Postcards From The Other Side

postcardFew things will cause others to call into question your sanity (or lack thereof) or your level of gullibility more quickly than announcing that you have received a message from a dearly departed loved one. More often than not, they’ll explain it away — and maybe even try and convince you — that it’s just your imagination or perhaps some wishful thinking at work. But if you are the one experiencing these communications from spirit, you know what it was, you know what you heard/saw/felt, and furthermore, there isn’t a naysayer on the planet who could convince you it was anything but the very tangible, real experience you know it to be.

I personally have always believed in an afterlife. Certainly, it’s a much more comforting concept than the thought of there being only a deep, dreamless sleep after we leave this world. But that in and of itself is not what made me a believer. To me, it’s inconceivable that our essence, consciousness, essentially, what makes us, us, simply ceases to exist when our physical bodies are no longer compatible with life. Our bodies are merely the vehicles in which we travel through this lifetime. I once read an interesting analogy that was something along the lines of, “if you are driving your car and the engine blows up, rendering it useless, what do you do? You get out of your car and move on. Just as you are not your car, you are not your body.” We are energy…and it is a proven fact that energy cannot be destroyed. It can only change form.

After the death of my freedom-loving Sagittarius first ex-husband more than 12 years ago, which was also the first experience I had ever had of losing someone very close to me, I was strolling through the city library, searching the shelves high and low, yet not knowing what I was looking for. All I knew was I desperately needed guidance, something, anything to help me cope with the excruciatingly painful grief which was unlike anything I had ever before felt. Sure enough, after several minutes of winding my way through the aisles, a title seemed to jump out at me. It was called Talking to Heaven: A Medium’s Message of Life and Death by James Van Praagh. I took it home and read it cover to cover. I then began frequenting bookstores for more of the same and found, among others, One Last Time: A Psychic Medium Speaks to Those We Have Loved and Lost by John Edward. And I pored over these books for hours at a time, reading and re-reading them, as they gave me a glimmer of hope in the darkest hours of my life up to that point. Upon reading these books, I came to realize that I had already experienced a few of my own messages from spirit and, little did I know at the time, I would continue to receive many more over the weeks, months, and years to come. Here are some of those experiences:

My now-deceased Sadge ex-hubby playing with our then-baby boy Bull

My now-deceased Sadge ex-hubby playing with our then-baby boy Bull

Be A Good Boy
One night, about two weeks after my Sadge ex-husband passed, I woke up in the middle of the night after having fallen asleep on the couch with my then-four and a half year-old Taurus son. I laid awake for just a minute or two, and then I listened intently as my little Bull started talking in his sleep:

“I know, dad…okay…uh huh…but what about your BB gun, dad?…uh huh…uh huh…okay…I will…I love you too…”

The only way I can describe this would be to say that it was as though I were listening to one end of a telephone conversation. There is no doubt in my mind that what I was listening to was my Taurean preschooler as he received a visit from his dad.

Here’s Your Sign
Several weeks later, one bright, crisp winter afternoon on my way home from work, I stopped at the cemetery as I did every week to leave a single red rose on my ex’s gravesite. I began to “talk” to him, asking him to please show me something, a sign, anything to know that when I told our children their daddy was still with them that I was telling them the truth. Trying to think of something specific to ask for, something that would let me know without question that it was from him, I made the tongue-in-cheek suggestion that he “show” me an elephant, reasoning that if I were to see a random elephant walking around, there would be no way I could write it off. I chuckled out loud at the thought, acknowledging that an elephant walking down the street would probably not be doable (ya think?) I then stressed that whatever he chose to show me, just let it be something that I couldn’t shoot down or dismiss as wishful thinking. With that, I left the cemetery and headed home.

A little more than two weeks later, I stopped by my ex’s widow’s place on my way home from work to pick up the Valentine’s Day goody bags she had made for my three kids. When I got home, I passed out the bags and went about my usual routine. My young Bull excitedly ran up to me. “Mom, look what she put in my bag!”

He proudly held up a small stuffed elephant with a plastic picture frame on its tummy…which held a picture of my wee Taurus with his dad.

This Is How It’s Supposed To Be
Shortly after my former Cancer hubby was killed in a car accident in January 2013, I was driving and came to an intersection when I realized

The makeshift roadside memorial at the crash site

The makeshift roadside memorial at the crash site

I had forgotten to put on my seat belt. As I clicked it into place, tears began welling up in my eyes. I spoke aloud, “why couldn’t you have been wearing your seat belt? You’d still be here if you’d just worn your seat belt.” Suddenly, the following thought was impressed upon me:

“If I had survived, I would’ve wished I hadn’t. This is the way it’s supposed to be.”

This is another experience that is difficult to explain. I heard it in the same way one “hears” their own thoughts, except it wasn’t my thought: it was as though I were “hearing” someone else’s thought. Like, as I previously mentioned, the thought was impressed upon me rather than originating in my own mind.

When I “heard” this, my jaw dropped and I was pretty much just frozen in shock. The hair on my arms stood on end. On one hand, it made perfect sense and to my surprise, I realized I had never considered that point of view. Knowing my ex-Crab as well as I did, I could totally see the logic in that statement. He was already prone to bouts of deep depression, anxiety, and moodiness. If he had survived, but with injuries severe enough to be life-altering, compounded with the (relatively trivial) fact that he would have lost his truck and probably his job in the wake of the accident, I could absolutely imagine him spiraling even further downward, cursing the fact that he hadn’t been killed. But on the other hand, from what I had heard, if he had only been wearing his seat belt that night, he very likely could have walked away from the wreckage rather than it killing him instantly. This was confusing because there was no doubt in my mind that the “thought” I had “heard” was from my recently-deceased ex.

It came full circle earlier this week, nearly eight months after my Cancer ex was killed. I was at the police department in the town where he died, speaking face to face with the first responding police officer to the scene of the accident. I asked several questions about what transpired that horrible night. Through tears, I asked one last question:

“If he had worn his seat belt, would he have survived?”

The officer hesitated and thought hard before responding. “Well…maybe,” he relented. He then added, “I hate to say yes or no.”

“That bad?” I asked.

He nodded. “Yeah. Really bad.”

With those statements, the officer had unknowingly validated the message I received from spirit so many months earlier. The accident was so horrific, the damage to his vehicle so extensive, that even if my ex-Crab had worn his seat belt, there is a significant chance that he still wouldn’t have survived and if he had, he wouldn’t have simply walked away.

Looking down several feet into the drainage culvert where my ex-Crab lost his life in the early morning hours of New Year's Day 2013

Looking down several feet into the drainage culvert where my ex-Crab lost his life in the early morning hours of New Year’s Day 2013

A Deer In Headlights
While visiting the town last weekend where my now-deceased Cancer ex was killed, my current Cancer man and I decided to head over to the scene of the crash. It was exactly 0.5 miles and a two-minute drive from his home. Because it was a single vehicle accident and in the very early morning hours, there were — at least, as far as anyone knows for certain — no witnesses; therefore, whatever happened to cause his truck to leave the roadway and tumble down into a drainage culvert is pure speculation at this point. Now, I’m all too cognizant of the fact that we will probably never know exactly what transpired to set the accident in motion. But as we drove to the crash site, I silently pleaded with him to please, point me in a direction, give me a clue, just help me try to make sense of what happened.

My current Cancer and I parked in the parking lot adjacent to the site where the wreck occurred and walked the twenty or so feet down the grass so we could look down into the culvert where my ex-Crab’s truck ended up on its roof. Standing on the very ground where he went off the road and lost his life, it was unbelievably surreal; difficult to wrap my mind around the fact that it really happened right there. As we stood at the fence his truck barreled through, which had by then been replaced, we visually surveyed the area below. My current Cancer broke the silence by bringing to my attention the sound of leaves crunching.

“Look, check it out, there’s a big buck down there.” I looked just in time to catch a brief glimpse of a massive buck as he darted off and up into some thick brush, quickly disappearing from sight.

We continued to look around, taking note of the curb he would have had to go up to leave the road where he did, the curve and grade of the road itself , thinking out loud, bouncing possible scenarios off each other as to what could have ultimately led to him losing control of the truck and crashing. It still didn’t seem to add up.

A short time later, back at the home of my ex’s stepmother and younger sister at which we stayed during our visit — and also where my

What happened, Tom...why did you have to go...

What happened, Tom…why did you have to go…

ex had lived at the time of his death — my current Cancer and I sat on the front porch sharing a cigarette and rehashing our hypotheses. He mentioned the deer we had seen milling around for a few brief moments at the spot where my ex took his last breath.

And that’s when it hit me.

“Oh my god,” I told him incredulously. “I know what happened. I know why he went off the road. I can’t believe I didn’t see it while we were there!”

I then proceeded to tell my current Cancer how I had silently asked my ex-Crab for a clue or a sign that would explain what caused the wreck. “And then that huge buck was down there! Right where he died! The roads that night were wet. His tires were bad. He’s got no weight in the bed of his truck. He’s coming up that hill, around that curve, and a deer is in the road so he reflexively brakes or swerves to avoid it, or both…and he goes into a spin, sliding back down the hill and at this point, he’s now basically just become a passenger and there’s nothing he can do…and it’s up the curb, through the fence…and down into the drainage culvert.”

A feeling of peace and contentment washed over me. What I was saying didn’t feel at all like a theory or a guess. It felt like my ex had actually told me what happened. Speaking with the first responding police officer the following day and running the scenario by him, he confirmed everything I said, except for the presence of the deer in the road, which obviously can never be proven.

What are the odds that a random deer would be in that culvert, in the exact spot where my ex’s truck crashed, at the exact time we got there? I have no idea…but what I do know is that I had received the clue I had asked for.

A typical manifestation of the number 33 showing up

A typical manifestation of the number 33 showing up

Lucky Numbers
Shortly after my first ex-hubby passed away in January 2001, I began noticing something unusual. Looking back, I’m not entirely sure at what point I noticed a pattern and began recognizing it as a nod from spirit, but I do know that by April of that year I was quite aware of it. I started seeing a lot of instances of the number 33. Everywhere I turned, I saw the number 33: on receipts, digital clocks, license plates, road signs, phone numbers, you name it. I’d be driving and glance down at the clock, or my odometer, and there would be a 33. In the grocery store checkout, my total would have a 33 in it, or the change I was due would have a 33 in it. I’d pull up to a stop light and the license plate on the car ahead of me would have a 33 in it. I’d go to adjust the volume on the TV and the volume level number would be at 33. I could go on and on.

Granted, I can see how those could be easily dismissed. But then those 33s began to

Hello from David: A sticker with the number "33" which I found in a random dryer's lint trap at our Laundromat. Still think it's just coincidence? I NEVER did.

Hello from David: A sticker with the number “33” which I found in a random dryer’s lint trap at our Laundromat. Still think it’s just coincidence? I NEVER did.

pop up in places/situations that weren’t as easily explained. There was the time I stopped by the tanning salon after work only to discover their computer had crashed, so as customers showed up they were being assigned new member ID numbers, starting with 1. When it was my turn in line, the new member ID number assigned to me was — you guessed it — 33. I couldn’t have timed that to happen if I’d tried. When I began dating my current Cancer man in early 2003, I discovered that he was born at 8:33am. The first time I took a road trip up to visit him, the exit number was 33 and as we sat outside having a cigarette in his garage, there was a can sitting on a shelf with a giant number 33 emblazoned across the label. Now, the 33s that are connected somehow to my current Cancer man, I feel, is my Sadge ex-hubby’s way of indicating to me that the two of us being together is a good thing. A hat tip, if you will. In fact, my late Sadge ex and my current Cancer love were friends. And my ex-Sadge always thought really highly of my Cancer. I absolutely believe that were he alive today or had still been with us when my Cancer and I took our friendship up a notch to the romantic level, knowing himself what a stand-up, honorable guy my Cancer man is, he would have been more than pleased because he would’ve known without question that his children and I would be loved and protected.

These are just a few examples. The appearance of the number 33 continues to be pretty frequent to this day.

So, what’s the significance of the number 33? That was how old my Sadge ex-hubby was when he succumbed to cancer.

I can’t seem to see you baby…
Although my eyes are open wide
But I know I’ll see you once more…
When I see you, I’ll see you on the Other Side. ~ Ozzy Osbourne, See You on the Other Side

Thank You
As you might have already read in my post Suicide Solution: Friends To The End, my teen Taurus son’s best friend, an angst-ridden 17 year-old Piscean, committed suicide on September 4, 2013. His chosen method? Self-immolation. And in his suicide note, he instructed “P.S. Don’t bury me. Finish the cremation.” His devastated family did as Kevin requested, and a memorial service will be held for him on Saturday, September 14, 2013. Because my grief-stricken young Bull lives in Arizona, nearly 1,500 miles away from where the service will be held, he is unable to be there. Fortunately, I live much closer and it’s only a 350 mile drive for me. So I volunteered to go on my son’s behalf. This is particularly important because Kevin’s family has graciously offered to give my son some of his late best friend’s ashes, and I don’t think I need to tell you how honored and moved we are that his family thinks so much of my Taurus teen and his friendship with their beloved Kevin.

Marilyn Manson

Marilyn Manson

Last night, I decided to burn some new CDs in preparation for tomorrow’s road trip. I downloaded some new music and created a few new playlists. This was all pretty uneventful until I tried to play one of the playlists. Regardless of which song or artist I selected, what I heard instead were random tunes by Marilyn Manson. It’s true, I am a fan of The Manson and I do have several of his songs downloaded to my laptop. But none of those tunes were on that playlist. In fact, I don’t happen to have a playlist with any Manson on it whatsoever.

You're welcome, sweetie...

You’re welcome, sweetie…

Obviously, this was pretty annoying. As I was cursing aloud to myself several times over the course of trying to figure out what was going on, it dawned on me. Kevin was a huge Marilyn Manson fan. Was he acknowledging the fact that I will be traveling to his memorial service on my son’s behalf and bringing some of his ashes home with me to give to him? Was this his way of “thanking” me? I honestly don’t know. But what I do know is what happened next.

“You’re welcome, Kevin,” I spoke aloud, smiling.

And my playlist immediately began to play…normally.

All that lives, lives forever. Only the shell, the perishable passes away. The spirit is without end. Eternal. Deathless. ~ Nate AlexandriaLA1999Fisher, from the HBO original series Six Feet Under

Don’t get me wrong. I’m not one who is quick to attribute every woo-woo thing that happens to me as being a sign or message from spirit. To the contrary, I am more likely to dismiss my own experiences as being figments of a wishful imagination than I am to dismiss the experiences of others. That said, however, there are several instances along with the ones I have just shared with you that I have been unable to discount or chalk up to an overactive imagination. I am convinced that death is not the end of our existence, but rather a transformation to a different level of consciousness.


A Tale Of Two Cancers…And An Aries

I finally see the dawn arrivin’
I see beyond the road I’m drivin’…
Far away and left behind
Left behind. ~ Boston, Don’t Look Back

The three water Sun signs – Cancer, Scorpio, and Pisces – are just about the most sensitive, wistful folks you will ever meet in Zodiac Land. They endlessly yearn for what once was, as well as what coulda-woulda-shoulda been. And as someone with a Pisces Ascendant, I can assure you that although it’s a pretty sweet concept, leaving the past in the past and forging ahead with tunnel vision is much more easily said than done.

This is in no way meant to imply that these highly emotional Sun signs (or the poor, unfortunate bastards like myself who are cursed with a water Ascendant or Moon) are totally incapable of appreciating today or looking forward to whatever the future has in store: we most certainly can, and we do. The thing is, we just tend to hang on a little more tightly to yesteryear than most folks.

Whether you are a follower of my blog or know me personally (lucky you!) you are no doubt aware that I am currently on my third

My current Cancer man & me on a weekend getaway to the casino... we look drunk cuz we WERE drunk... ;)

My current Cancer man & me on a weekend getaway to the casino… we look drunk cuz we WERE drunk… 😉

marriage/long-term relationship. Although my first two marriages obviously came to an end, I remained friends with both of my ex-husbands. Granted, I have three children with the slightly restless Sagittarius who was my first husband so staying in contact was a given, but being friends was definitely optional. And we were friends…until the day he died more than twelve years ago. However, my second husband — who was a hypersensitive Cancer — and I had no children together and we were under no obligation to speak to or see one another again, let alone remain friends. But we did. He helped me raise my three sprites, each of whom he loved as if they were his very own progeny and, although he lived a thousand miles away from us in the years following our divorce, he continued to have the kiddos up for visits for a month or two every summer. And over time, he also grew to become friends with my current Cancer love, which most people could never seem to understand.

