Scars – a mother’s fierce love

A mother raises her baby fondly into the air.
photo © Inara Prusakova

by Sallie Tisdale

Daily, we leave jobs, friends, lovers… but the child always comes along

The first section of this essay is one of the first essays I wrote, at the age of 22. I added to it – and subtracted – over many years, and finally found a way to put the pieces of my son’s life into an order that made sense to me. Into an image that made sense to me – because even now, when he is in his late 30s, I can run my hand over the scar and feel its shape and texture. That skin is not the same as it was before he was born. – Sallie Tisdale

Four years ago he was born and everything changed. Daily, we leave jobs, friends, lovers, but the child always comes along. When the going gets rough, my son and I can’t call it quits and cut our losses. I can’t pack a bag, make a break for it, find a more compatible child. The contract cannot be broken.

We are strangely entangled. When I wake from a bad dream without a sound, he wakes in the next room and cries for me. Between us, there is no shame, no holding back. I take risks with him I wouldn’t dare take with anyone else. I treat him with rough impatience, with all the bile I hide from friends and lovers for fear of losing them. I am less tolerant of deviation, more injured by separation. We fight and then make up with a tentative, weary kiss. I demand so much: loyalty, obedience, faith. And he gives me all I demand, and more – he thinks me beautiful; he wants to grow up to be just like me. And I am bound to fail him, and bound to lose him.

Strangers’ hands will stroke where I stroke now, and already I’m jealous of this secret future apart from me. I quail at the mistakes I’m bound to make, what I’ll saddle him with, what the price for each of us will finally be. For nothing is free.

Daily, the gap between us grows, in tiny steps. He is not mindful of it – but I am. Oh, I am. I’ll give the world a son, heavy with the grief of giving him at all. Then and after, he’ll drift in and out of my view, keeping secrets, neglecting me, while I watch from a distance, unrequited.

My mother shows up, startling me. When I speak to my son, I repeat what she told me, the phrases and platitudes, in the same tone of voice and inflection I heard as a child. She is my forebearer; I am his inheritance, and will prevail despite his efforts. Years from now I’ll show up, a sudden surprise.

Could my own mother have felt this fierce love for me? I treat her so casually. If she ever felt this way, it seems she should be grieved – bereft by my distance. Can it be that she misses me? We don’t speak of such things: our closest contacts are narrowly averted, sudden swerves from danger. Will it be the same for my son and me, the boy who now crawls like a spoiled child-prince across my lap?

He’s tall now, and lean: when he comes running toward me, breathless from some grand injustice or new idea, I see his ribs pressing against the skin, light and shadow. He takes deep, thoughtless breaths, free of blemish, taut and promising. He has my brother’s face, a handsome face, and he wears his lucky muscles with negligence and not a whit of gratitude. He is eight years old.

Sudden sufficiency. What binds us is less visible, as though we’d been cloven in two. I would not have thought it possible to feel so halved. I can wonder now what it is like to be him – wonder and know I’ll never know. What does he think in a privacy I can hardly bear, a privacy that seems entirely unfair? I am still the dictator of this tiny country; he is still my subject, but he dreams of revolution.

I may not kiss him in front of others anymore. He holds the car door for me, calls me “Ma’am,” with a giggle. He has great white teeth, dark circles below his eyes, a scratch on his cheek, dirt in the lines of his neck. He wants his hair cut “like Elvis Presley,” he wants it cut “like Michael Jackson,” he wants a Mohawk. He sings commercial jingles for hamburgers and jeans and toothpaste while he builds elaborate block constructions; he strews his room with Viewmasters and action figures (“They’re not dolls, Mom,” he says in irritation) and books and dirty socks and sheets. He is, above all, busy; I am tired.

“You are,” he tells me, “more beautiful than the women in Playboy,” and he’s out the door before I can ask where he saw Playboy.

How does he know the exact inflection? He has the same disgust and injured dignity I felt all those years ago, dying a thousand deaths in the face of my mother’s twittering concerns. He comes into his own and it is my turn to be out-of-date, to be shocked, to drone on long after he ceases to hear me.

I am, he tells me, so old.

The neighbor boys tease him and he runs home in a paroxysm of despair: “No one likes me,” he sobs, and lends to his crying a thorough attention. What courage children have. I lead him to the dentist and he climbs shakily in the great chair, looks at me and asks me to spare him this. I won’t; seeing my refusal, he turns away. He wants me to keep him a baby, he doesn’t know that I would if I could. Already I am separate. He looks at me and sees – only me.

He is an infant again, arms around my thighs, moaning with love, whining for cereal, a story, my lap. But he’s too lanky, too long, for my lap; his elbows get in the way of the book. Then he looks for the mysterious pleasures of adulthood: freedom, mobility, explanations. But his brow furrows when he calculates the cost.

At night, he is drenched in protest. He licks his teeth clean, stumbles out of the bathroom in a dirty t-shirt and yesterday’s underwear; crawls over the mess on the floor of his room, and hides his stuffed bunny shamefully under the covers. I wait. And when he falls into the humid sleep of children, that greenhouse dark, I slip stealthily in beside him and stroke his honey hair. He sprawls out, clutching the bunny; I balance on the edge, listening to the ruffled quiver of his breaths. I stroke the fear; my fear, of his life, his death. When I contemplate the space he takes up, how vast its emptiness would be, my heart shakes like a rabbit in the jaws of the wolf. I watch his face turned soft with sleep, the smile that skips across his face as he turns smug and safe, and I can see that he’s dreaming. He dreams without me now; we dream different dreams.

The balance is shifting. I withdraw sometimes; I want to read my book or be alone when he craves my attention. He will always live with me, he says, or perhaps next door. A transparent gift of beauty is evolving in his bones and skin, beauty made of equal parts grace and pain; I see that he will have a face of triumphant perfection if he wants. And I see the bruises rising under his skin from life’s blows. I know he won’t live next door, and I’m glad. I don’t think I can bear to watch. Right now, I can’t remember life without him – I can’t remember myself without him, but the time will come.

I put my book aside and wander to his room to watch him play. I find him reading a book, curled in a corner. “Would you mind leaving, Mom?” he says, hardly glancing up. “I feel like being alone.”

I wait in the car in the grocery store parking lot, watching the bright automatic doors in my rearview mirror. It is almost ten o’clock at night, much later than usual for me to be out shopping. For 15 years, I’ve been confined to childish hours. But everything changes.

