Tuesday, December 7, 2010

"We Need To Talk"

The strict and no-nonsense planet, Saturn, is drifting across the House of Regeneration and Change at the moment. It may be that we're going to see former boundaries shifted to make room for new endeavors. Or perhaps something that was once permissible is no longer within the realm of proper behavior. It's time to assess your own boundaries and limits and where you stand with others. Perhaps there's a conversation coming up with those close to you to redefine the parameters of the relationship.

Speaking of such conversations, I've come to the conclusion that there is no more frightening opening to a conversation than four little words: "We need to talk." Or some variation thereof. Be it from a lover, a friend, a parent, a sibling, a teacher...those four words can set your heart racing. Your brain immediately begins conjuring up all possible topics of conversation and they're rarely positive ones, right? Why might this person be upset with me? What have I done recently to anger someone? Is there someone else involved? Where will this lead? Is this going to change the whole relationship? Is it going to be awkward after this? And so on. The mind just trips over the multitude of potential sources for this pending discussion.

The worst, of course, is when it's soemthing postponed. You're lucky if you get the, "We need to talk" immediately followed by the dreaded discussion. There's less time to panic. More often than not, though, there's a wait period. The words are said, and of course, you respond with something like, "Um, okay. Let's talk." To which, they respond, "No, not right now. We'll talk later." This further compounds the disaster initiated by the "We have to talk." Now, your brain has plenty of time to review scenarios. You've started to develop possible topics and the manner of conversation that will cover those topics. You're planning your responses in advance. You're ready.
And usually, it's nothing serious. After all, this person is in your life for a reason, right? They want you to succeed. They're supporting you. So, usually, it's nothing more than a, "Hey, is it okay if a friend stays at our place on Friday night?" or possibly a, "You didn't take out the trash." Something completely innocuous that would have never been cause for alarm if not set up with the introduction of doom.
I can only suggest that people use this phrase sparingly and with sensitivity. One can hope that as Saturn imposes its restricting influence on the House of Change, and boundaries shift, that most discussions do not begin with "We need to talk."

Monday, November 22, 2010

Extra Extra! Check the Curricular!

The two most masculine planets are bookending the exploratory sign of Sagittarius. There's an upsurge in passion for higher learning. People might feel a little bit of wanderlust. There will be a little more outward joy shown during the Sun's transit through happy-go-lucky Sagittarius.

Mars in Sagittarius brings up an interesting struggle about the priorities we form in life and when those value systems begin. Mars, with its aggression and passion, in a sign of learning, creates an almost dichotomous struggle between mind and heart. Unless, of course, your passion is learning.

The problem with this is that it doesn't seem that many people are as passionate about learning as they are about their other hobbies. And it seems that the American value system feels the same way, especially in our schools. Extracurricular activities, be they sports, clubs, or organizations, take center stage, forcing academics into supporting roles, and that's if they're lucky. Usually, academics are simply the ensemble. Oh, who cares about the progress made in school as long as they're scoring that game-winning goal or singing the leading role?

I know this is not a new phenomenon. We place a stronger emphasis on the extracurriculars than on the academics. How can this be? For all that we claim to support education and educators, there are constant cases of teachers whose authority is undermined by the administration who wants to see another trophy in the case or have the publicity of an organization's event. Now, don't get me wrong - I do not believe that these extracurricular activities are unimportant, nor do I believe that the teacher should be the end-all, be-all authority with regard to the students, but there should be some balance set up here. If there is any kind of imbalance, it should be in FAVOR of the school subjects, not against them!

We're communicating apathy and our children pick up on that. They lose interest in their own grades and show disinterest in the classroom. School becomes more of a social environment, and of course, that has its own place as well, but it should not be the focus. Can we please refocus our sights on the development of our students' minds?

Granted, this is a bit of a soapbox, but there have been a number of incidents recently wherein teachers have been unsupported in favor of extracurricular activities. This is not every administration, nor is it any administration all of the time, but the run of such happenings needs to be addressed.

School is for the curricular. That's why we tag the word "extra" on other activities.

Friday, March 19, 2010

Family Matters

Leo, the classic sign of drama and creativity, is nestled in the 4th House, the house of home and the mother. It's very likely that we're going to see some interesting happenings from our home lives and especially from the matriarchs. This is also a perfect time to reconnect with parents and/or children. Perhaps there will be some spats, but in the end, the bond between family members is stronger than the insanity caused.

Family is a tumultuous topic and defined in many different ways. There is a unique breed of insanity that's deeply integrated with the familial unit. No one can drive you crazy better than the people who you grew up with. They know your ins and outs. They know what buttons to push, what phrases to use, and can predict outcomes based on mood swings. These are also the people who are there for you when you need comfort, support, or a laugh. They're not necessarily parents or siblings, aunts or uncles, grandparents or cousins, although they may include these roles.

Some define family by blood. "Blood is thicker than water." Quite the scientific assessment. Others by bond. "Friends are the family you choose." I think it's very much the bond. After all, the word family has the same root as familiar, and after all, shouldn't your family be the people who are familiar with you? That's why some people refer to close friends of the family as "Aunt" or "Uncle." Also why we say that some people are more than friends; they're family. We surround ourselves with family, whether we realize it or not.