And once again, if you are a friend or follower, you already know my former Cancer husband was killed on New Year’s Day 2013.

In the seven and a half months since the death of my ex, I have yet to visit the city where he was born and ultimately died. As excruciating as the grief has been while struggling with it from a distance, the whole experience has been somewhat abstract for me. I haven’t yet stood on the grass where his truck, for reasons which we’ve only been able to speculate, veered off the road, partially ejecting him and killing him instantly. I haven’t hugged his devastated stepmother, his siblings, or any of his other family. Nor have I received satisfactory explanations from police reports, which have only served to leave me asking more questions as to why his truck left the road in the first place. I need to be able to fully accept what has happened so that I’m able to heal more completely. I feel like, to do those things, I need to see and touch where he died…to find out why he died…and to hug the grieving family he left behind. To physically be there, to experience the tangible and confront the painful reality of it all.


My current Cancer love wholeheartedly agrees and supports me in my desire to gain some measure of closure. So much so, in fact, that he and I will soon be taking a thousand-mile road trip in my quest for solace. I don’t have any illusions or expectations regarding how I will feel when I return home. I don’t believe that I will stand where he took his last breath or meet face to face with the investigating officer and experience a sudden epiphany, a moment of clarity where everything will come together like a jigsaw puzzle and make sense. Nope. Not for one second do I believe that. But I do feel that the simple, yet significant act of actually being there could be just the catharsis I need to be able to grieve — and in turn, heal — more fully.

Contrary to how this might sound, this need isn’t something that is being driven by my I-can’t-let-go Pisces Ascendant. It’s true that is usually the case, and it may in fact play a significant role in the reason I tend to stay in touch with people from my past, be it an old friend, a distant cousin, a former teacher…or an ex-husband. But the need for closure is an innate human desire, perhaps driven to some extent by my stubborn, pushy Aries Sun.

I feel incredibly lucky to have such an amazing, generous, supportive partner in my current Cancer man. I am well aware that a lot of men out there — and women too, for that matter, especially ones with a water Sun — would never be on board with something like this. They would probably feel threatened or insecure, feeling like their significant other shouldn’t be this torn up about the death of a former spouse, and would likely question the depth of those feelings, wondering and perhaps even accusing them of still being in love with their ex.

But not my Cancer cusp man. He is 100% secure in the fact that he alone is the only man with whom I am in love, the only man I can imagine spending the rest of my life with, the only man I want to spend the rest of my life with. I am truly blessed to have him and I never take that for granted. There is literally not a single day that passes where at some point I don’t think about how thankful I am for him, and I wouldn’t trade him for the world. However, the fact remains that a lot of people don’t understand any of this. They think that for me to be so crushed by my ex-husband’s death, I surely must still be in love with him and furthermore, they can’t believe my current Cancer man supports me in any of this…and not in a “wow-you’re-so-lucky-to-have-such-an-awesome-man” way, but rather in a “wow-he-must-be-a-complete-idiot-not-to-see-you’re-still-in-love-with-your-ex” way.

Several days ago, I posted a Facebook status about our upcoming trip, writing about how I need to do it to get some peace of mind, that I was looking forward to spending time with the family, how amazing my current Cancer man is to support me in my endeavor, how much I love him, and how very lucky I feel to have him. One of the responses to my status was from a pompous, know-it-all Leo whom I’ve known for 28 years. His comment?

“Lucky indeed. Your whole heart obviously still belongs to Tom.”

Wow. What a prick.

My wedding to my now-deceased former Cancer hubby

My wedding to my now-deceased former Cancer hubby

I was married to Tom, my late Cancer ex-hubby, for nearly seven years. We went through a lot together during that time, including the death of my Sadge first husband which was indescribably painful, not just for my three children but for me as well. And my Cancer ex loved my babies as much as I did. While he was driving my first ex-hubby to chemotherapy one autumn afternoon, my first ex elicited a promise from him that he would always be there for the kids, no matter what (that’s right: First Husband and Second Husband also came to be friends.) And you know what? He was. Until the day he died, my ex Crab kept that promise, even though he lived halfway across the country. He was never a candidate for Husband of the Year, but he was a phenomenal, hands-on father who truly had a heart of gold and a loving soul. And although there was simply too little compatibility for the husband-and-wife thing to succeed, we were great friends who deeply loved and cared for one another. There is absolutely no doubt in my mind that if it had been me who was killed, he would have been just as devastated by my death as I am by his. It has zero to do with being in love with him or even wishing we had stayed married. It has everything to do with the love I had and always will have for him as the caring, decent human being he was…as a father figure to my children…as someone who will always be an important part of my life story…

…and as my treasured friend.

I realize that oftentimes, the “norm” is to carry around anger and bitterness toward an ex as if it’s the socially acceptable, or even the expected thing to do. However, I chose — as did both of my ex-husbands — not to do that (a point of interest here is the fact that both of my now-deceased ex-husbands as well as myself all have Aquarius Moons…and a Water Bearer values friendships like no other. But I digress…) Hating on an ex isn’t mandatory, yet so many people treat it as if it were, like we’re supposed to harbor grudges or a thirst for vengeance. And –gasp! — a current spouse/significant other actually liking and being friends with their partner’s former spouse/significant other? The repercussions could be catastrophic! We must alert the church elders!

Be careful what you think you know about someone; you’re probably wrong. ~ Dexter Morgan, from the Showtime original series Dexter

Why is it so difficult for folks to grasp the concept of former spouses not only getting along, but being friends? Where is it written that if someone cares that much about what happens to an ex, they must still be in love with them? Why is it such a big deal that we didn’t all vehemently hate each other? Is there a law somewhere stating that we are required to hold an ex in contempt and/or sever all contact with them, even without a legitimate reason to do so? Why is it so unfathomable that my former spouses actually liked and became friends with my current spouse, rather than wanting to beat each other’s asses to a bloody pulp? Why is it so unbelievable that two people who love one another are unable to have a successful marriage, but it just so happens they make great friends? Certainly it’s possible: the platonic, yet close friendships I shared with both of my former husbands are living proof. In addition, my current man was friends with both of my previous husbands. He has grieved both of their deaths, and furthermore, he too would like some answers as to what specifically caused my ex’s truck to bail off a two-lane, in-town road, down several feet into a drainage culvert, crushing him.  Just because such friendships might not be possible with some used-to-be couples doesn’t mean there’s an ulterior motive with those for whom it does work. And just because it might be wrong for their situation doesn’t make it wrong.

You know what I find difficult to understand? Those who reflexively harbor animosity toward an ex or a partner’s ex not because they did something to warrant such bitterness, but because that’s what they’re “supposed” to do.

Demi & Bruce & Ashton did it...why is it so weird that we did too?

Demi & Bruce & Ashton did it…why is it so weird that we did too?

Like I mentioned before, the arrogant Leo* douchebag who made the snarky comment implying that my current Cancer man is some kind of chump who I’m playing like a fiddle is someone I met when I was only thirteen. Prior to him finding me on Facebook a few years ago, I hadn’t even seen or spoken to him in nearly 25 years. And since then we’ve only had sporadic contact, primarily via an occasional comment on one another’s Facebook statuses. Additionally, we have never so much as exchanged a single private message. Yet, even with so little information on which to draw such a bold conclusion, he evidently feels qualified not only to profess his (albeit thinly-veiled) judgment of the situation involving two men he’s never even met, but to also tell me how I feel. And he couldn’t have been more wrong. Clearly, he is one of those people who simply don’t get it because he could probably never imagine himself being so open-minded with his wife. It’s okay if he — or anyone else — doesn’t get it. We do. And that’s what matters.

Besides, maybe it’s not for anyone else to get.

*The words “arrogant” and “douchebag” used to describe the Leo in question are not intended to be all-inclusive or apply to my feelings toward every Leo. Generally, I love Leos. This particular Leo…eh…not so much.

Obstacle Course: Saturn In The Signs

Rare NASA photo of Saturn in which Earth can be seen as a tiny blue dot just right of center, taken July 19, 2013

Rare NASA photo of Saturn in which Earth can be seen as a tiny blue dot just right of center, taken July 19, 2013

A multi-ringed gas giant and the sixth planet from the Sun, Saturn gets its name from the ancient Roman

The Roman god Saturn

The Roman god Saturn

god of agriculture who was also considered to be the god of time, among many other things. Saturday also derives its name from this god, as does the religious celebration Saturnalia in the Roman calendar, which was a festival of light leading to the winter solstice celebrated on December 17th. It rules the sign of Capricorn and, before the planet Uranus was discovered in 1781, it also ruled the sign of Aquarius. In astrology, it is traditionally associated with obstacles, limitations, structure, and restrictions as well as fathers/father figures and/or authority figures.

Because it takes 29.5 years for Saturn to complete one orbit of our Sun, it stays in the same zodiac sign for nearly two and a half years at a time before moving on.

Saturn has somewhat of a seriousness attached to it, and it loves to place roadblocks and obstacles in our paths at every turn. It makes situations much more difficult than they really need to be. However, Saturn is also a “teaching” planet, and the trials and tribulations Saturn inflicts upon us tend to teach us important lessons, (hopefully) resulting in our gaining of wisdom. The sign in which Saturn appears in an individual’s natal chart usually indicates the area in which the most difficulties or setbacks are encountered, not only in daily life but also in health. For example, someone with Saturn in Leo, which rules the heart, might be especially inclined toward issues with any number of related ailments such as high blood pressure, heart murmurs, or arteriosclerosis. (It’s also interesting to note that frequently, a birthmark can be found on the individual’s body part which is ruled by their Saturn sign: for instance, someone with Saturn in Aries could have a birthmark somewhere on the head or face, both of which are Aries-ruled. My Saturn placement is in Gemini, which among other things, rules the lungs and ribs. I have a sprawling birthmark across that area.) And because Leo is a very sociable, spotlight-craving sign, Saturn’s influence could manifest here as problems or setbacks surrounding the ego or self-confidence.

Saturn-afflicted Jack Tripper in a typical dilemma

Saturn-afflicted Jack Tripper in a typical dilemma

Personally, I like to think of Saturn as the “Jack Tripper of planets.” Hopefully, you know who Jack Tripper is. But for those of you who are tilting your head to the side, wondering aloud “huh?” as you’re reading this, let me take a second here to fill you in. From 1977 to 1984, there was a popular sitcom called Three’s Company. The show’s premise was a man sharing an apartment with two female roommates, a living arrangement which no one would think twice about today but, in those days, was pretty risque. The male roommate, hilariously portrayed by the late great John Ritter, was an aspiring chef/ladies’ man named Jack Tripper. And let me tell you, in addition to being a perpetual klutz, forever tripping, falling, hiding out from his assorted girlfriends’ overprotective/overmuscular older brothers or some hotheaded bully down at the Regal Beagle, that poor bastard seemed to constantly be up against some ridiculous obstacle in almost every situation imaginable. I suspect, had Jack Tripper been an actual person rather than a fictional character, the guy’s natal chart would have been seriously afflicted somehow in connection with Saturn.

Let’s take a look at the areas of your life in which Saturn most likely rears its ugly head. And as always, if you don’t know where your Saturn is, you can find out here.

Aries is the first sign of the zodiac; the sign of self. Therefore, Saturn’s influence in Aries is to cause a struggle with self-confidence. Many times, the Saturn-Arien will have a nagging, negative inner voice trying to convince the person they’re unworthy in some way. The lesson here is to learn to silence that inner saboteur and stand tall, proud and confident of the person you are (I know, I’m sorry; I really wish I had something more profound for you but really…that’s pretty much the lesson with this one.) This Saturn placement can influence the natural leadership tendency of Aries to run amok, turning the native into either a power-hungry tyrant or to the other extreme, it can blunt that quality entirely, resulting in a native who is a silent follower.  It also encourages a Saturn-Ram to challenge authority, which can really cause you some headaches if you go about it the wrong way (meaning, in typical Aries fashion — impulsively running off at the mouth without thinking) and/or with the wrong people (your boss, the cops, etc.) And speaking of headaches, as a Saturn-Ram, you probably have lots of those, as the sign of Aries rules the head. It also rules the teeth (although some astrologers believe that Capricorn rules the teeth), so toothaches and other dental ailments are commonplace among these Saturn folks. Additionally, the likelihood of injuries to the head and face are increased, such as being prone to bumping one’s noggin a lot or even severe acne or rosacea on the face. My Cancer-cusp man has this placement and he has had significant dental problems and often struggled with feeling undeserving or worthy, although I’m happy to report that with age (he’s now 45), he has been able to achieve a higher level of self-acceptance and confidence, learning that it really doesn’t matter what anyone else thinks of him, as long as he likes himself. And he does.

The sign of the Bull is extremely materialistic; therefore, Saturn’s influence here is to take an already-strong need for financial security and add some fairly frequent obstacles to obtaining it. The Saturn-Taurus will likely experience more ebbs and flows in their bank accounts than a steady bottom line. It can take many years for them to accumulate both the cash they want as well as the objects they desire. Money doesn’t fall into this one’s lap; instead, they’ll find they must work harder and longer than others to see monetary gain. Fortunately, the Saturn-Bull has the patience of a saint and is willing to do what’s needed to see their goals to fruition. The sign of Taurus rules the neck and throat, which can translate into problems with the thyroid, recurring issues with tonsillitis or strep throat, or perhaps more frequent bouts with laryngitis than the average person.

In the airy, communicative sign of the Twins, Saturn likes to manifest itself in the form of difficulties or obstacles in traveling, particularly on short trips (in astrology, a short trip is defined as one not requiring an overnight stay.) A Saturn-Gemini might experience more than the usual share of flat tires, check engine lights, dead batteries, or any number of other annoying delays. Gemini is the sign of communication, and Saturn is good at throwing up roadblocks in this area as well, from the of fear of expressing oneself all the way to having speech problems, such as a stutter. I have this Saturn placement and it’s only on a rare occasion when I manage to make it through a trip without a setback of one degree or another cropping up. I’m well-known for running out of gas (though this could be due to my Aries Sun, in its textbook impatience to reach a destination, causing me to ignore the low fuel indicator because “I’m sure I have enough gas to make it there before I run out”), getting lost in unfamiliar cities (I once drove nearly 50 miles in the wrong direction before subsequently realizing it and turning around), locking my keys in the car, and getting pulled over by the cops for various infractions, usually speeding (a hat-tip to my aforementioned impatient Aries Sun for that one as well.) As far as communication is concerned, I’ve been a wannabe freelance writer since the first day I grasped a crayon in my fat little two year-old fist…and here I sit, circa 40 years later, with my only published work being some articles in my sophomore and junior high school yearbooks on which I was a staff member, plus a letter-to-the-editor of a popular women’s magazine back in the spring of 2000…if those things even count. Gemini rules several upper body parts, including the arms (including hands and fingers), shoulders, ribs, lungs, and nerves which could show up in the individual as arthritis or a propensity to injuries in these areas, breathing issues, and a host of other possible conditions. As a native, I have chronic nerve pain (due to thoracic disk issues) as well as chronic bronchitis (and, in case it needs to be said, I blame the latter on my 27-year smoking habit, not Saturn’s placement in my chart.)

Saturn has a profound effect on the sensitive, wistful sign of Cancer. The Crab desperately needs to feel secure in their relationships but ironically, Saturn’s influence — which imparts a clingy hypersensitivity to the personality — can cause those very relationships to dissolve. Saturn-Crabs have a particularly difficult time expressing their feelings to those they love because of a deep fear of rejection. Depression is common in individuals with this placement, and they find themselves needing frequent reassurance that they are cared for and simultaneously questioning the sincerity of that reassurance. The lesson here is, unless there is evidence to the contrary, to stop second-guessing possible underlying motives of others and simply accept this reassurance at face value, which will make life much more pleasant for not only the Saturn-Crab but also their partner. Saturn-Cancerians have a marked tendency to overeat in response to their emotions and are particularly prone to becoming not only overweight, but obese. The sign of Cancer rules the breasts, chest, and stomach and natives often experience digestive problems ranging from heartburn and nausea all the way to ulcers, gallbladder issues, or even pancreatitis.