I see him walk out the middle set of doors, which slide silently apart and then close behind him. He is tall, several inches taller than me, slender, graceful, arrogant. He wears his thick hair in a high tuft, dyed boot-black, and his black leather silver-studded jacket swings open with each long step.

I used to have crushes on boys like him.

We all have blows – we learn to expect a few, to roll in the force of life’s first. That awful job, that last paycheck, the broken heart, the broken nose. All the broken promises no one has even made yet – wounds that can’t be helped. I don’t have to fear failing him anymore – I already have. What’s done is done.

But I hadn’t expected this. I hadn’t expected to be knocked to my knees in grief when he marches out after I tell him to stay, when he slams the door and disappears, and I drive through dark streets seeking him, and find him smoking in the park with the silent, leggy girlfriend who won’t speak to me at all. I draw myself up, demand decency, respect; they stare, and whisper to each other.

And I hadn’t expected the sorry business of petty crime. He’s been arrested for shoplifting – for stealing candy bars, for stealing cigarettes, for stealing condoms. I drive to juvenile hall again and face the disapproving eyes behind bulletproof glass, and sign the papers, and wait outside until I’m joined by a raggedy, rude, foul-mouthed boy I hardly know. We drive home in silence and as we walk in the door I tell him to wash the dishes and he says, “No,” and I say it again and he refuses again and then adds, mockingly, “And I don’t want to have to say it again.” And suddenly I’m soaked with white rage, a face-slapping high-dive, and I’m inches from his face brandishing the nearest object, yelling, ‘Don’t you dare, don’t you dare, don’t you dare speak to me that way.’

When we’re calm, I can see he thinks I miss the point, the urgent momentum of growing up. I seem to have no ground, nothing to rely upon. He calls me a “disagreeable old hag” at the dinner table and suddenly it makes me laugh. It’s so absurd. I saw my parents’ anguish in my own small crimes from a cool distance; I remember their stupefaction. I drew up painful words for them deliberately like poison into a syringe. Children grow into strangers who disappoint and perplex us, having long wakened to disillusionment with us. They seem oblivious to our loss – after all, they’ve lost nothing.

We are their parents. And now it’s my turn and I am so sorry now for what I did then.

He disappears for three days and I cannot find him. The fear is horrible, sickening; the remorse and guilt meaningless, confused. Then his girlfriend’s mother calls me to tell me he’s staying there because we “kicked him out,” and I try to tell her it’s not true, to send him home so he will work it out with me, and she refuses. She believes him, his tales. I ask her not to shelter him from this.

“I’m going to take care of him,” she tells me. “I like him.” When he finally returns, we fight round after round, and there’s no bell. Every victory is a Pyrrhic victory. ‘Baby,’ I want to say, ‘baby love, I don’t know what to do. Show me what to do.’ Harsh words again, the stomp of heavy boots up the stairs. From two floors above me, he lets loose a deep-throated cry, an animal cry, and then the noise of something heavy thrown with what seems an irrevocable, rending crash.

Like all the other scars, this one is slowly filling in, closing off. Scars may be tender, or numb, but they are always there. Scars change the shape of things – they wrinkle, tighten, shorten things. I brought this person into the world and everything turned upside-down and all that’s happened since has been in some way connected to that event, his birth. The parent-child bond, I know, is truly bondage, and its end is in many ways a liberation, an enormous relief. Here he comes, hat in hand, to claim himself and go.

He is 19, towering above me, his voice booming on the telephone. He is gorgeous. He is not a virgin; he admits that he is in love. He is kind to his little sister, worries about his carefree brother. Every day, changes: he drops out of high school, grabs a quick diploma at the community college, makes plans, finds a job, is shockingly responsible. He gets a checking account and an 800 number and big ideas: conspiracy theories and politics, tales of hidden alien artifacts and government cabals. His union goes on strike and he walks the picket line with all the other working men. He is righteous, indignant, a defender of the weak, and I bite my lip not to laugh and cry at once; oh god, it’s the way I was at 19, it’s exactly the way I was.

He absents himself delicately from my life.

One day he stops me in the hall, without warning, dragging his foot and looking at the floor, and mumbles, “I’m sorry,” and I ask him for what and he says, “Because I was so hard,” and without meeting my eyes, he reaches down from his height to hug me awkwardly and adds, “I love you, Mom,” and dashes down the stairs and is gone, again.

Sally TisdaleSallie Tisdale’s essay Scars won the CASE National Gold Medal for feature writing in the United States. Reprinted from Violation: Collected essays by Sallie Tisdale (Hawthorne Books). Originally published in Portland Magazine, winter 2003.

STAR WISE: April 2016

by Mac McLaughlin

portrait of Mac McLaughlin

Wouldn’t you know it? Donald Trump has a most phenomenal birth chart – right off the roadmap powerful. As one astrological writer exclaimed when describing a powerful planetary position, “But powerful for what?” The man, for better or worse, has captured the attention of the whole world. Everybody’s watching this one with rapt attention.

Donald Trump was born on June 14, 1946, in Queens, New York at 10:54 AM. For starters, he was born on the day of a lunar eclipse and at a time that places his Sun and Moon in angular houses of the birth chart. The houses are the fields of activity for the planets and the angular houses have the most power by far. In astrological parlance, he has the Sun in Gemini and Leo rising. The lord of Leo is the Sun and it is placed in his tenth house, which is the most powerful house in the birth chart, especially considering name, fame and career activities. In order to be born on a lunar eclipse, the Sun and Moon must be close to the lunar nodes, aka the dragon’s head and tail.

In vedic astrology, the nodes are called Rahu and Ketu and when Rahu and Ketu are associated with the lights (Sun and Moon), it brings immense power and magnetism. Rahu carries a very hefty reputation among the planetary deities. He is known to be mean, aggressive, haughty, egotistical and insatiable. He can never get enough no matter what he has; he will always seek more power and wealth. Rahu is known to be devious. It’s all smoke and mirrors. Mars rises in Leo at Trump’s birth giving him a fiery and brash disposition. Never a quitter and always on the go, non-stop, all day long.

From an astrological perspective, it is highly likely he will attain the presidency of the US. He has literally knocked the stuffing out of the competition and he breaks all the rules while doing so. No doubt, the Donald has, and is creating, many powerful enemies that would love to stop him dead in his tracks. According to the astrology on board, he is in great danger and if elected he enters into a time that is even more precarious and very dangerous – especially from January to September 2017. We are witnessing history in action and from a spiritual perspective I wish him and all others peace and love. From what the stars are indicating, the USA is in the midst of a revolution in consciousness and Mr. Trump seems to be the lightning rod for it all.

