Posted in Astrology, Life, Spirituality, Universe

The Gemini Moon: December 17, 2013

GeminimoonTonight’s full moon passes through Gemini, representing a time for change and a need for communication. This is a time for rational thought; a time for imagination and intellect to unite. This is a time to be open to new experiences, new people and new forms of mental stimulation.

This is also a time to reflect and analyze what we learned during the Mercury Retrograde. This analysis will help us understand and shape our lives. I like to think of it as the time where we figure out what resolutions we will make for the new year.

With the Winter Solstice, Yule, arriving on Saturday, we should also remember how the seasons have changed and we are entering a time where the nights are dominant. Perhaps this is why many often refer to the December full moon as the Long Nights Moon. It is a time to celebrate the moonlight and candlelight as they guide us through the darkness.

Personally, for me, I tend to enjoy the moon more during this time of year. With the cool crisp air, the scent of fireplace ash wafting through the breeze and the bright moonlight reflecting off the snow and ice, I find it all so inspiring and thought provoking. I could sit at the window sill, drink hot buttered rum and stare into the night sky until the sun begins to peek out on the horizon. As a night person, this is heaven for me.

Posted in Exploration, Family, Holidays, Life, Spirituality, Universe

The Reindeer Moon: December 28, 2012

Burning my past away

Tonight is the last Full Moon in 2012, also known as the Long Nights Moon.  But others also like to refer to tonight’s moon as the Reindeer Moon.

Reindeer are animals that are completely in tune with their environment, adapting their fur and diet for the cold winter weather.  So according to Kristen Madden in the Llewellyn’s Witches’ Datebook, we should use this as an opportunity to reconnect with ourselves and our environment.  She suggests going out into nature (or the least undisturbed area close to you) and focus on the natural world.  Use all your senses to take in the landscape and reconnect with “All That Is.”

Others feel that the “reindeer moon” requires going beyond a connection with your environment and should be an opportunity to reconnect with those around you.  In Native American traditions, a reindeer on a totem pole represents the enhancement of communication, social skills and family ties.  With the holidays, we are presented the opportunity to spend time with family and friends, many whom we only see once a year.  Now is the time to play catch-up or maybe to even reach out to those who have drifted out of our lives.  It is never too late to reconnect with someone you care for.

And with the new year fast approaching, this is also a great opportunity to let go of the old so that the new can enter our lives.  I personally tried this last night.  For the first time, I decided to light a fire in my living room fireplace.  I had found a box of old letters and books from my past, a past I have had trouble leaving behind.  So I figured it was time to burn my past, the whole ashes to ashes bit.

Deborah Blake offers another past-cleansing ritual.  In Llewellyn’s Witches Datebook, she writes:

Dim the room lights, pour some water into a bowl, and place a white candle behind it to reflect onto the water.  Take some deep grounding breaths, light the candle and visualize the things you are letting go of.  Gently swish your hands in the water to release them.  Then visualize what you wish to bring into your life and say the spell …

I wash my hands of what once was
To make room for the future
Clearing off the past because
The present I would nurture
The old is out, the new is in
Shining bright before me
I open wide and so begin
Endless possibility
Posted in Exploration, Family, Life, Personal Challenge, Photography, Southern California, Sports, Tourism, Travel, Writing

Archery and Coffee, A Perfect Saturday Combo: Personal Challenge, Day 13 (9.29.12)

Today, I decided to enlist my honorary nephew, Brandon, to help me out with my personal challenge.  On the Discover Los Angeles website under 100 Free things to do in Los Angeles, I found a link to the Pasadena Roving Archers group that offers free archery classes on Saturdays.  The only downside is that you have to get there really early because it is on a first-come, first-serve basis (and the small parking lot fills up quickly.  I recommend parking on Arroyo and just walking down the hill to the park).

Brandon is a Boy Scout and really interested in learning archery so I thought this would be a fun thing that we could do together. Unfortunately, since he is under the age of 10 (he is 9), he is required to take an evaluation and preliminary instruction course before he can participate in the other classes.  The introductory class for adults starts at the same time (8:30 am–the time hasn’t been updated yet on the website for the kids evaluation class) but it is on a different range.  So I decided I would just stay with Brandon and watch his first class.  I could always come back and take the introductory class later on or take a one-on-one instruction course for $25.