Saturn’s effect when in the showy sign of Leo is to curb a lot of the usual traits we would normally expect of a Lion. A Saturn-Leo is much more subdued when it comes to self-expression, struggling with a lack of self-confidence in what they do. They require loads of extra accolades and reassurance, not unlike our Saturn-Cancerian friend, yet not quite to that degree. When — and only when — a Saturn-Lion feels safe to do so, they will open up and shine. These folks are forever young, having a youthful attitude well into their later years, which is an awesome thing but at the same time, it can restrict their career opportunities if they come across as too playful. In matters of the heart however, it’s serious business for Saturn-Leo, who needs to learn to loosen up a bit. My late Cancer ex-husband had this Saturn placement and with that influence in combination with his Cancer Sun, he was always seeking reassurance that he was loved and approved of, as if that reassurance was as vital to his well-being as breathing. Additionally, even by his own admission, he was a kid in a grown man’s body; during our marriage, I would often refer to him as my fourth child. The sign of Leo governs the heart and spine and Saturn’s influence here can predispose the native to cardiac-related conditions such as high blood pressure, heart disease, or murmurs and back problems ranging from frequent run-of-the-mill muscle aches to painful disk conditions.

The sign of Virgo is the epitome of OCD and Saturn’s placement here doesn’t do the native any favors. A Saturn-Virgo will often come across as an overly critical, bossy, obsessive workaholic which can create an array of problems, especially on the job. One of the lessons for a Saturn-Virgin is tolerance and relaxation: take a deep breath, let it out…and know that it’s really okay to not nitpick every excruciating detail of every single thing they do. A particular point of interest here is that oftentimes with a Saturn-Virgo, there will be some mental or physical limitation that pushes the native to work even harder. This could be anything from being mildly dyslexic to having 14 fingers to being a full-blown quadriplegic. Whatever it is, in Saturn-Virgo’s mind, it raises the bar and they will push above and beyond their limits to compensate for it, if for no other reason than to prove to themselves that they can. This placement of Saturn often involves a person who feels like they are taken advantage of. Saturn-Virgins are frequently hypochondriacs and this doesn’t do anything to help their already-nervous temperament. Speaking of which, because the sign of Virgo rules the intestines, that nervous temperament can do quite a number on a Saturn-Virgo’s stomach; when they are worried about something, they’ll be repeatedly dashing to the nearest bathroom, if you catch my drift. One of my closest friends has Saturn in Virgo and one thing he will do is pace the floor for an hour with a furrowed brow, very obviously stressing on something while declaring, “I ain’t stressin’ on it.” Yeah, okay. Who are you trying to convince; yourself or me?

Libra is the sign of partnerships, equality, justice, relationships, and marriage. When Saturn is in Libra, it throws up obstacles for all those things. Have you been dating a Saturn-Libra for while now and you’re thinking about taking your relationship to the next level? Good luck and Godspeed, for Saturn’s influence on the object of your affection indicates that if you do indeed succeed at this, it’s gonna take a while. And for the love of all things sacred, don’t put any kind of pressure on them to make a decision quickly. It’s not because they don’t want to be with you; in fact, they really do! It’s just that the sign of Libra is already the most indecisive one in the zodiac and when you compound that mess with Saturn’s influence — which adds obstacles and limitations — you’ve got one helluva wishy-washy partner on your hands. Frankly, it’s exhausting to me just thinking about it. It’s insanely difficult for Saturn-Libra to commit, although deep down they honestly do want a solid, long-term commitment. I know, I know; it makes no sense…not even to the Saturn-Libran. The only thing I can think of that would be worse than being a Saturn-Libran would be being in a relationship with a Saturn-Libran. Physiologically, the sign of Libra rules the kidneys and lower back, so the native will be more prone to ailments involving both, such as urinary tract infections, kidney stones, and problems in the lumbar spine.

Scorpio is one of the most, if not the most intense sign in the zodiac. The Scorpion is secretive, cunning, jealous, impatient, very demanding, and when crossed, can be extremely vindictive and unforgiving. And even if they do forgive, they never forget. A Saturn-Scorpion can hold a grudge for literally years, and Saturn’s lesson here is to teach the native that holding onto grudges and anger toward someone who has wronged them makes about as much sense as drinking poison and expecting the object of their hostility to die; their negative feelings have no effect whatsoever on the offending party — the Saturn-Scorpion is the one who suffers from it by their conscious refusal to just let it go. Another way Saturn influences the passionate Scorpion is to needlessly complicate things by instilling self-doubt and fears of inadequacy, which can result in the Saturn-Scorpion acting out in one or more of the aforementioned ways; by doing this, they don’t have to reveal their inner struggles which, to them, would cause them to appear vulnerable. Saturn’s lesson here is for the native to come to understand that they can effectively work through highly emotional issues privately without resorting to such extremes to keep things private. Additionally, they need to realize that not everyone is their archnemesis, just waiting for Saturn-Scorpio to let their guard down so they can attack. The sign of Scorpio governs the reproductive organs, the bladder, and the bowels. Because of this, Saturn-Scorpions are more prone to STDs, along with reproductive issues that might or might not affect fertility, prostate trouble (males), uterine fibroids or other problems with menstruation (females), colon polyps, and constipation.

This placement of Saturn is one of the few that, rather than solely placing obstacles or limitations on the native, favors more positive circumstances as well. A Saturn-Sadge is the quintessential knowledge-seeker of the zodiac. They have an unquenchable thirst for learning, and they want to know everything they can about everything they can. Saturn-Archers enjoy traveling and they especially love to incorporate learning experiences or education of some kind into their journeys. Additionally, they aren’t stingy with their knowledge and wisdom; they are more than happy to share what they’ve learned with others in hopes that they too will come to know the same enlightenment. Saturn-Sagittarians have an uncanny drive and motivation that is unparalleled by any other Saturn placement. However, one obstacle that Saturn tends to create here is a propensity toward cynicism and being too cerebral, which can result in somewhat of a closed mind. The sign of Sagittarius rules the hips, thighs, sciatic nerve, and the liver, predisposing the Saturn-Archer to muscle strains and sprains in these areas, painful sciatica, and a liver that is prone to hepatitis as well as being particularly sensitive to the effects of alcohol and drugs. My late Cancer ex-hubby’s mother, who is also now deceased, had this Saturn placement. She would drop everything at a moment’s notice if she was struck by a sudden urge to take a road trip (which happened frequently.) And although she wasn’t my favorite person in all the land (in fact, she was undoubtedly one of my least favorite), I can’t deny the fact that the cantankerous old lush had a determination and drive the likes of which I’ve never before — or since — seen; when she found herself at rock bottom — even homeless, living under a bridge at one point — she would stop at nothing in her quest to scratch, claw, and fight her way out of it. I have to admit, as much as I detest the thought of giving her kudos of any kind, it was a pretty impressive feat.

Saturn is in its dominion in Capricorn, meaning it is the Goat’s natural ruler. Therefore, when Saturn’s (or for that matter, any other planet’s) placement in the natal chart is in the sign it naturally governs, its influence on the individual is compounded. Saturn in Capricorn lends a certain amount of seriousness to the personality as well as a dry sense of humor, and someone with this placement probably frequently finds that they are easily overwhelmed by responsibilities or situations that wouldn’t faze a non-Saturn-Goat in the least. The native often has a strong sense of life being unfair, almost as if life were a schoolyard bully, singling the Saturn-Cappy out personally to make their days as difficult as possible. (Yes, I realize that is a rather vague generalization that could apply to most people, but a Saturn-Cappy feels this particularly deeply.) Saturn’s influence in the money-oriented sign of Capricorn also creates a need to keep up with the Joneses, as status and wealth are extremely important to them. Saturn-Goats are quite disciplined, hard workers who will patiently plod their way to the top. Saturn’s lesson to the native here is to remember to stop and smell the roses now and then. The sign of Capricorn rules the bones and skin (and some astrologers say the teeth, though I am one of the ones who feel differently.) Fractures, as well as all kinds of skin conditions including but not limited to acne, psoriasis, ringworm, and skin cancer are especially common and tend to be worse in folks with this Saturn placement. My oldest son is a Saturn-Cappy. In addition to a raging case of adolescent acne, he broke his first bone at barely four years of age in an unfortunate bunk bed incident with an unwieldy younger cousin, and he has had two more fractures since then, thanks to bike-riding stunts and skateboarding. Additionally, he is a worry wart who is so easily stressed out by relatively minor things that I actually feel sorry for the boy sometimes because he can’t seem to wrap his mind around the idea that it’s really okay to take a deep breath and relax, realize that not everything is as urgent as he perceives it to be, and trust that things will work out in the end.

Saturn has a curious effect when its placement is in forward-thinking Aquarius. Saturn’s restrictive nature turns the usually-very-open-minded Water Bearer into more of a closed-minded cynic who is fixated on their own unconventional ideas and uninterested in considering other points of view. Aquarius is traditionally known for being people-oriented, surrounding itself with many friends from all walks of life, and being one of the most adaptable signs in the zodiac, but Saturn’s limiting influence on the native creates difficulty in cultivating or maintaining friendships. This is usually caused by the previously-mentioned tendency toward closed-mindedness which Saturn’s influence inflicts. The lesson here is for the Saturn-Water Bearer to learn to concede, when appropriate, that their way is not always the best way, or even the only way. Aquarius is also a freedom-loving sign which some astrologers say is the least likely sign in the zodiac to marry and this Saturn placement can amplify that tendency, causing the native to be even more emotionally detached. The sign of Aquarius rules the lower legs, ankles, and — similarly to its polarity sign of Leo, which rules the cardiovascular system — the circulatory system, predisposing the native to fractures, cuts, or bruises on the calves and shins and ankle breaks or sprains, as well as deep vein thromboses (a.k.a. DVTs or blood clots).

One of the three water signs in astrology, Pisces is highly intuitive and extremely sentimental. If you have followed my blog, you might recall that my Ascendant is in Pisces and oh lord, it’s caused me a lot of grief. Remember how as a child, when you wanted to make it clear you were ignoring someone, you would cup your hands over your ears and chant loudly, “Lalalala, I can’t hear you, lalalala…”? That sums up and illustrates the Pisces motto quite nicely. I often refer to the rose-colored glasses which are a staple in the Piscean wardrobe, as they prefer to see only what they want to see and hear only what they want to hear. Saturn’s effect when in Pisces is to increase this selective seeing/hearing, resulting in the native living in perpetual denial. Pisces is strongly drawn to the past, often finding themselves dreamily longing for people they’ve loved and lost, places they’ve visited, and experiences they’ve enjoyed. Once again, yes, I am aware that this is a broad statement that certainly isn’t exclusive to Saturn-Pisceans, for most people at one time or another wistfully reminisce about these same things. But the difference between most people and a Saturn-Pisces is that folks with this Saturn placement do this to the extreme, seemingly stuck in the past, which creates an inability to fully live in the present and appreciate today which, over time, can be quite emotionally unhealthy. There is a saying that goes, “If you keep looking back at your past, you’re going to trip over your future,” and I firmly believe every Saturn-Piscean should jot that down on sticky notes and plaster them all over the house in conspicuous places as constant reminders. The sign of Pisces rules the feet, and many natives love to go barefoot, which gives a tendency toward injuries of the feet as well as predisposes them to conditions running the gamut from corns to bunions to calluses to ingrown toenails to gout to fractures. They also experience more than their fair share of stubbed toes.

Way Back When: The Magical Power Of Music

daydreaming…but that’s just a lot of water
Underneath a bridge I burned…
And there’s no use in backtracking
Around corners I have turned…
Still I guess some things we bury
Are just bound to rise again…
For even if the whole world has forgotten
The song remembers when.   ~ Tricia Yearwood, “The Song Remembers When”

Several years ago, my now-deceased Sadge first husband and I were on a road trip when the 1977 Queen hit “We Will Rock You/We Are the Champions” began playing on a classic rock station.

“This song reminds me of a girl I liked in fourth grade,” he mused.

“Really?” I laughed. “How so?”

My Archer hubby chuckled. “I don’t know. I guess because I was hearing it so much at the time; it was a pretty new song then and it was on the radio all the time.”

I have yet to meet anyone who can’t relate to that. Music is enormously powerful. Personally, I have scores of songs which, every time I hear them, immediately stir powerful memories within me: happy ones, as well as ones from times in my life which were quite painful. Oftentimes, the song that elicits those memories don’t even have anything to do with the event or timeframe in question, as in the case with my late ex-husband. Whether it’s a song we heard just once during the event itself, or a song we heard frequently over a period of time in the past, it somehow becomes associated with a person or people, a specific situation, or simply the way we felt in our lives during that time.

I always find it incredibly uplifting when I hear a tune that reminds me of times when things weren’t so complicated; before life had a chance to start throwing curve balls at me. Memories of simple times, such as hanging around with the girl who lived next door to me when I was about six years old, listening to records such as the Bay City Rollers’ Saturday Night (come on, you know it’s catchy as hell; just admit it! S-A-T-U-R-D-A-Y…NIGHT!), Summer Nights  (tell me more, tell me more, did ya get very far!) and every song from the Grease 1978 soundtrack album for that matter; or Yvonne Elliman’s If I Can’t Have You from the Saturday Night Fever soundtrack. Being at the skating rink as a second-grader and Magnet & Steel by Walter Egan playing as the lights on the skate floor dimmed and young roller skaters held hands during couple’s skate…hearing Cliff Richard sing We Don’t Talk Anymore on the stereo on Saturday mornings as my mom did her weekly dusting and vacuuming with upbeat music playing loudly in the background, along with Linda Ronstadt asserting her independence by telling her man to take a hike in her ball-busting You’re No Good and Have You Never Been Mellow by a young new artist by the name of Olivia Newton-John. Ah, yes, those were definitely the days…an era where I hadn’t yet felt the sting of unrequited love, the awkwardness of puberty, the stress of a job and stacks of bills piling up, or the heartbreak of losing a best friend or a husband to an untimely death. I still saw my world with a child’s wide-eyed innocence and naivety.

Some of my earliest childhood memories stem from my parents’ separation and ultimate divorce in 1975 when I was three years old. My mother played 8-track tapes in her Volkswagen Beetle all the time, usually rotating the same two or three tapes. One of those 8-tracks was an album of Elton John’s greatest hits. One particularly dreary, rainy morning she was playing that particular 8-track as she drove me to preschool. As we drove, I looked over at my mother and saw tears streaming down her cheeks. The song that was playing at that moment was Sorry (Seems to Be the Hardest Word).

“Why are you crying, mama?” I asked, concerned.sad

“I miss daddy,” she sniffed, her eyes glassy and bloodshot.

Make no mistake about it: I absolutely love Elton John. But to this very day, even just hearing the first few notes of it (believe you me, I can name that tune in exactly two notes), I cannot listen to it without crying…period. An almost-instantaneous lump forms in my throat and my eyes well up with tears as if I had a “cry switch” and someone came along and put it in the “on” position. The emotions with which I, somewhere along the line, managed to associate that song are indescribably powerful…and not in a good way. It always brings to mind an unbearably, overwhelming sense of loss and grief. However, it doesn’t cause me to (consciously) think of my parents’ divorce or even my mother’s sadness on that gloomy morning. Instead, it’s as if I’m being taken back to experiences of loss and grief I’ve lived through since then; sometimes, it even goes so far as to trigger unthinkable “what if’s” — imagining excruciatingly painful events that have never actually occurred, such as thoughts of loved ones passing away. Other times, it will bring to mind memories of when my children were small and I will become inexplicably overwhelmed by a wave of tremendous guilt, wondering if I was a good enough mother to them growing up. Or sometimes, it’ll trigger thoughts of people I miss, such as my daughter and her family, as well as my youngest son, all of whom live nearly 1,000 miles away. I know it sounds insane…and who knows; maybe it is! In any event, you know what I do if and when that song comes on? I don’t listen to it. I’ll practically knock myself out racing to the source of the music to cut it off as quickly as I can…unless I happen to be in a situation where I don’t have the option to do so. For example, a number of years ago, my sons were watching the movie Rush Hour 3 in the living room as I sat working at my computer in my adjacent home office, in a perfectly pleasant mood, apropos of anything…until I heard the all-too familiar piano melody followed by the desperately sad lyrics to the song, which — just my luck — is featured in that movie. Within seconds, my eyes filled with tears and I sat sobbing, literally until the song stopped playing. Also, one snowy afternoon this past February, and in a damn fine mood, I stopped at the grocery store on my way home from work to pick up a handful of items to make a spicy, steaming pot of chili for that night’s dinner…but lo and behold, as I was making my way through the freezer section, my ears perked up when I heard the opening piano notes of the song streaming through the store’s sound system, which simultaneously triggered aforementioned lump in my throat, and my eyes became blurred so that if I had blinked, tears would have immediately fallen. I couldn’t get out of that store fast enough. Yup. Elton’s ballad has that much of an emotional impact on me.

