bartender, Love Boat, Isaac the bartender

 

 

Finding Your Joy => Finding Love

Note: This morning I discovered I have 24 blog post drafts in various stages of completion. I decided to start going through them and see what was still relevant and interesting enough to me to finish and post during NaBloPoMo. This post is one I started writing in July 2011. Since then, Ms. Chick found her Mr. Right and married him. As for me, well…you’ll just have to stay tuned.

Earlier this year I met local blogger Ms. Chick. She writes some very funny posts about online dating and life in general. But she also writes about her frustration with her search for Mr. Right.

While I’m not focused on finding Mr. Right, or even Mr. Right Now, at this point in my life, I do understand the frustration. I think many women go through phases when it seems as if all their peers are hooking up, shacking up, getting married, engaged or having babies, and they are left holding the Party of One sign. I’ve been there. It’s actually part of the reason why I left SoCal: everyone I knew seemed to be moving on to coupledom and I wasn’t even dating anyone. After one incredibly disastrous relationship and a couple blah ones, I was done with trying to find a good partner. I also believed that if I stayed, I would feel pressured into dating much more quickly than I was ready for, just so I wouldn’t be the odd-woman-out at gatherings with my friends and their significant others.

Spending the summer of 2010 in a small college town didn’t do a hell of a lot for my social life, but it definitely helped me get some perspective on who I am, what I love and what I want. The answer became clear very quickly: I am someone who loves to laugh and entertain, and who loves being laughed at (and with) and entertained by others. I love helping people connect in ways big and small. I want joy and peace of mind, body and soul.

A few months ago I asked Ms. Chick what gives her joy and what makes her laugh, really laugh from the pit of her stomach. Because it’s my belief that it’s when we focus solely on finding our joy, everything else falls into place: relationships, career, home, health. All the wrong drifts away and we’re left with all the right – including finding, dating and coupling up with Mr./Ms. Right.

It’s hard to get to that place, though. We’re all so conditioned for wrongness, whether we are feeling wrong or trying to make others feel wrong, intentionally or not. And looping on our failures can be affirming even when we claim we want things to be different. As this letter from Miss Information at Nerve.com says:

Failure sucks, and is frustrating. But really listen in: even when you’re pissed at yourself, there is often some perverse pleasure in it.

It’s emotional self-flagellation, really: we beat ourselves bloody for our failings and never quite fix them. T-Wizzle calls this “beating yourself with the Wrong Baton.” Because fixing them means honing in on key beliefs and attitudes we have about ourselves, seeing which ones are unhealthy and unhelpful and working hard to replace them with helpful, healthy beliefs.

I’m not suggesting that in order to find love, you need to become Pollyanna and drop the jaded, cynical tones. I’m saying that in those moments when the bitterness and anger is threatening to ruin your day (and maybe your life), acknowledge its presence and agree to disagree. (Yes, I’m anthropomorphizing feelings, deal with it.) Let the angry, cynical ego self be what it is and choose to do something that brings you joy.

sunset, Anna Maria Island, Florida, Gulf of Mexico, beach

What helps me find my joy.

 

Getting in the Comfort Zone

Note: I am cleaning up files on my laptop and found something I’d written for the blog back in December of 2008. As far as I can tell, I never posted it on the blog, and it still holds a lot of truth for me, so here you go. – Moxie

Tonight I had a conversation with a friend of mine about relationships. A mutual friend had broken up with someone because he’d gotten too serious too fast. “This is what happens when someone who’s never been in a long-term relationship gets involved with someone who has been in one,” my friend said. “The long-term person just wants to get back into that comfort zone.”

It really made me think about my own relationships and what I’d been doing, and maybe why nothing has really worked out since the end of my marriage. I had a great friendship with Mr. X and that’s the main thing I miss in not having a long term relationship: the close friendship portion. The part where you can just look at each other and know what the other person is thinking. The part where you have private jokes. Even the part where you know exactly what buttons to push so that the other person’s head explodes. I miss the good and the not-so-good parts of being friends with the one you love.

