Congrats everyone, you made it through the first half of 2018. With some of the hard aspects that we have all shared this year, that is a huge accomplishment. July's heat wave will present a few bumps in the road, but a lovely grand trine right in the middle of the month will cool things off. This trine is so beautiful, in fact, that I would schedule major events and even births (if you can) on and around July 13th to 15th. But more on that later for some of the signs below. Heads up…Mercury goes retrograde on July 29th (you'll start to feel it by the 26th) so make sure that you buy your electronics, sign your contracts and have your tricky negotiations before the end of the month. Happy summer!
June 21-July 22
“Water your seedlings"
Happy Birthday to our summer friends born under the sign Cancer the Crab. The end of June would have been a bit of a struggle for you. Things are going to lift at the beginning of this month and line up by July 10th. This July 4th holiday will be especially fun and meaningful. Be with loved ones and celebrate. Just don't overindulge. How do you take advantage of the Earth sign grand trine around July 13th-15th? Water your garden. I mean your actual garden…but also your metaphorical garden. It's a good time to take action around tending to the goals that you have already set and not spending too much time dreaming…or planting new seeds. Work on your company's process, renovate your property, take care of warranty issues and pay attention to your assets. God will take care of growing the plants right now. You just need to be a good caretaker.
July 23-August 22
“The party is over"
It's time to clean up all the remnants of the good times that you've been having lately. It's not just drudgery for you, it's just time to get to work. The earth trine July 13th-15th calls you to focus on the practical application of your dreams. Be realistic. You still have lovely Mars energy on your side this month and on July 5th-6th you can convince anyone to do anything. Get prepared for Mercury going into retrograde at the end of the month in your sign of Leo. Not a good time to take a trip, but a great time to rest and organize your home with Venus in Virgo. What have you invented lately? Write it down.
August 23-September 22
“I can see clearly now"
Are you ready to receive your vision dear Virgo? This month is especially magical for you. It's like the universe picks you up, alights you on top of a beautiful mountain, and gives you a glimpse of your future including all the miracles, obstacles, treasures and hills to climb. It's so beautiful. Don't miss it because you are too busy looking down obsessing over the details or looking behind you trying to understand what went wrong. Look up and out. Your life is becoming a heroic tale. Have faith and keep moving.
September 23-October 22
“Digging out from under"
This Pluto and Saturn in Capricorn has been weighing on you for quite some time now. It feels heavy, like you can never finish what you've started. Keep going for there is a reward at the end of this marathon. It's just going to take a while. In the interim, dance with your Mars in Aquarius…dream, create, try new things. The “new" is your friend right now. New restaurants, travel destinations, ideas and cultures. Be frugal with your assets, especially real estate. It's the season of living below your means. That can be hard for the Librans that love new things and “retail therapy."
October 23-November 22
“Knights in white satin"
Scorpios who know anything about astrology understand that right now is a golden time for them because of the lovely transits happening in the major planets. For Scorpios, these auguries represent grand life visions, work abundance, asset building and spiritual connection. In other words, you are being blessed right now in the short term and long term. So why can't you be more respectful to those around you? Why do you feel like it's ok to lose your temper and have a negative impact on the people that matter the most to you? I'm not talking to the more mindful and conscious Scorpios right now. But for many of you it's the everyday interpersonal frustrations that are the stress for you right now. Some handle this better than others. Try to stay in an attitude of gratitude. It's a medicine that will do wonders.
November 23-December 21
You still have the gift of persuasion and gab right now, but the Mercury in retrograde at the end of the month (starting July 26th) is especially “interesting" for you. With the grand trine in earth signs and the retrograde coming, I would choose my words carefully and focus on getting my assets and finances in order presently and for your retirement. It's also a time to downsize as a part of a future vision. In other words, don't get into a situation where you have to “put your money where your mouth is." This month is not a time to gamble on anything. That's a bummer for Sagittarians because they practically invented the art of making a wager. Trust me, right now you can't afford to lose.
