A Powerful Lunar Punch!

Oh, the power of the Moon. She’s been intense alright, and socking us with a powerful lunar punch this last month of the decade.

Don’t we all know the saying "once in a blue moon?" It's when there are two full moons in one calendar month...very rare! Well, after about 2 ½ years we got hit up yet again in December!

We had a full moon on December 2nd, a new moon on the 16th, and will have another full (blue) moon on New Year's Eve. As the Intuitive Healer I’ve seen occasionally over the past few years reminds us, it's been a very good time to notice, honor and support our own unique phases: activity and rest, introversion and extroversion.

Astrologically speaking, communication issues can be easily triggered—we need to remember to stay consistent, tactful, and flexible. Be easy and gentle with yourself and others. Everyone's moods and energies—our internal tides—are affected by the moon's magnetic energies.

In addition, Mercury went retrograde on December 26th and that lasts till around January 15 '10. All our communications issues will be even more challenging!

The Winter Solstice groaned through with typical deep, dark blackness and just a tiny teasing slice of daylight. And then days later, we had bright blue skies, sun and frost on rooftops and trees for Christmas – very rare for the Pacific Northwest. The sunshine definitely brightens moods.

I know I’ve written in earlier posts about when a bunch of things have gone haywire with communications, my patience has been tested, and a bunch of relatively “small” things have physically broken this past month (iPod, neighborhood power outage when it wasn’t stormy, car keyfob on occasion, water leaks, you name it). But then I remind myself…my address is NOT the Lower Ninth Ward. I’m doing OK.

Full moon New Years Eve? Oh, my friends shudder. Anyone out there in emergency room work or law enforcement? My hat is off to each of you.

I looked at the moon tonight after meeting with a good friend for coffee and catching up. It’s like an overly swollen football right now, proud and glowing bright in the inky blue night sky just after the sun disappears. Just a few more days.


"...the right thing will happen when it's supposed to happen."

I uttered these words early last week when I met up for coffee with a family friend I hadn’t seen in over 20 years – the wife of one of my Dad’s co-workers, who has known our family since my brothers and I were very young. Turns out she has been working for many years at the same company where I’ve been working on a short term assignment – in the building right next door! So many small world connections at this company it is just unreal: one of my team members is a neighbor and also used to work with the husband of a cousin of mine in Oregon, another is the step brother of my sister in law’s best friend, and another I used to work with indirectly at a prior contract gig about 3 years ago. What is it about this place with so many Six Degrees things going on at once? Delicious.

So when I had coffee with K a few days ago (the family friend) and made that "right thing" comment her response was, “Wow, you are very wise to know this at your relatively young age!” We laughed. You know, I hadn’t really thought of my age, early 40-something, as “young.” But I guess that’s because I tend to spend a lot of time with friends who are slightly younger than I. On the other hand it is also nice that age doesn’t really matter much anymore. I cherish the people I resonate with and adore my friendships as extended family, whether 10 years younger or 10 years older or anywhere in between or beyond. I’ll never forget my folks visiting me at college and commenting on how young the students looked! At the time I had no idea what they were talking about. Now that I have 20 years of life under my belt since college, I get it.

OK, so the right things happen when they're supposed to. Really? Sometimes I say this to convince myself it's true and to fight off the deep DNA urges to be impatient and worry. All that has done is burned up energy I could have spent elsewhere and left me with a slight crinkle between my eyebrows which is a likely target for a shot of Botox. But, for now I'll stick with bangs and a personal vow to not worry so much.

Work wraps up end of December, and after that who knows. I do have a handful of job leads - including a couple possibly where I am right now - which is comforting not only for my sanity but my wallet as well. I'm tired of feeling the burn from the Recession. I think we all are. But perhaps it was a correction that needed to happen and has happened as I've witnessed in a few cycles during my adult life (but not as severe). And OK, I'll say it outloud...I'm tired of my skimpy paycheck. I LOVE the team I've been working with, but I've been living on half or less than half my typical income for 7 months. I guess these things come before us as life lessons to learn about saving and investing. And, to be thankful. I can still get by just fine. My house is still standing, I'm in good health, I have wonderful family and friends and I'm not hungry.

