Archive for category Just for fun

We Made a Difference!

Hello everyone.

One of the perks of my recent move is that I’m within driving distance of Brown University.  Within a couple of days of moving to town, I signed up for my first class, Social Media and Online Community Building.  I’m hoping to learn more about ‘online community building’, a subject I’m interested in for my own work and for my business clients.

For class I read an article by Fred Turner, “Where the counterculture met the new economy: the WELL and the origins of virtual community”This article connected the dots for me in such a way as to reach a real ‘aha’.  It’s amazing how life brings information that adds one more piece to the jigsaw puzzle – little by little filling in the spaces until you can see the whole picture.

Remember Whole Earth Catalog?

In the article Turner outlines how the social media and online community passion that has become such a part of our lives now had its origins in the counter-culture movement of the sixties and seventies.  Did you know that?  Remember Whole Earth Catalog?  That “community in print” opened the doors to collaborative publishing.  Then in 1983 the online bulletin board version, the WELL (Whole Earth ‘Lectronic Link), became the forum for Bay Area professionals, such as engineers and scientists, to exchange information, converse with friends and colleagues, build community, and promote their professional and economic lives.  More broadly, both versions enabled a geographically scattered community of counter-culturalists to connect, suggest products, and write reviews based on experience in the field, sometimes literally.

In my early twenties I was a confirmed counter-culturalist.  I had all the credentials:  I hitchhiked all over the country with my husband and our guitars; I lived in Haight-Ashbury in a flat with nine other people; I spent my days experimenting with various levels of consciousness in Golden Gate Park; I baked bread and washed clothes in a wringer washer; and I avidly read the Whole Earth Catalog, pouring over the entries.  Whole Earth Catalog was probably the most influential publication of its time in my world.  Through it we discovered the diversity of interests and lifestyles that defined our culture, the counter-culture.

The Dawning of the Age of Aquarius

I had no idea until I read Turner’s article that our “geographically dispersed network” became the foundation of virtual online communities, the predecessor of today’s forums and networking sites.  I had assumed, and have written as much in these pages, that the open sourcing mindset had been developed by my son’s generation.  To quote my own post:

My son uses this often in his work.  When he has a thorny technical problem to solve, first he looks on line to see if anyone else has resolved it.  He often finds the answer or at least a clue that provides the opening for him to successfully resolve it.  If the answer is not online, when he has resolved it, he posts it.  The next person that runs into the same issue can access his best thinking, instantly and free of charge.  Why does he do it?  Reciprocity, certainly, but also for the pure satisfaction of contributing to the advancement of shared knowledge.  This is kinship of another kind, Aquarian kinship, based on a deep understanding of who are our kin:  those who love the same knowledge as we and who share the desire to advance its frontier.

I never connected the dots back to our activities in the seventies:  attempting to live in a nonhierarchical, collaborative, interactive community led to the virtual social environment of today. 

Where’s the astrology in this?  I’m not sure.  I’ll have to go back and see what correspondences can be drawn or what long theme in the skies has played out since the countercultural revolution to now.  But I wanted to share this startling piece of continuity with you.  I must confess, I feel a little smug – we did make a difference!

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Happy Thanksgiving!

Lithograph, Home To Thanksgiving 1867 by Currier and Ives (Source:Wikipedia)

Lithograph, Home To Thanksgiving 1867 by Currier and Ives (Source:Wikipedia)

Today I want to thank all of my readers – I think about you and appreciate you every day.

This poem was a favorite of my mother and she taught it to us to sing each Thanksgiving.  I hope you enjoy it.

From Wikipedia:

“Over the River and Through the Woods” is a Thanksgiving song by Lydia Maria Child. Written originally as a poem, it appeared in her Flowers for Children, volume 2, in 1844. The title of the poem is, “A Boy’s Thanksgiving Day”. It celebrates her childhood memories of visiting her grandfather’s house. Lydia Maria Child was a novelist, journalist, teacher, and wrote extensively about the need to eliminate slavery.