I was impressed with the way the instructors, Jim and Terri ran the youth class.  They were organized and patient with the children.  That emphasized all of the important safety issues and they would complete stop the class whenever anyone was disobeying their safety rules.  They explained everything step by step and they had additional instructors that would help the kids individually, if needed.  It didn’t take long for the kids to get used to their class structure and whistle system.  I would highly recommend this class to anyone who lives in Pasadena or the other local SoCal areas who have kids (or nieces and nephews) who are interested in learning archery.  The introductory class is free and they request a $5 donation for any subsequent classes.

Jim mentioned that since the release of the films Brave and Hunger Games, classes on the range have increased in popularity and fill up quickly.  Brandon and I realized this when we arrived and there were absolutely no parking spaces available in the parking lot so we chose to park on Arroyo Blvd and just walk down the hill to the park.

I asked Brandon what he thought of the class and he said he loved it.  He definitely wants to come back (and since the “returning” classes start at 10am, my California sister will actually be awake in time and able to join us).  He said that in Boy Scouts, when teaching archery, they just tell the kids to line-up and shoot.  They don’t explain anything.  Brandon said it was nice to have all the instructions and the helpers there to let you know if you were doing anything wrong.  He also liked that all the equipment was provided.  Each kid was fitted for an arm guard, a finger guard, a quiver with specific colored arrows, and a bow.  And it was easy to see that Brandon wasn’t the only kid who enjoyed the class.  There were plenty of parents asking about the returning classes and private lessons offered by the Pasadena Roving Archers.  Again, I was really impressed by the instructors and the class.  I would recommend this to any of my friends with kids.

Now since I had to start my Saturday much earlier than normal, I decided I would take the opportunity to have another first time experience before the day was out.  Somewhere on Facebook, I read that today was “National Coffee Day.”  As a coffee lover, this was something I could whole-heartedly support.  After having lunch and running some errands with my California sister and Brandon, I decided I was in need of a coffee break.  Many times, I have passed a local coffeehouse on N. Lake in Altadena called “The Coffee Gallery.”  I have read reviews about how it is a local artists haven and hang out, complete with a backstage area for bands, shows, comedy, and open mic nights.  So in honor of National Coffee Day, I thought I would check it out.

There is no parking lot for The Coffee Gallery so after finding street parking on Lake, I made my way over to the cozy coffeehouse.  You can definitely feel the relaxed atmosphere the minute you walk into the door.  This is nothing like the corporate designed Starbucks and don’t expect the same menu.  I had no qualms asking the barista for recommendations.  He asked me if I liked Lattes: Yes, I do.  He asked me if I liked sweet drinks: Yes, I do.  So he recommended the “Caramel Turtle” Latte or if I liked something a little more spicy, like Chai, then he recommended the “Filthy Dirty Chai” Latte.  I chose the latter (I love Chai Lattes).

Now all I have to say is Starbucks, eat your hearts out because this little coffee-house blows you right out of the water.  The Filthy Dirty Chai Latte was amazing.  I can’t wait to go back and try other items on their menu.  I definitely have a new favorite coffeehouse/hangout place/writing spot (they have free WiFi).  If you live in the Altadena area, there is no need to go to the Starbucks located in Ralphs.  Support our local businesses and go over to The Coffee Gallery instead.

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Posted in Exploration, Life, Personal Challenge, Photography, Southern California, Tourism, Travel

A Disappointing Day of Discovery: Personal Challenge, Day 12 (9.28.12)

Still a bit sore after my horseback riding adventure yesterday, I decided I would take it easy and explore something closer to home.  Originally I thought tonight was the full moon so I was planning on visiting the Linda Vista Hospital (despite my students and mother warning me to stop going places at night, alone, especially on a full moon).  But the full moon is tomorrow so that means I could pick something a little more low-key and indoors (a great way to beat the heat).

