Since the last new moon I have faced a few obstacles:  a head cold, a broken pipe that led to no water for six days, more signs of a rapidly declining website, a printer refusing to print…each obstacle requiring more time and attention than I wanted to give. And each obstacle in and of it self, felt disempowering. Days of going without water, days spent problem solving- probably my least pleasurable activity in the world –trying to master technology, and days laying low nursing a cold. These have eaten into other areas of my life – my plans, goals, marketing strategies to earn much needed income. I’ve had to change directions, at least temporarily. Like wild pigs showing up on my doorstep, these unwanted things demanded to much of my attention.

On the other hand, I’ve also had a few great successes. I gave a talk that I really wanted to give to a private astrology group, a group of wonderful women who gather in a Harry Potter-esque house, rather like an old salon of London. I am also on my way to becoming my ladies gym resident health coach. I set up a booth and served roasted garbanzo beans, washed down by cooling cucumber water -genius idea from my marketing sister- while talking about health coaching (who one is, how I might help you) to ladies leaving their morning Zumba class. Both felt great and energizing.

The problem was, even though I felt wildly giddy following these personal successes, by the next morning I was back to another problem, another financial headache. The internal feelings of satisfaction- were fleeting. I caught myself moving onto the next problem and wondered why the feelings of self-worth, success, a job well done, just weren’t sticking. My successes felt like a diet soda, good going down but also empty, lacking value somehow.

So then I asked myself when I’d felt this way before. This is a question I ask my Uranus-Pluto square clients who are caught in an invisible but well-worn groove. Specifically, I asked myself, when the first time that I had worked so hard, had a success, and felt empty inside? Then I remembered my parents always telling me I was something special, the assumption was I’d get good grades, I would be creative, gifted. That I was a flower who could miraculously bloom without sunlight, water or fertilizer. I remembered they’d make promises to reward me for my successes, for good grades, or a part in the talent show, but when the time came for the reward, there was none. I remember my first job. I worked for two years at a restaurant after school and on weekends, saving my money to buy a car. I can remember the day I went to go pick up the car I had picked out (a Red VW Jetta) and withdraw the money from the bank. The teller told me there was nothing there. Nothing. My mother had spent the money.

Almost ten-years later, I bought the Red  VW Jetta I had wanted when I was 17. I don’t think about this much anymore and I’d long ago forgiven her.  I know my single-doing-the-best-she-knew-how-mother was complex, and she was doing the best she could. But right now it seems a relevant to think about it. The message to my self-worth, my sense of value and simple belief in myself is playing in a theater in my head, in the well-worn grooves of my neural circuitry, keeping me from being deeply nourished by the fruits of my labours. And it is keeping me on a treadmill. On the treadmill, I’m eternally chasing some just-out-of-reach-reward never gotten – a sense of worth- that I need to figure out how to give to myself. Of course, when I pause the record for a moment, I realize I have a beautiful life, one I’ve designed of my own will and choice, and that no one defines my own success but me.

I’m closely examining my ideas about success, re-shaping them to be my own. In America, we measure our success by how much money we make and how hard we work. This formula, the idea that if you work hard enough you will be successful (and have enough $) worked for a brief time in America. The 1950’s. It no longer applies to most. Only the privileged can afford to keep this ‘dream’ and to the rest, this is a nightmare of bad programming. We work harder, berate our self, bemoaning our inability to get ahead – even those of us who are fortunate to do what we love (we’re not the majority) only rarely stop to ask our self if the dream is just a hallucination.  The reality is, there are no guarantees that I will be financially successful doing what I love– or even that you will have the extra cash to afford my services. I have no control over the greed and deceit in today’s world, and how it impacts our ability to support each other. I am, however, blessed to have the freedom to wake up without an alarm clock, to eat nutritious homemade food, to pursue my passions, enrich my being with new ideas, to write every day, and live with the man I love, and who loves me more than I’ve ever been loved by anyone. What is that if not success?

The Aries Full Moon reminds us of our choices. I’m reminded of the phrase: if you want evidence of what your mind is creating and choosing, look at your life. Your life is evidence of what you’ve created. If you don’t like what you’re looking at, this is the time to look at all the choices that led you right here. Think about all the freedom you have had to make those decisions to shape your life. If you don’t like the choice you made, you can make a new choice.

At the same time, none of us are in control of this Ship.  None of us. This full moon, square difficult Pluto, conjunct unpredictable Uranus, reminds us of this fact. We cannot control most things in life – the sick relative, the ailing house, broken website, lack of financial stability, joblessness, a partner or spouse leaving us.  But we always have the ability to ask: Where is my choice in this? Who made this choice? Did I? Or am I acting from old, time-worn grooves? Can I choose differently? This full moon brings up the social and cultural programming we’ve been buying into at the expense of our happiness and freedom- and more personal well-worn familial conditioning. Both are grooves we get stuck in. Asking these questions are ways of taking responsibility for what we can change.

At this full moon, I make the choice to define my own idea of success. I choose to drink in my successes more deeply and remind myself, daily, of all the things for which I am grateful. At this full moon, I choose to reward myself with a (non-food) treat to celebrate my successes, knowing that if I don’t I’m continuing the cycle of neglect, of promises made and not kept. At this full moon I choose, once again, to value myself. What will you choose to do? Or, as poet Mary Oliver asks, Tell me, what is it you plan to do with your one wild and precious life?