 

Over the river, and through the wood,

To Grandfather’s house we go;

The horse knows the way to carry the sleigh

through the white and drifted snow.

 

Over the river, and through the wood—

Oh, how the wind does blow!

It stings the toes and bites the nose

As over the ground we go.

 

Over the river, and through the wood,

To have a first-rate play.

Hear the bells ring, “Ting-a-ling-ding”,

Hurrah for Thanksgiving Day!

 

Over the river, and through the wood

Trot fast, my dapple-gray!

Spring over the ground like a hunting-hound,

For this is Thanksgiving Day.

 

Over the river, and through the wood—

And straight through the barnyard gate,

We seem to go extremely slow,

It is so hard to wait!

 

Over the river, and through the wood—

Now Grandmother’s cap I spy!

Hurrah for the fun! Is the pudding done?

Hurrah for the pumpkin pie!

 

Three Dog Night – Easy to be Hard

In honor of Saturn square Pluto…enjoy!

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Just for Fun Friday – Images of Innovation

Which image resonates with you? The image on the left is from my friend, astrologer Dru Philippe.

A personification of innovation as represented by a statue in The American Adventure in the World Showcase pavilion of Walt Disney World's Epcot.(Source:Wikipedia)

A personification of innovation as represented by a statue in The American Adventure in the World Showcase pavilion of Walt Disney World's Epcot.(Source:Wikipedia)

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Just for Fun – Eat. Play. Nap.

What's next?

What's next?

OK.  I take everything back I said was hard about Mars in Cancer.  Now I get it.

Like the Moon, the ruler of Cancer, life can be simple if you respond to its rhythms.  When it’s time to eat, you eat with gusto! 

Yum.  Oatmeal and bananas.

Yum. Oatmeal and bananas.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Cutest boy ever!

Cutest boy ever!

 

 

 

When it’s time to play, the simplest object delights. 

Play time.

Play time.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Nap time.  Grandma gets to blog.

Nap time. Grandma gets to blog.

 

 

 

 

When it’s time to nap, Grandma gets to blog. 

One hour here, 45 minutes there, and the entire week’s posts are done on time. 

Rocking a resistant baby to sleep:   time to think about the meaning of the astrology signs and business. 

Baby playing happily in playpen:  gather research for next day’s blog. 

Everything gets done, everything in its own time, everything on time. 

Cool.

 

Do you have any images you’d like to share for Mars in Cancer or Retrograde Mercury?  It would be fun to share images as well as words.  I’d love to post them here!

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Just for Fun – Uranus and the Steve Miller Band

You’ll love this! I picked it because we’ve been discussing Uranus and this is a perfect Uranus song – check out the lyrics below. Steve Miller has a strong Uranus aspect to his Sun (identity) as well as to his Venus (artistic creativity). The video itself has great Uranian images from the changing sky to electronics. Enjoy!


 

Time keeps on slippin, slippin, slippin
Into the future
Time keeps on slippin, slippin, slippin
Into the future

I want to fly like an eagle
To the sea
Fly like an eagle
Let my spirit carry me
I want to fly like an eagle
Till Im free
Oh, lord, through the revolution

Feed the babies
Who dont have enough to eat
Shoe the children
With no shoes on their feet
House the people
Livin in the street
Oh, oh, theres a solution

I want to fly like an eagle
To the sea
Fly like an eagle
Let my spirit carry me
I want to fly like an eagle
Till Im free
Fly through the revolution

Time keeps on slippin, slippin, slippin
Into the future
Time keeps on slippin, slippin, slippin
Into the future
Time keeps on slippin, slippin, slippin
Into the future
Time keeps on slippin, slippin, slippin
Into the future

I want to fly like an eagle
To the sea
Fly like an eagle
Let my spirit carry me
I want to fly like an eagle
Till Im free
Fly through the revolution

Time keeps on slippin, slippin, slippin
Into the future
Time keeps on slippin, slippin, slippin
Into the future

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Just for Fun – Moon River

 Looking for something for Just for Fun Friday, and thought again of Moon River, which I loved and loved and loved when I was younger. So I looked for videos and found three famous renderings, Audrey Hepburn from Breakfast at Tiffany’s, Frank Sinatra, and Andy Williams. I looked up their charts and they each had the same Moon in Pisces! Moon plus River, a perfect Pisces statement, and the song captures the Piscean desire to escape and live in a perfected fantasy.

