Tuesday, August 23, 2016

It takes a Virgo

Yesterday we entered the sign of Virgo and it’s the dawning of my favorite time of year.  During the last weeks of August, I feel a rush of energy when the shadows start to lengthen, the crickets chirp throughout the day, yet there’s still enough sunlight so I can work long hours in my garden at twilight, enjoying the lush landscape, gorgeous colors, and abundant harvest.
As many of you might know, I’m a third generation Virgo on my mother’s side.  My little sister is also a Virgo as was my paternal grandfather.  As a matter of fact, I know at least one person who has a birthday on every single day from August 25th – September 22nd (I know five who were born on September 18th).  My best friend in grade school and I eventually discovered we were born in the same place, on the same day, and almost at the same time.  These days, I’m happily surrounded by a host of folks born under the last sign of summertime.  Yes, we Virgos like to stick together, for who else could understand our propensity for perfection, our anal-retentive attention to detail, and our innate desire for order? 
When my overly-honed sense of tidiness isn’t driving someone to distraction, it truly comes in handy.  Many moons ago my little sister and I drove to Cedar Point in my little green Honda.  Along with a box of tissues and a small trash basket, there was a huge container of Handi-Wipes in the backseat and Greta teased me mercilessly.  “You’re such a mom,” she laughed.  But I was the one laughing at the end of the day when we returned to the car, covered in amusement park grit and grime, and Greta asked, “Can I use some of those?”
“Sure!” I beamed, pulling a few Handi-Wipes from the container.
As we proceed to wipe down our arms and legs, Greta ate a little crow, saying, “I’m sure glad you had those!  I feel so much better now that I’m cleaned up a little bit.”
“Told ya,” I smiled good-naturedly.  “Aren’t you glad I’m such a mom?”
As I said, it takes a Virgo to truly understand another one.

I recently returned from a magical week in Sedona, Arizona, but I almost didn’t make the trip west.  All summer long, my back had been dogging me, along with anxiety about leaving the house.  What if the air conditioning breaks while I’m gone?  I wondered.  What if one of my pets gets sick?  What if there’s a fire in the electrical system or the refrigerator breaks down?  What if I don’t have enough money to cover all my expenses?  What if I hate the weather in Arizona and pass out from the heat?
As you can see, I’m quite a worrier if I let my thoughts get out of control (another Virgo tendency).  In the end, I decided that the best way to quell my fears was to send myself a care package to Sedona Pines, the place where we’d be staying.  I filled it with non-perishable foods, stuff I couldn’t take with me on the plane, and a small gift for my friend, Sandy, who had planned the trip back in January of 2015.  After tracking the package west, I felt my heart lighten when I knew it had arrived at its destination…and finally started looking forward to the first trip I’d take in over six years.
I was all packed and ready to go three days before my friend, Nidhi, would take me to the airport.  My gardens were pruned, harvested, and weeded.  The house had been cleaned from top to bottom.  The laundry was done.  My traveling clothes were laid out, and the rest of what I’d need for a week of hiking in the red rocks fit neatly into one carry-on bag and a backpack. 
On the morning of my trip, I anxiously walked from room to room, checking the windows, making sure all extraneous appliances were unplugged.   My cats were well fed, the litter box had been scooped, and I made sure to locate each one before Nidhi pulled up in the driveway.  Then, as if by magic, once we rolled down Central Avenue toward the highway, the butterflies in my stomach dissipated.  As I hugged Nidhi good-bye at the airport, my heart lightened, knowing I was finally free of responsibilities for an entire week.  A couple of hours later as the plane lifted off for Phoenix, I was listening to a song by Lady Antebellum, some of the lyrics imitating the life I’ve been leading this year:

I run my life…or is it running me?
Run from my past, I run too fast or too slow it seems.

I’m on the cusp of turning fifty, and it’s been a long-standing challenge to let go of the past ten years which have turned me inside out, exposing parts of life that have been a challenge to reorganize and reframe into something that reveals not the shame I’ve been dragging around like a dirty, old security blanket, but the incredibly valuable lessons that have been learned.   I’ve written books about it, meditated on it, talked with friends and colleagues and a host of healers, but in the end, there was a piece missing, something I couldn’t quite articulate. 
As the plane reached its cruising altitude, I wrapped a shawl around my shoulders, looked out the window at the vast landscape beneath me, and realized that the trip I was about to take was infinitely part of the plan.  After all, my friend, Sandy, and I had talked about going to Sedona ever since my late twenties.  Now, twenty-two years later, we were finally going.
I’ll share more of the magic that is Sedona in the weeks to come and some of the incredible experiences I had while hiking among the red rocks.  But suffice to say, over and over again while on vacation, I silently thanked my inner-Virgo for bringing extra Handi-Wipes.  For being so well-organized.  For knowing how to organize, pack, and prepare for the trip of a lifetime.  And for knowing that when I feel fully ready to go, Providence meets my preparation.

All packed and ready to go...with TWO packages of
Handi-Wipes sticking out of my backpack.