Even if you're not a dabbler in astrology, you'll likely have heard someone in your orbit (see what I did there?) blaming some run of bad luck they're having on Mercury retrograde. For those of you unfamiliar, in scientific terms Mercury in retrograde basically refers to the optical illusion created when the planet Mercury appears to be moving in opposition to the other planets in the system - from east to west, the opposite of the usual west to east trajectory. To astrologers, this would mean it is moving backwards through the constellations of the Zodiac. It is this perceived backwards motion through the various Zodiac signs that gets everyones' undies in a bundle; it is said by those who follow the planets that this period of time causes everything from strings of rotten luck to communication problems to inexplicable emotional outbursts. It happens three times per year, the latest one having started on the 5th of March, ending this week on the 28th. And yes, I know what that sounds like. But whether you look at Mercury retrograde as an urban myth or a time to reflect and put any big plans on hold, it's a thing.
Normally I enjoy a bit of this type of mysticism in my life. It provides a nice balance to my more traditionally science-based work life. However, this past week or so, I can't help but feel I have been the living embodiment of all of the cautionary tales of Mercury retrograde you've ever heard. This past week and a half has brought me the untimely death of one of my closest friends, an upper respiratory infection from Hell, the impossible task of trying to keep the stitches in my dog's paw dry in the torrential Scottish weather (this particular task pretty much took over my life for about 5 days and is, as it turns out, impossible), the slicing-off of the tip of my finger as I peeled sweet potatoes for chili and the subsequent transformation of my home into the most graphic of crime scenes (and no, the finger did not end up Wendy's-style in the chili, because I know thats what you're wondering), and a chaotic and understaffed work environment that despite my deepest wishes, did not relent give me a break for three night shifts running. And let us not forget the cherry on top; the Mueller probe that we, the American taxpayers (yes, I still file in the US despite being an expat) are apparently not allowed to see, and the subsequent preening of the Trumpian syncophantic herd to the tune of "we are vindicated...so vindicated that we will suppress the document that allegedly vindicates us". I did not know it was possible to be both grieving and have your blood boil so much that it really can only be measured in Kelvin. Mercury retrograde is clearly upping it's game for 2019.
So the past few days have been about that oft thrown-around term, self care. Yes, it is important. Getting enough sleep, turning the phone off (mostly...okay, not Twitter), taking a few leave days and making last-minute plans to head to the Pacific Northwest for my dear friend's memorial. It was these acts of self-care that reminded me of something she always said when we got about the business of retail therapy. She always used to say "I'm just looking for that one lipstick shade that's going to make my life work."
That little memory made me realize that self-care is more complex than simply taking time off or remembering to be kind to yourself. I mean, yes, it is those things, but it is also knowing when the time has come to pick yourself up, and even if you don't feel like it, putting on something clean and pretty and maybe straightening your hair (or trying to in my case) and putting on that shade of lipstick that will make your life work and just setting the stage for things to eventually settle back into some sort of homeostasis. Because when they eventually do, you want to be ready.
So that's what this is. This is a thrifted J. Crew cardigan that I picked up in a thrift shop in my hometown, and even though I really liked it, that little Midwesterner that lives in an Airstream trailer deep inside my head said to me "cool...but where are you ever going to wear this?"
Of course the answer to that is "Wherever I damn well please, that's where. It makes me happy."
So there it is. A self-care life hack dedicated to my dearest friend who left us way too soon. Find that lipstick color that will make your life work, slap some sequins (or whatever makes you happy) on it, and eventually, all will be well. Mercury retrograde be damned.