Choose which one you’d like or listen to all three. I couldn’t get the Andy Williams video to embed, but have a listen. It’s always been my favorite.

Moon River, Andy Williams

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Waxing Moon Sourdough Starter

Today's Sourdough Bread, about 1/2 through its rise

Today's Sourdough Bread, about 1/2 through its rise

My sister asked how to make a sourdough starter I mentioned on Facebook, and since it’s a perfect waxing moon time to make a starter, I thought I’d post it here. Enjoy!

Takes a little work every day for two weeks, but so worth it!

Adapted From Macrina Bakery Cookbook

 

Day 1:  Place 6 oz organic grapes in 10” square cheesecloth.  Tie with string and leave tail of string.

Whisk 1 cup unbleached all-purpose flour plus 1/3 cup whole wheat flour with 1 ½ cup filtered room temperature water until like pancake batter.

Crush grapes in cheesecloth with your hands and lower into the starter, taping the end of string outside the bowl.

Set bowl, uncovered, in warm room for 2 days.

 

Day 3:  Remove and discard sachet of grapes.  Feed the starter:  2/3 C all-purpose flour plus 1/3 C whole wheat flour plus 1 C filtered room temperature water.  Stir into starter.

 

Day 4:  Stir starter with whisk and discard ½ of the mixture.  Stir in a batch of feeding formula (see Day 3 for recipe).  Let sit at room temperature for 2 hours.  Then place in refrigerator, uncovered (so use a top shelf so stuff doesn’t fall into the starter) for 1 day.

 

Days 5 – 14: Repeat Day 4, feeding starter at about the same time each day.  Then ready to use.

 

I started using the discarded starter at about day 10 because I couldn’t stand to waste it, making small loaves of bread.  Each time you use the starter, you use ½ of it and then add 1C flour and 1C Water to it and leave it out of refrigerator for 2 hours.

 

You have to either use or discard ½ and feed it every week.  We thought this would be burdensome, but actually the bread is so good, we make a loaf every week anyway.

 

I make a basic loaf from 1 C starter, 1 C water, ½ TBLS Salt, and 4-4 ½ C mixed flours.  I’ve used Whole Wheat, White, 12-grain Cereal, and Rolled Oats in different combinations.  I mix the dough, knead it, shape it into an oval, put in a cast iron small soup pot, and let it rise in a warm place overnight.  Then I bake it at 400 degrees for about 40 minutes.  Notice I only let it rise once.  You’re supposed to let it rise twice, but in the interest of time, I never have and it always turns out great.  I also have a KitchenAid with a Dough Hook so the whole process is incredibly easy.

Just for Fun – Ellen’s Excellent Adventure

My blogging mentor, Yaro Starak, encourages his students to publish their story, or at least the parts of it that led to blogging on our topic. I thought I’d share the results with you this Friday. I hope you enjoy it.

Mom and Dad

Mom and Dad

This is the story of how I arrived at the point of writing a blog about the intersection of business and astrology.

I can credit my mother for my interest in astrology. An Irish Catholic, she still had deep in her Gaelic soul a love of all things magical. Under her tutelage, I grew up devoted to the magic in Catholicism: sacred ashes, snakes jumping into the sea, Saints miraculously bleeding on Good Friday, apparitions, guardian angels. She also taught me Irish lore like kissing the Blarney Stone, Leprechauns, shamrocks, fairies, and the validity of premonitions. And she followed Jeanne Dixon, the famous astrologer.

