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Each of us has our own unique GPS system... Truth-telling is the most thorough navigation tool.

Saturday, March 14, 2009


Strange how there are ebbs and flows to our emotional states, just as there are in the ocean tides and moon patterns. My therapist asked to slow down. I asked myself to do that decades ago. I was more corporate at eighteen than I’ve ever been since. I was certain I’d own a successful company, live a lucrative life, be bi-coastal and fulfilled.

Funny how reality presents a different picture. When I was most successful in life, winning awards and receiving scholarships, I veered off the health track and into self-destruction. The first poem I ever wrote was about the knot in my stomach and how the harder I try to untie it, the tighter the knot becomes.

Years later after many self help books and countless Oprah shows, I know it is the proverbial peeling of an onion, each layer comes off the one below it. Slicing away so you eventually get to the core, causes tears.

For me I felt troubled when having to don hats and wear masks for different groups. It was hard to be one thing to one person, and something else to someone else. Also stressful for me was the responsibilities success demanded. I hated having a highly regimented life, and yet, in my teens, that’s all I’d ever known.

Occasionally, I’d tell my teachers I was at a school district board meeting and I’d tell the members on the board that there was a test I had to take and couldn’t make up. Having fooled all of them, I’d drive to Sea Cliff Village, buy a piece of honeycomb, and sit on the dock with my feet in the water, watching the boats float in and out of Alamitos Bay.

I didn’t know it was stress. Even though my folks had occasionally gone to workshops and seminars on creating greater psychological health in the family, and we had family counsel meetings, I felt it was my job to be the success. My older brother got in trouble a lot. My younger brother was the brainy misfit. From a young age I felt I had to keep them from fighting, to keep peace in the family so my mom wouldn’t get frazzled. If I was the star, if I won elections and had the popular kids as my friends, my folks were proud of me and had something good to tell their friends.

At Berkeley I started exploring alternative voices within... but it wasn’t till I pushed myself through in four years that the part of me that was tired and needed a rest really spoke. I started a rebellion from success that lasted fifteen years. Pretty much anything I touched during that time was short-lived and preliminary. I couldn’t commit to anything or anybody. I didn’t want the side-effects of success; all the responsibilities, requirements, guilt trips or dotted lines.

It’s funny that so many years later I’m attuned to the stressful lives others are living. I ache for my girlfriends who have three children and careers. I hear that the word nap never makes it onto their calendar. Down time? Time for self? Time to ponder? Non-existent.

In the 2006 Writer’s Market, Margaret Atwood said she’s a Scorpio and a Rabbit, “happiest in the bottom of a shoe where it’s dark” and “at the bottom of burrows.”

I’m a four-planet Sagittarian which is a freedom lover from the get-go, and a Boar, “possessing a luxurious nature that delights in fine love-making” and is quite “magnanimous” to the point of occasionally get stomped on by “less-than-well-intentioned souls”.

The Scorpio and Rabbit go together; both are secretive. The Sag and Pig also mirror each other in their hedonistic love of sex and freedom and the quest for knowledge. Plus, Pigs love to nap. Just had to put that in here.

One of the quotes deleted during last month’s computer crash, talked about self-discovery as the most important quest in life. I’ve certainly discovered myself. Now, I hope, if I can just accept myself enough and give freely of my gifts as I’ve explored and defined them to be, I’ll be the kind of success I can be comfortable being. It’s about time.

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