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How to survive Mercury (retrograde) poisoning

solar-system-e1462408810622-250x250Mercury has gone retrograde. Oh baby. Hang on to your electronics, your communications and your relationships.

I don’t know much about astrology but I found this on the internet:

“Mercury rules communication, clear thinking, truth and travel, so when the planet goes retrograde… — all those things go backwards. They start to get ugly and tangle up.”

Time to back-up your data and take great care with your communications (as I’m sure you always do.)

The might of Mercury retrograde

It is known to exert its magic on the insides of electronic equipment (ok, this is not scientific but trust me, my friend Kate’s computer crashed and you don’t want to know the holy hell I went through with my internet provider last week.)

And, as a full proof of its nefarious nature, last week I stepped on a communications land mine, blowing up a relationship with a colleague with whom I have worked for years.

So now the question is: how to do you clean up from a Mercury retrograde disaster?

Here’s the background on mine (I’ll fudge the details for the sake of privacy): When I worked with a colleague last Monday, I could tell from her non-greeting that it wasn’t exactly a good hair day. Sure enough, soon she was battering me with increasingly critical remarks. Enough, I thought.  “Hey, it would really help me if you…”

I hadn’t finished my comment before fire alarms were sounding.

“I can’t deal with you,” she cried. “Not today. We’re done.” She turned and began to leave the office where we’d been working.

“I didn’t mean to offend you, let me explain,” I offered meekly, trying out my best nice-girl-trying-to-suppress-her-rage tone of voice.

“No. I don’t want to hear it,” she retorted.

Paragon of saintly virtue that I am, I took a pause and summoned detachment and compassion.

Wrong. I drove away fuming, congratulating myself on being totally right.

Perhaps it was time to walk away from our relationship, except I needed to work with her. And somewhere in there, I really cared for her.

lightening in mountainsMy six step post-catastrophe strategy

1) Let the shock waves pass.

By the time I got home, I was shaking. I hate nastiness. I tried to tell myself it wasn’t personal. But telling me to not take things personally is like telling your dog not to go for that squirrel.

2) Vent.

I found a friend who knew my colleague and had seen her blowing up in unexpected and crazy ways. Venting helped me air my feelings (good) and solidified my conviction that it was really her fault (not so good). At least, I stopped taking things SO personally.

3) Pray.

In my highly enlightened state, my prayer went something like: “Dear lord, please let me sleep through the night so I don’t awaken in a f- ing rage at 3 am like I so often do, and, by the way, if you could help me find an ounce of compassion tomorrow that would be great. Thank you.”

4) Email an olive branch.

A common friend, knowing that my colleague doesn’t do well with conflict, (unlike me, of course), suggested sending her a calm email that would give her an opportunity to think before she reacted. I wrote said piece – an objective and positive email – reflective of my approaching nobility.

5) Keep breathing.

She returned my email with a scathing rant. Note to self: do not read such emails – ever – ten minutes before you have to present a speech. Unless you are performing the role of a crazy woman.

6) Swallow pride and remember the big picture.

What to do I wondered.  Capitulate (and keep my stash of revenge secretly brewing), or fight for my needs? I sent an email agreeing to a couple of her items and added a request. “How about a cup of tea?” Miraculously, she agreed.

7) Step six: Meet for tea.

Walking up the sidewalk to her house, I tried standing tall and opening my arms wide in my best Amy Cuddy inspired power postures.  (She wrote the book Presence). Hey, I was ready to try anything: veils of light, Goji berries, mantras, exorcisms or vitamin D…

As I climbed the stairs of her porch, I was surprised to be greeted warmly. She invited me to sit down to a pot of orange spice tea at her kitchen table. Spying a copy of Bill Bryson’s A Walk in the Woods, I tried a conversational warm-up and soon we were talking about our common love of Bryson’s humor. After a bit we got down to business and she told me what she was most concerned about.

Now we had something concrete to work on. This was progress! We agreed on a plan for moving forward.

While this wasn’t the world’s best solution for me, at least I could breathe again.

tea pot

Then, as you could imagine:

We fell into each other’s arms, crying, reaffirming the importance of our friendship.


We had a stunning burst of insight and resolved that we would never, ever, let anything pull us apart again.

Double wrong.

I said “thank you for the tea,” she said, “sure,” and I walked back to the car.


Now, I was feeling pretty good, like I had discovered something to teach about surviving Mercury retrograde, but my hubris was soon to be made apparent (Mercury retrograde will be around until May 22.)

night sky



I just learned that my colleague has blown up at somebody else and started saying nasty things about me. Grrrrrr!

My husband, a better saint than me, says something has to be going on with her.

So much for my oh-so-wise pontification about surviving good old Mercury as it backs up. The only crumbs of hope I’ve salvaged is that I’m not quite as upset about things as I was earlier. Small gains!

And you know what I’ve really learned? That Mercury retrograde is really a test, asking us to find more humility, compassion, and awareness within ourselves and to recognize that, in the end, we’re all just human, perfectly imperfect, trying to do the best we can. whatever the stars are doing.

4 Responses

  1. Sometimes you have a choice when someone shoots arrows at you. You can stand tall and brave and powerful and when the arrow hits you, you can try to tell yourself that it doesn’t really hurt as much as it feels like it does. Or sometimes you can look at the arrow and say to yourself “That is not my arrow” as you turn your body and let the arrow go by. Then you realize that the arrow belongs to the archer and you need not take it in, even if the arrow’s flight begins with the word “You.”

  2. Lovely post, Sally. As yours typically are, it conveys wisdom without assuming an air of “knowing it all.” That’s a challenge for me, so I appreciate your good example!

    On a side note, if your computer goes down, might it be because Silicon is in retrograde?


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