Pushing the Reset Button at Retirement

I’m catching the sunset on Jimbaran Beach – in more ways than one!

Before you slam your hand down on that button and set off buzzers, bells, and alarms, let’s back up for a minute.

It’s better to begin in our fifties, a few years before retirement.

I was 59 when I had my first evolutionary astrology reading. I didn’t expect much. I’d been checking the weekly Capricorn forecast for years and it was vanilla pudding — never bleak but never celebratory either — a one-size-fits-all dispatch that could mean anything.

Imagine my shock when after an hour of recounting what nobody could possibly know about me, the astrologer, whom I’d never met and whose only access to my character was through my natal chart, issued this ultimatum: If you don’t change the way you’re living your life now, Sherry, you are nailing your coffin shut.

Gulp! Had I heard right?

It was the end of a Saturn return, she said, an event that occurs approximately every 30 years of a person’s life and whatever I put into motion or left unchanged in the next months would set the pattern for my final stage.

Now let me guess…you’re asking why I believed her?

It’s like this: when you’re on opposite sides of the country having a reading over Skype with someone you’ve never met and that person affirms everything you think you know about yourself, your tendencies, your f-ups, your sterling qualities, and all they have is a time, date, and place of birth, it’s hard to pooh-pooh any advice that comes forth.

Her pronouncement was especially disturbing since the litany of grievances I was managing at the time would have filled Santa’s better-watch-out list. I prided myself on my ability to handle just about anything. I was strong, stoic, unflappable. But when I heard nailing your coffin shut, my blood turned to ice. Mortality was a fact I didn’t want to look at and this stranger had shoved it in my face.

The session ended and I sat for a long time staring at the wall.

I’d pushed my desires and dreams to the side to be who I thought I should be for everyone else. The gravity of her damning words sank in while I searched for a shred of happiness in my work, marriage, friendships, and found none. My daughters had moved on after college, one to New York, one to California, and one to South Korea. Without them I ground along on a treadmill of monotony, lonely, disillusioned, and numb.

Questions floated through my mind:

Why was I still enduring Minnesota’s nine months of winter and three months of mosquitoes?
Why was I hanging out with people who shared none of my interests, calling them friends?
Why was I selling real estate when everything about the job sucked me dry?
Why was I married?

But the biggest question of all was: If not this then what?

What did I want? It took the next two years to figure it out and another year after that to execute the new plan. But at sixty-two my social security benefits kicked in and I was ready. When I left for Bali I left alone and I’ve stayed alone. I paid for a fifteen year lease on a house and remodeled it to suit me, using every dime of my retirement savings to do it. At my age that was risky and I wouldn’t recommend it but it worked for me.

Living here, surrounded by people as quirky as I am, I’ve found my tribe. I’m doing what I was meant to do in this lifetime which the astrologer defined as my north node karmic future. I’m creatively sharing wisdom, or kata mutiera — word pearls — according to the melodic Indonesian language. I write about the lessons I’ve learned along the way, and model an unconventional approach to aging. It’s not something I set out to do. It’s what naturally evolved as I allowed a future to unfold that aligned with the desires of my heart.

An unexpected gift came as a result of pursuing my north node path. My serious Capricornian self was set free to embody radical happiness. It’s a state of being I never would have known had I not been issued a dire wake-up call…and listened.

 

 

 

 

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Gifts of the North Node

I am a brilliant creation of the universe formed from the cosmic protoplasm sailing into eternity. I have two hands, two feet, a couple of great ears, and I’m clipping through life at a moderate pace; minding my p’s and q’s, crossing my t’s, dotting every i.   By jm Raging Universe

Illustration by Michael Forman

That quote caught my attention today because it describes the south node in the sixth house. Everyone has a north node and a south node specific to their date and place of birth, and each node is in one of the twelve houses of the zodiac. If I’ve lost you I’m not surprised. Astrologers know exactly what I just said! And no, I’m not one of them, but I have had readings done once a year for the past three years by an incredibly gifted astrologer, Anita Doyle, whom I’ve never met. My south node is in the sixth house, and the south node in the sixth house is about minding the p’s and q’s, crossing the t’s and dotting the i’s. My existence has been defined by should’s and should not’s, Norwegian Lutheran guilt, and perfection. Responsibility was my middle name. Until now…

So what changed? I don’t worry much anymore about p’s and q’s. The t’s and i’s have gone missing. Responsibility? I’ve removed as much of it from my sphere as is humanly possible. And guilt? I’m working on it. The glorious thing about my south node is that there is a north node sitting directly opposite in the twelfth house of Pisces. The south node represents natural tendencies, the ones we automatically fall into without thinking. The north node holds those qualities we need to develop to bring us into balance.

Yesterday I was fretting about something I’d been asked to do that would put me in front of the public for several days at a time. I was voicing my distaste for the kind of energy I would be required to expend. It all felt wrong. My daughter was listening patiently. When I finished my rant she matter-of-factly said, “Mom, your north node.” I looked at her blankly, then in a flash I remembered. According to Anita’s assessment a year ago, my opportunity had come to embrace the north node, learn to let go of logic, perfection and performance, and get on with my evolutionary development. It was about honoring my intuition and leaving behind the habitual patterns of striving to meet everyone’s needs while neglecting my own. It was time, Anita said, to move away from my past modus into a meditative place removed from the dictates of duty and responsibility. She called it a more monastic life. Monastic!?! The word terrified me and I summarily dismissed everything she said thinking she had really missed the mark with this one.

Looking back at the choices I’ve made since then I marvel that they have systematically brought me to this place, this life that looks exactly like the north node in the twelfth house. There was no conscious plan, but something within me was so compelling that ignoring it was not an option. When gently nudged by, “Mom…your north node,” I knew I had to listen to my feelings, not my logical mind. If something feels wrong, if pushing feels distasteful, the lesson is NOT TO DO IT! So I won’t. Instead I will trust the unfolding, a state that was utterly impossible for the old south node me. With that decision I feel my gut unclench, my shoulders relax, my breath go deep and soft.

I Googled north node in the twelfth house earlier today and found this passage by Elizabeth Spring. Tears streamed. How liberating. How affirming. How grateful I am to be traveling this path.

“We are called to “the monastery” here in the sense that it is a non-verbal, solitary, spiritual call towards Self awareness. The 12th house has sometimes been called the house of troubles, because it can’t be dealt with logically and pragmatically, and to do so doesn’t benefit the person with a North Node in this house. However, the key to this house placement is that there is no longer any need for troubles, duties, obligations, humility and service! All those are embodied in the opposite 6th house. As a 12th house North Node person you have earned the right to take the deep pleasures of the unconscious: gifts of magic, insight and deep peace.”

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