December 28, 2010

A Twist on Your New Year’s Resolution

At this time of year why do we make resolutions to do and be better when we know they typically crash and burn around January 2nd?

Perhaps Edith Lovejoy Price explained our New Year’s quest for a fresh slate when she said, “We will open the book. Its pages are blank. We are going to put words on them ourselves. The book is called Opportunity and its first chapter is New Year's Day.”

As the old year ends, we look to what changes we can make for a better new year. We resolve to begin this change January 1st on a clean slate. But as January gets underway, declarations begin to fade. Whether to exercise more, stop smoking, drink less, eat better, stop buying lattes, save money, recycle, conserve gas, or be more attentive with family, they leave a mild sense of defeat in their wake.

Oprah Winfrey said, “Cheers to a new year and another chance for us to get it right.” This “getting it right” links to a desire to feel good, both about yourself and your life.

So it’s interesting to note that New Year’s resolutions often involve giving up something you like (smoking, alcohol, lattes, shopping) or adding into your life something not wanted (more salads, regular visits to the gym, phone calls to mom every Sunday). No wonder it’s said a “New Year’s resolution goes in one year and out the other.”

After all, we are meant to follow our bliss, find our joy, be creative, live with a sense of purpose. When we don’t, we find ourselves on the psychiatrist’s couch or in the doctor’s office, unfulfilled.

The premise of the typical New Year’s resolution is to do something new that improves life, but in fact, it often is destined for failure because it is in conflict with what you truly want. One way to be more successful is to focus on how you want to feel.

Let’s assume you want to feel energetic, healthy, happy, and safe. You want to feel loved by others while having compassion toward them. Alter your idea that you have to do something significant in order to get there.

Focus more on the “what” rather than the “how.” It’s likely counter to what you’ve been taught. Most of us are taught to go out and make things happen, often when we aren’t clear on what underlies the desire to make them happen in the first place.

Many people are living lives they think they want, yet they are unhappy. They haven’t stopped to ask themselves how they want to feel each day. This is why resolutions get dropped like hot potatoes. They don’t feel good.

If you resolve to lose weight, first determine how you want to feel. Simply wanting to lose weight isn’t enough. Do you want to feel more energy? Do you want to feel more loved and accepted by society? Do you want to feel happy? Are you afraid your health is suffering and you want to feel more secure that your weight is just fine? Get clear on your intention around losing weight then focus on that intention. Make how you want to feel in the coming year the focus of your New Year’s resolution, rather than simply losing weight.

If you want to save money, go to how you want to feel first. What is it about saving money that feels good? A sense of security? Excitement? An inspiring challenge?

If you want to quit smoking, how do you want to feel every day? Peaceful? Calm? More loved?

Determine the underlying feeling you want to experience. Turn this into your resolution. This clarity will help make it happen. It’s not something you can drop that easily because you truly want it. It’s always there, beckoning you.

December 2, 2010

Preparing for Mercury Retrograde December 10th through 30th

You’ve likely heard someone mention Mercury retrograde.

Wherever you stand on whether the ancient issue of astrology has value, this planetary event has become quite popular in the mainstream. Let’s find out why.

Mercury’s domain is the mind, perception, education, and transportation. When going along as normal, it helps us think and communicate. The retrograde period, which lasts around 21 days and occurs 3-4 times every year, doesn't mean the planet reverses its orbit, but it seems to from our vantage point. Mercury appears to initially slow down, stop, then go backwards.

With awareness, we can see how this apparent retrograde motion affects our lives.

Mercury retrograde is blamed for malfunctioning computers, derailed plans, delays, and confused communications. Invariably, you’ll find people mixing up appointments, arriving late or early, or forgetting things altogether.

Weird things can happen during the retrograde, and Mercury is already known as the “Trickster.” He seems to enjoy watching people slip on his banana peels. For instance, you buy a home but someone else’s name ends up on the title and it takes a year to correct. That happened - to me. It’s best not to sign permanent documents or make large purchases while the Trickster is retrograde.

Another example: it’s pointed out once you’ve flown to your vacation destination that your driver’s license will expire in two days, therefore, the car rental agency cannot give you a car nor can you get through security to get back home. You’ll spend hours of your time talking to the wrong people about getting an extension faxed to the hotel, but it will take inordinate effort to explain why it must be faxed and why you were not responsible enough to renew your license in the first place. That happened, also to me. 

Remember when President Obama had to re-do the oath of office? Mercury was retrograde. And the health bill that needs revising again and again? It was introduced during Mercury retrograde. Astrologers were shaking their heads. It’s ancient wisdom to wait on final agreements until Mercury turns direct.

Ideally, a retrograde period is for review. It’s the perfect time to ponder or research a major purchase or document, or revise something you’ve been working on. The mind wants to rest from its normal push forward and take time to reflect. Otherwise, we can experience frustration, misunderstandings, and confusion.

If in the flow, we would be more introspective and meditative during this time. However, in our modern society, we are generally out of touch with these natural rhythms and most of us will soon be busy with the holiday swirl.

Mercury is slowing down now and will officially be retrograde on December 10. This will last until December 30, right through the holidays. How to handle this period with little or no upset? Take it slow and be more patient than usual. This isn’t a time for doing things at the last minute. Double check travel plans. Allow extra time to get places, to complete projects, and make preparations. Know that everyone needs a mental rest, but is not necessarily getting one, so give people your understanding.

At the same time, be sure what you say is understood. Don’t assume. And, back up your computer files, as things have a way of disappearing in a flash. If possible, take some breaks from the electronic world until we are well into January when the “Trickster” turns back to normal.

Feel free to write and tell me about his antics in your life over these next few weeks. He’s sure to be busy, giggling all the while.