Friday, August 26, 2011

Quotes for the Signs #8


Our last Quotes for the Signs appeared in February. I hope you enjoy this eighth star-studded Quotefest!

ARIES –  Intuition is a suspension of logic due to impatience. ~ Rita Mae Brown

TAURUS Plodding wins the race. ~ Aesop (Remember the Tortoise and the Hare)
GEMINI:  Sometimes questions are more important than answers. ~ Nancy Willard

CANCER: The times I spend with you had some thorns. But the times I missed you had no roses. ~ K. Gopinathan

LEO: Ego is to the true self what a flashlight is to a spotlight. ~ John Bradshaw

VIRGO - Boredom, after all, is a form of criticism. ~ Wendell Phillips

LIBRA - The one who loves the least, controls the relationship. ~ Robert Anthony

SCORPIO - The creative impulses of man are always at war with the possessive impulses. ~ Van Wyck Brooks

SAGITTARIUS - It is better to travel well than to arrive. ~ Buddha

CAPRICORN - Achievement brings its own anticlimax. ~ Maya Angelou

AQUARIUS - If a man is not faithful to his own individuality, he cannot be loyal to anything. ~ Claude McKay
PISCES - A dreamer is one who can only find his way by moonlight, and his punishment is that he sees the dawn before the rest of the world. ~ Oscar Wilde
Photo Credit: And I Quote © Zitramon

Want More Quotes for the Signs?  Enter “quotes signs” in the Search Box on this blog. In addition to the eight Quote for the Signs features, you’ll find special quotes for holidays like Valentine’s and St. Patrick’s Day, as well as more surprises.

Monday, August 15, 2011

Starstuck: Overcoming Performance Anxiety


© 2011 by Joyce Mason
All Rights Reserved

Many people say public speaking is their worst nightmare, something they’d rather die than do—a terror they avoid like the plague. One person told me it's a form of public torture.

Recently, another Radical Virgo suggested write on this topic. Virgos might have a stronger inner critic than some signs. Still, why would someone prefer a root canal without anesthesia over getting up and saying a few words? There must be some other astrological factors involved. Everyone waiting in line to give a talk, shaking in his or her shoes, isn’t a Virgo. Judging from what I’ve seen, people who dread the lectern, stage or front of the classroom come in all shapes, sizes, and signs.

I believe the hints come from Leo. The archetypical Leo is at home on stage and in the spotlight. Leo thrives there—has to have it. Leo is ruled by the Sun. Leo must shine and be the center of his own solar system.

The Sun and the 5th

I hypothesize that discomfort with public presentations has something to do with the Sun in our charts and/or the 5th house, Leo’s natural domain. I hope you’ll comment to support or refute this hunch, since I haven’t had time to test it on many charts and would love community feedback. I was also asked by the same reader to address by what I’ve learned about overcoming my fears of public speaking. She pointed out something important.

Life requires us to speak in public at times. It’s a fact of life. Whether it’s a job interview in front of an employment panel, a toast at a family member’s wedding, or a tribute at a funeral—we need to be able to make our ideas, feelings or capabilities known in front of many others in certain circumstances.

To participate in life fully, we’ve got to get over our fear of the microphone and being heard by many people at once.

A Case in Point

Maybe I’m a good person to help test this theory, since I have Virgo Sun in the 5th house. What an approach-avoidance combo. No performance can be perfect. Virgo has a lot to get over on this issue, but based on my experience (let’s hear from other 5th house Suns), I cannot avoid being on stage on a bet. I have tried to run and hide. The spotlight follows me, like a tracking beam pulling me toward more speeches or interviews.  At some point, I gave up and surrendered to the inevitability of this fact of my life. I now embrace it, even though my enthusiasm is still a bit tentative at times.

The back-story may help. When I was five, my stage mother coaxed me into auditioning for Ted Mack’s Original Amateur Hour. For my younger readers, that was the original American Idol in the 1950s.

I had no problem with the idea of being seen on TV by millions of people. When we arrived at the audition in downtown Chicago, something very unexpected happened (Uranus square Sun). I discovered a room full of people—other would-be contestants, their parents and music teachers. I was expecting one judge, two tops. I freaked out. I cannot imagine why 100 live bodies were scarier to me than millions of eyeballs staring at me from a TV audience. Five-year-old logic. Go figure. Yet I was traumatized by this event through most of my adult life.

