Mercury, Greek mythology, Roman mythology, Hermes, messenger, statue, artwork, GrecoRoman artwork

Mercury Retrograde Wednesdays

Mercury, Greek mythology, Roman mythology, Hermes, messenger, statue, artwork, GrecoRoman artwork

Here it is, folks: the final Mercury retrograde cycle for 2020. On October 13 at 9:05 pm Eastern time, Mercury goes retrograde at 11 degrees Scorpio, backs it up into Libra on October 27, then goes direct on November 3 at 25 degrees Libra– just in time for the U.S. election. If you think this energy will make for a wild, strange October, you’d be right. But it’s not unmanageable – and that is saying a lot coming from me. More on that in a minute.

Mercury: The Basics

Mercury, Greek mythology, Roman mythology, statue, messenger, Mercury retrograde

Mercury, the messenger of the gods. Image credit: Rwendland / CC BY-SA (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/4.0)

Mercury (Hermes) is the messenger of the gods in Greek and Roman mythology. He did a lot of dirty work for Zeus, serial cheater who had a vengeful wife, Hera. He also saved the lives of several mortals and demi-gods who found themselves in difficult positions. Mercury is also a trickster and shapeshifter. He loves a good joke or prank. Some of the things Mercury rules includes:

  • Advertising
  • Bees and beekeepers
  • Books and literature
  • Communication – written, oral and electronic
  • Computers
  • Desks and offices
  • Keys
  • Licorice
  • Mirrors
  • Schools and teachers
  • Sewing
  • Stationery – pencils, pens, paper
  • Travel (particularly short trips)
  • Transportation – buses, trains, cars, bicycles
  • Writers and editors of all kinds – journalists, newspaper reporters, proofreaders, editors, novelists

In astrology, the term retrograde refers to when a planet appears to move backward through the signs. Retrograde cycles for the planets vary – and Mercury’s retrograde cycles are among the shortest, logging in at approximately three weeks. If it feels longer, that’s due to the shadow period, an approximately two-week period when Mercury is moving along a path that it will revisit later. There’s a pre- and post-retrograde shadow period: typically the post-retrograde shadow is not as intense as the pre-retrograde shadow and is more of a final review of everything that occurred during Mercury retrograde.

Mercury, planet, Mercury retrograde, astronomy, astrology

The planet Mercury. Image credit: Brocken Inaglory / CC BY-SA (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/4.0)

Mercury managed to get the best PR team out of all the planets because so many people are aware of Mercury retrograde cycles and how it affects traffic, electronic devices, and communication. As a Gemini rising, I am all too aware of my love-hate relationship with Mercury, as he rules both Gemini and Virgo. I cannot tell you how many times I have cursed him out while dealing with a phone issue, downed wifi, car issues, or some other shenanigans. But I have also learned the necessity of planning ahead and being extremely organized before retrograde cycles, and going above and beyond my usual efforts to ensure my emails and social media posts are clearly written. I will review plans and task lists with clients and colleagues both verbally and in writing, so that we eliminate any possible confusion. I try harder to shut my mouth and listen to other people, too.

As you’ve read in my previous posts about Venus retrograde and Mars retrograde, you know that retrograde periods are a time to move inward. It’s an opportunity to slow down and be reflective on what that sign rules. And since Mercury rules Wednesday, I encourage you to celebrate Mercury Retrograde Wednesdays during his final retrograde for 2020. Starting on October 14 and ending October 28, spend the next 3 Wednesdays honoring this versatile, multitalented planet with some very mercurial activities.