My father, on the other hand, a scientist and officer in the U.S. Army Chemical Corp (yes, that scary), could not abide these subjects. As a second generation Italian, his focus was economic stability. In high school, my mother helped me study and prepare for the Texas statewide competition in the knowledge of Greek Life and History, and when I returned home with the winning trophy, my father’s only comment was, “Useless knowledge.” I mean, Greek Life and History! OK, discounting that the Greeks formed the bedrock of Western thought, it still wasn’t social work or art, other subjects he detested and forbade me to study.

So I had one voice whispering the magical and mystical, and one insisting that knowledge had to be useful. A set up for the next 25 years!

My mother, aunts, and grandfather were all bookkeepers and accountants. In the summer after my first year of college, I substituted for my Aunt in her bookkeeping job for a men’s clothing store in Trenton, New Jersey. I must admit I didn’t do too well at that job, and I still cringe to think of the messes my aunt had to clean up after I left. But I had gained a skill that would continue to support me for many years.

Blessed by Cardinal Spellman, I think

Blessed by Cardinal Spellman, I think

It was a lucky thing, too, because at the end of that summer I met my future husband, Ted, announced to my parents I was leaving, and hitchhiked to Michigan to set up a life there. After a couple of years working in the Marketing and Finance Departments of the Aetna Insurance Company, Ted and I packed a duffle bag and our guitars and hitchhiked to San Francisco.

We lived in the Haight District in a flat with 9 other people, spending our days in Golden Gate Park or playing music for tips at Fisherman’s Wharf. We went to rock concerts, seeing all the greats, and to the Zen Center a block from our flat, where I began to meditate. Our one year there turned into quite an education, encountering so many alternative ways of being, thinking, eating, and making a couple of dollars last!

First Holy Communion

First Holy Communion

In my early twenties I began studying astrology seriously. I read all of the writers of the time, went to workshops, and bought my first ephemeris in a Princeton bookshop. My mother provided me with the times of birth of all my brothers and sisters, which were many (remember, Irish/Italian Catholic), and I began interpreting their charts as well as those of friends. By this time I was living in Taos, New Mexico (yes, heaven on earth) where I would live and work for the next twenty years.

I wrote a weekly column for the Taos News, wrote for various newsletters, published my own newsletter, Rhythms, taught classes, and read people’s charts, all the while running a small bookkeeping business on the side. I was also raising my son Erin and when the financial demands of single motherhood (Note to readers: 18 is too young to get married) became more than my astrology work could support, I began a full-time bookkeeping business.

In 1985 I met my Guru, Gurumayi Chidvilasananda, and over time my one dream became to serve her in her ashram in upstate New York. I knew that to raise Erin, put him through college, and serve a living master instead of working would take a lot of money, so I began an eight year process of educating myself while working full-time. First I gained the Certified Financial Planner credentials, then finished my degree in Business Administration, then studied for and passed the Certified Public Accountant examination and became a CPA.

High School Graduation

High School Graduation

As I gained knowledge in these areas, the bookkeeping work morphed into really interesting and engaging business and tax work. Computers had come on the scene, freeing us from endless columns of calculation and opening time for the really interesting strategic part of business. I found I loved to work with my clients, delve into their business issues, and bring my knowledge to bear on their situations. Business, economics, and commerce truly fascinated me and with each new client I learned more and more about business life. And, of course, I was running my own business, Taos Financial Strategies, which provided financial planning, taxes, accounting, property management and artist business management to many clients. As a business owner I dealt with the issues every business person does: hiring, training, profitability, sales, marketing, negotiating and all the rest. I even ran for elected office at the Taos County Chamber of Commerce and served as their Treasurer for three years.

Immersing myself so deeply in my studies, my work, childrearing, and my meditation practices left little time for astrology. I always followed it for myself and my family, but I no longer practiced it professionally. When I had an issue I wanted to discuss, I consulted with other astrologers. Taos is fortunate to have many great astrologers, including Joseph Rynear, Lucy McCall, and Kat Duff. I recognized the value of an astrological reading from the client point of view as it was always incredibly affirming to discuss timing and trends with an expert.

