Saturday, 26 March 2016

Marking Time

Yep that's me after a 22 hour flight to Blighty
I was in one marching band or another through my formative years. Being from Michigan, I marched in all weather--sweltering heat, driving rain and blizzards--for football games and parades. Recent contact with my former music director, Jim Wright, from Western Michigan University (Go Broncos!!) has brought back a lot of memories from all those performances as well as the parties that went with them. But most of all I remember Band Camp when everyone who had anything to do with the Marching Band had to go to school a week earlier than everyone else to prepare for the long football season ahead. Jim calling out "squeeze the sphincter" to perfect the glide step is one of my enduring memories. I also remember the French Horn section (after two years of orthodontic work, my embouchure wasn't ready for returning to playing the trumpet) having to backwards march whilst the rifle guards tossed their rifles over our heads. It had to be one of the most terrifying--and perhaps exhilarating--things I had ever done. If it went right, it was amazing. If it went wrong, someone was going to end up with a broken nose.

One thing I always hated was marking time. One would think it would be easy just lifting your feet in time but actually the technique is quite gruelling as well as difficult. Jim or the Drum Major would be yelling for us to squeeze the sphincters and lift our knees higher until everyone got it right. And trust me, that could take a long time. It didn't matter if the weather was boiling hot, freezing cold or if it was pissing it down, for me marking time meant I wasn't going anywhere.

And so now, having just returned from an epic 5 continent, 5 month astrology tour, I find myself back in Walthamstow, back to a teaching post and back to waiting for something to happen. That thing waiting to happen is my return to India where I will take up my post as Secretary General of International Affairs and Professor of Western Astrology for Krishnamurti Institute of Astrology. So you can see why I'm a little impatient to get a move on and why I might regard this period of waiting as "marking time".

But, as with many things, passing time allows us to develop a whole new perspective. And so it is with my hours spent marking time all those years ago in marching band. And here's my new perspective: it may seem as if I'm not doing much but there's a whole lot of processing going on. So here's a little summary:

1) I cried at Sydney airport as I prepared to fly home. It was the end of an epic journey and so much had happened I was both sorry to see it end and concerned about what would be greeting me when I returned home.
2) After returning home, it felt like I had never really left
3) It really did seem as if I picked up the reins for my teaching career as if I had only been gone for a long weekend
4) My friends and family at home (that includes the four legged ones) hadn't changed much
5) I finally collected my diploma from the Faculty of Astrological Studies after 18 years. It was not the great feeling of achievement I had always imagined it would be
6) I missed the Church choir and I missed my Wynton (my trumpet)

And yet, everything has changed.

1) I now know what I am going to need to live abroad for an extended period of time. Marmite, pasta, mushy peas and a few carefully chosen astrology books (including my much-missed ephemeris) are high on my list of priorities.
2) Oh dear Goddess, the bills can pile up quickly
3) Having taught a few days at a primary school, I despair of the transition process. Guess who has a lot to say about this. Oh dear Goddess how I missed my pupils.
4) Despite everyone seeming to be the same, there are some crucial, if imperceptible, changes happening. I see this most in the impending birthday of my beloved daughter who will be 18 in a few days time. Where has the time gone? She has blossomed into a sensible (despite a few hiccups along the way), hard working and compassionate person in her own right. Her maturity, beauty, intelligence and strength--despite having me for a mother--is nothing short of miraculous.
5) There was a time when gaining the FAS diploma seemed to be the only thing holding me back from being a professional astrologer. I became a teacher to fund astrology classes and I refused to give myself permission to take on any other astrology courses until that diploma was completed. And now that I have it, I can see that there is SO much more to learn. Since passing the diploma, I've done Hellenistic, Traditional (Horary and Electional) astrology courses and I'm throwing myself into Vedic studies. And I'm only more thirsty. So thirsty that I'm learning Hindi/Sanskrit so I can get to grips with The Vedas. Thirsty. Gimme water.
6) I'm not feeling Easter. I feel bad about saying that but I missed Christmas, Lent, Maundy Thursday and now Good Friday. And I haven't even taken Wynton out of his case.

So there you have it: everything's the same and yet everything has changed.  I'm marking time.

Thursday, 3 March 2016

Thinking Vertically in Melbourne

I spent half a Saturn cycle feeling trapped inside the damaged and ineffective educational system but yet this allowed me to feel comfortable and perhaps even grateful to be confined and "safe". I made just enough money to think I was comfortably above the poverty line, I nearly convinced myself that I didn't really need a pension after all and I came to believe that I was doing the world a favour by doing a job no sane and/or reasonable person wants to do. I do believe that might qualify as being symptoms of "The Stockholm Syndrome".