Introducing a new person into the family can be a trying and nerve-wracking situation for all involved. The irony, of course, is that everyone wants it to work out. Everyone hopes that the group gets along with the new person, especially if there is romantic interest from a member of the group. There are so many questions of when and where and how to introduce the new member and if it should be done with everyone present or just on an individual basis. I think it depends on the family. Some people are better off meeting everyone at once and just ripping the band-aid off. Others prefer to wade in the shallow end before diving in. It's all about the dynamic and the member of the family who is doing the introducing should make the best call with that as they know both parties well. Basically, what everyone's hoping is that the new person's style of crazy gels with their own. That's really what it boils down to.

There's going to be drama no matter what. You just have to find the group that accepts your drama and has drama that you can handle. We put up with a lot for our families, but in the end, they're worth it. Look around you. Who's your family?

Thursday, February 11, 2010

What A Difference A Year Makes!

Saturn, the time-keeping planet, is spending quality retrograde time in Libra, the planet of harmony and balance. This planet has a lot to do with maturity and lessons learned and in a social sign like Libra, one might see some growth with regard to relationships.

This is a perfect time to discuss the impact of time on the individual. I recently began a new job working with students at a high school level and I am constantly amazed by the differences between the students with regard to year. The freshman are much more immature than the sophomores who are less mature than the juniors who are, in turn (you guessed it, less mature than the seniors. Some people look at these groups and say, "Yes, well, it's the age." Well, naturally, it's the age, but to see how these things develop in packs, one must take a look at nurture (in this case, social aspects) versus the nature at work.

Children seem to learn things in groups. Of course they do; our society is built around this foundation. People do this as well, but it's not quite as formalized as when we are in school. There are milestones that we accomplish and it seems that the only instinctive knowledge handed to us is to learn from our own observations (especially of those around us). Sometimes, you get lucky and information is handed to you by a parent, a teacher, or (as is most common) a peer. For the most part, you learn the same things around the same time as your friends. After all, you're around the same age and usually you have the same interests, so it does seem fairly natural.

But what about maturity?

Are we learning to be more mature individuals by observing those around us? Is it something that people actually tell us? Or is it something subliminal; a signal that we pick up on when we develop the receptors for them? Young boys will often tease or hit girls they like. When they reach a certain age, they suddenly show their affections in other ways, although they're often just as clumsy at it. Sometimes, it's actually worded for us: "Stop being such a child!" Usually, this comes from an authority figure. Still, most people as teenagers are striving for the approval of their peers. They want to be socially accepted, so I can only infer that we pick up socially mature cues from our friends. Which means that SOMEONE in the group has to make the move first. Are they looking towards the people above them in the age bracket? Does it come from experience?

I remember coming home from my first year of college and heading back to my high school to say hi to friends and teachers (yes, I am that dork who was friends with teachers). I remember seeing the high school seniors and thinking, "Wow. They are so clueless and childish. They have no idea what's in for them." Did I gain this insight from my experience? From observing the other freshman at college? Where did I develop it? And looking back now, I can't even imagine the mindset that I had at 18 as I do now ten years later. The boy who lived then seems like an entirely different person. As does the same boy at age 8.

I am aware that there are a number of contributing factors to the development of the human being. As this is my first year at this school, I look forward to seeing how the current freshmen blossom into the mature seniors that I know they will be. I wonder what they will think when they look back and reflect on their freshman year in high school. Then again, one might say I'm in my freshman year as an educator. I wonder what I'll think four years from now. At least I have the comfort of knowing that I can't be called a senior for another 30-something years.

Saturday, February 6, 2010

Snowed In

The Sun, planet of warmth and vitality, is transiting the sign of Aquarius, the sign of hopes and fears. It's a time of originality and eccentricity, just as hopes are often found to be. Time to explore your specific ideas and let them roam free.

In speaking of hopes and fears, snow comes to mind. Now, I realize that when most people consider hopes and fears, they don't exactly think of weather, but the recent snow warning set my mind upon this subject. It made me realize how beholden upon weather we are. Granted, since time immemorial, we have dealt with the powers of the heavens, but in a modern age, one might consider that we would have different methods for dealing with everything nature can throw at us.

I personally received a text message this morning letting me know that I would not have to work today because of the incipient storm. I'm rarely going to get upset that I don't have to work, but there was no snow! The snow that had people in terror preparing to be holed up in their houses ended up deciding to skip our area, leaving us feeling somewhat sheepish. However, other places have been inundated with snow, justifying their own preparations.

Nowadays, I have to say that I cannot abide snow. Yes, it's beautiful when it's falling and blanketing the city with its quiet power, but goodness, once its fallen and dirtied the streets, it becomes obnoxious. I can't stand the slush, the grey/black snow littering the sidewalks, sloshing through the subway floors, and falling from building awnings, not to mention the shoveling. It's tremendously inconvenient.

This is so different from when I was a kid. We couldn't wait for snow and often hoped it would snow enough to keep us out of school. I remember waking up early just to listen to the radio and find out if I had to go to school. It was like a present when I heard my school's number called. Then I dressed in my warmest clothing and went out to play. Nowadays, you couldn't pay me to go out into the snow. Perhaps I'll feel differently once I have children of my own and watch their glowing expressions as they watch the snowflakes drift down, but for now, snow my stay in the sky for all I care.

I hope those who were hit wth snow are safe and sound and enjoying the aesthetic power and those who are safe from snow are enjoying the convenience of getting around.