Once again, I found myself searching the Discover LA website for ideas when I found their “Best of LA in One Day” page.  Most of the places I had visited before or they cost too much money but the section, “Fun, In Any Language” sounded interesting.  It mentions an area known as ground zero for LA’s Chinese population; a place often referred to as “The Great Mall of China.”  This place is the San Gabriel Square.  They said it has a supermarket, lots of Chinese restaurants, gift shops and “a vibe that says Vegas and Southern California as much as Beijing.”  I love Chinese food and anything Buddha so this sounded like the perfect place to go.  I used Google Maps, printed out my directions and headed to my destination.

First off, the drive over there sucked.  The Google directions were confusing and there were traffic jams galore with all the construction in the different areas of Pasadena (and it wasn’t even Carmageddon time yet).  But once I was on Valley Blvd and started to see all of the Chinese symbols on the signs, I knew I was headed in the right direction.

In my mind, I was imagining a Chinatown version of the Mall of America or at the very least the Forum shops at Caesar’s Palace in Vegas.  I figured it would be flashy and easy to spot, yet the sign was not easily visible while driving so I drove right past it, being forced to turn on the next street and find a back entrance into the parking lot.

The building was not at all what I expected but I was trying to stay positive.  I did feel like I was stepping into another country.  But the minute I emerged from the parking lot stairwell and stepped into the courtyard in front of the Focus department store, I thought I was going to throw up.  There was an overwhelming stench of rotting seafood.  I noticed there was markets to the left of Focus so I decided to walk off into the opposite direction.  Once again, a wave of disappointed flooded my senses when the San Gabriel Square failed to live up to my fantasy version of a Great Mall of China.  At the very least, I thought it would have the feel of the shops in Chinatown (downtown LA).  But this simply felt like a regular mall but the signs and music were all in Chinese.  There was even a T-Mobile store.

So in an effort to try something new, I thought I would try eating at one of the restaurants.  But as I walked around, I realized that all of the restaurants that were open had a B rating and didn’t look all that appealing.  The restaurants that I wanted to try, like the steamed dumplings place, were closed until 5:30pm.  It was only 4pm.  I didn’t think I would be able to entertain myself for an hour and a half.  But I still had the Focus department store to check out.  Maybe that would be a time killer so I could enjoy some dumplings.

The Focus store has four levels.  I decided I would go up to the top and work my way down.  The top-level was a restaurant so that didn’t take that long.

The third level was jewelry.  It was set up like a flea market where each booth was owned by someone else.  If only I had known about this place back when I was looking for a Jade Buddha necklace.  This is definitely the place to go for Jade jewelry.  The only thing I didn’t like was I couldn’t understand the price tags (they didn’t use decimal points).  So I didn’t know if the necklace was $12.50 (which would be a total bargain) or $1,250.  And the jewelers were all with customers and talking Chinese.  I was the tall, white American girl who stood out like a sore thumb.

The second level was clothing, clothing made for skinny little women, not curvy Italian-Polish-German-French Canadian-Americans.  But if I ever want a fancy Chinese style dress, I now know where to buy one.

The first floor was the marketplace.  There were beauty items, household items (who knew they make Hello Kitty Pots & Pans), a whole section of Chinese Alcohol (Plum Wine & Sake), and then my favorite part, the tea section.  There is no need to go to a wallet-killer store like Teavana when there is Focus in San Gabriel.  The teas were reasonably priced.  I finally got my tea infuser pot for only $5.98 (they are $19.98 at Teavana).  I also got some Bamboo serving spoons for $1.90 each.  They also had some beautiful tea sets, Sake sets, and Sushi plates.  Yep, the tea and kitchen area made the whole trip worth it.

It was now 4:30pm and there was nothing else for me to explore.  I had arrived at 4pm.  It only took me a half hour to explore this entire place.  So I would disagree with Discover Los Angeles’ description of the San Gabriel Square.  It isn’t the “Great Mall of China” nor does it have a Vegas vibe.  But if you want good deals on tea, tea pots and anything else to meet your Oriental Cooking needs, this is the place to go.  As for the restaurants, I will have to comment on that if I should ever get down there again to eat at the dumplings place.