Thankfully, that is the only song to which I have that powerful of a negative reaction. Sure, there are other songs that will provoke painful or bittersweet memories, a few of which include Hemorrhage (In My Hands) by Fuel, Still by the Commodores, and November Rain by Guns ‘N’ Roses. But they don’t reduce me to tears, nor do I avoid listening to them. In fact, I love all three of those songs.

He drinks a whiskey drink, he drinks a vodka drinkimagesCAATX4V4
He drinks a lager drink, he drinks a cider drink
He sings the songs that remind him of the good times,
He sings the songs that remind him of the better times. ~ Chumbawamba, “Tubthumping”

Then there are the songs that make me wistful. Their fond memories always elicit warm feelings as I remember what once was. I know you know what I’m talking about; these are the songs that just make you feel good because they’re associated with a happy time, place, or situation/people. One such song for me is You’re Still the One by Shania Twain. In the summer of 1998, my then-husband — a Cancer who passed away earlier this year — had flown back to his hometown for a visit. As I stood at the gate, excitedly waiting to see him walking through the jetway, You’re Still the One streamed through the airport’s loudspeakers. Pantera’s Planet Caravan takes me back to a period of time in late 1994 while my first husband and I were still married; my Archer then-hubby had just purchased the CD it was featured on and he played it. A lot. Come Again by Damn Yankees brings to mind a Scrabble game with my first husband on a blustery November afternoon in 1991 as we awaited the birth of our second child: a baby girl who was already a week overdue, and wishing she’d hurry up already. When I Remember You by Skid Row begins to play, I’m instantly transported back to the summer of ’89, newly pregnant with my first child, basking in the sun at the pool. Led Zeppelin’s Stairway to Heaven was playing during my first makeout session as a teenager. As a sixteen year-old piled up in a truck full of friends as us girls sang along loudly and happily (okay, and drunkenly) to Deniece Williams’ dance hit from the soundtrack to the 1984 movie Footloose, Let’s Hear It For The Boy as we bounced along to the beat so much I’m surprised we didn’t bounce right outta the truck. Listening to Who Made Who by AC/DC takes me back to the summer of ’87 all over again, when my (now-deceased) lifelong best friend Shannon and I would cruise around in her ’79 Nova. Nursing a broken heart along to the tunes Don’t Know What You Got (Till It’s Gone) by major hair band Cinderella as well as Def Leppard’s power ballad Love Bites (and oh how it did!) Hearing the Red Hot Chili Peppers sing Scar Tissue and Otherside as well as Sublime’s Wrong Way (or anything from Sublime’s first album, for that matter) reminds me of a particularly happy period of time in late 1999 into mid-2000 when my Cancer ex-husband and I would drive out to the casino every Saturday evening, frequently alternating between those two CDs in the car, among others.

rememberingIt’s virtually impossible for me to listen to Ebony and Ivory by Paul McCartney & Stevie Wonder without recalling the summer of ’82 between fourth and fifth grade, nor would I ever be able to sing along to the INXS song New Sensation and not reminisce about the sultry summer days spent lounging with Shannon on the beach in South Padre Island when I was sixteen. ABBA’s 1976 hit Dancing Queen takes me back to my fifth birthday, which we celebrated on my uncle’s houseboat at Table Rock Lake, south of Springfield, Missouri. It suddenly becomes the autumn of 1997 and in turn, the earlier days of my relationship with my second husband all over again every time I hear Tubthumping by Chumbawamba, and Cake’s The Distance turns the calendar back one year further to when we first met. Likewise, the song Plateau, which Nirvana covered on MTV’s Unplugged, instantly brings back the warm feelings from the beginning of my relationship with my current Cancer cusp man, and Pets by Porno for Pyros spurs memories from the summer of ’93, around the time we first met and became friends. Counting Blue Cars by Dishwalla enjoyed quite a bit of radio play in early summer of 1996; therefore, it brings to mind the birth of my youngest child in late May of the same year. The song Roses by OutKast takes me back to an exciting time in my life in early spring 2004, just after my children and I moved to Kansas, while Youth of the Nation by P.O.D. takes me back a bit further, to the summer of 2003, after separating from my Cancer ex-husband and just prior to that move. My daughter, who was just four at the time, won a karaoke contest at our community’s swimming pool in July 1996 when she sang Aeroplane by Red Hot Chili Peppers. Radio stations played Eminem’s song The Way I Am  into the ground in late 2000, which meant I would hear it a number of times as I drove my three children to see their father — my first husband — as he neared the end of his life. The song — which I love — still has a connotation to those hospital visits today, nearly thirteen years later.

imagesCA8OB09XWhenever I hear Chris Isaak’s dreamy ’90s ballad Wicked Game, it’s as if I’m once again reclined in the passenger seat of my car late at night, eyes closed, loosely holding hands with my Cancer ex-husband as we’re driving through the moonlit darkness of western Tennessee toward Hot Springs, Arkansas where we made a short-lived attempt at a reconciliation, after having separated nearly nine years prior. As we cruised down the highway, this song played…and it felt incredibly suited to that fleeting moment in time. That memory brings me so much peace and warmth now particularly because, little did we know, he would depart this life just over a year later.

Motley Crue’s Don’t Go Away Mad (Just Go Away) makes me laugh because it reminds me of the times my Crab ex-husband would spontaneously break into the chorus whenever we’d argue, in an attempt to lighten the mood. The MTV Unplugged version of Dumb by Nirvana also reminds me of him because, ironically, he once said it reminded him of me because it was my phone’s ringback tone, which meant he would hear it every time he called me. And Metallica’s One reminds me of the time when he came home, high as a kite, and proceeded to sing the entire song in acapella perfectly, from start to finish. Enjoy the Silence by Depeche Mode takes me back to the night he and I were driving around Oklahoma City many years ago, and when this song came on, he chuckled as he told me he thought the lyrics in the song’s chorus sounded more like “all I ever wanted, all I ever needed is him in my arms,” though the actual lyrics are “…is here in my arms.”

Forever etched in my memory is the evening my Cancer-cusp man and I lounged in each other’s arms and the pure love and contentment which washed over me as we watched an episode of HBO’s Eastbound and Down which contained a montage set to Kenny Rogers’ Love Will Turn You Around. My Cancer-cusp love is also the person I automatically think of when Lynyrd Skynyrd launches into Simple Man because of the time we arrived home as the song’s first verse was playing, so we sat in the driveway until it ended. I’ll never forget hearing Reminiscing by the Little River Band in the car on the way to my first day of first grade, listening to Boston’s More Than A Feeling in the car on the way to my grandparents’ house in the mid-’70s, hanging out at my great-aunt’s swimming pool in the summertime as Air Supply sang Lost In Love, or as a wee tot bouncing around the back seat of the family car whenever I’d hear Rock the Boat by Hues Corporation…I could go on and on.

Come to think of it, I pretty much already have. My apologies. I’ll place the blame on a hypersentimental Pisces Ascendant.

To make a short story long (yeah…again, sorry about that) and to reiterate what I stated toward the beginning of this post, music is an incredibly powerful medium.imagesCAL8MT2X Like the scent of your grandmother’s perfume or the delicious aroma of mom’s pot roast wafting from your mother’s kitchen, it too has the amazing capability to serve as a sort of time machine, allowing us to re-live days gone by. Hearing certain songs, getting a whiff of particular smells…in an instant, we can seemingly travel to places from long ago, seeing around us what we once saw, feeling again what we felt way back when, be it our best day ever or the worst day of our lives. One song can literally affect our entire mood, our whole outlook in that moment. It has the power to lift us up or bring us to our knees. It can inspire us to get up and move, or lay down and die. It can cut us like a knife, or it can soothe our pain. It can empower us, or it can validate our despair. Music is so much more than random words and melodies that are simply pleasing to the ear. Over time, songs become the soundtracks to our lives.

Which songs bring out your deepest emotions; your most vivid memories? Which songs make you smile, give you goosebumps, really take you back to a special time and place? I would love to hear about them!

Beyond The Sun: Lesser Known Factors In Compatibility

imagesCA0NI3AAI’ve always been intrigued by which Sun signs are considered to be compatible with one another, as well as which ones don’t quite mesh. As a teenager, whenever I had the hots for a guy, the first thing I would do after finding out when his birthday was, was to dig through my books on astrology. Daydreaming about eventually marrying and bearing the children of whomever happened to be my current object of affection, I whiled away many an hour reading chapters on “Aries and Virgo” (yikes), “Aries and Libra” (pass), “Aries and Sagittarius” (yay!)…and the list goes on and on. (If internet had been available in the mid-1980s, I’d have been an unstoppable force!)


But first, before diving in to this regularly scheduled post, how ’bout a game? It’s time to play…What’s My Sign? ! *insert thunderous applause & enthusiastic roars from the reading audience here*

In What’s My Sign?, we’ll observe two different couples interacting in…oh, I don’t know…let’s say the grocery store. Based on their conversations, using your knowledge of the general personality traits of each Sun sign (i.e., indecisive Libra, anything-goes Aquarius, me-me-me Leo, etc.), you’ll get to guess which Sun sign best fits each person!

So…are you ready to demonstrate your astrological skills (or lack thereof) and play What’s My Sign? Of course you are! Let’s get started!

Woman: Oooh! Look, honey: Brand Name paper towels are 3 for $5.00! (grabs 3 packages and throws in shopping cart)

Man: (visually searching other shelves) But the Store Brand paper towels over here are 3 for $3.00; let’s get them instead. Two dollars is a pretty big savings. (puts back Brand Name paper towels, replaces with Store Brand)

Woman: Well, right; but Brand Name has more paper towels per roll than Store Brand, plus they’re more absorbent so we use fewer sheets at a time. Brand Name is clearly a better deal. (puts Store Brand back on shelf; replaces with Brand Name)

Man: (exasperated sigh) You know what, this right here is why we’re broke…you’re always buying bullshit we don’t even need and you don’t care how much it costs! 

Woman: No, I’m not; you’re just a tight-ass! Brand Name is a better deal! We’ll use less because it’s better quality; if we buy Store Brand, we’ll just blow right through ’em cuz we hafta use more of it!

Man: You know what; whatever, I don’t even care, do what you want. You don’t care about me or what I think…

Woman: Oh my God, seriously? Goddamn, you are such a baby; grow the fuck up! (briefly pauses) Wait; you know what; fuck it! (puts Brand Name back on shelf, replaces with Store Brand) There! Happy?



Woman: Oooh! Look, honey: Brand Name paper towels are 3 for $5.00! (grabs 3 packages off shelf and throws in shopping cart)

Man: (visually searching other shelves) Hmmm…wait, Store Brand is 3 for $3.00; we should get those. Two bucks is a pretty big difference. (unloads & puts back Brand Name paper towels, replaces with Store Brand)

Woman: Well yeah, but Brand Name has more paper towels per roll, plus they’re more absorbent so we use less…Store Brand is…well, you get what you pay for.

Man: (ponders this) Hmmm…I never thought of it like that. Okay, well how about this: let’s buy one Brand Name; at least that way we don’t spend the full $5.00 buying all three. We don’t need three anyway.

Woman: Okay, works for me. (puts two Brand Name back on shelf)imagesCA0GTPGY

Any guesses yet? Anyone? *crickets chirping*

Okay then, for those of you who think you’ve nailed the Sun signs of the folks in these two couples, stand by for a moment while the rest of the class dissects the interactions we just read about and see at which conclusions we can arrive.


So, grasshoppers: let’s start by looking for some basic personality traits we see in each of these couples. For example, when we consider the woman’s statements and actions in scenario #1, we see someone who is impulsive in her actions (quick decision on what to purchase) as well as impulsive in her words, in addition to being fairly blunt and stubborn, yet she is also somewhat of a martyr (in the end, she lets the man “win” although he never explicitly states she can’t buy the Brand Name) The man in scenario #1 appears to be overly sensitive and less stubborn than the woman, also exhibiting some martyrdom tendencies (he never actually tells the woman “no” in regard to her product preference) and bluntness.

Observing the woman in scenario #2,  we once again see some impulsive tendencies, less concern for overall cost than product quality, and definitely some tendency to be stubborn, yet she is also willing to compromise. Looking at the man in the same scenario, we can see that he is cost-conscious and perhaps a bit stubborn, but when the woman points out her reasoning for buying the more expensive product, he is flexible and open-minded enough to reconsider his decision when presented with new information.

With which Sun sign(s) are each of their personality traits more associated. Ready for the answers? Let’s see how you fared:

Scenario #1: our woman is an Aries, and our man is a Cancer.
Scenario #2: our woman is an Aries, and our man is a Cancer.

Generally speaking, fire and water Sun signs aren't compatible. This doesn't mean it's guaranteed to be doomed, though; we must consider the Moon & Ascendant.

Generally speaking, fire and water Sun signs aren’t compatible. This doesn’t mean it’s guaranteed to be doomed, though; we must also consider the Moon & Ascendant.

You heard me. No, that’s not a typo, nor did I get a bit too enthusiastic with the copy & paste.

Not only are the two women in these scenarios Rams and the men Crabs, but the two women aren’t even “two women” at all. They’re the same woman: me. The man in scenario #1 is based on my late Cancer ex-husband, and the man in scenario #2 is based on my current Cancer man. I created the scenarios like this to demonstrate a point: the usual Sun sign compatibility descriptions you’re probably familiar with are frequently about as generic and useless as the daily horoscopes you find in the local newspaper. This is because compatibility assessments often only consider the Sun sign of each partner – and nothing more. And in the same way your daily horoscope will be much more specific and accurate if you obtain a personalized one, so too will your compatibility descriptions. What this means is that — although generally speaking — Aries and Cancer aren’t a compatible couple, it’s not a virtual certainty that they’re destined for divorce court. Another way to look at this is to consider that Aries and Leo are traditionally considered to be pretty compatible. However, by the same token, this couple isn’t necessarily guaranteed to live happily ever after. There are many more aspects that must be taken into account…and this is where the above scenarios come into play.

imagesCAEFXAAGThings in common
Just ain’t a one…
But when we get together
We have nothin’ but fun. ~ Paula Abdul, “Opposites Attract”

Let’s take another look at our analysis of scenario #1, shall we? The traits we observe in their interaction, such as the woman’s Arien impulsivity and bluntness, as well as the man’s Cancerian hypersensitivity and moodiness, are all textbook qualities of their respective signs. But what about the martyrdom tendencies we observe in both partners? Martyrdom is a very common Aquarian trait, not something usually seen in a Ram or a Crab. However, my late ex-husband and I both have Moons in Aquarius. Furthermore, we both have Pisces Ascendants. Therefore, when considering compatibility in a couple (or potential couple), we must look beyond the Sun sign and also factor in the Ascendant and Moon sign. (NOTE: Other factors in compatibility that come into play include the aspects, which are the angles of the planets in one partner’s natal chart in relation to the angles of the planets formed in the other partner’s chart…but this is a bit more advanced, so it’s something we’ll delve into later on. In the meantime, if you’d like some information on how that works, you can read about it here.)