I was partly traumatized by the fact that I gave an after-bawling, half-baked performance—and was not chosen for the show. This felt unfair. They had not seen what I could do. If I had only been prepared for what awaited me and not scared half to death by the surprise. (Note to everyone I know: Never throw me a surprise party.) No wonder I’m always scared something awful might happen every time I step on a stage.

Your Sun’s Gotta Shine

Even if it’s in the homey sign of Cancer or the secretive sign of Scorpio: Your Sun has to shine if you want to be fully alive. Certain astrological factors may make it more difficult, but knowing them may help you move from shy to shiny. For instance, when it’s possible to select the topic of speeches, talk about what you know and love. That makes you come alive with fire, even if your Sun is in water or earth. Cancer can talk about home decorating, cooking, or doing genealogy. Scorpio can talk about home security systems or how to get rid of household pests. That speech might have some hilarious gallows humor woven into the mix. (Do you suppose the darkest of Scorps actually hang those little vermin?)

Play Leo!

Leo, ruled by the Sun, tells us performing has something to do with fire—being stoked.

Make your speeches about money and personal values if your Sun is in the 2nd. Tell the job interviewers how much your values align with the company’s. If Sun is in the 7th, talk about being a team player—and know you’ll do great at wedding toasts and eulogies.

If your Sun’s not in a fire sign, you have fire in other parts of your chart or on certain house cusps. Go to one of those other houses or signs and borrow a cup of fire. Find out how that planet or house can help.  If your chart is weak in the fire element, locate an asteroid or other body that’s in the fire element (Aries, Leo, or Sagittarius). Learn about it. Embrace it to amp up your fire. Figure out what Ceres or the centaur Pholus can do to help you jump up onto the stage and be yourself. It doesn’t matter how obscure the astrological body or point may seem to you. If it’s in fire for you, find out what it has to offer! (Here’s a page on Astrodienst with links on how to get free charts with these extra points included.)

Just Be Yourself

What’s really at issue is that you’re being asked to do something Sunful in front of God and everyone—to be yourself. Even more than that, to project yourself! We all have past trauma. So much of it involves rejection or what we perceived as rejection. (The older I get, the more I become aware that my perceptions were not always accurate.)

It is the ultimate act of self-love, trust, and a kind of self-confidence in the making to get up in front of everyone and just be you. But it takes practice, like any other skill.

Putting It All Together: Some Tips

Now that I’ve given you some astrological ideas to toy with (very Leo!), let me weave together a practical Virgo list of things you can do:

1. Join Toastmasters.
2. Join Toastmasters.
3. Did I say join Toastmasters?

Toastmasters International is the best thing that ever happened to me for overcoming my knocking knees on the podium. Since 1924, more than four million people around the world have become more confident speakers and leaders because of their participation in Toastmasters.

Most clubs encourage visitors so you can see how the program works (look before you leap). You’ll see how Toastmasters will take you from baby steps to stellar speaking. I have watched shy individuals morph into confident speakers and leaders before my very eyes. It makes me misty just thinking of the personal growth I have witnessed at Toastmasters—theirs and mine. You’ll learn techniques, get constructive and sensitive feedback—and you’ll have fun and fabulous camaraderie.

Sometimes your company or agency will pay for your semi-annual dues if you speak regularly as part of your job. (Mine did.) You can also create a club at your workplace, if one doesn’t already exist, if you can stir up enough interest. Many bosses consider it a sign of initiative and desire for excellence when you take on Toastmasters. Almost anywhere you go in the world has a TM club, and you can visit other Toasters to feel at home and get tips for navigating the local turf.

I don’t know of any other organization that does this much to develop excellent public speakers. If you do, please share!

Of course, there are other suggestions already implied in this article:

4. Look at your Sun and 5th house.

5. Ask for help from other planets or asteroids in your chart in fire signs. Imagine how they can help you do that fiery thing.

6. Practice speaking as often as you can, even in front of small audiences.

7. Practice in front of a mirror. Get to know how you’re seen by others and how to present your most relaxed and appealing face.

