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Medicine comes in all forms

An astrologer recently looked at my chart and offered this interpretation, which I can’t get out of my head:

The image that pops to my mind when I see your chart is of a barge sailing down the Nile, carrying a heavy load on one side, but elegantly gliding down the river. I see the theme in your chart is between balancing the needs of the material world and the world of relationship. But in looking deeper, it seems that while the need to merge with another is king, the need to feel free and self-sufficient is equally powerful . The push and pull can generate lots of steam and even unexpressed resentment and anger, but that is the doorway to your inner gold. It’s about finding the middle path through working with Venus, as she teaches you to enjoy the body and matter. By truly learning to enjoy and receive the joys of the material world, you may find more freedom of movement and a more expansive sense of well-being. The Moon in Sagg needs room to move. When you find yourself locking heads with the two parts of yourself, engage your thighs through exercise – move your legs and let fresh air clear your head. 

I got a pretty big intuitive hit when I first read this symbolism of a barge down the Nile.  That extraordinary river, with it’s beauty and all it’s life-giving.  The importance of relationship between port, and goods delivered.  How the relationship to that very river and its seasons dictates the material comfort and success of the people there.

I’ll confess, however, that my ego was none too pleased that this is not the most effeminate of images.  The barge in particular: the hull is enormous, the movement predictable and heavy.  This is not the kind of imagine that makes a woman feel her inner goddess.  I immediately picture industry.  Steel, iron.  I can recall a video we watched in high school german class about the ports of Deutschland.

A little sleuthing took me to French artist Andre Bauchant’s oil painting (1939): Cleopatra’s Barge.

Well.  Now that’s a barge I can get behind.

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The rest of it: working with venus.  That sentence about the doorway to inner gold.  The deep and unyielding need for freedom.  I need time with that stuff.  My focus is drawn to that barge, and saying hello.

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The Chicago Theater

The Chicago Theater ain’t playin.

The Chicago Theatre was the first large, lavish movie palace in America and was the prototype for all others. This beautiful movie palace was constructed for $4 million by theatre owners Barney and Abe Balaban and Sam and Morris Katz and designed by Cornelius and George Rapp. It was the flagship of the Balaban and Katz theatre chain.

Built in French Baroque style, The Chicago Theatre’s exterior features a miniature replica of Paris’ Arc de Triomphe, sculpted above its State Street marquee. Faced in a glazed, off-white terra cotta, the triumphal arch is sixty feet wide and six stories high. Within the arch is a grand window in which is set a large circular stained-glass panel bearing the coat-of-arms of the Balaban and Katz chain – two horses holding ribbons of 35-mm film in their mouths.

The grand lobby, modeled after the Royal Chapel at Versailles, is five stories high and surrounded by gallery promenades at the mezzanine and balcony levels. The grand staircase is patterned after that of the Paris Opera House and ascends to the various levels of the Great Balcony.

The 3,600 seat auditorium is seven stories high, more than one half of a city block wide, and nearly as long. The vertical sign “C-H-I-C-A-G-O,” at nearly six stories high, is one of the few such signs in existence today. A symbol of State Street and Chicago, the sign and marquee are landmarks in themselves, as is the 29-rank Wurlitzer theatre pipe organ. [Source]

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“To journey without being changed is to be a nomad. To change without journeying is to be a chameleon. To journey and be transformed by the journey is to be a pilgrim.”

– Mark Nepo, in the Exquisite Risk.

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What it’s like to work through some stuff

It’s tempting to push forward when something is uncomfortable. It’s easier to tread well-trodden paths and maintain a sense of normalcy by going through the motions or to kick into overdrive than it is to sit in stillness with discomfort.  (Fun fact: Sometimes I work on this very thing in yoga.)

The recent weeks have been challenging. I had a panic attack that lasted 30 hours.

Here’s how that went:

While in New York, I developed a nagging feeling about an upcoming date – “Babe, do we have plans for June 12?”

We didn’t.

Like a seed that I watered each day, my insistency only grew over time.

M & I flew home on Monday, June 8th.. On Tuesday the ninth, I went to work.  After 7.5 weeks of back to back travel and/or hosting, I knew my root chakra was completely out of whack, and I was really ready to be home — but I felt so guilty for being in and out of work over the last two months, that I went into the office.

I drove home that evening and that’s the earliest I can remember losing my grip. In retrospect, something in me knew that if I let my system get overwhelmed that the truth would surface. (I was so unsettled that I really, really wanted the fucking truth to surface.)

Traffic was terrible that night. It was the kind of hot that makes sweat roll down your spine, drawing attention to each vertebrae and I stubbornly refused to turn on my a/c. Instead I drove really hard with the windows down. As I started to overheat, anger bubbled up. In a way, I welcomed it. It felt good to be pissed.   Really good. By the time I was home, I told M that I was tired, and I let myself get too hot, and I was just wanting to lay around and cry and she said okay, if that was my choice. She gave me a look of concern and I told her I didn’t want to talk about it yet.

We went to bed early, and I knew as soon as I woke up. Hello, old friend.

Having a panic attack, for me, is like seeing someone you recognize in a dream.  Anxiety pulls my attention completely. It’s as though life is speaking to me most directly: Something is really disrupting your situation and you have to look at that right now. (Right now?) Right NOW.

I went to work anyway. Same story: I felt guilty for not being there. I had a really important in-person meeting I needed to attend. A colleague was in town that I needed to meet with.

Work was awful. I don’t need to transcribe it here, but it was truly awful. I cried almost the entire day, as I got triggered over and over again. I flopped around my cubicle dramatically. I removed myself over lunch and stared into space until I stopped crying. When I got back to my desk, I just let the panic attack take over again – like waves lapping at the shore. My panic and sadness and anger and frustration would come in and recede again and there was almost no slack tide at all: just constant erosion of the beach.

I made it through the important in-person meeting I needed to attend. I met with my colleague. It was all completely fine.

I went to yoga that night. I bawled while setting an intention. I bawled again 70 minutes later in savasana. My yoga teacher made compassionate eye contact.

My anxiety didn’t entirely end that night, but I felt a dramatic decrease. It was the next morning, shampooing in the shower, that my consciousness shifted out of and away from anxiety.

I realized that June 12th is an anniversary.

The process went like/tends to go like this: First, I felt bothered and unsettled – like something was unresolved or mid-sentence or like that feeling you get when someone knocks on the door and you freeze and you think, “did somebody just knock?” Then I tried to figure out what caused a disruption in the matrix. I let my physical needs go unmet at the same time I was coming down off a really busy period and finally able to relax (read: make room for the truth to surface). Emotions like anger, frustration, and sadness came up and they felt extra gratifying. (By this point in the process, I did acknowledge I was anxious and had some awareness that I was working through some stuff.) Sleep didn’t solve it. Then a slow, disintegrating walk down a spiral staircase over something relatively trivial but highly inconvenient. There’s a certain helpless feeling to the crying: like I know that the only way out is to go through it and feel the feelings. In the past, there might be some hyperventilating, but that’s not something I can do in front of anyone outside of my self because it really, really alarms other people. I am not yet familiar with what happens after the crying.

New perspective, part one

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I noticed this nest being built a few weeks ago.  When I snuck up to see it in greater detail, these new babes reached up, searching for food.  My heart!  I was so captivated by the nest that I hadn’t even considered there might be eggs or fresh new souls hiding inside!

Ever mindful of symbolism, I looked up robin medicine:

The robin brings a fresh new perspective to situations that are otherwise foggy and unclear. Try calling on robin energy for clarity when your judgement is clouded or when you need light shed on an issue.  (Source:  From here.)