Mac McLaughlin has been a practising, professional astrologer for more than four decades. His popular Straight Stars column ran in Vancouver’s largest weekly newspaper for 11 years. Email or call 604-731-1109.


Aries ZodiacARIES Mar 21 – Apr 19

It’s your time to shine. Fate and destiny run the game of life and now much is being formulated regarding your future. Aries are instinctive and intuitive and now more than ever you need to rely on your instincts. It’s a green light go time and don’t waste time. Love is around; move towards your destiny.

Taurus ZodiacTAURUS Apr 20 – May 21

For the first three weeks of April, most of your work and efforts are done behind the scenes. You may be conflicted about all kinds of issues and concerns. The Sun enters Taurus on April 19, giving you a big boost, confidence wise. The full Moon on April 21 brings revelations, epiphanies and other possibilities.

Gemini ZodiacGEMINI May 22 – Jun 20

Gemini is known as the chameleon of the zodiac and can blend in easily with whichever environment it finds itself in. This ability may come in handy in the next couple of months, as sparks are sure to fly. It may be wise to remain neutral – or fight really hard if you have to.

CancerCANCER Jun 21 – Jul 22

The answers you are looking for will probably pop into your psyche within a couple of days either side of the full Moon date on April 21. Cancer is affected by every full Moon and as it lights up the night sky, it lights up your inner sky bringing illumination and understanding in clear detail.

Leo ZodiacLEO Jul 23 – Aug 22

April 14 and 15 are feel-good days, with April 15 probably the best day of the month. Travel and career sectors are heating up with all kinds of potential opportunities manifesting. Play the long game, as things are in a state of flux and will remain that way through to the end of May.

Virgo ZodiacVIRGO Aug 23 – Sep 22

It’s time to dig in deep and get to the bottom of any particular thing. You’re known to be analytical, critical and very hard working and now is the time to put those gifts to good use. Home, family and real estate seem to be the focus now. It’s spring cleaning time, spiritually and materially.

Libra ZodiacLIBRA Sep 23 – Oct 22

Libra is all about harmony, equanimity and fairness in all things. The new Moon on April 7 is directly opposite to your Libra planets. A series of surprises, changes and challenges throughout the month is highly likely. It’s a whirlwind time, with not much time to rest and you may not mind.

Scorpio ZodiacSCORPIO Oct 23 – Nov 21

The Scorpio full Moon on April 7 will help you see what needs to be done in order to bring peace into your life. The next couple of months may seem problematic, confusing and a bit challenging. One remedy is that if you don’t know what you truly want, keep eliminating what is no longer useful or worthy.

Sagittaurus ZodiacSAGITTARIUS Nov 22 – Dec 21

Concentration, effort and a keen eye on the target are needed now. It is definitely not the time to be careless. Stay off your electronic device while driving. Every successful person puts in hard hours and devotion in order to perfect their skills. It’s your time to do so.

Capricorn ZodiacCAPRICORN Dec 22 – Jan 19

You may sense some rumbling beneath the Earth as changes start to formulate and take place. Fortunately, you are of the cloven foot clan and can make life-saving leaps when necessary. Dramatic as it sounds, it’s just a clarion call that things are in the midst of change and you must accommodate them.

Aquarius ZodiacAQUARIUS Jan 20 – Feb 19

The Aquarius keywords are “I know.” But is what you know the truth? Is it real and will it bring you freedom and peace of mind? There’s a battle going on deep within your psyche regarding all kinds of topics regarding the law, humanity and the present condition of the world. Your contribution is needed.

Pisces ZodiacPISCES Feb 20 – Mar 20

Co-rulers Jupiter and Neptune are casting glances from across the sky. And, of course, Neptune is in Pisces enlivening your sign dynamically. In my effort to describe its influence, lets say it can open you up to the cosmos. Jupiter and Neptune are spiritual planets and can bring visions and enlightenment.

Primal Mind Primal Games

Why We Do What We Do

READ IT by Bruce Mason

Primal Mind Primal Games book cover • Perhaps we have been made numb trying to make sense of our world with its endless wars, senseless violence, ongoing, human-caused climate change, the dream-like stupor of shopping, celebrity obsession, insatiable money/power lust, the millions of traumatized refugees, greed, corruption and heart-breaking inequity.

But we still have a three-pound universe and resource between our ears with more connections than stars in the Milky Way. And we have innumerable books that provide insight, including bestsellers such as Yuval Noah Harari’s Sapiens: A Brief History of Mankind, Jared Diamond’s Pulitzer-Prize-winners and the many books on shelves in endangered spaces such as Banyen (one surviving oasis in a desert of disconnected, information dust storms, parched of wisdom).

Primal Mind Primal Games: Why We Do What We Do is one such book. Exploring human behaviour and the human condition, it offers a practical guide and path forward for those who seek more sanity, coherence and fulfilment in life. Readers will undoubtedly identify with the chimpanzee pondering the chessboard on the book-cover.

The book is the result of a 10-year collaboration between co-authors Hifzija Bajramovic, an Ottawa-based psychiatrist with a career spanning 40 plus years, and Paul LeMay, a Vancouver-based science writer with front-line experience in national politics. Primal Mind uproots the hidden, unconscious programs – millions of years in the making – that run our minds and shape our thoughts, feelings, actions and reactions.

Bajramovic’s work in victimization resulted in the identification of three primal, biologically determined mindsets: fighting, appeasing and defeated. You will recognize yourself and everyone you know in these universal default systems. I know I did. Fight, flight and freeze pretty much sum up our options.

Let the games begin. The Primal Games. By analyzing and providing examples of what these ancient mindsets engender, Bajramovic and LeMay provide tools to unravel and demystify much of human behaviour. “Integrating Self Function” is the all important, missing key, the lifelong reward for absorbing, understanding and utilizing the mindsets.

Author Gabor Maté notes the book’s originality and “deeply thoughtful systematized expression of the human psyche and behavioural manifestation.” He also points out it is “theory with a practical dimension.” Pop references to films, lyrics and graphics help make Primal Mind accessible. So do the enthusiasm and optimism of the co-authors, who recommend you read it in stages. Sure, it’s complicated – by design – just like the solutions. It’s either that or victimization. It’s in your hands.