With Joe*, I was so quick to get back into that relationship groove that I completely lost sight of the fact that it takes time to build up the friendship element. You can’t forego that time period and expect the relationship to be something long lasting. I must have known, though, that deep down there wasn’t enough there for us to really be friends. We were way too different on way too many levels.

But sometimes I think it can go too far in the other direction, too. There are some friendships that are so strong that you start thinking, Hmm, maybe we should be dating. The romantic portion kicks in and while it’s nice and easy because you know the person so well, it’s also – how do I put this – dull. So then what do you do? Do you give up the romantic/sexual element, knowing full well it may sacrifice the friendship? Or do you continue with it, thinking it will eventually work out? I’ve been in that situation a few times and it never seems to work the way I want it to, or the way I think it should.

This all leads me to believe there’s a happy medium, a place where you have a good friendship yet you know when to detach. I’m good friends with one couple who seems to do this so easily, and yet I have a feeling they have struggled to get to this place with each other. Their comfort zone is palpable to all of us that know them and it gives me hope that I can create that, somehow, someday, with someone who’s really ready to get in the zone with me.

*The man I was with in 2007. The relationship ended horribly.

If You’re Gonna Feng Shui Your House, Better Feng Shui Your Head, Too

On Saturday night I found myself in Ms. Chick‘s bedroom.

Wait. That didn’t come out right.

See, she’s been having a dry spell with dating, and I wanted to see if I could help her out.

That still didn’t come out right. Or my mind is just constantly in the gutter.

Some background: several years ago, T-Wizzle turned me on to feng shui, the Chinese art of living in harmony with your environment. She had met and worked with Karen Rauch Carter, author of Move Your Stuff, Change Your Life, a practical, easy-to-use feng shui guide for people who don’t want to be bothered remembering a lot of details about what belongs where. I bought a copy of the book, figured out how the bagua aligned with my current apartment, and started moving my crap around. I had been having serious issues in different areas of my life and wanted to do something physical that might help change things.

feng shui, bagua, Black Hat feng shui

Basic bagua layout for your home. Image courtesy feng-shui-tips-for-wealth.com

And my life did change. I started dating, my relationships with family members improved, I made some great new friends. I found a new home for Angel, my cat who was aggressive and miserable living with me and my other cat, Mossimo. I bought a new car that I absolutely loved. I gave feng shui a lot of credit.

But the truth is, I had been feng shui-ing my head as well. I had started using affirmations and other techniques to help reset my brain to stop being so negative and cynical and nasty and being more open and compassionate and fun. And it made a huge difference. Because I’ve learned that there’s no way changes can take place in the real world until you change the way you think about the things that bother you.

I can’t sum up everything I did to feng shui my head in one blog post. But here are my basic suggestions:

  • Write down on a piece of paper what’s not working in your life. I have an old list that reads: “My love life is nonexistent. My new friendships are not as nurturing as I would like. I don’t feel motivated to write or be creative.”
  • Write down on another piece of paper what IS working. Love your job? Have a great bunch of friends? Car running beautifully? Write ’em down.
  • Go back to the first piece of paper and consider what attitudes are behind those not-working items. The key is to make sure you stay focused on yourself. For me, my love life was nonexistent because deep down I believed I was unattractive and undesirable because I am fat. It had nothing to do with the men I was interested in or had dated in the past. It was all about me.
  • Install mental updates. Your internal self-esteem software obviously needs a bug fix, so it’s time to fix that. Write some affirmations about your inner and outer beauty, make peace with your inner child, get a close friend to help you work out your shit. I spent a lot of hours on the phone with T-Wizzle working out my shit – and in turn I helped her work out her own.
  • While you’re working on these affirmations and feeling super positive about yourself, start moving stuff around in your home. Carter’s book is a great starting point. Some folks may need a professional consult, which can be expensive but if you have the money it’s well worth it.

Back to Ms. Chick and her bedroom. She had an empty laundry basket in the Love & Relationships section. I pointed at it and said, “That needs to go, unless you want to continue having nothing happen with your lovelife.” (If it had been full of dirty laundry I still would have said she needed to move it, because then she’d be dealing with – you guessed it – guys with a lot of dirty laundry.) She moved the basket and according to a tweet I got from her tonight, things have already started shifting. But I’m willing to bet she started shifting her attitude about dating, too.