I've also learned to listen more to instinct and other intangibles, the "dark matter" that is out there and defies rational, practical definition but nonetheless packs a punch. I'm trying to understand, breathe and be gentle...understanding this is a Blue Moon month and the universe is giving us a strong dose of wacky. Things have broken, communications have gone haywire and most everyone I know is stressed with the holidays right around the corner.

Yesterday I had the thrill of reconnecting with a friend from high school I hadn't seen in, gulp, nearly 25 years. She and I had traveled as part of a group to eastern Europe and what is now the former Soviet Union in the mid 80s with our Russian language teacher. Turns out she's been living in various places in Europe for years and was back here in the States very briefly to see her Mom. Through the magic of Facebook we got back in touch after all this time and she and her husband and I had coffee and some good laughs. It was as if no time had passed (well, other than some crinkles and a few grey hairs). It is simply magical to reconnect with someone after over half a lifetime and just pick up right where we left off. How do you cover the past 20 some years in just an hour?? These are friends where you can just look eachother in the eye and just "know" and "feel" the life connection. Lots of life has happened. We've all had successes, struggles, tragedies, changes, growth, learning and so much more that goes beyond what we can put in words. And there's a lot of comfort in that type of bonding from peers.

So, I embrace all of this and look in wonder to the time ahead...tomorrow is the Solstice, Christmas is mere days away, the decade is ready to turn, we have a full moon New Years Eve, and beyond that...who knows. My tired calendar is ready for the recycle bin and a crisp new one is ready to take its place. I decided on pictures of the Greek Isles. I love the bright blue ocean, colorful architecture and sunshine, especially this time of year.

Meanwhile, my mind races with what's next: more job hunting, networking, time here in fivenineteen, getting trained for another 5K or two, the scary Diet Coke detox upcoming in January, home projects, pro bono work that might turn into something paying, including launching a Blog for the company's website. And I seem to have become fascinated with Arctic issues, so I may use this downtime next month to read and learn...the issues with melting ice, political disputes in the region, the indigineous peoples and their many ways of life. I can't wait for the New Year and what lies ahead. And yet, I remind myself to be patient too.

"...wow, you don't let grass grow under your feet, do you?" This was K's response after recapping a few things I've dabbled in the past year or so. Oh she's so right!


Oh, Those Nasty Habits!

Sometimes things on my mind just have to come out. It’s like a huge surge of internal energy that literally pins me here in the home office chair until it gets formed into words and typed out. OK, it’s the weekend and the schedule’s pretty wide open today so I can just go with it. I’ve been keeping posts to just about one a week, usually on a weekend anyway so It’s Time Again. I’d love to write more but I find I have to be in a certain mindset and after a day at work my brain is too tired, but it's a good tired. Just not the best state for writing.

There will be another “gift” of time coming this way as my current work assignment wraps up at the end of December. I really enjoy this team and the work and would LOVE to stay on longer but the reality is that’s not going to happen for a lot of us. But, on the other hand we all knew our time there would be short so it’s no surprise. I’ll have more time in January to focus here on fivenineteen and where I want to take it moving into ‘10. And things job-wise should hopefully improve in the new decade as we pull out of this stupid Recession. Meanwhile, I'm looking forward to resuming the part-time and pro bono work I was doing for a colleague who's started up a consulting business (see "A Seat on the Panel with a Paycheck of Zero" for more on that.)

Oh. One more thing to add to the “When Things Don’t Work” post – my beloved T3 hair dryer. Good grief I spent $150 on that thing and only had it about a year and a half. And yet Friday morning I plugged it in, turned it on and it made THE hugest, loud POP and then a horrific grinding sound. And smelled. Yep, I think it’s done. And nope, this is NOT the way to start off an early morning where I’m trying to get ready for work and make a little extra effort to look nice as I was hoping to reconnect with a recruiter. As I like to say, “we wear our hair every day,” so investing in a good haircut, color and styling tools/products is high on my list. That little dryer really did its job….it was a travel model too so the handle folded up nicely for packing. Dang, I miss business travel – really and truly. Anyway, the faster I can get my hair dry and the waves smoothed down the less wear and tear there is on it and the less time I need to get ready and out the door. Thankfully I have an older dryer to use as a backup. It doesn’t work on one of the lower speeds any more but it works. So that's now the iPod, my home office scanner/printer, the new Christmas tree lights which were DOA, the garage water leak, the hair dryer oh and the on-off timer on a floor lamp switch in the living room which have all crapped out within a couple weeks for no apparent reason. It IS a blue moon month so things are a little wacky for sure!

