Friday Fun. . . . and some astrology fun!

If you were to trace out the path that Venus makes in the sky, it would look like a five-pointed star.

Venus Star Pattern

Venus Star Pattern

Pretty nifty, I think.

Tomorrow, January 11th, Venus will touch on the star point in Capricorn.  Capricorn teaches us about structure and discipline and order.  It likes tradition and practicality.  It’s the father figure of the zodiac.

How can you use this astrological arrangement to help yourself?  Think about the obstacles and struggles you may have had over the past few years.  What hard-won lessons did you learn?  How have those things shaped you and forged the person you are now?

For today’s Friday Fun creative writing prompt,  write a letter to your future self.  Include a recap of some of the lessons you’ve learned over the past year or two (or ten).  Then summarize the main thing you’ve learned that you want to bring forward with you out of that learning period.

Happy writing, and happy learning!


Learning to Punt

I’ve recently had cause to reflect on my participation in sports. Turns out I’ve been competing in sports for over thirty years and coaching for twenty. I come from a sports-oriented family, so I suppose it shouldn’t be a surprise. Once I even heard my gratdfather mentioned on a local sports radio show. The topic was “greatest clutch players.” An old-timer called in and nominated my gradfather, who had been a local champion handball player. The caller said that if money was on the line, no one could match my Pop Pop. 🙂

Anyway, in all that time, I think the number one lesson I’ve learned is that an athlete must be adaptable. And that adaptability can be a great asset in one’s everyday life.

To me, a true athlete is a well-rounded person. For example, I never understood when people only trained for a narrow portion of their sport (i.e. a swimmer who didn’t also weight train or a runner who didn’t also stretch). It’s easy to see WHY people don’t also weight train or stretch or what-have-you. Those things are hard and take more time. And sometimes life gets in the way of your workout plans and you just can’t fit it in.

In general, though, I think stretching and strengthening and running and whatevering all have to go together. Teaching your body (and your mind, for that matter) different skills gives you a bigger toolbox for sports and for life. When we have to practice our balance and our coordination and our agility, we discover our strengths and our weaknesses. And we teach ourselves how to focus and have discipline.

It’s a bit of cliche to say that sports are a metaphor for life, but that doesn’t make it any less true. In all those thirty years, I’ve run, paddled, lifted, yoga-ed, jumped, and swum. I’ve raced distances from 50 meters to 50 kilometers. I’ve competed in long jump and hurdles, and I’ve done marathons. I’ve taught aerobics, coached weekend warriors, and competed internationally. These things don’t make me any better than anyone else; I think they just mean I’m pretty experienced in adapting to different demands of life.

And so, when my four-year-old wakes up at 4:15 a.m. and tells me that he prefers to be called Hugo now, I can sigh a little, but realize that I’m perfectly capable of punting. My plans for the day will have to wait.

Willingness to UNlearn

The other day, I read a quote from Gandhi in which he advises that “it is unwise to be too sure of one’s own wisdom.”  Holy cow! I thought, with no disrespect intended.  Of course!  Many people are willing to learn, but how many of us are willing to UNlearn what we think we already know??

The path of learning sometimes comes with hard lessons that remind us that we don’t, in fact, know it all.  I think many of us like to read about and explore and search for new wisdoms.  But if we take the view that there is a Body of Knowledge out there to learn, and we just have to learn it all and then we are done, then we are really being rather myopic.

If it is true that the only constant is change, then we can’t let ourselves think that we are ever done learning.  Even if we’ve learned some really Big Lessons and come a long way and had some Life-Altering Revelations, we can’t rest on our laurels.  There will always be more to learn.  Plus, what happens when you come up against a new situation in your life, one that doesn’t match anything you’ve ever had before?  Sometimes, applying your old knowledge doesn’t work for the new situation.

No one likes to be humbled or to admit flaws.  It’s one of the hardest things in the world to look in the mirror and say, “You screwed up, pal.  You’ve got some soul-searching to do.”  Most times, when we run up against stuff we don’t want to hear, we deny it and fight it.

But what would happen if we were always willing to learn AND unlearn?  Let’s say someone challenged your beliefs or stated an opinion opposite to yours.  Or, harder still, pointed out a personal item that you might want to work on.  Generally, when someone pushes a button like that, most of us react angrily or feel wounded in some way.  What if, instead, we chose to see that emotional response as a Messenger?  We could say, Hmmm, there’s that Messenger again.  Perhaps he’s telling me that I have an opportunity to learn, unlearn, and grow here if I put ego aside and examine the issue honestly and objectively.

