A red neon sign says Happy (the feature images for the blog post "In the Pursuit of Happiness: Lessons from Two Sagittarians"

first, a little update from me…

I guess this will be a bimonthly blog? Welcome to my third post!

I had tried to write this during Sagittarius season, and I thought I had a draft saved. It may actually be saved here because there’s a weird draft that I can’t access that is saved here.

And then today (Wednesday), I wrote a little and, again, the draft hadn’t been saved. Blasted Mercury retrograde!

So it’s been tough to actually pin down my thoughts about this topic about happiness from a Sagittarian POV.

Personally, Sag season was a bit chaotic: the house I lived in went under new ownership, the new owners and I clashed. I got a lease termination in Capricorn season. And then, I moved from Florida to Seattle during Aquarius season.

Mars direct in my 4th house really orbited me out of my home, which I had hoped under my own control (silly double Capricorn hopes!).

In the interim, I updated my services and pricing, so if you want to book a reading, book now!

Also, at the time before my move, when I so desperately wanted out of my house of horrors, it was hard to hold Sagittarian hope and optimism, although I was so inspired by the two people I want to talk about: my friend Heather and Tony Hsieh, former Zappos.com CEO who died last November 2020.

So this post may not be timely, because 2020 was what it was for me. But I do think this is a timeless message about how to structure your life.

the new millennium and the humming undercurrent of gen x optimism

A natal chart for Tony Hsieh
Tony Hsieh’s natal chart

When I think about Tony Hsieh — who has his sun, Mercury, Neptune, and north node in Sagittarius, with a Jupiter in Aquarius ruling that stellium (don’t have a birth time so this is a noon chart) — I think about how groundbreaking Zappos.com back in the mid-aughts. Not only was it innovative in terms of having a shit ton of shoes available at a click (free next-day shipping most of the time), but also the way Zappos did customer service. It was, and is, legendary.

When Zappos decided to create a less hierarchal workplace, a holocracy, I was in awe. What a Pluto in Libra dream, to just make it about all of us, with no one being “The Man.”

I didn’t really thinking about Hsieh as a Gen X poster dude, but he was to me — implicitly. He made me think about what I felt like we as a generation were trying to do in the 2000s, even though 9/11 harpooned so much of our shiny happy, bright, late 90s optimism. Neptune in Sagittarius life, maybe?

We really did want to make the world a better place and to be connected to one another, and we were jaded because we aren’t as strong in number as our Boomer parents or Millennial siblings. Another Neptune in Sagittarius thought: easily jaded when ideals aren’t realized?

the optimism of the digital age

The way social media has become was not the way we intended for it to be. It really was about people and connection and hanging out and chilling out and having fun and geeking out about whatever the fuck we were into, especially if it was super niche and no one in your town was into your thing. Well, there’s some kid in Sydney that’s into it and now you’re best friends.

Zappos had basically become, in my mind, an aspirational company (even as they walked away from the holocracy model last year — hey, at least they tried!). It was a part of that dot com era of having fun at work, but working hard. And, you could hear it from the customer service reps and on their Twitter account.

So when Hsieh suddenly died last November, my first thought was some chronic illness, like cancer. But the beginning of the end of his life was the dark side of a purely Jupiterian life, a life with no limits.

what happens after happiness?

After making Zappos successful as CEO, Hsieh wrote a book called Delivering Happiness in 2010, and then the consultancy of the same name was created.

And then, his life increasingly was about building Shangri-La, which he started to do when he aimed to revitalize downtown Las Vegas. At the time of his death, he was attempting to create his own community in Park City, Utah.

He basically created his happy place, buying folks off with his multimillions.

But Hsieh was struggling with both mental health issues (insomnia and loneliness) and substance abuse issues (nitrous oxide). And he hadn’t surrounded himself with accountability. He had surrounded himself with sycophantic enablers.