Candlestick Park, circa 1973

Candlestick Park, circa 1973

There was even a period when I stopped practicing astrology. Deeply involved in learning about my spiritual path, it seemed to me that people were focusing on the wrong point in their interest in astrology, focusing on the outer happenings of their life rather than the inner truth. This was when I gave away most of my astrology books, books I fervently miss now that I understand that the outer life is a divine reflection of the inner truth, to be honored and respected rather than shunned and ignored.

A little aside for some grief: Oh, I miss my library. I kept a few, and have added a few, but time and again I wish for all those books!

I’ve got to say my life was wonderful during those years. I was raising not one but two teenagers including a friend of my son’s, I had a loving partner, a committed spiritual practice, and a lucrative engaging business. But I never lost the yearning to serve my Guru at her ashram. In early 1998, directly after writing the last check for my son’s college tuition, I sold my practice and moved with my partner east to New York. My dream had come true: I was to serve in the Finance Department at Gurumayi’s ashram.

My plan had been to work tax season as a CPA and earn enough money to serve at the ashram fulltime during the rest of the year. What I didn’t know was that my business skills were enthusiastically welcomed at the ashram and within a couple of years I was leading Finance, Legal, Marketing, Products, HR and more for an international organization with operations in 33 countries.

My pride and joy, 1976

My pride and joy, 1976

There were also wonderful, deeply reflective astrologers at the ashram and I began having astrology conversations again! Something awakened, my old love was waiting for me. At the ashram, I came to see how deeply astrology is imbedded into Indian culture as we followed the lunar cycles and eclipses. I began to write a primer in astrology, the book I wish I had had when I was just beginning my studies. I came to understand how natural astrology is, that the knowledge is deep in our bones because we have lived these cycles over and over, and that the true knowledge of astrology could emerge from within us given the right tools. I wrote my book in a daily format, with a short text each day and then an exercise of some kind, an experience or contemplation that would pull out what the student already knew deep within.

My years at the Ashram were everything I hoped they would be and more. Finding the Siddha Yoga path in 1985 was hugely transformative and then being at the ashram was like being on a skyrocket to joy. Not that every minute was delirious; I had some pretty heavy baggage I had been carrying, like we all do. But all the support and tools were there to let go of these things I didn’t want any more. “Getting rid of what you haven’t got,” according to my Guru’s words. And there are no words for the privilege of being in the presence of a fully enlightened being. The deeper I came to know myself, the more clearly I could see who she was. And the more clearly I saw her, the more clearly I understood who and what we all are. It was magnificent, and I literally danced for joy many times.

As my awareness expanded and deepened, so did my creativity. In addition to my writing (and singing and learning piano) I began experimenting with different ways to present astrology charts to clients, collecting images that would elicit a more intuitive experience than a flat two-dimensional chart of symbols could. The fire of this love kept burning!

After ten years at the Ashram, ten years that could not be replaced by lifetimes elsewhere, I realized it was time to pursue another kind of life. My partner’s job had relocated her to southern Georgia which was just too far from New York. I packed up my house, loaded my two cats and dog into the Audi, and we all headed to coastal Georgia.

I picked up some business clients and thought about taking an accounting job. I picked up some astrology clients and wondered if I could develop a consulting practice. Back and forth I went. Astrology or business, astrology or business? One morning, in that fissure between sleep and wake I realized what I was meant to do. I love business. I love astrology. Why choose between them? I am a businesswoman who loves and uses astrology. I am an astrologer who loves and understands business. The two disciplines come together in me; why shouldn’t they come together in my work?

My subscription newsletter, 1986

My subscription newsletter, 1986

I still have business clients and I still have astrology clients. But more and more I am melding the two. And to my surprise, there is not a lot of information on the intersection of the two. There is financial astrology, and economic astrology, but not really anything I can find on the application of astrology to the business owner and to business itself. So I’m researching, interviewing, blogging, and keeping my attention tuned to the heavens and the earth.