For instance — again, generally speaking — it is true that fire Sun signs and water Sun signs (such as in the case of Aries and Cancer) don’t mix. However, for a more accurate and complete compatibility assessment, each partner’s Ascendant and Moon should also be taken into consideration, as they always modify the Sun sign in some way. As I mentioned above, my late Cancer ex-husband and I both have Moons in Aquarius and Pisces Ascendants. In our relationship, the influence of an easy-breezy Aquarius Moon on his home-loving Cancer Sun modified the usual strong Cancerian desire for stability, which made him more open to enjoying new adventures, travel, and spontaneity, and easier to adapt to change than the more-typical change-resistant Crab. Likewise, the effect of my own easy-breezy Aquarius Moon on my self-centered Aries Sun modified the usual Arien “me first” tendency, which means I’m more likely to elevate the needs of others above my own than the typical it’s-all-about-me Ram would. A Pisces Ascendant lends a sentimental quality to the personality which, in the case of my Cancer ex-husband, made him even more sentimental and with an even stronger draw to the past than the already-quite sentimental Crab; where for me, it softens and adds sentimentality to the usual — nauseated by all things mushy-gushy — Aries Sun.


Moving on, now let’s shift focus to our analysis of scenario #2, where the man represents my current relationship with a Cancer. How is it that two Crabs can be so different? Here’s how, which in turn explains why the interaction on a more positive note. First of all, the Aries woman in scenario #2 was less stubborn and more flexible than the Aries woman in the first scenario. This is because Cancer man #2, for starters, is actually so close to the Gemini-Cancer cusp — just over four hours — that he exhibits a great deal of Geminian traits, some of which include adaptability, flexibility, and a slight emotional detachment…where Cancer man #1 — who is nowhere near a cusp — behaved more like…well, like a Cancer, than Cancer man #2. Additionally, Aries and Gemini are traditionally considered to be quite compatible. Cancer man #2 has a Taurus Moon, which precludes him to stubbornness more so than Cancer man #1’s Aquarius Moon, which instead instilled in him a streak of martyrdom. Finally, Cancer man #2 has a Leo Ascendant, which modifies his Cancer-cusp Sun away from the depressive moodiness of the common Crab.

So to summarize, your Sun sign is the essence of who you are; it’s what makes you you. Your Ascendant is your public persona; the mask you wear, if you will; it’s the way in which you are perceived by others. And your Moon sign is representative of how you tend to express yourself (or not, as the case may be) emotionally. And it’s those three factors that, when combined, will ultimately reveal just how compatible the two of you really are…or aren’t.

So if you’re a Cancer who has recently met the most awesome Aries in all the land (congratulations) and you came to my site to get the scoop on how well-suited you are to one another, but now you’re feeling a bit bummed that, for all intents and purposes, yours is a match made in Hades, fear not, sensitive Crab. Do some astrological sleuthing on your Ram; dig a little deeper. You might be pleasantly surprised.

Lucky Star: Jupiter In The Signs

“Star light, star bright
First star I see tonight…
I wish I may, I wish I might
Have this wish I wish tonight.” ~ late nineteenth century nursery rhyme

You’ve probably heard that little ditty since you were knee high to a grasshopper. I’ll even go one further and venture a guess that more than likely, you’ve also wished it, upon seeing the first star appear in the night sky. (So have I.)

What you may or may not realize is that you weren’t wishing on a star at all. You were, in all likelihood, wishing on Venus. Furthermore, Venus isn’t even considered astrologically lucky. That distinction, dear follower, belongs to…wait for it…Jupiter.


Named for the Roman God Jupiter, it is an inhospitable gas giant, fifth planet from our Sun. With a mass of two and a half times all the other planets in our solar system combined, with a composition of mostly hydrogen and one-quarter helium, Jupiter is not only the largest planet in our solar system (to say the least) and the third brightest object in the night sky (after the Moon and Venus), but also, due to its sheer enormity and composition, some scientists believe it might even be a failed second Sun.

The Roman God Jupiter

The Roman God Jupiter

I don’t know about you, but none of that seems very “lucky” to me…

Nonetheless, in the astrological world, Jupiter is known as the planet of luck and things that come with great ease or favorable situations that seem to fall into your proverbial lap. It also governs long-distance travel. It rules the Sun sign of Sagittarius, a sign traditionally known for being, well, lucky. Someone with the good fortune of having Jupiter at “home” in Sagittarius in their chart would tend to notice an enhanced trend toward lucky breaks and finding themselves in the right place at the right time. Building on that premise, if they had Jupiter (planet of luck) in Sagittarius in the Second House of their natal chart (which represents money, possessions, and creature comforts), you just might see them being heralded as the latest Powerball Jackpot winner on the evening news…and wait a minute, what’s this? Not just the Powerball Jackpot winner, but the winner of the largest Powerball Jackpot in the history of the world! Furthermore, our uber-fortuitous Jupiter-Second-House-Sadge probably found the winning ticket on the floor of the bank where he was depositing his million-dollar inheritance check or something. (I know, I know. I hate him too.)

Make no mistake about it, Jupiter has its negative aspects as well: it can encourage laziness, weight gain, and lack of motivation.

To nutshell it, Jupiter makes “big” whatever it touches. Whatever the qualities of the sign Jupiter finds itself in, will be amplified on a grand scale.

So, I ask you: do you feel lucky? Well, do ya? (Yeah, cheesy, but come on, you knew that was coming!) Let’s see what your Jupiter placement means for you. If you don’t know where your Jupiter is, you can find out here.

Let’s take a look at Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie. Both do things in a big way. Huge families. Lotsa kids. Blockbuster movies.  Both are fancydinJupiter-Ariens. The sign of Aries already thrives on outdoing everyone else in every way; it really doesn’t need any help from Jupiter (I can say this because I am an Aries.) But ohhhh, when Jupiter’s expansiveness and luck combines with the Arien drive, impulsiveness, impatience, and generosity, you have the makings for someone who just can’t seem to put the brakes on anything, whether it’s taking on lots of extra responsibilities, work projects, lending money, you name it. If they take you out to dinner, don’t argue if your Jupiter-Ram dining companion tries to snatch the check away from you: just let go, sit back, smile, and shut up. Your money is no good here. Jupiter-Aries truly wants to pay your way — it’s an ego issue; they need to pay — and pay your way they will…at the finest restaurant in town, spare no expense, lest a Jupiter-Arien be outdone by someone else (perish the thought.) But the wait staff better make it snappy; Jupiter-Arien is also impatient on a grand scale, and when made to wait longer than they feel is necessary (the horror), they can throw a grand scale-sized tantrum.

Taurus is the sign of comfort, home, and security. A Taurus is family-oriented, stable, and typically has one hell of a green thumb. Look inmoneyhoard the backyard of a Bull and take in vast array of blooms and herbs and a well-tended vegetable garden you wish you had. Now look in the backyard of a Jupiter-Taurean. It’s like the difference between sepia-toned Dorothy in The Wizard of Oz emerging through the door to Technicolor. The same virtual Garden of Eden you saw in the Bull’s backyard, but on a much grander scale. Taureans are geniuses when it comes to saving (*cough* hoarding *cough*) money as well as investing, so their bank accounts are sure to be quite comfortable, which Jupiter-Taurus appreciates. One caveat here is that Jupiter-Taurus is prone to overindulgence (in food, drink, spending, in pretty much everything) so they need to be mindful of this in order to keep their good fortune.

sanfordsonThe airy sign of Gemini is a witty, free-spirited communicator. When we combine these traits with Jupiter’s “in a big way” lucky influence, we find someone who will probably find luck comes to them via communication in one form or another (speaking, writing, lecturing, teaching), and to do so in a way that instantly wins others over, making people comfortable. Energetic Gemini is a multitasking wizard; Jupiter’s influence will likely find a Twin enthusiastically saying “yes!” to every task asked of them, only to find themselves quickly becoming bored with one and jumping from project to project as each one fails to hold Jupiter-Gemini’s interest long enough to see any of them come to fruition. Take a gander around the house of a Jupiter-Twin. I’ll bet you my right arm you are going to see piles of projects that are still in the infancy stages (be it artsy things, or anything really: scrapbooking needing done, piles of papers about lord-knows-what collecting dust while waiting for flighty Jupiter-Gemini to organize it. Now go take a look outside; double or nothing says the yard could pass for Sanford & Son. (Incidentally, Jupiter-Librans are often similar to Jupiter-Geminians in this aspect.) See, the thing is, an airy, happy-go-lucky Jupiter-Gemini would rather spend its time communicating and engaging: talking, emailing, texting, visiting friends or family…for to be corralled inside a home with a metric frack ton of organizing needing to be done is entirely too overwhelming…the procrastination continues, and round and round we go. At least Jupiter-Gemini is having fun! They might consider hiring a Jupiter-Virgo for help in getting those piles of “to-do” projects in order once and for all…hyperorganized Jupiter-Virgo would love nothing more! It’s a win-win.

Cancer is an incredibly intuitive sign (as are the other two water signs, Scorpio & Pisces) and Jupiter’s influence only amplifies an already

Michelle Duggar is the poster child for Jupiter-Cancerians: 19 kids & a sprawling home!

Michelle Duggar is the poster child for Jupiter-Cancerians: 19 kids & a sprawling home!

uncanny ability. If a Jupiter-Cancerian can learn to trust their intuition to guide them, luck can come to them in droves. I’m not exaggerating. Too many of us try to rationalize our gut feelings, talking ourselves out of them. This is a mistake! We should all learn to heed our so-called sixth sense, particulary Jupiter-Cancerians. Good fortune will come to a Jupiter-Crab via their intuition if they can just learn to trust it. Additionally, the sign of Cancer is extremely home & family-oriented and highly sensitive, and they will likely find luck in any undertaking involving food (chef, catering) or nurturing (child care, nursing, hospice worker). Cancers are…how you say…thrifty? (okay, cheap!) and Jupiter’s influence here will allow a Crab all the more ability to accumulate a nice little nest egg, as financial security is verrrry important to this one. Yes, I know, it’s important to most people…but it’s re-he-heally important to a Crab. My eldest son is a Jupiter-Crab and let’s just say the shoe is a perfect fit. Tangible signs of a Jupiter-Cancerian might include a big, showy home and/or lots of kids (Cancer is the sign of hearth & home as well as family.) On that note, guess who is a Jupiter-Cancerian? That’s right: Michelle “19 Kids and Counting” Duggar (born 09/13/1966; check her birthdate for yourself here and then go here for her Jupiter sign. Now tell me astrology is “hokum,” Sheldon Cooper!) Her husband of 29 years, Jim Bob Duggar, is a Jupiter-Gemini…though his Sun is in Cancer.

The Lion is already pretty much the showiest, most self-absorbed Sun sign we’ve got. When we add Jupiter’s own “do it up big” influence, watch out. Now we’ve got an individual who will not settle for less than being the star of the show, but one who won’t settle for less than being the biggest star in history of the biggest show in history: ladies and gentlemen, give it up for…JUPITER-LEO! Jupiter-Lions love to play and they do so on the grandest scale ever. They will throw ginormous holiday bashes, birthday parties, baby showers, backyard barbecues, mitzvahs, memorial services, weddings, and graduation parties that will blow. your. mind. Everything is over-the-top with this one. However, they are incredibly generous creatures (with affection as well as money) and they’ll shower you with both. This one talks a big game (read: exaggerates a great deal) but they are bursting with charisma and their outgoing natures seemingly effortlessly attract success and good fortune. Their presence can seem larger than life and at times it can even be overwhelming just to be in the same room with them, but they truly do have hearts of gold and people are drawn to their vivacity. Celebrities with Jupiter in Leo include Pink, Mick Jagger, Bill Gates, Bette Davis, Layne Staley, Whoopi Goldberg, and Robert DeNiro.

Ah, the Virgo. Prudent, cautious, critical, cynical, and so meticulous it frequently borders on OCD. And it’s these very qualities that will likely bring Jupiter-Virgo the most luck in life, which they prefer to be as routine and simple as possible. I once had a neighbor with this Jupiter placement. He got off work every day at 5:30pm. And every day at 5:37pm, his white truck could be seen through my living room window, pulling into his parking space. You could set your watch by it. Likewise, every morning at 7:20am on the dot, while getting ready for work, I would hear his truck start up. I didn’t even need to look at a clock to know I had ten minutes to finish up and leave for work myself. But, I digress… The Virgin is an extremely hardworking, dependable creature and a Jupiter-Virgo is someone you definitely want in your corner when the stakes are high. They are sticklers for petty details and they will ponder every possible way out of any undesirable circumstance you can imagine. Their attention to the most minute details can work wonderfully in their favor or backfire tremendously, depending on the situation. My daughter has this Jupiter placement and it fits her to a tee. Furthermore, my creature of habit, simple life-loving Cancer-cusp other half is also Jupiter-Virgo and as much as he abhors the thought of  being “predictable,” let me just say now, I’m sorry, baby…but you and I both know you are.  And while it’s true they are highly critical, they are actually the most critical of themselves…but no worries, they’re almost as critical of you and they’re never shy about pointing out how you “shoulda” done this differently or you “coulda” done that better (both of which are the Jupiter-Virgo way, no doubt) and if you had, things “woulda” been more favorable. Hard as it might be to swallow (believe me, I know: I was born to a Jupiter-Virgo father), this really is their (albeit maddening) way of showing you they care about you. Yes, by reminding you on a regular basis what bad choices you’ve made and basically what a stellar fuck-up mess you’ve made of your life, that translates to “I love you” in Jupiter-Virgo. Yay. Can you imagine the things that would spew forth from their mouths if they hated you?

Librans abhor injustice, confrontation, and all things unfair. When Jupiter has this placement, the individual will tend to find success in endeavors dealing with such things. Jupiter-Libra makes an incredibly fair, impartial judge or referee. The downside here, however, is that decision-making is absolute torture for Jupiter-Libra, and that process is even more excruciating for the rest of us to be forced to bear witness to. They hesitate…and vacillate…and hesitate some more. Then, when we all breathe a collective sigh of relief that they have finally come to a verdict — perhaps as to whether or not to choose paper or plastic in the checkout line — they second-guess themselves and they start trying to re-decide. Remember the 1987 movie “Planes Trains & Automobiles” with Steve Martin and John Candy? In the opening scene, Steve Martin’s character is sitting in a conference room impatiently waiting for a stuffy business associate who is agonizing over a marketing decision. That guy has Jupiter-Libra written all over him. But the positive thing about the Jupiter-Libra way of coming to a decision is that once they finally do get there (and they will, eventually) it’s almost always the right one.

Wow. Just…wow. If Jupiter’s influence is to expand and amplify everything it touches, and Scorpio is a highly intense, passionate, sexual sign…well, you can let your imagination take over from there. Sorry guys, this doesn’t imply that if you are a Jupiter-Scorpion that you’re hung like a horse (my apologies to you as well, ladies.) I’m talking about non-physical traits. But what it does indicate is that an individual with this Jupiter placement will very likely have a libido the likes of which you might have never before encountered. Unfortunately, Jupiter-Scorpio could also have a jealous streak the likes of which you might have never before encountered. In any event, Scorpio in general has a lot of creativity and Jupiter’s influence here indicates the native can find ample success in creative endeavors: interior decorating, the entertainment industry, writing, sculpting, architecture…the possibilities are limitless. For example, some famous (and infamous) Jupiter-Scorpions include Steven Spielberg, Alfred Hitchcock, Charles Manson, Stephen King, Ted Bundy, Britney Spears, and River Phoenix. Now, if those aren’t intense, creative personalities, I don’t know who are.

As I mentioned earlier in this post, Jupiter rules the don’t-fence-me-in sign of Sagittarius and because it’s at home here, their influences on one another are twofold. While Jupiter-Sadge can come across as a rather annoying know-it-all, they seem to attract good fortune through their outgoing personalities which makes it easy for them to become instant friends with nearly anyone they meet. Jupiter-Sadge is also big on travel, the further the distance and the greater the degree of spontanaeity, the better! Archers also have a tendency to blurt out the first thing on their mind, rarely stopping to think first whether it might be too brusque or cause some hurt feelings, though malice is rarely their intent.  My almost-six year-old Libra grandson is a Jupiter-Sadge and oh lord, this description fits him like an adorable little glove. Between their far and wide wanderlust adventures, always ready to jump into new experiences with both feet, and a knack for getting along with just about anyone, good fortune seems to fall into the Archer’s lap faster than you can say “let’s go for it!” Some celebrities with this Jupiter placement include Mila Kunis, Cameron Diaz, Prince Charles of Wales, Hillary Clinton, and of course, the blunt, feeling-hurtin’, arrogant son of a bitch we love to hate: Simon Cowell.