We Only Said Goodbye in Words

I was saddened to hear of British songstress Amy Winehouse’s death today. Not completely surprised, since news stories over the past several years illustrated her problems with addiction, but still saddened.

I found her voice mesmerizing in its power and soulfulness. Her songs had such a fun, retro feel with lyrics that betrayed their currency: the horns and the backing vocals were so very Sixties, but the lyrics were pure Millennium. Would Peggy Lee or Dusty Springfield have sung the line “What kind of f**kery is this?” To my untrained ears, the track production sounded slightly distorted and scratchy, as if they were remasters of an analog recording. And her look was rockabilly chic, with a treacherous looking beehive, tattoos and stiletto heels.

Her songs were used to define a time period that wasn’t even her own. Remember how “You Know I’m No Good” was used in early ad campaigns for AMC’s “Mad Men”? That song perfectly summed up the character of Don Draper, a man who viewers were still getting to know while his wife Betty remained in the dark for a little while longer.

I enjoyed singing her songs at karaoke, and one in particular helped me through a very dark period of my life four and a half years ago. “Back to Black” is a song not just about the end of a relationship, but also about addiction and dependency. Having dated an addict, I can tell you that the relationship an addict has with their drug of choice is one that is extremely hard to break, and relationships with real people suffer greatly. That was the case with my ex, and sadly, that seems to have been the case for Amy, too.

Friday’s Hot Tip(s): Relationships

It’s actually Sunday when I’m writing this – the first week on the job was pretty intense. I suppose I could schedule the post for this coming Friday, but what fun would that be?

Lately I’ve been talking to a lot of people about romantic relationships. It seems we’ve all been struggling with love on some level, and trying to connect with someone while still maintaining our own identity can be really difficult at times. I’ve thought about it a great deal, had many discussions with T-Wizzle on the topic, and I’ve decided to do something a little different with this week’s Hot Tip. It’s actually five tips on how to make relationships work, as conceived by me. Feel free to expand on these or offer revisions in the comments.

1. Determine whether you’re a provider or nurturer. Regardless of gender, race, ethnicity, or socioeconomic status, people tend to fall into one of two groups: provider (the one who works and provides the financial structure for the family unit) and nurturer (the person who nurtures family members and offers emotional support). It’s been my experience that we get into trouble when we try to force ourselves to be a nurturer when we’re really much more comfortable as a provider, or vice versa. In relationships, this can also show up as insisting that the other person take on a provider role because we believe that we are a nurturer, for example. Figure out what you are, and be okay with it.

2. Honor your flow as well as your partner’s flow. Whenever I say “honor your flow” to people, they look at me as if I’m insane. What I mean by this is “do what feels right for you.” Part of honoring your flow, though, requires that you take responsibility for your actions and be prepared to handle the consequences. Sounds a bit heavy, I know, but if you’re coming at a relationship with an open, loving heart and mind, this isn’t that difficult.

3. Don’t make yourself wrong, and don’t make your partner wrong either. As I recently wrote here, we’re not here to get things perfect. I try to come at life from the perspective that we’re all doing the best that we can in any moment, even if that seems hard to believe sometimes. No one ever wants to feel wrong for things they have done or not done, said or not said. In a relationship, you owe it to yourself and your partner to understand that their behavior is not an indication of your worth as a person. Sounds easy to understand intellectually, but emotionally, it can be tough.

4. Accept the present. In relationships it’s so easy to get caught up in the future. “How serious is he? Does he want to move in with me? Will she be the mother of my children? When will we get married?” and so on. If you’re constantly thinking about the future, it is damn hard to be in the moment while you’re sipping Frappuccinos on your third date with Cindy Lou.

5. Enjoy yourself. This is closely tied with #4. If you’re really in the present moment, all the pressure is off. You can just be yourself and have a good time. Maybe Cindy Lou isn’t the right woman for you…but the barista with the cute smile might be.