Bruce Mason is a Vancouver and Gabriola-Island based banjo player, gardener, writer and author of Our Clinic.

April 7: Paul LeMay gives a public talk (by donation), 7-9pm, Fireside room, Centre for Peace, 1825 W. 16th Ave.@ Burrard, Vancouver. Info: (Primal Mind is available at Banyen Books.)


The food fairy: explaining healthy food choices for children

NUTRISPEAK by Vesanto Melina MS, RD, and Claudia Lemay

Portrait of Vesanto Melina
• I know a little girl who is obsessed with candy; it is ironic, given her mother is a dietitian. “What have I done to deserve such a fussy daughter?” she would lament, confiding that Amelie would ask for candy for snacks and for breakfast, lunch and supper. At 3-½, Amelie wrote a grocery list for her mother, listing only a single item: candy. In contrast, her brother would eat anything and everything.

As a dietitian, Amelie’s mom is well aware of the importance of providing her family with healthy food choices. And while she knows she is responsible for what is served at meals, she also learned that “Because I said so” is not always the most effective answer when a child asks, “Why can’t I have candies for dinner?” The old guideline of “Parents decide what is served; children decide how much to eat” may not suffice. Children sometimes need explanations. So what is a parent to do to get their child to eat – and hopefully like – vegetables?

As we discussed the situation, we recalled it could take 10 exposures to a new food for a child to decide to try it. Then, it could take just as long for that child to like it. Thus, a parent’s role is to simply keep offering a variety of healthy foods, including vegetables, without falling into power struggles and, of course, to clearly show enjoyment at eating those same foods.

In the end, this mom found her path to success by inventing a story she told to her daughter. She used the metaphor of building a house to explain why candies were not served for dinner. The building materials of the house are the food groups. Milk products and dairy alternatives form the home’s framework or structure. Meats and alternatives are the bricks. Grains provide both energy and tools for the builders, whereas Fruits and Vegetables are lasers for the Pilot Elves to shoot from their planes and scare away the Mayhem Monkeys, which represent diseases. All food groups have important roles in building the house.

Amelie became quite attached to the story’s main character, Lucie, a little girl who, like her, only wanted to eat candies. Like Amelie, Lucie likes to be healthy and energetic. The concepts of “good” or “bad” were not part of the story, as these terms could tint the eating experience and create eating problems in the long term. Teaching a child to follow his or her hunger cues, while finding healthy foods that will satisfy, is key in developing healthy eating habits. When

Amelie’s mom saw her daughter’s eyes light up, she realized they were on to something. So a story was written for parents who also struggle at meal times. The story can help parents explain why they are not making a marshmallow stew tonight or tomorrow night. Amelie still asks for candies, but not so frequently. Parenting, after all, is a process.

The mother’s dietetic background helped make her story scientifically correct while her experience as a parent helped form a story that is interesting and fun. Her beautifully illustrated book is called Stargold the Food Fairy. It is available on or at

April 3, 2pm: Vesanto Melina co-presents “Dairy Free Living” at Vancouver Central Library, 350 W. Georgia, Alma Van Dusen Room. Register at

Vesanto Melina is a Vancouver dietitian, author and consultant., 604-882-6782. Surrey-based Claudia Lemay is a registered dietitian with a special interest in developing materials that inspire children to eat well. She is working on a second nutrition book for children.

STAR WISE: March 2016

by Mac McLaughlin

portrait of Mac McLaughlin

In western tropical astrology, the single most important date in which we can gage the prevailing energy of the year is the spring equinox. This year, it takes place on March 19, at 9:31 PM. The position and condition of the planets at that time offer us a look at how the year will play out. Traditionally, January 1 is heralded as the beginning of the new year, but astrologically, it has always been the spring equinox. So Happy New Year to one and all.

Now, let’s get down to the bones of this equinox chart and see what the stars decree.

The predominant feature is a square aspect between Jupiter and Saturn. (Ninety degree square aspects are known to cause tension and stress.) Both planets are not in their best signs by any means. Jupiter sits in Virgo. Imagine a very expansive, broad stroke of this brush-like planet situated in a sign of minute detail and great modesty. It’s sort of like a blustery, swaggering, self-centred biker showing up at a symphony orchestra. The two just don’t gel together at all. Twhen we have Saturn, known as a very conservative tightly wrapped planetary energy, in the free flowing, let it all hang out sign of Sagittarius. Again, the energies don’t and won’t gel easily. Jupiter’s energy is expansive while Saturn is contractive.

Locally, we have an out of control housing market with no end in sight. Could greed be the villain? Take a look at the legal system with its “Club Fed” ideology, in which the criminals go into hysterics just thinking about it. Imagine we can rob, kill and plunder and end up in the pen for a few years where we can go horseback riding, fish and play golf. Yes, I’m being ludicrous, but the wheel is squeaking loudly and surely needs attention and repair. Symbolically, Saturn represents coal and when we compress coal for millions of years, it becomes a diamond, which is symbolized by Jupiter. In essence, the prevailing times indicate a tightening of the belt and a readjustment economically, all the way around. I just picked out a couple of scenarios involving housing and legal concerns, but this planetary energy can be applied to all situations that make up the fabric of our society. The remedy is finding the middle road, sprinkled with patience, tolerance and hopefully some ability to look down the road and play the long game. We will be here and so will our children and grandchildren so let’s build a future for all of them.

Mac McLaughlin has been a practising, professional astrologer for more than four decades. His popular Straight Stars column ran in Vancouver’s largest weekly newspaper for 11 years. Email or call 604-731-1109.

Aries ZodiacARIES Mar 21 – Apr 19

The dominant planetary energy affecting your sign is revolutionary Uranus and he is on-board until March 2019. Ready or not, he brings what is new, of which we had no clue, and right out of the blue. In essence, changes come into our lives at a rapid pace. Become what you aspire towards and stay original.

Taurus ZodiacTAURUS Apr 20 – May 21

Jupiter and Pluto cast fine energy into your sign, bringing on a time in which you can put your life together, just the way you want it to be. It’s not all roses and lollipops by any means; there might even be a few tears shed along the way and some goodbyes as well.

Gemini ZodiacGEMINI May 22 – Jun 20

Read the intro regarding Jupiter and Saturn for they are having a major effect on your sign. It’s about finding the balance in all things. Cut back and throw away anything that is not worthy. Your house may seem empty for a while, but you will have your sanity, health and happiness intact.