Activities for Mercury Retrograde Wednesdays

Mercury retrograde Wednesday, Mercury, astrology, communication, travel, reading, writing, books, girl with moxie

  • Write it down. Get a notebook or journal and write down what’s on your mind. Give it all to the page – it can handle what you have to rant or rave about. Read my post about daily writing rituals if you need some suggestions on how to start.
  • Take a little trip. Get in your car or on a train – whatever feels safest for you – and set off on a day trip. To really honor the free-spirited, impulsive nature of Mercury, don’t plan out where to go (but do make sure the car is full of gas, tires are properly inflated, etc.). Allow yourself to be surprised. Bonus points for bike rides!
  • Read. Mercury rules the written word, so grab a book or magazine or newspaper, your favorite beverage and maybe a snack, and settle down in a comfy chair to read. For this activity, I recommend going analog – Mercury may decide to zap your phone or tablet just when the action gets exciting, because he is a jerk like that sometimes. Do not ask me how I know this. Mercury also rules humor, so a collection of humorous essays or a satirical novel is an excellent choice.
  • Reorganize your office/work area. This includes your desk, files, shelves and bookcases. Definitely keep this activity to physical items – otherwise you may end up deleting computer files you needed. Again, do not ask me how I know this.
  • Watch something funny. Mercury loves to laugh, so scratch that itch by watching a movie or sitcom that makes you laugh. A standup comic special is also an excellent choice.
  • Clean the mirrors. Get some window cleaner or a spray bottle of white vinegar (my personal choice), a soft clean rag or paper towels, and clean all the mirrors in your home. You may even want to set up a new mirror somewhere, or perhaps buy a compact mirror for your go bag or purse.
  • Handwrite a letter or note to someone. Mercury rules handwriting, pens, pencils, and stationery, so this is an activity he can totally get behind. If you have no idea what to write, here’s a list of ideas.
  • Call a relative. Pick up the phone and call your mom, dad, sibling, your favorite uncle, the aunt who sends you care packages (shout out to my Aunt Gigi*) and check in with them. Doesn’t have to be a long conversation, nor does it have to be a heavy one. Just keep it light and loving, and you’ll both feel good by the time you hang up.
  • Sew. Mercury rules sewing machines AND needles, so if you enjoy sewing, set aside time on Wednesdays to sew a small project or work on a longer one. I love to sew, and I plan on doing this as much as possible – but you best believe I’ll be having a chat with Mercury ahead of time about not dicking with my machine, breaking needles, or jamming up the bobbin. Brand new to sewing? I highly recommend the Crafty Gemini’s tutorials for beginners.

Mercury retrograde Wednesday, Mercury, astrology, desk, office, organization, reorganize, humor, comedy, comics, sitcoms, girl with moxie

There’s a lot of planetary activity this year that poses some major challenges for all of us, and Mercury retrograde is just another part of it. But if we come at this cycle from a place of honoring the shift in perspective that’s required during Mercury retrograde, it can be a much easier transit to manage. Laugh along with Mercury as much as you can!

Freddie Mercury, Queen, rockstar, statue

Everyone’s favorite Mercury: the legendary Freddie Mercury. Image credit: Corvus / CC BY-SA (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/4.0)

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It was 15 years ago today…

…that I began the Girl with Moxie blog. To paraphrase another song, I started at Blogspot, now I’m here (on self-hosted WordPress).

A lot has changed for me in 15 years, both personally and professionally. I started the blog out of boredom and restlessness at my office job. One day while surfing the interwebz, I found a wealth of bloggers who were writing about music, movies, TV, books, their lives, their jobs, their kids. I was introduced to music I had never heard of, found recipes and ideas that intrigued me, made new friends. I decided to dive in and write about whatever was on my mind.

I miss that simplicity. Because while I enjoy Instagram and Twitter is good for breaking news and a laugh, and Facebook does occasionally have its merits, there was something very gratifying about seeking out blogs to read and connecting with fellow bloggers on a much more low-tech scale. Long-form writing is still around, but it is often drowned out by all the video content.

Even though I don’t blog like I used to, I refuse to give up this site for many reasons, the main one being that it’s still an avenue for me to explore ideas and share my experiences without the editorial process of querying, rewriting, editing and handling rejection. I still get some traffic here (seeing the Google searches that bring people to the GWM blog is often amusing), a good friend hosts the site for free, and it’s an archive of my cyberpresence in a way that other resources aren’t.