December 22-January 19
“Manna from heaven"
Woohoo! Hot damn what a month for you. Sorry was that too loud? Capricorns don't like making a scene. It's uncouth. In fact, they would rather assess all of their abundance and good fortune in private. Smart Capricorns (everyone else please take note) know that this is a sellers' market. They are unloading real estate and assets. They are building up a fund to buy up the deals when the market inevitably goes soft soon. This is just business as usual for them. The only difference is that the way they see the world is how the world is right now. Slow and steady wins the race. This isn't always the case. There is also love happening for our Cap friends. But, of course, that is very private. Look at their faces closely…see the little corner of a smile on that otherwise stern face? There it is…Caps are winning.
January 20-February 18
“Hear ye, hear ye"
I know it has been slow building the path to your dreams lately. It feels like the foundation is never quite finished. You are never done. You want to move on to the fun aspects of your vision. You want to start living in your vision. It's simply not time yet to have everything that you want. It wouldn't even be fun if you really think about it. Would you want everything that you've ever desired to eat all on one table in front of you at the same time? You wouldn't be able to be present for all of it. Besides, right now the universe is asking for you to share your process of building as an inspiration to others. The story of your struggles and process is an important teacher. Speak your truth to help others out.
February 19-March 20
You have been out in that Piscean, watery sea for quite some time now. You are comfortable in the ocean of emotions, vision and creativity but everyone needs to throw an anchor down at times to recharge and replenish your cargo. Now is your time to take a furlough on dry land. In other words, reap financial and physical rewards for your hard work and put your focus on evaluating assets and the structure of relationships. Take stock of your resources and plan for your future resources. Buy or sell real estate. Move or edit possessions if it's needed. Work on career planning. Make or break a commitment within a relationship. The sky is clear of storms…time to make your intentions clear as well.
March 21-April 19
I call this “tsunami season" for Aries. You have all the major planets squaring or otherwise not trining your sun. Imagine yourself on a surfboard in the middle of the ocean. The horizon looks calm but I'm letting you know now that there are several tsunamis on the way. There are a few ways to handle this news: 1. Stay in a denial that they aren't coming. 2. Become paralyzed with fear that they are coming. 3. Get excited about how amazing the surfing is going to be and where these waves may take you. For an Aries, the latter is almost always the choice you will make. Just keep one mantra in mind: submit. You must submit to the forces of fate that are beyond your control right now. See it as an exciting adventure and don't resist. You will end up somewhere wonderful and new I promise.
April 20-May 20
“Upside down, downside up"
Like I've said previously, this month is a wonderful bounty for the earth signs and you are no exception. The special twist for Taurus is the Uranus transit of change and surprise. Taurus is not usually one for surprise, but I suggest that you put your life vest on and get excited (see Aries above). Your fortune could change, your identity could change, your whole life could change without any planning on your part. While this is happening, your finances can become more stable. Your creative life will flourish, and your emotional life can become more fulfilling than ever before. Just try to watch what you say and how you say it with Mercury in Leo. Don't gloat. Some people will be jealous of your success.
May 21-June 20
“Eye on the ball"
It's a month to stay focused and on task for Geminis. Revisit your long-term goals. Who do you need to network with to get to where you want to be? Who really has all the power? Are you staying within a budget or are you living above your means? It's a great time to sell real estate. It's not a good time to make major financial commitments that are a stretch. You have Mars energy on your side, but it is not the time to start new things. It is a time to assess your strategy and to eliminate redundancies. Keep building and plugging away on your projects and eliminate the word “should" from your vocabulary. I should have this by now…I should be there by now…you are exactly where you “should" be right now.
March 6, 2017. I will never forget the date and I will never forget the place. And despite an unfortunate series of events that evening that led me to be over-served, I will also never forget what he did or what he said and the squirmy high pitched voice he used that night.
At a bar in Manhattan after a work event, my business partner put his hand up my dress and pulled at my stockings, grabbing me by my crotch telling me over and over again that he just wanted to put his fingers up my pussy. Unimaginable. I must have been pretty drunk - maybe even blacked out - because I don't remember exactly what happened right before that. Not good. But what was even worse was this person who I knew and trusted took advantage of my condition and instead of helping me when I was clearly in bad shape, he hit on me. Or at least that is the way I looked at it initially.