CancerCANCER Jun 21 – Jul 22

You are morphing into something new and while the process is unfolding, you may feel like you are dying. It’s the old ego that is dying and sometimes that is painful, but necessary. The outcome, though, is joyous and beautiful. You have a special purpose in this life and soon you will connect with it.

Leo ZodiacLEO Jul 23 – Aug 22

Saturn and Uranus are casting their respective energies into your sign. Saturn, although sobering, helps us with the work of cleaning up our old karmic debts and scrubs us clean. Uranus pushes us into the future with brand new skills and all kinds of new adventures to seek out and discover. Onwards and upwards.

Virgo ZodiacVIRGO Aug 23 – Sep 22

Virgo Rocky Marciano, who never lost a fight, had true grit and he just never gave up. That’s my advice for you, as two powerful forces – namely Jupiter and Rahu – move through your sign. Both energies are plenty capable of making you into something quite fantastic, if you wish, and if you have true grit.

Libra ZodiacLIBRA Sep 23 – Oct 22

A lunar eclipse takes place in your sign on March 23, illuminating what it is that must be done in order to bring the scales to balance. As the Sun moves through your opposite sign, Aries, opportunities will arise in which you can make important changes to your lifestyle. Communication is key to the whole process.

Scorpio ZodiacSCORPIO Oct 23 – Nov 21

There’s a strong focus on health matters and your health matters more than any other thing. Not just your body, but your spirit as well. It all has to work together and now the universe is offering up a time in which you can make some truly important changes, dietary-wise and lifestyle-wise.

Sagittaurus ZodiacSAGITTARIUS Nov 22 – Dec 21

Mars and Saturn are journeying through Sagittarius. Mars brings energy and Saturn holds it back. So life may be that way for a while. Move ahead, fall back and the dance continues. Read the intro regarding Jupiter’s square with Saturn, as it is important for your sign. Find the balance in all things.

Capricorn ZodiacCAPRICORN Dec 22 – Jan 19

Karma runs the show. Now, one of the biggest karmic agents in the heavens is paying close attention: namely Pluto. The important thing is that Pluto can bring great riches, fame and power or it can lead one to total destruction. It is of utmost importance that you have your priorities right and straight.

Aquarius ZodiacAQUARIUS Jan 20 – Feb 19

Co-rulers Saturn and Uranus cast very good energy into your sign. Saturn helps to stabilize and harmonize all of life’s concerns, while Uranus brings on the elements of innovation and creativity. You can just cruise along and enjoy the scenery or you can strive to truly make something of yourself. Make hay while the Sun shines.

Pisces ZodiacPISCES Feb 20 – Mar 20

Venus and Neptune continue their visit to Pisces offering up love and creative energy. It’s time to decide what is most important and worthy for yourself. Curb all excesses and eliminate that which is not worthy, productive or healthy. Legal concerns could materialize so be wise and stay on the straight and narrow path.


gecko paw close-up

you can’t beat Mother Nature

by Bruce Mason

• Do, or die. At COP 21*, humanity turned a corner and agreed upon a coordinated, if somewhat symbolic, attempt to save itself. Not only did it signal the end of the fossil fuel era, but more importantly, we began to rethink our assumed and abusive role in nature. We accepted we must begin again or become extinct in the human-caused Anthropocene Age – the apocalypse of Homo sapiens, now underway. A wise quote on beginning is most often attributed to Goethe: “Until one is committed, there is hesitancy, the chance to draw back… Whatever you can do or dream you can do, begin it. Boldness has genius, power and magic in it. Begin it now.”

For the committed – now looking to nature for solutions and sustainability, rather than more quick and dirty profit – there is “biomimicry,” which is defined as science that studies nature’s models for imitation and inspiration to solve human problems.

After millions of years of tinkering, Mother Nature has worked out effective processes, eliminated waste and boosted efficiency. She has also inspired us: Leonardo da Vinci obsessed over birds in his dreams of flight and the Wright brothers carefully studied photographs of pigeons, seagulls and pelicans to help realize the primordial dream.

The following examples exemplify how biomimicry has evolved in leaps and bounds. Velcro was conceived of and invented by a Swiss engineer while removing burrs from his dog. The nose of the shinkansen trains – among the fastest trains in the world along with France’s TGV and German’s ICE – was streamlined along the lines of the kingfisher’s beak. Spiderweb silk – as strong as Kevlar in bulletproof vests – is being re-engineered for parachute lines, suspension bridge cables and artificial ligaments. Sharkskin-like surfaces move more efficiently under water. Self-sharpening teeth of many animals are copied for improved cutting tools. Solar cells have been improved, taking cues from leaves and sunflowers. Water is being harvested from fog, emulating beetles, in nets being used in 22 countries. New ceramics imitate seashells. Polar bear fur is mimicked in thermal collectors and clothing. Self-healing materials, polymers and composites mend cracks, based on biology. Bumps – like the front edge of whale fins – reduce drag and increase lift of wind turbines, fans, aircraft wings and propellers.

Biomimicry isn’t far-out, far-fetched or far away. Technology has just been developed at SFU which copies the sophisticated structure of a South American morpho butterfly wing to create a visual image, virtually impossible to counterfeit. A University of Calgary team just earned first place in the student category of the Biomimicry Global Design Challenge to find solutions from nature to improve the global food system. Their invention, the “Windchill” refrigerator, is a cheap, portable way to cool food without grid electricity. Taking clues from kangaroos, elephants, bees and termites, their design is welcome in a world that wastes half of its food, especially in rural areas, including Africa, where 70 percent of the population has no access to “old” electricity.

Even as COP 21 was convening, engineers at Stanford made a breakthrough in artificial photosynthesis. They’re striving to convert greenhouse gases into fuel. Plants utilize the Sun’s energy to combine water and carbon dioxide to create sugar, the fuel upon which they live. Now, new, powerful, non-corrosive underwater solar cells have the capacity to combine water with captured carbon dioxide to make fuels for humans.

As 2016 dawned, scientists made progress on artificial “trees” to capture excess carbon and either store it or convert it into fuel, a great hope in climate change action.

And that’s just a tip of the possibilities in the Biomimicry iceberg, especially as we re-imagine a visionary new perspective.

Ford is investigating Russian dandelion sap as a substitute for rubber, while introducing soy foam seating, wheat straw storage bins and replacing fibreglass with composite cellulose. On their shopping list: tomato waste (Heinz), strong and light enough to replace talc as a reinforcement for plastic, fast growing algae, bamboo, oat hulls and Canadian mustard seed.