Now…what was I going to write about again? I love tangents but it’s time to get back on track here. Oh yeah…Nasty Habits.

How about these?
Diet Coke.
Red Wine.

Yep, these are things I've taken comfort in, sometimes more than I should I suppose.

Ohhhh, Diet Coke. Bless you and damn you all at the same time. The girls who wrote the book Skinny Bitch call diet sodas "Satan in a Can," and that's pretty much spot on. I can down it all day to keep the caffeine going through my bloodstream and it's the beverage of choice for me to stay alert when I have a late night hockey game (that and a mega dose of Vitamin B). This is a 20-year addiction that's gripped me so tightly it's downright embarrassing. And unhealthy. For years I worked at companies where sodas were complimentary so my consumption just escalated as a result.

I'm going to cut it out of my life starting in January and frankly, I'm scared. I'm scared of the withdrawal side effects. Scared I won't have any energy. Scared of being tired, moody and bitchy during the process. BUT, I know I'll feel better once it's all flushed out of my system. Stay tuned for more posts on my upcoming journey through Hell with this "DC Detox" next month! And join me in a toast as I raise my stainless steel hydration bottle full of water meanwhile!

Red Wine. Funny how two of the three I called out here are beverages?
Yeah, there's something nice about unwinding with a glass of wine at the end of a long workday while getting dinner ready, watching TV or just reading email or web surfing. I even joined a wine of the month club a few years ago, where a local wine merchant picks a couple bottles each month (mostly reds) and sends out a nice document about the history of each, the regions where they originate, and a discount on more of the same for that particular month. I did this for years and then realized, as much as I enjoy learning about wine and having a choice of bottles to grab when heading off to a party or to just sit looking cool in my wine rack, that I really didn't need to do this. That's hundreds of dollars a year just on wine and for me recently that just doesn't make economic sense. I also found that cutting way back on red wine consumption reduces the frequency and intensity of migraines I tend to get, mostly with hormonal cycles so have said my gynos over the years. I still enjoy a glass every now and then, but I don't miss it.

Shopping. This will never be purged out of my DNA so I embrace it and learn to manage urges to shop/spend unnecessarily. It doesn't cost anything to look!

You know, when I was in my early 20s and just starting out in my career and post-college life I had this feeling deep in my bones that every year would get BETTER. Call it naive, call it crazy, but that's how I felt. I felt with every year that went by I'd be smarter, healthier, more cultured, more worldly, more glamorous, and yes, wealthier.

OK, reality hits hard. Doesn't always work that way.

Maybe it's because that time of my life was in the late 1980s when glitz was still in style and economic times were properous in general. I figured that was how post-college life would be forever and ever with nowhere to go but up as I got more established as an adult with my career and life! I got a job mere weeks after graduating from college and while the pay was low compared to other entry-level jobs it was in a glamorous office location in downtown Seattle and the year-end bonuses were very generous. Far different experience from other college grads who coincidentally happened to graduate when the economy wasn't as booming.

Fast forward to the early 21st century and I now have a townhome I love, but is also nearly 30 years old and it needs work. Gone are the days of $550 a month rent with a roommate, where a broken toilet was a quick phone call to the landlord to get it fixed! Now I gotta pay for the fixes myself. New appliances. New 400 sq ft back deck. A massive water leak. Paint, inside and out. And, likely next year, a new roof for all of us in the HOA. I love my townhouse but also am humbled at the work involved in keeping a home maintained and stylish. I still have lingering 1980 fixtures in a few rooms and carpet to rip out and replace with flooring or tile.

I also realize how a lot of the frivolous shopping I used to do over the years needs to stop and focus on more important things like beefing up retirement accounts and home maintenance. This clangs even more loudly in my face as I wrap up my current work assignment and go into the world of unemployment yet again, but hopefully not for long.

You know, there is such a huge feeling of relief when you stop trying to impress people with material shit. I'm going to write about this more in future posts, and hopefully it won't get too bitchy during the Diet Coke detox but we'll see.