He is very strong. I grabbed his forearm with both my hands and told him no and to stop and I tried to pull his hand out from under my dress.
He did not listen and he did not stop even though I told him no multiple times.
Even though I physically tried to fight him off.
It was bad. When something like that happens to you it plays a trick on your brain. If it was a stranger I would have yelled for help. But it was not. It was someone I knew and trusted. Eventually, I did get him to stop and convinced him that it was time to go. On 5th Avenue I told him we were both going home. He said he wanted to take me to a hotel. He started grabbing up my dress again and telling me again that he just wanted to put his fingers up my pussy.
"I have a big dick and you are going to like it." he said.
I continued to tell him no and to stop. He grabbed me again and literally put his tongue down my throat. I tried to push him off; to tell him no; to breathe.
But he was stronger than me and he didn't listen. I was nauseous. He made me nauseous and so did the wine and scotch that I drank that night. I managed to push him off with one big burst of strength. And then I went to the side of the building and threw up. I threw up the booze, I threw up his disgusting words, and I threw up his tongue being jammed down my throat.
He asked me if I was okay and I looked at him with anger and disgust and I said no.
"No I am not okay. This is not okay. You need to leave. Go home." I yelled. And he finally listened to me.
I woke up in my bed the next morning not feeling so well on all fronts. I had a text from his wife. Whom I never met. Asking if he had done anything inappropriate the night before. I was still thinking he hit on me. I panicked. "No. He was fine." I responded.
He called me later that morning and said he couldn't remember the night and asked me if I remembered anything. I let him know he hit on me and that he used disgusting language and he was completely out of line. That he wanted to take me to a hotel. He said he didn't remember.. "You told me you had a big male part and I was going to like it."
He snickered and said well I do but that's besides the point. And then he proceeds to tell me we were never going to talk about this again.
He was heading out on a guys trip and by the time he returned I was heading out to an industry conference. I hadn't told anyone. Not my family, not my friends, no one. It was 10 days since it happened.. My female colleague asked me at the conference how the partnership was going and I said not good. I told her he hit on me and that it was beyond awkward that it was disturbing. She asked me what happened and I told her the whole story.
"That's is not hitting on you that is sexual assault" she stated.
And that was the first time I ever considered that this was more than someone hitting on me. It was a lot to absorb. I knew I couldn't work with him anymore and I shared that with my friend. She said not only can't you not work with him but you have to report him. I really needed to wrap my head around this.
Before heading back east I changed travel plans and headed out to spend some time with my daughter who was working out west at the time. I shared what happened with her. She was appalled. She was clear. She reiterated what my colleague said. She was disgusted with this person and said I needed to report him. It was a reversal of roles but she gave great advice. I then shared what happened with my husband and then my other two children and then some of my friends.
The next day I met with my management team and shared what happened and included the details. It was so uncomfortable to do but I knew it had to be done. I told them that we were no longer going to work together and I was going to tell him but that I wanted to spare his family and not report him to HR. I know - silly me to think this way. Of course this warranted an HR intervention. This was not my works though and I think I was still in shock in a sense that this actually happened. My brain was still playing tricks on me.
I walked into his office and let him know I didn't want to work with him anymore. He was stunned. And then for the second time to date that weird whiny voice came out. Why? But I want to still work with you. Why don't you want to work with me? It was a trigger. I snapped. I then blasted him with exactly what he said and did that night. He covered his ears and said he couldn't listen anymore. There was no changing my mind and he agreed to part ways. And then he said he never wanted to talk about it again.
Until my manager called me at the end of the day and said it had to be reported to HR. I expressed my concern and asked if we could please not report it. I don't want him fired because he has a family and I didn't want that on me. Too bad too late it was serious and needed to be reported. My brain was still playing tricks on me. I knew he had crossed some serious lines and his actions were assault and a crime. Still it was someone I had known and worked with and trusted.