Here’s the plan: I’ll share content from that first year and add some updates. I’ll try to carve out the time to craft new posts (it ain’t easy these days, for reasons I will get into later).

Let’s do this, kids.

NaBloPoMo 2014: Let’s Do This Despite a Raging Headache

I’m poking around on HootSuite, reading through tweets on my 4 different accounts, and I see something about NaBloPoMo. I’ve done it before, and I like deadlines and discipline when it comes to writing, so I go sign up, choosing to ignore the headache I’ve had since returning home from a writing session at Starbucks. (Soy peppermint mocha induced? A reaction to my cinnamon apple candle that I fired up once I got home? Who the hell knows.)

Then I start digging in to the WordPress issue I’ve been having since dealing with login attack issues a few weeks ago: it won’t let me update anything AT ALL. Not WordPress itself, not my plugins, nothing. Of course, as many bloggers know, a raging headache is the perfect time to troubleshoot your blog and go through the codex trying to figure out how  this got all shades of f***ed up.

I’ve downloaded WordPress and the plugin that will keep people from trying to access my site, I’ve poked around on the FTP site changing a few settings, and I’ve come to the conclusion that I need help figuring this shit out. Tomorrow I’ll reach out to my WordPress savvy friends. For now I’m gonna go lay down.

Got My Mind on My Blog, Got My Blog on My Mind*

Follow my blog with Bloglovin

*paraphrasing Snoop Dogg (NSFW)

This May it will be 10 years since I started this blog. I haven’t lived in one place that long since I was a kid, so to have done something – even if sporadically – for 10 years is a stunning achievement.

With this anniversary in mind, I’m working on ways to make this blog more entertaining and enterprising. I’ve signed up with Bloglovin to generate more traffic and I’m using Influenster as well. Amy over at Chronicles of Nothing clued me in to the fabulous and helpful SITS Girls site and Facebook group, so I’ll be incorporating some of their suggestions. I have more ads on the site, and will begin recruiting some guest posts.

But what about writing actual content? I admit that it’s way easier to shoot my mouth off via Twitter and Facebook than it is to write a long post. I hate to write anything that’s poorly researched or half-assed, which editors appreciate, but it makes for minimal posting on the actual blog. So to compensate for this, I may do some promotional posts and giveaways, since people like getting free stuff.

For those of you who have been reading since the early years, when I was a bored magazine editor with way too much time on her hands, thank you for sticking it out this long. For those of you who may be new to GWM, thanks for stopping by to read my sometimes witty, often wacky, missives on anything and everything. I’ll do my best to keep this site going for as long as the Internet will let me.

Moxie, girl with moxie

This cookie is for you. Well, not really, because I already ate it. But I would have shared it with you. Honest.

 

 

February is the Month of Letters (Sez Mary)

stationery, postcards, pens, mail, letters, letter writingThose of you who have been reading my blog for a while know how I feel about letter writing. Opening your mailbox to see a handwritten postcard or letter is one of my favorite things. Along with brown paper packages tied up in string, of course.

So when I heard about the Month of Letters Challenge through some friends on a social network, I was intrigued. When I read the post about it on novelist Mary Robinette Kowal’s website, I was excited. And I decided to participate.

The two-part concept is simple: for every day in February that the postal service runs in your area, mail something. It could be a letter, a note, a clipping from a magazine or newspaper, a photo, a postcard. You can mail something to your next-door neighbor or to someone on the other side of the world. Part two of the challenge is to write back to everyone who writes to you. The bonus is that mailed replies count toward your final tally for the month.

I confess, this will probably be fairly easy for me, since I’ve been in the habit of sending postcards and notes and cards to people for the past year. But there are a few letters I have wanted to write and haven’t, for whatever silly reason, so the Month of Letters Challenge is my incentive to finally write that letter to my childhood friend who lives in Europe with her husband and three daughters.