Edges and Ends

Have you ever had a lifelong interest or passion that you’ve never expressed in words, written or spoken, not even to your closest friends? Just something you ‘know’ about yourself, your personality, something that puts a smile on your face or a little flutter in your heart?

Well, here goes.

I love Edges and Ends of things. Huh? The tip, the extreme, the very very edge. I think this is a subset of my fascination with maps and geography actually!

What do these places have in common?
Neah Bay, WA
Tierra del Fuego, Argentina
Barrow, AK
Hobart, (Tasmania) Australia
Marsala, (Sicily) Italy

…they’re all on the end (or pretty close to) the end of a piece of land or continent! After that it’s nothing but ocean ocean ocean.

I remember traveling in Moscow in the mid 1980s with a group and after finding a map of the Metro, I spotted one line that went FAR, far to the east away from the central hub, much longer than all the others. I convinced my friend B to go ride that route with me all the way to the end to see what it was like! We jokingly called the end of the line “Siberia,” but it was just deep, outer suburbs, really. No idea where the hell it was. And at that time, as long as you didn’t surface above ground, a single Metro fare ticket was the equivalent of a nickel.

So, I guess I’m back to maps again – ha! Seriously though, link me onto Google maps and I can zone out into another world and hours can go by before I realize I’ve been into “globe porn,” scanning maps, zooming in on various cities, wondering, imagining what life is like there, what’s everyone up to. It truly is mind boggling! I find the wonderful beach in Trinidad where I spent an afternoon relaxing in the sun and swimming a few years ago (Maracas Bay Beach, a perfect half circle inlet of the ocean on the north coast of the island…and Trinidad is pretty near the southern end of the Caribbean islands chain so there you go!). I zoom in on Neah Bay, WA and dream about a road trip to check it out. Sunny Key West, Florida…how long does it take to drive all that way from Miami? I’ve been as far as South Beach but haven’t yet visited the Keys.

How about Tristan da Cunha, St. Helena? This is the most remote inhabited island in the world, located in the south Atlantic ocean. Even stumped an amateur geographer like me – never had heard of it! Population under 300! Wow, you better get along with your neighbors, I suppose. Need to get out of town? Don’t charter a plane as there’s no airport – you can only get there by boat.

I thumbed through National Geographic while in the dentist office waiting room and got swept up in a story about a nuclear powered ice breaker that takes tourists from Murmansk (Russia) to the North Pole! Talk about a cruise of a lifetime! See the people in a circle with all the flags in the picture? That’s the North Pole, and the flags of all travelers, standing in each of the Earth’s time zones all at once. I think if I could be standing and holding hands in that circle I would cheer for joy and burst into tears all at the same time. $20,000 and I am so there!

And then a couple of days ago I stumbled across an article on cnn.com about the upcoming United Nations Climate Change Conference in Copenhagen. Three people from Shishmaref, Alaska will attend as witnesses to the erosion their town is experiencing as the permafrost is melting and no longer protects their island from the violent storms of the Chukchi Sea. The entire town and its hunting/fishing lifestyle, unique dialect and entire way of life is in jeopardy of slowly vanishing into the ocean.

“As far as outsiders are concerned, Shishmaref might as well be at the edge of the Earth.
Only 20 miles south of the Arctic Circle and less than 150 miles from Russian Siberia, the village's geography alone makes it seem uninhabitable.

“Its 600 residents endure temperatures that drop to minus 40 degrees Fahrenheit in the winter. Polar bear sightings are common. Water is scarce. There's no plumbing in most homes; ice is harvested from lakes in microwave-size blocks and melted in buckets. No roads connect Shishmaref to the outside world.”

Of course I had to go find this town on a map immediately. Holy crap that is REMOTE. I gasp and wonder how in the world anyone could choose to live this way, and yet at the same time feel a deep warmth and respect for the traditions that have gone unchanged there for hundreds of years. And I also chuckle when I read about kids learning about walrus tusk carving while listening to their iPods. Even remote towns like this see a little injection from the modern world I suppose.

As I close my browser window I feel a dizzying rush of returning back "home" so to speak. The same feeling I got as a child after sitting with my grandparents looking at a globe, or thumbing through an atlas in my parent's library.

And there, my friends, is my first, fairly un-edited attempt at explaining this passion.

Now, it's back to "home" and reality. First stop: laundry!