Motivated by the astonishing success of a first few steps, Ford is also focusing on gecko toe pads. They enable the 2.5-ounce creature to support 293 pounds, stick to most surfaces without liquids or tension and easily release, leaving no residue. Plastics and other materials, currently glued together, can’t be broken down for recycling. The next-generation adhesives will not only provide strong bonds, but their components will be easily separated for recycling, bypassing landfills and incinerators.

Nature offers an unlimited variety of untapped solutions. Whether or not we humans prevail, she’ll get by without us. In the meantime, we’re witnessing the “genius, power and magic” of biomimicry.

Please send Clean Tech tips to

*The 21st annual Conference of the Parties to the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change held in Paris, late 2015.

Bruce Mason is a Vancouver and Gabriola-Island based five-string banjo player, gardener, freelance writer and author of Our Clinic.

photo © Mario Madrona Barrera

STAR WISE: February 2016

by Mac McLaughlin

portrait of Mac McLaughlin

It’s not about what the stars are doing to you, but what you are doing to the stars. Think about it. The planetary positions at your birth hail and herald exactly who you are, along with which forms of karma you bring with you into this life, in accordance with the positive and negative qualities you created in previous incarnations. Following this line of thinking, we are creating our future horoscope by our thoughts and actions in this lifetime. Our bad actions create chains of iron, while our good thoughts and deeds create chains of gold. Point being that whatever we do here in our Earthly sojourn creates chains and, as we know, chains are meant to bind and hold us in slavery to our minds and senses.

According to the Sat Guru, we left our true home – high above the starry firmament in Sach Khand – approximately four billion years ago. Imagine that! We have been away from our true abode and have taken form as rock, tree, insect, bird, animal and human as we work our way through the cosmic phenomena called Awagawan, the coming and going of the soul in its myriad forms, in accordance to karmic law. We constantly and continuously spin the web of destiny by our actions as we reap what we have sown in the past and prepare our future with what we are sowing now. Although seemingly nearly overwhelmingly frightful, it is a plan the creator put together to teach the souls about love – and only love. The saints teach us that God is love and love is God and that the way back to God is through love. It’s all too true.

Wearing the astrologer’s hat for over four decades has taught me that no one is happy. When the soul becomes tired and weary and has had enough and cries out to the Lord for help is when things truly begin to change. That is when the Lord sends his emissaries to scoop up the souls that have cried out for relief and want to journey back home to the true abode of permanent love, light and bliss. We came from the regions of bliss and we must return there one day or another. That bliss and consciousness is in all life forms – in the birds and animals to lesser degrees; nonetheless, they seek the same love and bliss. It’s the reason we should love all creatures and treat them all with the greatest respect for they are our brothers and sisters in light and life. Only love will do.

Mac McLaughlin has been a practising, professional astrologer for more than four decades. His popular Straight Stars column ran in Vancouver’s largest weekly newspaper for 11 years. Email or call 604-731-1109.


Aries ZodiacARIES Mar 21 – Apr 19

Let the wild flower grow in the dark and when it’s ready it can show its beauty to the world. You’re the wild flower now and it’s time for you to create as never before. Be who you are and stay original and the answers will come of their own accord. Career potential is great.


Taurus ZodiacTAURUS Apr 20 – May 21

Travel and career interests dominate the scene. Intense times are indicated. Don’t lead with your horns and allow others to have their say. Deep spiritual questions come up and it’s high time to contemplate and consider what is real and of true value. Dollars and trinkets won’t do. Dig deep and get to the truth.


Gemini ZodiacGEMINI May 22 – Jun 20

Gemini is known as the sign of youth and many Geminis retain their youthful appearance into their later years. Regardless of your chronological age, you may feel old and a tad weary these days. Not to worry, as this too shall pass. It’s time to seek and discover. Journeys are probable and spiritual enlightenment possible.


Cancer ZodiacCANCER Jun 21 – Jul 22

Crabs love to dig and now the time has come for you to dig deep in your quest for discovery, truth and true understanding of the nature of things. People come and people go and you may say goodbye to someone now. Lasting legacies are made and cherished for many years to come.

Leo ZodiacLEO Jul 23 – Aug 22

As the Sun moves through Aquarius, it heralds your solar low of the year. It may be wise to lay low and make yourself a small target. Bluff and bluster won’t really wash right now and you would get called on your game. Compassion, patience and honesty comprise the recipe for smooth sailing. Re-invent yourself now.


Virgo ZodiacVIRGO Aug 23 – Sep 22

Luck and fate factors are huge for Virgo right now. I wouldn’t be surprised if a Virgo wins the power ball lottery or some other huge windfall. Of course, the greatest windfall of all is spiritual enlightenment. It’s the only treasure you can take with you when you transcend your body. Make the right call.


Libra ZodiacLIBRA Sep 23 – Oct 22

Home, family, land and real estate are the big features right now, as are love and creativity. It’s also a time of research and discovery along with discipline and hard work. You may not mind and you may thrive on it all. Someone completely different shakes you up and changes your world.


Scorpio ZodiacSCORPIO Oct 23 – Nov 21

Lord Mars visits throughout the month providing courage and energy. No one will ever doubt your relentless effort and determination and now’s the time to truly put it in gear and move towards your goals. Keep in mind a soft reply turns away wrath. Make this your mantra, as things may get testy and tense.


Sagittaurus ZodiacSAGITTARIUS Nov 22 – Dec 21

A corralled horse champs at the bit longing for the freedom of the open plains. You may feel like that horse these days. Anxiety and little energy are the general complaints when Saturn is around. Saturn’s presence, although not comforting, brings very important lessons and etches wisdom and patience into our soul. Suck it up.


Capricorn ZodiacCAPRICORN Dec 22 – Jan 19

Pluto’s presence brings on a time of great transition and regeneration. To some, he bestows wealth and power; others he takes to a higher plane. It is a time of birthing and dying. Not so much physical dying, but the dying off of what is old and no longer useful.


Aquarius ZodiacAQUARIUS Jan 20 – Feb 19

Saturn and Uranus, co-rulers of Aquarius, are casting good energy your way, providing wisdom and creativity. Now all you have to do is use it. Fixed signs like Aquarius find it difficult to make changes when necessary. Point, counter point scenarios are bound to happen now. Keep your sword sharp and leave it in its scabbard.