The next day he called my office. He shared that he told his wife and she was very angry but they were going to work it out. I am glad we will never have to talk about this again. We were going to responsibly separate our business so we needed to be cordial. I told him that unfortunately that will not be the case because HR is now involved. The high pitches voice came back. Oh my god why? What did you tell them? They are going to think I am an animal. Please please I am begging you call them up and tell them you were lying tell them take it back tell them you made it up. But I didn't lie, I didn't make it up, and I certainly wasn't going to retract what I shared. He called me back multiple times begging me to take it back. He begged me to tell management that I had made it up. He asked me that if I couldn't do it for him to do it for his family. I felt bad for his family but I told the truth and I wasn't going to retract it. His multiple calls bordered on harassment so I stopped taking his calls.
I received an email from HR. They wanted to meet with me to discuss my concerns that I raised with management. We met that week. She indicated that she had known my name as all external recognitions come through their office and they need to approve all nominations. It was an odd statement, almost a power play. Other than that, she came across as warm and supportive as I shared the entire story. I knew that he would be fired because as I recounted the events and the behavior I realized his actions violated more than company policy. I felt badly about that because of his family so I said I didn't want him fired. She proceeded to tell me that they would determine what to do and it was their job to decide what to do. She also said they wouldn't be able to tell me what they did. They would be meeting with him soon because of the nature of the incident.
A couple of days later, I knew they were meeting with him and I was sick to my stomach. Any minute now he would be fired for his behavior and actions and although I knew it was the right thing to do, I still struggled with the effect this would have on his family. I wasn't thinking clearly of course as he would be the reason he was fired, not me. It was his choice and his actions.
Later that day he was still employed and I couldn't figure out how that could be possible. I later received an email that the HR woman had more questions. Okay. The second meeting was disturbing. It took a very different turn and tone.
"If you are lying you will be fired. He could lose his job, his family and his livelihood. Are you sure you are not lying? And you may not discuss this with anyone. If you discuss this with anyone you could be fired." I was traumatized by this woman. She proceeded to make belittling comments and victim shame me. "I could see how he could get his hand up that dress. He said he was pulling on your stockings but not up by your crotch."
She then gave me an anatomy lesson on where in my body my vagina is - sharing that she has had this same anatomy conversation with her two young daughters (like 4 and 6) really?
"I told him to stop numerous times I told him no."
"He said you meant no not here."
"I had to literally pull his foreman out from my dress." Then she indicated that I really couldn't pull his arm from that angle. Insinuating that I was lying and making it all up.
This is what we refer to as victim-shaming and it is toxic behavior. And it actually is to me the more difficult aspect to overcome. There was more. But you get the picture.
Fast forward to October 2017 and the #metoo movement erupts. I have shared my experience with close friends and colleagues and have received tremendous support and for that I am grateful. I had lunch with a male colleague, a good friend who had been part of the team who hired me. He was in a position to refer clients and I wanted to know what he looks for when referring clients. He answered that he only refers to teams. I asked him why he doesn't refer client opportunities to me. He said because I don't have a partner. But I had a partner and you know it didn't work out. I am good at what I do. I don't need a partner I have a whole team. He then said yes he knew all about my partner and what happened. What did they tell you happened? That you had a prior relationship with him and it just didn't work out. What? There was no prior relationship. Did they tell you.... and then I proceeded to vomit out the whole incident ...omg no I didn't know. I am so sorry. No they didn't tell us that. It was just s bunch of us guys talking about it. It was a while ago. Don't worry. We all know you and know you are a quality person. Just put your head down and work and eventually everyone will forget about this. I thanked him and I was thankful for his friendship and that he shared this with me. And then I called the best attorney in New York City to discuss this. My biggest mistake when the incident first happened is that i did not get legal representation on day one when this first occurred. I didn't do anything wrong so I didn't think I needed an attorney. I now realize that was a critical mistake on my end. Always always always seek legal advice no matter what!!!! He must have had a top attorney. His job was on the line. And as a result he was protected and I was not.