When I decided to leave the teaching profession to promote my book, I even felt quite a pang of guilt: have I abandoned by babies just when they need me the most? I couldn't even leave the profession entirely as I spent nearly four terms very happily employed as a supply teacher working in schools who were extremely wise in working around my hectic travel schedule once I left the vicious treadmill of teaching under a "permanent" contract.

But as my 5 months of travel across 5 continents (Europe, USA, Africa, Asia and Australia) comes to a temporary end and I'm facing up to returning "home" I've been wondering what on earth I'm going to do with myself. I'm in a weird place emotionally. I'm 8,000 miles from London but preparing for life back in the place I used to think I would never willingly leave. I've done things and accomplished things I never thought I would do two years ago. I've grown as a person in more ways than I could possibly describe in a single blog post. I thought I had done pretty OK.

And yet, I've also gone through a couple of crazy phases (lasting all of 24 hours each time) thinking "OMG, what the hell am I doing?" I think it might be similar to being in a row boat in a whirlpool. What have I gotten myself into? My Saturn in Pisces starts screaming for an anchor. Anything to stop the inevitability of disappearing down the plughole.

So on Sunday I think I finally went down that plughole. I had just completed my very first full day "Astrology In Education" workshop, had held several Palmistry workshops as well as several tarot and astrology consultations. It was the first time I was starting to get the very uncomfortable feeling that I didn't have a clue if what I was doing could possibly be replicated anywhere else on the planet but in Melbourne.

Enter my new friend Marianthe who had attended my lecture at the Melbourne Astrology Meetup and made an immediate impression on me (just in case there's any doubt about which one she is, just check out the photo, left).

Marianthe, whose Mercury is exactly conjunct my Jupiter, knocked on my door Sunday morning and announced she was going to take me to breakfast. She didn't tell me where she was taking me but if she did, I would have declined. It was breakfast on the 28th floor and I'm an not only a well known arachnophobe but I'm not fond of heights either.

Marianthe talks a lot (in the best possible way). She says I make her. I would have told her I suspected otherwise but I couldn't get a word in edgeways. But I reckoned anyone who talked so much must have something important for me to hear so I stopped trying to speak and listened to her. And also, there was no chance for me to protest that I was scared of heights, earthquakes, lifts and/or helicopters flying into tall buildings.

So we ended up on the 28th floor of a building with floor to ceiling windows but a very fine selection of breakfast goodies. I concentrated on the smoked salmon and cream cheese and listened carefully to what Marianthe had to say.

Marianthe told me coming up to the 28th floor to have breakfast was part of her way of reminding herself to think big. She said she worked hard and deserved to treat herself. "Just look at this view!" she said with such enthusiasm that I couldn't resist inching a little closer to the windows. Then she said that I needed to think big too. I might have said I thought I was thinking big but perhaps it's best I never got the opportunity: I wasn't thinking big at all I increasingly realised as I listened to her. I was thinking scared. I was thinking in the way people who expect failure--or limited successes--tend to think. "Oh it's not going to work, I want my duvet, the building is going to collapse any second, get me down now."

It was around this point that other things started to dawn on me. During the time I was building a career as a teacher, I was also building a life with a partner whose Saturn/ Pluto was sitting on my Mercury. For years this was absolutely fine with me and it worked perfectly. But re-read the first paragraph in this blog post: it wasn't just the teaching profession that was stifling me. I've recently decided to leave that relationship. And of course the astrology speaks poetically. Transiting Jupiter had passed over my natal Uranus/Pluto conjunction late last year and by retrograde motion is about to do the same again (I'll get a third fly by in June). The door of opportunity has been opened and it's time for me to make a break for freedom. And it was Marianthe's natal Mercury on my natal Jupiter that was telling me it was going to be OK (and by the way, astrology can also show the way to leave relationships without hate, animosity or fear).

I have a lot of stuff happening (big announcements coming soon). I want to help to create a better profession for teachers, inspire unhappy pupils of all ages and bring astrologers from across the globe together irrespective of the astro containers they want to put themselves in. I need to think outside the box of expected limitations. I need to have the faith that I can be in high places and enjoy the new perspective. It's that simple.

With great thanks to Marianthe!