Pisces ZodiacPISCES Feb 20 – Mar 20

When the cup is full, it cannot receive. Yes, you may have it all and feel empty at the same time. The problem stems from not taking care of your spiritual life. A muscle not used will atrophy and so it is with our soul currents. They need daily exercise, care, devotion, meditation and love.


Imagine a Reconciliation Bridge in Vancouver

A vision for a repurposed Georgia Viaduct

by Common Ground’s publisher, Joseph Roberts

Walk for Reconciliation
Walk for Reconciliation, Vancouver’s ex-Georgia Viaduct, 2013

• New York City had a brilliant idea. They took a viaduct and repurposed it into what has become a hugely popular aerial greenway park. Two years ago, while visiting NYC, I was one of first five million who had the delightful experience of strolling across this amazing, recently opened public park in the sky.

It was true highlight of my trip… and it got me thinking. We could create our own uniquely creative version of New York’s High Line Park by repurposing our very own Georgia Viaduct. And we could name this new park the “Reconciliation Bridge,” in the spirit of Truth and Reconciliation. A triple bottom line: good for reconciliation, good for the economy and good for the environment.

Imagine the unobstructed view of walking a couple of stories above street level through a well appointed parkway of indigenous grasses, flowers, plants and even trees! Their High Line Park provided ample benches and places to picnic, listen to music buskers, view local craft vendors, enjoy coffee, tea, and food offerings, read a book or do yoga. It was all there. And we can have it all here too if we catch the spirit of the Reconciliation Bridge and repurpose our sturdy Georgia Viaduct for the greater public good.

boardwalk, New York
New York’s new High Line Park ex-railway viaduct. (photo © Kobby Dagan)

We already have the infrastructure. Rather than spend millions to simply destroy it wasting the resources and energy that went into planning and building it – re-using offers a vastly superior alternative. It would also provide a stunning walkway to the proposed new Art Gallery a block away. Let’s save the Viaduct and transform it into a wondrous, aerial green parkway. Let’s demonstrate our commitment to reconciliation and create a legacy that will serve the next “seven generations.” Concrete can last a very long time, especially a structure built to support heavy trucks and cars. As a park, it will carry a much lighter load of pedestrian traffic and could easily last another 100 years. The Georgia Viaduct is an existing municipal asset that we can readily repurpose for recreational, garden, and cultural healing.

Vancouver’s Reconciliation Bridge would be world-class – a superb use of urban architecture, offering a huge open space for arts and culture to flourish as well as constituting a gateway to some of the most important cultural buildings in our city: The Queen Elizabeth Theatre, CBC, GM Place and BC Place. As a walkway connecting historic Chinatown and the Eastside with the downtown core, visitors and tourists will have a birds-eye view of historic Gastown to the north, Old Chinatown to the NE, Main Street to the east, Science World to the SE, beautiful False Creek to the south – with its shoreline parks – the Cambie and Granville Street bridges to the SW and a distinctly urban view straight east on Georgia Street leading to the proposed new Art Gallery at Cambie and Georgia, all with a subway station near by.

The creation of a Reconciliation Bridge is an incredible opportunity for Vancouver to do the right thing. We can transform the Georgia Viaduct into one of the jewels of the city and a world-class tourist destination. This would be one the best use of an existing city asset since the inception of Stanley Park. And as well as honouring our First Nations, it would also serve as a concrete act of healing past transgressions and reconciling Canada’s responsibility as well, ultimately leading us to an honourable, reconciled, culturally rich future. j

For further information contact Common Ground There is a public meeting being planned with all parties invited to discuss how to move forward with this vision for the Vancouver’s Reconciliation Bridge (location and time TBA)

A tale of two elevations

The High Line (also known as the High Line Park) is a 1.45-mile-long (2.33 km) aerial park in Manhattan built on an elevated section of an old New York Central Railroad viaduct called the West Side Line. You can see how the city’s problem was transformed into an open space benefiting residents as well as the tourist industry. Millions of visitors have walked the High Line since it opened in 2009.

Visit for a visual tour and imagine am aerial garden walking park called Reconciliation Bridge in Vancouver, an initiative that would upgrade our city, protect the views of existing residents and create a concrete example of our commitment to keeping our promises to our First Nations people. Our Walk for Reconciliation in 2013 drew 70,000 people to walk in the rain across our old Georgia Viaduct inspiring this new viaduct vision called the Reconciliation Bridge.

Shaping up in 2016 with renewed diet and fitness practices

NUTRISPEAK by Vesanto Melina MS, RD

Portrait of Vesanto Melina
• At this time of year, it can be invigorating to renew our diet and fitness practices. This might involve shedding a few pounds, eating more veggies, gaining muscle strength and posting regular dates for exercise on the calendar.

One goal might be to get in shape. Belly fat or visceral fat (meaning fat in and around body organs) is far more dangerous to health than subcutaneous fat (the fat you can grab). Belly fat doesn’t simply sit there; it actively releases hormones and inflammatory chemicals that can increase insulin resistance, blood cholesterol, blood pressure and the tendency for blood to clot. Visceral fat releases free fatty acids that travel to the liver and increase the production of “bad” LDL cholesterol and triglycerides. The best way to get rid of belly fat is to cut calories – especially from refined carbohydrates, such as sugar and white flour products and unhealthy types of fat – and to increase exercise.

Refined carbohydrates, especially sugars, are primary drivers of belly fat. When high carbohydrate foods are refined or processed into sugars and starches, they lose roughly 80 percent of their fibre, vitamins and minerals and about 95 percent of their phytochemicals. In populations consuming excess calories, the damaging effects of refined carbohydrates are even more pronounced. Liquid sugar is the worst culprit, as the calories from liquids do not register with the appetite control centre the way solid calories do so total calorie intakes increase. Fructose is even more concerning than glucose because high levels of intake quickly exceed our body’s capacity to handle it and it is quickly converted to fat. Fructose in fruit is provided in smaller amounts that the body is better able to manage.

Last year, the media had a field day after research was released suggesting there was no association between saturated fat and heart disease. Headlines swiftly vindicated beef, bacon, butter and brie. As it turns out, the results were oversimplified and misinterpreted. Expert panels were convened and the verdict is crystal clear: “Saturated fats are not off the hook.” Strong evidence from clinical trials show saturated fat increases LDL-cholesterol and has a negative impact on cardiometabolic risk. The most recent recommendations from the American College of Cardiology and the American Heart Association recommend a dietary pattern that achieves 5-6 percent of calories from saturated fat for the management of heart disease.