Don’t let this one fool you. Jupiter-Capricorns often have a serious look on their face, a furrowed brow that makes you wonder just what in fuckville they are thinking so intently about. But the thing is, that’s just how they appear. These folks have naturally serious, sometimes even annoyed facial expressions. What you might not realize is that under that stoic surface, these are some of the funniest people you will ever meet (if their scary-sour expression doesn’t make you turn and walk the other way first!) They have very witty, very dry, and frequently very dark senses of humor and, better than nearly any other Jupiter placement, know how to make the best of a not-so-hot situation. They’re the one who will say things for shock value; they’ll crack a joke during a sensitive or otherwise serious situation in which no one else would dare…but those other folks will be glad for the fleeting comic relief, as it puts others at ease. (Besides, Jupiter-Cappy is only saying what everyone else was already thinking!) I happen to have this Jupiter placement and I can’t even begin to count the number of people over the years who have determined immediately upon seeing me (not meeting me, mind you – seeing me) that I’m a hateful, antisocial snob (thank you, Natural Facial Expression) and subsequently concluded, on the basis of that “information” alone, they did not like me. Books by covers… Anyway, moving on. Jupiter-Goats often find success through making lasting, good first impressions. The Goat has a formidable work ethic and is known for thinking outside the proverbial box, coming up with solid ideas. They are quite an organized people and along with Jupiter-Virgo, some of the hardest workers you will ever meet. They are incredibly resourceful and always seem to come up with ways to increase their bank balances. With Jupiter-Cappy, financial success is frequently a side-effect of diligent work and putting new moneymaking ideas in motion. Eminem, Charlie Chaplin, Katy Perry, Carmen Electra, and my youngest son are all Jupiter-Cappies (and yeah, the above description is pretty much a spot-on assessment of my say-anything-for-shock-value son.) Incidentally, Adolf Hitler and Saddam Hussein were both Jupiter-Goats (and aside from the obvious fact that they were both pure evil incarnate, they were pretty shocking, dark individuals…to say the least.)

If Jupiter-Capricorn is skilled at thinking outside the proverbial box, then a Jupiter-Aquarian invented the box and mastered the fine art of thinking outside of it.  Though Jupiter-Water Bearers shudder at the thought of shouldering loads of serious responsibilities (they’ll still do it, they just don’t want to, and they will probably procrastinate as long as possible beforehand), they are full of some of the most offbeat, eccentric ideas you will ever be exposed to. However, they really don’t want to roll up their sleeves and get down to the nitty-gritty nuances or excruciating minutae of putting any of those fascinating brainstorms in motion (maybe they, too, should hire a Jupiter-Virgo to help out with that, who lives for mundane details.)  Jupiter-Water Bearers will rattle off one inventive, amazing idea after another all day long, but if it will ever be seen through to fruition, you can bet Jupiter-Aquarius won’t usually be the one doing the sweaty work to make it a reality. Jupiter-Aquarians love going in directions before which no one else dared to tread; to discover new ways of doing things, to learn as much as possible. Many Jupiter-Water Bearers find success in unorthodox fields such as controversial branches of medicine or science, cult leaders (you heard me), and inventors. Jupiter-Aquarius is a humanitarian like no other who wants to make the world a better place. They are somewhat lacking in self-discipline however, and they usually don’t accumulate much wealth over their lifetimes because they believe money was made to be spent and enjoyed, not hoarded…and this is the least materialistic Jupiter placement in the zodiac. Water Bearers treasure friendships like none other. They are incredibly popular without even trying to be, as their unconventional personalities and quick wit draws people to them like moths to a flame. I’ll bet you’re dying to know the names of some notable Jupiter-Aquarians. Well, no need to die; I’ll tell you: Albert Einstein, Oprah Winfrey, Barack Obama, Jim Carrey, Axl Rose, Hugh Hefner, and Britney Spears.

Few things warm the Piscean heart more than being of service to others. This empathetic, highly sensitive Fish is arguably among the most compassionate, tender-hearted folks in all the Land of the Zodiac, always standing at the ready to lend a helping hand to anyone in need. Jupiter’s influence on Pisces is to amplify and expand upon those admirable qualities, and a Jupiter-Fish has much luck in career areas such as counseling, social work, the ministry, or even through volunteer work, particularly with organizations that benefit the hungry and/or the homeless, abused children, or animal shelters, for water signs have quite a soft spot for any animal or human in need. Stray animals need stray no further than Chez Jupiter-Pisces’ front door, for this is an individual who can’t say no to a creature in need of food and shelter, which the sensitive, empathetic Fish will cheerfully provide. A Jupiter-Fish is also one of the more psychic Jupiter placements, though like Jupiter-Cancer, they don’t always have enough confidence in their instincts to really let their abilities work in their favor. The negative aspects of Jupiter’s influence on Pisces, however, gives a marked tendency toward escapism. Pisceans wear rose-colored glasses, only seeing what they want to see, and Jupiter-Pisceans wear those really big, oversized novelty rose-colored glasses. Sometimes a Jupiter-Fish spends a bit too much time in their own version of reality and not infrequently, the line between fantasy and reality becomes blurred (hopefully those rose-colored glasses are sporting prescription lenses…) Folks with this watery Jupiter placement have a much greater likelihood of their escapism consisting of alcohol or drug abuse as well, even more so than just the plain ol’ Pisces Sun. But when a person has a Pisces Sun in addition to Jupiter in Pisces, that particular likelihood all but becomes a virtual certainty. This one is also especially prone toward depressive tendencies. That said, Pisces is an artist, poet, and dreamer…and Jupiter’s expansive influence allows Jupiter-Pisces to dream big. There’s nothing wrong with that! Vincent Van Gogh, Sigmund Freud, Frank Sinatra, Quentin Tarantino, Edgar Allen Poe, and “Mommie Dearest” herself: Joan Crawford.

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Where The Wicked Winds Blow: The El Reno Tornado

The Aries is a peculiar animal. I should know; I am one. Challenge-seeking and adrenaline rush-loving, we Rams enjoy few things more than, when told something isn’t possible or that some goal is unattainable, setting out with enormous energy to prove you wrong. The quickest way to spur me into action is to tell me I can’t do something. Oh yeah? Hide ‘n watch while I forge ahead with unrelenting determination to make you eat those words. Speaking as an Aries female, I feel an overwhelming drive to be numero uno at anything and everything I undertake. Well-versed in the art of one-upsmanship, an Arien never settles for being second best…at anything or to anyone.

Ram that I am, I find adrenaline rushes and extreme adventure quite seductive. One way I discovered, years ago, that I could indulge my craving for both was through storm chasing.

Birth of a Tornadic Supercell, near El Reno, OK, May 31, 2013

Birth of a Tornadic Supercell, near El Reno, OK, May 31, 2013

I was born and raised in the very heart of Tornado Alley: Oklahoma City. I lived in the Oklahoma City area until 2003 when I relocated 160 miles north to a suburb of Wichita, Kansas. Both areas are no stranger to severe thunderstorms and tornadoes; they are simply a fact of life in these parts. As a small child, I was terrified of storms. Some of my earliest memories involve a hypervigilant, overreactive Taurus mother whisking me out of bed as a violent thunderstorm raged outside, driving us in a panic to my grandmother’s house a few miles away to seek shelter in her basement. More or less, I learned by example to be afraid of storms. But as I grew older, I gradually became a little less frightened and a little more fascinated by nature’s fury. Somehow, I came to the realization at a relatively young age that things were much less scary when the bright light of knowledge and understanding was shone upon them. By educating myself on the science of thunderstorms and tornadoes, I was illuminating my fear with a virtual spotlight. No longer was I afraid; on the contrary, I quickly grew to love extreme weather and thunderstorms, and I was genuinely interested in and intrigued by what makes tornadoes tick.


Reed Timmer

The notion of storm chasing first came to my attention on May 3, 1999 when an F-5 tornado tore through an area on the southern outskirts of Oklahoma City, leaving 44 people dead and billions of dollars in damage in its aftermath. Mouth agape, I watched the live coverage in both awe and horror as this beast roared closer and closer. In my 27 years of living in a city that regularly sees tornadoes each spring, I had never before seen a tornado of that magnitude anywhere near me. Sitting in my living room with my three offspring and my then-hubby, a Cancer who hailed from the northern West Virginia panhandle and was completely unaccustomed to experiencing storms that could kill a person if they weren’t below ground, we watched on live TV as the mile-wide monster barreled in our general direction. I marveled at the storm chasers (including a 19 year-old OU meteorology student by the name of Reed “BACKUP!!!!!” Timmer) as they streamed live coverage from out in the field, and I became acutely aware that they were probably safer than my family and I were, parked at home, practically waiting to be taken out by this killer tornado. Horrified, yet mesmerized as I watched it churn along, destroying everything in its path, I decided I would love nothing more than to be out in the field with those guys.

Beginning in the spring of 2001, I started dabbling in what might be considered amateur quasi-storm chasing. Bear in mind, if you will, at that time I lived in Oklahoma City so my “chases” usually consisted of local severe thunderstorms, of which we never lack. Having no mobile radar and nothing whatsoever to go on visually, I was flying blind –almost– as I drove in the storm’s general direction with my only guidance being in the form of a radio simulcast of a local TV meteorologist giving a play by play of Doppler radar-indicated rotation along with spotter information. In the years that followed, I managed to capture hundreds of photographs of beautiful storm structures and massive supercells, with the occasional funnel cloud. However, I’ve always stopped short of officially labeling myself a “storm chaser,” as Real Life often prevents me from chasing anything. After all, Ma Nature doesn’t really care if you have to work or don’t have the extra gas money to chase on the day she decides to drop a tornado. I would, and still do, consider myself more of a severe weather enthusiast and, because of not always being in a position to actively chase, be it due to lack of funds, the target area being too far away, work or other schedule/timing conflict, the chasing I do manage to get under my belt would still qualify as amateur, although I’ve been at it for 12 years, have access to mobile radar via my laptop, and am moderately knowledgeable in the science itself.

During the afternoon and evening of Thursday, May 30, 2013 I embarked on an impromptu chase when a dear Aquarian chaser friend and his Aries girlfriend shot me a text saying they would be coming down from Kansas thru Oklahoma City within a few hours to hopefully position themselves further south in order to intercept a tornado. A typical spring day in Oklahoma, we had already seen quite a few supercells go on to spawn tornadoes that afternoon and my Water Bearer buddy was hell-bent on bagging a tornado. He invited me to join them in their quest, which I excitedly did. While not a complete bust, we didn’t intercept anything significant, although we did manage to catch a few short-lived tornadoes and capture some jaw-dropping video and storm images.

Supercell w/rotating wall cloud W of Turner Falls, Davis, OK 05/30/2013

Supercell w/rotating wall cloud W of Turner Falls, Davis, OK 05/30/2013

As the evening began winding down, we headed back north toward Oklahoma City, discussing what the next day might bring in terms of severe weather. The Storm Prediction Center (SPC) was forecasting a pretty significant risk for severe weather which could possibly culminate in large, violent, long-track tornadoes. It appeared all hell was going to break loose very near my home in Yukon, a western suburb of Oklahoma City. After running it by my Cancer-cusp better half, who anxiously awaited me at home, we invited my friends to spend the night at our house; that way, instead of driving another three and a half hours back up to their home in southwestern Kansas, and then back again the following day another three and a half hours to chase, they could get some well-needed rest and wake up in the target area. They gratefully accepted.

Friday, May 31, 2013, 12:30pm: we must have been more exhausted than we realized to wake up at lunchtime! Over a late breakfast, we studied the latest projections from the SPC convective outlooks, and we easily chose our initial target area: El Reno, Oklahoma, just 10 miles west of Yukon. CAPE (convective available potential energy) values were predicted to reach over 5,000 (meaning an extremely unstable atmosphere) and while we didn’t know exactly how things were going to go down, we knew they were going to go down…and whatever went down would be huge. Scores of storm chasers from all over the country and every genre — amateurs, thrill-seekers, researchers, news crews — had descended upon this same target area. At 3:30pm, a PDS (particularly dangerous situation) tornado watch was issued by the SPC, indicating that any tornadoes that developed could be long-track, destructive ones. PDS tornado watches aren’t issued very often so when they are, it’s imperative to pay close attention to the weather.

We arrived in El Reno early in the 4:00 hour, stopping at Braum’s to grab some ice cream while we kept a constant watch on both radar and the deceptively calm, gorgeous azure sky. Within less than half an hour, we watched as evidence of storm initiation began and breathtaking cumulonimbi rapidly climbed higher and higher into the atmosphere, like the lid being removed from a pot of boiling water; the clouds themselves seemed to be boiling as they ascended explosively. When the action began to be detectable on radar, my Aquarian amigo announced, “Time to move.” We had three rapidly developing supercells to choose from and our fearless Water Bearing leader ultimately made the decision to pursue one to our WSW. The adrenaline level in the car was skyrocketing in tandem with the storm development as we raced in anticipation toward the southwest to get front-row seats to what, quite possibly, could become a significant, perhaps even historic and (heaven forbid) deadly severe weather event.

We couldn’t have been more right.

timsamarasStorms now initiating south of Watonga along triple point. Dangerous day ahead for OK–stay weather savvy!”  ~ Tim Samaras, in his final post on Twitter, shortly before his death, 05/31/2013

Within a half hour, after some tricky navigation thru blinding rain, fierce winds, and baseball-size hail, we caught up to the monster on a rural, gravel county road, and watched incredulously as we witnessed the birth of a killer, not more than one hundred yards away in an adjacent field to our southeast. Three separate vortices danced around one another in a deadly waltz, intertwining gracefully before ultimately coming together to form a single, massive, dark gray wedge, swirling dirt up, into, and around the vortex. It was eerily quiet, with the exception of the sound of a distant, whistling wind which was so soft, it almost seemed as if it could’ve been harmless. As the tornado slowly churned further east and then northeast thru the countryside, we followed closely behind, documenting its progression with our video cameras, stopping our pursuit when we began encountering unfortunate homes which had been left heavily damaged or destroyed in the twister’s wake.

While his girlfriend and I filmed the extensive destruction, my Water Bearer buddy frantically raced up driveways, almost as if playing hopscotch as he jumped to avoid downed power lines and debris, made his way through enormous piles of rubble which families once called home, climbing over piles of bricks, around walls that no longer stood, tossing furniture aside, calling out, trying desperately to find anyone who might be trapped beneath the remains. Fortunately, there was only one home where he did find someone: a mother and daughter who had ridden out the storm in an underground shelter and were very much alive and uninjured. While searching the debris of another home about a half mile away, the elderly homeowner arrived on the scene via a sheriff’s deputy. He assured us there had been no one at home when the tornado leveled his house, and he expressed his gratitude that we had stopped and searched. I asked him if it was his house.

Heavy damage in the front yard of the first house we searched minutes after the tornado hit

Heavy damage in the front yard of the first house we searched minutes after the tornado hit

“Yeah, it’s…well, it used to be my house,” the silver-haired gentleman chuckled as he stood at the foot of the driveway, taking in the devastation. “But that’s okay. We’re alive.”

I wonder if he was an Aries. We Rams are known for our unrelenting optimism…

A mother & daughter were found safe in their home's storm shelter, S of El Reno, OK, 05/31/2013. Shortly after this picture was taken, the south side of the home began to collapse; however, no one was injured.

A mother & daughter were found safe in their home’s storm shelter, S of El Reno, OK, 05/31/2013. Shortly after this picture was taken, the south side of the home began to collapse; however, no one was injured.

The tornado continued to plow toward the northeast as we went house to house searching for potential victims. Over the car’s radio, I heard a local meteorologist urgently announce that the next projected target on the tornado’s radar was none other than my own city of Yukon. A tornado emergency was declared, as it had left major damage in its wake and was estimated to be around a mile wide as it bore down on a densely populated area. If this beast continued on its current path, it was possible, if not probable, that a large portion of the city would be wiped away…taking my home with it.

Fortunately, the tornado dissipated before that could happen, leaving Yukon –along with my own home– virtually untouched, save for a few tree limbs in the streets and sporadic power outages as a result of high winds.