8. Search yourself to find out what caused your fear of public speaking and address it.

For instance, mine was the unexpected. I always come triple prepared with back-up handouts and my presentation on a thumb drive, in case the computer fails or something glitches. Knowing this fear and doing what I can about it in advance greatly diminishes my nervousness. I know I’m a better ad-libber than I give myself credit for, and in the moment, I’d rather not make a fool of myself. Therefore, I just trust my Inner Talk Show Host and let cosmic and comedic inspiration flow. There’s no time to angst about it. This is the back-up plan that has never let me down.

Some other tips not yet mentioned:

9. Never turn down a chance to be videotaped so you can see how you actually look to others when speaking. I always looked/did better than I thought I did. Even if you’re not happy with what you see, you’ll know what to address. We are our own worst critics, so why not start with the person who can also do something about it?

10. Believe the feedback you get and be willing to make the improvements—or take the applause.

I’m still working on #10. I hear often that I give great presentations. I’m even becoming sought-after as a speaker. Yet when I hear appreciative and complimentary responses, I still think to myself, really?


Maybe I can’t quite stop being a Virgo, but at least I no longer have a heart attack before a major talk, just minor palpitations while I use some tools to put myself at ease.

Tools I’ve used with great success are:

1. Flower essences.  I start using a Performance Blend at least a few days before speaking. (A week or more in advance is ideal). The essences and what they help overcome or enhance include: Mimulus (worry, shyness, nervousness when speaking), Garlic (protection, stage fright, helps grounding), Golden Yarrow (protected openness, energetic boundaries with audience), Queen Anne’s Lace (concentration, ability to read the crowd with grounded clarity, focus), and Trumpet Vine (assertiveness and clarity in speech). All of these essences are available from Flower Essence Services (FES) and can be taking individually or together in a blend. (If there’s one that stands out for you as potentially helpful, especially if you haven’t taken essences before, starting with that one might be best.)

2. Take Expert Advice on Speaking. It’s extremely important to be careful what you eat and drink before a big talk. One list I like is You Speak What You Eat. Some other good finds along these lines: How to Reduce Stress Before Giving a Speech and Speaking Tips from MIT.

3. Guided Imagery CDs on Self-Confidence. One of my favorites is A Meditation to Help You Improve Self-Confidence and Reach Peak Performance by HealthJourneys’ founder, Belleruth Naperstek.  It comes in cassette, MP3, CD and Playaway versions. You can listen to a sample on the HealthJourneys website. The affirmations were powerful for me and helped me master my last pre-presentation jitters.

HealthJourneys website contains a treasure trove of healing tools. I discovered Belleruth’s work a number of years ago and used her surgery preparation tapes to breeze through several procedures—and impress my doctor about the possibilities of using visualization and affirmations in healing.

These tips and tools might make a Leo out of me yet. Maybe you, too.


Photo credit: © Performance Anxiety - Willee Cole - Play Leo -  © metlion -

Thanks to Larissa for suggesting the topic of this article.

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Quotes for the Chiron Journey

© 2011 by Joyce Mason
All Rights Reserved

The arc of the healing journey, represented by Chiron in your astrology chart, involves dealing with pain or disowned parts of yourself. From there, as much as possible, you work to overcome the pain or to locate and plug back into your being your disconnected parts. Finally, you give back to others what you’ve learned in the process. The latter often expresses itself as your vocation or calling.

Here are some quotes to inspire you along the way.

Managing Pain

Doubt is a pain too lonely to know that faith is his twin brother.  ~Khalil Gibran

Find a place inside where there's joy, and the joy will burn out the pain. ~ Joseph Campbell
There is a thin line that separates laughter and pain, comedy and tragedy, humor and hurt.  ~ Erma Bombeck
Much of your pain is the bitter potion by which the physician within you heals your sick self. ~ Khalil Gibran

There is no coming to consciousness without pain. ~ Carl Jung


Acceptance of what has happened is the first step to overcoming the consequences of any misfortune. ~ William James
All the world is full of suffering. It is also full of overcoming. ~ Helen Keller
The burden which is well borne becomes light. ~ Ovid

The greater the obstacle, the more glory in overcoming it. ~ Molière
Sore to SOAR  ~ Margaret Gill, Abundant Private Practices

Giving Back (Vocation)

There is a thing you know how to do that no man has had to teach you. This is your calling, your purpose, your annointing, your destiny. ~ Donna Krech

