Every four years, my training and motivation get an extra boost.  The Summer Olympics make me want to vault, jump, throw and aim for the stars.  I even like the commercials about the athletes that show them working toward their goals.  Seeing other people push themselves makes me want to prove myself and reminds me that other people are achieving their goals, so why not me too?

In one of the commercials airing now, we hear athletes talking about what they’ve had to do and what they’ve given up:  I haven’t had dessert in two years, I haven’t read the latest bestseller, etc.

A lot of us set goals for ourselves.  Think of the countless New Year’s Resolutions made every year.  But ACHIEVING them is a whole other ball of yarn.  Reaching goals often requires following a long, tangled road, and sometimes we quit before we get there.

Do you set goals? Does your reach exceed your grasp?

And if you do set goals, what are you willing to do to get there?  What are you willing to give up to get there?

Ready?  Set?  Gooooooooo!

Pick Things Up and Put Them Down

Did you know that . . .

1.  If you don’t strength train, you will lose an average of 5 pounds of muscle tissue (called disuse atrophy) per decade?

2.  You can increase muscle mass by 2-4 pounds and increase muscular strength by 40-60% after only 8-12 weeks of strength training?

3.  Loss of muscle tissue results in a decrease in your resting metabolic rate (the number of calories expended at rest)?

4.  The slowing of metabolic rate is associated with an increase in body fat?

5.  Strength training raises your resting metabolic rate by 7-8% after only a few weeks?

So even if you did strength training just twice a week, you would burn an average of 120 more calories AT REST (this is on top of whatever you earned from the workout) than a non-strength training person.  Even if you did nothing else, that would result in an average weight loss of 1 pound in a month.

Now get to it!

You in Four Parts

So how’s the Cardinal Grand Cross been treating you?  Have you been thinking about your identity and whether you need an ID-Do-Over?

Just to refresh, the Cardinal Grand Cross involves Aries (who am I?), Cancer (who is my inner self?), Libra (who am I in social settings?), and Capricorn (who am I in a work setting?).

Today’s Friday Fun is another minimalist memoir.  This time, you’ll have no more than twelve words to write about who you are.  Incorporate all four of your selves from the Grand Cross.  For example, I might write this:

Warrior tries to overcome Inner Tumult by being  Observer and Teacher.

Now your turn!

Words of Wisdom

Most times we can usually motivate ourselves or work through our “stuff” on our own.  But every now and then, some outside help, well. . . . helps!

Here are a few of my favorite quotes about wisdom that remind me there are others walking on a path of learning too:

“Wisdom is knowing what to do next; virtue is doing it.”  David Starr Jordan

“Perspective is worth 80 IQ points.”  Alan Kay

“Wisdom is the reward you get for a lifetime of listening when you’d have preferred to talk.”  Doug Larson

“Wise men make more opportunity than they find.”  Francis Bacon

Got a few of your own favorite quotes that motivate you?  Share here!

Cardinal Grand Cross

On July 17th, the planets and signs will position themselves into a Cardinal Grand Cross.  As the name implies, a grand cross involves four planets lined up in a “+” shape.  In this arrangement, some of the planets will be opposite each other and some will be squared up against each other.  In astrology, oppositions can signal “perspective and balance” and squares can symbolize “action.”

So how do we know where we are meant to take action and find perspective?  We look to the signs for each planet.  Here are the four planets/signs involved in this particular grand cross:

  • Uranus in Aries
  • Moon in Cancer
  • Mars in Libra
  • Pluto in Capricorn

(In case some of you are saying “yo, the moon and Pluto aren’t planets,” just remember that they are considered such by astrologers for symbolic purposes.)

Aries, Cancer, Libra, and Capricorn are categorized as Cardinal Signs.  The Cardinals are concerned with identity and with initiating new beginnings.  Taking all of the symbolic meanings together, then, we can see that the skies are giving us an opportunity to re-examine our identity and perhaps even a chance at a “do-over.”

If this sounds good to you, then you might want to look more closely at the specific “identity” symbols for each of the signs in this grand cross:

  • Aries:  How do I think of myself?
  • Cancer:   Who is the inner emotional me, the inner child me?
  • Libra:  Who am I in a social setting?
  • Capricorn:  How would others (at work or in some other public forum) see me?

Lots of energy out there, nudging you to ponder, wonder, and examine.  Hang on to your hats!  Stay strong, stay focused!  And check back in at the end of the week for a Friday Fun column inspired by the cardinal grand cross!