Hard work?  Definitely.  Worth it?  Always.


The Wisdom List

The other night, while I was watching the Olympics, I had a revelation.  I had kind of spaced out while some Russian girl was on the uneven parallel bars, and all of a sudden, it came to me.  I figured out something about myself that had bothered me for years!  There must have been something in the air that night because the Russian girl ended up winning the gold too, so there was good stuff all around.

Anyway, having learned something about myself, I got to thinking about learning in general.  I thought that it would be pretty neat-o for us to share all of our wisdom with each other here on this blog.  And so the idea for The Wisdom List was born.

I invite you to share your favorite, hardest-earned, pithiest, most magical bits of sagacity and enlightenment on this post.  I will collect them all and post them in an upcoming post.  AND I will award a prize for the most edifying.  You can post funny things, truly enlightening things, even a quote or bit of wisdom from someone else.  It should just be something that rings true, even if for only one teeny little moment in time.

I’ll get the ball rolling with some of my favorite bits of wisdom:

1.  Nothing ever goes away until it teaches us what we need to know (Pema Chodron).

2.  Perspective is worth 80 IQ points.

3.  Pants first, then shoes.

4.  Wisdom is the reward you get for a lifetime of listening when you’d have preferred to talk.

OK, now your turn!  Remember, the best entrant will win an original “aim4wisdom” prize!

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!


Happy Independence Day, everyone!  Today I’ve been thinking about freedoms.  We are very fortunate here in that we are free to vote, free to express ourselves, and free to think.

For this blog, of course, the freedom to think is most important.  From there, we are free to learn, to fail, to learn again, and to grow.  I very much hope that everyone exercises those freedoms every day, especially the freedom to fail.  Mistakes and imperfections are difficult for most of us.  But adaptation and learning cannot occur without failure.

So while you are enjoying your barbeques, pool parties, and fireworks, please take a moment and be grateful for your freedom to fail.  I think you will find a glorious new opportunities for wisdom there.

Sports: My Greatest Teacher

This past weekend, I traveled to a competition with the women’s dragon boat team that I coach.  For this particular race, I got to participate not only as a coach but also as an athlete.  For various reasons, I have not been able to paddle much myself over the past few years, so this event represented more than one challenge for me.

In a previous post, I wrote about my belief that our Higher Selves choose lessons for us to learn in each particular lifetime.  I believe that my Higher Self nudged me towards sports and fitness as the best “university” for me to learn my particular lessons.  I’ve played sports and competed since I was twelve years old, and for better or worse, I’ve become the person I am because of it.

For example, this weekend I was practically bombarded with life lessons.  In a forty-eight hour period, I had an opportunity to learn about

  • being both a leader of a group and a part of that group,
  • pulling on my “big girl panties” when it was race time even if I wasn’t feeling particularly fierce at that moment,
  • graciously accepting the support and love of my teammates instead of thinking that it’s weak to do so, and
  • finding the best in each person in the group and fostering that quality.

There were so many more little moments of learning and understanding.  This weekend was a symbol for all the lessons I’ve had in a lifetime of sports.

What about you?  What’s your “university” for life lessons?  Share your “alma mater” here!

Is it Time for a Change?

Most of us REALLY dislike change.  I believe we humans are somewhat hardwired to seek pleasaure and avoid pain, and change can certainly be painful sometimes.   So why change?

If you are brave enough to listen to that little voice inside your head telling you that something’s not right, then it is time for a change.  Perhaps your career is going nowhere, perhaps you are starting to experience ill health because of weight gain, or perhaps you have finally had enough of “just getting by.”

Carolyn Myss, an author and teacher of intuition workshops, says that “our biography becomes our biology.”  That is, if we betray ourselves by not listening to that little voice, our bodies will register that betrayal.  Have you ever worked at a job you hated or for someone you didn’t respect?  You probably got headaches or back pain.  When we ignore our instincts or refuse to listen to our hearts, we get in trouble.

Myss goes on to say, “As long as you stay confused and decide that you have no idea what choice to make, you are actually trying to manage the speed of change because you don’t want change to happen.”  In other words, you indecision is really your decision.

If your little voice is telling you that you need to make a change, then you need to trust that it is true.  Trusting yourself can be intimidating, I know.  But ask yourself if you are afraid of following your intuition simply because of the changes that will come in your life.

Consider NOT hating that which is difficult.  Embrace the difficult.  Billie Jean King once said that “pressure is privilege.”  Tackle the hard things, and find out what you are made of.  It is very likely to be stronger stuff than you ever imagined.