An unfulfilled vocation drains the color from a man's entire existence. ~ Honoré de Balzac

My ultimate vocation in life is to be an irritant. ~ Elvis Costello

"You owe it to all of us to get on with what you're good at." ~ W.H. Auden

"Before I can tell my life what I want to do with it, I must listen to my life telling me who I am."  ~ Parker J. Palmer, Let Your Life Speak: Listening for the Voice of Vocation

Photo Credit: © diez-artwork - with clip art embellishment

Monday, August 1, 2011

Ten Ways to Celebrate Mercury Retrograde

 © 2011 by Joyce Mason
All Rights Reserved

Mercury in this picture reminds me of a more graceful version of my one-woman Ed Sullivan Show. If you’re old enough to remember Ed’s wildly popular Sunday night TV variety show (1948-71), you might have seen me there. I was the one riding a unicycle while spinning plates on the end of long rods, one in each hand—and balancing a ball on the end of my nose.

Mercury’s my Sun ruler, and lately my act is harder to pull off. The world is spinning much faster underneath me, and I’ve got to pedal faster to keep up. I think part of it is Uranus in Aries. It makes for all sorts of brilliant new creations—that also create a lot of work to bring them to fruition. (There’s a lot of wisdom in that expression easier said than done.) If you, too, feel like you’ve been traveling faster than the speed of sound, as in a sound way to live, Mercury Retrograde can be the ultimate staycation. Mercury asks us to slow down and rethink things. It’s all about re- things: reconsider, reacquaint, and one of my favorites, recreate as in chill.

Here are some ideas about how to go with the flow and celebrate that every gear shift has Reverse for a reason. It’s true of your vehicle—your body—too.

1. Fast at least two hours a day from your most addictive Mercurial device, such as your computer or smart phone. See how long you can stretch your down time by the end of the cycle (Aug. 2-26).

2. Remove from your schedule any short trips that aren’t absolutely necessary. This may include some meetings, certain shopping, and—aw darn!—that guilt trip to visit your least favorite relative. I’m trying to say, in a nice way, quit running around so much.

3. Retreat at least an hour a day into quiet time. Do whatever feeds your soul: read, listen to music, meditate, take a nap—dream.

4. Review your last Solar Return or birthday year. If your birthday was less than six months ago, start with your birthday in 2010. How’s progress? What have been the themes, your accomplishments, your missed goals, surprises, and delights?

5. Revise something important to you that’s tangible. It could be your résumé, a sensitive letter you’re working on, an article or novel you’re writing, your will or trust—or maybe something as mundane as a delivery schedule for goods you get sent to your door on a regular basis. Mercury Retrograde is excellent for these kinds of things. Mercury rules some of the most mundane things we do, and they need periodic reviews and revisions. This is the time.

6. Revise something important to you that’s intangible. Do you need an attitude adjustment anywhere in your life? A face lift as in smiling more? Are you feeling as well as you want, and most of all, getting what you want out of life?

7. Check your books and checkbooks. Nearly every time I’ve found a significant error in my bank balance, it has been during Mercury Retrograde. It’s golden for going back over figures and finding any mistakes or missed entries.

8. Reinvent yourself. How do you want to be seen? You might want to wait to do the makeover until Mercury is direct, but the retrograde cycle is perfect for rethinking how you want to present yourself, particularly in communication forums like your favorite social networking sites. Do you need a new picture and to edit your profile? Reflect on whether you’ve changed and your profile hasn’t.

9. Talk less. We all know people who talk our ears off. Some talk so much, they literally induce headaches. If you’re one of them, give it a rest. If you’re not, stay away from the talkers and talk even less yourself.  Learn the beauty of silence and how a whisper can often convey more than a shout—and a few well-chosen words can speak volumes. Experiment with the subtler side of language.

10. Relax—be, don’t do. We are called human beings, not human doings. Give yourself the blessing of simply feeling who you are and your connection to everything and everyone around you.

By the end of this experiment, I hope you’ll actually look forward to Mercury’s next retrograde cycle. It's our chance, several times a year, to look back at where we've been. We get to idle a little before we have to gear back up into overdrive. It's a brief holiday before the show must go on.

Photo Credit: Mercury © Oleg Golovnev -