For those who want to participate but are slightly daunted, fear not. I have provided you with some pro tips:

  • On a budget? Check your local thrift shop for like-new, unused postcards and stationery. I’ve scored a large number of postcards from all over the world by going to my SPCA Thrift Store and perusing the stationery/postcard section. Sometimes used cards sneak into the available selection, so check first before buying.
  • Hate your handwriting? You’re allowed to type your letters. Just no emailing. I’m watching you. But consider this: the more you write things by hand, the better your handwriting gets. Unless you’re a doctor.
  • Get some nice writing tools. I am addicted to office supplies, so I don’t need another incentive to go to Office Depot, Staples, or Office Max. Trust me when I say a fabulous pen can make all the difference when it comes to handwriting letters. If you can afford a Waterman or Mont Blanc fountain pen, go for it. (Hint: Lamy fountain pens are fairly inexpensive and write nicely.) Otherwise look for a pen that has nice heft to it and doesn’t make your fingers cramp. I am a fan of Dr. Grip pens, which come in ballpoint and gel ink. I also like Sharpie pens – they are acid free and don’t bleed through paper.
  • Don’t know what to write? Get creative. Relay a funny story about your pet or your child. Share one of your favorite recipes. Transcribe a poem. List five things in a random category, such as favorite movies starting with the letter C, books that changed your life, or your least favorite foods. Hint: using postcards or small notecards means you have much less space to fill up with text.

Join me, won’t you? It should be a lot of fun. You have a day to go buy stamps and find some decent stationery. And if you need some pen pals for the month, check out the forums on the official Month of Letters Challenge website.

Blogging Streak Has Ended

The last three days were either busy or I was too emotionally spent to blog. More of the latter than the former, if we’re being honest. Yesterday was Momcat’s birthday and the days leading up to it are very challenging for me. But I’m feeling better now, and ready to get back into the game.

The New Kid in Town

Today was a busy day. Well, the last half of it was, anyway. That’s all because there’s a new kid in town.

cat, orange and white cat, kitten

The Kitten Formerly Known as Jackson, or TKFKAJ for short.

Since Mossimo the Pimptastic Cat died last August, it’s been tough on Ippie the Tech Wizard Kitten. She was used to having Moss to groom and tackle and play with occasionally. I kept promising her a buddy, but as I’ve been stretched thin financially for several months I couldn’t afford to adopt.

Then yesterday I got a nice juicy check for writing a bunch of items in a local magazine. The check was more than I’d originally calculated (math is not my strong suit), so there was much rejoicing throughout the land. I finally had enough money to get Ippie a playmate.

I had been surfing the SPCA’s website for a few weeks, seeing if there were any young orange and white male cats up for adoption. For some reason I’d been fixated on that color scheme for several months. So when I saw this little guy, I knew he was it. And when I drove to the SPCA today in the rain, I had this feeling I would always remember how it had been a rainy November afternoon when he came into our lives.

While the name given to him by the SPCA staff was Jackson, I’m thinking Rooney is much more fitting. For me, I’ll always associate that name with a legendary writer and newsman who once said, “Writers don’t retire, and I’ll always be a writer.” And since Ippie was named for a piece of technology that changed my life, it strikes me as fitting to name this little guy after someone who made a living doing the one thing I most love to do.

So welcome, Rooney. We think you’re gonna like it here.

Doing NaBloPoMo 2011

So at close to the last minute I decided to do NaBloPoMo for November. I did it last year and it was a great motivator. Hard to keep up steam once the month’s over, at least for me, but maybe it will be different on this go-round. Who knows?

So stay tuned, be sure to follow me on Twitter (the link is just to the right of this post…down a little…a little more…there!), become a Facebook Fan, or just read the blog.