Could that be his Mercury conjunct Neptune in Sagittarius? To quote Fleetwood Mac, “Tell me lies, tell me sweet little lies” Neptune also involves drugs and it could be that with this conjunction, the use of drugs on his mental state caused that illusory state.

And note: you may have this aspect in your chart. I have it in a wider orb, the exact same planets, in the 12th house. It does not mean that everyone with Neptunian contacts will have substance abuse issues. It does mean that it could possibly speak to that being an issue at some point, if circumstances allow. It could also speak to healing and transcendent experiences, which he was definitely chasing as well.

a community that never really materialized

And, to underline this point, I really do believe we have free will…it’s just not a completely free will. There are consequences, along with situations we cannot control. We all have our own little sandboxes we play in — a metaphor used with Hsieh when he was creating his happy communities.

A close friend quoted in Forbes [it’s worth reading this whole story, where I’m getting a lot of the information about his tragic downfall] had this to say: “He fostered so much human connection and happiness, yet there was this void. It was difficult for him to be alone.”

And maybe Hsieh wasn’t set out to be a family man, settle down, etc. But who was his community? The happiness evangelist had friends, but eventually, they had their own families and lives which diverged from his. Forbes called him “an extremely rich Peter Pan.”

astrological transits took a toll

All this happiness chasing seeming became frantic once the pandemic hit. It makes me think about his Mars in Aries. What a long Mars return for him, when Mars was retrograde for months. There’s no way for him to just go go go when everyone had to stay inside.

And speaking of that, all the boundaries that came up while Saturn was in Capricorn, along with enduring a Saturn opposition (his Saturn is in Cancer) along with possibly his Cancer moon getting beat up by sign. He had Chiron in Aries so he was also going through his Chiron return.

For people with prominent cardinal placements, 2020 was a malefic mess, and he definitely got caught up in it.

Also, this was the beginning of a nodal reversal, since his north node is in Sagittarius and the transiting south node was in Sagittarius. The nodes entered Gemini and Sagittarius in May 2020. I’m pretty sure this transit basically was asking him to address his beliefs and bring in new data to help reshape his beliefs.

out of touch, out of reach

So there was a lot going on astrologically for him that was heavy and was calling for change and healing. And, without a community to support you with all these calls for change, it can be all too much.

And then, he was just out of reach. I mean, what Sagittarius do you know that is unreachable for long periods of time unless they’re in some remote country or locale? Eventually they return to regale us with the stories of their exploits and adventures.

With all the nitrous he was taking, he was dissociating (probably on purpose). He went on a trip that he never returned from. He died from smoke inhalation from a fire after bizarrely locking himself in his girlfriend’s shed after they had a fight, having people check on him numerous times. Ironically, they were just about to all go to Hawaii.

The tech world, and me, was crushed. Hsieh was a hero, but we had no idea of the demons he fought along his hero’s journey. His death will always leave me a little sad because maybe he could have gotten sober and maybe found a new natural high that didn’t involve drugs. It seems so senseless and yet so fated because of the road he had chosen to walk, even as his friends begged him to choose a healthier path.

It just makes me wonder if he’s an object lesson of achieving so much and feeling like an abyss for connection. What new challenges could make him feel alive, besides dissociating from the life that seemed unfulfilling?

What happens when you get everything you want and you’re still unhappy?

protect your happy

My friend Heather is a fellow astrologer and tarot reader, along with a yoga teacher and medium. Last year, we became accountability partners through an online forum we’re both a part of. We talk mostly every Monday night. It’s been less about goals now and more about sharing our lives.

Heather is another fellow Gen Xer, a jolly petite 50-year-old white woman whose signature catchphrase, “It’ll be fine!” is quintessentially Sagittarian (and helped me get through my moving to Seattle madness). She freely tells everyone she loves them. She bops around and sings during our co-working calls. She laughs at herself when she falls out of her yoga poses. Just bouncing around with happiness. And just like other Sagittarians, she’s also as serious as a heart attack.

We get along well and cannot stop talking, and maybe we have some antiscia going on with our suns and Mercuries (she has Mercury in Capricorn, and I have Mercury in Sagittarius).

