Many of you who know me well may see me as the consummate Virgo. I am, as the title of this post suggests, a person who finds a great deal of satisfaction in the idea of mastering and then streamlining the process. It’s all about the details for me, at least in the area of my life where I fill my purpose in the world. That’s what a person who has the Sun in Virgo does. While focusing on the particulars can be a highly productive and supremely important thing, it tends to create a head down kind of mentality, and because details are omnipresent, Virgo Suns tend to want to always be churning out large amounts of work. As a consequence, when there are no external specifics to be catalogued, organized, or refined, they turn that same energy inward and can become highly introspective, rattling around in their heads looking for something that needs labeling or color coding. While I raise my hand and say “yes, guilty” to all these things, I also want to offer up the observation that as a society, I think we turn more and more into Virgos every single day. We want to be busy, busy, busy, and if we’re not, we feel like we must be doing something wrong. We’ve lost the ability to find joy in having a day that stretches in front of us without obligation. We do and do and do, to the point that we’ve forgotten how to simply be.
Statistics certainly support my theory. Fewer than three in ten Americans used all their paid vacation days last year. Of those who did, 31% said they are expected to answer phone calls or texts while on vacation, 27% must be ready to respond to emails or messages, and 20% are required to be online while away from the office. 45% of U.S. employees get no more than two weeks of paid vacation time each year, while 9% don’t get any. Interestingly enough, more than half of American workers said they might stay longer with a company if they had more vacation time, yet the average number of unused vacation days is 9.5, with one-third of employees saying that their vacation days do not roll over. There are many more numbers such as these, but I think we get the picture, and in all honesty, it’s not surprising that this is where we are. We could dig into economic statistics that tell us that we have to work more to meet the rising cost of things, or to sock money into college funds to be able to at least afford one year of tuition, but at our deepest collective level, we are a nation that was founded on the principle of hard work. Thomas Jefferson reminds us that we should “determine never to be idle. No person will have occasion to complain of the want of time who never loses any. It is wonderful how much may be done if we are always doing.” John Adams admonishes us to “let frugality and industry be our virtues” and that we should “fire our children with ambition to be useful” above all else. And Ben Franklin sums it all up rather succinctly: “Plough deep while sluggards sleep.” Okay. Once again, we get the picture.
The difficulty in wrapping our heads around the idea of creating a work life balance in which we view being idle as a time of restoration instead of laziness, is that we are conditioned to anxiously anticipate the challenges of each day, rather than to eagerly await the joys. Allow me to give you an example from my own life. For the past seven weeks or so, I have been with all my grandchildren Monday through Friday while continuing to attempt to work, write, study astrology, grow an enormous garden, and maintain some kind of personal and social life. It has been interesting, and many days I have felt like I’ve failed in all those things. I adopted a morning ritual where I draw a tarot card from my deck after repeating a little mantra/question in which I ask for guidance for the day. Sometimes compassion has been required, or strength, and many times the answer has been patience, as you might expect. The funny thing is that in the wording of the question I have always asked for “insight and wisdom to meet the day’s challenges, as well as to experience its joys.” Never once have I considered joy first, as much as I’m constantly saying we should. It has always been the afterthought. It may seem minor or unimportant, but I truly believe that this is how many of us greet each day, and quite possibly, how we view our lives overall. What if we turned that around in the most incremental way?
As luck would have it, I happened to listen to one of the most recent episodes of the amazing podcast hosted by Glennon Doyle and Abby Wambach called We Can Do Hard Things, in which the American poet and essayist Ross Gay was their guest. In The Book of Delights, he offers us a record of the small daily joys that he learned to find in his own life amidst the chaos of recent years, and tells us that “it didn’t take [him] long to learn that the discipline or practice of writing these essays occasioned a kind of delight radar. Or maybe it was more like the development of a delight muscle. Something that implies that the more you study delight, the more delight there is to study.” If we followed Gay’s “system” and recorded one small happiness each day by writing a single sentence, or an essay if we are so inclined, or by taking a picture, would we eventually be able to change our focus from challenge to joy? Would I, as the quintessential Virgo, be able to stop streamlining, cataloguing, and refining long enough to see the process itself as the thing that matters most, even in its messiest form? I am determined to try. When the box of three hundred bandaids hit the bathroom floor yesterday, I felt myself cringe until Nellie found the one she was looking for to cover the invisible injury to her right foot. It was sky blue and filled with tiny yellow sloths, and it made her two-year-old heart so very happy. That was my moment of delight. I am recording it by sharing it with all of you.
For today’s cocktail, I decided to reprise the original Virgo drink that I had created back in 2017. It is layered and complex, but with an underlying simplicity that applies to both the Virgo personality, as well as to Ross Gay’s ideas on joy. I wanted the drink to have an outwardly bristly character that gave way to warmth and sweetness underneath the surface. In order to achieve this, I started with a rim on the glass that consisted of applewood sea salt and Aleppo pepper flakes, so your first sensation is smoky and downright spicy. The base of the cocktail is Rujero Singani, a Bolivian spirit that you might have to work a bit to find, just like the tiny moment of joy in each day, but it’s totally worth the effort. The Rujero is a brandy distilled from white muscat grapes that tastes like a blend of pisco and tequila. It is absolutely wonderful. I added in lime juice and mint simple to make a variation of a mojito, but I floated Ancho Reyes chili liqueur on top to give it an additional layer of warmth that hits you after the smokiness of the rim. It unfolds in the glass and transitions from being smoky and almost hot, to warm and spicy, until it finally ends up as bright, sweet, and positively delightful. Cheers everyone. Happy Saturday! Chase joy.
2 oz Rujero Singani
.5 oz Ancho Reyes chili liqueur
.75 oz lime juice
.75 oz mint simple syrup
Rim an old-fashioned glass with smoked salt and Aleppo pepper flakes.
Short shake over ice.
Single strain over one large cube.
Garnish with a mint sprig.
Click below to listen to an audio recording of today’s post!