Vonnegut on Writing

I spend a lot of time writing. When I’m not writing, I’m thinking about writing, I’m reading good writing, or I’m taking notes about something I want to write later. Sound exhausting? It can be. But I’m a storyteller. I can’t be anything else – and believe me, I’ve tried.

While I don’t read too many books anymore about the art of writing – I find them to be distracting from the actual act of writing – I do appreciate writing tips from authors I respect. Today I found this list from Kurt Vonnegut on Lifehacker and thought I’d share it here.

  1. Use the time of a total stranger in such a way that he or she will not feel the time was wasted.
  2. Give the reader at least one character he or she can root for.
  3. Every character should want something, even if it is only a glass of water.
  4. Every sentence must do one of two things-reveal character or advance the action.
  5. Start as close to the end as possible.
  6. Be a Sadist. No matter how sweet and innocent your leading characters, make awful things happen to them-in order that the reader may see what they are made of.
  7. Write to please just one person. If you open a window and make love to the world, so to speak, your story will get pneumonia.
  8. Give your readers as much information as possible as soon as possible. To hell with suspense. Readers should have such complete understanding of what is going on, where and why, that they could finish the story themselves, should cockroaches eat the last few pages.

What tips, quotes or comments from famous authors have encouraged or helped you become a better writer?

Of Synchronicity, Music, and The Power of Praise

I love when a plan comes together. I also love when circumstances bring forth a sweet surprise for several people. This happened to me a couple weeks ago.

On October 22, Barbara at Bad Tempered Zombie wrote a review of Emma Hill’s CD Clumsy Seduction for No Depression Magazine. It was featured prominently on the website for a few hours, which had Barbara all excited. Emma read the review and thanked Barbara, which pleased her to no end.

A few days after her review was posted, I head off to the Tomales Bay Workshops, a five-day writing conference in Marin County. It was a fantastic experience, meeting fellow word lovers and published authors, discussing our stories and books we love, getting inspired to write more and more and more. Truly magical and money well spent.

But I digress. On the third day at the I look at the conference program and see that on Saturday night the special musical guest is Emma Hill. The name rings a bell…wait, isn’t that the chick Barbara reviewed? I can’t get on the Internet to find out because my iPhone is struggling to pick up a steady signal. Dammit. I’m pretty certain it’s her, though.

I trudge through the woods to the Friday night reading. As I’m noshing on dessert post-reading, I overhear a woman talking to someone behind me. “Will you be performing solo tomorrow?” she’s asking.

Holy crap, I think, she must be talking to Emma! I turn around and say, “Excuse me, are you Emma Hill?”

“Yes,” she says. Wow, she is young, I think to myself.

“We have a connection in common,” I tell her, explaining how I know Barbara. Emma’s face lights up at the mention of Barbara’s name. “When I read her review, I cried,” she says. “She was so supportive and sweet, it meant so much to me.” I am thrilled to hear this, because even though I don’t know Barbara personally, I’ve been reading her blog for several years so I feel as if we are close friends. As we continue talking I discover Emma has been at the conference the WHOLE TIME. Crazy, right?

The next night I head down to the main hall to hear Emma perform. I get there late so I only get to hear one song, but it’s so freakin’ awesome it makes up for whatever I may have missed. “You’re My Man” is Emma’s tribute to Leonard Cohen, one of her favorite songwriters. She dedicates the song to Pam Houston, director of the conference and fellow Cohen fan.

After the performance ends I weave my way through the chairs to Emma. I tell her, “I know at least 15 bloggers who are going to LOVE that song,” and she laughs. The new CD will be out around February, she tells me. [Now that I’ve heard a few songs from her last two albums, I am betting this next one will be fan-freakin’-tastic.]

I snap a picture to send to Barbara, and to add to this lovely story about synchronicity, music, and the power of praise. So here she is, Miss Emma Hill. Go listen to her tunes, buy a CD. Then go to Barbara’s blog, read her music reviews, comment on a post or two. Send the link to your friends and keep on spreading the love.

The lovely and talented Emma Hill