During one of our accountability calls (and now that it’s been so long I can’t exactly remember when we talked about this), the topic of creating a happy life came up. Maybe I was acutely miserable in the house I was living in. Maybe I felt significantly frustrated. I’m pretty sure this was right around Hsieh’s death, most likely before, but I can’t remember.

happiness does not have to be complicated

Anyway, for Heather, it was really simple. She has some non-negotiable things that she always does. I know one of them is getting her nails done. To be happy, you center your life around those things (it just has to be a few things), you protect those things, and that’s it. She said it with more Mercury in Capricorn gravitas and succinctness, but it just struck me, the simplicity of it.

I had already done a bit of that before our happiness discussion. Earlier last year, I decided to buy these Sony headphones when I was able to afford them (refurbished — so, cheaper). And I pay for TIDAL Premium for access to the masters quality albums. I have gladly made music a priority, like I had done when I was younger and a classically trained pianist.

And well, that’s all I’ve got for now. ? I think another non-negotiable will be having a nice home with nice, cozy furnishings (after living in so many shitholes for so long). Before, it was having a nice mattress (when I bought my first one 21 years ago!), and that’s still the case.

As I crawl out of survival mode, I’m sure other things will come up.

what makes you happy?

I admit that as a double Capricorn, ruled by Saturn in Virgo, I tend to delay gratification a lot too much. It’s hard for me to lean into what makes me happy without having achieved any goal.

Happiness for my sake, and that’s all? Not happiness earned? It’s something I’m unlearning and learning.

I am asking you about what makes you happy now as we have as of this writing over 471,000 Americans (definitely more than that) who have died from COVID since last February. Many more of us got sick and survived but now have become disabled as COVID long haulers or have developed other diseases and conditions.

Life is short. We’re not here for a long time, but maybe we should be here for a good time — as long as we don’t harm ourselves and others.

what does a healthy hedonism look like?

So…what makes you happy? (Besides travel because come on, dude. Don’t be a vector of COVID, OK?)

Is there one hobby or activity or thing that you can start with to maintain your happiness?

All the fire signs have a ‘carpe diem’ type of attitude. But Sagittarius seems to be like, I want it all, I want the world. I know I didn’t invent this phrase, but taking life by the arm-fulls — that’s Sagittarius.

So maybe it can’t be experiential as much as we want. But it can be something healthy and life-affirming. You can find your healthy hedonistic pleasure in getting your nails done, listening to music, or whatever your heart desires.

your happiness should definitely come from…

Something that should be on everyone’s list, as it was with Hsieh’s — cultivating meaningful connections. Hsieh’s Jupiter in Aquarius displays a similar bent of generosity as Jupiter in Sagittarius. His Jupiter gazes down at the collective, finds joy in the collective’s very existence, and knows that it could be improved. It could be more inclusive, more idealized, more authentic.

With this new moon in Aquarius coming up on Thursday, February 11, 2021, there’s a present emotional energy to this ideal, as well as the tension of being uniquely you while in a collective of differences.

Hsieh tried to create his collective but he never found it while shoving away the one he used to have.

Maybe he was trying to find his one happy thing to protect and cultivate , but he was trying to find it in the youthfulness of other people. Maybe if he had found that, it could have helped stabilize him enough to seek help for his mental health issues and addictions. And that is no judgment — just a pondering because we’ll never know what was truly in his mind at the time of his death.

happiness within reach

So please, don’t give up! Keep doing your writing, your knitting, your baking, your hiking, your mani-pedi, your naptime, your pets, your gym time, your reading, your TV marathons, your TTRPG, your video games, your online forums — whatever it is that make you healthily happy, go do those things, more often than you should.

Hedonism is OK, within moderation. Chasing your happy high is not your happy thing. It’s doing the thing that brings the happiness.

So, go on and do what makes you happy.

Check out my updated services page for astrology and tarot support. I’m here for ya!