By the time the tornado dissipated into the clouds as if it had never existed at all, it had enjoyed a life span of 40 minutes, produced winds of a nearly-unprecedented 296 mph across what has since been estimated to be a damage path 2.6 miles wide and 16.2 miles long, claiming at least twenty lives  (as of the date & time of this publication) including those of seven infants or children, and three veteran storm chasers who were not daredevils or thrill-seekers but seasoned meteorologists; scientists whose mission that fateful day was to place probes into the tornado’s path in order to glean data which would serve –and has previously served– to help unravel the mystery behind tornadoes, ultimately increasing warning times and saving countless lives.

Remembering Team TWISTEX: Tim Samaras, Paul Samaras, Carl Young, 05/31/2013, El Reno, Oklahoma

Remembering Team TWISTEX: Tim Samaras, Paul Samaras, Carl Young, 05/31/2013, El Reno, Oklahoma

Mother Nature’s cryptic message on May 31st was, that at the end of the day, she is the one who is in charge. The mere fact that the tornado’s unpredictable movement was able to surprise three extensively experienced storm chasers/scientists only underscores the desperate need for the very research they were attempting to do that day, and to remind us just how much we still don’t know about severe weather and meteorology in general.

The tragic fate met by those three men could have just as easily been met by any one of us who were chasing that tornado. This realization is quite humbling to say the least, and certainly gives me pause.

So will I continue to chase? Absolutely. Storms are one of my greatest passions. Although my Aquarius – Aries chase buddies, nor I, are scientists by any stretch of the imagination, we still make a difference, whether it’s by calling in storm reports to the NWS or being in a right place/right time situation that allows us, in many instances almost immediately after a tornado has struck, to search damaged structures for possible victims in need of help.

Besides, lest you forget, I am an Aries, after all. Go ahead. Just try and stop me.

Six Of One…

“Every now and then I cry

Tom and my younger son sleeping in on a lazy Saturday, 2001

Tom and my younger son sleeping in on a lazy Saturday, 2001

Every night…
You keep staying on my mind
All my friends say I’ll survive
It just takes time…
But I don’t think time is gonna heal this broken heart…
No, I don’t see how it can if it’s broken all apart
A million miracles could never stop the pain…
Or put all the pieces together again.” ~ Anne Murray, “Broken Hearted Me”

Wednesday, January 3rd, 2001 was a bright winter morning. It almost seemed too bright, probably because we’d recently had an unusually harsh winter storm blow through, leaving nearly a foot of snow and ice blanketing the landscape, reflecting the sunlight. It was a particularly frigid day as well.

The call from my sister in-law Shannon, a free spirited Sagittarius with whom I’d been best friends for nearly twenty years, came around 10:30am.

“Well, he’s gone,” she told me, sighing. “He died at 9:16.”

I slid down the kitchen cabinet against which I’d been leaning, and dissolved into tears on the floor, burying my head between my knees, still holding the phone to my ear.

“How are we going to get through this?” I sobbed.

“We have each other,” Shannon reminded me gently. “And I love you.”

“I love you too.”

“So take the photograph and still frames in your mind…
Hang it on a shelf in good health and good time…
Take tears and memory and dead skin on trial…
For what it’s worth, it was worth all the while…
It’s something unpredictable, but in the end it’s right…
I hope you had the time of your life.” ~ Green Day, “Good Riddance (Time Of Your Life)”

Although much of the remainder of that day, along with the next several days, are a blur to me, I’ll never forget that moment as long as I live. The phone call wasn’t a surprise. I’d been expecting it, dreading it, waiting for it all morning.

That was the phone call that brought me the news that my first husband, David, a strong, healthy (or so we always believed), tall, handsome Sagittarius who was the father of my three children and who had celebrated his 33rd birthday just four weeks earlier, had succumbed to the lung cancer with which he had been diagnosed six and a half months earlier, over Father’s Day weekend in June 2000. We had ended our relationship several years prior and at the time of his death we had both remarried. But we had always remained close.

David holding our younger son, 1996

David holding our younger son, 1996

In hindsight, my grieving process began the day of his diagnosis. It seemed to come out of nowhere. David had always been active and healthy, a hard worker, who loved bodybuilding and boxing. Then out of the clear blue on a Friday in June 2000, I got a call from Shannon telling me that David had been rushed to the ER because he was having difficulty breathing and was in the ICU. That in itself was shocking. David? My David, who rarely took a sick day during our nine years together, let alone ever experienced any frightening symptoms that would have sent him racing to the emergency room? What the…

But it was true. David had been experiencing a sore throat for a few days, but was otherwise okay until he began having trouble breathing. He thought his throat might be closing up. But when he arrived in the emergency room, they discovered his shortness of breath was due to congestive heart failure…which was in turn due to what turned out to be a stage IV adenocarcinoma of the right lung. Advanced, late-stage, inoperable lung cancer. But he was only 32 years old, how could this be? David’s oncologist explained that although it’s true that the average age of someone diagnosed with this cancer was 60, it was unusual but not unheard of in someone David’s age. I thought surely his youth and otherwise good health would be on his side, allowing him to tolerate treatments much better and give him more of a fighting chance.

But the oncologist gently disagreed. Although David was young and his general health was good, probably allowing him to withstand the effects of chemotherapy more easily, the doctor sadly informed me that even with treatment, the most likely scenario would be that David would not survive another year.

“Are you telling me that he might not live to see our four year-old son start kindergarten next year?” I cried in disbelief.

The doctor shook his had sadly. “I’m sorry,” he told me, genuine empathy in his eyes.

David Lynn Fleming, Jr 12/06/1967 - 01/03/2001

David Lynn Fleming, Jr 12/06/1967 – 01/03/2001

In the end, his oncologist was right on target. David survived six and a half months, and he actually did really well up until right after Thanksgiving. So well, in fact, that we were cautiously optimistic. The only side effect of the chemo that had affected him was hair loss. But although he’d always been very vain, a not-a-hair-out-of-place kind of guy, David was totally fine with that; he just shaved his head and blended right in. Anyone who didn’t know him would never have known he was so ill. He stood out like a sore thumb at his chemo sessions because he appeared to be the picture of health. He was energetic. Sure, he had some shortness of breath and a chronic cough but that wasn’t anything new; David was a smoker (although he quit cold turkey after his diagnosis).

Meanwhile, during those months, we had the gift of knowing what was to come. It didn’t feel much like a gift at the time, but it definitely was. Nothing was taken for granted. Things that needed to be said were said. Things that needed to happen, happened. Everyone had the opportunity to finish any unfinished business. In fact, one of our deepest conversations occurred on December 14, 2000, three weeks before his death. David told me the best thing he’d ever done in his life was to be a father to our three kids. He said he just wanted me to be happy. He fought hard, more for our kids than for himself, but cancer beat him…though definitely not for a lack of fighting.

Still, when the call came that January morning, it brought me to my knees. As hard as you imagine getting that news will be, you end up wishing it had been that easy. It was excruciatingly painful. My life and the lives of our children had been dramatically altered and would never be the same again. We got through it, and it was an emotional rollercoaster of bad days and good days, gradually turning into more good days than bad, but it has been a process that literally has taken years. This past January marked the twelfth anniversary of David’s death. Our children are now grown, our then-four year-old son who went off to kindergarten seven months after his father passed away will be 17 this spring. Our 21 year-old daughter has a husband and a son of her own who turns six next fall: David is now a grandpa. Our older son is 23 years old and stands four inches taller than six-foot tall David stood. To this day, when one of our children celebrates a birthday or another significant life event occurs, I mourn for what David has missed in their lives. I wish I could call him or visit with him and just catch up with him about all that life has brought our way since he’s been gone. I wish I could see his reaction to our five year-old grandson…to him being four inches shorter than our older son…to everything. But I can’t. Although time does indeed numb the pain somewhat, it still hurts. But have I gotten over it? Nope, and I never will. I have simply learned how to live with it. It’s the new normal.

At the time of his death, I always reminded myself how fortunate we had been to have had those six and a half months to prepare. It could have been so much worse, I reasoned, because at least we had the warning of what was to come instead of David having been suddenly ripped away from us, such as if he had been killed in a car accident or suffered a massive heart attack. Looking back, I’m especially grateful for that time. We knew what was coming. We didn’t know when, but still, we knew. In many ways, that is such an advantage. But did that make his death any easier when he did finally pass away?

crying“And now, I’m glad I didn’t know
The way it all would end, the way it all would go…
Our lives are better left to chance
I could have missed the pain…
But I’d have had to miss the dance.” ~ Garth Brooks, “The Dance”

New Years Day 2013. Primarily because 2012 had been wrought with a startling amount of death and loss – beginning with my sister and brother in-law experiencing a stillbirth just before New Years Day 2012…to the unexpected death of my lifelong best friend, David’s sister Shannon, in February at barely 41 years-old…to the loss of my former father in-law “Big Tom” Montgomery to cancer in late summer…to the sudden, tragic death of Mike’s friend and coworker in a car accident just before Christmas less than two weeks earlier…just to name a few – I was readier than ever for the promise of a new beginning that a new year traditionally symbolizes.

However, within less than half an hour of waking on New Year’s Day, I received the news that sucked the air right out of my lungs and shook me to my very core.

Tom with my younger son at Mickey D's...he kept his word to David

Tom with my younger son at Mickey D’s…he kept his word to David

My phone rang.

Tom died!” my daughter cried, harder than I could ever before remember.

Tom, a family-devoted, sensitive-yet-moody Cancer, was my second husband. He was killed in the early morning hours of New Year’s Day 2013 as a result of injuries sustained in a car accident. Tom was just 36 years old.

I felt as though my heart had been ripped right out of my chest. Through my tears, I saw others looking at me quizzically, seemingly questioning my sadness, as if to say, “But he was your ex-husband. Why are you having such a hard time coping with his death?” While it’s true that Tom and I were divorced, our relationship over the years was much deeper than it appeared to the casual observer.

My wedding day to Tom, December 29, 2000

My wedding day to Tom, December 29, 2000

I met Tom in October 1996 and we became romantically involved just under a month later. We began living together in April 1997 and were married in December 2000. Although we had some great times, the clash between my fiery, impulsive Aries Sun and his watery, sensitive Cancer Sun proved too much for either of us to handle and we separated two years later; our divorce finalized in July 2005. During those years together, we went through so much including David’s illness and subsequent death, during which Tom was not only a huge source of comfort and emotional support to my children and me, but he had also promised David – at David’s request – that when and if The Time came, he would absolutely step in and be a father to my kids. He kept his word. Tom was never not there for my three children for the rest of his life. Even during the early days of our separation, while we certainly experienced the textbook anger and hurt feelings a couple endures when going through a breakup, we gradually came to the realization that we would always have love for one another, even if we were no longer in love, and we remained close friends. Shortly after Tom and I separated, I moved forward with a new man – Mike, the Cancer cusp man who I am in a relationship with today – and my Cancerian former husband began a new relationship of his own in the spring of 2003 with a young Libra woman who subsequently gave birth to their daughter, an adorable, bright-eyed Sadge, in late 2004.  His relationship ended in 2008, mine went on hiatus in early 2011, and I relocated to Hot Springs, AR that same year. After some discussion, Tom followed suit, moving to Hot Springs in late 2011 and we attempted to reconcile. Although it was ultimately unsuccessful, lasting just under three months, this time our separation was as pleasant as one could hope for. We understood that we “made better friends than married folk” (Tom’s words), Tom returned home to West Virginia, I moved back to Oklahoma, and we continued on our respective life paths. I suppose our friendship was a bit unorthodox, to say the least, and we remained as such, keeping in touch with one another…although in hindsight, I can now see that after I told Tom that Mike and I had reunited in August, the frequency of our communication decreased sharply, practically overnight.

“When the blues come calling at the break of dawnimagesCAWBGWSB
Rain keeps falling, but the rainbow’s gone…
When you feel like crying but the tears won’t come
When your dreams are dying, when you’re on the run
Just remember I love you and it’ll be all right…
Just remember I love you more than I can say.” ~ Firefall, “Just Remember I Love You”

In early December, thanks to my employment with a major cell service provider, I obtained a new cell phone and along with it, a new phone number. I texted Tom one Saturday morning to give him my new number. He replied back to me, “Got it.”

That was the last time we would ever communicate. He passed away three weeks later.

“Got it.” The last words Tom would ever speak to me. Of course, if we had known that only a few short weeks later his time on Earth would be violently abbreviated, there is no doubt our final words to one another would have been far more meaningful, and our final conversation would have been much lengthier. There was much more left to say than “got it.”

But we didn’t know, and how could we have known? Unlike David, with whom there had been the opportunity to finish any unfinished business and say the words we felt needed to be said, I was completely blindsided by Tom’s death, as was everyone who knew and loved him. He was here…and in the blink of an eye, he wasn’t. We were robbed of any last chances to do those things. And I am here to tell you, I have grieved for and missed David since his completely expected passing every bit as much as I have Tom since his totally unexpected departure. I’ve shed a similar number of tears, felt the same ache of anguish, the same longing to hug each of them just once more, and the same intense desire to share things with them.

The Aries and the Cancer, Christmas Eve 1998

The Aries and the Cancer, Christmas Eve 1998

The Universe is our teacher and we are the students. And not unlike a schoolteacher who sharply bangs on the desk of a lazy student who is resting their head after falling asleep in class, the Universe tends to startle us awake from time to time when we’ve gotten too comfortable in our lives, keeping us on our toes, with the sobering reminder to take nothing for granted, because the only guarantee we have in this life is that one day, it will end. Treasure it and those with whom you share it while you can. It’s easy to assume that because we were alive and well yesterday and today, we will probably be alive and well tomorrow…and next week…and next year. And most of the time, I’m happy to report, we’re absolutely correct. Unfortunately, there will come a day when we couldn’t be more wrong. And many times, we will never have seen it coming.

I’ve found great solace in the fact that Tom knew I loved him…and I know he loved me too. He knew that he mattered to me, that I cared a great deal about what was going on in his life and how he was doing. Likewise, I know without a doubt he felt the same way about me. Had it been me who was killed and Tom had been left to cope with my death, I also know he would be having an equally difficult time dealing with it. Furthermore, these very same statements apply to David. The point is, whether death is anticipated or unexpected is irrelevant, at least in the grand scheme of things. The end result is the same: your loved one is gone. And when all is said and done, whether you knew what was coming as we did with David’s death, or you’re completely blindsided as we were with Tom’s death, you’re still going to wish you had one more opportunity to hold them, to let them know how much you love them, to share your joys and heartaches with them. It’s still going to hurt every bit as much.

As the saying goes, six of one, half-dozen of another.

imagesCAV9RAYV“Love can touch us one time and last for a lifetime…
And never let go till we’re gone
Love was when I loved you, one true time I hold to…
In my life we’ll always go on
Near, far, wherever you are
I believe that the heart does go on
Once more you open the door
And you’re here in my heart, and my heart will go on and on.” ~ Celine Dion, “My Heart Will Go On”

Planet Messenger: Mercury In The Signs

mercury“Memories of everything…
Of lemon trees on Mercury
Come to me with remedies…
From five or six of seven seas
You always took me with a smile
When I was down…
Memories of everything
That blew thru…” ~ Red Hot Chili Peppers, “On Mercury”


First rock from the Sun with a year lasting just 88 days, the scorched, uninhabitable world known as Mercury is named for the Roman god Mercury, who was considered to be the “messenger to the gods.” Ruler of Gemini and Virgo, Mercury’s influence in your natal chart governs the way you think and your ability to reason. Additionally, it rules education, the immediate environment, particularly neighbors, siblings and cousins, short trips, messages and all forms of communication (speaking, writing, email, etc.), as well as physical dexterity.  Because communication is a hallmark trait of the Air signs and Mercury rules communication, Mercury tends to be at its best when its placement in a chart is in an Air sign (Gemini, Libra, Aquarius).

Mercury stays in each sign of the zodiac for 7.33 days before moving into the next one. In addition, because of its close proximity to the Sun, your Mercury sign will always be either the same as your Sun sign or the one right before or after your Sun sign.

Now let’s examine the effect Mercury’s placement in a natal chart has on a person. If you don’t know which sign your Mercury is in, it’s easy to find out.

Mercury, the Roman god known as messenger to the gods

Mercury, the Roman god known as messenger to the gods

Mercury in Aries makes for one hell of an overactive mind. Mercury rules thinking and communication, and Aries is an impulsive, impatient fire sign. A Mercury-Aries person tends to speak quickly, darting from topic to topic, and unfortunately — far too often — firing off blunt remarks without thinking, resulting in a chronic case of foot-in-mouth disease. The infamous Aries impatience and impulsiveness combined with Mercury’s influence on short trips also frequently leads to speeding tickets. Yeah, my Mercury is in Aries. Guilty.