Noted below are some of the most health-oriented steps you can take. Just enjoy whatever level you can achieve and keep your focus on a goal.

Replace refined carbohydrates (sugar and white flour products) with unrefined carbohydrates (from legumes, whole grains, vegetables and fruits).

Reduce the saturated fat in your diet. Rely mainly on whole foods such as nuts, seeds and avocados for fat.

Engage in physical activity at least six days a week. Choose a mix on different days that improves your strength, aerobic capacity, endurance, flexibility and balance.

Build a support network that helps you stay on track with health, good nutrition and fitness. It is important to become part of a supportive community.

After living in Langley for the past two decades, BC dietitian Vesanto Melina is thrilled to be returning to Vancouver to live at the new cohousing community on 33rd Ave. (,

STAR WISE: January 2016

by Mac McLaughlin

portrait of Mac McLaughlin

It might be worth our while to take a deep look at the intrinsic meanings of Capricorn and its ruling planet Saturn. Deeply embedded religious beliefs and laws come under the heading of Saturn/Capricorn. Chronos (Father Time) carried a scythe and was known as the grim reaper, associated with death, poverty, pestilence and disease. Saturn seeks to correct, cleanse and purify. He rules magistrates and lawyers, along with fathers, husbands, bosses and others that seek to lead and rule. Saturn/Capricorn represents the structures we expect to remain the same, unchanged throughout time. Sounds like sour grapes and castor oil mixed into one.

The above commentary is a pretty general description of this dreary planetary energy. No wonder people from the east and west fear Saturn and dread the news of his arrival. He is a wet blanket and can certainly put a damper on our good spirits. No doubt, he has been behind the pain and suffering of every religious or political crusade that has ever manifested on our planet throughout all time. Pray my way or die. Comply, surrender, straighten out and fly right is the message of this heavy-handed, hooded messenger.

Probably got you depressed by now, but lets take another approach to what is behind this seemingly very harsh planetary deity. Saturn is very connected to nature, purity and wholesomeness. What Saturn has always tried to teach us is to live a life of purity and simplicity. The closer to nature we live, the healthier and happier we become. Likened to a loving father, he wants only the best for his children and will go to extreme means to keep them clean and safe. This Capricorn energy is on board and we will be imbibing of this energy for many years to come. Pluto visits Capricorn until November 2024 and this energy alone signals great changes on the planet. Saturn/Capricorn resists changes while Pluto is the planet of inevitable regeneration and transformation. By the spring of 2020, Mars, Jupiter, Saturn and Pluto are in Capricorn and it might very well spell out a time in which we experience the greatest changes and challenges to our way of life. Uranus will be in Taurus at that time, another harbinger that nothing will remain the same and all is due to change. Mainly, we must do our part and tote our grain of sand to the common pile. “What to do?” you might ask? Simplify, purify, stay close to nature and give love to one and all.

ARIES (Mar 21 – Apr 19)

You are very good at promoting, instigating and pioneering ways to move into the future. You accomplish these objectives by staying true to yourself and striving to simplify and disentangle the complicated knots we have tied ourselves with. The next several years will bring myriad opportunities for you create something totally original and exciting.

TAURUS (Apr 20 – May 21)

The initial spark of genius that Aries ignites, Taurus sustains and solidifies. In the summer of 2018, Uranus will visit Taurus until 2026. These are the years of your greatest changes and challenges. Your genius may be showing in those years and it may be a highly prolific, creative, artistic and innovative time. Start now.

GEMINI (May 22 – Jun 20)

Death and taxes: two topics that most of us would rather skip over, ignore or hope would go away. But no way – they’re on board and must be dealt with. The present planetary positions are indicating a time in which you might be looking at all kinds of deep topics, including mysticism and spirituality.

CANCER (Jun 21 – Jul 22)

A great transformative energy is taking place. Life may be full of complexities, some hidden and some not. Power plays and powerful days unfold in which you get to see who is loyal or not. Births and deaths, wills and legacies, deep loves and profound memories are made. Be clean and let your works be seen.

LEO (Jul 23 – Aug 22)

Sparks could fly in the first week of January. It won’t take much for you or others to lose their cool and it may be wise to follow the axiom, “A soft answer turneth away wrath.” Negotiations regarding business, romance and children come up throughout the month. Travel to exotic locations may be considered as well.

VIRGO (Aug 23 – Sep 22)

It’s time to rethink the plan and do what Virgo does best, which is to analyze any particular thing down to its very core. While you’re doing all this super brain work, keep in mind it’s also time to consider just where you’re at on the level of spirituality and your relationship to the creator.

LIBRA (Sep 23 – Oct 22)

January is a highly creative month for Libra. Not so much in the sense of output and production, but in how you shape your world. It might be time to weigh up your relationships and see which ones are worthy and worth continuing. It’s time to go deep within the sanctum of your soul.

SCORPIO (Oct 23 – Nov 21)

Lord Mars visits your sign until early March providing much needed energy, strength and confidence. You may feel as though you have had the stuffing kicked out of you over the last few years, but now you’re on the mend and back to your old self again. Set your gaze on the target and move forward.

SAGITTARIUS (Nov 22 – Dec 21)

Now’s the time for some deep introspection regarding matters of the heart. Sagittarius holds the highest ideals and when they’re not met it can cause a bit of depression. On the other hand, when you have your priorities right you can fly high like no other. Love and career considerations are the dominant topics.

CAPRICORN (Dec 22 – Jan 19)

Certain aspects of life are being revealed. Things you may never have considered are coming up and must be handled. Not half way, but all the way. As my beloved guru has taught us, “Don’t waste the capital you have been given.” Money, name and fame won’t do it, but devotion to higher consciousness will.

AQUARIUS (Jan 20 – Feb 19)

The full Moon on January 23 and a few days either side of this date will help illuminate what must be done in order for you to feel you have yourself together, balanced and copacetic. Much is happening behind the scenes and soon enough what was hidden will come to light. Give love and forgiveness.

PISCES (Feb 20 – Mar 20)

When the cup is full, it cannot receive. Yes, you may have it all and feel empty at the same time. The problem stems from not taking care of your spiritual life. A muscle not used will atrophy and so it is with our soul currents. They need daily exercise, care, devotion, meditation and love.

Mac McLaughlin has been a practising, professional astrologer for more than four decades. His popular Straight Stars column ran in Vancouver’s largest weekly newspaper for 11 years. Email or call 604-731-1109.