The attorney I met with and hired is a rock star. She asked me what I wanted. I want him fired. I had completely changed my position on this. My mind was no longer playing tricks on me. He screwed up. He crossed the line. He committed the crime. He was still at my company showing up at conferences, seeing him at the office - it made me sick to my stomach. It felt so different because now it felt like he got away with it, didn't accept any responsibility in this and was even a bit arrogant. Too late I was told. They had already decided his fate and could not change it. Do you want to leave? Do you want money? Has your business suffered as a result of this? No, no and no. I like the people here ,I know everyone, I know how to navigate the firm. I am not leaving. And my business is doing great. And no. I don't want money. I just don't. Well then what do you want? I want them to never do this to another human being. It was the most traumatizing time of my life. I was stressed out every day. I was worried that they wouldn't believe me and I would be fired. It scared the hell out of me. I was terrified. I ended up with bronchitis. I threw my back out and had unbearable pain for months. I attribute this to the stress and the duress of the way I was treated by the woman in HR and the way this was handled.
The attorney was my saving grace. The attorney found 10 violations of case law in this investigation and prepared a letter to my firm. This attorney is one of the best in the country and they were appalled by the way this investigation by my firm was handled.
I was slow to respond when it was time to send the letter in. I was told that it may reopen a new investigation and cause me more duress. I was told my goal of procedural changes would never be known. I was told there was no real upside for me. After 9 months of stress I decided to end it and I chose not to send it. I wanted to stay at my firm because I have many great relationships and resources and the people are not the HR woman who failed me failed our firm and failed our community. Who said there are places in hell for women who don't help other women? I was thriving in my business and did not want to leave and did not want money. I only wanted the firm to change the way they handle these matters going forward. But there was no way we would know if they would make any changes and their would be no upside for me in delivering the letter. There was only more downside. Speaking up cost me. It cost me my health for a time - I came down with bronchitis during this investigation and three out my back for a year. It cost me my mental health for a while as I actually was in fear that maybe they would believe him and his lies as he tried to save his job and if they believed him and not me then I could lose my job and it cost me because I did not know that I would need my own legal representation.
I thought one day if I ever do leave my current firm I would deliver the letter as part of my exit interview. Or maybe write a book one day and share these events then. The book would be about more than this one incident - it would be about resiliency and finding my own definition of success. But...
Earlier this week news broke That Rowan Farrow has a new book coming out and it shares details about the rape that caused NBC to fire Matt Lauer. It brought back a flood of emotions and the events of that night. The sexual assault. The idea that something like this could happen to someone like me and at this point in my life. Really? I am grateful that NBC and the people that sat at the desk with Matt acknowledge his "appalling, horrific and reprehensible" behavior and confirm why they took immediate action against him as soon as they learned of this behavior. It gives me hope that we are not going to accept this type of behavior or action. I do not accept it and my heart goes out to the woman who has been forced into the limelight, with photographers chasing her down in front of her home, snapping pictures, freezing her image in time when she is scared and she is vulnerable and she feels violated. Again. She was brave to speak up and face someone so much bigger stronger and more powerful then her. I understand where she is coming from. How maybe her mind played tricks on her too. There is a huge cost to sharing such an assault - an assault on your body but even more an assault on your being - and being publicly identified as the victim.
On a positive note, many firms have changed the way they address these incidents now. I hope my firm has revisited the way they handle sexual assault and the way they treat the victim too. I hope it will be a better experience for the next person and they are treated with respect, support and kindness.
Fast forward to today. He is still working at my firm and every time I see him I get a visceral reaction and feel nauseous. I think if this event had happened six months later in the midst of the #metoo movement he would have been fired. I also "heard" that this same fellow had been fired years ago from another firm for sexually harassing a woman. But there is no public information available on this. This is the cost of keeping things quiet. An opportunity to repeat this behavior. Maybe worse next time.
I like to think my firm now knows they made the wrong decision and should have fired him.
I have chosen to not be a victim. I spoke up. It did cost me. But I would do it again. I have been determined to find ways to support women and to have a positive impact on others and make a difference at my firm. I share this article anonymously in order to protect myself. Because we need to put our oxygen mask on first and we need to heal and move past the damage caused by others. In my case - by him and by the woman who works in HR.