I really enjoy business and commerce. I have always been fascinated by the exchange of a person’s energy, their work, for compensation which in turns purchases goods which are the result of someone else’s energy. And around and around it goes. I enjoy how each person’s contribution fuels a system that adds up to a massive, global interchange. With all its deprivations for some and excesses for others, I have also seen marked kindness from employers, fairness in business negotiations, and creativity, enthusiasm, and awesome problem solving spring from the arena of business affairs.

I have seen magic in my own business dealings. I’ve learned that if money is short, I should give my employees raises. It has never failed to turn my business around! I have seen how time is elastic and doesn’t flow in the structured way we expect it to. Some days it passes incredibly quickly; other days it stretches out and gives me enough hours to complete a project. I have tuned into the synchronicity of learning and then teaching. Time and again a new client will bring up a topic I have just stumbled across the day before and can now address with confidence. Or when several clients in a row are all wrestling with the same issue and as I research for one I can share the knowledge with others.

Christmas 1997

Christmas 1997

And I love astrology. A deeply complex art, it is filled with symbols, astronomy, mythology, psychology, theology, and heartfelt human interaction. Brilliant minds contribute to its knowledge base daily, and because it is based on cycles of change, it is always new and revealing. I feel linked to the ancients of all cultures who interpreted the stars and I often imagine myself in a medieval parapet, peering out at the night to read the portents. And I love how it can be applied to myriad situations to bring ease and a sense of the flow of life.

My vision and hope is that all the business people in the world can receive support from astrology; that aligning with the natural cycles of the universe can bring them comfort and success; that communing with these cycles will transform their business experience into a divine, mystical experience. I believe that everything we do is an expression of divinity, of God expressing itself freely through us, and that our commercial endeavors are just as sacred as anything else we do.

About 2007

About 2007

In my own life, the businesswoman and the astrologer have become united in my work. The mystical and magical has become useful and practical. And in case you’re wondering, my personality as shown in my astrology chart is perfectly suited to melding the two. For my readers who are astrologers, a picture is worth a thousand words:

Ellen's chart jpeg

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Celebrate! with Rumi

NGC 1300, a barred spiral galaxy (Source:Wikipedia)

NGC 1300, a barred spiral galaxy (Source:Wikipedia)

 

Enjoy!

There’s also a fantastic video, but again, I couldn’t embed it.

 

 

OH COME, oh come!  You are the soul

of the soul of the soul of whirling!

Oh come!  You are the cypress tall

in the blooming garden of whirling!

Oh come!  For there has never been

and will never be one like you!

Oh come!  Such ones have never seen

the longing eyes of whirling!

Oh come!  The fountain of the sun

is hidden under your shadow!

Rumi's tomb (Mevlana Museum). Konya, Turkey. (Source:Wikipedia)

Rumi's tomb (Mevlana Museum). Konya, Turkey. (Source:Wikipedia)

You own a thousand Venus stars

in the circling heavens of whirling!

The whirling sings your praise and thanks

with a hundred eloquent tongues:

I’ll try to say just one, two points

translating the language of whirling.

For when you enter in the dance

you then leave both these worlds.

For outside these two worlds there lies

the universe, endless, of whirling.

The roof is high, the lofty roof

which is on the seventh sphere,

NGC 4414, a typical spiral galaxy in the constellation Coma Berenices (Source:Wikipedia)

NGC 4414, a typical spiral galaxy in the constellation Coma Berenices (Source:Wikipedia)

But far beyond this roof has reached

the ladder, the ladder of whirling!

Whatever there appears but He,

you tread on that in dancing:

The whirling, see, belongs to you

and you belong to the whirling.

What can I do when Love appears

and puts its claw round my neck?

I grasp it, take it to my breast

and drag it into the whirling!

And when the bosom of the motes

is filled with the glow of the sun,

They enter all the dance, the dance

and do not complain in the whirling!

      

                                                                            (Look: This Is Love Translated by Annemarie Schimmel)