"Sometimes you can look all around for your "thing" for years, only to find it has been with you, waiting for you all along..."
They say that one way to find your purpose is to reflect on what you loved as a kid. Not surprisingly, I was a quirky child. I loved the JC Penney catalog, especially the jewelry section and more specifically. the birthstone jewelry. I will assume I wasn’t the only child of the 1970’s with this interest. (These are the things I tell myself anyway, so if I am making that up, please keep it to yourself.) I made it my purpose in life to learn all the birthstones by month and was quick to recognize the alternate stones in “other” catalogs and stores. I am looking at you pink tourmaline and can we talk about November? Is it really topaz or is it citrine? I am a purist at heart. I go with the classics every time.
And, in the essence of full quirk, I also loved maps. Yes, folded up, old school paper maps. I used to unfold maps and lay on them on the rug in our living room, studying how the roads went together. I loved the landmarks and the legend with the symbols on it to show where things were and the scale to show how far things were apart. It didn’t prevent me from getting lost later in life when I drove places, but I did have a basic understanding of how the major roads went together. TripTiks, however, those confused me.
I loved lots of other things too including music - I went through a period as young kid where every song on the radio was my “favorite”- clearly mastery of the English language wasn’t first on my list. I also loved frogs, cheetahs, colors, rainbows and books. All of these are still my faves.
The map thing, however, has been with me throughout the varied phases of my career. First, when I worked for the local Chamber of Commerce, one of my roles was mapping the new streets in the town as they evolved for our advertising map. Later, when I worked in cancer prevention research, I was the “map nerd” in the office. I memorized all the zip codes, namely those with people more in need of cancer screenings with higher rates of health disparities. I knew which neighborhoods were in better health and which were struggling. I made maps, studied maps and even took a course in geocoding and learned how air pollution from the highways and factories landed in the more impoverished neighborhoods. My map infatuation has taught me that truly nothing is random, there is always a pattern.
I have mentioned before that my parents, and more specifically my mom, was into astrology. She also loved to read palms and owned many palmistry books. My dad was more into numerology, handwriting analysis and colors and how they made people behave. As a business owner, his first check on any job application was the signature. He didn’t so much care about the experience of the person as much as what their signature would tell him about them. Did they write left leaning, or right leaning? Did they have big loops on their letters, or scribble their name so you couldn’t read what it said? I can’t tell you what it all means, I can only tell you it meant something to him. He also noticed that the red tablecloths in his restaurant made his customers cut, burn and write on them whereas green tablecloths lasted longer without any aggressive machinations from customers.
When I was very young, my parents took an astrology class through what I think was a community center. I remember hearing all about the signs and the planets as I grew up. I knew I had a prominent head because I was an Aries, and that people with a space between their front teeth tended to be Libras or at least Libra rising My mother was a Scorpio and she lived with 4 fire sign people; this was another thing I knew very well. Did I know what that meant? Nope. (Full disclosure, I now know she had an Aries moon, so she was far from a shrinking violet.) But this is how I learned about astrology. Passively, in conversation, without much framework. I knew my grandmother died of cancer, and that Cancer was also was my rising sign. I assumed that meant it was bad if it also killed my grandmother. My Gemini moon was to blame for my chatty nature and my mom said her teacher declared if I were locked in a room with a phone, I would talk myself to death.
My mom also had many astrology books where I would read with interest about my planetary placements. Sometimes they fit, other times not. I read which signs got along better with each other in terms of relationships. Everything always made more sense to me when I could relate them to signs of people I knew. The book I loved the best had the loveliest cover, with all the signs of the zodiac in raised blue foil. I can remember sitting on the chair with the book running my fingers along the glyphs of the signs. Some of them I knew by heart - mine (Aries) was easy because it was always first, then Taurus looked like a bull and Gemini was the twins and there were two I’s together. Seemed simple enough. I got confused with the M ones (Virgo and Scorpio) and I always felt like the sign for Cancer should be the sign for Pisces because it looked like two fish. Ah, the child’s perspective of the glyphs of the zodiac!
I always maintained a surface level knowledge of astrology as I grew up. My mom would run a chart for everyone who had a baby in our family so we would know their “story”. I had my first reading with an astrologer when I was 15 with the woman who originally taught my mom astrology. She was also a medium and I remember that reading so clearly. She told my mom and I both some very specific information, much of which was soon validated.
While I always maintained an interest in all things spiritual, including collecting crystals and gemstones (thank you JC Penney catalog), somewhere around 2017, I immersed myself in classes, books and learning. First, it was meditation, yoga nidra, reiki. Then mediumship and intuitive development. In 2018, Human Design found me. Human Design fascinates me to no end, again involving a “map” by way of the body graph. During the pandemic, I decided I wanted to go deeper into Human Design but I felt like I wanted to get a better handle on astrology since it is a key component of Human Design. Next thing you know, I signed up for this intermediate astrology class and now I find my jaw hanging open all the time. It’s like a magic carpet ride every time I look at a new chart.
I have only scratched the surface of what there is to know about astrology but I am quite smitten… the planets and the signs, and all the houses and aspects and progressions. It’s like this play I started reading many years ago but set aside, with this cast of characters who have been hanging around my whole life that I didn’t get to know very well but with whom I am now becoming intimately acquainted. And even better still, it’s all a map! The landmarks, the signs, the keys, it’s a map alright, but one of our inner life, our soul’s plan. And here is the thing - the big things, the moments that test us, break us, teach us, mold us, they are all on there. Those have been the mind blowing, jaw opening moments for me, and in truth, it has been so validating. So much of the stuff I beat myself up for in my life and turns out, they were meant to be there. These lessons and opportunities, challenges and setbacks. ALL THERE. I couldn’t help thinking that understanding this might have made those moments easier to manage. Not that they would’ve been less impactful, but the knowledge that they are not random, and that they are definitely time limited, would certainly help smooth out the transitions. And, as my teacher says, many of these hard moments end up being blessings in disguise. Self-compassion and mindfulness would be so key in these moments, but only if we knew.
While I can’t explain all my quirks with astrology, yet anyway - I am becoming a lot more comfortable with myself as a result of this studying. Nothing is random. We are exactly where are meant to be, doing exactly what we are meant to be doing. I am trying to take this as a sign to relax a little more and allow things to flow as they are intended. Maps and birthstones set my foundation as a young girl with a big head, a loquacious nature and a fiery water sign Mom who shared her love of astrology with us all. I am more than happy to carry the torch now and I know she is helping me with this study, participating in every class and enjoying every minute.