On my way home, I looked over at my new tea-infuser pot but I wasn’t satisfied.  This didn’t really seem worthy of my challenge.  Yes, I did go somewhere I had never been before but I was disappointed by what I found.  I needed something else.  I needed another adventure but as I was driving home, I didn’t see anything “inspiring.”  There was a sign that said “Live Oak Park” and I thought that could be something cool was it was simply a park with baseball and soccer fields.  There was a little league baseball game happening as I drove past.

So I figured I could just stop and get dinner at a restaurant I had never been to before.  I drove past “The Habit Burger Grill” at the Hastings Ranch shopping center in Pasadena.  I had never been there and had heard it was like the old chain Topz (the one with the healthy burgers and aero-fries, that the original Tops in Pasadena).  So I order what appeared to be their “famous” burger, the Charburger.  I do have to say it was a good burger.  Not as healthy as Topz used to be (the fries were definitely not baked) but it was still really good.  The Habit Burger Grill is a chain that started in 1969 in Santa Barbara and now you can find them all over SoCal.  I can safely say that I would definitely go back.

With a full belly, I returned to the car and watched as the moon rose into the sky and the sun started to set behind me.  It looked like a full moon.  I started to think that maybe I had my dates wrong.  If it was the full moon, I needed to head home to get my camera.  I could add more adventures to my day, like capturing the full moon over the Colorado Street Bridge and Devil’s Gate Dam.  But I checked my calendar and I was right, the full moon is tomorrow night.  I guess I am just going to have to settle with what I have already done–technically I tried two new things–and hope that tomorrow turns out for the better.  At the very least, I know I can enjoy the full moon, the Harvest Moon, tomorrow night.

As for tonight, I am just going to head home and watch “The Avengers” on On Demand–a movie I haven’t seen yet.

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Posted in Astrology, Life, Spirituality, Universe

Time To Find Your Path

Tomorrow’s Full Moon is the Pathfinding Horse Moon.  With the moon in Sagittarius, it is a time to choose a new path or direction to take in our life’s journey.

How do we do this?  Well, you look at where you are and where you really want to be then you have to decide how to get there.  Simple, right?  I’m a Libra so I would have to say this is pure torture.  Trying to make a decision on which path I should take is an extremely difficult task for a Libra.  I will use my trusty Pros and Cons lists.  I will think of all the different possible outcomes for each decision.  I will ask my friends and family for advice.  I will go see a psychic or ask my own Goddess or Angel cards.  Then I will pray for a sign from the Universe, guiding me toward the right path.  Then I will finally make a decision.  But once I make that decision, I will constantly wonder if I made the right choice.  But once again, I am a Libra.

Ironically, I am in a weird place where I do feel like I have to make a lot of life choices about my future.  So today, I turned to someone I know and trust, Hot Dog.  I had just told him about my accident a few days ago so he was anxious to see me and get me whatever I needed.  He picked up dinner at my favorite Mexican restaurant and arrived at my house, ready to take care of my needs.  What I really needed was someone to talk to and he was ready to listen.  We went for a walk in my neighborhood (mainly to walk off the carnitas) and talked about what was bothering me.  Like any close, good guy friend would do, he poked fun at some of the decisions I made and actions I took.  But mostly he was in agreement with me that I needed to change things in my life.

I know where I want to be I just have no clue how to get there.  I need to let go of the past once and for all.  My past is holding me back.  So I guess whatever direction I wind up choosing, I need to make sure that it is in the opposite direction of my past with the future I want directly in front of me.

Now, if you are like me and you have a hard time making decisions, Kristen Madden from Llewellyn’s Witches’ Datebook suggests:

“To explore your path and any new directions you might take, you will need a pendulum (a ring on a string will do), and your life-adventure map.  Create your map by drawing a large circle on a piece of paper.  divide the circle into a pie graph, with one section representing your current path.  Into the other sections, place your potential paths, hopes and dreams.  Take your pendulum and ask what paths are most aligned to financial, academic, spiritual, or emotional success, then let the pendulum help find your direction.”

Now if the pendulums, tarot cards and psychic guidance methods freak you out, you can always ask the Magic 8 ball.  I have a fortune telling Yoda doll that I often ask for guidance (yeah, I’m a Star Wars geek) when my Magic 8 ball seems to be having issues (when it tells you “Future Unclear.  Ask Again Later.”)

Good Luck!