If it’s Friday, it must be creativity time!  Ready to think?

For today’s Friday Fun Stuff, I’m going to give you a scene “in media res.”  You’ll be right in the middle of the action!  Your mission, then, is to choose one of the two characters and write his or her backstory.  What events led up to this scene?  What made your character the person he/she is below, and how did he/she get there?  Create a mini-biography for your character in a paragraph or two.

(For the record, this is a creative exercise I like to do all the time.  You know how you might see an intriguing photograph, or walk past a couple having an argument, or hear a snippet of a conversation?  I try to imagine all the different scenarios that might have led up to the scene I stumbled upon.  To be honest, it has really helped me be less “snap judgmental,” a trait that I find less than attractive in myself!)

So, here is your scene.  Read, and then get creative!

A woman in her mid-twenties walks quickly on a gravel path through a suburban park, clutching her car key in her fist.  It is twilight, and she appears to be alone on the path.  She looks left, looks right, scanning constantly.  She has not, however, looked up, and suddenly a man, dressed in dark clothes, leaps from a tree just as she walks underneath.  He lands on her back and pulls her to the ground.  The fight begins.  At first, the assailant has the upper hand, and he rains blows down on the woman.  But she is able to regroup and begins to fight back.  The two are engaged in a skillful battle, and it seems that they are evenly matched.  Panting, the man tells the woman, “You’ll never succeed,” his voice a hoarse growl as if he’d been chewing glass.  At this pronouncement, the woman grabs the man’s head and pulls it down with both hands as she drives her knee up into his face.  He falls to the ground.  She looks down at him and gives him a kick to the ribs.  She smooths her hair back into place as she walks away.

Mercury Retrograde: Time to Reflect

This weekend, Mercury goes retrograde.  In astronomy terms, retrograde means that the planet’s orbit appears to us here on Earth to move backwards.  In astrology terms, a retrograde period symbolizes a time to review and reflect.

Mercury is in Leo for this retrograde period, which will last until August 8th.  So what do Mercury and Leo mean?  What should we be re-evaluating in these next few weeks?

Mercury represents our communication style, the way we look at the world.  It is an intellectual and dynamic energy.  If you recall your classical mythology, Mercury was the messenger to the gods.  Think words, quick-wittedness, learning, and such.

Leo, a fire sign, is the king of the zodiac wheel.  It represents the heart, ambitions, and authority.  Leo can also be quite childish and demanding of attention.  Think of it this way:  when Leo has its act together, it is the regal and dignified King of the Jungle; a Leo who succumbs to his own self-centeredness ends up just being a show-off who can never have enough attention.

Putting those symbols together, then, we can come up with our astrological homework for the next few weeks:

  • Am I communicating clearly, creatively, and from the heart, especially in areas where I am the leader?
  • Am I expressing warmth and generosity?
  • Do I love the sound of my own voice so much and I really want you to hear it too? Or am I confident enough to allow you to speak as well?
  • Am I being joyful and child-like, or just being childish?
  • In situations where I am the leader, am I paying attention to details, conducting myself with dignity, and following my heart?  Or am I simply in it for my own gain?

Some astrologers caution that we should never sign contracts or travel or make important decisions during a Mercury Retrograde.  I usually don’t go so far as that.  For one thing, I’ve learned “never say never.”  For another, life still keeps rolling along no matter what, and sometimes you gotta do what you gotta do.  So I would just say to keep these symbols in mind and be thoughtful in your decision making.  Listen to your heart and choose wisely.

Good Morning! Good Evening!

Oh, Monday. . . .  Sometimes we’re just not ready for you.  Most times, actually, I’d guess.  If your Mondays–or any other day, for that matter–begin with bedhead, puffy eyes, and cranky mutterings, then this Sporty Stuff post is for you.

Yoga’s Sun Salutation is a multi-purpose wonder.  It is easy enough for most anyone to do, and it only takes a few minutes.  Try doing the whole sequence three times every morning.  At first, you might find yourself doing a few more of those cranky mutterings.  But honestly, this exercise takes such a short time to do, and you really do feel instant effects.

You don’t need to hold each pose for very long.  In fact, you can even vary your speed for different results.  I find that you can go through the poses quickly for an energizing wake-up in the morning, or you can do the routine more slowly and thoughtfully in the evening to help you relax and prepare for sleep.

Give it a try for a few days and post your thoughts here!  Click the link below for a PDF file of the whole routine.  Enjoy!

Sun Salutation