Mercury in Taurus loves to think about money, food, and material gain. Taurus has a tendency toward procrastination and laziness, but when it finally does get up and go, it keeps going…and going…and going. This is particularly true for talking and reading. A Taurus-Mercurian will often pick up a book and be unable to put it down until they’ve finished it.

Mercury in Gemini has a quick-thinking, snap decision-making mind and because Mercury is at home in Gemini, the communicative Air sign which it rules, the ability to communicate is far superior. It also imparts a tendency to talk too much and have a sharp wit. This person can have a slight tendency toward superficiality at times.

Mercury in Cancer is extremely sentimental and can’t bear to let go of anything…or anyone. Because of this, its mind has an uncanny knack to recall trivial, random memories. The combination of Mercury’s influence on the thoughts and Cancer’s deep emotions equals a person who will never forget anything that emotionally impacted them. They think with their hearts rather than their minds, frequently reading way too much into what others say or do, leading to hurt feelings when no offense was intended. They are emotional communicators and if you know someone with this Mercury placement, you are probably well aware of  how often they will want to cry on your shoulder. My ex-husband was a Mercury-Cancerian, and what comes to mind when I think of him with this description in mind is “yup, yup, yup. That was him.”

Mercury in Leo isn’t a great placement for attention to detail, but it can quickly grasp the bigger picture. When trying to convince someone to see things their way, Mercury-Leo won’t use logic as much as it uses an appeal to the heartstrings. While a Mercury-Cancerian can persuade folks into their way of thinking by appealing to the emotions of others, saying something along the lines of “we’ve got to rescue and nurture that poor, pitiful person,” Mercury in Leo would utilize a more self-serving, guilt-inducing, direct approach, such as “Do it for me. Pleeeeease?”

Mercury in Virgo is at home in this cerebral, meticulous sign which it rules, but this isn’t necessarily a good thing. Mercury-Virgos seem to believe that if they’ve proven their argument to their own satisfaction, everyone has to agree with him. But there’s no denying the Mercury-Virgo ability toward what is an almost OCD-esque attention to detail.

Mercury in Libra, which is the sign of fairness and balance, can quickly and easily see both sides of anything. It’s excruciating to be witness to the lengthy amount of time a Mercury-Libran takes to make a decision, only for them to change their mind yet again when just one new tidbit of information becomes available. Mercury-Librans do their best decision-making with another person off of whom they can bounce ideas.

Mercury in Scorpio has a subtle, manipulative mind that is always looking to uncover hidden information. This is an awesome Mercury placement for a private investigator, detective, or therapist. Mercury-Scorpions excel at discovering weaknesses in others…and they aren’t above using that information to their advantage. They have a sharp tongue and a knack for saying things that shake people up. But even if for whatever reason they don’t say it, they’re thinking it. Promise.

Mercury in Sagittarius is restless. It has the ability to spin colorful narratives to explain this journey called life.  These folks are often quite talented in the fields of science, comedy, or full-time adventure-seeker. When you combine Mercury’s communication influence with Sagittarian traits such as brutal honesty, a Mercury-Sadge — like a Mercury-Arien — tends to say hurtful things without meaning to, lacking the tact needed to look at a situation from an emotional viewpoint.

Mercury in Capricorn isn’t a quick learner, but it never forgets the lessons it eventually absorbs. It has an excellent memory and is a down-to-earth, practical thinker. A Mercury-Capricorn works diligently to improve itself with educational opportunities. It typically feels the need to prove itself to others. Its powers of concentration are so strong that it can make them come across as too serious. There is a tendency toward moodiness and sulking, and thinking optimistically can be quite difficult. A Mercury-Capricorn person, especially if their Sun is also in Capricorn, gives an individual who is very quiet and self-conscience about speaking to strangers.

Mercury in Aquarius people seem to pull knowledge right out of thin air. Mercury in this unorthodox Air sign is exalted here, so they tend to process information with lightning speed. Thoughts are random and disorganized, appearing as sudden flashes and fragments. Mercury-Aquarians often seem to be a little crazy or eccentric. They love nothing more than to say things that are unusual so as to create controversy. They enjoy rebelling against mainstream ideas by supporting beliefs that are controversial. One of my closest friends has this Mercury placement and he will rebel vehemently against a more society-accepted idea or cause — regardless of his actual thoughts on the topic — simply for the sake of being rebellious…which is why I often find myself wanting to slap him upside his deliberately stubborn, water-bearing head.

Mercury in Pisces folks vividly remember in uncanny detail anything they have imagined. But when it comes to reality, the rose-colored glasses through which they see the world, Mercury-Pisceans are masters at seeing what they want to see and hearing what they want to hear. Not surprisingly, Mercury combined with this sensitive Water sign indicates an individual who is too easily hurt, becoming moody and negative over perceived offenses, much like Mercury-Cancerians (Cancer being another water sign). However, this extreme sensitivity frequently puts them touch with the unseen realm; the supernatural. They, like the other two Mercury-water signs Cancer and Scorpio, are more psychic than most people, and they are quite intuitive and perceptive. But Mercury-Pisceans also have a certain naïvete about them. Because they are trusting and gentle, hell-bent on seeing the good in everyone, they are easily fooled. They’re likely be scammed by hard-luck stories or to be suckered in by a phony scheme.




Behind Every Accident Lies An Intentional Act

worrying“Like tomorrow was a gift
And you got eternity to think about what you’d do with it…
An’ what did you do with it?
An’ what can I do with it?
An’ what would I do with it?
Skydiving, I went Rocky Mountain climbing…
I went two point seven seconds on a bull named Fu Man Chu…
And then I loved deeper and I spoke sweeter
And I watched Blue Eagle as it was flyin’…
An’ he said someday, I hope you get the chance
To live like you were dyin’.” ~ Tim McGraw, “Live Like You Were Dyin'”

I’m a worrier. That’s just what I do, who I am, and always have been. No doubt due — at least in part — to a watery, depressive Pisces Ascendant and an overactive imagination brought to you in part by an Aquarius Moon. I remember one time in particular when I was just eight years old, my mom and stepdad hadn’t returned to pick me up from a relative’s house on time and there I was, a third grader, pacing the floor, convinced that they had succumbed to a fiery vehicular death. I wondered who would take care of me if they died? Needless to say, I was wrong. But when they finally arrived, I overheard my great-aunt chuckle to my mom, “I’ll tell you what, that little girl is something else. What a worry wart…she’s gonna give herself an ulcer!” That was the first time I’d ever heard the phrase “worry wart.”

And that’s just one example. In fact, I don’t remember a time in my life when I didn’t suffer from anxiety, to one degree or another. I don’t remember when, how, or why it began; I just know I’ve always been that way. Maybe it’s in my DNA. I have a very vivid memory of being three years old and having a tummy ache…and anxiously thinking, “I hope it’s not cancer!” Yes, you read that correctly: at the age of THREE. At that age, I hadn’t yet known anyone who had ever had cancer, let alone should I have known what cancer even was. But I had enough grasp of the concept to know it wasn’t good, and that it could kill you. An angst-ridden, hypochondriac toddler. Oh, I must have been a joy to be around.

Every human being on the planet worries, at least occasionally, and some more so than others. And usually, our fears are unfounded. When someone is running late, as I described in the example above, or we can’t reach them, we might begin to play out horrible possible scenarios in our minds that tragedy has befallen them. But about 99 percent of the time, we’re relieved when we learn everything is okay. The chest pains turn out to be muscular and not due to a massive heart attack; your child didn’t make it home from school not because he fell prey to a shady stranger luring him with candy from a windowless van, but because he stopped off at a friend’s house and forgot to call you; your excruciating headache is “only” a migraine, not a ruptured aneurysm…you get the idea. We’ve all had these or similar experiences.

So what about that remaining one percent of the time…when you’re worried something terrible has happened…except this time, your worst-case imagined scenario turns out to be very real?

“Mama put my guns in the ground…worry
I can’t shoot them anymore
That cold black cloud is comin’ down…
Feels like I’m knockin’ on heaven’s door.” ~ Guns N Roses, “Knockin’ On Heaven’s Door”

I am in a long-term live-in relationship with a wonderful Cancer-Gemini cusp named Mike who is my polar opposite when it comes to worrying. Where I am wringing my hands, pacing the floor, imagining the worst, Mike is the rational, level-headed one who reassures me that whatever it is I’m freaking out about is going to be fine. In fact, at that point he’s likely going to offer me a beer and encourage me to relax. This is intriguing to me because Mike was born within four and a half hours after the Sun entered Cancer, but close enough to the Cancer-Gemini cusp that he tends to exhibit more Geminian traits than Cancer traits…although astrologically speaking, he has a Cancer Sun and because the Sun always shines, it’s a little unusual that many of his behaviors and tendencies are more Twin-influenced than Crab-influenced. That’s the long way of saying Cancers tend to be worriers, yet my Cancer man doesn’t seem to be one. However, I was married for several years to an easily stressed, somewhat-hypochondriac Cancer man who was born nowhere near the cusp, and he managed to singlehandedly turn worrying into a sport. I can’t count the number of times I remember him proclaiming “oh my God, I’m dying!”  I would dismiss him, saying, “No you’re not!” and he would become agitated, accusing me of not caring. He was a champion worrier. If worrying was an Olympic event, the man could have won the gold. Everything was an emergency, he always just “knew” something would go wrong, and although many times he was wrong, often he was right — though I always chalked it up to the intense worrying itself which had influenced his self-fulfilling prophecies, while he disagreed, insisting that no, he knew whatever it was he was stressing about would happen.

worry quote

Wednesday, December 19, 2012: Though he is scheduled to work until 6pm, Mike worked until around 10pm that evening because his good friend and coworker in the auto paint & body shop where he works, a Virgo workaholic named Jimmy, needed to get home to wrap up painting on an urgent side job he had going. Jimmy stuck his head in the door of the paint booth in which Mike was working and said, “Okay, you got this?” Mike told him he did, and added, “I’ll see ya in the mornin’, fucker” to which Jimmy replied, “Aite, see ya, fucker.” With that, Jimmy left the shop at 6:38pm, heading home in a 1933 Ford that had been converted into a hot rod which belonged to his banker, and which was scheduled to be his next side job.

Mike arrived home that evening around 10:25pm. He kissed me hello and headed to the fridge. As he grabbed a beer, popped it open, walked back into the living room and sat down in his chair, he told me, “So I guess Jimmy never made it home after work.” “Really?” I asked incredulously. He nodded. “Yeah, I know…it was the weirdest thing; I was locking up and when I went outside, his woman was sitting out there in her car and she honked…so I went over there and she asked me where Jimmy was. I was like, ‘uh, he left around 6:35-6:40…he’s not home yet?'” She replied that no, he hadn’t come home and he wasn’t answering his cell phone either. She was growing even more concerned now, upon learning that Jimmy had left over three and half hours earlier for what was routinely a 12 minute drive home.

Now, at this point even I knew something wasn’t right. From everything I’d heard about Jimmy, this was completely out of character for him, a totally devoted, hardworking Virgo who constantly touched base with his fiancee, Carla, throughout the day, every day. She was his life, his world, his everything. He had met her when they were five year-olds living in the same neighborhood, literally his childhood sweetheart, and he couldn’t wait to marry her.

I had a foreboding feeling in the pit of my stomach. “Wow, that’s not like him at all,” I shook my head. “Damn…I hope he’s okay…”

Mike agreed. “I know, right? He would never just not go home without letting her know what he was doing. That’s just not him. He’s never once said anything about going anywhere other than home; he doesn’t go hang out at buddys’ houses, he doesn’t go to bars. That just ain’t who he is. I hope nothing happened to him…” I could tell that my usually-rational Cancer cusp was somewhat unnerved by this.

Dismissing my own ominous feeling, rationalizing that surely Jimmy was fine and surely this must have been caused by something trivial, I chuckled, “I can’t wait to hear what happened tomorrow…she is gonna be pissed!” Mike laughed and agreed. “Oh yeah, me too.”

The next morning, Mike left for work before I woke up. I had an appointment with my eye doctor and was putting my shoes on, getting ready to leave. I had forgotten all about our conversation the night before when, at 8:15am, my cell phone rang. It was Mike.

“Hey, whassup?” I asked cheerfully.

“Hey, babe,” he responded solemnly. I then heard him take a deep breath. “Jimmy was killed last night.”

I felt the blood drain from my face. I couldn’t believe what I’d heard. My hands began shaking. I sat down on the edge of the bed, in shock. “Oh my God…what happened?”

“Well, he was driving that 1933 Ford he was about to paint for his banker…it’s got a 900 horsepower motor…it’s a race car. He was heading south on highway 4 on his way home and I guess he just couldn’t stand it…he had to push it…the cops said they think he was doing at least a hundred and maybe even 130…you know, those old cars aren’t aerodynamic like the ones today…I guess he lost control and rolled it…the thing was practically made out of glass… it just disintegrated…he was ejected…he was gone before 7:00…” That meant more than three hours had passed since the accident when Jimmy’s fiancee came looking for him at the shop, and nearly four hours by the time Mike and I were talking about it at home, hoping he was okay. Witnesses put the time of the accident at 6:46pm. Mike had been the last person to see him alive, just eight minutes earlier. Another witness who had been driving behind him stated they had seen his taillights ahead of them when suddenly the tail lights disappeared and then all they saw was “headlights over taillights over headlights over taillights” as the car rolled repeatedly.

Such a senseless death. A terrible waste. So unnecessary. Dammit! If he just would’ve resisted the urge to test this car’s limits the way he did; after all, he knew better than that! If he’d just stayed at work instead of going home early to work on that side job…yet behind this tragic accident, there was a single intentional act: a guy who lived and breathed race cars who found the temptation to see what this hot rod could do on a rural Oklahoma highway simply too irresistible to ignore. And that single intentional act led to an unintentional and unthinkable outcome, leaving in its wake a shattered fiancee and nine year-old daughter, not to mention numerous devastated family and friends.

Jimmy Dale Richardson   09/16/1972 - 12/19/2012

Jimmy Dale Richardson 09/16/1972 – 12/19/2012

Though I went to high school with Jimmy for a semester in ninth grade, I didn’t know him. I remember him, and he “kind of” remembered me. I kind of felt like I knew him vicariously through all of Mike’s work stories, which is why I was immediately concerned when I heard he hadn’t made it home; I knew enough to know that just wasn’t like him. But even not actually having known him, his death still hit me like a punch in the face. Not only because of the tragedy itself and knowing how deeply Mike was grieving the loss of his friend and coworker, but because it was a massive jolt to everything I’d always believed to be true. Here’s what I mean. As I said earlier, even when we worry about people or events and picture horrible outcomes, it’s safe to say that everything (almost) always turns out okay, and we come to rely on that. Although we might still worry, in the back of our minds, we’re reassured that statistically, everything is probably just fine.

This time was different. It was the first time in my 40 years that I could recall ever having been worried that something awful had happened…and been right. Not only was I right, it was the absolute worst possible scenario. Jimmy hadn’t just had a fender bender and suffered a few minor injuries, or been hauled off to jail for doing 130 mph down that road. It’s like we just skipped all of those unpleasant yet lesser of the evil scenarios and went straight to the worst outcome imaginable. It seemed so unfair, like the Universe had somehow cheated him. He couldn’t have just been a little banged up and ended up in the hospital, or pulled over and taken to jail for driving like that; he’s just dead? Just like that?


As a consequence of these events, my anxiety level immediately skyrocketed. I was reminded of the harsh reality that we are all but mere mortals and when our time is up, life can be ripped away in an instant without warning. None of us are infallible. What happened to Jimmy could happen to anyone, including the people I love, and including me. We truly never know when an innocent intentional act of ours, which might be so trivial that we wouldn’t think twice about it, could lead to something completely unintentional happening.  Something totally life-altering…or life-ending. Additionally, when I find myself worrying now, the feeling is much more frightening…because of the one time I worried…and the outcome I feared had happened, had happened.

It certainly didn’t help when just 13 days later, my Cancer ex-husband was killed…also in a single vehicle accident…also due to a single innocent, yet intentional act.