I was an avid list-maker. I LOVED my lists. I would make lists just to feel the pleasure of striking things off them. I liked to plan and uncertainty most decidedly was NOT my thing. Not surprisingly, I also identify with an aspect usually ascribed to Virgos – over thinking, analyzing or strategizing – I felt that thinking my way through life was the way to go, and would be the way it would go forever and ever, the end. I thought I had it ALL figured out back then, at the ripe old age of 24 (ha!).
Unsurprisingly, while that gave me some sense of satisfaction and security that I’m doing things ‘right’, my life wasn’t exactly very joyful either.
So of course, the Universe did what it usually does – broke in and shook me up, at the same time that Jupiter* was in Leo, my house of healing and release. (Coincidence?! I think not.) While I won’t go into the details here, I’ll say that it had to be super dramatic in order to get my attention, to pierce through those illusions of control I had, and to get me to curb my judgmental ways, which was really doing nothing but to put me in a cage of my own making. (Spoiler: There isn’t just ONE right way to ‘do’ life.)
And while I’m super relieved and excited that Jupiter will be finally leaving Leo to enter Virgo TODAY (and hopefully I’m not expecting too much! But knowing myself, I PROBABLY AM), I’ve also taken away so much. And I want to share what I’ve learnt, because I know that many of you have been going through upheavals as well – these are tumultuous times! – to let you know that you’re really not alone on your journey.
*Jupiter is the planet of luck and expansion, so whichever house it happens to be in for your sign, that area of your life will be a major focus.
1. Trusting in the Divine
This is an ongoing practice. And I suspect, a life-long practice (my North node is in Pisces, and South Node is in Virgo – find out your north nodes here!), but this past year in particular has been a true bootcamp in learning to listen to the Divine.
It was a challenge for me because I never grew up around any kind of G-d, hated authority and found myself instinctively repelled by organized religion. So to get to know the Divine? It was a tricky relationship to work out from the start. I first had to unpack many assumptions about what the Divine even IS.
I’ve learnt that the Divine doesn’t communicate in dramatic booming voices, or come with a handy lightning bolt to get your attention. It’s not something outside of yourself. Yet at the same time, it’s so big, so vast, so hard to put into words or a sentence or a book, even. The Divine whispers. It nudges. It’s truth that resonates with you on a deep level. It reminds you with a repeated emotion or longing and comes to you in moments of true joy. It’s a quiet knowing. I still don’t believe in any traditional, established institution or religion with a capital G; I follow Buddhist philosophy, but still I know now without a doubt in my heart that we are all one, we are all connected… and that I have to take that next step – to go from knowing it to living it. It requires a ton of faith and trust, and it’s my practice, every single day – I ‘only’ have to quiet my ego long enough to actually listen, which is a real challenge. (Yoga helps!) …The knowledge that I will probably trip up repeatedly anyway makes any success, any time I’ve stopped to listen, that much sweeter and worthy of celebration.
2. Trusting Love
Self-Love. Love from others. Universal Love. When I had trouble grappling with the idea of the Divine (they’re all concepts anyway!), I just thought of it as Love. When in serious doubt, in times of breakdown and uncertainty and sticky, terrible mess, when at a complete loss, choose the most loving, compassionate action – for yourself or others. That’s the Divine in action. I’ve learnt that it will rarely be the wrong thing to do.
3. Healing and Letting Go
Healing hurts. Healing sucks. Healing is messy. Healing happens in layers. When you think you’re done with something already, you’ve moved on – BOOM, there it is again, a flare-up, a tantrum, a meltdown. And with healing, comes change, and shedding of all that baggage you’ve amassed just through existing. I’ve had to let go of things that no longer served me or anybody, but I was clinging to out of fear or habit or just sheer stubbornness…. Or even out of nostalgia. The relationship might have changed, but you’re clinging on because you loved what was. Or even just out of fear of what other people would think.
But I’ve also learnt that you can NEVER lose what’s meant to be yours. Never. And with that, I learnt to loosen my grip, and let whatever’s not mine to have, gently slip away. (Accompanied by a lot of crying and Netflix.)
4. Choose joy. Joy, always, always, always.
Joy is what uplifts and makes you feel alive and good and full of inspiration and enthusiasm and hope and promise. Joy is what makes you feel grounded yet uplifted at the same time. It emanates from within. It comes with its own pleasure, but it lasts, it doesn’t abandon you (unless you abandon it!), and doesn’t leave you with that sick feeling in the pit of your stomach after.
Before, I used to chase pleasure. It’s such a fine line between joy and pleasure. I see pleasure as more short-term gratification; it’s great, and we all need some forms of pleasure in our day-to-day lives. That’s what makes everyday living enjoyable. But it can’t be the be all and end all. Joy isn’t always easy or even sometimes pleasurable in the moment – but it pays off in the long run. My joy stems from nurturing my creativity, in any and every way. To enjoy simple things that make me ME. This very site stems from my decision to let my urge to express overtake any inhibitions I have, to let the joy of expression trump that self-critical voice. And I’m learning to choose my long-run joys over fleeting, short-term pleasures more often, because even though nurturing the soul doesn’t feel as immediately satisfying, it’s a lot more peaceful.
5. Forgive always, forget often
Lastly, I had to forgive myself. Forgive others. Always and often. As an occasional clinger-to-the-past and also someone blessed with a pretty good memory, I’ve found that forgiving and forgetting is crucial in order to move on, move forward and put one foot in front of the other.
While I doubt the love of list-making will ever truly leave me (evidence: the list above), I no longer live by the list. I’m trying to balance the tension of doing and striving, with the peace of just being. But if there’s just one real thing I’ve learnt, it’s this: our lives are way too big to ever be contained by a list. Once you can let go of that list a little, life comes rushing in.